Rothenburg and Wurzburg were our destinations on Day 5 of my Highlights of Germany river cruise with Avalon Waterways. Coaches departed at 8:30am from Wurzburg harbor for a tour of the Bishop’s Palace and a guided walking tour or Wurzburg.
The Bishop’s Palace (Residenz), built in the early 1700s, is a UNESCO world heritage building. It houses the world’s largest ceiling painting by Venetian artist Tiepolo.
I opted to walk into Wurzburg on my own. The city is surrounded by vineyards and rural farmland. However, the city itself is a busy town with a highway running through it. It was also a hot day. Walking into town may have colored my first impressions of Wurzburg as a busy, noisy town rather than a peaceful charming village.
Sitting high above the town on the opposite side of the river, Marienberg Fortress looks over the town as if still guarding it from invaders.
As I approached the older town center the architecture and ambience slowly morphed into that of a bustling tourist town with remains of its historic past visible amid the newer buildings.
All passengers were back on board Artistry II by 11:45am for a buffet lunch before boarding coaches for a one hour drive to Rothenburg, described by some as the most beautiful town along Germany’s Romantic Road.
Our guide put the one hour drive to good use filling us in on the history of Rothenburg and giving us a mini-tutorial on the wines of Franconia and their uniquely shaped bottles.
In my post about our day 2 stop in Regensburg I described some suspect looking pastry called Snowballs. Our tour guide’s description of the pastry that can keep for up to six weeks confirmed that my decision to pass them up had been a good one!
We arrived in Rothenburg about 2pm where the coaches dropped us off outside of the old town walls. I walked through the town walls into Rothenburg, a village that was first referenced in history in 1144.
Now a major tourist site and busy shopping town, Rothenburg still manages to retain its charm and give a sense of stepping back in time.
There are many pedestrian only areas providing an opportunity to stroll past some of the best preserved half timbered houses in Germany.
Our guided tour lasted one hour and we then had one and a half hours on our own to explore the town. Throughout Germany I was attracted by the wells in the center of the old towns. It is easy to imagine a time when citizens gathered there to get their water for the day and catch up on the town gossip.
On our guide’s recommendation I spent some time exploring the Castle Gardens. This was my favorite spot in Rothenburg. Once you walked through the Castle Gate the tourist shops and crowds disappeared.
Exiting the gardens from next to the wall you are on a quiet street off the beaten path.
Once away from side streets and pedestrian only areas the city can be crowded and noisy.
After walking through the gardens I was ready for a cool drink. Looking for a place to stop I observed Snowballs in many windows. In spite of our tour guide’s warnings and my own hesitations I was tempted to see how they actually tasted.
I was glad I resisted that urge when I happened upon Beimeisterhaus. The baked goods on display drew me in and I decided it was the perfect choice for my cool drink and a treat.
I opted for the Raspberry Streusel Cake which I enjoyed in the inner courtyard.
This building was constructed in 1596 for the city’s Master Builder and now houses a bakery/café.
Refreshed by my scrumptious streusel cake and some iced tea I resumed my walk around Rothenburg.
Markus Tower and Roder Arch are an iconic scene in Rothenburg. The Röderbogen Arch dates back to the 12th century and was part of the town’s first fortifications.
On the side of St. James Church is the way of St. James Statue. The pilgrim holds a scallop shell, carried by many pilgrims who walk the Camino de Santiago in honor of St. James.
At 4:45 it was time to board the busses for our return to the Artistry II, happy hour and dinner.
Prior to dinner Cruise Director Sabine made an announcement that Avalon Waterways management wanted to compensate us for our delayed schedule on Day 3. Therefore either of the optional excursions on Day 9 would now be free to anyone who wanted to sign up. Passengers who had already paid for these excursions would be given a credit.
Considering that our delay had to do with a backup of ships at the locks beyond the control of the Avalon, and that we had already been given a free happy hour in Nuremberg, this was a generous gesture.
Most evenings passengers have the option to reserve a seat at the Bistro Dinner in the Panorama Lounge in lieu of eating in the dining room. There is minimal seating and each passenger is allowed to select the Bistro Dinner once during the cruise, insuring that everyone has the opportunity.
The dinner is served as a tasting menu with a selection of smaller plates for each course. Every bite was a treat for the senses.
Everyone at my table agreed that the chocolate selection in the desserts was the best bite of the evening. It looked so simple and yet delivered complex flavors and complete satisfaction.
Our server gave us the added bonus of a display of magic tricks just for us.
Enjoying the company of my Bistro Dinner tablemates we all decided to stay where we were and enjoy the music provided by the onboard musician while continuing our conversation.
This was the first night that I was in the lounge when they brought in the Late Night Fare at 10:30. Still too full from dinner I did not taste the food but did snap some photos for my readers.
At the end of my day of touring and eating I was ready to return to my cabin and prepare for the next day’s adventures in Miltenberg.