On the Very Well-Beaten Track

in which my brother and I spend our last day together on a short day trip to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, amid countless (mostly Japanese) tourists and stop in Ansbach en route home. I there there should be no doubt that I will finish this year with an impeccable knowledge of Bavarian geography, particularly if, when my sister comes in May, we make a long weekend of hiking in the part of the Alps I have not been to.

For our last day, Daniel and I made use of a ticket I had not previously taken advantage of–a ticket for the greater Nuremberg area. When we planned our short day trip to Rothenburg, an old medieval city beloved of American and Japanese tourists and near the beginning of the fabled “Romantic Road,” we assumed we would be taking the Bayern Ticket for 14€ each. Instead, we bought the Tages-Ticket-Plus for 14,20€ (for two) and caught the train to Rothenburg. The train ride was certainly a bit complicated, with two changes and taking an hour and 45 minutes (somehow connections that morning were a little odd–normally it would take about half an hour less), but we arrived without a problem. Our last train was just a quick little jaunt for 15 minutes, and it was at that point that it became obvious (as I really already knew) that we were on a very, very well-beaten tourist track. I think the last time I saw so many Asians was when I left Tokyo.  We picked up our map of the city on our way out of our train station, and we were confronted with yet another piece of evidence for the city’s popularity among tourists:

Ah yes, a map of Rothenburg, available in German, English, and Japanese.

We continued on to the city center, and it was immediately apparent why the city was so popular–the town is absolutely adorable. And very well preserved. We began our tour of the city by climbing up the old city walls and walking along them, slightly above the city. It was really nice to be able to actually climb around the city walls–they are an interactive part of the town, rather than simply a pretty decoration.

One entrance into the old city.

City walls. I couldn't help but think how fun it would be to take Thomas, the younger of my two brothers, here.

Such an adorable city!

Along the way, we continued to hear and see small reminders of the city’s popularity among tourists–from the omnipresence of English in the air to the kitschy tourist shops along a certain streets (dirndl, anyone? because it’s so typical of the region! (OH WAIT! that would be Oberbayern). Beer steins? Edelweiss jewelry (I make fun of that, but I half want some–but for love of Oberbayern/Alps, not for a false association of it with the region I live in)).

Right, then. Duly noted.

The touristy nature of this one particular street was suddenly explained as it became clear it connected the main tour bus drop-off point to the city center. Here, we pass a guided tour of the city.

We spent the morning and early afternoon café hopping and exploring, with no particular destination or activity in mind, which was absolutely wonderful. The overly-touristy nature of the city added only a certain degree of absurdity. It was really quite pleasant (though wickedly cold). We stopped for an absurd picture at a torture museum.

This picture was necessary. So, so necessary.

It was an utterly pleasant day. We quickly felt, however, that we had exhausted the town’s offerings, so we hopped aboard a train and caught the next one to Ansbach, a city we would have to change trains at, anyway. The town came into notoriety this past fall when it was the location for the most recent school shooting, but the pictures of it looked pretty enough in my guidebook to the region. We figured it wouldn’t hurt anything.

There wasn’t much to do there, not surprisingly. But we wandered the Christmas Market, and Daniel befriended a camel.

Daniel makes a new friend.

We then warmed up over Kaffee & Kuchen in a café, shopped a bit, and then headed back to Nuremberg to take care of our final Christmas shopping necessities and make use of a wonderful offer from my mother to treat us to dinner. But more on that separately. This post has more than enough photos already.

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