April 30, 2012 Salzburg

We have a lot to accomplish in Salzburg today. We start out early for a visit to the Bishop-Prince’s residence in Residenz Square.

Residenz Square

The rulers of Salzburg were both bishops and princes in charge of one’s religious and secular lives. But no ascetic life for them! They lived in splendor in the Residenz.

No vow of poverty here!

Usually the palace is closed on Mondays except for the last Monday of the month. And that’s today. We think it has kept the crowds down. We buy our tickets which also provide an audio tour.

Sarah and John listen to the audio guide

Sarah learns about the bishop-princes

We learn about the various bishop-princes and the international, German, and religious balance of power through the ages. How hard it must be to learn history here. First, there’s so much of it and then it’s just not straight forward. In the United States you learn that there was discovery, settlement, colonies, Revolution, Constitution, Civil War, boom times, bust times, imperialism, two World Wars, and the last 70 years. The end. Just in Salzburg you would have to learn about local history, German history, Austrian history, European history, and world history for well over 1000 years. We take a break on the terrace and try to make sense of it all.

Sarah and John discuss history

After viewing the Residenz and the art gallery upstairs, it’s off to Cathedral Square to see the Salzburg Cathedral.

Salzburg Cathedral

Dedicated to Saints Rupert and Saint Virgil (new saints to us), consecrated in 774, renovated in 1628 and rebuilt in part after being bombed in 1944, the cathedral has ancient origins but is decorated in the Baroque style. We enjoy walking through identifying various saints and wondering about others. There is a very exciting St. Florian putting out a fire on the altar. We really need to create an app so that we can access all our information better.
Cathedral interior
St. Florian putting out a fire

Time for lunch! Off we go in search of something to eat. We settle on the Zipfer Bierstube. We have beer. In an effort to control myself, I have a small one.

My beer is on the right

Lunch is pretty meh. Sarah and I get a plate of three spreads with salad, pretzel and dark bread. Sounds good but it was so-so. Pretzel was not fresh. John has what looks like a Denny’s grand slam.

Meh

Grand slam!

Thus fortified, we make our way up the mountain by funicular to the Festung Hohensalzburg, the big fortress overlooking the city.

Festung Hohensalzburg

Another audio tour and some great views. Built and enlarged by various bishop-princes, it was never breached by invaders only surrendered to Napoleon.

View of old and modern Salzburg from the fortress

View in the other direction - Alps!

Next, Mozart. This is a town obsessed with Mozart. There is Mozart kitsch everywhere. We view the apartment where he was born. Read the letters sent back and forth between his sister, father and later his wife and him. Mozart spent a lot of time on the road. He has an immense body of work considering that he died at 35. Of course, he did begin composing and performing at five years old. We succumb to Mozart memorabilia and buy some stuff.

Where Mozart's mom made breakfast

Dinner tonight at the K & K is not stellar. Only John has made an excellent choice of venison. We are beginning to pine for California cuisine.

John's venison dinner

April 29, 2012 Salzburg

Today we drive to Salzburg, the city of salt, a valuable commodity back in the middle ages and the root not only of Salzburg but also of the word salary. The ride through the Austrian countryside is beautiful with snowy Alps as the backdrop.

We are staying at the Hotel Elefant right in the middle of the pedestrian zone. This prime location makes it difficult to get to by car. After parking far away and finding the hotel on foot, we tromp back to the car and move it to a closer parking lot and tromp back to the hotel dragging our luggage with us.

We decide to go to the Neue Residenz which now houses the Salzburg Art Museum. They are having an exhibition of religious art from the Middle Ages. Wow, could anything be more perfect? But first, lunch.

As we seem to be doing, we find an Italian restaurant for lunch and decide to make lunch the main meal of the day. Although John’s pasta with tuna looks good, Sarah is the winner with grilled calamari with potatoes and vegetables. I wimp out with pizza and a salad. I am just not feeling adventuresome today.

