30 September 2016 – 3 October 2016
A quick getaway had been long overdue, and when the opportunity to visit Nürnberg came along, it was time to act. My girlfriend had gone there for a work trip, and we decided that it was a great chance to see a different city so I made the 500km journey by train from Berlin to Nürnberg to meet up with her there and enjoy a weekend of sightseeing. The 5-hour train ride there was a lot more pleasant than my first long distance train ride through Germany. The ride went by quickly as I immersed myself in a book and had plenty of leg room to stretch. I arrived at Nürnberg Hauptbahnhof at 9:30pm a little sleepy and dazed. I was immediately awoken by the huge crowds of jovial and very inebriated Bundesliga fans. I had to push my way through several groups of huddled supporters, and fans who were chanting, jumping and drinking while the police stood to the side to watch and maintain at least some order. I quickly made my way through the crowds and into the subway station to catch my train to Gostenhof station where the hotel was, thankfully, only a 5-minute walk away. We stayed at Derag Livinghotel Nürnberg for the weekend. It was just on the outskirts of the city center, and an ideal choice for us. The room was clean and comfortable, the staff was great, and complimentary 2 beers per day was a nice bonus. I’m never extremely picky about hotel accommodations as long as the basics are met. We were here to see the city. I quickly unpacked and had a snack and fell into a deep sleep on the comfortable bed hoping to get a good night’s rest before the days of sightseeing unfolded.
began with getting ready and making the quick trip to the city center where we started with breakfast at Coffee Fellows. It had a selection of bagels and sandwiches and the much-needed coffee at a great price. It was the perfect quick breakfast we were looking for before the day got going. From there we started exploring the city on foot. Nürnberg is packed with
old buildings and architecture. Our first stop was Handwerkerhof. A Medieval shopping area with a number of small shops focusing on traditional crafts, plus a few rustic restaurants. It felt like a step back in time. Once you pass through the gate and stroll through the square, you are surrounded by old walls and buildings. It wasn’t a huge area but it was enjoyable. If you are a collector of souvenirs then I would highly recommend it as there was a lot to choose from. We were there early enough just as things were opening up so it wasn’t very crowded and we were able to stroll around casually and peek around the shops without being too overwhelmed by crowds. From there, we zig-zagged and back-tracked in and out of all the streets we could, using the two churches as a kind of guide to keep track of where we had been. Although much of the city had been destroyed during WWII, a lot of money and effort had gone into restoring it. It was a delight to see all the different buildings and landmarks looking very much how they would have looked back in their glory days. Due to the cloudy day, it was pretty quiet and allowed us to take in the sights without getting bumped around. Armed with our map of the town we continued our trek through the city. Having the river cross right through
the town center sure added a lot to the atmosphere. We stopped on pretty much every bridge on our walk to take in the view, and snap a few pictures. I loved the look and the feel of the city. It kept reminding me that I really need a proper camera, as relying on the phone just isn’t enough. Day one ended at La Locanda. A wonderful little Italian restaurant. The food here was superb, and if you plan on stopping by I would suggest making a reservation. We walked in about 5 minutes after it had opened and were asked if we had a reservation. When we said no, they offered a seat out on the patio. At first, we started laughing but the host emphasized that it was covered and the rain wouldn’t be a problem. Still skeptical, the host said, “At least have a look.” After taking a peek at the patio we were sold. It was completely covered by two huge umbrellas and walled in by a mix of red brick and wood. It wasn’t cold, it was dimly lit, and the sound of the rain against the canvas top added a special element to the atmosphere. We promptly ordered a liter of wine and the waiter walked us through the menu. I can’t begin to describe how delicious it was. I had fagottini with butternut squash and truffles. A little up there at 16€ but totally worth it. After polishing off our plates, and finishing off the wine we were far too stuffed for dessert and made our way back to the hotel to get some rest for day two.
started with breakfast at Five Diner. It’s connected to a hotel and fills up pretty quick, but we managed to get a seat in a few minutes. Service was fast and friendly, and the selection was great. Breakfast platters all around, and after stuffing ourselves silly with an assortment of bread, meats, cheeses, fruit, and NUTELLA, we made our way out into the chilly morning to
start our packed day. We decided to purchase the Nürnberg Welcome cards. They were 25€ a piece, and gave free admission to many attractions, and covered all the transportation costs for 2 days. With all that we saw in the next two days, this was easily made up as we could have easily spent double that. Our first stop was Nürnberg Castle. We didn’t opt for the tour but instead strolled around on our own. Mostly everything had an English translation and there was a lot of information to read. There were 100’s of displays of everything from tools, crowns, weaponry, and armor as well as many notations about particular visitors of the castle. The final stop inside the grounds was the Sinwell Tower. This was one of two buildings on the grounds that was not destroyed in WWII. The view from up there was great, and the way up was not as treacherous as some towers we have climbed. From there we had an awesome 360-degree view of the city. Although the weather could have been nicer it was still worth the climb. Visiting the top of the tower is free with admission, or alternatively, you can pay 3€. This, of course, was all covered by our Nürnberg Welcome cards.
From there, we made our way down to Nürnberg City Hall and took a tour of the dungeon located in its dark basement. Built around 1330, it was a solemn reminder of the old practices of “justice.” The tour took us through several dark and gloomy rooms. Some were holding cells, and some were torture chambers.
