"Look, it's Quasimodo!!"
"Kids, don't swing that axe at each others heads!"
"Come this way to see the sword fight"
Believe it or not, these are true things that came out of my mouth on one very adventurous day in Germany. Did you know that Europe has festivals where the whole town joins in to re-create the past?!
A medieval festival in Germany was calling to us. In the famous and well preserved medieval town of Rottenburg ob der Tauber in the centre of Germany we found ourselves immersed in all things Middle Ages, it was, quite simply, awesome!!
We didn't have any medieval clothes to dress up in so we did the next best thing, lederhosen! Those lederhosen were turning out to be a very useful purchase, haha! We donned our German gear, strapped on our swords and marched into Rottenburg for our first experience of the Middle Ages.
When we first walked into town, we weren't sure where to go. Weirdly everything seemed a bit empty. We wandered aimlessly for a few minutes and passed a bakery. Here was our chance to try some delicious traditional food. After the gross experience during our Dutch adventures of trying raw herring, we were all very happy to try some delicious sugary German baked goods. Our local friends had told us to try out the 'snowballs', and we happily obliged.
Our time in Europe had taught us one important thing - if in doubt, head for the town square. So we continued our walk towards the centre, turned a corner, and lo and behold we found all of the people! They had gathered for a parade. This turned out to be rather important, as the King and his royal household were passing through town! All hail the King!
Trumpets were blaring, music was a-playin', and even the little ones were involved in the royal affair!
My very favourite was definitely Quasimodo! I was so impressed at everything, the attention to detail, the range of ages involved, the purpose of it all...which we had no idea about, haha! It was so funny to see all of this and have absolutely no idea what was going on. There was a parade, with a king, and knights, and falcons, and babies, and Quasimododo!!!...But where were they going?And why?? LOL
We continued on to the town square and here we found a hive of activity! We watched a leatherworker and a blacksmith, we had a random weird guy come up to us and try to sell us a rivet...??? We watched young ladies plaiting hair and villagers cooking, it was amazing!
And more parades! Important parades, where every detail was immaculate and they were all marching...somewhere? Maybe just through town, just to celebrate the happiness of getting to dress up in stockings and feathered hats?!
After all of this excitement we found a lovely grassy bit of land just outside the city walls where my kids could let off a bit of steam and try to kill each other...I mean play...
Maybe other befuddled foreigners thought this was part of the days entertainment??
Time to re-fuel, lunch! When in Germany, especially medieval Germany, it's best to live like the locals, so we gorged ourselves on giant hunks of meat and potatoes! (This is totally my kids favourite meal in the world).
After a solid lunch, we went off in search of further adventure.
I do need to admit that all was not always as merry as may appear. There was a fair amount of wailing from our wee little baby, and all of the normal Gilbert travel struggles were of course present; we had to change nappies in odd places and both Ross and I seemed to be taking turns feeling stressed from the crowds and the crying...
But despite these challenges, the atmosphere in Rothenburg ob der Tauber was truly fun and exciting. It is an incredible town, it is simply gorgeous everywhere you look, and in our experience, it was truly history come alive!
Wonderfully, we found the Knights training ground! Again, remember that we didn't really understand how things were all set up here, and so we assumed that we could go poking around where-ever we wanted. We found a really cool knights camp and had a look around the place and inside the tents...until we were informed that we were actually nosing around someone's living quarters!
We apologised, pulled out our dumb foreigner Australian charm and were invited to come and sit at the knights table! Here we discovered that some of the people involved in the medieval festival were really living it for a few days, like, true immersion!! Apparently, not everything was for display, but was actually their home and personal belongings! Wow.
One of the lads who was chatting to us was nice enough to let my kids try on some real knights armour! My kids were thrilled at this and they all had a turn to try on chain mail, gloves, a helmet and sword and to strike their fiercest knights warrior pose, it was fantastic!!
Our next activity was weapons training. We all watched a rather amusing battle and then the kids received some instruction and had a go at medieval fighting!
Baby Bo chose to wail for the whole duration of all the battles...
After this we went a-wandering and found some interesting characters and also a playground.
Unfortunately the flooring of that big beautiful wooden playground was made up of tiny choke-able stones, Bohan tried to eat and swallow them all, we stressed out and then promptly left. It's funny how aware we had become of what was underneath our feet while travelling with a crawling baby!
On our way out of town we got a sneak peak 'behind the curtain' so to speak. The day was winding down and the actors 'on stage' were taking a rest and breaking from the role they had been playing all day;
What a wonderful day! Of course it still consisted of those ups and downs and stresses that accompanies travel with a family of little kids, but it was still wonderful. Over time the stresses fade, and the left-over memory is pure delightful and enchanting medieval fun!
Tips - Rothenburg ob der Tauber has an array of festivals available throughout the year, for more information about the different ones available and the dates click HERE
The festival that we attended is called 'The Imperial City Festival' and it runs at the beginning of September each year. This festival is all about celebrating the life and times of the people of Rothenburg through the centuries.