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Fine. I Stayed Overnight in Rothenberg OdT. Are Y'all Happy Now?

OK, I have to admit...I kind of liked it.

For years I've been the person on this forum who recommends people don't go far out of their way for RodT. I stil maintain that. If you trip is Berlin-Munich environs I think it's a little bit crazy to go far out of your way to visit RodT because, as I always say, no matter where you go in Germany there is a charming, probably un-bombed town within 30 minutes train access.

That said...if you are doing the Romantic road, or staying anywhere nearby for whatever reason, a night in Rothenburg is a great idea. Yes, it's touristy. Yes, it's cliche. But at night the crowds go away and it is kind of magic. I am a little embarrassed at myself for being swayed by it, but here I am.

My history with RodT is part of the problem. I'd just lived in Germany a few months when my Grandmother visited and insisted on going there, as she'd been there in the 1970s as part of a coach trip and it was the highlight of her tour. This time, her and my mom complained about walking from the free parking, saw the Marktplatz, ate lunch, and were ready to leave. For a 5 hour round trip drive (traffic in and out of Stuttgart is notorious). Just a month later my in-laws had seen the Rick Steves episode about RodT and demanded to go. We pushed back but it was their first trip to Europe and they got their away. Another long, hot drive (our car didn't have AC) but it was similar to the trip a month prior, except that we saw the Medieval Crime and Punishment Museum. But we were probably in town less than 3 hours.

So yes, I was biased. But on my two previous trips I'd visited with people with mobility issues so we didn't get to explore the city fully, so that made a real difference this time. And I hadn't realized the extent of RodT's defensive buildings, because I'd only seen the city from the gates where we parked from. So this time, unencumbered, on foot, I was actually pretty impressed.

The Night Watchman's Tour is actually pretty great. He's got great comedic timing, but more importantly for me, he conveys accurate historical information in an entertaining way. (This is the reason I stayed here, honestly - I may or may not give tours in a city with a history similar to RodT's and was curious how he framed complicated historical issues in a simple and entertaining way. He is very good at what he does.) We also got lucky with the late afternoon light hitting the Spital quarter during the tour which made for a great photo op. The tour itself was pretty insane in terms of people - at least 100 started, mostly Americans, and by halfway through we'd picked up at least 50 more. This blew my mind a bit. He collected money at the end and it was clear a lot of people didn't pay, which is a real shame. My husband heard one American dude claiming, "Oh it's a free tour, we can tip if we want to," which is not true and he made it clear. That said, he must really clean up even if only half of the attendees pay.

We stayed at Gasthaus am Ploeinen, which I cannot recommend enough. A modern studio apartment in an old half-timbered building, with a balcony right against the city wall overlooking the Tauber valley and part of the old city, with a kitchen and an amazingly comfortable bed for only 86 euros. In theory you can drive to drop off your luggage but I'm still not sure how that would have worked, but we were able to drive through the bastion at least and near the hotel before the tourist hordes made it too difficult to maneuver. A few more things in the next post...

Posted by
3049 posts

A couple funny things:

  • There was a super untouristy Volksfest going on, taking up the normal nearest parking lot to the hotel. We had to park in a tiny one down the hill, which meant the shortest route to/from the hotel was actually along the walls and down through a tower. Crazy!

-The Volksfest didn't appear to have a single non-Franconian person in attendance. No one was wearing tracht (lederhosen or dirndls) and I heard no English at all. We only popped in for an hour but it was really fun, with a band playing a mix of schlager, fest music, and 90s hits. Service and people were very friendly and well, pretty drunk.

-We had dinner before the Night Watchman's Tour at Japanese Restaurant Lourve. It's a very strange place, lots of (mostly bad) art on the walls (hence the name) and friendly but incredibly slow service . We got there at 6:15 and only were able to leave by 7:45 because we were aggressive about getting the check. That said, the homestyle food was good, the sushi, not so much. I regret not getting the Katusu donburi.

-Went to a wedding at Burg Colmberg the next day, it's an easy 20 minute drive and if you ever wanted to stay in a castle but not break the bank, this is where you should do it. Our room was 125, and while your typical sized room, had a lovely bed, an amazing view. WAS IN A 12TH CENTURY CASTLE (that became a possession of the Hohenzollern family before they got big) and seems to only be known by Germans. Despite being close to RodT, it seems largely undiscovered by American tourists and would make a fantastic base or just a cool place to have lunch or dinner at (food is decent - get the Franconian wine and cheese soup!) if you're staying a few days in RodT if you have a car. It's not really accessible without a car.

Happy travels!

Posted by
3727 posts

We actually stayed two nights and had a lot of fun. It always feel more relaxed in smaller towns since everything is walkable and the rush to see everything isn't there unlike in a larger city. We always think of it as a short vacation from our vacation - think Cesky Krumlov in Czech Republic and, we hope, Wroclaw in Poland this summer. The Nightwatchman tour is top notch and very interesting and informative. Visiting the crime and punishment museum the next day added to the history lesson. Quebec City has similar tours which are in the same vain, tour guides dress for the time period, but they are very informative and historically accurate.

Posted by
3197 posts

I have always been turned off by the Night Watchman's Tour and Rothenberg OdT in general. You not only made me laugh out loud, but made me reconsider my personal bias.

Good job!

Posted by
4188 posts

Sarah, yes we are! So glad it exceeded your expectations!

