Me in Nürnberg, Pegnitz river

Nürnberg. When one thinks of the city name, hundreds of familiars flood into mind…

The Nürnberg Trials of 1945-1946

Nürnberg’s notorious lebkuchen (gingerbread)

The stage grounds for Nazi party demonstration rallies

One of the most beautiful Christkindlmarkts in Germany

Nürnberg is no doubt, rich in history. The city is believed to have been founded around the 11th century. It’s dotted with many historical landmarks, from the original medieval city walls surrounding the altstadt (old city), to the impressive Schloss Kaiserburg overlooking the city, to the quaint Schöner Brunnen (beautiful fountain) in the city center, to various Baroque and Gothic architecture abounding, Nürnberg is rich in art history.

It’s also a multi-cultural city. Walking around the city center, Nürnberg is home to many different ethnicities, from Muslim, to Indian, to Asian descent, and most speaking German. Some of these, maybe German by nationality, but many were immigrants for sure.

Transportation to and from Nürnberg is relatively easy. Thanks to Germany’s exquisite public transportation system, I was delivered to the city via train (S-bahn) and proceeded to the Hauptbahnhof (main train station). I really liked the flow of transport within it; the bustle of busy people, connecting and reconnecting there for work, home or leisure, it was a busy place.

 

Nürnberg hauptbahnhof

Within Germany’s train system, lies a few types of trains.

  • S-Bahn: Suburban train. These are somewhat slow, and stop at every little town along the way, usually red in color. I took these often in my travels.
  • R-Bahn: Rapid train. These have a little more pep in their step, the interior more modern, and utilized by many people.
  • U-Bahn- Underground train/subway. Electrically operated and genius, for moving underground and avoiding all pedestrians and traffic above.
  • Ice: Ice train. Germany’s speed train, reaching 186 mph and connecting only major cities (Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg etc.) These do not go to small town train stations.

* There’s also a variety of trams and buses available for your transport…

Tram passing by in Nuernberg...

What I found amazing is how so many people rely on public transport. Thinking back to my own country, the USA, not many take the bus or train… wait, we don’t even have a public rail system unless you’re in New York City or some huge metropolitan area like that. I liked how structured and organized the train system was. You didn’t need to have a car in Germany, you could hop on the train. I liked that. It was like a well oiled machine. Those Germans, ever-so-smart…

This is where you get your train tickets...

Being that my friends Daniel and Katja were working all day until 5:00, I wasn’t about to sit around indoors and ponder my reason for being in Germany…I wanted to explore! So I walked 15 minutes to the Ansbach train station, bought my single day ticket and hopped aboard an S-bahn to Nürnberg, about 35 minutes north. Contrary to some of my friends’ beliefs, I wasn’t afraid. Some asked me, “Wow, you traveled alone in a foreign country? Damn…” but I didn’t understand why some of them were making such a big deal, like it was rocket science that I had boarded a train and went sightseeing. As stated in earlier entries, I’m not one who’s afraid of solitude. Solitude provides an opportunity to really examine oneself and become in deeper understanding of who you are. Maybe I’m more gutsy than my female friends, but, I’ve always been an advocate of relying on yourself when it comes to accomplishing goals. If the goal is to see Europe, go see Europe. Make it happen. Don’t depend on others to come along and hold your hand. Go experience it first hand, on your own terms. And that’s exactly what I did.

Arriving to Nürnberg, if you walk from the Hauptbahnhof directly across the street you will find the altstadt (old city). Its distinct medeival design is unmistakable. You can’t help but be lured by the city’s Gothic architecture and notable contributions to history books everywhere. After all, this was the place where Hitler rallied thousands during the Nazi regime. But, aside from that dark morsel of history, Nürnberg itself, is indeed a photographer’s friend. Although much of the city had to be rebuilt after WWII, it’s not lacking for scenery. Take for instance the winding Pegnitz river that cuts through the city, or the Frauenkirche,  St. Lorenz kirche, and not to forget, Kaiserburg Schloss. All of these, rich in their own individual history. Each building has a story to tell. Won’t you come in and listen for awhile?

Entering Nürnberg altstadt

I took my first steps into the city with caution. Coming from the USA, I’m accustomed to dodging the occasional crazy motorist with no regard for human life. But there was more respect for pedestrians here. Although there’s designated crossing times, if you cross the road even without the crosswalk signal, motorists will stop. It’s the law. Pedestrians have the right of way. I got a surge of bravery and crossed the road to get to the altstadt, noticing not even the sneakiest motorist blowing by me at full speed. Everyone stopped.

