Romantische Strasse (Romantic Road)
13 Sep 2012
|We woke this morning, and decided we'd tackle the town separately. Ali wanted to take it easy on her ankle and see the things near the city square, whereas I wanted to cover as much of the city as I could in the morning, as well as find my chess set.
I set out without getting any breakfast from the hotel, the German breakfasts of sausages can be a bit much. I took a left at the main city square (market square) and headed along the main road down the village, the lower part of the town. I had walked a little of this before, both with Trafalgar and the previous night with Ali, however I was going to walk all the way down the street to the city wall this time.
The bottom of the city, just before the first tower gates, is on every single postcard of the town, called the Plonlein. The Plonlein used to be a market area, however now it is cleared for the small amount of traffic in the town. At this section of road it forks in to direction, when looking down the street from the main market square. Continuing straight from the fork, is the Spitalgasse Tower. The right side of the fork goes down a steepish hill through the Kobozeller gate. People queue up for a while to take pictures here, trying to capture the split in the road, and the lovely towers in the background. Luckily I got in between people posing, and continued on to the main fortified town gate.
They were quite large. There as 2 sections to them. The first was a square tower like the ones at Plonlein, which had a hollow through it just wide enough for a "box" truck to drive through - of course that would have been horse and carriage in the day. These gates are as big as it gets for the city, which is why there aren't any buses or semi-trailers in the old town. There is one gate large enough for a small delivery style truck. Which is good, because almost all the streets are too narrow for a cars and are for pedestrians only. There's maybe 8 streets that you can drive through the city on.
Through the square tower, is an almost completely enclosed area, which goes over a small moat. Just on the other side of the bridge across the moat was a very large round tower, which was like a semi circle that went over the gate at the entrance. There was a small walkway over the moat for pedestrians. The semi circular fortification was broken up(from the outside) as two separate towers). They were very strong, and would have enabled multiple archers\cannons to tackle people from many angles around the gates. This area of the town was called the Hospitaler Bastion.
I crossed over the pedestrian bridge over the moat, and then onto the main road. After that I walked along the main road, and into the city gates between the two round towers. Once inside, I walked up into the left side of the tower (Facing the city wall from outside) and down the very, rickety old staircase. I could feel it move under my feet with every step. When I got to the bottom I found myself in the moat area, so I went back up the stairs, and to the top. This took me to the upper level of the guard tower.
The tower was dark, and slightly on an incline inside. There were windows, which could be used to fire a cannon or bow from. I walked along this for a bit, and found it doubled back to the same starting point. I took a slight right however inside, and found myself walking down some steps towards the other side of the moat and outside the city walls. I walked around them a bit, and found a large parking area for buses.
There was a couple of Trafalgar coaches there, and part of me wondered whether I'd bump into Uli or Luigi - although I thought this was doubtful due to how many tour guides they must have.
I followed the groups of people who were walking to the city walls, and to a smaller town gate which only pedestrians could walk through. One of the tour guides stopped outside, and started speaking in Italian, so I kept walking. I headed into the gates, and decided I'd go back towards the area I'd come from, and find the "castle".
The castle isn't really what it sounds like. I crossed the main street I had been on previously, and went to the opposite side and down into a small amphitheatre like area. I then climbed up some stairs, and onto the city walls. From here I could see where the castle was. The castle itself doesn't really exist any more. In 1356, the original castle collapsed during an earthquake. After this, Emperor Charles IV allowed the townsfolk to take the stone from the castle and to use it to build a town which had slowly been growing to its east.
I walked along the walls, until they were blocked from further passage, and went back through the town via the Plonlein, and up to the market square. It was almost time to watch the special clock, which went off at 11am each day, celebrating a victory against a marauding army. You may remember the story from the previous journal from 2010. Basically, the town mayor and the invading army leader had a drinking contest - winner takes the town. The mayor finished drinking the gallon of wine, and passed out. The attacking general so impressed by his dedication, decided not to burn down the town.
In the market square, is a clock. And either side of the clock is a window, which has the mayor and the attacking general each drinking from a tankard. I didn't get to see this last time, as we were not allowed to stay in Rothenburg long enough to see it. So I stood there with my neck arched up, looking at the two windows, and wondering what this marvelous display would show. The clock struck 11 and some music started to play, and the windows opened up......to one of the most boring things imaginable. There were two figures, each with a tankard of wine, and one of them turned it's head slightly, and the other one lifted the tankard to its face. And that's all it did. For a few minutes. Now, I wasn't expecting fireworks or a laser show, but something at least comparable to the glockenspiel in Munich. Nope!
A bit disappointed I went walking to St Jakob's church, only to find it closed for tourists, due to a service for school children. Unfussed, I continued walking around the town, and eventually found myself walking underneath a very tall tower, and through some city gates called the Burgtor. These gates were the only remaining part of the original castle. On the other side of them was a lovely garden. It looked like a great spot to sit and relax for a while. There were some people walking their dog around the grounds, and over by a terrace was a street performer with a synthesizer and a clarinet, performing some classical music.
