Even when the shops were closed on Sunday, window shopping in Rothenburg ob der Tauber was great! Wandering through cobblestone streets, taking in the beauty of the centuries old buildings and fountains was fun and relaxing, especially without the weekday crowds from tour buses. There are so many beautiful and fun shops from toy stores with windows filled with adorable teddy bears – my favorite was a teddy bear scene from Repunzel – to specialty foods, christmas decorations and even suits or armor. Even the Euro Store, similar to the Dollar Store in the US provided some great finds like fountain pens and chocolate bars. These are some of my favorite windows.
After visiting the BMW Museum and Welt yesterday, we headed to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a medieval town located in the State of Bavaria along the Tauber River. It is a walled town dating back to 1200. Matt told me Rothenburg ob der Tauber was spared from destruction during WWII due to its’ historical significance. The name of the city means “red fortress above the Tauber”.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is filled with half timber buildings, winding cobblestone lanes, flower boxes, beautiful signs, a large square, fountains, churches and hundreds of shops. Visiting Rothenburg is like stepping back In time, not only due to the setting and architecture, but also because it is so relaxing and peaceful – especially after all of the tour buses leave.
When we arrived at the Hotel Markstrum, the owner was waiting for us on the front step. We were running about 3-4 hours late and she was worried that something had happened to us. She said she could relax now that we had arrived. What a welcoming reception! We were overdue because of a complete closure of 3 lanes of the A8 motorway. Half way between Munich and Stuttgart all of the traffic was routed off of the highway and detoured through country roads for a few miles before returning to the A8. We heard that eventually the traffic was at a stand still back to Munich. It was one of the worst traffic jams Matt and I had ever seen.
Located next to the Markus Tower, Hotel Markstrum is over 500 years old and has been in the Berger family for four generations. It is beautiful hotel with original architecture and furnished with German antiques. Each room is individually decorated with a separate theme – from simple to elegant. Ours was more toward the elegant side with a large sitting area and balcony overlooking a courtyard. After settling into our room we had dinner in the hotel dining room – a traditional German meal of beef in a cream sauce with pickles, spatzel, and a salad with sauerkraut. We arrived feeling pretty stressed, but soon felt relaxed and even decided to spend an extra day there. At this point we had already driven over 2400 kilometers and we were ready for a break.
The wall around the town is intact, with guard towers, steep staircases, and a well worn path that provides a great place for views of the colorful tile rooftops, family homes and church steeples. Rothenburg is still a traditional community with homes, family shops and children playing in the streets. The farther you walk away from the center of town, the more you see the everyday life of the people who call the walled town home.
Sunday was the one full day we had in Rothenburg and many of the shops were closed, but the window shopping was great! However, the Christmas shop was open, and Matt was a good sport and extremely patient while I decided on which ornaments to buy. Forget about the fact I have more than enough for a 10 foot tree – there is always room for more. We also went to a print shop/gallery where the outgoing owner offer me a glass of sherry while we looked. She tried to talk Matt into one also, but he declined. This time Matt helped pick out prints and we ended up buying four scenes of the town.
This is the walled area of the town- walkway, stairs, tower, and views of the rooftops.
The town square, details from shops, churches and the Hotel Markstrum.
Yesterday on the way to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany we stopped in Munich to visit the BMW Museum and Welt, and the Olympic Park. The BMW Museum and Welt were fantastic! I had as much fun as Matt. If you love cars and especially BMWs, you’ll love this place. The Welt is the ultimate BMW showroom. When we entered the parking garage there were several spaces with signs stating they were reserved for “BMW On Demand”. Each space had a new car parked in it. We later found out these are the cars being picked up by new owners. My next BMW is going to be picked up here…
The museum is bowl-shaped with architecture as interesting as the exhibits. While it appears closed and dark from the outside, the interior is bright and airy with a spiral walkway leading from top to bottom. Exhibits are located along the spiral.
The exhibits cover the history of BMW from its beginnings as a manufacturer of aircraft engines to motorcycles, automobiles and futuristic prototypes.
The design of the Welt is amazing and has the feeling of a giant wave. Constructed of glass and steel, it is open and airy with a huge showroom. All of the latest BMW models are on display with salesmen ready to answer questions. Up to 100 owners from around the world pick up their new BMWs there every day. There are also several shops and cafes, and during our visit an indoor driving range was set up. While we were there I actually took more photos of the architecture than the cars…
This was Matt’s favorite model…
And this is mine…
After seeing enough BMWs to last a life time, we walked on a sky bridge (over the motorway) to the Olympic Park, home of the 1972 Summer Olympics. This has to be one of the most beautiful parks I have ever see. It is filled with things to do from zip lines, to bungee jumping, soccer, swimming, boats and cafes.
In my next post I’ll have photos of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. It is a beautiful walled village in the State of Bavaria.
As we leave Austria, here are a few parting shots of Fussen, Germany located in the State of Bavaria, Salzburg, and the Austrian village St. Wolfgang, located along the side of a Lake Wolfgang in the Alps not far from Salzburg.
