German Word of the Day:
n., history, background, record
After our week in Berlin wrapped up (read my post about that here), my host family and I got back on the road and hit six more German cities in the next seven days. We spent most of that time in an area called Franken, an area roughly in the middle of Germany. The region is known for its picturesque countryside, dialect (which is apparently hilarious to native German speakers – too bad I couldn’t tell the difference!), wineries, and cities such as Nuremburg and Rothenburg.
Visiting Franken gave me a whole new view of Germany. As we cruised past tiny tile-roofed villages and rolling green vineyards, I felt like I was popping into a Grimm Brothers story, a medieval epic, and a Lonely Planet travel guidebook all at the same time. A few months ago, my definition of “really old” was the town hall in Boston; this week, it felt unreal to look out the window and see yet another 1000 year-old castle roll by. This area is no more or less real Germany than any other region, and yet I felt the difference in the sense of “time” there… sure, Franken is full of smartphones and electric toasters and digital watches, but it seems, in a way, like a present manifestation of a past era.
Alright, I’ll stop being philosophical now and get to the pics. Here’s your five-minute tour of central Germany:
Wittenberg is not technically part of Franken, but it was on the way as we came from Berlin, so we spent the weekend there. Wittenberg is famous for being the home of Martin Luther, who started the Protestant Reformation in 1517. The Reformation was a religious thing, but it pretty much revolutionized every aspect of life in 16th-century Europe, both of which facts make the town a popular destination for history nerds.
We were there on a Sunday, so I actually got to go to church in the very place where the whole Reformation got started. And, of course, I saw the door where Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses.
Würzburg gets the spotlight as my favorite city in this region of Germany. During our one day in the Stadt, we visited at least 4 churches cathedrals, saw the Marienberg Fortress, and stopped at many beautiful shops and bakeries. Definitely worth a visit.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
So, here we are at what may be the most classic of all southern German towns: Rothenburg ob der Tauber. It’s a tiny medieval city completely surrounded by an ancient stone wall. It’s full of tiny German shops selling woodcuts and Christmas ornaments and Schneeballs (deep-fried, sugar-coated balls of crumpled cookie dough – a local tradition). It’s a total tourist trap, but maybe it deserves to be, because it feels legitimately magical. It also happens to be one of the few cities in Germany that I have visited before (I was there four years ago). For the first time in two and half months, I got to experience remembering something. Anyway, here are some pictures for ogling:
The last city I have pictures of is Nürnberg, or Nuremberg. Nuremberg is known for having a big medieval fortress, a famous prison, and tiny sausages that go three-to-a-bun. We didn’t see the prison but we did hit the other two points.
Well, you’ve made it this far through Germany. The other two cities I mentioned earlier were exceedingly small and I don’t have any good pictures of them. As recompense, here’s a picture of me and an adorable cow from one of our camping sites
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