Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy….
In case you are wondering, that is half a birthday song to celebrate Alexa’s half birthday 🙂
We started our day with a delicious hostel-provided breakfast. It was a normal continental breakfast, and yet not. They had a larger selection of cereals, meats & cheeses. They had both toast and buns. And to add to it, they had fresh fruit & veggies. We giggled at the veggies as it was sliced up cucumber (Justine’s favorite & Kristin’s allergy) and tomatoes (Kristin’s favorite & Justine’s least). They also have a sophisticated coffee machine that makes cappuccinos & other fancy drinks. Justine kept filling up her smaller mug until she had had enough to equal one of her regular giant mugs. Then she had a brilliant idea for Kristin: when the machine makes a cappaccino it adds the hot, steamy milk and then added the coffee so if Kristin could be quick and she pull her cup out at the right time she would have only steamed milk! Add a Chai Tea bag & a little bit of sugar and we’re practically Starbucks! We took advantage of the buns and meat & cheese to make sandwiches for lunch. We also stowed away some fruit for a complete meal.
We walked into town to the sound of the clock town bells. Hearing them is adorable and pleasant…to a point… “It’s 10 o’clock, not 58 o’clock.” That is a direct quote from Ms. Kummer. She then started counting the chimes but gave up after 100. Ridiculous! We ended up at the Doll & Toy Museum. The Doll and Toy Museum was exactly what it sounds like. It was a large collection of dolls and toys! The main focus was dolls and how they have changed over the years. We will admit it was a bit creepy at times, with all of those eyes following you, but a lot of the dolls were adorable. This would have to be the creepiest display though:
Really we took that picture just for Kennedy, who we know is missing her “best friend” dearly. We love you kid, but sometimes you are so odd…. The highlight would definitely have been the large number of doll houses. There was a wide variety, ranging from just one room (a lot of the time this was either a kitchen or a store…play to prepare the girls from a life as a homemaker or shop worker we guess) to grand palaces. There was even one that was supposed to be the Tulieries (which was one of the palaces in Paris). Our favorite was the doll house hidden away in a wardrobe. It was just such a clever idea!
Next, the Medieval Crime Museum. This immediately made us think of Auntie Debbie…she would have loved this place! It had awesome descriptions of the laws of the medieval times, how they were interpreted and enforced, and lots of info on punishments…and all in terms even we could understand! One interesting exhibit talked about seals. At that time one did not really sign with a signature, instead they stamped their seal to documents. Kristin wants to start doing this…can you imagine the look on a cashiers face when they ask for your signature on a Visa receipt and she starts dripping wax onto the paper to stamp into?
In the middle ages laws were much simpler, and ridiculous. One of our favorite Rothenburg laws was that you could not do any Jump Dances as they involved too much exertions and throwing young ladies resulted in too many injuries. The trials were also done quite differently. To have a trial you needed one eye-witness account. To make a conviction you needed two congruent witness statements (that’s it!), or you needed a confession. If you did not volunteer one you were tortured until you admitted to your crime. So much for being assumed innocent. For torture they liked mechanisms such as the rack (which stretched you until your joints popped) or a modified rack that twisted you. Or they would just sit you in this comfy chair:
Now on to punishment! This could vary from the extremes of hanging or beheading to public ridicule. All of it was so hard ot imagine going through, but the longer we looked at the information and instruments, the funnier it all got. These were the funniest ones were the minor instruments of punishment that one would have to wear while standing in the public square or walking around town. Check out these ridiculous masks you would wear (each for a specific crime) or the neck violin that they would put 2 quarreling women in until they started to get along.
They even showed medieval classroom punishments. When you were bad at school you had to wear a stupid hat and sit on the donkey (which was thought to be a disgracful animal). When Kristin pointed it out with a giggle Justine’s only reply was, “Mr. Befus would have had you riding that donkey everyday.” Too true, Too true.
We had our lunch break by our hostel. We had to use the bathroom and we knew there was free one for us to use there. We also wanted to fill up our water bottles at the water cooler. There is a large area around the hostel that used ot be the yard of the mill. It has a barn (that has been converted to a conference/banquet hall), a nice stretch of wall to walk on and a random amphitheater. It was on a small cliff overlooking this theater that we sat to have our buns & fruit.
Next stop was the Christmas Museum! We knew our mothers would probably disown us if we had skipped a museum strictly dedicated to Christmas decorations…not that we wanted to. We love Christmas! The museum was actually really well done, chronicling the development of Christmas trees, ornaments and other decorations through time. The Christmas tree started appearing in the late 17th century, but it didn’t make it’s way into private homes till the early 1800’s. Decorations at that time were homemade and often consisted of fruit and cookies. Over time the ornaments developed into nonperishable, cotton, glass or paper ornaments, or kugels as they are called here. It took a long time until ornaments became widely produced. It also used to be very common to have candles lighting up the tree. This seems very dangerous doesn’t it? It wasnt until about 1910 that lightbulbs and electricity were wide spread enough for christmas light strings ot be popular. We were amazed by this tree, from the early 1900’s. Looking at it and knowing when it was from it just looks old. But if we hadn’t read the description we would have assumed all of the ornaments were made by elementary school students.