Sarah's very yummy grilled calamari

After lunch we are off to the museum. John opts for the audio guide but Sarah and I want to test our saint-identifying skills (plus there are English placards explaining everything in each room.) We have a great time. Oh, there’s St. Catherine and her wheel and St. Denis carrying his chopped off head! We catalogue a few new saints such as St. Wolfgang with his axe and St. Leonard with his chains and fetters. It appears that there are some great reference books to expand our saint attribute knowledge but they are only in German. Rats! Sarah and I take a little break and play a magic square game. We get some looks from the lady in charge. We think maybe these games are supposed to be only for children.

Magic square game

Sarah and Mom outside the Art Museum

Later we walk around the cute old section of Salzburg, pose by the Mozart statue and find some wine and snacks for dinner.

Left to right - John, Wolfgang, and Sarah

Tomorrow we will tackle the Old Residenz, the Cathedral, Mozart House/Museum, Fortress, and hopefully find somewhere for some live music.

April 28, 2012 Mauthausen, Linz and Ansfelden, Austria

KZ Mauthausen

Somehow winter has morphed directly into summer in the past two days. Today the temperatures climb to 28 C (that’s 82 F!) We say nashledanou to the Czech Republic and make our way to Austria.

Today we visit the Mauthausen Concentration Camp. John and I have been to it before but it is a place that everyone needs to see. The horror that happened here is almost incomprehensible. This was not just a place for killing Jews. It contained criminals, political prisoners, Soviet POWs, gypsies, religious dissidents, gays, and Jews – any man, woman or child deemed by the Reich undeserving of existence.

There is an audio tour. For hours we look at and listen to this place of death. It is actually small by comparison to other camps. This is a slave labor camp until almost the end of the war. People come here to be worked to death. They are starved or shot or electrocuted or gassed. Approximately 100,000 people were killed here. About half of them in the last 18 months before the end of the war as inmates from camps further east were shipped to Mauthausen as the Russians advanced.

While being at the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague made us weep, this place just leaves us stunned.

Approach to Mauthausen Concentration Camp

Barracks and roll call yard

The rest of the day

Somehow it seems inappropriate to post what we do the rest of the day but I’ve already uploaded the pictures so I’ll go on.

Leaving Mauthausen we travel the short distance into Linz. It is around 2 PM and if we don’t find lunch soon we will be out of luck. In many places in Europe, restaurants open for lunch close at 2 PM.

We happen to stumble across the vegetarian restaurant, P’aa, in the old section of Linz. There we have one of the best meals we’ve had on our trip. Sarah feels this is because it gives us a taste of home. We start with the local beer and then have an array of Mexican, Thai and Indian dishes. It is really, really good.

Beer!
My Thai curry
Sarah's stuffed tortilla
John's "Trip to India"

After lunch we walk around a bit and then head to our pension, Herzog zu Laah, in nearby Ansfelden. This place is great. The owners, Christian and Margaret Langmayr, go out of their way to make us feel welcome. Margaret has baked a cake and we are invited to have some with tea or coffee or anything out of the mini-bar.

We need to wash up and decompress. We go to our rooms and meet later on for tea. We are not eating dinner tonight. We sit and talk. Herr Langmayr talks with Sarah and me. We say our few German words and he says what English he knows. It is all very congenial. We have been in more upscale hotels on this trip but the Herzog zu Laah with its lovely hosts, cute rooms, and the sounds of children playing outside our open windows has to be among the best.

Herzog zu Laah
Jesus is in the front yard
along with a blue lamb

April 27, 2012 Cesky Krumlow and Budweis, CZ

Today is a light sightseeing day, really more of a travel day with a couple of look-arounds. The road out of Prague turns into a highway and we are thinking that we will be to our destination in no time. But as it turns out, the road narrows down to two lanes with lots of heavy trucks lumbering up the hills. We reach Cesky Krumlow well after noon.

Cesky Krumlow is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s medieval buildings with castle and 14th century cathedral are very picturesque. The town being situated on a neck of land is easily defensible. We wander around.

