My commute these days takes me directly through Nürnberg much more often than it used to, a fact made even more delightful in spring by old ladies walking their dogs, and planters filled with tulips.
Many people will say that the best view of Nürnberg can be seen from the SkyBar in one of the movies theaters in town. Those people are wrong, unless you enjoy overpriced cocktails and abysmal service. Save yourself €10, buy a bottle of whatever you prefer to drink, and head to the top of the Adler Parkhaus. It’s a bit less trendy, and there aren’t any chairs, but there also aren’t any surly waiters. Just watch out for cars on the way up and down… city center parking garages don’t leave much room for error!
Bonus tip: it’s currently Italian market time on the Fleischbrücke! The spring edition is on this year from March 15th-25th, and again in April from the 20th-29th (closed on Sundays, of course). Longtime readers will know that the Italian market is one of my favorite things that happens in the city, so if you are like me and need to stock up on cheese and vino, don’t forget to stop by!
More like Monday snapshots this week, I’m afraid. Fall is flying, Thanksgiving approaches, and the Christmas markets open next weekend. Basically complete chaos at every turn.
Faber-Castell is a pretty well-known name in Germany. They make pens, pencils, and other art supplies, and they are based in Nürnberg. You can visit their museum, which includes the very lovely old family home, the Faber-Castell Schloss*, just on the outskirts of town.
More information on tours (in German) can be found here…
Bardentreffen is one of the biggest events of the year in Nürnberg, but somehow I have only been there once, and that was in the first year I lived here. Whoops. It seems to go one of two ways, 1) either the weather is crap and you spend all day wet or 2) the weather is great and the city is more packed than a sardine can.
On the plus side there is a ridiculous amount of music, as performers set themselves up on every available open spot, and many of them are as good (or maybe better) than the officially advertised acts. Not to mention that there is food and drink available at every turn, so if you are a fan of drinking tasty things on the street and listening to kids play box drums, you are in luck! It’s from the 29th to 31st of July this year, and you’ve still got time to check it out.
I recently posted about my 7-year anniversary of living in Europe and after so long, sometimes I worry that I’m getting jaded. Yes, I routinely see castles and cathedrals and small children dressed in Tracht on Sunday afternoons, and I do try to appreciate those things when I’m not running late or fighting through people on my morning commute. Sometimes though, it really is the little things that remind me of how cool this whole thing is.
For example: last night BV and I celebrated the end of our vegetarian month by going out in Nürnberg for some burgers and Biers. Before we could get to that though, I had to make a quick stop at the pharmacy to pick up a prescription. We were on the way to the city just before 7 o’clock and so I did a quick Google on the train to make sure that I could find an open pharmacy. (Remember, this is Bavaria and things are open until 8pm, if you are lucky.) Google assured me that a big pharmacy that was on the way to burgers would be open, and so we headed that way.
Pharmacies are all over the place, but this one is located right on a corner of Lorenzer Platz; prime real estate in Nürnberg. Thus it was no surprise that even at the “late” hour, it was pretty busy. There were two lines (I use the term loosely), and several other people milling about. We tried to join a line that got us out of the automatic door range, and waited our turn.
While pondering just how much apparently-magical skin cream that some tourists in the next line were planning to buy (answer: a LOT) and wondering what they knew that I clearly don’t, I was distracted by a small detail of the pharmacy’s logo on the wall behind the counter…
It’s a bit small, but the date? Yep… this pharmacy has existed since 1442. This year it may be selling brightly packaged skin care products to over-excited tourists already laden with shopping bags, but think of all the crazy things that have already passed over those counters. I immediately started picturing powdered snakeskin in glass vials and medieval plague doctors passing through the (non-automatic) doors in their creepy masks.
Like so many cities in Germany, Nürnberg has around a thousand years of history, but that’s easy to forget in the day to day. Even when we’re literally staring at the castle on the way to eat a burger, sometimes it takes a pharmacy logo to remind me that I’m surrounded by History Channel fodder that is real life, and that’s pretty damn cool.
First… let’s all just pause for a moment and take note of the fact that I’m writing about an event before it’s over.
That means, dear readers, if you are in this area and actually wanted to take part in said event… you actually could.
