Rothenburg ob der Tauber was probably my favourite town on this trip to Germany. It was a cute, quaint town that was very picturesque. Within the walled town, there were plenty of shops showcasing their products through window displays. I felt like I was a kid in a candy town googled-eye peeking through the window displays admiring their work of art. It felt like Christmas everyday!
Käthe Wohlfahrt is a famous specialty store in Germany that will transport you back to your whimsical childhood. Everyday is Christmas in that store!
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is located along the Romantic Road in Germany and is best known to be a well-preserved 14th century walled medieval town. This town was the inspiration of Disney's Pinocchio.
It is also a popular tourist destination, especially for the Japanese. Half of the tourists in the town were Japanese! Tour buses would come into town in the morning dropping off tourists which made the town very lively and bustling. By 4 o'clock in the afternoon, the town was quiet and not too crowded.
A Rothenburg specialty was schneeballen or "snowballs". They were made of shortcrust pastry and decorated with powdered sugar. These pastries come in a variety of flavours and was something I wanted to try. After all, it was a local specialty.
It was pretty hard to figure out how to eat a schneeballen without making a total mess of myself on the streets. The ball shape made it difficult to eat. I had the apple cinnamon flavoured schneeballen. The cinnamon sugar was fragrant and was not overly sweet. It had a dry, crumbly texture similar to that of tortilla chips. When I first bit into it, I described it to Jo as a hard, stale cruller. That was not an appetizing characterization of the pastry to encourage someone to try it for the first time. However, it was definitely a unique experience. It would be something I would recommend someone to try once, especially in Rothenburg.
We attended the night watchman tour in the evening. He provided a brief history of Rothenburg, how it once was a wealthy town of trade and full of liveliness. Later on in the tour, he described how the town became forgotten after the thirty year's war and the plague. Growth had halted due to the lack of power and money. The town became frozen in time. It wasn't until artists resurrected the town by bringing in tourism. During World War II, part of the town was bombed and was destroyed. Luckily, the main square remained unharmed.
In order to have the town restored, Rothenburg sought help from the world. Commemorative plaques with donor names were engraved on the rebuilt town wall.
Walking along the town wall you would see many plaques from around the world. It was interesting to note that Japan had made a quite a few donations to Rothenburg, such as Osaka.
The Siebers Tower offered a spectacular, unobstructed, open-air panorama of Rothenburg. At the top of the climb, there was an old man who received the admission fee for the view. There were also some information displayed about town during World War II. We started the ascent just before sunset. The top of the tower was not crowded and we were able to get front row seats.
During the few days that we stayed in Rothenburg, we were reminded of Japan everywhere we turned. Feeling a bit nostalgic, we returned to a small shop that appeared to be owned by a Japanese couple who resided in Rothenburg. We were initially greeted by them when we had stopped in front of their shop, while trying to orient ourselves to find our hotel the first day. I was first mesmerized that there were some Japanese goodies on their display window and wonder what else they had in their shop.
We were hungry in the morning of our last day and wanted something warm and comforting. The owners of the shop steered us towards some instant ramen noodle bowls and informed us that they could boil water and have it ready for us. We were sold. They had kindly prepared the instant noodles and packaged them for us to take away. They also directed us to a park bench outside the town walls. It was a very unique experience. That is, enjoying instant Japanese ramen on a park bench outside a medieval town. When would you ever have that experience?