View of Cesky Krumlow

We stop at Pension Nina for lunch. How do people eat like this and not turn into Pillsbury Doughpeople? Because that’s what is happening to us! We wash down our enormous lunch with the local brew. Make mine a Budvar!

Mary and John drink the real Budweis beer
Duck with red cabbage and Bohemian dumplings

Goulash with gravy and bread dumplings

Sarah has the most unusual dish. It is a chicken cutlet, breaded and fried (of course.) Then it has a cream gravy topped by whipped cream. She says it is tasty but all I can say is, EW!

Chicken cutlet with cream dill gravy and whipped cream

Needless to say, after lunch we are dragging. We move on to Budweis and John and I need a little rest. By 4:30 Sarah is ready to be on the move again so she and I explore Budweis old town. We visit the church and have fun identifying saints. We take a look at the town hall.

Budweis town hall

By 6:00 John is up and we are ready for cocktail time. I cannot drink more beer and opt for white wine. We peruse the dinner menu. On the page for sides there are a lot of potatoes – steak fries, French fries, mashed potatoes, rosti potatoes, potato pancakes, boiled potatoes, roast potatoes with garlic and roast potatoes with dill and sour cream.

Potato menu

Apparently we are able to eat again. Sarah and John have different pork dishes with potato pancakes and I have fish with potato pancakes. So much oil! I take an oath to stop eating like this.

Sarah's smoked ham, sauerkraut and potato pancakes

John's pork cutlet with roasted vegetables

Pikeperch with roasted vegetables and potato pancakes

We spend an enjoyable time lingering after dinner (probably because it was difficult to move) watching the staff try to cope with a busload of Italian tourists. They seem a little harried.

Our plan tomorrow takes us to the concentration camp at Mauthausen and the city of Linz, Austria.

April 26, 2012 Prague

Leaving our hotel, we cross the bridge and are eager to start in on our tour of churches. John has made up a list of ones to see and has plotted the best route. Unfortunately as we start our church tour we are unable to get into the churches. They are either closed entirely or not open yet.

We do have success, though, with one church that we were unable to find the ingress to the last time we were here. It is the Church of Our Lady before Tyn. There are houses built into the front facade. We walk all the way around the buildings looking for a way in. Finally we see a sign in a music store saying free entrance to church. Hurrah! The church is beautiful in a Baroque kind of way and has an interesting wood carved altar and the tomb of Tycho Brahe.

The Church of Our Lady before Tyn

Wood carved altar of John the Baptist and Jesus

Tomb of Tycho Brahe

Leaving the church we make our way to the Jewish quarter. The Jewish Museum in Prague is a set of buildings and a cemetary housing a memorial, artifacts and a cemetary. The first building you enter is the memorial to the approximately 155,000 Jews killed in the Czech-Slovak area. 86% of the entire Jewish population. The memorial consists of room after room of names entered in small printing of the victims with their birth and death dates. It is hard to look at without sobbing.

Pictures were not allowed and I have used some images from Flickr. Many thanks to the photographers

Rooms with the names of Jewish victims

Close-up of names

Upstairs is a room filled with the drawings of the children from the Terezin Concentration Camp. Pictures of hope and fear and what they had seen. It is impossible for us not to weep.

After visiting the sites we head off in a somber mood towards lunch. We find another eating establishment named in honor of Good Soldier Svejk. He has become our lunchtime icon.

Stained glass Svejk

Svejk on our chairs

The special of the day is “pork knee.” That sounds a lot like the pork knuckle which I was unable to have last night. John and I decide to order it. It is Flintstone sized. When lunch is done, it doesn’t look like I have eaten any of it. So much food.

A meal fit for Fred and Barney

We stroll back along the river taking in the beautiful afternoon.

The castle complex across the river

After a little down time we meet to go to the concert we had chosen yesterday. It is a concert of Baroque music played on organ, harpsichord and oboe. Since both Sarah and I play oboe, it is right up our alley. Any music is right up John’s. The setting and acoustics in the Church of St. Nicholas are wonderful and we spend a pleasant hour.

