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.
Photos coming soon …