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Forty Days Celebrating Forty Years!
Fall 2002

Bremen | Hamburg | Berlin
Potsdam | Dresden, Bautzen and Gorlitz
Nürnberg |
Karlsruhe | Zürich | Strasbourg | Bern
Annecy | Avignon | Marseille | Aix-en-Provence | Paris


Due to the flood damage to some of the rail lines, there was no direct train from Dresden to Nürnberg. We took a bus to Chemnitz at 10:00, arriving at 10:55, with plenty of time to buy some lunch goodies before our 11:55 train departure. During the ride we mused about our expectations of this city. By now we knew about the Nürnberg sausage, gingerbread cookies and half-timbered houses. We also knew about the infamous Nazi parade grounds and the war crimes trials. What we didn't expect was that the city of Nürnberg would delight us with her unique charm.

Hotel Victoria is nestled inside and next to the old city walls. We followed the underground signing to the old city center from the train station and emerged up a ramp directly in front of the hotel. It is a historic building that has been beautifully and tastefully restored by the family owners. We were greeted by enthusiastic and beaming Bianca, who is a joy. She cheerfully told us all we had to know about the hotel and it's facilities and offered to help us with any of our needs. We were to find that all the staff, from the lovely and sweet Eva, who served us in the cafe, to the chambermaids were committed to being a part of the team and understood the need to make the guests feel this was their home while in Nürnberg. Our hats are off to Sabine, who has been managing the hotel for six years, for training her staff by simply having them follow in her footsteps.

Our good size, very clean bedroom and bathroom were tastefully decorated with quality furnishings. The cafe which serves light dishes and beverages has a patio on a smart square that is bordered by the old wall and new, modern museum. The breakfast room has high windows that look out at the city walls three meters away and welcome the bright light of the new day. The buffet was of course substantial and the helpful staff made sure it was never depleted and kept the tables cleared. This hotel, an extremely excellent three-star gem, immediately gave us warm vibes about Nürnberg.

The city is over nine hundred fifty years old and has grown, incorporating the old and the new, in harmony. We left the hotel and walked north on Konigstrasse feeling very much at home, comfortable. The Pegnitz River runs through the center of town. The city north of the river is 100 years older than the part south of the river. Ninety percent of the city was destroyed during the war. It is totally rebuilt both in the old and the new way and is bonded together by the surrounding wall. The splendid old architecture, whether original or recreated, harkens back to the time that Nürnberg was known as the Treasure Chest of the German Empire.
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We were a bit thirsty and dropped into Der Andechser at Konigstrasse 55, which serves the world-famous Doppelbock Dunkel dark beer, brewed at Andechs Monastery Brewery. We love dark beers. This one is different; it has a unique bite to it that one either likes or dislikes. So it was with us; I think it is probably more of a man's beer.

As we left Der Andechser, the aroma of grilled meats permeated the air and we followed our noses east to an area by the river where the Annual Town Festival was in full swing (this year celebrated September 12-23). Talk about perfect timing! Set up as a huge beer garden with picnic tables and benches, the place was packed with merrymakers enjoying the camaraderie of their families, friends and neighbors. Back-to-back food emporiums were grilling and sautéing delectable treats, beer was flowing, live music was blaring and we were suddenly starving! Our plan was to have dinner at Barfuber at Hallplatz 2 (Tel: 09-11-20-42-42) but we quickly decided to have spareribs as an appetizer here and agreed to return to the festival the following night for dinner. So it was that we squeezed into a couple of available places and shared an order of succulent, very tasty pork ribs and potato salad.

Barfuber, located in the basement of the Mauthalle, first built as a grain and salt storehouse (1498-1502), as of 1572 the imperial city weigh-house and customs house, is a huge beer hall. Tables are lined up between large pillars and the atmosphere is casual and friendly, with a large open kitchen churning out substantial quantities of traditional recipes. Roasted pig's knuckle with bread dumpling and sauerkraut for me and pork schnitzel with spaetzli and salad for Linda. We both ordered a luscious Barfuber Blond Beer. This is good home cooking at reasonable prices, very popular with the locals.

We learned that the city festival was not confined to the area we visited the night before. The other main gathering spot was at the Central Hauptmarkt, which was also the site of the Autumn Retail Market (Sept. 21-28), which spilled out onto the adjacent streets. It was great, markets by day into the early evening and food and beer from early evening on.

The sky was blue and the sun shone brightly as we became enraptured by the River Pegnitz with its historic buildings and bridges. Half-timbered homes dotted the banks that gave us the strong desire to find a real estate agent. Back to reality. Jutting out on the river, the attractive Hospital of the Holy Spirit caught our eye. Originally it had been a home for older people without families but it is now a restaurant with a senior citizens residence just behind, a gorgeous home and setting for those fortunate enough to live there. The historic bridges are not only unique but each served an important purpose.
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The covered, wooden beauty is the hangman's bridge, at one end of which is the longest half-timbered house in the city, originally for lepers now a students' dormitory. The ox with horns sculpture on the slaughterhouse bridge is often referenced when somebody says something considered stupid.

There are two parish churches: the older, St. Sebaldus and the newer, stunning, St. Lorenz with its twin towers. All of its art treasures including the gorgeous windows were saved in underground bunkers during the wartime bombing. Donations were received from around the world to assist the rebuilding. The intricate sandstone tabernacle, sculptures on the west portal and annunciation are world famous.