Posted by
3923 posts

Glad you were able to enjoy RoT on your own terms. I'm glad we spent the night there on our first trip to Germany many years ago, 1982! Didn't know about the night watchman tour then. Maybe we'll have to have a "do over" in the future. It's nice to keep an open mind.

Posted by
5687 posts

I had heard so many negative things about Rothenburg ob der Tauber that I when I did my big "Germany trip," I nearly didn't visit at all. But I did eventually spend a night there - and I loved it! It was probably one of the highlights of my trip to Germany, so I'm glad I visited. It probably helped that my expectations were set to "super touristy" yet it wasn't, in mid-April, especially at night. Also helps that it's a small town, and I've come to appreciate smaller towns (even the touristy ones) more in recent years than the big cities that are kind of wearing me down.

Posted by
2334 posts

Mona - there was no Night Watchman tour then
Burg Colmberg is frequently mentioned as a castle hotel
It is nice that RodT has reasonably priced accomodations. Last trip we stayed in a nice apt near the Markt. I’ve also stayed in an inexpensive hotel and the youth hostel

Posted by
2270 posts

We went on the Night Watchman's tour sometime in the 90s, I'm sure after hearing about in from a RS episode. A highlight!

A "secret" to enjoying the small, touristy places anywhere is to stay at least one night IN the town. Lots of people, and bus trip tours, just do a day-trip to these places, and their charm returns when they leave in late afternoon. Bruge, Hallstatt, Rotenberg OdT, and others benefit from this strategy.

Posted by
982 posts

I stayed there two nights in 2012 and loved it. Walking around at dusk was really nice. I, too, thought the nightwatchman’s tour was great.

Posted by
19312 posts

Yes, Herr Baumgartner has honed his delivery and timing like a veteran standup.

According to his spiel, the job of Nightwatchman was the third lowest job in the social order. The only lower positions were the Undertaker and the Executioner ("They had the same clients"). He apparently took the job because nobody else wanted it. You had to work every night from March to the end of December with no days off. As a consolation, he spends the other 2 months soaking on a beach in Thailand.

Posted by
2889 posts

Y’all Happy Now?

Yes. I’m very happy. Loved Rothenburg, esp. in the evenings. Loved the Nightwatchman. This was in Oct. 2007.

Posted by
458 posts

Thanks for posting the fun read. Now I want to go! Went on a HS trip long ago and thought it was a magical town then.

Posted by
966 posts

I'm happy, Sarah. I've always liked RodT, even though when I lived in Germany, I think my local friends thought I was bekloppt. I love taking friends to the Christmas markets, and we usually fly into Frankfurt. Getting off the A-1 at Wurzburg, driving though the countryside, and coming through the medieval gate is always a magical intro to Deutschland for my friends. We can stay in my favorite B&B over a grocery store and save our euros for the expensive cities to come. Best of all, I know my jet-lagged friends will neither get lost or get run over! At night, especially when it snows, I still find it wonderful.

Posted by
1359 posts

My son was stationed in Vilseck Germany. So during my first visit in 2015 I made sure we visited RodT, got there late afternoon & left after dinner. Had forgotten about the Night Watchman Tour. This was at the end of May, not to crowded & my mother enjoyed the Christmas store. When I headed back to Germany again in 2016 I made a point to return to RodT for the Night Watchman tour & of course my mother wanted to do some more shopping at the Christmas store. Worked out well, headed straight there from Nuremberg Airport, walk around, had dinner & did the tour. It was a good tour, about 50 people on it, this was at the end of August. We visited at least 6 other small Bavarian towns on this trip. It was a nice slower pace than the previous years visit of Munich, Hallstatt, Salzburg & Prague.

Posted by
444 posts

I am so happy to read this because I decided (somewhat against the RS-forum tide) on our recent trip to stay the night in RodT after a couple posters PM'd me to suggest it, mainly for the Nightwatchman tour, and the experience of being there after the daytrippers leave. And I am so glad we did bc we loved it too. It was definitely magical to us, and one of the Germany highlights of our trip.

The Night Watchman's Tour is actually pretty great. He's got great comedic timing, but more importantly for me, he conveys accurate historical information in an entertaining way.

Agree with this, he was really quite good.Our tour had at least 60-70 people on it too-and we hung out in the square to see the beginnings of the German tour and there were even more people for that one! It looked really fun and I wished we spoke German :)

Posted by
2682 posts

You are too funny, Sarah. I like RodT too. We went in late November about five years ago. We got there the night before the Christmas market opened and stayed two nights. We got to see the Night Watchman's tour (which I agree is quite good) the first night and the opening of the Christmas market the second. On our full day there, we wandered all over the town, which was beautifully decorated for Christmas. It was not very crowded until the night of the market opening, and then people were pouring in as we left the next day, which was a Saturday. I thought the town was beautiful and charming. It even snowed - just enough to put a light coating over everything - making the whole experience magical.

Posted by
14465 posts

"The Volksfest didn't appear to have a single non-Franconian person in attendance." How very true! Exactly my experience with the Volksfeste, (in Nurnberg, Magdaburg), Blasmusikfeste, (in Vienna) or Schützenfeste (in Westfalen) I have been to over the years, where the bands played Schlager from 1970s or earlier to the present, (I pay attention especially to those from the 1970s), Tango, marching songs, ie, Austrian, Bavarian, Prussian, if you recognize them or they are announced by name, and other pop hits, either with singing or instrumental...all in all a very nice experience minus the those who had one too many.

The only foreign tourists present, if any, are around for a short while, and don't stick around for the duration at all as do the locals. True, it is all in German, and you won't hear English spoken at all.