"Rambles through Rothenburg (ob der Tauber)" Rothenburg ob der Tauber by flyingscot4
Rothenburg ob der Tauber Travel Guide: 585 reviews and 1,823 photos
What is a "tourist trap." Is it a place where there are a lot of tourists or is it a place whose sole reason for existence is to attract tourists? Is it a place where the local economy is based exclusively on tourists? I am personally very passionate about this subject. I keep hearing the words "tourist trap" and wonder why a place is or is not referred to by that term. Perhaps there is confusion as to what the term actually means. I hope that that is the case and that my definition is accepted for its' validity.
For me, a tourist trap is a place that seeks to draw tourists to it's door for no other reason than to make money. It is often just a facade, like a movie set. Nothing is real. Reality is based on the perception of the tourist. Mainly, it's kind of a place where fiction is the key and history is exploited for nothing more than money. For example, the midway at a state or county fair is a tourist trap. The fair itself is serious; the midway draws outsiders and brings more money to the fair.
The major amusement parks are tourist traps. Where Mount Rushmore is a National Monument which draws a lot of tourists, Wall Drugs is a tourist trap. Mount Rushmore is inspirational as well as being a place of historical significance. Generally, tourist traps are fun and exciting with lots of rides and shows, but not very educational. The Disney Corporation is the obvious exclusion to this model in that Disney does provide educational material and experiences. There are some others as well. The real basis of Williamsburg and Sturbridge Village is educational and cannot be considered as just tourist traps.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is NOT a tourist trap. Tourists love the town for what it is: A REAL PLACE. Not a facade, not an engineered thrill ride, but a real place that is of both historical significance and culture.
Rothenburg is over 1000 years old. It was once the second largest city in Germany. In fact, Detwang, the small town in The Tauber valley below Rothenburg is even older. Today, tourism has become more important to Rothenburg because the AEG Corporation has moved from this city to the East to take advantage of inexpensive labor. Only two or three years ago 70% of the income of the citizens came from sources besides tourism.
Today's Rothenburg Altstadt (old city) is the best example of a medieval walled and fortified city in Europe. As one tours the city what strikes us is the reality of the city. There are no facades and very little that wasn't constructed centuries ago (other than WWII damage). The fact that tourists number in the hundreds of thousands each summer is a tribute to the reality of the city and its' historical character. There are other walled cities all over Europe, but there is only one Rothenburg, and it is a gem.
Touring this small city is worth taking your time doing. Regardless of when you visit, it is always best to spend the night. That is really the only way to comfortably see the city before the tourist buses arrive and the city gets crowded. For people interested in photography, the light is best early in the day and in late afternoon when the shadows are long. It's also when the day trippers are gone.
Today's digital cameras have made taking pictures of your travels much easier. The cameras fit in even shirt pockets. No more film and having to focus the camera, or set the aperture and shutter speed if you don't want to. Virtually all of today's digital cameras will do that for you. You can still have all the manual settings if you want, but you don't have to. Today you look at the LCD screen on the back of the camera, and what you see is pretty much what you get. Most importantly, you don't need to carry a bag with camera, three or four lenses, film, flash attachment, filters and all the other stuff. While I believe in a camera with an optical viewfinder, you don't have to have one of those either. Image stabilization lets you get better pictures in low light so now you can almost always work without a tripod. What will they think of next?
One thing about photography that hasn't changed is that you need light. On a really cloudy, overcast day, you can still take lots of pictures. You won't have the white whites and deep blacks, but you will have beautiful skin tones. On bright, sunny days with long shadows, you will have beautiful landscape photographs with harsh shadows on peoples faces. That trade-off will never change. Go with it, whatever the weather. Rain means nothing more than to keep your camera dry. With todays small cameras, you can easily hold your camera with one hand and your umbrella with the other. You never have to say, "that probably won't come out." Take it anyway. If you are right, just delete the picture. If you are wrong, you have a memory you didn't think you would have.
What is most important is to have enough memory for your camera, whatever chip that may be. From then on, pictures, pictures, and more pictures. If you want a good picture of something take ten from different spots. If you have lots of memory and don't use it, what good is it to have? Use it.
The Altstadt (old city) is the perfect place to just wander with a camera or without one. Rothenburg is an absolutely beautiful medieval city. You don't need a camera to appreciate it. One thing is important. Don't let your camera get in your way of enjoying and feeling the moment. If it does, put the camera away. These are very precious times. The first time that we experience awe, or wonder shouldn't be corrupted by a camera or the emotional value of the moment is lost. Don't let a camera or an insane need for pictures ruin your vacation. So much for photography.
Rothenburg is a wanderer's town. Each street, regardless of size, goes somewhere that is lovely. Not only is it important to look where you're going, but turn around and see where you have been. Some of the most beautiful sights are missed because they are right behind us and we don't turn around.
To tour Rothenburg by yourself, purchase one of the guide books that has a simple, self-guided walking tour. It will give you a good idea about the old city right away. I suggest that you complete the tour before going back and visiting the various attractions that have interested you. There is also a guided tour in the afternoon that is given by local historians and is very good. The tours are given in multiple languages, each with a different guide. You meet at the town square near the Tourist Information (TI).
My complete tour of Rothenburg takes approximately one and one-half days. First, plan on arriving in the town about 9:00 AM and drop off your bags at your hotel (call first to let the hotel know what you want to do). Also at the hotel, get a recommendation for lunch. Then go to the (TI) in the city hall. Purchase a guide book of Rothenburg. Then, find out what time the guided tour in your language leaves (usually about 2PM). Until that time meander about the town just to get a small feel of the place. Find a place for lunch and make sure that you are back at 1:55 PM. Every hour on the hour the doors open above the clock on the side wall of Councillors Tavern. Before your very eyes, the figure on the right, Mayor Nusch, drinks 3 and one half liters of wine and saves the town. Our hero is said to have slept for 3 days but suffered no ill effects. Anyway, the guided tour lasts about 90 minutes. During that time you will pass a number of places to which you would like to return (e.g. Torture Chamber Museum or St. Jacobs Cathedral or the Käthe Wolfahrt Christmas Museum). Make a note of them in your guide book. (In the next couple of months I hopefully will have pictures of most of the places.)
Following the tour, if the sun is still high in the sky (summer), stop at places that interested you. From about 5PM to 7PM is the prettiest time of the evening for photographs of the town. After having dinner at one of the restaurants in town, you can just wander through the town while waiting until 8:00PM and the Night Watchman's Tour. This is a one hour tour that is most fun, and recommended for all. Following the tour, sped some time in one of the local gasthauses, then get some sleep. In the morning, get up early and stroll through the town for an hour or so to see the town waking up for the day. Then, have breakfast at your hotel, pack your car or get permission to leave your luggage at the hotel until you come to claim it after lunch. For the next few hours, go back to the places you noted. It's a full one and a half days, but very well worth it and you still won't see it all.
- Pros:Absolutely delightful and charming city despite the tourists
- Cons:Lots of tourists. Stay overnight
- In a nutshell:The jewel of Europe's medieval towns.
Die "Weihnachtsdorf” ("The Christmas Village") is Christmas 364 days each year. It is open on Christmas Day and Boxing... more travel advice
Rothenburg has many inviting sights. Guide books are full of information about various attractions. What they and most... more travel advice
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