Debbie again, with another review, this time of dinner and theatre in Rothenburg, Germany.
It did not start out to be dinner and theatre, but that is how it progressed, ending with a potential scandal and the need for us to get out of Rothenburg quickly.
The original innocent plan was to have supper at the Burgerkeller (which has nothing at all to do with burgers American style) followed by the Night Watchman tour. As the Night Watchman tour is known as the thing ‘to do’ in Rothenburg, and as the Burgerkeller came highly rated by Rick Steeves, Lonely Planet and Wonder and Wanderlust, we felt we were in for a safe evening.
We need to set the stage a little. After spending an evening and a full day in the old town of Rothenburg which remains protected by a huge fortress, and after walking virtually every street (about 10 in total!) and literally walking the wall (the enclosed walkway on the top of the fortress), we soon came to learn that it is a small place where everyone probably knew everyone, but we did not yet know just how true this was.
We arrived at the downstairs Burgerkeller to find all tables marked ‘Reserved’ but the place was empty. We asked if there was room, and the sole waiter pointed us to one ‘Reserved’ table. We perused the menu, ordered, and started talking to the ‘waiter’ who turned out to be the owner. He explained that the tables weren’t really reserved, he had let all the staff go for the month while he and the cook took charge as this was their slow season, and he wanted to ensure top quality of food, so by marking the tables ‘Reserved’, he could decide how many people were in the restaurant (and, we decided, just who exactly he wanted as customers). We clearly made the cut. We continued to chat or, rather, he continued to entertain us by telling jokes, some off colour, and showing us his newest toy, a remote helicopter. One of his jokes had to do with the Night Watchman who apparently takes two months off in winter to go to Thailand with his wife – “He goes to Thailand with his wife? That’s like taking a bottle of beer into the Hofbrau House.” In the course of his tirade, he told us that his lease was up at the end of December and, after 27 years, he is going into another line of ‘business’, of which he was not about to share. He did share, however, when Larry complimented him on his perfect English and asked if he has lived in an English speaking country, that he had honed his language skills during his two year stint in Quantonomo! His banter continued with perfect comedic pause as he chose to let some people in the door and denied access to others . . . . The meals arrived, and they were exceptional. We left feeling great and thinking that perhaps he should go into comedy for his next career.
Onto the Night Watchman tour just up the street. The night was dark and windy with little spits of rain, perfect for a spooky walk through old town Rothenburg.
The Night Watchman appeared out of the dark. He was tall, had long curly hair, was dressed in black robes and carried a lantern and a menacing all-purpose tool, good for stabbing or cutting off heads or whatever was required at any given misdemeanour. We followed him down the cobble streets, stopping at strategic points to listen to his stories. He told us the history of Rothenburg, of fires and of bubonic plague and of battles that were saved at the last moment because some American army general’s mother had visited Rothenbug in 1914, and he felt that was worthy reason to save the city. It was a highly entertaining tour, made so by the Night Watchman’s manner, voice, and sense of humour.
We started heading back to our pension for the night, commenting about what a great night it was. Then it dawned on me that when I was trying on a dress in a little store earlier in the day, a tall man with long curly hair had walked in and pointed to the dressing room. Hmmmmm. We started to think that everyone in this town was connected, and I commented that I could just see Walter, our pension operator, and the Night Watchman drinking beer together.
Fast forward to morning. Larry and I are in the breakfast room, and Larry starts chatting with Walter and is telling him about the Night Watchman Tour and the supper at the Burgerkeller. He told Walter that the owner of the Burgerkeller might be closing his doors very soon and going to another line of business, to which Walter responded, “Hmm, that is very good information.” Larry then asked him if he happened to know the Night Watchman, and he responded, “Yes, he is my brother in law.” Well, then I told him that I had been into a little dress shop and bought a dress, and Walter told us that the Night Watchman is married to Walter’s wife’s sister, and they own the dress shop.
Now the problem is that we had toured the Crime and Punishment Museum earlier that date, and one of the worst offences in medieval times, punishable by head yokes and any other means of violence, was to spread gossip. We looked at each other and decided that we needed to get out of Rothenburg, fast, in order to preserve our lives as we just know that Walter walked back to the kitchen, told his wife the “good information” he had received, and she promptly called her sister, who told her husband (aka the Night Watchman) – and the little community inside the walls of Rothenburg would be abuzz. By my calculation, the operator of the Burgerkeller would have the ‘news’ that he was shutting down by the time he opened for the evening.
Seriously, we had a hilarious evening. We strongly recommend the Burgerkeller and the Night Watchman tour for a great evening in Rothenburg. Just don’t spread gossip in this town!
PS. Anybody out there think we might have been set up???