Altstadt Nürnberg is surrounded by a medieval city wall (stadtmaurer), a reminder of what life was like way back in the 12th century. At one time, the wall had multiple towers (turmen) which artillery guardsmen sat up in and protected medieval Nürnberg from gunfire and other threats. Today only four towers remain. I remember exiting my train, walking upstairs out of the Hauptbahnhof, seeing this giant tower weathered by time, and the gratification and excitement that came over me, like a kid at Christmas opening his first gift. I was right here; right here where I had read about in my travel guide for hours on end!

It was love at first sight; just simple things that the typical German probably didn’t blink an eye to, I was enamored with. The quaint, tudor-style Gasthofs and restaurants, the windows, accented with flower boxes, the paint, seemingly fresh in color, the cobblestone streets, the mesh of medieval and modern within the city…everything about it was just splendid, and I hadn’t even really begun exploring yet. With my stadtplan (city map) in hand, I studied it closely for a bit, looking at such attractions as the Schöne Brunnen, Kaiserburg Schloss, Frauenkirche, and St. Lorenz kirche and set on foot.

I wasn’t afraid of walking alone in a unfamiliar city. Should I have been? After all, I’m a 26 year old American female, in a foreign country, in a foreign city, in an otherwise foreign atmosphere. But that’s what attracted me. The sheer enjoyment of the unknown. I felt strangely comfortable in this city, despite the obvious. Some people would have never dared set foot on a train alone, and hike a foreign city alone. Some may have wished for a counterpart to be along for the ride. But I was feeling fine, feeling somewhat assimilated in a city not my own. Nürnberg was an open book and I wanted to turn the page.

I walked along the main artery of Nürnberg, the Königstraße (King’s road) and a few neighboring streets. This road led to the Innenstadt (city center) and various ‘toursity’ destinations. Snapped a lot of pics along my route…

View of the Frauentor, entering the altstadt

Can you see Kaiserburg Schloss in the distance?

Walking around Nürnberg, I really forgot what it felt like to walk…not that I was ever afraid of a little exercise, I used to jog with my dog at my dad’s house and have always been an advocate for exercise and a healthy lifestyle. But more or less, I guess I had become trapped in my own little culture, that is, one where everyone drives. In the USA, no one walks 45 minutes somewhere, they drive. Perhaps out of laziness or, a bad knee. Whichever the case, I came to find out, the Europeans are a bit more fit than we Americans. I really enjoyed walking all over the city. What better way to experience a city than walking in it, right in the heart of it? You can’t experience something within a quick taxi ride. The memories fly by you too fast. Walking, one can savor, remember and really internalize the city.

Before I knew it, I came upon the Hauptmarkt, the stage for Nürnberg’s Christkindlmarkt. Being that I was there off-holiday season, it was nothing more than a big, wide open space dotted with vendors, selling everything from flowers to sausages, but still beautiful. In the USA you don’t see many outdoor markets, everything is super sized and institutionalized with endless gray aisles, like Wal-Mart or Publix.

Hauptmarkt

Since the Frauenkirche is directly in the Innenstadt, I decided to take a visit. Built in the 13th century, the church is synonymous with the Nürnberg skyline.

Frauenkirche, 13th c.

Like many of the buildings throughout Nürnberg, the Frauenkirche is a Gothic masterpiece. Also in the Hauptmarkt not far from the Frauenkirche is the Schöner Brunnen (beautiful fountain),a  popular tourist delight.

Schöner Brunnen

The original fountain was built in the late 13th century and stands roughly 62 feet high. This colorful, Gothic spire depicts forty sculptures of important figures in Germanic history, from philosophy and liberal arts, evangelists, prophets, church heads, and notables from the Holy Roman Empire. The fountain has undergone many restorations in an effort to preserve and protect it. Today, what stands in the Hauptmarkt is a replica of the original. If you visit the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, you can see pieces of the original.

Some of the figures on the fountain...

Germany is a feast for the eyes when it comes to architecture. A visit to St. Lorenz Kirche, built in the 12th century, is an amazing feat of Gothic architecture. With its wide open naves, towering columns, and various art ranging from sculpture, reliefs, friezes and oil painting, the church is definitely breathtaking, inside and out.

Looking up at St. Lorenz kirche

St. Lorenz kirche

The interior of the St. Lorenz kirche was an eyefull, a photographer’s paradise, everything so old and untouched. I just couldn’t get over the fact that here I was, some small American girl, standing inside a church built in the 12th century, looking at sculptures and other artwork so old they were seemingly larger than life. Everything looked so polished and fragile, I was afraid to sneeze in there!

Interior, St. Lorenz kirche

Holy sculpture inside St. Lorenz

After taking in all of St. Lorenz’s impressive beauty, I made an exit and proceeded onto  my next conquest, Kaiserburg Schloss (castle). I remember flipping through my Germany travel book and seeing photos of this impressive, and delicately preserved castle from the 12th century. The castle had a notable seat in the Holy Roman Empire, with Emperors and Bishops calling it home. The castle was definitely a few miles hike, but, unafraid, I set afoot en route to this majestic medieval reminder of what life was once like here in Nürnberg.

