WEBMU 2014: Nürnberg

Every year, a group of ex-pat bloggers living in Germany gather for a weekend of fun, tourism, food, and drink.  This gathering is called WEBMU – the Whiny Expatriate Bloggers Meet-Up.  The location is different each year-  in 2012 the gathering was in Berlin.  In 2013, the group gathered in Prague, but I didn’t make it to that one.  This year, we met in Nuremberg roughly halfway through the month of September.

The attendees were:

A WEBMU weekend typically runs Friday through Sunday, with the early arrivals taking a day trip to an alternate location in the daytime in Friday.  This WEBMU was no exception, and we met up at 10am to visit scenic and moist Bamberg.  Most of the pictures I took in Bamberg are similar to the pictures I took the first time I visited Bamberg, so I’m not going to include too many of those here.  If you’re curious, you can look at the previous Bamberg post.  (Also, it was raining all day, so many of my new photos have rain drops on the lens.  I really need to get a lens hood.)

One of the first things we saw in Bamberg was this randomly placed elephant.  We’re all pretty sure it’s an advertisement, but it was still random enough to warrant a photograph.

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We went to the Altes Rathaus, and to the local cathedral to look again at the Bamberg Rider.

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We were in Bamberg on the same day that there was a party for the closing of U.S. Army Garrison Bamberg, so we stumbled across the Burrito Bandito.  It was a little strange seeing US Army guys in fatigues while out and about in Germany.

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While waiting for the train back to Nuremberg, we were witness to the Hochzeit of two smaller trains.  The coupling is almost entirely automatic for this type of train, so it was kind of fascinating to watch.  We were all mesmerized, to the great amusement of the conductor from the train on the left.

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Fast forward to Saturday, and we started the day with a small city tour… in the rain.

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Here’s the tour route, just for fun:

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This is one of the two brass rings embedded into the wrought iron-work in Schöner Brunnen, a rather nifty fountain in the city’s main market square near the town hall.  It is said that spinning the brass ring will bring you luck.  The fountain itself is a reproduction; the original lives in the city’s historical museum.

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It’s rather amazing to me that I’ve been in Germany for this long and I didn’t manage to get a picture with a section of the original Berlin Wall until this trip.  Here it is.

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Albrecht Dürer is kind of a big deal in Nuremberg.  His house is near this statue.

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One of Dürer’s most celebrated creations is this creepy-ass rabbit.  The dude with the pink umbrella just makes it so much more surreal, don’t you think?

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This store’s sign caught my eye because it’s a rather nifty play on words.  Bohne & Kleid in German is “Bean and Dress,” but it sounds quite a bit like “Bonnie and Clyde.”  It made me giggle.

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One of the nifty things about Nuremberg is that a large portion of the old city wall is still intact like this section on the right.

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A bunch of these old cities have St. George and the Dragon themed stuff floating around.  It’s all very Trogdor-oriented.

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Nuremberg also has a reasonably well preserved castle, part of which is pictured here.

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Big castles have big doors.

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Here’s the requisite view of the city from the castle’s ramparts.

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Later in the day, Cliff and I ventured in to the Deutsche Bahn Museum, a place I had wanted to visit for quite a while.  It had some fantastic vintage carriages.

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An old rail-running bicycle looking thing was on display.  This reminds me a little bit of the scene from Blazing Saddles with the quick-sand.

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What would a train museum be without incredibly detailed models?

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The DB Museum had a ton of great photographs up showing the construction of the railways and bridges.  Most of those pictures didn’t come out well enough to post, but this will give you an idea of how amazing and fascinating the historical photographs were.

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Any good train museum would also cover that uncomfortable part of Germany’s history where the railways were part of the World War II experience.  Here’s a train conductor’s uniform from that era.

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The best part of the exhibit was the various trains  set up along the outer edges of the museum.  Here’s a mostly-plastic model of an ICE train.  You couldn’t even sit down inside.  The real thing is much nicer.

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Apparently, 6th class train rides involved standing up in a giant rectangular train carriage with no roof.  Still beats walking, I guess.

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Compare that last one to first class, which has velvet seats and a nice terrace from which you can have champagne toasts.

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Speaking of first class, the Prince’s carriages were present in the museum.  They’re very fancy.

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The Prince’s carriage had a green room that Cliff thought was amazing.

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I was more partial to the blue room in the Prince’s carriage.   What can I say? I like blue!

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There were also some massive old steamers in the museum.

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When I say massive, I mean massive.  These wheels were nearly as tall as I am.

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…and you can step up into some of them for hammy moments.  Here’s Cliff, waving hello from the conductor’s window.

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Have you ever been to the DB Museum?  Have you visited Bamberg or Nuremberg?

Cinecittà Nuremberg, A Movie Lover’s Theater

I love movies.  I love watching them.  I love their quotable lines, their soundtracks… I love pretty much everything about a good movie.  Living in Germany, I don’t get to see them as much as I used to.  My command of the language isn’t that great, so watching an entire movie in German is an exercise in frustration.

