Day 7 – the road to Rothenburg

We had plenty of time to kill today as we were not picking up the rental car until noon, so we slept in a bit (well, till 7 am) and then went down to breakfast.   Same selection – this morning I had muesli, a soft-boiled egg and some brown bread with butter and preserves.  After breakfast, we went up to the room – me to work on my journal and Pat to collect her camera as she wanted to go for a walk.

By 10:30 am, Pat was back.  She told me that she had wandered over to the Oktoberfest grounds and watched them setting up more booths and buildings.  It sounds interesting but I’m really glad I won’t be here for Oktoberfest.  High hotel prices and a lot of drunks do not make for a good combination.

After checking out of the hotel, we walked over to the Hauptbaunhof (train station) where we were going to pick up our rental car. I had rented it through Auto Europe, a consolidator that I’ve used in the past with good success, but was picking up the car from Avis.  After collecting the keys and other paraphernalia, we headed over to the garage, found our little black Leon and drove out of the garage (very gingerly, I might add – the exit ramps were extremely narrow).

Our Leon rental car on the road

Originally, we had planned to have both of us drive, but the Avis agent told us that it would be 17 Euros each day (for 3 days) to add another driver, so we declined.  We weren’t driving any huge distances and there would be lots of stops, so I figured that it wouldn’t be a big deal.

And then began the ordeal of getting out of Munich to the highway. The agent for Avis only gave us cursory directions, so Pat was at a disadvantage as the navigator.  Her second disadvantage was having me as a driver.  As my daughter, Katie, can attest, I become very highly strung out and stressed when driving in foreign cities, especially when I don’t know where I’m going.

Therefore, it stood to reason that we would get lost within blocks of starting out.  For about 20-30 minutes, we drove aimlessly around Munich’s streets. Pat was frantically thumbing through maps and I was barking out names of streets for her to look up (which were history by the time she actually found them).  Nothing looked familiar and we couldn’t even find any signs leading us to the highway.

Finally, we spotted an exit leading to a destination south of Munich. Rothenburg is north – however, we were desperate enough by this time to go off in the opposite direction.  We kept floundering, but finally found a road that would get us near Rothenburg, so we followed that.

View of German countryside

By this point, we were zipping along at a great pace on the Autobahn, making good headway.  It was too good to be true. I got the bright idea of leaving the highway to meander some of the back roads of Germany.  It would take a little longer but the route would be more scenic – what could go wrong?

Need you ask?  For the next hour or so, we drove along the smaller back roads and joined every large truck in Germany that was doing the same thing–only slower.  After 30 minutes, I was so frustrated by our position at the end of the truck caravan that I bullied Pat into looking for any conceivable route that would get us back on the Autobahn.

View from Rothenburg

Eventually, we wound up on the right road – the Romantic Road, which would lead us straight to Rothenburg ob der Tauber.  We settled in and enjoyed the gorgeous scenery around us.  I couldn’t believe how green everything was in Germany – all around us were bright green rolling hills and farmland, dotted with quaint white houses with tiled roofs.  We saw loads of solar panels on farmhouses and barns, interestingly enough.  And for some reason, lots of wrapped hay.  The German farmers wrap their rolled up hay in either white or green covers.  We also saw some strange vines that were trained up long pieces of rope, making it look like the fields were filled with giant mazes.

Rothenburg street

We arrived in Rothenburg ob der Tauber around 5 pm. “Rothenburg ob der Tauber” means  “above the Tauber.” The town is located on a plateau overlooking the Tauber river; hence the name.  We parked our car on the outskirts of town outside the city walls, which we had been advised to do, then walked through the city gates into the town.  Once we got it, I could do nothing but stop and stare.  The town was a walking medieval picture show – every house and  street was something out of a history book.  All I wanted to do was dump my luggage at the hotel, grab my camera and head back to the streets.


This proved difficult as I forgot to bring the address of the hotel, and had no idea where it was located.  Luckily, I remembered the name – Gasthof Raidel – so we were able to find the address at the tourist info center. Gastof Raidel was a charming somewhat rustic pension dating back to the 1600’s that was owned by a very nice gentleman who spoke limited English (my limited German was coming in handy).  He escorted us up to our room – a large double with handmade wooden furniture, and the bathroom split into two parts.  The shower and sink were on one side and the toilet on the other.  I didn’t mind so much but it was a pain to have to cross the room to wash your hands after using the toilet.

That was soon forgotten as we made our way out into the town. We stopped by the TIC to get a city map and were soon happily wandering through twisty windy back streets and gazing over the historic wall to snap photos of the panoramic valley below.  I especially wanted to see St. Jakobs Church, which has two altars by Tilman Riegenschneider, the early 16th century wood-carver. Sadly it had closed for the evening, but I had the morning to see the church.

I mentally kicked myself for not having left early in the morning so that we would have more time here.  This was one of my favorite destinations so far, and I regretted that we had so little time to explore it.  We mostly just walked and took pictures, although we took a few minutes to talk to a young couple near the square who told us of a wonderful restaurant to try.

Quaint home in Rothenburg

After a couple of hours of this, we were ready for dinner and headed for the recommended restaurant.  It was the Hotel Restaurant Klosterstruble and the recommendation was dead on.  The restaurant was on a back street in an old stone building from the 1600’s, and the setting (at dusk) was incredibly romantic.  We had a hard time deciding what to eat, but I finally ordered pork tenderloin with glazed whole onions and potatoes, served with a salad and a half liter of red wine, and Pat had a pork roast with potato dumplings.  Both were melt-in-your-mouth tasty.

Restaurant Klosterstruble

We finally left the restaurant around 9:30 pm to walk back to our hotel.  The town shimmered with lights and we passed small pockets of people walking through town. It was a glorious night and while I was sad to be leaving the next morning, I was glad I had the opportunity to spend at least some time here.

It took us a bit longer to get back to Gastof Raidel, however.  Once again, we couldn’t find it.  We walked up and down the street we thought it was on at least three times, and finally headed back to the main road to retrace our steps.  As soon as we did so, we realized that the street we were looking for was one street up from the one we were on.  Duh…  We finally made it back and into bed.

Streets of Rothenburg

Tomorrow – we finish seeing Rothenburg, then visit castles in the air, Oberammergau and Salzburg!


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