Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Cobblestone Streets, Local History, and Weihnachtsmarkts: Nuremburg Day 1

Nuremberg! Or as the Germans spell it: Nürnberg! I was very excited to be in Nürnberg. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Würzburg and Rothenburg ob der Tauber, but I’d had a picture of the Christmas market at Nürnberg as the desktop photo on my computer for months before our trip.

We were finally here. We decided against using the subway to get to our hotel from the train station. It only went about ¾ of the way anyway. We’re walking kind of people. If we’re not in a hurry we enjoy walking around a new city to get a feel for its layout; making note of things to come back and check out later once we aren’t burdened by luggage. 

Here is a photo of the train station that we took after using the tunneled pedestrian crossing. That is the last photo I have until later in the day. Why, you might ask? Remember how I mentioned being burdened with luggage?

When travelling to Germany in December it can be difficult to pack light. Sweaters, coats, scarfs, tall socks, and two pairs of boots each…we did the best we could, but I’ll never claim to be someone who packs light. On this trip we’d brought two full-size suitcases and a small backpack. (We folded an extra duffle bag into one of the suitcases in anticipation of Christmas market purchases.)

My decade-old, trusty hard sided Samsonite (affectionately known as the yellow submarine) has roller-blade size rubber wheels and rolls over anything and everything with ease. Our newer, lighter, semi-hard sided Samsonite has those new-fangled small ‘spinner’ style wheels which will dance all over an airport terminal, but are almost useless on cobblestone streets.

I didn't realize until I wrote this that it appears that we are a Samsonite family. There is a funny story as to how we came about buying that newer black Samsonite, and perhaps not surprisingly it involves cobble-stone streets in another European city. I promise to share it with you sometime.

For now though, let’s just say that the walk to our hotel from Nürnberg’s Hauptbahnhof was what we like to call a ‘marriage building moment.’ It was full of attempting-to-be-reassuring-and-helpful smiles and sing-songy directions from me and thinly veiled contempt and muttered not-so-sweet-nothings from Scott to the suitcase. Let’s also add that it wasn't just the suitcase’s fault…there were the also the massive crowds that we had to Frogger our way through.

We did make it, too early to check in, but we were ready to be rid of our suitcases and get to the fun part of enjoying this city that we were both so excited to be in.

First stop: the Nürnberg Handwerkerhof and the Frauentor, back across the street from the train station.

The Handwerkerhof is a kitschy area of little shops and restaurants that represent what old-time Nürnberg was like. It is a cute little area, perfect for strolling and window shopping. We didn’t spend too much time here though because the streets were even more crowded than the rest of the city and with all the Christmas market stalls so close I only felt the need to poke my head into one shop before we moved on.

The Frauentor marks one of the original gates in Nürnberg’s city walls. It was originally built with flat walls, but renovated later to be round so that cannonballs would deflect off more easily and leave less damage. Today it casts a shadow on the Handwerkerhof and makes a great spot for a photo.

From here we walked back toward the center of the old town checking out the Christmas market booths along the way.

We stopped at the restaurant Barfüßer in the old mauthalle for a round of beers. The building was originally built for grain storage. These days, there is a brewery restaurant in the basement. It has a loud and boisterous atmosphere. We enjoyed people watching and taking it all in over a few afternoon beers.

Just around the corner from Marienplatz (the main square) is St. Lorenz Kirche. It is a massive structure that you can’t miss. Wherever we were in the city it wasn’t hard to just head toward its towers and end up back in the main square. 

My photo is kind of blurry, but it was hard to find an angle where I could fit most of the façade in the shot and also take the picture before another wave of crowd passed by.

The light coming in the church on this overcast afternoon wasn't much, but it cast shadows in just the right way. While our visit wasn't bright and glorious, the lighting highlighted the church's best features and gave our visit a weighty ambiance. 

You’ll notice though that both the inside and outside of this church are simpler than you might be used to seeing or expect.

Originally built as a Catholic cathedral, St. Lorenz Kirche is now a Protestant church. Nürnberg is in the heart of Lutherland. Both the interior and exterior of this church were simplified during and after the Reformation to be more in line with Protestant beliefs.

