With our rented Volkswagen, we’re free to explore a large swathe of western Bavaria. The landscape is marked by gently rolling hills and slow rivers. The stretches of green are interrupted here and there by the pointed roofs and spires of old, preserved towns.
Despite less than ideal weather, Dinkelsbühl went ahead with its car show and market on Sunday afternoon. We bundled up and found a parking spot near one of the town gates. It was easy to spot with its warm orange paint.
I walked ahead and bought Mom an umbrella from a stall selling an assortment of home goods. When I gave it to her, I told her I’d pulled it out of the church entrance and just hoped Frau Schmidt didn’t recognize her stolen umbrella out on the street (ha).
Different car dealers had lined up their latest models along the cobblestone lanes. We inspected several smiling electric Volkswagens plus Audis, Skodas and a sharp-looking old Mercedes convertible decked in pale yellow.
One of the best parts of events in small German towns are the street vendors selling grilled Bratwurst and fresh chips with cream sauce. We ate lunch as we walked the rain-slicked streets of Dinkelsbühl.
Thankfully the weather improved for Monday and we headed south again, this time aiming for the town of Nördlingen. Along the way, we spotted an interesting fortification on top of a hill and made an exit for Wallerstein.
After stopping to inspect an impressive fachwerk (half-timbered) barn, we entered the gates of Fürst Wallerstein and discovered the medieval Schlossberg. It was now the home of the Fürst Wallerstein Brauhaus. Evidently, Wallerstein brewing was first documented in the year 1598! We’ll have to figure out where to buy a few bottles to sample.
On down the road in Nördlingen, a meteorite strike had formed an almost-perfect circle divot in the earth thousands of years ago and the locals had taken advantage of the natural defenses from the impact. The unbroken town wall (a rarity in modern Germany) formed a complete ring around the town.
With the sun finally out, I scaled the 90-meter steeple of St. Georgskirche for a look at the nearly perfect circle around the old town. Normally I don’t have a problem with heights but the viewing deck was narrow, the railing was low and the spire seemed extra-crumbly. I held on for dear life.
Safely back on firm ground, we wandered the streets looking in shop windows and inspecting the latest price of Spargle. It’s the white asparagus that’s in season now and it makes the Germans slightly hysterical. I’m kidding, the Germans don’t get hysterical, just a bit infatuated.
One of the most interesting sights in Nördlingen is the Narrenspiegel, which roughly translates into “fool’s mirror”. When you’re standing in front of the stone carving, the jester looks out at you from the mirror and says “now there’s two of us”.
You just got punked from 500 years ago.
Nördlingen was fascinating and far less touristed than nearby Rothenburg ob der Tauber. I heartily recommend a visit if you ever find yourself in this corner of Bavaria.
Thanks for coming along on the trip. If you have questions or suggestions, tweet @JasonRMatheson. Missed an entry? Click here.