For another five days, at least.
The Volksfest, for those of you who don’t know, is pretty much a biannual festival (spring and fall), with all the usual carnival rides, junk food, and other festivus-ness. The usual assortment of teenagers hanging out, people in Tracht, and families trying to run the rest of us over with strollers are all in attendance.
Since we have to* fest it up at Oktoberfest in a mere few weeks, I think it’s best to save our energies for that, but we still thought we ought to go check out the Volkfest, if only to stock up on roasted nuts. That’s pretty much what we did, but of course I took note of a few things along the way.
We didn’t pop into any of the “big tents” because unfortunately in Nürnberg, the big tents mostly have Tücher Bier, which is pretty much crap. Somewhat strange, given that this region (Franconia), has some pretty damn good beers! However, we did find that Schanzenbräu, a fantastic small brewery based in Gostenhof, has it’s own little beer stand. Don’t settle, kids! Keep circling around until you see that antler light fixture, and get yourself a decent beer.
Of course, a number of other regional breweries are also represented, so Tücher isn’t the only choice, but again… don’t settle. Support team Schanzenbräu!
After we got ourselves a delicious brew, we set out in pursuit of pretzels and roasted nuts… because we are adults and those two things would be excellent to take home for dinner. On the way, what did I spy but this…
First though, I was distracted by what I *thought* were crab rangoons; something I miss desperately from Chinese buffets in the States. When they turned out to be not crab rangoons, I was able to focus on the read problem. Somehow, I’m just going to guess that Planet Hollywood didn’t sign off on this name. Seems questionably close.
Most festivals and carnivals can boast some kind of haunted house. The Volksfest had a few similar things, but one was Wild West-themed, and the other… well…
Okay. I think anyone who has traveled in the post-9.11 world can agree that airports suck. There is almost no part of it that is enjoyable, so really, is it any surprise that there is now a carnival ride to imitate that horror? Even the fresh popcorn and the rotating stacks of fake suitcases can’t dress up this 20th-century shitshow.
I’m not sure if I’ll get there again this year… like I said, I have to save my energy for Oktoberfest in a few weeks, but if you want to go…
Volksfest Nürnberg: August 28-September 13, 2015
P.S.~ Drink the good beer!
*”have to” fest at Oktoberfest: the annual phenomenon wherein I’m not planning on going to Oktoberfest and then people just decide to come visit. Prost!
Wednesday mornings for me are a strict routine. My train leaves at 6:01. I catch my connecting train at 6:31 in Fürth. At 6:40 I’m in Nürnberg at the main station where I make several stops. (Disclaimer: please no stalking with this information, danke.) First is the bakery, where I pick up something for lunch, and then I hit the Yorma’s to get a smoothie or fruit cup to go with my sandwich. Sometimes I swing through the bookstore to see if there are any good, cheap paperbacks, or a newspaper if I need one for class. My last stop is always the McDonald’s, because my Wednesday does not work without a breakfast of an Egg McMuffin with bacon, and a cappuccino.
This is also usually where I run into irritation, which I deal with, because I require said McMuffin and cappuccino to survive the day. Anyway.
The line at the McDonald’s tends to be backed up, because there’s only one or two people behind the counter and I am not the only one with a McMuffin dependency on Wednesday mornings. Also I seem to encounter an absurd number of people there who are tourists (dragging large suitcases through the line and not speaking German – fairly understandable at a train station McD’s), and less understandingly, are completely flummoxed by the breakfast menu. Being American and having been able to sing the Big Mac jingle at roughly the same age that I could speak at, this boggles my mind.
It’s McDonald’s breakfast.
There is a choice of about four things, on a McMuffin. Hash brown and coffee optional. This is not difficult. And if you can’t make up your mind, kindly move to the side where the homeless guy is napping until you make your decision. Some of us have trains to catch.
So this morning while I was waiting in the single open line for all the people in front of me to decide what they wanted, I was pulled out of my usual headphone-induced trance by the two guys in front of me. They were clad in the city of Nbg worker uniforms, which are a vibrant fluorescent orange and turquoise. But those colors aren’t what got my attention.
