This wasn’t how I’d envisioned my return to medieval marvel, Rothenburg ob der Tauber. People staring amusedly, a spectacle. My escorts seemed oblivious to the attention. I guess when you drive around in a military vehicle in their kinds of get-ups, you get used to it. I had, however envisioned a more romantic re-introduction to what has become the cornerstone of The Romantic Road.
romantic Rothenburg ob der Tauber
It had taken me some 26 years to make my way back after a one-off Christmas market appearance in 1997. I’d been to a few other half-timbered house dotted, walled wonders in the interim but those had had a brewery or two to lure me in. Weißenburg and Seßlach had been relatively early on and I’d finally succumbed to the charms of Dinkelsbühl recently but Rothenburg always sounded like too much hassle, too many people, not enough beer.
Dinkelsbühl & Seßlach
Of course, you can’t base all of you decisions on beer and my wife has plenty of input on where we spend our vacations. As a German, going to somewhere warm and sunny is pretty central for her and after a decade of gray Novembers living here, I now more than understand it. Still, even she was intrigued with this medieval gem as a long weekend getaway so we hatched just that for the Pfingstenwochenende.
a walled wonder
As a good planner, I booked our rooms WAY in advance and was surprised at how pricey it was. Ok, it was one of the most popular long weekends in Germany. I also set my sights on something to do on the Friday before the wife arrived. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that part of this trip was to finally get to Landwehr-Bräu just north of town. Though never a top priority, it was one of those places which was always a wee bit far for a day trip from Munich so I wanted to knock it off. I also didn’t want to drag my wife on a bus trip after she’d traveled three hours on a couple of trains. Though a bit beer-centric, I’m A) a good husband and B) not entirely stupid.
the first view of Landwehr-Bräu
With the way the trains and buses ran, I arrived at my destination about an hour before the lunch meals ended and about 80 minutes from the only bus back out. I love the excitement of a deadline. I knew I didn’t have much time but I am generally very careful about where that return bus will leave from. I know well you don’t want to be looking for it when you’re trying to catch it. I was partially mesmerized by the half-timbered guesthouse brewery and I did see a stop directly across the road from where I’d jumped out. So, I just went in without thinking, after taking the photos I’d perhaps been a bit too focused on.
a pleasant meal after my travels
The was food was quite good and different if a bit pricey. The beers were fair enough but not worth a trip in themselves. Service was initially excellent but just when I needed my check, my server went AWOL. I actually had to go in search of her, explaining my dilemma with the bus coming. It was a bit of a mad rush but I got out to the stop in time. Soon after, a bus came to the opposite stop, the one I’d been dropped off at. The driver didn’t say anything or motion me over as I’d had happen in the past when at the wrong stop. Needless to say, another bus never came and when I went over, the bus I needed to get was on that side. Dejected by my predicament, I went in to see if the restaurant could call me a cab.The owner was extremely helpful and said he’d have sent someone to get me in town after I’d told him I’d come on the local bus. He said the kitchen was closing shortly and he’d have one of the cooks that lived in Rothenburg give me a lift. Whew, I felt better about this story already but it got better when he took me out to the courtyard. He noticed two customers getting up to leave and asked if they were going into town and if they could drive me in. They said sure and the next thing I knew I was climbing into their vintage military vehicle and heading towards a once impenetrable walled town.
An obviously successful assault
The guys, while a bit oddly attired for everyday life, turned out to be going to a big antique car show and loved the western US National Parks so we had tons to talk about on our mission. Getting through the walls proved easy enough but finding my hotel was another matter despite their complex navigational equipment. 😉 As you can imagine, there are a lot of one-way roads in an old medieval town not built for motor vehicles. They insisted on dropping me right at my hotel door and though it would have likely been quicker on foot, I wasn’t about to argue with my heroes, especially since they were in uniform and as owners of said vehicle, clearly outranked me.
the master planner had missed the Meistertrunk!
