Partly sunny – high temp 50ºF
The first morning in Rothenburg ob der Tauber started early for me…, at least that is how it felt. Sunrise wasn’t until about 8:10am, and I was awake in the 5 o’clock hour. So I got dressed and walked around the pre-dawn town.
The entire town wasn’t too big, but I still found myself staying within about 10 minutes of the hotel. As I walked down certain streets it felt a little eerie, and I did briefly had the the thought, “Is this safe?” I thought about that for the briefest moments and realized that I had nothing to worry about, and continued walking around the town.
By this time, one thing I had realized about the place we were visiting was that they did not follow the same “hours of convenience” that we are accustomed to in the U.S. Most “morning” places (cafe & bakeries) don’t open until 8:00am or later. By this time it was almost 7:00am and I wanted coffee but wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to get some any time soon. I walked around a bit and came to the town square… by the way I really like the idea that everywhere we went had one. I decided to walk in a direction I hadn’t yet gone, when I realized I was following a woman who had a bag, and she had come from around a corner in the other direction. So i turned around and looked around the corner she had come from. At the end of that street I saw a business that was much more lit up than the rest, so I walked towards it. As I approached I noticed a person walk in and was happy.
It was a little cafe/bakery and I got a cup of coffee and an almond croissant for myself, and a chocolate and plain croissants to take back to the family. As I left I noticed the sky had lightened (ever so slightly). I was not used to seeing the stars as the sky had been cloudy during nearly our entire trip. I wanted to find a location that I watch the sunrise. I walked to the Burggarten which was a short walk from our hotel. The Burggarten is a park that sticks out from one side of the town. From there I was able to look out over a small valley to another part of the town that the sun would rise over… this was perfect. I started taking pictures.
By now it was quarter past 7:00 and sunrise was not for another hour! So I sipped my coffee, ate my croissant, and simply watched the sky. As I waited a couple people with dogs arrived in the park, and I enjoyed watching them play for a few minutes. They soon left and I was again alone with my thoughts. I started thinking how amazing this moment was… that I was in a park in a medieval town in Germany watching a sunrise over the town… it felt pretty awesome!
Eventually the sun rose
After having finally been able to see the sunrise, I returned to the hotel room where everyone was awake. The hotel restaurant was open by this time and Karen and I went down to enjoy some coffee.
Eventually everyone was ready to start the day and so we began walking around town exploring the sights and the shops. We went into the town museum that included an actual dungeon. The dungeon was used as a bomb shelter during WWII, but it had some pretty nasty purposes long before then.
The dungeon contained implements of torture as well as the rack which was used to “break” people. The person’s legs would be shackled to two heavy stones, while a collar was placed around their neck. The collar was attached by rope to a giant spooling mechanism via pulley that hung from the ceiling. The spool was turned stretching the person until they “broke” and died. This was capital punishment for the time. It is difficult for me to capture this here as when I was in the dungeon reading about this, I became ill and felt as if I would throw-up. I immediately had to leave the dungeon, and I was seriously disturbed.
After the museum, we grabbed some food, and after lunch we walked up to the top of the tower where we got a birds-eye view of the town.
After the tower, we returned to the hotel inquire about the Night Watchman tour. WE originally thought it free, but saw a 7€ fee per person. As this was somewhat of a highlight of our Rotenburg trip, the fee, although unexpected, was not a problem, but we wanted to be sure the tour was what we believed it to be… along the town wall. The woman at the hotel explained the tour and that there is no portion that includes the town wall. So we decided not to go on the tour and to explore the town wall ourselves. That was pretty fun and we ended up walking about halfway around the city.
After the walk along the wall, we found a playground just outside the wall where we stopped and allowed the boys to play for a bit. They hadn’t “played” on this trip and it was important that they be able to do so.
By the way, although we had missed rain for nearly the entire trip (there was definite drizzling in Denmark), this was definitely the coldest day thus far. The high temperature for the day only reached 50ºF. We had all dressed appropriately, and therefore no one was cold.
After the park, we walked back through the wall at one of the gates, and downtime street back towards our hotel. Along the way we passed a market and stopped in. Inside was a GIANT bottle of beer… like probably 2 feet tall or taller. I was enamored with it and wanted to take it home, but the more I thought about it the more I realized it wasn’t practical and just experiencing it in the store was enough. Karen found some cookies that her mom used to get when she was young (by the end of the day Dylan had eaten most of them ?). I bought a couple regular sized beers and we went back to the hotel.
We ate at the hotel restaurant for dinner and ended up being seated next to another american family that had two girls aged 13 and 15. They were from Chicago but the dad had been working in the U.K. for the past 2 1/2 years and would only be doing so for another 6 months. They had taken advantage of this time to trade extensively all across Europe. As usual Karen struck up the conversation and kept it going while I just listened in.
After dinner, we again went on some night exploring of the town.