Concert

We follow this with drinks out on the square and some people watching.

Sarah with Staromestske Namesti in the background

Not being able to face Czech food again, we go back to Taverna Toscana for dinner. We have salads and pasta. Sarah shares a family favorite – crostini di fagato. Not much to look at but very tasty.

Crostini di fagato

We amble back across the bridge on this last evening of our stay in Prague. Lots to see here in Prague but very crowded. We cannot imagine what it must be like in the summer. We are ready to move on to quieter surrounds tomorrow.

Sarah touching the bas-relief of St. John Nepomuk, patron saint of the Czech Republic

Sarah and Mom on the bridge

April 25, 2012 Prague

Our main goal today is to visit the Prague Castle complex. After only a short amount of time spent in trying to figure out the tram system, we successfully reach our stop. But, wait, what’s this? A monument to Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler? Time out for a geek shot.

Sarah and John by the monument of Brahe and Kepler

Then it is on to Prague Castle. There are a lot of people here – large groups with tour guides, school groups and individuals such as ourselves.

Approach to Prague Castle

We stop to take a picture of the guard and reminisce about our picture of Sarah and the guard at Busch Gardens. A five year old Sarah is making a face and turning away – when I used to ask her to cooperate in picture taking or even in letting me put her in an outfit that had buttons, she would say, “No cooperation!” (She had a strange aversion to buttons.) I decide not to ask her to stand next to the guard.

Guard at Prague Castle

We buy the Palace Complex long tour with audio guides and our first stop is the Basilica of St. Vitus (one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers).

Basilica of St. Vitus

The oldest part of the church has a Gothic interior with a soaring vault. The audio guide is very comprehensive and we learn a lot about Bohemian princes, saints and martyrs. The St. Wenceslas chapel is beautiful but can only be seen from a distance.
Interior of Basilica of St. Vitus

St. Wenceslas chapel

After the Basilica of St. Vitus, we go to the Basilica of St. George (also one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.) This is a much older church and there appear to be some great frescoes but they are blocked by scaffolding. We see the tomb of St. Ludmilla, the grandmother of Wenceslas, who was martyr by being strangled with a white scarf that she wore around her neck. I need to learn more about these middle Europe saints.

Finally we go to the picture gallery. There are several Tintoretto paintings which are enjoyable but we are pretty worn out. We’ve been on our feet for several hours and are in need of lunch and fewer people.

We stop at a tavern nearby. Once again we are greeted by Good Soldier Svejk this time seated at a nearby table.

Life-size Good Soldier Svejk

We order the local beer which is disturbingly green. Wanting a light lunch, we order from the small plate selections.
Happy St. Patrick's Day
Sarah has country pate and fruit
I have ham, horseradish and pickled pearl onions
John has salmon tartar

Later in the afternoon we cross the bridge again and find some concert tickets to buy for tomorrow night.

View from St. Charles Bridge

Then as all good tourists do, we watch the clock with its mechanical saints toll out 5 PM.
Prague clock

We head back to the hotel and decide to take advantage of our 15% discount at the restaurant. This meal did not turn out so well. The waiter first wants us to get their special cocktail. We say no thank you. Then he really wants us to order the lamb knuckle which from what we can see going by is a lamb shank on mashed potatoes with vegetables. Fine, but not what we want. Sarah orders duck. I order pork knuckle. The waiter does not want me to have this. He tells me it is tough and fatty and I should try the lamb. Of course this makes me dig my heels in and I ask for the pork again. John orders fish. Oh, sorry no fish how about lamb. Okay, John says I will have the lamb. Excellent choice, sir.

