Leaving our kitschy apartment near Kassel we stopped first at Burgruine Polle, the “home” of Cinderella. The story originates in France (we think), and was tinkered with by the Brothers Grimm. They had traveled through the area and thought the ruins would make a perfect setting for the story. So, viola! We preferred to believe the ruins were truly that of the chateau where Cinderella slaved for her Stepmother and Stepsisters.

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Though the interior of the ruins were unexpectedly closed we could walk along the outside perimeter quite easily, taking in stellar overlooks of the River Weser while Clayton Theodore cataloged the scent of every leaf in his path. The autumnal colors contrasted wonderfully with the shadowy ruins, once again making for chamber of commerce photos. Along the perimeter were placards telling Cinderella’s tale; we had paused to read one and suddenly heard a lapping sound. Clayton Theodore was drinking rainwater out of the Cinderella bronze slipper on display!

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Hameln was our second, and final destination for the day, the intention being to sit for lunch and explore the village. In my planning I was a little concerned that we were shortchanging Hameln with just an afternoon’s sightseeing; in fact, the timing turned out to be ideal. By the time we had finished lunch many stores had reopened from the Mittagspause, and in combination with following the “Pied Piper Route,” so marked by brass “rats” in the cobblestones, we saw the architectural highlights; snapped lots of photos; stopped in every bakery in search of rat-shaped cookies (the bookstore had them); and even serendipitously found ourselves at Hochzeithaus in time to view the Pied Piper clockwork story, complete with Glockenspiel chimes.

Our stop in Hameln was for two nights, with the second day reserved for a (long) day trip to Bremen. Though we knew our hotel had been built for Napoleon in 1808, when Hameln was under French occupation, it was not until after we had departed did we learn that the hotel had also housed political prisoners during WWII; that the British used the hotel as a prison for Germans suspected of war crimes; and the park behind the hotel was the site where more than 200 of them were hanged. Not quite a fairy tale history.