One exhibit talked about the development of Santa Claus and how one of the men he was originally based off was an old man who wandered around Germany giving out presents to good children. But with this man came a second who carried around a sack & bar and beat bad children! Not cool!
In the end the museum was quite informative, but also it was lovely to just look at trees for over an hour. It was here that it hit us how close it will be to Christmas when we get home! The trees and decorations will already be up! Some presents might even be wrapped already (well at least at the Kummer household…the Padgets like to wait to wrap on Christmas Eve :S). Anyway, we want to make you all smile with Christmas spirit so here’s another picture!
Beneath the museum was the Christmas Village Store. This may seem like the museum is really just a cheap ploy to get people into the store, but we stand by the fact that it was actually really good. And the store was an attraction in itself as well. First, it was the biggest Christmas store either of us had ever been in. It had room after room that was bursting with decorations (mainly ornaments). But the rooms weren’t just selling decorations; they were decorated. The walls, ceiling and floor all seemed to be in the holiday spirit. And then we walked into this room:
We’re pretty sure we both gasped at our first sight of it and then there were many “Wow, that’s just magical”s that followed.
After leaving the Christmas wonderland we were in a shopping mood, so we finished up purchasing our souvenirs, etc. Dropping our newly acquired belongings at the hostel, we had a little break. It is very hot in Germany this week and we don’t want to overwork ourselves in the sunshine. You might be thinking right now, “Oh yes, all of your sightseeing is such hard work!” We are not complaining or trying to get sympathy; we are simply expressing the fact that being a professional tourist involves a lot of walking, standing, stair climbing and being out in the hot sunshine. These are all fine with us, we just don’t want to over-do-it and be sick again!
We spent the late afternoon walking the old town walls. Over half of the wall has a walkway along it that used to be old ramparts. Ramparts are the area the soldiers would stand when an enemy was attacking. From here they could throw spears and shoot arrows or canons down on the invaders. There isn’t walkway the whole way around because much of the town is bordered by valley (for a photo see yesterday’s post) and an invader would have to be stupid to try to climb the cliff up get in this way! The ramparts are covered so our walk made a nice break from the sun beating down…not that we mind! We don’t want to go back to rain! There were some nice views of the city, both the ancient part we have been exploring and the modern part that has grown outside of the wall.
After a sit down on the town hall stairs (oh how we love loitering on stairs in public squares!) we set off in search of a dinner location. One of Rick Steves top recommendations for the city was just a few blocks off the Market Square so we decided to check it out. It’s called Kellerbürger…but it is not a burger joint! Bürger is actually the German word for a townsman and the restaurant had lots of traditional German dishes. Justine had Paniertes Schweineschnitzel “Wiener Art” mit pomme frites und Salaten. Kristin had Ein Paar heibe geräucherte fränkische Baurenbratwürste auf Linsengemüse mit Spätzle. Don’t know what that is? We actually pretty much knew what those meals were…but Goggle Translate did help us out a bit. Translated, Justine had Weinerschnitzel, which is pork breaded and fried, with French fries and a lovely appetizer salad. Kristin’s was bratwürst, aka sausage, with spätzle, which is a little potato noodle, and a lentil vegetable, which tasted kind of like pork & beans but with really tiny beans. Everything was delicious…Kristin especially enjoyed hers, but that was to be expected as she basically had the German equivalent to her Bangers and Mash.
For a fun night time activity we took the Night Watchman’s Evening Walking Tour. We were not the only ones with this idea…there was probably 70 people on the tour. This is probably because of one main reason and we will quote the woman behind us at the start of the tour to explain it: “Its because Rick Steves recommends it…Damn you Rick Steves!” Although we love Rick Steves she did have a point… The crowd didn’t really bother us though, because we stuck right at the front the entire time. There really could have been just us and 2 other young ladies who were doing the same thing (which was following right in the guides wake) on the tour and it wouldn’t have felt any different for us.
The tour was a detailed description of the town’s past, while being highly entertaining! The Night Watchman was dressed in a black cloak and carried a lantern in one hand and a giant axe over his shoulder. He was quite the sight walking around the streets of Rothenburg. We were given a detailed description of the duties performed by a night watchman (watching for fires & invaders, making sure everyone’s doors were locked, etc.) and as he lead us around town we were given a detailed description if the towns past. We learned, like in all perfectly preserved medieval cities, Rothenburg’s past had great success and then an extended period of poverty. This is why they havent modernized. After 250 years of nothing happening in Rothenburg, tourism in the late 19th century brought people and wealth back to this old city.
We love night tours, they give us a reason to stay out after supper time! When we got back to the hostel we were happy to see we had no roommates. This gave us plenty of room to spread out our belongings and get packed and ready to leave tomorrow morning.
Love, Luck & Lanterns,