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Local and Touristy Markets

December 7, 2008

Written December 13 and after

Dear Friends and Families,

 

We were determined to follow our Dinkelsbühl visit with one or two more Christmas markets on our way home. Being in the heartland of Catholic Bavaria, we had a range of choices.

 

Ansbach

A few years ago, when Marianne was in the market for a job at an American military base, we had visited Ansbach and we found it to be an OK place, mid-way between a large village and a small city. Important for today, it is also mid-way between Dinkelsb├╝hl and Pommersfelden. So, on Sunday morning, Ansbach would be our first destination.

Christmas Markets are not as exciting at 11am as they are in the evening. At night, the shadows hide the worn booths and the little sparkling lights make even bad sausage tasty. Glüwein before noon doesn't even sound good. However, we had a mission so we visited, drank a non-alcoholic glüwein,called Kinderpunsch or kiddie punch, took our souvenir punch cup, and moved on.

We did manage to sample Dampfnudel, with vanilla sauce. Dampfnoodle has no good translation since the literal "wet noodle" just won't do. This Southern Germany treat is a lump of soft bread, steamed not baked, and best eaten as a warm treat in cold weather. So, for a December Sunday lunch, it was right.

Ansbach pictures show a quiet Sunday, a warm dampfnoodle, a church, and a couple statues showing what heads feel like after too much Glüwein.

 

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Rothenburg is the quintessential Bavarian tourist village. ALL tourists go to Neuschwanstein, the Disneyland castle, and to Rothenburg ob der Tauber. For us, it's almost a neighbor, since it is less than an hour from Pommersfelden but, normally, we try to visit when the walled town is enjoying the tourist low season.

Not this time. The place was filled to the brim. We went to our favorite parking lot (in Germany, one does indeed have "favorite" parking lots, as parking is even more of a challenge than autobahn driving) and joined the queue waiting for a spot. Way down at the end of the lot, we spotted someone leaving and rushed to get there and turn on our turn signal, the universal I've-claimed-this-one signal, before someone else could get there. After fending off a car coming from the other direction, we let the departing tourist drive out and filled in the space in less than 10 seconds. I expect 15 seconds would be the average life span of an empty parking space in Rothenburg today.

Inside the walls, the place was filled with families and baby carriages, tour leaders and raised umbrellas, and hyper-active teenagers and noise. With the desolation of Ansbach still in our memories, it was a shock and, initially, off-putting. Then we decided that all these people were merely Christmas decorations brought in for our entertainment. What a show!

The Rothenburg Christmas Market was spread all over the central part of town, especially on all sides of the ornate Rathaus (City Hall). There was nothing associated with Christmas that was not available: decorations, toys, cookies, cakes, and, our favorite, sausauges-in-baguette that turned out to be as tasty as they were long, and they were long!

In the end, we bought little, other than the long dog, but left with another pleasant memory of our neighborhood tourist magnet. On the way home, we swung by our favorite potter, and added one more piece to our everyday ceramic dishware. It was a good end to a great Christmas Market weekend.

The crowds were in Rothenburg, sampling the manz places to shop -- and to eat.

Overall, it did feel like Christmas.

Two more weekends to go on our Christmas Market Tour. Next week, Hamburg, Germany's second-largest city and home to several seasonal markets. Again, another story.

 

John and Marianne.


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