medieval walled cities

Our first stop this morning was in Nordlingen – a medieval German city where the entire city wall remains intact – and “walkable”!  20 feet above the city, with a tiny rail and a low eves (we are traveling with someone tall now!! 🙂 ), we walked all the way around Nordlingen along the actual medieval wall.  Peering into people’s backyards and admiring the moat gardens, it was an entertaining walk in the crisp morning air.  We climbed off the wall and did a bit of shopping, collecting another knob to add to the collection.  The plan is to “create” a piece of furniture from this trip by buying knobs from various cities we visit – many of the gift shops have them – and then switch out the standard drawer pulls of a serving cabinet we got specifically for this.

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Now it was on to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, one of the more complete medieval cities and a simply darling town.  Checked into our B&B by Edith, both of our rooms were adorably decorated and (I thought) hysterically matchy-matchy.  We were all craving some decidedly un-German food for a change so we walked the streets to a recommended Chinese restaurant for some lunch.  It was delicious food and Cameron found a hot sauce he loved – success!  We started walking and shopping a bit before a thunderstorm rolled in forcing us to hustle back to the hotel to dry off, take a bit of a nap, and let the storm pass.

DSC_1730 DSC_1731 DSC_1732 DSC_1734 DSC_1746 DSC_1747 DSC_1749{graham family gift exchange participants…we definitely did some Christmas shopping…just for example, that is a cat toilet paper holder…} DSC_1761 DSC_1765 DSC_1769 DSC_1777 DSC_1781{the only pic we have of our bedroom but i thought they both were hilarious and adorable at the same time}DSC_1780

Soon enough the sun was back so we took to the Rothenburg streets – streets that truly look to be out of a fairytale watercolor – to do some sightseeing and shopping.

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We stopped to eat dinner as the sun began to set; ready to begin what was the highlight of our Rothenburg adventures – the night watchman tour!!

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Best described as a German Jerry Seinfeld, the night watchman tour was simultaneously hilarious and informative.  In medieval times, the night watchman was, obviously enough, responsible for keeping watch over the city streets at night while also sounding the alarm in case of fire.  It was considered the third lowest job on the social food chain – the only townspeople with professions less desirable were the gravediggers and the hangmen (but they had the same clients, so dem were friends anyhow).  He took his job very seriously and was a hoot.  Navigating between witty and dense, the night watchman took us around the streets of Rothenburg explaining the history of the town.  The largest home in the town is still owned and lived in by the same family who owed it 500 years ago; the only time the town of Rothenberg was ever taken was during the 30 years war when they accidentally blew up their own gunpowder tower; how chamber pots were traditionally emptied out the front windows in the morning into the streets – they gave a warning call but that typically just made people look up…oops; and how when tourists ask locals for a good recommendation for dinner and the local tells them to “go to hell” they aren’t being rude, it’s a fabulous restaurant we walked by!  One of my favorites was the (completely true!) tale of how the town was saved from complete destruction during WW2 by both a kind American general and courage German general.  The American general’s mother had visited Rothenberg before he was born and had a painting she had done of the city hanging above the mantel in his childhood home.  He hadn’t yet had the chance to see the beauty of Rothenberg first hand and after the first bomb dropped on Rothenberg he asked permission to save the city.  He was given 24 hours by Washington D.C. until he must move forward as Germany was sheltering several units of troops within the city walls.  The American general contacted the German general in charge of the troops within the city, however, he was out of town for a few days – leaving another general in charge, a general whom had strict orders to not sundered the city under any conditions.  However, the German general also didn’t want Rothenberg destroyed and saw realistic truth of where the war was headed (Germany surrendered ten days after this story happened).  He ventured down to the American general’s post outside of the city and promised the city would be emptied of soldiers by morning.  He made good to his word and Rothenberg was saved.

DSC_1839 DSC_1840 DSC_1841{the four strands were the doorbell!  but too many people “tried” it so the current residents had them disconnected…}

DSC_1843{the small door you had to come through to get into the city if you were out too late}

DSC_1850{view from our hotel as we arrived back}

Also fun to note, we mentioned Seattle at some point, talking amongst ourselves, and a family next to us on the tour swiveled their heads around:  “Seattle!?  We are from Bellevue!”.  Turns out, my dad and their dad went to high school together!  All the way on the other side of the planet, it remains a small, small world.   As the sun slipped fully beyond the ornate church steeple and plentiful slate tiles, our tour came to an end – for anyone going to Rothenberg I would highly recommend the night watchman tour!!  Back to the hotel, via the gelato shop of course, and finally to bed.