Backpacking through Europe: Bavaria and Lübeck

Two days ago we arrived in Stockholm, Sweden but I'm not quite done telling you all about Germany, so Denmark will have to wait. On April 21, we took an early train three-hours to Rothenburg ob der Tauber. It's known as a highly touristy town, but at several people's recommendation, I was told it's still worth at least an one-day visit. Thank goodness for that advice, because it was the cutest town we've ever been to! Yes I suppose there are lots of shops, tourist-priced restaurants and selfie-worthy spots, but it is also the perfect example of what you expect a small, German town to look like. 

On April 21 we arrived by train (wow I'm behind on posts!) and were immediately enamored with Rothenburg. We dropped off our bags at our accommodation for that night, the Altfränkische Weinstube, an adorable bed and breakfast with dangerously low ceilings for my tall husband but large, lovingly decorated suites and amazing, deep bathtubs (I've missed baths!). We bought sandwiches and juice from a nearby bakery and headed to the former castle's gardens for a picnic. After we soaked up a little sunshine, we headed back into town in search of a staircase or pathway up the old wall that surrounds the entire town. I didn't realize just how well maintained the wall was, or quite how long, but we spent the next two hours walking over bridges, peeking past cannons and out tiny windows, and marveling at all the small, gorgeous gardens in everyone's yards. The wall not only provides excellent views over the countryside, but the entire town as well. We finished our path back at the gardens, descended the stairs, and continued on one of the paths just past the garden to outside the wall. The green valleys beckoned to us, and we slowly continued down a steep decline to the lush grounds far below the town. I spun around until I was dizzy and tried to convince Keith to do a cartwheel. From there, we walked about a mile into small, nearby Towana - a town from the 900s with a lovely parish church and an open campground with a few small RVs scattered about the grounds. The sun was beginning to set as we made our way back uphill to Rothenburg. We tracked down one of the few restaurants open on a Tuesday night, ordered the local specialties of fried ravioli (a bit tasteless) and pork sausage (delicious). 

The following morning we enjoyed breakfast in our accommodation's dining room, surrounded by antlers, floral wallpaper and a few other early risers. After packing our bags we window shopped, considered trying to safely pack one of their beautiful ornaments (lots of Christmas shops) or locally made ceramic dishes in our backpacks, but talked ourselves out of it. We had heard two days earlier that some of Germany's trains might not run on Wednesday or Thursday because of a strike, so we headed to the train station a little early to insure we'd get to our next destination in northern Germany. The only train on our journey that day affected was the first one out of Rothenburg to the next town thirty minutes away. Thankfully they had back-up buses taking travelers, so we added another form of transportation to our ever-growing list, and caught the next train from Steinach to Lübeck.  We arrived in Lübeck around 7:30 pm (or 19:30 as we've grown accustomed to saying) and our next AirBNB apartment host graciously picked us up at the train station. We walked to the grocery store for a few items for breakfast the next two days, then got a late dinner at a local restaurant. Lübeck was honestly just a quick stopover on the way to Scandinavia, so we weren't expecting too much, but it turned out to be quite lovely. 

It's an old fishing village, once a thriving port, and the old town was painstakingly restored after WWII bombings. The red brick buildings reminded me of, my all-time favorite U.S. city, Boston and walking the path that encircles all of old town and runs along the water, makes for a wonderful afternoon. We explored St. Mary's Church - a gorgeous gothic cathedral that was so badly bombed during WWII that it's tower bells crashed to the ground far below and left a deep impression in the broken floor. The bells still lie there today. There is also an enormous astronomical clock that chimes at noon, and releases figurines at the top, that slowly move past Jesus, as he blesses each in turn. After the church, we enjoyed lunch from an outdoor food market in the square then walked to a famous marzipan store just a block away. Lübeck citizens boast of originating the recipe for marzipan. I'm not sure if that's true, but either way, they certainly make a very delicious treat! The town is also known for their marionette museum, which we spent the next few hours enjoying. It was a bit dark and creepy at times, but mostly entertaining, and honestly quite interesting to find out more about the history of puppetry throughout the world and years. Unfortunately the puppet theatre wasn't putting on any shows while we were there, so we ended our time in Lübeck at another locally recommended restaurant, and with drinks at a local favorite pub. It was formerly the fishermens' favorite and is now decorated with ship models and maps. 

After just seven too-short days in Germany, we boarded a train for Copenhagen, Denmark on April 24. I have a fun little story on how we got there, but I'll save that for my next blog post hopefully very soon!