Now I am on the waiter’s shit list. Anytime anything needs to be given out, menus, wine, whatever, he waits on me last. The food comes. Oh, sorry lady, I ordered the wrong thing for you. How about this piece of extra dry pork tenderloin or you can wait another fifteen minutes or so for something else. I say okay I’ll take that but I would like the pickled vegetables that come with my original order (really the whole reason why I ordered it in the first place.) Off he goes and there is a lot of discussion in the kitchen. He comes back with a plate of salad, heavy on the bell peppers. He tells me they are pickled vegetables. I give up.

Sarah orders duck breast

John has the waiter's favorite, lamb knuckle
Mary is served dried out pork tenderloin

Later, after we turn down dessert, he brings us a special gift. It is the Czech digestive, Becherovka. It is the most vile thing I have ever tasted. It is flavored with anise seed, cinnamon and 32 other spices. It is like drinking a pine tree. I only take a sip but Sarah has downed the whole shot glass in one gulp. She is very sorry afterward. We read later that it is used in several former Eastern Bloc countries as a home remedy for arthritis. Yuck.

And so ends another exciting vacation day.

April 24, 2012 Pilsen and on to Prague

Getting up this morning it was cloudy and cold in Bayreuth. We have had a lot of infelicitous weather and we are hoping for sunnier skies soon. The forecast seems promising.

We decide to break up the drive which should be about three plus hours to Prague with a stop for lunch and a look-around in Pilsen. Pilsen turns out to be kind of a grim city but there are public gardens and tulips everywhere in the center.

Sarah in Pilsen center

First order of business – lunch. Sarah would like to try Czech food and so we find a pub named Svejk named after the main character in Good Soldier Svejk by Jaroslav HaĊĦek. It is a black comedy about World War I where 140,000 Czechs died fighting in a war that they did not understand for an empire that they had no allegiance to. Anyway, John and I manage to find a fairly reasonable selection of trout and salad (mostly bell peppers) and Sarah eats a rather over-the-top cheese wrapped in bacon then beer battered and fried dish and a bowl of garlic soup. It’s a little much for our old arteries.

John and I have trout and mostly bell pepper salad

Sarah has garlic soup for lunch

Cheese wrapped with bacon dipped in beer batter and deep fried

After lunch we head out to see the Great Synagogue of Pilsen. It is the second largest synagogue in Europe and third in the world (after Jerusalem and Budapest). At one time Pilsen had a thriving Jewish community of between two and three thousand people. They built the synagogue to seat 1900 people. After the World War II only about 200 had survived and these few dispersed to Israel and the United States. The synagogue was lucky to have survived the war and groups are trying to repair it. I always feel so sad and angry for all the people who were lost.

The Great Synagogue of Pilsen

Interior of the synagogue

We also take a short visit to the Cathedral of St. Bartholomew. It is in much better repair than the synagogue. Unfortunately we cannot get past the iron gates to the interior. It appears that there would have been a lot of interesting things to see inside. Drat!

Cathedral of St. Bartholomew in Pilsen

There are no pictures for the rest of the day but it is not without drama. We find our hotel in Prague. Later we go out to dinner. As we cross the St. Charles bridge, the first raindrops are starting to fall. We have ventured out without raincoats or umbrellas. We stop at an Italian restaurant to have dinner and wait out the storm. The storm is not going away. Buying some umbrellas on the street, we attempt to keep dry for the rather long walk back to the hotel. The rain is falling sideways and the wind is fierce. Our umbrellas turn inside out in the storm. Needless to say when we finally get back to the hotel we are drenched and cold. So much for sunnier forecasts.

April 23, 2012 Bayreuth, Germany

I am a person who likes to have a plan. That’s not to say that I can’t do things serendipitously. Hey, didn’t I go to see the Basilica of the Fourteen Holy Helpers? That wasn’t on the original plan. But for the most part if you have a plan, things just run more smoothly.Today our plans did not work out quite the way we had anticipated but we were able to keep things from becoming a disaster.

Long ago in the early planning stages of our trip, Sarah said she would like to see the Festspielhaus in Bayreuth. The Festspielhaus was Wagner’s creation so that his operas could be perfectly produced.

