Thursday, August 6, 2009


Many travelers following Germany's Romantic Road would love to find a town that is the non-touristy equivalent of the picturesque Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

Unfortunately, such a town does not exist, as Rothenburg's preservation as a medieval city was only made possible through its fall in the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) and the ensuing poverty that lasted until the 20th century.

One town, however, comes close - Dinkelsbuhl.

Dinkelsbuhl sits along the Romantic Road less than an hour away from Rothenburg by car.

With many of Rothenburg's charms - a medieval wall, a Gothic cathedral, cobblestone streets and excellent local eateries - Dinkeslbuhl is less crowded and feels more like Germany and less like Disneyland, but it lacks the historic significance of Rothenburg and the myriad restaurants.

I visited Dinkelsbuhl in 2006, and I found it to be worth a stop on the way to Munich if you have time. It seems like much of the wall has been taken out, but substantial portions still stand. You can't walk its length like you can in Rothenburg, but after Rothenburg, you should have your fill of walking around the walls.

There are a few shopping streets in Dinkelsbuhl, and you can find the sorts of shops the locals typically frequent. Rather than Rothenburg's tourist traps - where sellers hawk spoons, beer steins, fake medieval weaponry and Christmas decorations - Dinkeslbuhl's shops include clothing stores, soccer shops and grocery stores.

What Dinkelsbuhl has that Rothenburg lacks is a lake full of swans and a nesting spot for the birds atop one of its buildings. (There's a chance the nest is for a stork, but swans are on the lake).

When I visited Dinkelsbuhl, I wandered around the town's uncrowded streets, visited the cathedral and had an excellent serving of apple strudel with ice cream at a small restaurant near the cathedral recommended by one of the helpful locals.

One of the trips I want to take in the future is a bicycle trip along the best sections of the Romantic Road, with more time to explore each individual town and the surrounding rolling green hills.

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