When we woke up, we were in Nuremberg proper. There’s something magical about going to sleep in one town–in a very comfy and cozy bed–waking up, and opening your curtains to see a whole new view. Here’s what we saw on Sunday morning:
And, here’s what we ate for breakfast … everything:
Each morning began with a remarkable breakfast buffet: omelette station (staffed by Evgeny, who knew your order by heart after day one!); array of eggs, bacon, sausages; oatmeal and cream of wheat with every mix-in in the world; housemade muesli (which soon became Harper’s favorite); fresh fruit; housemade yogurts; housemade marmalades; fresh baked breads and bagels; lox; cold meats and cheeses; vegetables; and cereals. Oh, and if none of that appealed, you can always order pancakes, French toast (Penn’s favorite), or eggs Benedict. The huge meal prepared us for the 90-120 minute walking tour that started each day.
After breakfast, we would typically be off the boat by about 9 for the tours. Each of us got a “voxbox”–a personal audio device that allowed us to hear the tour guide from as far away as a couple blocks. Each tour guide had about 25 passengers in his/her group–so the guides were never overwhelmed and could take questions and offer recommendations for sight-seeing, dining or shopping after the tour ended. Great system! Each guide we had was a native of the city we were in, so they could and did share much more than a typical point and describe overview.
Our Nuremberg guide was a German as a Second Language teacher, and his affinity for the country’s immigrants came through in a way that was both warm and wry. He also knew his town, its history, and its food (!) inside and out. Because of the size of Nuremberg, we first toured by bus.
Because if Miami is known for one thing … it’s pizza!
The uniformity of much Nuremberg housing is because they were built for workers in the town’s manufacturing sector.
Other housing is a bit ritzier.
Our bus was headed to the Nuremberg zeppelin fields. Patrick, our guide, explained the degree to which the history of the “so-called National Socialist Party” (Nazis) is included in the education of German school children. He also described a strategy for reusing former Nazi buildings in the way most diametrically opposed to the ideology behind them. For example, the former dormitory of Hitler’s youth is now the immigration processing facility; the former power station for the zeppelin fields is now a Burger King. He also pointed to the fragility of the stadium surrounding the zeppelin fields, which was supposed to last a thousand years but became a safety hazard within 25. Our trip away from the fields also took us by the site of the Nuremberg trials. In case you’re wondering, Patrick strongly recommends Judgement at Nuremberg and recommends with reservation some recent Alec Baldwin movie on the same topic–because the romance in it is unnecessary.
After this visit to Nuremberg’s painful history, we paid a visit to its origins as a walled city surrounded by a moat and treacherous entry that deterred almost every enemy (until the city was taken by the US in WWII). Those who fell into the moat were shot by archers; those who made it up the bridge to the gate were met with boiling urine and feces. Ah, the Middle Ages were the best.
From the vista of the old city walls, we could see all of Nuremberg spread out below–again, remember that about 80-90% of this city was destroyed during the war. The level of reconstruction in such a short period of time (some of the medieval city was rebuilt by 1947) says much about Germany.
After leaving the walls of the (rebuilt) original city, we made our way through the town, learning about Albrecht Durer, whose “Young Hare” is such a perfect incarnation of a rabbit that anyone else trying to surpass it will be killed by the hare. At least, that’s the point of this statue. (We also picked up a Playmobil Durer and Martin Luther at the tourist info center.)
The city center was rebuilt in its original style–with half stucco–and the cobblestone streets were replaced as was the winding organization of Nuremberg’s streets. Taken altogether, the effect is charming and welcoming–you feel like you’re walking through Belle’s village.
Nuremberg takes its sausage seriously. It is in a sausage battle with nearby Regensburg, and the fight escalated to the point that German courts interceded, giving Nuremberg the exclusive right to produce some sausages. Also, we learned that proper German sausages are cooked over a fire, preferably Beech wood. And, they’re small and served three to a bun. How serious is Nuremberg about sausage? This plaque honors a demolished sausage store (!). Legend is that this sausage maker, attached to a church, was required to be closed on Sundays, but it still sold its brats through the keyhole in their shop door. Hence the small size of Nuremberg’s sausages to this day.
Like all the towns we visited, this one has a very impressive cathedral at is center:
We got to Nuremberg just after the Christmas market ended. The city has one of Europe’s largest, and its remnants were still in the square.
We had a bit of time on our own. Because most shops must be closed on Sundays, only a few food outlets were open, so we–of course–ran right to a sausage place recommended by Patrick. Real brats cooked over Beech wood! And, big pretzels and German potato salad. BTW, I have no idea why these children make these faces. Sigh.
Then, it was back to the boat. Once again, the view from our rooms was spectacular in its stark solitude (except for that dude in state room 224 … he was the worst 🙂 ).
Soon after we boarded, the Baldur set its smooth course forward, making its way through the locks of the Danube canal to the river itself. So cool!
Because we were on a real boat, we had a mandatory safety drill. As you might expect, we took it very seriously.
Then, we grabbed seats on the Aquavit Terrace to get the best views as the walls of the canal locks grew up around us. As we do live near the Erie Canal, this isn’t new to us, but it’s still an awesome feat of engineering and really amazing to go from day to night to day to night repeatedly.
Late in the afternoon, as we connected with the Danube River, the vistas were peaceful and beautiful. To be sitting in the rose and gold light with the water trailing out languid waves and the banks slowly shifting from deep greens to evening blacks … unbelievable!
I should mention that the entry to the Baldur lounge (on both sides) was always stocked with cookies (including super good oatmeal raisin and gingerbread) and a self-service coffee center that could turn out everything from cappuccinos to hot cocoas at the press of a button. It also offered still or bubbly water on tap. Awesome! And, each afternoon, special themed treats were served: strudel, tea and sandwiches, cookie bars, and more. No one goes hungry in the Lounge!
As that afternoon turned to evening, one of us found the tranquility irresistible. Reading a great novel (Infinite Home) on a comfy sofa snuggled with my sleeping son while the Danube River flowed by, yeah, I can take that!
After another delicious dinner, we fell into our beds, content and happy travelers, and slept our way to the next stop: Regensburg.