Rothenburg ob der Tauber: Stepping Back In Time

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.

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The town square, details from shops, churches and the Hotel Markstrum.

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BMW Museum and Welt and the Olympic Park

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.

BMW Museum

The exhibits cover the history of BMW from its beginnings as a manufacturer of aircraft engines to motorcycles, automobiles and futuristic prototypes.

 

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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…

BMW WeltBMW Welt

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This was Matt’s favorite model…

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And this is mine…

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Olympic Park

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.

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In my next post I’ll have photos of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. It is a beautiful walled village in the State of Bavaria.

Fussen and St Wolfgang

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…

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This is one of many windows in Salzburg filled with Mozart chocolates. It is impossible to visit Salzburg without eating and leaving with chocolate.

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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

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Lake Wolfgang

The crystal clear water of Lake Wolfgang
The crystal clear water of Lake Wolfgang

The Hills Are Alive…

We’re back near Salzburg, staying in the small village of Grödig,  just 10 miles from Salzburg. It’s quiet and quaint – away from the crowds of Salzburg.  But if you want to go into Salzburg, there is a bus stop nearby with frequent service that will have you in the heart of the city in about 20 minutes.

We’re staying in a traditional but modern Austrian style hotel called Hotel Sallerhoff. It is small, quaint, surrounded by gardens filled with flowers and sculpture. It’s a very comfortable hotel with gracious staff and an excellent self-serve espresso machine in the lobby. Our room had a seating area and small balcony overlooking the grounds.

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We had excellent sandwiches from a small cafe in the village and enjoyed Austria’s favorite beverage…

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And then had a quiet evening listening to a thunderstorm echo in the mountains and watching …

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That’s right Sound of Music, which plays on a continuous loop in our room, in either German or English.

A perfect last evening in Austria.