I can’t help it. The Christmas season makes me think of Germany. It’s a very jolly land… especially Bavaria! ESPECIALLY Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
In 2010, Andrew and I spent some time checking out Bavaria. He’d heard about Rothenburg ob der Tauber, and how it’s just the most precious little hamlet where everything looks like gingerbread. Or something like that. So we went!
Also, try saying “Rothenburg ob der Tauber” without smiling. I don’t think it can be done.
Maybe you’ve never heard of this place. But if you’re on Pinterest and are even remotely interested in travel, you’ll have seen pictures of Rothenburg, even if you didn’t know it (and even if it was improperly labeled). People are constantly pinning pics of Rothenburg.
It was very precious. Some shops were painted Christmas colours, so you know it’s THE place to go for Christmas. If you’re elderly. Because after 10 pm, the only thing left to do is go to sleep. We once tried finding sustenance at 10:10 pm, and it did not go well.
Although during daylight hours, you can’t turn around without seeing yet another schneeballen shop.
I became obsessed with these things. Even though they never tasted very good, I kept buying them. And saying, “Schneeballen!” because it just sounds hilarious to me.
There’s something about wandering around a town, taking it in, noticing the details, hearing the legends, eating the food, and processing it with your significant other. At least for me, my heart sort of takes pictures of the moments, the impressions, as my brain stretches to accommodate what I’m learning.
As such, I’ll try to convey the feeling of being in Rothenburg in July. For me. It’s lovely. Gingerbread-house picturesque, as promised. But you’ll remember the fairytale with the gingerbread house… its sinister secret. There’s a less-sweet side to Rothenburg ob der Tauber. And we found it… at the Medieval Crime Museum.
And this leads me to switch gears dramatically.
The other night, I noticed Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was on TV, probably because it’s considered to be a Christmas movie of sorts. I felt compelled to watch it.
I’ve only ever seen it once before, when I was in kindergarten, and I remember finding it to be very intense, troubling, and utterly fascinating.
So when I saw Chitty Chitty Bang Bang recently, I was again riveted. Especially by the fictional kingdom of “Vulgaria”, which had captured me as a child. (If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll appreciate what I just did there.)
Now in adulthood, I realized… I’ve been there.
I looked over at Andrew. “Um, is that Rothenburg ob der Tauber?”
A quick imdb search affirmed that YES. YES IT IS.
I feel like the dark side that Roald Dahl brilliantly wove into the movie perfectly suits Rothenburg ob der Tauber. What with the child-catcher luring children with candy in this picture-perfect village. (Don’t worry, the children triumph in the end.) I guess it’s the yin and yang of the town. And I kind of feel like if you’d visit and only stick to the schneeballen and Christmas markets and ignore the torture museum and this guy:
To neglect or avoid or just somehow not learn about these aspects… well, it would’ve made the visit a little less fascinating for me. Not that I’m all into the macabre… but the sweet seems hollow without acknowledging the grim aspects that goes hand-in-hand.