We have three memories of our visit to Rothenburg am der Tauber in 1999. We bought two beautiful handmade enamelled champagne glasses; we discovered Käthe Wohlfahrt’s Christmas shop; and we had an unforgettable chanterelle salad in a restaurant with a romantic flower garden.
We arrive in Rothenburg by car at 11.30 for a lunch stop as it is still too cold to be cycling. We immediately look for a parking lot outside the ramparts (we have now learnt it is pointless to go ito the centre) and pay for 3 hours, which seems plenty. There don’t seem to be too many people.
Rothenburg is a beautifully preserved mediaeval town with much larger public buildings than Dinkelsbühl. There are quite a lot of tourists but fewer than I expected.
We soon find Kathe Wolfhart’s shop – there is a large oldy-worldy vehicle parked outside – then head for the tourist office to get a map. There are two women in the tourist office: one is most unfriendly and the other is super-friendly, probably because she has to make up for her colleague! We buy a book in French on the Romantic Road that we regret not buying earlier, but this is the first time we have seen it.
After the tourist office, we go to Käthe Wohlfahrt’s first shop (opposite the oldy-worldly vehicle) and walk out again without buying anything. I even wonder how I could have been so enthusiastic the first time.
Then we go into the second shop and the magic starts working! This is what I remember. There are decorations of every type and colour, every material and texture. Jean Michel picks up a shopping basket. It’s hard to resist, I have to admit. They pack the decorations carefully so they won’t break and we walk out with a large bag!
Jean Michel is very worried however. Apart from Käthe Wohlfahrt’s shop, he has no memory of Rothenburg at all. I am reassured! I don’t remember it either, but that is much more usual. We don’t even remember the view from the ramparts.
It’s now 1 pm and we are starting to get hungry. “Let’s find the restaurant with the flower garden”, says Jean Michel. We still haven’t found it about a half an hour later but we see a place called Gasthaus Butz in a quiet little square in the Jewish quarter that has fresh pfiffelingen (chanterelle mushrooms). We console ourselves by saying that maybe we would have been disappointed with our previous restaurant even if we’d found it! The waitress speaks good English and gives us an English menu. We order our pfiffelingen with Wiener Schnitzel for me and knuckle of pork for Jean Michel.
By the time we finish our lunch it’s 2 pm and we only have a ½ hour left on our parking ticket so we take a different route back to the car. We are surprised at how many people are now thronging the streets. We would have like to visit the water mill quarter but can only do so on foot and have had enough sightseeing for one day.
We arrive in Tauberbishofsheim (the home of the bishops of the Tauber) at 3 pm and go straight to our hotel, Badischer Hof. I ring the bell and am eventually answered in German. I say who I am and wait. A very grumpy man eventually arrives. He gives us the key to number 35. We are supposed to have a large, airy “superior” room with a terrace and wifi. Only the wifi doesn’t work. We go back to reception and the even grumpier man explains that when a lot of people are using the internet, there is no connection. I have doubts.
He says the hotel is full and he doesn’t have any other rooms. OK, we’ll have to find another hotel then, I say, knowing that there is nothing left in the area on booking.com. He then suggests a room without a terrace, but good Internet. We check it out. It’s smaller but looks OK. We take it.
After unpacking our things, we go to explore the little town and pick up some information from the tourist office. There is roadwork on the way but once we get into the centre, we find it quite attractive. The tourist office is closed of course but there are some free brochures in the entrance.
We need some fruit, vegetables and cheese for dinner so we look for a supermarket. Nothing. So I ask a waiter. He tells us there are five supermarkets, all outside the town. What a nuisance. We’ll have to take the car. As we are leaving however, I spy a “Natura” sign which turns out to indicate an organic supermarket. That is fine by us!
Back in our hotel room, we realise that our room gives onto the main street and that, despite the double glazing, it is very noisy. What I don’t realise until we go to bed is that there is street lighting all night and the curtains are very thin. At no time during the night is the room dark. Also, the floor cracks and the person above us seems to walk around the room half the night.
I wake up totally unrested and determined to ask for another room. I have checked booking.com and there is nothing else available in the area within our budget, not surprising in a weekend in July. Breakfast is very disappointing with no eggs in sight. When the grumpy man asks us what we want to drink (tea or coffee), I ask for eggs, but am not sure if he has understood. He eventually brings us two hard-boiled eggs but I see that the Spanish people at the next table have fried eggs. Tomorrow, I’m asking for spiegel ei.
When I go to reception, there is a much friendlier lady with a large onion in her hand. I explain my problem and she says she will see what we can do. In the end, as there is nothing else available, we opt to go back to the room with the balcony overlooking the garden because it’s away from the street, and go down into the reception area when we need to use wifi.
The weather seems to be improving so we set off to Würzburg, on the northern end of the Romantic Road, in the hope that we might be able to do some cycling.