After Edith made us breakfast the next morning we walked down the block to the local bakery to pick up a fresh Snowball – a Rothenberg specialty that bakers have been creating since the middle ages. Bits of pastry dough bundled into a crisscrossed ball and rolled in powdered sugar it was a deliciously dry treat to enjoy with the morning coffee. Mailing Justin a letter, we headed out of town to…Starbucks in Heilbronn! It was on the way anyway, promise. We drove around the Neckar Valley next to the Neckar River, just before it empties into the Rhine. Our first stop was Burg Hirschhorn, a medieval castle that was in complete ruins but was undergoing reconstruction. The views over the Neckar Valley were incredible.
We ventured up the river valley, making a quick stop at a road side restaurant – reminiscent of the coffee stands I miss back home – for some juicy, fresh raspberries, three plates of schnitzel, one cheeseburger, and a basket of deliciously salty pommes frites. Trekking up the hill we visited the first of two ruined castles that perch on the cliff, standing guard to the Neckar Valley of days past. I think ruined castles are equally as entertaining as those that remain intact – it’s great fun to grab the torches (British English name for a flashlight) and explore the dark crevices, water droplets hitting the stone, and mossy covered walls that demonstrate the lifecycle of a ruined castle. There is a strange kind of magic in imagining their former glory days when the walls were foreboding and there were medieval Germans residing within the stone. The first was the Back Castle, which was built around 1100 while the second was Schadeck Castle, christened by locals as the Swallows Nest. A peaceful wooded trail connects the two and was a picturesque hike.
After exploring the castles, we headed into Stuttgart where we would be staying for the night. We settled in, investigated all the grocery stores around the area to see which could offer us the best breakfast the following morning, and got a 30 cm Subway each (yep, that’s how the foot long comes round these parts). The simple comforts of home :). The next day we were off to begin our tour of the German Clock Route!