Anne would totally be a Slytherin, but Mary’s a Hufflepuff…Yes, I have started classifying historical figures by their Hogwarts House.

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.
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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.
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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,

My frightening cat could totally take your big-horned sheep!

Good Morning World! And a Happy October to everyone!

Here is another post starting with our interesting night travels. We hopped on the train in Berlin at about 6 pm last night. After a 6 hour ride we ended up in Augsburg. Where is Augsburg? That’s a good question, and if you ever find out let us know. All we know is that it’s in Germany and didn’t have a good waiting room to sleep in. This was important to us as our train out of Augsburg was 6.5 hours after our train in. Everything was closed so we just found a piece of wall to sleep by.

Seriously, we just slept on the floor in the train station lobby. We each pulled out our sleep sheets (which are basically a sleeping bag but made with a sheet) and cozied in. Justine shoved her entire bag into the bottom of her giant sheet. Krsitin put her little one in, but used the big one as a pillow. We both had surprisingly good sleeps. We were only disturbed a couple of times: once by a station security guy who didn’t speak English and sounded at first like he was not happy about us sleeping there, but that’s just how Germans sound (mad that is) and we soon figured out he was just worried we might miss our train. The other times were by drunk people. It is still Oktoberfest here and we were only a couple hours from Munich by train. It seemed weird a first to see them stumbling in at 1 am after a 4 hour train ride, but then we thought about it…if there were a night train from Calgary to Edmonton you could easily go to Stampede in the day and then ride back home at night.

At 6 o’clock we got packed up so we could be on our 6:30 train. After two hour long rides and another short 15 minute one we were in Rothenburg. Or should we say Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Rick Steves had warned us there were many Rothenburgs in Germany that were only distinguishable by the river they are on, so we had to be careful to make sure our train went to the right place. Now those of you who were gifted with a special calendar/map before we left might be saying, “But wait! Did you just say Rothenburg?! Aren’t you supposed to be in Koblenz today?” And yes, that was the original plan, but scheduling conflicts forced us to rework our week in central Germany a bit…so you get to be surprised by our posts for awhile too!

We walked from the station to our hostel. It was a little tricky as they don’t have the best street signs here but we made it. The hostel is really nice! It is situated in a renovated old horse mill that was used when the town was under siege and the river-powered mill was inaccessible. The room is big (with 5 beds), there are lots of showers and the location is rather convenient for exploring the old town. The wifi is a bit dodgy, but you can’t have everything and we are making it work.

We weren’t able to check in yet as it was only about 9:30 am but there were handy lockers to stow our bags in. After getting organized we were on a quest for breakfast. By this point Justine was starting to get a lack-of-caffeine headache and Kristin was having I’m-soooooo-hungry stomach pains so the quest was a very determined one! Our hostel is situated at the South end of old town, just inside the historic walls. We walked towards the town center along a cute road full of other old & wonderful buildings. Eventually we found a cafe with cappuccino to go and a bakery with tasty buns & apple strudel. We settled ourselves on the steps of town hall and added a banana from the weekend market to the mix.
…that’s town hall…

While we ate we read through our various literature on Rothenburg. Kristin had out her cue cards & Rick Steves and Justine rooted through the handful of brochures she always grabs from the hostel reception. We laid out our plan for the next couple of days and came across a self-guided walking tour of town. Justine took over the role of tour guide & Kristin as official photographer and we set out. Here are a few of the coolest/most interesting/most photogenic places in town:

St George’s Fountain is the largest of the 40 fountains scattered throughout medieval Rothenburg. In the Middle Ages cities were built with very narrow streets making fires were a major concern. Being as Rothenburg is located on a plateau, access to water was a major problem. The fountains were meant to supply both fire and drinking water.

St Jacob’s Church (also known as St James Church depending on what guide you are going by) is a Protestant Church built in 1311. It is a symbol of the wealth of Rothenburg in that day, as it looks more like a grand cathedral than a mere church. It’s main attraction is the Holy Blood Altar. This amazing feature of woodworking was built to house a relic, a drop of Christ’s blood. Unlike last time we were supposed to see Christ blood and found out it was locked in a giant silver box, this time you can just make out the drop…it is set into the stone in the center of the cross.