Because I had my headphones in, listening to a podcast that doesn’t require me to think too much before class at 8am, I didn’t hear the music that was playing. A few seconds earlier, I had noticed a lot of colors in my peripheral vision, but a quick glance at the TV hanging next to the counter hadn’t caught my interest. Until I saw the guys watching it.
Turning my head again, I looked at the screen. As per usual, they were showing a music video that I’d never seen before. My first thought was,
“Why the hell is Michael Jackson dancing on Sesame Street in a fluorescent pink blazer?”
If you haven’t seen the video… click away.
(Edited to add: okay, this is incredibly annoying. The video shows up when I read the post in the WordPress app, but not on either of our computers. So if you can’t see it either, just Google ‘Mark Ronson, Bruno Mars, Uptown Funk. Or some variation of that. I’m too tired to fight WP on this one right now. Sorry.)
A few tics later and I realized that it was Bruno Mars and not, in fact, Michael Jackson. I pulled out my headphones because I was very curious about what all that retro dancing was about and listened to the song. I quickly concluded that it was nothing that I wanted to hear, and certainly not at 6:50 am, and shoved my earbuds back in. But the guys couldn’t drag themselves away. It may have been the colors… I’m convinced all fast food places turn the color resolution (or whatever) on their TVs up all the way, because the pink jacket practically blinded me this morning, even though it looks fairly reasonable in the above video.
Perhaps the gentlemen were hypnotized by all the pixels, or perhaps they too thought MJ was back from the beyond for one last video. Either way, here are some .gifs that I think sum up their reactions fairly accurately…
First there was a little…
Followed up with a little…
I don’t think they were fans. But, somehow I doubt that middle-aged city of Nbg workers were the target market for Mr. Ronson and Mr. Mars.*
Listening to the song now as I searched for the video, I found it fairly catchy. But again… at 6:50 am? How about broadcasting the sweet sound of nothing? Because that is honestly the only thing I want to hear. I get that it’s the trend now to have techno/electronic/drum and bass/whatever the hell the kids are listening to blasting from every possible public speaker in stores and restaurants now but SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Please stop. Especially before 8.
*No offense to Nbg city workers, Mr. Ronson, or Mr. Mars intended.
Wednesdays for me are always weird days. I think this has something to do with the fact that it’s the only day I’m working at the moment, and so any day that I don’t spend hanging out around the village seems weird. Thus, Weird and Wacky Wednesday, which will be a series that celebrates f-ed up stuff I see, and it will happen whenever I see that f-ed up stuff and make note. Having said that though, I do seem to encounter a lot of nonsense every Wednesday. One of these weeks I’m going to do a stream-of-consciousness post on my morning commute because there is absolute tomfoolery every week. But not today.
Today was actually even odder than a normally odd Wednesday, because I had a three-hour lunch break. My residence permit is up for renewal and I needed to get some new biometric pictures, so I took advantage of my extra-long lunch to run back into Nürnberg and take care of that. On the train back into the city, I noticed the first bizarre thing. I wanted to post a picture of this advertisement months ago and completely forgot about it. In the spring it seemed to be on every corner, but then it went away for a while. Now it’s been popping back up, so I’m wondering if the company is trying to cash in on the Dirndl look during the major festivals. First off, here’s a picture of the whole billboard, in all of its slightly sassy glory….
Yes, those ladies have mustard mustaches. I’m not sure what’s going on with the blank stares, but the middle one is practically begging for a sausage and it kind of freaks me out. Have you no shame, grandma-Dirndl girl? Although, I suppose if she had a low-cut blouse on, they’d probably have to slap a parental warning on the whole damn thing.
Again, this ad is everywhere at the moment. And when I was on the train early this morning, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me, but my second ride confirmed I had seen correctly. Apologies for the picture from a moving train but check it out…
When I said it’s everywhere? I meant it. In fact, it’s everywhere twice. The trains do go pretty quickly sometimes, but is it really necessary to put them 20 feet apart in case you missed the first one? Or did the billboard man have some sort of a mix-up, and switch the second one with a Marlboro ad? Sooooo many questions. I pondered that one all the way back to Nürnberg.