I thanked them profusely, jumped out of the vehicle as gracefully as I could manage and checked in, not entirely unaware of the proliferation of people mulling around in medieval attire. The reception asked if I’d been to the Meistertrunk before and I was a bit embarrassed to admit I’d not even heard of it. It’s just the biggest festival in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Suddenly, the price of the room made more sense and my planning skills were looking pretty sketchy. At least I had a funny story about how I got into town to tell the wife. She’d see through it of course but she’d still just shake her head and smile at how lucky I am. At any rate, I still had some time to explore and I’d spotted a Biergarten down on the river. It was a stunning spring day. The kind of day that makes all poor preparation look just fine.
a sure wife-pleaser
Unter den Linden turned out to be a paradisaical lush spot, one my wife was sure to love even if it was quite the slog back up to town after deciding that the dark Landwehr beer seemed a lot better on the river. Ob der Tauber doesn’t take into consideration the elevation change between the river and the town proper. I got back up in plenty of time to retrieve Mrs. Carbonara from the train station. Unfortunately, it was on foot but it’s the thought that counts and she was happy to not have to resort to Google Maps to find the hotel. She was amused by my dramatic entrance to town, intrigued by my Biergarten discovery and thrilled with the Meistertrunk, as she loves all things medieval.
Meistertrunk Magic & a stork’s nest for good measure
It was already time for dinner so we made our way over to another ace up my sleeve, a half-timbered restaurant housed right at one of the town’s most atmospheric gates which happened to not only serve the Landwehr beer but also was entirely vegetarian. Just to pile it on, I showed her a stork’s nest I’d spied earlier in the day, on the way over. The little Biergarten was bustling but I’d been able to make a reservation online so we could sit outside with a lovely view of the wall. The young servers were attentive and friendly, the food innovative and surprisingly tasty. Landwehr am Turm would see us a lot over the weekend. Happy wife, happy life.
a fantastic meal in an atmospheric spot
The next day found us exploring the town and festival. The weather was about as perfect as a spring day can be: sunny, not too hot and dry. We walked around the interior of the wall with surprisingly fantastic views and wound up back at our new favorite restaurant for lunch when we just happened upon it, this time descending from the wall.
more Meistertrunk images
After lunch, we meandered around some more as you do when you have no plan of action. This generally turns out to be the best plan after all. We sampled the town’s touristy confectionery treat Schneebälle with a stiff coffee before finally succumbing to the only place to spend such a lovely afternoon. As expected, Unter den Linden was a great hit. We’d brought some sausages we’d bought at the butcher shop and rolls from a bakery. While the beer isn’t a world beater, in this setting and after walking around for hours, it sure tasted great.
it’s not always about the beer
After prying ourselves away from paradise, aided by the setting sun and ensuing insects, we made our way to Zum Schwan for a Spielbach prelude. Even with the beer from the Goldochsenbrauerei, it was anti-climactic. The best part was watching passersby trying to pick up a coin someone had glued onto the cobblestone street. Like a funny video, you can only watch it for so long and we left after only one beer. We had bigger and better things planned for the next morning and a comfy if expensive bed in a half-timbered hotel awaited.
if you can’t make it to Spielbach, this can ease the pain
Ulterior motives can be a driving force and though Rothenburg had its obvious draws, I would be lying if hiking to Spielbach wasn’t one of the reasons for this weekend getaway. It was surely why it happened on a bank holiday weekend as the timeless gem pub is only open on Sundays for lunch. Otherwise, it’s after six. A day time visit was essential to the hike and when we’d woken up to another stunning day, we got on the trail after a small stroll around town sans the crowds.
gotta love a girl that loves beerwandering
It was even better than I’d imagined and I’d been doing just that for quite a few years since my first visit to this special place. The circle was just about complete but on the walk back, we just happened to pass our new favorite Biergarten and how could we resist stopping in for one after the six-mile hike? Sitting in the sun, enjoying a beer after a hike with my best friend wife, I finally relaxed. I hadn’t entered Rothenburg ob der Tauber how I’d envisioned it but the ending was pretty damn storybook close.
D enjoying a much deserved place in the sun
More practical information on the Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
More practical information on hiking to Spielbach.
I know I have a tough job but someone has to do it. It does cost money visiting the various breweries, especially as Beerwanderers goes further into Lower Franconia. Hopefully, this information will be helpful for your future planning. Please consider buying me a beer 🍺!