Festspielhaus with pansies

Sarah made reservations for a tour but shortly before we left, the tour was cancelled. The people at the Festspielhaus did say, however, that they would give us a tour of the outside and the grounds. Okay, not perfect but better than nothing. However, when we get to the Festspielhaus there is no one there except for the film crew who had caused the opera house to be closed. Ever resourceful, Sarah has screen captured several pages on her tablet and gives us a private tour.

Sarah as our tourguide

We get at least as much information from our Sarah-tour as we would have gotten from the real thing. Plus we ask questions that we might have been hesitant to ask about the opera house during the Nazi era. So our first almost disaster works out quite well.

Mom and Sarah in front of the Festspielhaus

Sarah and John by a bust of Wagner in the gardens

Our plan for the afternoon is to do the brewery tour at Maisel’s Weisse. First we try to find a restaurant near the brewery. We walk around an entire mall in the rain trying to find it to no avail. But, no problem, we go into the mall and have lunch at a brasserie. We get flamm kuchen, which is kind of like a matzoh pizza.

Feta, onion, and spinach flamm kuchen

I hustle everyone out of the restaurant early because, if you are me, you always need to be a little early. Good thing that I do that because when we get to the brewery we find that we are in the wrong place. With ten minutes to spare we race back to the car and drive to the new location in time for the tour. Whew!

Maisel's Weisse brewery

Uh oh, the tour is only given in German. The tour leader hands us a script, though, so we are able to follow along. After a very comprehensive (and incomprehensible) tour we are treated to the largest beer sample ever.

Beer placards at the brewery

Giant sampling at the end of the tour

John asks whether they have steam beer available for tasting. The former brewmaster who is there making whiskey overhears and becomes John’s best friend. Peter, the brewmaster, has been to San Francisco and knows Fritz Maytag of Anchor Steam fame. They talk and talk. Peter takes John behind the scenes and offers him tastes of the whiskey he is making. It is a very special tour.

So, we avert many vacation disasters today and probably have a better day than we would have if everything had gone smoothly.

As an aside to the members of our family who are Dr. Who fans, we seem to have a TARDIS across the hall from our room here in Bayreuth.

Tardis

April 22, 2012 Staffelstein and Kulmbach

A couple of days ago we ran into the Fourteen Holy Helpers carved into a frieze in a museum in Wurzburg. It was also in Wurzburg that we learned that Balthasar Neumann was the architect for the Residenz. What could be better then finding out that today we are passing close by the Basilica of the Fourteen Holy Helpers designed by Balthasar Neumann in Staffelstein. Deserving of a stop? Of course.

It seems that a farmer found a child sitting in a field and when he went to pick the child up, it disappeared. He saw the child again. This time carrying two candles. Then again, but this time with thirteen other children. Someone corroborated his story. The child told the farmer that if a church was built there that the fourteen children would help out the local people. Next miraculous cures were reported. The Basilica to the Fourteen Holy Helpers was built. No one is sure how they morphed into the particular saints that are represented at the church.

The Basilica of the Fourteen Holy Helpers

Given the look of this building, maybe Balthasar should have stopped after he designed the Residenz. It is quite ugly. But the inside is fabulous.

The altar of the Fourteen Holy Helpers

Rococco interior of the Basilica

Hungry from our long climb up the hill to the church, we drive into nearby Kulmbach for some lunch. We figure we will plot our next move over some hopefully light dining. John and I order a spargel salad and Sarah wants a tuna sandwich. The size of Sarah’s sandwich makes us laugh. It has to be over a foot long.

Giant tuna sandwich

John and I figure we will be presented with a leafy salad with some asparagus and hard boiled egg. Well, sort of.

Spargel salad

We decide to visit the castle, Plassenburg, that overlooks all of Kulmbach. Perched high on a hill, it was first chronicled in the 12th century. Although we are ready for another hike up a steep hill, this time we are allowed to drive all the way to the top. Unfortunately, there is not much to see. There seems to be only a cafe and a tin soldier museum. There’s also a sundial clock.

