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Rothenburg ob der Tauber: a town as small as its gluten-free options

Third day of our Road Trip around Europe! After visiting Dijon (France) and Heidelberg (Germany), today we head to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, also known as the city of Pinocchio, where Disney was inspired to locate that story. We were dying to see that place!

As we also woke up early, before leaving Heidelberg we went back to the door of Carlos Teodoro to see the moon without tourists – if you want to get there by car, we recommend that you cross the river. It’s easier to stop if you go early. What a difference! The bridge was empty. Except for some early-morning tourist, the only people you will find there at that time will be photography lovers or people going to work.

Compared to the more than 1200km that we had already driven, the 160km to Rothenburg ob der Tauber felt like nothing.

It was 10.30 in the morning when we arrived at the village. We rented an apartment that was just inside the walls, in the middle of the medieval center! We were really excited! And we were dying to see the Plönlein, the famous square in front of the yellow house next to the clock tower.

We left the car outside the wall and entered through one of the paths enabled to connect the bus parking with the old town. We went directly to the apartment to inform the owner that we had arrived. We also asked for the parking lot that they booked for us. Although check in time was at 12 o’clock, they told us to enter the car through the south door, crossing the old bridge and parking it right in front of their house. Yooo-hoooo! I have always loved crossing old bridges and entering the villages through the old gates of the walls where the car hardly fits!

Once inside, we left the car where we had been told. Even though they were still cleaning the apartment, they had already given us the keys, so we went straight to visit the town. We had to take advantage of the good weather. In the afternoon the forecast was again rain. We started walking and we did not know where to look. Everything was so beautiful! The colorful houses, the cobbled streets, many people with the typical German dress (the Drindl for women and the Lederhosen and the Tractenhut for men) which, although this dress is not as old as the houses, it made us feel as if we had traveled in time again. This was one of the most picturesque villages we would see along the trip!

There it was! After crossing the gate of the Siebersturm – a medieval tower with the purpose of protecting the southern entrance of the town – and walking about 50 meters, when we turned 180º we saw it. The first thing we saw was, of course, the yellow house at the corner, just in front of the fountain, at the junction between Plönlein and Kobolzeller Steige. It was like being inside a postcard! Well, in our view there were many more people, of course! Everyone trying to take a quick photo to keep “seeing” the town.

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This situation reminded me of an American man I met when I moved from Helsinki to Bolzano, in Italy. Since I was traveling by car, I had decided to go through the Norwegian coast and, while being in the ferry from Trondheim to Bergen and, I was talking with him when he noticed a couple who photographed everything but did not look at anything. His comment was recorded to my mind: “There are people who miss the best details of their trips, since they only see things through the screen of their camera or mobile phone.” How right he was! The advantage of traveling alone or as a couple is that, if you wait a little, there always comes a time when people seem to disappear. Then you have to take the picture. And while you wait for that moment, you hang your camera on your shoulder and enjoy the live show.

Following that same street up we arrived at the Marktplatz. Amazing! Presided by the town hall, imposing on the left, the square was surrounded by colorful houses, all of them very old but very well restored and preserved. Taking advantage of the fact that the tourist information office was next to the square, we entered to ask for gluten free restaurants in town. “There is none, but you can ask if they can adapt any dish” they replied. Really!? So disappointed! If you are planning to ask in a restaurant, make sure you have the celiac travel card in german. Seeing the amount of wiener schnitzel (the typical breadcrumbed escalope) that people ate, knowing that cross contamination is not well controlled in Germany and seeing how stressed the waiters were, we decided not to take the risk and to eat again at home. At least now we had been released from restaurant schedules.

In case you would like to buy gluten-free, outside the walls you will find an EDEKA and a large LIDL. For specific gluten free products in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, you will find products at the Bächner E-center on Bodelschwingstr. 1A; at DM Drogerie Markt on Bahnhofstraße 15; or at the Reformhaus Reinbruger on Georgengasse Street 5-7. This one is inside the walls.

From the tourist office, we crossed the square again towards the Burg Turm und Tor, the castle gate that, leaving the village, leads you to a small park with a viewpoint that allows you to see part of the town from afar.