Our guide filled us in on some of the primary practices that took place through its history. It was informative and pretty easy to navigate.There were a few points where you really had to take care not to bump your head on the ceiling. The tour ended above ground in a simple room which happened to be a restaurant. It was both hilarious and macabre to hear that the restaurant owner doubled as the dungeon keeper. We both had wondered and discussed if that might have had any impact on diner behavior.
Our next stop was the Hangman’s House. We strolled across a simple yet beautiful wooden bridge to the marked door. Admission to the house is relatively cheap but it took us a total of 20 minutes to see and read everything inside. Due to our Welcome Card access, that was perfectly fine as we didn’t have to pay anything. Here we learned a bit about Franz Schmidt. His occupation made him a social outcast, but there were a few exceptions made in his case. A major exception was where his residence sat. It was both centrally located and isolated between the prison district and the high-end neighborhood.
After a double-dose of the dark side of Nürnberg, our last stop was a complete contrast. We made our way to the Nürnberg Toy Museum (also know as Lydia Bayer Museum.) This place
was amazing. 4 floors and an overwhelming number of toys on display spanning centuries of history. Once again admission was free with our Welcome Cards and we were given a free audio guide to follow along in the English language. The displays were very well done. Starting with wooden toys on the main floor and working our way up to modern day. Some of the highlights were a gigantic Meccano crane, and huge playsets for dolls complete with metal cookware, and working paraffin ovens. Sadly, my phone was dead by this point of the day and we were unable to take many pictures. The audio tour was very thorough, and we probably could have spent a lot more time there listening to the various stories. We ended our day with a taste of
Germany. We went to Kartoffel, which was located right near our hotel. From the outside, it looked simple, and once we walked through the door it became apparent that a lot of effort went into giving it that German feel. The name itself means Potato which doesn’t really excite the taste buds, but if you find yourself in Nürnberg, I highly recommend visiting this little gem. The prices were great value for the amount of food, it was tasty and flavorful and the service was awesome. It was quite small but you couldn’t feel it. Once inside and seated you find yourself in this log cabin style atmosphere filled with happy neighbors, and you almost instantly feel that it should be snowing outside. We had a Wiener Schnitzel and a mixed platter. A lot of meat, a generous helping of potato, Sour cream, some grilled veggies and of course the mandatory 0.5l beer. Everything was cooked to perfection and tasted wonderful. With that, we made the 5 min stroll back to the hotel.
Our third and final day in Nürnberg. The weather made its turn for the worst at this point. It was significantly colder and involved a lot more rain. Luckily our two planned stops for this day were huge museums so we didn’t have to worry too much about staying warm. Our first
stop was the Nürnberg Courthouse. This is where Courtroom 600 is located and was the site of The Nürnberg Trials held between 20 November 1945 and 1 October 1946. The museum was an incredible source of information. The audio guides proved crucial as there was a lot to take in. We sat silently in the courtroom for a few moments while listening to an audio depiction of how the courtroom had been used and how it had looked during the trials. Renovations had taken place to accommodate the trials and it was since restored to its original look. My phone was not the greatest method of capturing it but it was chilling to sit in the room in person. Apart from the courtroom were several other galleries documenting the trials from beginning to end, and further use of the court afterward. The courtroom itself is still in use today so when you plan on visiting this museum it is recommended to find out ahead if it will be open to the public. Our next stop of the day was the Documentation Center Museum. This large museum is located on the former Nazi Party Rally Grounds. An 11 square kilometer space of land which held 6 Nazi Party rallies between 1933 and 1938. Of all the museums I have visited in Germany since arriving here in May 2015, this one is definitely one of the most intense so far although I am certain there will be more. Once again, assisted by a detailed audio guide, we were taken through dozens of rooms ranging in size detailing the rise and fall of the Nazi Party. Interactive media, 1000’s of photos and an enormous amount of information. After passing through each room I was left with a chilling feeling of how easy it is for a society to fall into this mindset. An angry and upset populace led by propaganda and a political party that provided them with the scapegoat to their problems. Fear and lies are a powerful tool and this museum was a somber reminder of why it is important to learn from our mistakes. I felt a shiver go down my spine after coming across a display of a railroad track. Scattered inside were little cards with the
names of victims. Dates of birth, dates of death, when and where they were deported to. My knees buckled as my girlfriend had read the caption below the display. Although this track was about 10 meters in length, scaled appropriately, it would have had to be 14km long to cover the list of names. The feeling it created inside me was intense. I was choking back tears, and so were several others. It certainly wasn’t joyful reading any of it but that did not make it any less worthwhile. I could have easily spent several more hours in there than I did, but our time was winding down. The final exhibit we saw there was a portrait gallery of Holocaust survivors. We slowly made our way through the hall and read in silence. The portraits were huge and each of them a story about their time in various concentration camps. After leaving the museum and while waiting for the tram back to the city center, I stared at the building. We had learned that much of the brick used to build it was made in various concentration camps that had been built near stone quarries for this very purpose.
After the trip back to the city center, we stopped for coffee and rested our feet. The time had come where we had to return home. After grabbing our luggage at the hotel we made our way to the airport for our 1-hour flight back to Berlin. Between the flight and the train ride back to our neighborhood, I had a lot of time to think about the many things I saw. All in all, it was an amazing trip and we had packed so much into just 3 days. Anyone visiting Germany with a passion for history would have a lot to take in while staying in Nürnberg. I would love to go back again but for now, there are many other places I need to visit first.