To be more specific, it’s always Christmastime in Rothenburg, Germany. And considering that Christmas is my favorite time of the year, I absolutely loved this town. And actually, the holiday isn’t celebrated here year-round; this town just has the greatest concentration of Christmas shops of anywhere I’ve ever been.
Rothernburg ob der Tauber is a fascinating town located in Bavaria, Germany. Surrounded by a wall, with cobblestone streets, window boxes overflowing with colorful flowers, and lots of ice cream parlors (and the above mentioned Christmas shops), it’s incredibly quaint.
I found myself enjoying two nights here during my 2007 summer in Europe with my friend, Teresa. Our time in Germany started with a flight from Edinburgh to Dortmund, where we stayed at a bed and breakfast for one night.
The next day we hopped on our first train ride of our 10-week adventure (other than the quick jaunt we made to Windsor Castle in England). Can I just say that I absolutely love traveling by train? It’s such a wonderful way to see a country! And so relaxing.
We spent almost seven hours on various trains before finally making it to our final destination: Rothenburg. We lugged our suitcases through town, bumping along the cobblestone streets, to Gasthof Zur Goldenen Rose (now called Boutiquehotel Goldene Rose), our accommodations for the next two nights.
First on the agenda was dinner! The hotel had an on-site restaurant so we decided to eat there, and took a seat at a table in the garden. We each ordered some traditional German dishes: pork roast, potato dumplings and a salad for me, and fried meatloaf (we swear it was a giant piece of bologna), fried potatoes and salad for Teresa.
After dinner, we went for a walk through town. This place is so quaint! The buildings with flower boxes look like something Hansel and Gretel would walk out of at any moment. As we strolled along the street and window-shopped, we started noticing the plethora of Christmas items on display, and also started taking mental notes of those items we wanted to come back and check out the next day. 🙂
We walked to the market square just in time to hear the large clock chime the hour. The square was full of people out to see the sight of the windows on either side of the clock opening to reveal two beer-drinking men toasting the new hour.
After our entertainment for the evening, we sniffed out the closest ice cream parlor and each bought a cone. Yum!
The next day started with a complimentary breakfast at the hotel, followed by another walk to the market square where we started a Rick Steves recommended self-guided walk through town.
It was a pleasant walk as we read about the town’s history, and visited St. Jakob’s Church, Town Hall, the Covent Garden, and walked outside the old town gate to the Castle Garden which provided great views back over Rothernburg and the wall that circles it.
Walking through this town really felt like stepping back in time. There are no modern buildings to be seen, and if there weren’t some cars, you really would think you were in a different century.
Back inside the town walls, we went to the biergarten at Gasthof zum Spitaltor for lunch. Huge salads for both of us (I discovered that Germany is a great place for salad lovers!).
Now we were energized and ready to do some shopping! 🙂 The number of Christmas stores in this town can actually be a bit overwhelming! We visited a few (including a huge, three-story shop with it’s own Christmas museum), then ended up making most of our purchases at a small Käthe Wohlfahrt store which was run by the loveliest lady. We both spent a small fortune but were able to ship our purchases back home for a very reasonable price.
Rothenburg is famous for selling schneeballs. These are pastries formed into round balls and decorated with various toppings. There are a lot of bakeries in Rothenburg, and all of them sell these yummy-looking balls. So of course we had to try one. We bought one that was dipped in chocolate, and the only tasty thing about it was…the chocolate. Seriously one of the most tasteless things I have ever put in my mouth. We should have heeded the warnings we had heard that these are not the tasty treats they masquerade as being.One of the things we both really wanted to experience here was a Night Watchman Tour of the town. Unfortunately it was pouring rain our second night there and the tour was cancelled. So instead, we ran in the rain through the deserted town to an ice cream parlor, where we each enjoyed an ice cream sundae and hot chocolate (not an oxymoron). 🙂
Our short stay in the town of Rothenburg was so delightful and I would love to return someday!
Accommodations Info & Tips:
Two or three nights here is plenty of time to see all that this town has to offer. While in Rothenburg, we stayed at the Gasthof Zur Goldenen Rose which, after a complete renovation in 2009, is now called the Boutiquehotel Goldene Rose. An en-suite double-room currently ranges in price from €89 – €139. This property is located within the walled old city and was quite nice.
As far as transportation goes, it’s not needed while staying in town. I highly recommend arriving by train as opposed to a car, as I don’t know if parking spots even exist within the walled, old city. And a car is seriously not needed.
If you like to shop, and especially if you like Christmas decorations, be warned that you could easily fill twenty suitcases here! If you decide to go on a shopping spree, “shop around” and see if you can find a place that has special deals on packing and shipping your purchases for you.
Although we missed out on the Night Watchman Tour, I’ve heard it can be fun. It leaves every evening from the market square and lasts one hour.