Big City Gefühl

Living, as we do, in a relatively small town – around 40,000 people, if you count the surrounds – there are some things city-dwellers take for granted that we don’t have. A particularly vibrant theatre scene, for example. A cinema that doesn’t take every single film and plaster German voices over the actors (otherwise known as dubbing.) A vast selection of restaurants (although we do have the basics; two Greek, an indiscriminate ‘Asian’, Chinese buffet situation and a Ratskeller.) Shops beyond your prerequistie H&M, New Yorker, Esprit and Nanu Nana. And Tchibo, there’s always a Tchibo.

(Of course, we have other things – old alleyways, and strange shops full of every conceivable type of homeware you could ever possibly want. And a wonderful little old Rathaus. And plenty of churches. Aaaaand a ceramics museum.)

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Small town gefühl.

Consequently, quite often, we pop into Nürnberg. Nürnberg, only an hour away,  is big enough to provide a little anonymity, to give a little grit (once you step outside the stunningly maintained medieval centre, obviously) and to suck you into the hustle and bustle, the push and shove of bigger cities. And there are plenty of restaurants to choose from, and an Opera House, and museums. And a Butlers as well as a Nanu Nana.

Quite embarrassingly, whenever I am in Nürnberg, I go to Starbucks. I know. Bad coffee, soulless corporation, globalisation kills culture … but, as SG said, as he grimaced through his Lebkuchen Latte, it gives a ‘Big city gefühl.’ Spot on. Nothing like clutching a cardboard takeout cup from a massive American company, to make you feel like you’re in amongst it. Not going to lie though, the Toffee Nut Latte almost singlehandedly stopped my pancreas.

This weekend just past, we popped into Nürnberg for a dose of Big City Gefühl with SG’s Auntie. We had dinner in the middle of the city, caught a show at the Staatstheater (turns out, Germans like to applaud … I think we had at least ten curtain calls) had a Starbucks and hiked the shopping streets (aka breathed in the kitschy goodness of Butlers).

Enough Big City Gefühl to tide us over until the next time.

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*** Hello new readers who came over from What I Know About Germans. You all continue to crash my site and, try as I might, I can’t do anything about it! So thank you for reading, apologies if you have difficulty getting through, we just need to ride out this madness together! ***

‘Weiden’s Actually Really Nice’

So said my brother, often, over the few days he was here. He’s right – it is actually a lovely little town, Weiden, it’s just that, given our funny relationship – we muddle along most days, but this is not a Forever Home and I am thankful for that – I often forget to give it its dues. Having my brother here meant several strolls through the Altstadt, eating and drinking at several different places I hadn’t hitherto been to for a while.

We so rarely appreciate where we live, even when we love it, because it simply, at some point, fades into the background, becomes a set for the rest of life’s theatre, one we take for granted. It felt rather lovely to point out the church spires and pastel houses to someone whose view of this place I currently call home is completely unclouded and entirely positive. It rubs off on you, that wide-eyed appreciation, gives the set a bit of a spit and polish, throws it into sharper relief.

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Another ‘nice’ thing about Weiden (I was always taught to avoid that adjective, but sometimes it fits), is that Nürnberg is only an hour away. And Nürnberg is gorgeous. So on an impossibly crisp, bright Thursday – the day of German Unity, no less – we hopped on a Deutsche Bahn and made our way across some Bavarian countryside, into Nürnberg. Beer and wine, stroll, castle, beer and wine, home (with a train mix-up thrown into the mix for good measure.)

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And, as I am quite sure I have expressed before, Weiden also means a fantastic Ratskeller that serves huge Haxe and delicious schnitzel. (And good beer, but that’s a given, isn’t it really.) So that’s another nice thing about this town – taking visitors to a classically Oberpfälzisch Ratskeller that is stiflingly hot, questionably decorated and serves up big plates of authentic, local food.

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Really, there are plenty of nice things about Weiden. The nicest being, of course, its little Altstadt with its clutch of cute cafes (all with the obligatory outdoors blankets, which my brother loved) little bars, ice-creameries, and restaurants, all spilling out onto the old stone street, and watched over by the spires of two churches.

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Weiden in the winter, when even those obligatory blankets aren’t worth keeping the chairs outside.

