The medieval town of Rothenburg holds a special place in the hearts of Americans. A highlight for many travelers has been meeting Anneliese Friese, the charming woman who for decades ran her family’s souvenir shop — teeming with very German knick-knacks — just off the market square. Anneliese died last Tuesday and Rothenburg has lost one of the endearing characters that gave a charming human dimension to its venerable cobbles and facades.
While I generally make a point to not recommend tourist shops, for 30 years I’ve included The Friese Shop in my guidebooks, due to the sheer power of Anneliese’s personality and love of helping out visiting travelers.
Anneliese was also a founding member of Rothenburg’s English Conversation Club, which has been meeting every Wednesday for decades. This was her passion, where she would join both locals and tourists in a weekly excuse to get together, drink, and practice their fanciest English on each other. Every time I visited Rothenburg, if I was there on a Wednesday, I’d meander into the candlelit pub and squeeze a three-legged stool up to a table already crowded with Anneliese and the gang. She’d pour me a glass of wine, and we’d share our favorite slang and tongue twisters.
This photo shows Anneliese with her son Bernie and me. Bernie and his family will keep the shop going, but we’ll all miss his mother. Bless you, Anneliese, and thanks for the decades that you put delightful bits of Franconia into a box and shipped it home so we could enjoy those wonderful Rothenburg memories.