Subject: Re: Germany suggestions, Rothenburg or Nordlingen
Hello Barbara,

as I'm no historian, I can't be 100% sure of everything... But according to their website (with an aerial pic btw):

the walls around the city are originally from the 14th century (reinforced twice later) with 5 gate houses and 11 towers - and they still exist today.

And I can assure you - it seems that every Japanese and American tourist visiting Germany can be met in Rothenburg, there are even a lot of shops with the price signs mainly or only in Japanese - not very genuine I'd say..... No offence against Rothenburg as a whole, it's just not my cup of tea. On the other hand the infrastructure concerning hotels e.g. is probably more used to foreign tourists.

All in all - my area (I live in Stuttgart and I mean the whole south-west) has a lot of towns and villages with historical buildings - depending on what was destroyed in the 2nd ww and what survived - but even for us N#rdlingen is something special. And Rothenburg is nice - but most people think immediately of the all-year-round christmas shop there, not about visiting for the town itself (again - not because of the town basically, that's nice, but because of the overwhelming tourism there).

Btw - this is something I ecountered on the castle in Heidelberg, too. It's surreal to me when you hear a photo clicking every second (literally!) and you're surrounded by people from all over the world making pictures so that you can barely see the castle front. If you travel by car (I think by train it's too much inconvenience) I'd rather stop in Bad Wimpfen, which lies also on the Neckar. Ok, it has no bridge, but a wonderful old town.

Perhaps you can see from that - I've developped a policy of most times visiting the areas, towns, castles, churches whatever... which are not the MOST famous. Cause famous doesn't always mean the best. Sometimes fame comes from good marketing, from a famous person in history (like Ludwig II in Bavaria) but things like that are not the categories I favour. I'm interested in architecture e.g. so I try to visit roman architecture preferrably in the purest form. No matter if it's famous or not. I like towns and villages when they are still alive and no disney land. I like nature better when I can see the landscape and the view is not obstructed by hot dog stands and souvenir shops. Everyone is entitled his or her own taste of course - and this is mine. (Btw - not only in Germany, the areas in France or Britain or Norway I like most are most times the not famous ones....)

So - I'd favour N#rdlingen over Rothenburg, Hohenschwangau over Neuschwanstein, the Mosel or the Neckar or the Nahe (all rivers) over the Rhine (too many roads and train tracks and touristy wine restaurants and bus tours for my taste), Quedlinburg over Wernigerode..... Oh - and if you're in the latter area - Duderstadt has wonderful timber architecture. :)

But I must admit I normally travel by car and have no problem to reach these areas. If you rely on trains, you have to make compromises of course.

Hope that explains my reasons - and sorry for the long post. :)

Baerbel, near Stuttgart, Germany.