The answer to this problem, for any native English speaker, is the OV movie.  OV is short for Original Version.  Sometimes it’s listed as OF, or Originalfassung.  OV movies are presented in their original language, and more often than not, that original language is English.    The Cinemaxx theater closest to my apartment plays one OV movie every Monday night- just one.  Lately, they’ve also been adding an occasional very late Thursday night OV movie as well.  This gives me a good chance at seeing most of the megablockbusters – The Hobbit, The Avengers, and so forth. This isn’t enough showings for every movie that comes out, so there are some movies that never play here in English.  I’m still bummed that I haven’t seen the last Muppet movie in English.  I did watch it German- I could follow the storyline without any problems, but I missed a lot of good verbal jokes.

Nuremberg has a better theater, though.  I first heard of the Cinecittà when simulcast showings were being announced for The Day Of The Doctor and I was looking for a theater to see the film.  I was able to see that in Regensburg after all, so my first visit to the Cinecittà in person was in mid-December, when I went to see Frozen.  I’m a convert, and I’m sure I’ll be back there again.

The entryway looks like a normal theater with just a few screens.  However, most of the complex is built underground.  It’s impossible to see from the surface just how large the theater is-  there are about 22 screens.  Some are small, but the complex includes 3D projection, IMAX-sized screens, and so-called 4D theaters where the seats move for an immersive movie experience.  Best of all, they play many OV movies, and not just on one day of the week.

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Walking through the complex underneath the main lobby area, there are snack bars, restaurants, and small art displays.

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This being Nuremberg, there’s a display of Albrecht Dürer art, including his famous Hare.

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I didn’t realize just how enormous this theater complex truly is until I noticed this view.  By the time I took this picture, I had already gone down a sloped ramp to a lower level, and this is a view looking downward at the levels still beneath me.

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What’s the largest theater you’ve ever been to?

Nuremberg Christkindlmarkt

I decided a while back that I wanted to see the Nuremberg Christmas Market this year.  The Nuremberg market is one of the most famous, and it’s a big attraction for tourists.   It sees about two million visitors a year.   This is what it looked like at around 5pm on a very rainy Saturday night.

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It was pretty difficult to move up and down the aisles because of the volume of people visiting.  This was more crowded than my visit to Oktoberfest, although that was a weekday rather than a Saturday.

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It’s held in the Hauptmarkt, a large courtyard between a big church and a big pointy fountain in the Nürnberg Altstadt.  This is the fountain:

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There are booths and decorations on all the connecting streets as well.  This little fellow was in front of a store.

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The market has the usual things you find in any Christmas market – hot nuts, Lebkuchen, Bratwurst, handmade goods, and Glühwein.

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Nuremberg also sports the world’s largest flaming punch bowl.  I took some pictures of the flaming punch bowl, but they really didn’t come out very well so they won’t be included here.

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While I was there, a German chorus was singing English Christmas music in front of the Church.

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When I stopped for a closer look, the director (in the red cowboy shaped hat) asked the audience if there were any Americans in the audience.  He seemed disappointed with the lack of response-  apparently the Americans are usually noisier.

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Perhaps it’s because all the Americans were enjoying the Glühwein-  Nuremberg had the white variety seen here.  It’s not quite as sweet as the usual red wine flavors of Glühwein, but it was very delicious.  A hot steaming mug of this was enough to make me forget it was raining the entire time I was at the market.

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What is the most crowded event or festival you have visited?

s’Baggers: A Rollercoaster Restaurant in Nuremberg

Quick edit in February 2017:  I just learned that the restaurant in Nuremberg is no longer open to the public.  It’s being used as a training site by the parent company.  http://www.rollercoasterrestaurant.com/ has a list of other locations.

There is a restaurant in nearby Nuremberg called s’Baggers where you order your food on a touchscreen and the food is delivered to your table automatically on metal rails.  Apparently, Rollercoaster Restaurants are a growing industry.  The company behind the design of s’Baggers is making one of these in Dubai, and there are also restaurants like this in Hamburg and Dresden.

I love restaurants with gimmicks.  I’m a huge fan of revolving restaurants, for example.   Needless to say, I wanted to try this place as soon as I learned that it existed.  I contacted my favorite Nuremberg resident, Heather from Heather Goes Deutsch, to see if she and her boyfriend wanted to try the restaurant as well.  They did, and we made plans to try the place out.

The front entrance is bright and friendly, as a family friendly restaurant ought to be.

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Inside, the rails that lead from the kitchen to each table are looped artfully around the room.

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There’s a center column that goes to the downstairs tables, and a fast track where the occasional container would loop upside-down for a moment.  The rope-lighting would change colors and flash on and off to let you know the fast dishes were about to come through.