We passed through the main square and Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) continuing on our walk. You can see I was quite excited about getting my photo taken with Nürnberg’s famous golden angel.

Along with his other beliefs, Martin Luther wasn’t a huge fan of Santa Claus or the idea that he brought gifts to good children on Christmas. He, like many others after him, wanted Christ’s birthday to be, well, centered on Christ.  

So he created the story that the baby Jesus was the one who bestowed gifts on people at Christmas time. To silence any doubters who would wonder how a baby would deliver toys Martin Luther decided that there must be a golden angel who lends a hand with gift delivery. At least here in Nürnberg this story has lasted through the ages.

Every year one lucky woman from Nürnberg is selected to preside over the Christmas festivities and the Weihnachtsmarkt as the golden Christmas angel. She attends public appearances, leads activities for children and families, and in general spreads the Christmas spirit to the millions of visitors that make their way to Nürnberg every December.

We rounded out our afternoon with a visit to Stadtmuseum Fembohaus (the Nürnberg City Museum) which is just up the hill from the main square.

We loved this museum. It is located in an old house that was not damaged during WWII. (That in itself is pretty impressive.) The museum’s audio guide is narrated by historical residents of Nürenberg who explain the history of the city and this house as it was when they were alive. There are options to skip ahead so you can get as much detail as you want or just get a quick overview as you make your way through the rooms and exhibits.

I would definitely recommend stopping here if you’re in Nürnberg. The museum is well laid out and the exhibits well thought it. This isn’t your typical city museum and puts many others to shame. (Actually, its good city museums like this one that keep us coming back to city museums in general when we travel.) As much as I enjoyed it, it doesn’t look like I took any photos here, sorry.

As it started to get darker and colder we headed back to our hotel to check in and warm up before dinner.

We stayed at the Hotel Sorat Saxx (website, TripAdvisor)which is literally right on the main square. If you’re lucky, you can get a room with a window that looks out at the Frauenkirche. This hotel was a bit of a splurge for us (we paid about $185 a night in December 2014), so we only sprung for the standard room which had a view over the roof of the building next door.

The room was very small, but very nice. Decidedly modern, the décor still gave a nod to the city’s history.  The bed here was very comfortable and not setup “sleepover-style” like most double beds we’ve encountered in Europe.

The bathroom was also very nice.

(Note: my decision of where to stay almost always comes down to bathrooms. I love travelling and getting outside of my comfort zone a little, but when it comes time to do some business or get clean? I like to know that I have a bathroom to come back to that inspires confidence.)

At the hotel’s recommendation we went to the Goldenes Posthorn for our first dinner in Nürnberg. Without a reservation in the busy season we were able to get a table quickly.

Does that make you raise your eyebrows? Push ‘em back down. This place was great.

Lots of traditional German fare on offer and reasonable prices. S had a pork belly dish and I couldn’t say no to the goose that was on the menu that night. Neither of us was disappointed. It may not be the highest ranked on TripAdvisor, but we’d definitely go here again and recommend it to others.

After dinner we wandered up and down the aisles of Nürnberg’s Weihnachtsmarkt. Nürnberg is the home to the largest Christmas market in Germany. Over 2 million people visit during the month of December each year.

So yes, there were crowds. However, there was also a thermometer-bursting amount of Christmas spirit in the air. On second thought, maybe that was all the glühwein we, and the thousands of others were consuming, either way, we LOVED wandering the Weihnachtsmarkt!

Nürnberg’s Christmas market spills from its main square on to the streets leading to and from the square and into neighboring square where there are other themed markets. The Markt der Partnerstadte is a market with stalls selling the wares of Nürnberg’s sister cities.

It was pretty cool to sip glühwein and peruse trinkets from just about every corner of the globe. The Atlanta booth was serving glühwein mit schloss or with a shot of whiskey in it. Because ‘Merica.

As you can see, we're loving Nürnberg. I hope you're enjoying reading about our trip. Check back next week for Nürnberg part 2: Nazi sites, museums, and of course, more Christmas market!


Post a Comment


© Life With S and K, AllRightsReserved.

Designed by ScreenWritersArena