Once back in town, my focus changed to my impending photos. In an effort to not look like I got up at 5am, I picked up some concealer, and popped into the photo studio. Getting the pictures took all of about five minutes (and while not great, they are a definite step up from my previous biometric photos which were scary as shit), and I hit the button to take the elevator back down to ground level. As I waited for it to arrive, I checked out some of the products available from the studio. And guess what BV is getting for Christmas this year?
Loving your pet is wonderful. I love our little kitty, and both BV and I are totally guilty of sending each other pictures of her being cute and fuzzy during the day. Example: I got this at work today…
Sorry this looks a little weird, BV clearly took this picture in our wardrobe mirror to avoid getting up. If you can’t tell, Marry the Cat is lounging upon my flip flops and slippers, which is one of her favorite activities. So yes, we are officially weird cat people. But a personalized Marry the Cat messenger bag might be overdoing it. Maybe.
The last Weird and Wacky Wednesday picture came as I was making my way across the square next to Lorenzkirche. I can’t even tell you the number of times that I’ve walked across that square, but somehow I never noticed something until today. When I first saw the red sign I thought to myself, “huh… since when is there a cafe back here?” Then I got closer.
I couldn’t tell on my phone that the sign got so washed out (glare sucks), but it says Musik Schule. That store is not a cafe, but a music shop (and school), with a window display full of gorgeous guitars and shiny brass instruments. Since when do people pop into music stores for some sheet music and coffee to go? I mean, if I’m going in there with the intention of dropping a few thousand Euro on an instrument, by all means, give me a free cup of joe! But it seems a little odd to me. I also avoid any take out place that advertises itself as Indian-Mexican-Chinese-Italian, for example. I figure it’s better to do one thing, and do it right. I do find it very intriguing though, so maybe next time I’m passing I’ll grab a cup and see how it stacks up to the other cafes in town.
Did you see anything weird or wacky today?
One of the things that I miss the most about not living directly in Nürnberg anymore, is stumbling across the Italian market on the Fleischbrücke. As far as I can tell, the market seems to happen every two or three months. But I never seem to know when they’re happening, and haven’t been able to pin down a schedule for them thus far. This week though, I got lucky. So lucky in fact, that I managed to get there twice, on Friday and again on Saturday.
Friday I was in the city for dinner with a friend and swung through the market to buy some truffle sausage, sheep cheese, and a few bottles of wine. I came back on Saturday with BV, and we picked up more truffle paste, more wine, and some cannolis that are nothing short of amazing.
The food and drink are of course wonderful, but there’s something really special about the atmosphere. It’s not everyday that you get to see people here let their hair down and just hang out, but at the Italian market everyone is smiling, laughing, and dancing to the live music. The vendors are friendly, urging you to sample a little bit of everything, even if you’re just looking. But who could resist giant displays of cheese, rows upon rows of wine, and amusing sausage signs? Not this girl, that’s for sure.
The picture of the tables and bridge above was actually taken when the market was here last September (hence the guy in shorts), but there was no way to get a decent picture of the bridge this time around because it was way too crowded! As soon as the sun comes out, the Germans collectively lose their minds, flocking to the streets and start consuming mass quantities of Aperol Spritz. Here’s what the bridge looked like every time I saw it this weekend…
Nürnberg Tip of the Day: One of the best views in town (meaning a view of the Kaiserburg, aka Imperial Castle), can be found on top of the Adler Parkhaus. And yes, the main crowd of people in that picture is directly around the wine tent. Priorities!
So if you happen to be visiting our fair city, make sure to make a turn off of the main square to see if anything is happening on the Fleischbrücke. The normal market in Nürnberg is really great and has a lot to offer, but the Italian market is a little something special. If you’re really really lucky, you might even get to see the Venetian Market, which happens once a year in early summer, and has even more Italian awesomeness, if that’s possible. If you’re really really really lucky, your significant other might make you a delicious Italian hedgehog for dinner…
Sadly, that hedgehog was a result of last summer’s market. Perhaps the sheep cheese we bought this time doesn’t lend itself as well to spiking. Anyway, I’m off to debate which kind of cannoli I’ll have for dessert tonight… decisions!
What about where you live? Any good markets to check out?