These photos are from Fussen, Germany – I love the colorful buildings and the the fairy tale like Neuschwanstein Castle just outside of Fussen (also known as Mad King Ludwig’s Castle). We had one surprise though – the castle was almost entirely covered in scaffolding. This is the only view of it where most of it doesn’t show. The web site for the castle said nothing about the scaffolding, but then I guess not many people would be visiting it if it said be prepared not to see the castle due to construction…
This is one of many windows in Salzburg filled with Mozart chocolates. It is impossible to visit Salzburg without eating and leaving with chocolate.
We loved St. Wolfgang with it’s setting on the pristine lake surrounded by the peaks of the Alps. It’s a quaint village, population about 2800, that is a perfect place to spend an afternoon walking and exploring the shops and beautiful church. It is one of the most famous mountain villages in Austria
We are staying at Schloss Haunsperg, a castle in the town of Hallein just 15 minutes outside of Salzburg. Built in the 14th century, the castle was originally owned by Count Haunsperg, and has been in the current owner’s family since the 1800’s. the castle is not only beautiful, but tranquil in its garden setting.
At breakfast this morning, the owner was telling me that the tower, while modified, was originally built during Roman times as a watch tower, and was also used as a resting point for travelers on a Roman road that went by here. There is also a small Baroque chapel, that seats about 25, and is used for weddings, baptisms, and family masses, one of which was held last night to celebrate a saint’s birthday. Another interesting bit of history is that the text to the “Blue Danube” waltz was written here.
When we arrived we were given a room key, which is also a key to the front door of the castle. The walls are ivy covered, with beautiful roses climbing up to the windows.
Our room is on the 4th floor and is partially located in the tower. We have a huge bedroom and large sitting area. Beautiful antiques are used throughout the castle, and as Matt has mentioned, it looks like a museum. But it feels like anything but a museum. The owners are warm, welcoming and fun, making you feel at home immediately and urge you to explore the castle. These are our rooms.
And details from around the castle.
Today is Monday and according to our itinerary it must be Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Lichtenstein – and we were in some of these countries more than once. Our final destination was Fussen, Germany. Fussen is located in Bavaria, near the Austrian border, at the end of what is known as the Romantic Road. We decided to stop in here because it’s near Neuschwanstein Castle, one of King Ludwig II’s three castles, which we’ll be visiting tomorrow. In photos the castle looks like something out of a fairy tale.
Since it was going to be a long day, we had decided our only stop on the way to Fussen would be Vaduz, Lichtenstein. Lichtenstein is a tiny country, between Switzerland and Austria, covering just over 62 square miles, with a population of about 35,000. While it was a bit out of the way, we decided it would be fun to add it to the list of countries we visited. Vaduz is a beautiful pristine, small town. No litter, no graffiti – postcard perfect everywhere. In the center is a pedestrian mall filled with artwork, expensive shops and cafes. The Prince of Lichtenstein’s castle was built in the 12th century and prominently sits high above the town. The Prince by the way is Prince Hans-Adam II von Lichtenstein – head of the 900 year old family.
Lichtenstein is a wealthy country, with a per capita income of $134,000. The town is filled with BMW’s, Mercedes’, Bentleys, Audis, Porsches and Jauguars, most of which were black. After exploring Vaduz, we stopped at the visitor center to have our passports stamped with Lichtenstein’s seal – and from the line evidently it”s a popular stop for tour buses. Included here are also a few photos of the sculptures and buildings in Vaduz.
We spent the rest of the afternoon driving through the countryside on small roads in Austria and Germany. The rolling hills, villages and farms were beautiful. By the time we stopped for the evening in Fussen, we were ready to cool off and relax – the weather has turned hot. Getting to our hotel was a bit tricky since it is near the center of Fussen in the old town area. After a few wrong turns and some back tracking (the GPS is not a lot of help when streets suddenly turn into pedestrian only – it still wants you to drive down them…) we made it to the Hotel Hirsch. You can’t miss it – it’s big and pink. It fit my criteria for hotels, being old and family run – in the same family for four generations. The staff are wonderful and upgraded us to a larger room in the turret at the front of the hotel. The room is huge with a small balcony. Tonight we are having thunderstorms, with thunder that I haven’t heard since living in the Midwest. But it’s a welcome change and cooling things off a bit. The temperatures have been in the mid to upper 80’s since we arrived in Annecy, France. Even in the mountains in Switzerland the highs were in the 80’s. Rain or no rain, we’re headed out to walk through the old section of Fussen, and then had a late dinner at the hotel restaurant.
These photos are of Fussen and Hotel Hirsch.
And a parting shot of Switzerland as we left Lauterbrunnen this morning. We didn’t get a chance to spend much time here and have added it to our must return to list. Next time I’d like to visit some of the waterfalls. Staubbach Falls, the one in this photo, is just one of 72 in the Lauterbrunnen Valley and is the first thing you see as you drive into town.
Tomorrow we’ll be visiting Mad King Ludwig’s castle and then on to Salzburg.