The Hauptmarkt is the center and pulse of the city. The elegant church of our lady dominates the east side of the square. It is famous for the Mannleinlaufen Clock depicting historical figures. Across the way is the fourteenth century golden fountain, which stands nineteen meters high. It is a brilliantly gilded filigree monument of the Gothic period, richly decorated with historical and allegorical figures. There is a gold ring that if turned three times will ensure that your wish will come true. If you turn it a fourth time, nine months later is stork time!
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Right behind the towering fountain is perhaps the most symbolic spot in the city. This is the home of 3 Im Weckla or Three In A Bun, the world-famous Nürnberg sausages. About the size of your little finger, they were made this small to be pushed through a keyhole to perhaps feed prisoners in dungeons (like the one under the Rathuas) or late night guests arriving after curfew. The traditional way of eating these tasty little goodies is to have three of them in a crusty bun with mustard. We passed on this method and had them a bit later on a plate with sides of sauerkraut and horseradish plus lots more - read on. If you want to get serious about consuming a substantial quantity, it seems the record holder is a Nürnberger, Hans Stromer, who ate 28,000 in his thirty-eight years in prison! The Nürnberg sausage is on menus all over Germany. It should be noted that there are precise specifications for the recipe, size and weight to qualify as being genuine, In fact, even butchers who made their sausages too large have been prosecuted in Nürnberg.

Many of the wonderful old town houses are graced with jutting, ornate oriel windows usually protruding from the second floor. These are called chorlein (little choir) because they traditionally enclosed the alter of a small chapel, a private place for worship within the home.

Climbing cobblestone streets to the castle complex towering above the city, we appreciated the beautifully-preserved, half-timbered patrician houses along the way. At this point we were so happy that we had included Nürnberg in our itinerary. Speaking of half-timbered, the square Beim Tiergartner is comprised of these stunning structures, one of which is a beer garden featuring the smoked bear from Bamberg.

A lovely, tree-lined walkway leads to the castle complex of sandstone and natural rock walls and towers. Within the grounds a former grain house and imperial stables now houses a fabulous youth hostel for persons under 26. The church and gardens play host to many marriages. Also on the grounds there's a lovely community of half-timbered homes.

Under the castle are the well-known art bunkers where an amazing tunnel complex housed art treasures, which survived the war undamaged.
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Hausbrauerei Altstadthof is the last microbrewery in the city. It is worthy of mention because the cellars of the ten family breweries became places of refuge during the war and many lives were saved.

Time to celebrate the Nürnberg sausage at Bratwurst-Glocklein, Nürnberg's historic sausage kitchen. Here we learned a few more Nürnberg sausage facts. Each one must weigh twenty-five grams - period. They must be grilled over a beech wood fire. We each had about seven of these delicious delights and excellent grilled pork steak. Both were served with wonderful potato salad and sauerkraut and a fabulous assortment of rolls. We washed it all down with super Zirndorfer beer. This is a special restaurant for these Nürnberg specialties, located just inside the craftsmen's courtyard, a great place to pick-up souvenirs and gifts.

Jews lived in this gorgeous city from the twelfth century on. The original synagogue was located on the site now occupied by the Church of Our Lady in the Hauptmarkt. The second synagogue on Hans Sachs Platz was the first one destroyed by the Nazi's in 1938, three days before Kristallnacht. A memorial depicting the elegant nineteenth century Moorish style synagogue is all that remains on the site. Inscribed on an adjoining wall for all to read "Nobody can say they didn't know anything, Everybody knew a little, G-d knows the truth." A new synagogue and Jewish Community Center opened in 1984 at Johann Priemstrasse 20, which serves the eight hundred fifty members of the Nürnberg Jewish Community. As in many other German cities, the majority are from Russia.
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South of the city are the remains of the buildings on the former Nazi Party rally grounds. The huge scale and proportions are testimony to the megalomania of the National Socialist regime. The eleven square kilometer site was designed as a stage for the Nazi party's stage-managed propaganda rallies. Hitler wanted there to be huge numbers of people so that each individual would feel small among the masses. Much of the area has been converted to a recreational park with an artificial lake, soccer fields, ice skating, outdoor concerts, etc.

The never-completed, horseshoe-shaped Congress Hall dominates the rally grounds. It now houses a permanent exhibition, which documents the ruthless misuse of power of the Nazi regime and the history of the rally grounds. The presentation is in chronological order, starting with the rise of Hitler in 1923 through the Nürnberg Trials. There are documented, vivid details of the atrocities, the key people, Nürnberg's role and how the parade grounds were organized. In 2000, UNESCO designated the Documentation Center the Official German Contribution to the International Year for a Culture of Peace. In 2001, Nürnberg was the first city in the world to receive the UNESCO Prize for Human Rights Education.

Back at the festival, we luckily managed to find a couple of spots to park ourselves and this time we ordered a full order of spareribs for each of us. Each order consisted of two very large, whole racks, double the portion we get at home, served with potato salad and green salad. The St. Georgenbrau beer was delicious and we polished everything off as we swayed to guitar music and watched the Tyrolean outfits swing by.

We were captivated by all we discovered and are positive there will be lots of surprises next time around.
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Bremen | Hamburg | Berlin
Potsdam | Dresden, Bautzen and Gorlitz
Nürnberg |
Karlsruhe | Zürich | Strasbourg | Bern
Annecy | Avignon | Marseille | Aix-en-Provence | Paris

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