15 July 1998
About mid-afternoon we arrived at the northern end of the road, at the walled city considered to be the best-preserved medieval city in Germany, Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Rothenburg on the Tauber River).
After finding a small hotel near the old city, we walked into the old city to the Christmas markets. They were beautiful and we spent two or three hours browsing through anything to do with Christmas. The most fantastic thing they had was a candle tower about 20 feet tall! It was one of those things you have to see to believe. We brought home a box full of new decorations for our own tree.
That night we went on the walk of
the night watchman. It is a one-hour walking tour of the city, in English, with
the night watchman. We learned more about medieval cities and everyday life
than everywhere else put together. We enjoyed that more than anything else on
the whole trip! At one point, we were all in the middle of the street when a
car came along. The watchman asked us to move over and let it by. Then another
came and he again asked us to move. Then a third came along, pulled up on the
sidewalk and drove on by. The watchman’s jaw dropped and he stared after it. I
said, “Must have been Italian.” I didn’t realize I said it that loud, but the
whole crowd started laughing and clapping.
We went through the Criminal Museum, which was interesting but a little intense. I thought Torture Museum would be a more accurate name for it.
We had been told that one of the “musts” in Rothenburg is to try the local pastry, sneeballen, “snow ball”. All we knew is that it is pastry rolled in powdered sugar. We decided to get some to take with us for a snack when we left the next day. When we found the shop, they had a lot of other flavors. They were fairly expensive, too, like a couple of dollars each. George got one of the powdered sugar ones and a chocolate covered one. I got a chocolate and a cinnamon sugar. It tasted like pie dough, only with little or no salt, cut into one-inch-wide strips, then wadded and rolled into a ball the size of your two fists put together. It was then baked and topped. We just couldn’t stand the chocolate ones, too bland. They don’t sweeten the chocolate very much. It was a couple of days before we decided to even try the others, but they were both okay. One thing I had been looking forward to in Europe was their pastries, which I had always heard were exceptionally good. We tried the sweets everywhere, and found they were not sweet. The breads and cakes, and even whipped cream, had no sugar in them. The little bit of frosting and/or filling was the only sweet part. The only dessert we really enjoyed was the ice cream. That was wonderful in Italy, very good in southern Germany, and not so good in the north. Their ice cream dippers were about the size of our melon ballers.