Since we loved Rothenburg so much, we wanted to linger as long as possible. We woke up early to avoid the tourist crush that usually starts around 10AM. As mentioned previously, we've found that the very best way to enjoy these tourist towns - even the very small ones - is to spend the night in town so you can enjoy its true character late in the evening and early in the morning. We started off with a leisurely walk through the length of the small town. It takes no more than ten minutes to walk from one town gate to the next.
See the clock tower in the picture below? Several times a day, on the hour, the two windows flanking the clock open and a large figurine of a guy pounding a beer appears on the left. He takes a good long chug for a full minute. Legend has it that back in the 1600's, the town mayor accepted a challenge from the Catholic General to drink 3 liters of wine in one gulp in order to save the town from occupation. Why not create a silly clock tower show to recreate the story every day?
We couldn't miss the famed Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas market shop. They don't want people taking pictures past the main entrance area, but believe us when we say they have every Christmas-related item you could ever imagine inside! Although it sounds cheesy--as many Christmas stores tend to be--it's actually quite lovely and classy. There's even a museum to illustrate the history of the Christmas ornament.
We also found a wall of beautiful cuckoo clocks. So far, every cuckoo clock display we've found has the clocks set to all different times. This is probably so customers can enjoy a steady stream of animated entertainment and excite them to the point where they'll shell out several hundred euros to own one. We are still on the hunt for a wall of clocks all set to the same exact time. What a fun cacophony that would be every hour!
There aren't too many attractions, per se, in Rothenburg, other than walking around and enjoying the town's abundant charm. One of the few is the Medieval Crime and Justice Museum, which had come highly recommended by online reviews and our hero, Rick Steves. More than a macabre fright show, this is an actual museum with artifacts and descriptions of the legal system as it existed in the Dark Ages. Very dark, indeed. A person could be punished for anything including: wearing clothing incommensurate with one's social class, musicians playing music poorly, bakers baking bread loaves of the wrong size/density, or even drinking too much coffee. The punishment ranged from wearing a Saw-like mask for gossiping or acting like a pig, to being placed in stocks in the town square with your feet exposed so everyone who walks by can tickle your feet, to wearing a "shame flute" if you're a bad musician, to death.
Horrific chair used to elicit "confessions"
Double neck violin for quarreling women or married couples. The necks and wrists of these misbehaving folks were secured in the holes until they could resolve their issues. Wonder how many died while still locked in there?
The frightful shame masks
On the way out of town, Hirsh had to get a picture of this hotel with his [almost] name on it. Hirsch is a big family name around here, and we see it everywhere!
And one final picture of us in front of Rothenburg's most picturesque spot, Plönlein ("Little Square").
We had no idea where we were going to spend the night, but this town has free Wi-Fi throughout and we just looked at the map and chose a city and hotel in the eastward direction. We settled on the budget friendly Ibis in Munich, and off we went. This happened on the way, while Sarah was sleeping and unaware...