Romantic Road and Rothenburg

Sunday: Munich to Rothenburg

After another good breakfast we bid “Auf Wiedersehen” to Munich and Hotel Uhland. This hotel was the highlight of our trip so far, with a great breakfast, friendly and helpful staff and convenient services. (They did a load of laundry for us for 12 Euro. We spent 8 Euro to do it ourselves at a laundromat in Florence.)

I used the Michelin Navigation app to select a scenic route to Augsburg, where we picked up the Romantische Straße (Romantic Road), a scenic route that wends its way from Würzburg down to Füssen in the Alps. Here’s a map of the Romantische Straße–it’s the North-South red line. We traveled the middle part of it, from Augsburg up to Rothenburg (just west of Nürnburg, you have to zoom in to see it). The drive to Augsburg was pleasant–a short stretch on the autobahn, followed by some scenic back roads the rest of the way there. I had the car up to about 90 mph for a short while on the highway, and the rest of the drive was pleasant once I figured how speed limits worked.

On secondary roads between towns, the default speed limit is 100 kph (62 mph). When you hit an orange town limits sign, the limit drops to 50. As you leave town, the back of the orange sign (so it’s on the left this time) has then town name with a red slash across it. That means that you can resume 100 kph. Of course any of this can be overridden by explicit speed limit signs. The overridden limits show when they end with another speed limit sign with a grey slash across it. Very logical, but took a bit of figuring out.

We had a bit of trouble finding the Romantic Road out of Augsburg, but when we did we were following a winding two-lane highway that made a point of going through each village along the way. After driving a while we came to Harburg, a pleasant village with a massive stone bridge and a castle perched on the hill above it. We stopped to stretch our legs and take a few pictures. A few kilometers out of town, we came to a scenic overlook that also hosted a geocache. So we stopped again and took a short walk up to a stone outcrop with commanding views.

Our next stop was Nördlingen, a town with a complete wall ringing the city. We grabbed a quick lunch, then wandered through the church, did an Earth cache and walked a section of the wall.

Then we continued on to Rothenburg, arriving just before 6 pm. We parked in a lot outside of town and walked to our hotel, the Goldener Greifen. When I checked in, the receptionist assured me that they had parking in the back of the hotel. She gave me the address and marked it on a map. I walked back up to the car while Anne settled into the room. I programed the parking address into Google maps and drive through the gate in the wall and into Rotenburg. Driving through the streets, dodging cafe tables and tourist, the streets got steadily narrower as I approached my destination. Finally I saw a courtyard entrance that looked likely. I pulled in–no parking spaces available, so I parked blocking a garage entrance. I walked up to a waitress smoking a cigarette and asked if I was in the right place. No, she told me, I was in the courtyard of the restaurant next door to my hotel. I should pull head out and around the corner to the left. I backed out (no room to turn around) and realized I couldn’t go left (no room to turn around in that direction), so I headed right. The next right headed to a main road where the map said I could circle around to my destination, so I headed that way. The street rapidly got narrower, to the point where I was expecting my mirrors to start scraping the buildings on either side. In addition, Rothenburg has lots of cornerstones protruding into the streets, originally to prevent wagons from chipping the buildings' paintwork. Presumably they also work on BMW’s five centuries later.

Here’s a picture of the street I came down (in my 3 day old car)! Alter Keller, Rothenburg

After making it through there without scrapes, it was a relative easy trip to around the block to the correct courtyard.

We grabbed dinner at our hotel and finished in time for the Night Watchman’s Tour. Georg, the watchman, does a combination historical tour/stand-up act for all comers every evening at 8. On this Sunday night in April, “all comers” added up to 50 or so people. At 7 Euro a head, he’s got a pretty good gig going! The hour-long tour was interesting and a lot of fun–well worth the money.

Monday: Rothenburg

Before breakfast Anne headed out to do a webcam cache in the market square, while I stayed in the room to capture her image. Another good breakfast–Germany works much better for my attempts to stay low-carb than Italy did. We did another Rick Steves audio tour. This one duplicated some of the information in the night watchman’s tour, but did take us some new places. Along the way we stopped to climb the tower at the old Rathaus (town hall). It was a beautiful day, with great views from the top! We had expected hordes of tourists, but the numbers were limited, and as soon as we left the main streets and squares things were quiet.

We grabbed lunch at a cafe, the wandered and cached a bit more (without success), then headed out around 3 pm for the three hour drive to our next stop, Bacharach, along the Rhine west of Frankfurt.

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