After walking around the market square for a while, admiring the charm of the buildings and being slightly confused by this one drain opening that had been wired with a speaker so that occasionally, the sound of a cat meowing would eminate from it* I headed south, past the old Guild Hall, another old and gorgeous example of medieval architecture:
Off on the left side of that picture, can you see a little square of yellow? So did I, so I meandered down that little alley and discovered it's a pretty big bas-relief sculpture, covered in what appears to be gold leaf (again with the sideays thing - damn you blogger for not having a way to display these picture correctly!):
The scultpture is right above the entryway into an even smaller alley. In fact, at first I would have sworn this is where they got the design for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter movies:
This street is called "Zur Bottcherstrasse" (street of the barrelmakers) and is a half-actual, half-recreation of the way streets used to be laid out back when only people needed to get around. It's full of little curio shops and places where people can buy touristy stuff. I picked up some stuff for myself and some friends, but didn't go overboard, since there is still a lot to see. I figure I'll load up on my way out of town anyway and whatever I can't get then I'll just come back.
More examples of the buildings in Zur Bottcherstrase. Initially, these were all houses, but since they were built most of them have been turned into shops or hotels. Naturally, the Hilton is in this area. And, as I thought, lots of the buildings were from the 1950's and just made to look like they were old, with some more contemporary decorative touches, like these stained glass windows next to a coffeehouse:
More of the buildings, this one was a little older
And this house was the only original one left in the area, from the 1400's. I think it's a bar now.
By this point, I was starting to get a little hungry, so I made my way out of Zur Bottcherstrasse and headed over to the Ratskellar, which is a 600+ year old restaurant located in the basement of the Rathaus. It's particularly well known for having a ginormous German Wine list, and you end up sitting around these huge wine barrels from god-knows-when. The picture's a little fuzzy, since I didn't want the flash to bother the people at the table next to me.
You can kind of see the ceilings in this place, which are vaulted just right that you can completely overhear people sitting directly opposite you in your portion of the room. Because the vaults are shaped just right, they act as reflectors, collecting and bouncing people's voices so well that it's a little disturbing. So I suppose the odds of anyone eating there at lunch today being an international superspy was fairly low. For privacy, there are also these little dining booths which look more like closets than anything else.
Sadly, the kitchen was closed for lunch by the time I arrived, but I did score some strudel and coffee, which was good:
I did make reservations for dinner tonight**, and from what I saw of the menu, I think I will be pleased. Although I haven't really eaten much on this trip so far. Something happens to me when I go overseas, I stop feeling the need to eat altogether. I'll go for days without eating because I don't really get hungry. This is probably due to a combination of me not feeling comfortable ordering food in other languages as well as my constantly being distracted by other things to do and see. It was a real problem for me the last time I was in Europe too. But the strudel was enough to keep me going through the afternoon, but hopefully I'll be actually hungry by the time I go back for dinner.
* Seriously, it was weird.
** And I scored one of the closets. I'm stoked!