Me & Kaiserburg Schloss

Kaiserburg, and its most notable tower, the Sinwell...

Although Kaiserburg was not a relatively large castle, it still had impeccable charm. I was in love with how largely preserved it was. Being that the castle was damaged in World War II, parts of it have since been renovated. It’s free to tour the grounds and there’s also a museum inside the courtyard.

Kaiserburg

Kaiserburg

Medieval door lock. One of the many beauties inside Kaiserburg.

I was in a real state of wonder while at this castle. Touching the cool, stone walls, walking the cobblestone alleys, studying every little intricate detail of its construction, this castle had me captivated indeed. One of the most satisfying gems about Kaiserburg is the impressive view of  Nürnberg. Kaiserburg is perched atop a steep hill, providing a birds-eye view of the busy city below.

Me overlooking Nürnberg from Kaiserburg

Spending a good amount of time pawing over the castle and all its wonders, I proceeded to walk back down that steep hill, following my good sense of direction en route to the Hauptbahnhof…

As I turned the corner I was greeted by a quaint restaurant adjacent to Kaiserburg. Having walked God knows how many miles around the city, I had worked up quite an appetite. I decided it was time for some good German grub.

The little hidden restaurant. Loved it...

One of my favorite German dishes is Schweineschnitzel (pork cutlet) and not to forget, the ever-tasty Spaetzle (a potato noodle). Pair these up with some Champignon mushroom sauce, and you’ve got a winner.

Mmmm, lecker (tasty)!

And, last but not least, the oh-so-hearty hefewizen, this one brought to you by Tucher…

Germany knows how to do froth. America, we've gotta work on this.

After my scrumptious tastebud pleaser, I continued to the Hauptbahnhof.  I had to meet Daniel and Katja for dinner later that evening. Walking uphill, downhill, my photographic excursion didn’t stop…

 

Walking downhill...

I really admired how Nürnberg kept true to its medieval roots, many of the buildings all looking so weathered by time, but without showing signs of disdain. Most of the buildings were alive in vibrant, fresh colors and looked thoroughly maintained. Germans seemed to take a lot of pride in their homes or business fronts; it was refreshing.

 

One of my favorite pics from Nuernberg...

These 3 guys were curious about what I was doing. Yes, I'm a tourist. I take pictures. So what?

Although on vacation in Germany for eight days, my pesky caffeine addiction didn’t fail to remind me that it was time for a little coffee break. Low and behold, a Starbucks.

Starbucks along the Pegnitz r.

But it’s deceiving…not as cheap as we’re accustomed to here in the states, my favorite from the menu, the White Chocolate Mocha, cost me €4,50 or, $6.40 USD! Haha! That’s some pricey java! Nevertheless, I wallowed in my surrender to the corporate caffeine giant and sat outside, savoring every sip of my whipped cream topped goodness.

Nearing closer to the Hauptbahnhof, I couldn’t resist walking over to the Nürnberg alte operhaus (old opera house). Built in 1905, the building is impressive, more Baroque in nature, steering away from the typical Gothic architecture found all over the city.

Nürnberg alte operhaus

I didn’t have time to go in and check the place out, but the exterior was definitely impressive. A few more blocks walk and I had finally reached the Hauptbahnhof. I have no idea how many steps my little feet took that day in Nürnberg, but I know it was more than what the average American does. But that’s something I admired. Everybody walks. No one is afraid of a little physical exertion. Back in the states, you see people fighting for the first parking spot at Wal-mart. And they wonder why America comes with labels like ‘lazy’ and ‘fat’… the proof is in the pudding. But at the same time, America’s cities are more expanse, spread out. Most cities lack a city center where shopping, restaurants and bars are all within walking distance. I wish I could walk to more places but sadly far too many of America’s city plans differ greatly from that of Germany’s. I’ll just stick to my 4 mile beach speed walking workout three times a week! But I have seen progress in some cities. Due to the great weather here in Florida, there’s been an influx of outdoor shopping and dining malls, but, still doesn’t quite compare to the infrastructure of Germany’s cities and how beautifully organized everything is.

I hopped on the S-bahn back to Ansbach, going through my camera and reviewing the photos from the day.  Although I only paid it a visit for one day,  Nürnberg definitely captivated me. A city of medieval beauty, undeniable charm, rich in history and… the lebkuchen! You bet I brought some of this stuff home. Goes fantastic with coffee.

 

Mmmmm....

This Bavarian city definitely had me from ‘hallo’.

Tschüss!

 

 

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