Sundial clock

At this point we decide to drive to Bayreuth and check into our hotel. It’s about 4 PM so it must be naptime. We are hoping that this is the last day we will need the late afternoon nap.

We have had a lot of fairly heavy food over the past few days so for dinner we select an Italian restaurant, have a salad, some pasta and call it a night.

April 21, 2012 Rothenberg ob der Tauber

We are staying at the unspeakably cute Burg Hotel in Rothenburg. John and I stayed here years ago and about 11 years ago I stayed here with my girlfriends, Sophie and Eileen. Big changes have happened since then. Everything has been upgraded along with the prices and the hotel has joined the Relais Silence group. But the management is the same, kind and welcoming. The only drawback is the very spotty internet.

We all meet for breakfast in the charming breakfast room that looks out over the valley. They have a lovely offering with pretzel rolls, pates, eggs, meats, etc. We drink gallons of tea (and coffee for John) as well as formulate our day’s plan. Breakfast is becoming our favorite meal of the day.

Sarah and John in the breakfast room

The weather is not cooperating and we have to pick our moments of sunshine. The altarpieces we hope to see today are influenced by the amount of light coming though the windows. Since this morning the sun is in and out and rain is forecast for the afternoon, we decide to see the most important one first, the Blood Altarpiece in St. Jacobus. It is in easy walking distance and we head out.

The display of St. Jacobus’s masterpieces has also been upgraded and an audio tour added. We look first at the main altarpiece. It is carved wood that has been painted. Although not by Tilman Riemenschneider, it is very interesting. On the wings in the back there is the story of St. James. This was painted in the 1400’s. A view of Rothenburg is included. It looks just like the town square today!

Altarpiece in St. Jacobus

A view of Rothenburg from the 1400's

The stained glass windows behind the altar are beautiful and also very early. In one scene God is raining down manna from heaven. Sarah discovers that the manna are pretzels! So in Bavaria, it’s raining pretzels.

Stained glass windows behind the altar

"It's raining pretzels, Halleluyah!"

The sun comes out and we go up to see Riemenschneider’s Blood Altar. It is unusual for the placement of Judas in the center of the Last Supper. The idea is that it is supposed to show God’s forgiveness. It is beautifully carved echoing the architecture of the church for which it was made.

Last Supper on the Blood Altarpiece

We take a look at another altarpiece in a nearby church and walk through one of the gates of the city. It is all very picturesque. I take a picture of John and Sarah by the gate,one of the mouth from which burning tar was poured over enemies and a panoramic shot of Rothenburg. There are tourists here but not as many as I feared. Perhaps the forecast of bad weather has kept many away.

Sarah and John by one of the gates to the old city

Burning tar ejector
View of Rothenburg

We travel on to Creglingen where this time we have a chance to see Riemenschneider’s Ascension Altarpiece. There are also several older art pieces. We are trapped by a large tour group who are being lectured to by their tour director. Then it’s off to lunch.

Ascension of the BVM altarpiece

Not wanting to eat at the same place as yesterday, we drive around looking for somewhere new. We find a restaurant up a hill and get inside just as the first raindrops are starting to fall. We are trying to eat a little more simply but failing.

Sarah's cheesy cheese bread

Mary's bratwurst and saurkraut
John's potato latkes with salmon

Our last stop is in Detwang, a tiny hamlet only 2 km from Rothenburg. The thousand year old church there has another Reimenschneider altarpiece. The Crucifixion Altarpiece has been cut down to fit their little space. It is an impressive work of art for such a humble little church.

A view of Detwang on a misty morning from our hotel room
The Crucifixion Altarpiece in Detwang

We are tired and repair back to the hotel for some rest. Sarah finds a workout area and decides that a little activity beyond walking and stair climbing are in order. John and I just fall asleep. Dinner tonight is in a weinstube and consists of wine or beer and some munchie platters. We are a little fooded out. Tomorrow it is off to Bayreuth.