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There are no waiters.  At your table, you order via a touch screen.  The menu is quite huge; there’s a wide variety of food available.

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Once your order is selected, you put your meal card into the attached card reader.  This card is given to you when you walk into the restaurant, and anything you put on it is paid for when you leave.  Vapiano uses the same type of card system, so if you’ve ever eaten at one of those restaurants, you’re familiar with this setup.

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The kitchen staff is amazingly fast.  Our beverages were out no more than three or four minutes after concluding the order, and the food came out very quickly after that.  Main dishes often had terrifying sparklers attached as they came down the rails.  A little colored flag attached to each dish lets you quickly spot whether it’s yours or not.

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Most entrees came out in one or two little pots like this one.  I had a chicken and rice dish with vegetables in a nice peanut sauce.  The rice came in one of these pots, and the chicken and vegetables in another.

I was a little worried that the restaurant would rely on their novelty and that the quality would be mediocre, but I was very pleasantly surprised.  The food was amazing.  From their website:

“Our chef and his team of 11 cooks place great value on a fresh and careful low-fat preparation of all dishes and never use glutamate, preservatives or colouring additives. They only buy fresh, high-quality ingredients from selected suppliers of the local region, including organic produce.”

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Heather ordered a pumpkin soup, and it came down the rails in this little jar.

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Underneath the rail system on each table is an enormous lazy susan containing plates, bowls, napkins, silverware, and a bottle opener.  The section visible to the right of the plates is also where you put empty pots, used plates, and so forth-  staff from the restaurant would come by periodically to empty out that section.

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While most of the beverages came down the rails, every once in a while somebody would order something that had to be hand carried, like this cocktail.

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I ordered dessert after my main course, a freshly baked hot brownie with some vanilla ice cream.  It came in a tall glass like the one above.  It was the most delicious brownie I have eaten in more than a year.

Seriously, you guys, check this place out.  You really won’t regret it.

Have you ever eaten at a rollercoaster restaurant?  What’s your favorite type of novelty restaurant?

Back to Nürnberg, Part Two

After I was done at Doku-Zentrum, I took the tram back toward the Bahnhof, and from there I met Heather from “Heather Goes Deutsch”  for lunch and some hang time.  Heather lives in Nuremberg and teaches English there.

I’ve noticed a trend among other Americans that I’ve run into here. We tend to be in one of three categories:  Technology workers, Teachers,  and Students.  (Although there are a huge amount of American troops here in Germany, I’m not counting the military folk because they’re not necessarily in Germany by choice, and many of them tend to have short term assignments here before getting deployed elsewhere.)

Ah, but I digress.  I was talking about Nuremberg.  Heather went to lunch.  On the walk there, we saw some preaching Christians.  They were much louder and more preachey than the Mormons from my previous visit.

Heather and I ate at Alex, which is a chain-  I’ve eaten in the Regensburg location as well as the Nuremberg one.  Alex feels a bit like TGI Fridays or Applebees back home.   It overlooks a large courtyard which was filled with a green market at the time.

After lunch, it was time for a walk up a very steep hill to see the castle that I missed last time I was in town.  It was tall and castley.  Heather warned me about the hill, but it was much steeper to get all the way up than I expected.  (The journey back down looked like it would have been a lot of fun on roller blades.  Until you broke your neck, that is.)

Here is a rare photograph where I’m in front of the camera instead of behind it:

The castle ramparts were sufficiently high up that the view was pretty spectacular looking over the town.  Here’s part of it:

After our controlled descent from the castle, we walked around the city a little bit more.  While Regensburg has monuments to Kepler, Nuremberg has the Albrecht Dürer house.  Dürer, as it turns out, spent quite a bit of time in Nuremberg, born there in the late 1400s and returning for parts of the 1500s.  He was there in between stints in Italy and the Netherlands, and his famous painting of a hare has resulted in a lot of rabbits in stores and sculptures.   For example, there’s this super creepy statue.  I told Heather that it looks like Alice in Wonderland on peyote.

By this point in the afternoon, I was pretty much ready to hop a train back home, so we started to follow the city wall back toward the train station. Interesting fun fact:  The wall around the city of Nuremberg is mostly stil intact  You can walk along large sections of it and eventually you’ll wind up back at the train station.

On the walk back, I saw some nifty stuff that needed to be photographed. I’ll close out the post with these last three photographs-

1) Some nifty graffiti that translates to “Against sexism, against homophobia!”  At some point I will take pictures of more graffiti around town in Regensburg.  I’ve already got a nifty collection of pictures of the decals that people put on street signs and lamp posts- I find it fascinating.

2) A street musician playing an instrument that I can’t quite identify.  It’s not quite a harp, but it’s similar.  It also looks quite heavy.

3) Random Greenpeace protest.  Apparently they’re against nuclear power.  (And power is yet another topic on my future posts list.)