(Recommended by Ben and Family)
Tel - 7933/648 ~ Fax - 7933/2035011
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
17 km NW of Rothenburg o.d.T.
Three Apartments for 2 to 5 persons
Overnight stays OK if vacancy exists
Kitchen facilities - separate sleeping rooms - private shower/toilet
..I love the Tauber valley and I eased back into that tranquil state of mind as I turned onto the Romantic Road at Tauberzell with just 5 km more to our destination. Arriving in this little village to a now slight drizzle I decided to pull over and ask the first friendly face directions to our farm. A kind elderly gentleman standing on the sidewalk seemed a likely candidate. I explained to him in my best German that I was looking for the Mantel Bauernhof and with a huge grin he introduced himself as Herr Ludwig Mantel. It was as if he had been standing there waiting for some lost Americans to come along and ask him this question. He happily pointed to the hills above the town and told us to go on up - our rooms were waiting for us - which we gladly did.
The Mantel place seemed large and expansive and as we were told later it had to be in order to support the needs of the 6 family members who lived and worked there. We were met by an elderly Frau Mantel (no English) and shown to our apartment (partially below ground) which contained a kitchen, living area, large bathroom and two sleeping rooms with space for 5 easily (6 if you count the sofa).
The Mantel farm has 3 apartments (no single or double rooms) and they prefer week-long stays. Certain times of the year when there are vacancies they will rent an apartment for a few days or even overnight. Our stay fit in nicely between some regular extended-visit customers. It was cold and damp enough that a fire was already going in the wood burning stove and after unpacking a few things - the girls (having slept most of the day) were now ready to get under those great down-filled covers for a real nap (exactly what we preach not to do - but it's raining and I give in easily). So I spend the afternoon reading and organizing my cameras and such until the daughter-in-law (Gudrun) arrives. Gudrun speaks excellent English (which my wife and daughters appreciated) and she and her husband Werner handle the bulk of the more strenuous farm work. Everyone seems to have their own chores they are responsible for except the two children Anja and Michael who seem to spend most of their time playing with all the critters. I had hoped to spend some time in Rothenburg that evening but due to the weather conditions we opted for dinner at a nearby restaurant recommended by Frau Mantel. It turned out to be a do-nothing day but I don't think anyone cared except me and truthfully I was loving the cool weather. In the rain we drove to Steinsfeld (10 km west of Rothenburg) and had our first great Schnitzel dinner at the Alte Schreinerei (Familie Würflein), Bettwar 22 (Tel - 9861/1541). Friendly atmosphere but busy - good service - excellent food. Amy had her first Kinderschnitzel mit Pommes and was hooked from then on.
Day 2 - While the girls slept - I was up at O-dark thirty doing my normal early snooping about taking pictures and videos of the farmers going about their routines. Gudrun was up and about in the barn cleaning stalls and feeding the cows. There were about 45 cows (all with nametags stapled to their ears). If you want to know a cow's name just check the eartag.
They generally tolerate my presence but I always stay on the proper side of a cow and that is the front end. The Mantels sell milk, bread and eggs if you need extra to go. An excellent typical Bauernhof Frühstück was served at 0800 (soft boiled eggs, cheese, various meats, orange juice, milk, various breads and that wonderful strong German coffee).
Dee Dee has recovered enough to drive, the weather has cleared somewhat and we are off to Rothenburg o.d.T. for the morning. We walk around most of the Altstadt and I point out several places and points of interest that I fully expect Georg the Night Watchman will expound on later that evening (having taken his tour previously). A few standard pictures at the Plönlein, castle gardens and town hall - a visit to the Medieval Crime Museum for Amy and myself - a walkthru of St. Jakob's Church to see Riemenschneider's masterpiece - and we're back to the farm. The girl's take another nap (against my advice) and with dark skies threatening - Amy and I take a drive to the Fränkisches Freilandmuseum in Bad Windsheim (about 30 km NE of our farm location).
We arrived to find a shepard (in his finest garb) and a large flock of sheep near the entrance. Between rain showers we enjoyed several hours of rural homes and farms from Franconia's past - disassembled from their original location and reconstructed at this open-air museum (like so many others similar throughout Germany).
Back to the farm for a promised pony cart ride courtesy of Gudrun. This lady was so nice to my family and went out of her way to insure everyone had a good time - the rain let up and Gudrun had her pony cart ready to go. Off we went down the bike path with the Tauber river on our left and the Romantic Road winding along beside. As we drove along - Gudrun would point out the different crops, trees and plants growing beside the path. Excellent adventure for almost 2 hours.
Noting a nice looking outside terrace at a hidden Gasthaus we passed along the way - I made a point to return that evening for our second dinner meal. The Gasthaus Holdermühle near Tauberzell (look for a sign on the road and a sharp turn over a one lane bridge). Nice meal - cool evening - outside with the river flowing nearby.
Day 3 - Restful night - my body seems to be in sync with German time with no problems while the girls are still slightly out of whack. Up at dawn with the cows I enjoy the brisk morning air and those pungent farm smells. Wasn't it Robert Duvall as LTC Kilgore (Apocalypse Now) who said "I love the smell of compost in the morning"? :) On the picnic table outside our door I find about 20 different leaves and plants laid out with the German and English words for each. I had asked so many questions during our cart ride that Gudrun had collected samples of local foilage for me. I was very impressed with this very nice lady. When I paid our bill that morning - I asked about the charge for the extended cart ride. "No charge - Ganz mein Vergnügen!" Too nice - now I really don't want to leave. But we say Auf Wiedersehen and are off and running for Chiemsee. I feel much better knowing we had left one of my Texas coffee mugs and three beanie babies for her kids in the bedroom. Dee Dee had brought along a small bag of beanies for any farm kids we might encounter and some small Texas souvenirs to leave as tokens of appreciation for just such a stay as we had enjoyed. I will remember this farm and Gudrun's hospitality for a long time to come....