After enjoying the view for a while, we went back to Marktplatz again, we saw that there were people in the Rathausturm, and we went to ask how to get up. I suppose the lady who was in the box office just below the tower was really fed up with answering the same question, since she answered quite rudely. To avoid more work for that woman, we already tell you: the entrance is not there. The entrance is through the town hall, up the stairs from Marktplatz.

We started walking up the broad stairs of the town hall and, after crossing a couple of rooms, we continued climbing until we reached the attic. From there, with the head a little more crouched and passing through increasingly dark rooms, we continued going up until we reached the base of the tower. There the stairs reminded us of the Asinelli Tower from Bologna, when we visited it a year ago.

When reaching the top, the view was impressive, especially looking south-east, since taking advantage of the slope of the town you can see the houses better. It was 2:00 pm and there were not many people upstairs, so we could went around the tower few times to be able to see everything. We were really happy up there! And we still had lots of beautiful places waiting for us!

We got off the tower after 2:00 pm, really hungry, so we decided to go to the flat to eat something and take a nap. Short, because every minute that passed, the darker the sky became.

Upon arriving to the apartment, we were surprised to see a man inspecting the underside of the Gluten Free Adventures car and, when we asked him what he was doing, he showed us a small spot of diesel on the floor. Problems! We had made the distribution and changed the oil and filters a week before leaving for the trip and that did not have to happen… not the third day! After eating the pasta salad, instead of taking a nap we switched on the laptop and looked for a garage in Munich (our destination for the next day) to fix the car. We had more than 3,500km left and we did not want to have more problems.

After calling the garage in Munich and informing about our arrival time for the day after, we went out again to continue visiting the town. This time we went to the door through which we had entered with the car, from where we snuck into the tower through a badly closed door and, after walking a bit through the basement of the tower, we found some stairs that would take us up to the wall. From there, we skirt the entire town until the north tower. When we arrived, we went down again to the street and walked the streets until we reached the Church of St Jakobskirche.

When we got back to Marktplatz, we did the same as in our trip through Italy, when we visited Bolzano, Verona and Bologna. We sat in stairs of the square to have a snack and chat while we watched the touristic scene.

As happened to us in Heidelberg, the rain invited us to get up. It was almost 8 o’clock in the afternoon so, although it was a little early, as there was no gluten-free restaurant, we decided to go home for dinner. We made tenderloin with cheese and mashed potatoes and, as it did not stop raining, we stayed in the apartment planning the trip the next day. We had planned to eat a pumpkin cream but at the end of the ingredients it was written “may contain traces of gluten”, so we did not eat it. We were lucky that Isabel read the ingredients… Things like that happen when you buy being confident! We left it at the apartment when we left.

Although the next day we did not have to get up early, having to go to get the car fixed, we decided to leave Rothenburg at 7 o’clock in the morning, to get to Munich as soon as possible. That day I slept really bad, as I was worried about what would happen with the car… although I had done all the maintenance before leaving, I did not want it to be anything serious. We were only on the third day of trip and although we had some money for emergencies, I did not want to spend it all in the car…

You can see the pictures of the trip here.



P.S.: Please keep in mind that in this blog I share my trips, anecdotes and experiences about gluten free travel around the world. It is possible that, in any of my trips, I go to some restaurant not trained by the associations where the risk of being contaminated with gluten exists. I kindly ask you to also take into account that the list of references can change. Please, always double check before eating in the restaurants we recommend. Thank you very much!


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Me llamo Santi y actualmente vivo en la provincia de Barcelona. En 2001, me diagnosticaron de enfermedad celíaca… ¡por fin! Además, soy intolerante a la lactosa, la alergia al pescado me mata, ¡literalmente!, y también algunas frutas... Viajar sin gluten se ha convertido en mi mayor hobby y creé Gluten Free Adventures por esta razón. Desde los 8 años, he viajado y vivido en distintos países… ¡aquí comparto mis experiencias viajando para descubrir restaurantes sin gluten, pastelerías sin gluten y heladerías sin gluten por todo el mundo! ¡Espero que os gusten nuestros viajes sin gluten!