We woke up on Day 6 and started the packing process as today we were due to take the train to Rothenburg. We went downstairs for our usual delicious breakfast, then finished the packing. Once again we were ready to move, with our huge backpacks on and pulling our rolling duffel bag. Renee was not interested in walking all the way back to train station (come on, it wasn't that far!). So we trundled over the walking bridge and into the main city until we found a Strassenbahn (trolley) stop. Just after we got there a trolley showed up, we were about to jump in, but I saw a big sign on the side that said "No entry without a valid ticket!".
We stepped back and found the automated ticket machine and worked our way through the process of buying tickets for the ride. Then we had to wait for a while. It was sunny and very pretty out, but at -8 C (17 Farenheit), just a little chilly. The trolley finally showed up and dropped us off just in front of the train station, perfect! We had enough time to make our way to the proper platform and find
the right track for our ride to Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Rothenburg on the river Tauber). It took a couple of train changes, but after an hour and a half or so we arrived at Rothenburg!
Rothenburg is a little city, well known in Germany for it's completely reconstructed city walls. It sits above a river on a defensible site where various castles had been built over the centuries. The last major destruction it suffered was at the end of World War II. After that the rebuilding of the city center, churches and city walls began. Rothenburg is also known as the Christmas city, perhaps because Kathe Wolfahrt has a huge store there. The Kathe Wolfahrt brand is known for their voluminous amounts of Christmas decorations, nutcrackers, wooden smoking men, Christmas pyramids, and general Christmas nick-knacks.
Once we arrived at the main train station, which has only one track, I flipped on the GPS. Since we were staying at the same place, Hotel Garni Hornburg, that we had stayed at on a previous visit, we didn't really need it on. The hotel was all of maybe 4 blocks from the train station. So we saddled up all of
our bags and made our way towards the hotel, which is just outside the city walls, conveniently next to a little playground with slides, swings and climbing structures. The "hotel" Garni Hornburg is more of a guest house than a hotel. It's basically a really large, 3 story house. There are about 12 rooms in all and the operation is run by the same husband and wife team that we first met 9 years ago on our honeymoon.
After unloading our bags, and taking a short rest break, our tour director had us back on the road again. We bundled up in hats, scarves and mittens and headed into the city center. Renee was on the lookout for a hat for Camille, as Camille complained about wearing the one she had. We found the same store that we had visited on our last trip and went inside. As Renee and Camille were busy trying on and rejecting all of the hats in the store, Carter, who had been wiggling his lose tooth, asked where the bathroom was. I showed him which way to go, then he came back and showed me his tooth, ... in his hand!! Carter (finally,
at age 7 1/4) had lost his first tooth!! Well there was a big commotion then; his mouth was still bleeding and the poor woman who worked at the store didn't understand much English and was concerned. I eventually was able to explain and we secured the tooth for a visit from the tooth fairy; thank goodness Renee always has an extra ziplock baggie handy!
After all that we headed towards the Christmas Market as the snow starting to fall. Camille and Renee found a store that sold teddy bears, and other stuffed animals, and they were instantly mesmerized. I'm pretty sure we spent several days in that store! Renee, unfortunately, told Camille she could have one little stuffed animal. Big mistake, once Camille realized she only had one shot, she couldn't decide which, of the hundreds(!), of stuffed animals to take home. She kept heading to the 100 euro and greater section, but we gently steered her back to the 9 euro section.
Since Camille was allowed to have one, Carter was allowed to get one as well. He walked around for about 2 minutes and then picked out a little black kitty cat with white paws.
Camille was nearly in tears because she couldn't decide, so we finally promised here we would come back (noooooo!) and she could decide another day. Well, at least that got us out of the teddy bear store, we quickly found a german restaurant for dinner, then headed back to the hotel through the freshly fallen snow. Ahh, the bed at last, and for Carter, a visit from the Tooth Fairy!
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