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And now that Weiden, the backdrop to life as I currently know it, has been polished a little, our relationship is enjoying an injection of something … nice. Romance? I don’t think so. Appreciation, perhaps. Contentment? I suppose so … for now. (You hear that Fates? For now.)

Schönes Nürnberg

A few photos of this beautiful, beautiful city.

The view from the train, on our way from Weiden to Nürnberg.
A little village we passed.
The beginnings of what will be a lot more ice.
Just before the entrance to the castle.
A little snippet of the view from the castle.
Yes that's us in the reflection. No we didn't eat the entire window. Yes we wanted to.
Another beautiful building.
Just another German sweet shop.

Once Upon a Time …

… in a land of cake and snow, two Australians, one pale of skin and hair, the other with chocolate locks and lovely white teeth, froze. It happened on a bright, brisk and sunny day in the North Western German city of Münster. It was a crisp -6 degrees as the pair hopped on a train bound for the South Eastern city of Nürnberg and already their cheeks were flushed and fingertips without feeling. As the hours passed, the two pals ate chips and gazed out the windows. The flat, neat, green landscape of Nord-Rhine Westphalia slowly gave way to the hilly forrests of Franconia and the neatly ploughed fields turned white beneath their blankets of snow. Several stations lay between them and their destination, and several minutes were spent jogging up and down on the spot to return feeling to extremities as they waited for connecting trains. But they knew it was to be a solid journey – they were, after all, crossing the country.

It was dark and nearly six hours later when the train pulled into Nürnberg. They were ferried to Weiden, an hour east of Nürnberg, by a Nordic looking man by the name of SG and, because it was late and nothing was open, dined at Burger King. Both slept soundly that night – they had to, another journey awaited them and little did they know, the East Wind had a touch more frost in store and a belly full of ice.

The following day dawned bright, blue and -18 degrees. The friends were heading back to Nürnberg, where the pale one had to speak to people about work and where both had to explore a hitherto unexplored city. They revelled in the kindness of Weiden station’s staff, 2€ coffees from the splendid station bakery and boarded a train to one of Germany’s oldest, most historical cities. On the way, they passed vast snow fields, little red roofed villages nestled in valleys and gullies, frozen lakes with children skating atop the glinting, slippery surface and, unless their eyes were playing tricks on them, Little Red Riding Hood weaving her way through the snow carpeted Frankenwald with her basket of lebkuchen and apples. It was magical. The pals were enchanted.

But it was so cold. So cold their breath turned to ice, their noses went pink and then a deep red and the pale one began running around in circles on Nürnberg station screaming ‘this is like putting parrot fish in the Baltic Sea.’ The cold froze their ability to think, it pierced their mittens and snuck beneath their coats. It bit their faces and gnawed at their legs. They found the tourist information and breathed at the lady ‘it is unbelievably cold’ as she handed them a map. Eventually, after demanding a cab for the 200m walk, the chocolate haired one managed to convince her friend they could walk it and they found the pale one’s first interview location. The chocolate-haired one skipped over a stone bridge to a heated Starbucks, where she hid out until the pale one had finished.

Afterwards, once huge mugs of coffee, sample hot chocolates and a large bagel had been consumed, they rugged up and, sticking to the sunny side of the big cobbled street, began to explore Nürnberg. It was stone captivating. It was beautiful. It was every adjective and superlative rolled into one. It was bridges and icy streams, Medieval houses, antique shops and markets, bakeries and cafes, churches and polished stone streets. And, looking out over everything, sitting broodily atop its domain, the magnificent, 12th century Nürnberg castle. They walked to the top of it, through the cold, stone archways, and gazed out over the city of ginger cake, toys and tiny little sausages stuffed into bread rolls. They breathed it in and felt their lungs turn to ice beneath the wintry blue sky.

Although it was cold and although the friends had to run into shops every five minutes to thaw out and although they had to avail of several cafes and a gluhwein stall to pour hot liquid down their icy throats, it was a magical day in a magical city. Darkness fell and the time came to go back to the tiny town of Weiden. They boarded the train cold, tired and hungry, back to where SG was waiting to ferry them to a restaurant for their goodbye dinner. There they ate baked camenbert and plate-sized schnitzels and drank a bottle of German wine. With full bellies and pink cheeks, they rolled home and into bed, where they slept happily for the evening after.

The End

Photos coming soon …

Main image credit