Thursday, November 29, 2012

Rothenburg to Wurzburg to Bamburg

It was 11:00 before we left Rothenburg this morning.  This medieval town keeps drawing us back – this has been our 4th time.  When we awoke there was a light snow on the rooftops –lovely.  After a traditional German breakfast which we love, we walked around to places we visited last night on our time night tour.  Concerning breakfast – I don’t know why we in America cannot make bread like the Germans do - crusty on the outside and soft on the inside!

Rothenburg Walk-in Gate by day

Rothenburg City Wall with Walk-way

Rothenburg from Wall Walk-way in the Snow

By the time we were on the road enough snow had fallen so that the hillsides were accentuated. It was beautiful driving north toward Wurzburg, then all of a sudden the snow was gone, however then it was a cold rain!  Thank goodness we are prepared with enough outer wear.  We stopped in the village of Marktbreit which has an old city wall and you enter through the medieval gate. It was a lovely little village with only a few tourists.  We found a great coffee shop just before noon.  

Marktbreit City Gate and Tower

Marktbreit City Scene
From Marktbreit we continued north to Wurzburg in search of their Christmas Market – It was in the plaza by the main Cathedral in the center of town. We parked and then walked around finding anything and everything like you find at most markets, but in addition there are lots of Christmas items. One stand in particular was of a wood carver.  He had some wonderful Crèches that he and his father had carved.  The one in the photo when finished will cost over 2000 euros ($2400) – 6 weeks of work!  Needless to say we only came away with photos.  We are refraining from helping their local economics too much!!!  Only buying what we can eat.  I know they will ship anything to the US that we want!! BUT!
Wurzburg Christmas Market

Wurzburg Christmas Market

Wurzburg - Carver's Shop

Wurzburg Carver Criche

Carver with 2000 Euro Carving - Unfinished

One of the Wurzburg vendors told us that the Christmas Market in Bamberg was great.  Off to Bamberg we went!  After checking into the hotel we went in search of the Christmas Market at night.  The market had several stand similar to what we had seen before but a number of textile stands with new items.  Rachel is contemplating the purchase of a scarf.  We will be going back tomorrow morning for another look.  We are also looking at their carved wooden incense smoker selections.  The selection is overwhelming but there will probably be several in our luggage in a week or two.  There were numerous gluhwein stands throughout the market and many local people were socializing there.  We discovered that there are numerous types of gluhwein which needed to be sampled. We each ordered something different and tasted each other’s.  A mug is sold with the gluhwein, which is either kept or returned for the prepaid deposit.  The bratwursts sampled were very good as well.  Tonight we had dinner by samples.
Bamberg Gluhwein Stand
Bamberg Gluhwein Stand
Brats Anyone?

Tomorrow morning it will be back to the market and to the Dom (Cathedral) before heading to Biedenkopf, and the parents of a former exchange student for the evening.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mt Pleasant Iowa to Rothenburg Germany

The Litwillers are off on another excursion.  We are in Germany, where we will be visiting exchange students and their parents as well as German Christmas Markets for the next three weeks.

Our first flight, today, from Cedar Rapids to Detroit was on time and uneventful as was our flight from Detroit to Frankfurt, Germany.  We arrived in Frankfurt at 7:30 am to cloudy skies and 40 degree weather.  After picking up our car we were on our way east to Wurzburg. We used the autobahn to clear Frankfurt and it suburbs, then exited to smaller rural roads.  We skirted Wurzburg and headed south toward Rothenburg, Germany.  On the way to Rothenburg we stopped at Sommerhausen to see the former walled town that still has city towers and gates.  Sommerhausen is known for its many wineries.  We found a small restaurant where we had delicious rich piping hot goulash soup.   Sommerhausen is on the Main River and has vineyards on the hillsides all along the east side of the river.  There was no English spoken in the restaurant. 
Sommerhausen City Gate

Street of Sommerhausen

After walking around Sommerhausen we continued south approximately 55 km to Rothenburg.   Since Old town Rothenburg is totally enclosed with a city wall, you enter through city gates when you go to the city center. We have visited Rothenburg numerous times before but always in the summer.  By the time we arrived in Rothenburg we were feeling our night without sleep!  We found a hotel one block from the city center marketplatz for 90 euros, including freustick (breakfast).   After taking a nap for several hours we got up and dressed for walking around the town in the rain.  It has been raining most of the day and the damp cool weather is chilling, around 40oF, they are talking snow for tonight!  While walking in Sommerhausen, we were not dressed warm enough – we were chilly.  The Rothenburg Christmas Market begins Saturday so the vendors were setting up and decorating their stall in the marketplatz, around the church, and along the alleys.  Most shops were decorated, but others were still working on their outdoor decorations.  The shop windows were ready for the season – some had lovely animated scenes.   The bakeries are full of Christmas specialties, especially Rothenburg’s “Schneelballe”. These snowball shaped treats are a bit like shortbread.  Some are covered with sugar or cinnamon, others with chocolate coconut or almonds.  All are irresistible and we had to try one!  We found a nice restaurant where we were able to have our first German bratwurst, sauerkraut and hot gluwein (mulled wine).  All was very tasty!! The waiter spoke great English.  He just returned from Atlanta and Florida.
Rothenburg Night Watchman

Rothenburg Schneelballe

Rothenburg City Gate

Store Decorated for Christmas

Window Decoration, Teddy Bears with City Wall

Rothenburg City Gate and Tower

Rothenburg Walk-in City Gate and Tower

After dinner we had a tour of the town by a man who impersonated the old city night watchman.  He talked about the history of Rothenburg from the city’s origin to how it was saved during WWII.  He was entertaining and informative.