On the far west side of the old town is the Castle Garden. This name is a little misleading as the castle was built in the 12th century and fortresses didn’t actually have gardens in those days. The name comes from the fact that the garden was created on the exact spot where the castle used to stand. This was the ideal place for a fortress as it is bordered on multiple sides by a 80 yard drop into a valley. For us this means spectacular views!

The Plönlein (translation: Little Square) is one of the most charming medieval sights in Germany…or at least that’s what our tour pamphlet claims. It is an adorable triangular square (hmmm that’s confusing) bordered with a great 14th century tower & a cute Tudor-style house (although this is Germany so it wouldn’t be called Tudor here…).

Oh! And one last town treat…Snowballs!
These little babies are sold everywhere. They are basically strips of dough layered & crumpled together to make a ball. That ball is then baked and covered in some sort of topping. Some also have a filling pumped into them. We decided we could not miss out on a local staple so we each tried one. Kristins was covered in powdered sugar & Justines had a dousting of granulated sugar + cinnamon. They were a great treat! The dough wasn’t too sweet so the flavor wasn’t overwhelming…they were just simple and yummy and sweetened by the sugars.

As we neared the end of our guided tour we started to wandering into the various shops around town. There are so many here and they all have such cute things. Although there are the classic tourist shops there are also ones with food & wine, woodworks & beer steins and loads of Christmas stores. This is likely to be where we do all of our Germany shopping!

Toured & shopped out, we returned to the hostel to do some laundry. “In-hostel laundry,” we thought. “That will be easy after Belgian laundromats.” And it would have been, except the 3rd floor breaker blew before we could even get the washer started. The man at reception fixed it for us (after he looked at us like we were crazy for suggesting the power was out on one floor of the building) and we were able to get out clothes all clean. We had slept well on the rail station floor last night, but we had still only slept 4 to 5 hours, so as a mark of how tired we were we both fell asleep waiting for our clothes to be done.

Once our laundry & two hour naps were done we ventured back into the town center. The light was slowly starting to fade and we caught brilliant glimpses of sunset & fog hanging over the valley outside the towns fortifications. We wandered about trying to find somewhere for supper. We ended up stopping to glance at a specials board at a random little restaurant tucked in a corner off the main road. The owner came out and offered to translate the dish descriptions for us and he made them all sound so delicious that we found ourselves a table there. We are rather proud of this find as it fits perfectly into Rick Steves’ description of a perfect not-a-classic-tourist-restaurant. It was small with just a few tables inside and out on the street. It had one cook (who was also the owner) and one woman waitressing for him (she may have been his wife). There was a small menu of mostly local style dishes and a handwritten specials board listing what would probably be made with the freshest available ingredients. And there were mostly people who could have been locals eating there. With twilight setting in and out ability to peak through the houses to the valley the ambience was perfect. We both ordered the same thing, Ravioli, and split a house salad. First the salad: it tasted very fresh and that suspicion was confirmed when halfway through dinner a man showed up with a wood crate filled with greenery & herbs. Then the Ravioli: Oh it was so good! It was green ravioli with white asparagus filling. They are crazy about white asparagus here…it’s one of their main affordale delicacies in Northern Europe…so we figured it was definitely worth trying while we were here! The ravioli was topped with a brilliant sauce that was tomato-ish but had a bit more of a oil & vinegar feel to it too. Hard to describe but we were wishing we had spoons it scoop up the dregs when we were finished eating. There was also a nice little mound of greenery on top and chuncks of warm goats cheese interspersed with the pasta.

We were still feeling a little sleepy so we return home to the hostel after supper. There we used the Internet and read for a bit before bed. Rothenburg gave us a beautiful day today and we are sure it will be just as brilliant tomorrow!

Love, Luck & Long Naps,