I stopped and listened for a few minutes, and watched the people walking lazily around, before I realised I had to hussle if I wanted my chess set. I walked along the terrace a little, taking pictures of the other side of the city, which I'd been at earlier. It was hard to do given how bright the sun was, but I tried anyway.
After this I went back into the city via the Burgtor, and through the market square to the hobby shop. I met Alison there, who was also doing some souvenir shopping. She suggested we meet back in the hotel in 15 minutes, as we had to check out by midday. I grabbed some t-shirts and ordered my chess set, then headed to the hotel. We checked out and loaded up the car. Ali wanted to drive first off, and we decided we'd head to Wurzburg, which is one of the bigger towns at the end of the Romantic road. This way, we'd have seen Fussen at the start, Rothenburg towards the middle, and Wurzburg at the end.
Ali asked if maybe we could drive across country, since it wasn't a huge drive, and see things off the autobahn. So I directed her back towards the southern part of the city, and the Hospitaler gates, and around the west side of the city walls. We passed several police on the way, which seemed a bit odd, and took a lovely drive through the tauber valley. We even crossed over the "doppelbrucke" or "double bridge" as it would be called in English.
The GPS didn't like what we were doing, and for the first 20 minutes, it kept asking us to turn around and go back to the motorway. So we ignored it, and we kept taking lefts and rights where we felt we needed to.
After a while we went through a very small farming town, and found ourselves somewhere near the Tauber river again. I said to Ali I wasn't quite sure where we were, but if possible, we should get to Creglingen. I wasn't sure why, but the name rang a bell. It also appeared to be a "larger" town, so I felt comfortable heading that way.
Well, as it turned out, we got to Creglingen, and it was quite pretty. We parked the car and decided to walk around for a bit. We passed a butchers - I wanted to see if any of them had cooked Weisswurst sausages like they sell in Munich (I missed out!). We ended up feeling peckish after looking at bakeries and butchers, so we went to a local tavern. It was somewhere between 12 - 1pm, and there weer a lot of school kids walking around in the town. Some of them had even come to the tavern, to get some lunch. It felt very, very weird. I remember being a primary school kid and getting told off for walking down to the fence to get fish and chips from mum!
We ordered a schnitzel and salad, and it was a lovely, heavily deep fried concoction. I'm fairly sure it had taste before it was cooked, but all I can remember is the squishy oil dripping from it. The chips and coleslaw were nice though. After lunch we got up to leave, and went outside. A woman came out to talk to us, and said something about a camera.....I'd got up with my camera bag, but had left the camera on the seat back in the tavern. Very, very lucky.
Ali wanted to get some things for the drive, so she stopped in at a supermarket. I went back to the Tauber to take some pictures with my camera, as well as a picture of the local city map. It had some instructions on how to get around some of the smaller towns, and I thought this might be easier than using the GPS, which constantly told us to turn off and go to the motorway. When I looked at the map of the town, I saw that it had a a name on it I wasn't fully expecting to see "Romantische strasse". When Ali got back, I showed her the map.
She was excited, because when we were planning the trip, she wanted to drive along the romantic road, but we decided against it because it is a) so long b) took us a long way from some of the places we wanted to see.
However, this was all a bit impromptu. We didn't have much planned for the day, but to go from Rothenburg to the Rhine Valley, and this side detour just seemed to work in our favour. We decided we'd follow the road, for as long as we could, until we got to Wurzburg. It became easier as we got in the car. We drove past a sign not long after leaving Creglingen. It was a brown tourist sign, saying "Romantische Strasse".
We followed these signs all the way through towns, occasionally we'd miss one, so we'd make a left or right at the next street, and get back on it.
We drove through the towns Bieberehren, Röttingen, Weikersheim, Bad Mergentheim and Lauda-Königshofen, happily snapping pictures out the window and dashboard the whole way. Ali drove us from the distance. It wasn't until we got to Lauda-Konigshofen, when we took a wrong turn and ended up on the motorway to Wurzburg. If we had of wanted to continue on the romantic road, we needed to go through a couple more towns, but we'd seen most of the northern part of it.
The road to Wurzburg was very, very heavy with traffic. It seemed to take 40 minutes to get from where we were, to the outer limits of the town. That was ironic, because when we left Rothenburg, the GPS said if we'd taken the Autobahn directly, it would have been 50 minutes. We'd been driving for 2.5 hours, and we'd still been 40 minutes away!
When we got to Wurzburg, Ali asked if we could swap driving. She also said she'd seen enough of the romantic road, and would be happy if we just headed to the Rhine. I'd been going along with the ride as it was one of the few things Ali had wanted to do in particular, and she'd been very accommodating with all of the castles and churches I'd dragged her to.
So, I turned the car around and jumped back on the motorway. Luckily all the traffic was heading in the direction of Wurzburg itself, so I was able to build up some speed. About 20 minutes out of Wurzburg, I stopped and filled up the car and myself with some coffee, and started the drive to our next stop, Burghotel auf Schonburg.