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.


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


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.


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.


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


Here’s the tour route, just for fun:


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.


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.


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


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?


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.


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.


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


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


Big castles have big doors.


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


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.


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.


What would a train museum be without incredibly detailed models?


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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


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


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


There were also some massive old steamers in the museum.


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


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


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


Another Weekend In Berlin

On the second weekend in September, a group of people who live in Germany and blog in English descended on Berlin for WEBMU 2012.

WEBMU is the “Whiny Expatriate Bloggers MeetUp,” and it’s basically an excuse for a group of really fun people to get together, do a little sightseeing, and eat at a bunch of amazing restaurants.  Snooker in Berlin and No Apathy Allowed were the organizers and hosts, and they did a fantastic job.  I don’t want to do a lengthy recap of the entire weekend, but I took a some pretty neat pictures while I was in town, so here we go.

I didn’t join all of the tours that the group took part in, but I did go to the Friday morning tour of the Stasi Museum.  The original headquarters of East Germany’s Ministerium für Staatssicherheit have been converted into a museum and it’s pretty fascinating.

The picture below is a propaganda photograph of Katarina Witt, the German Olympic figure skater.  I didn’t fully understand the impact of this photograph until after I’d gotten back home and started doing my traditional pre-blog-post research, when I found this detail:

Following the dissolution of East Germany, Stasi files were found to show that the secret police had worked hard to keep Witt from defecting by giving her cars, accommodations, and permitted travel. Witt found 3,000 pages on her life from the age of eight.

A lot of the original furnishings are still present in the museum, including this cabinet reel to reel system and the rather large conference room table in the next two photographs.

One of the more interesting sections of the museum were all the examples of spy cameras-  buttonhole cameras, necktie cameras, bird-feeder cameras.  This one was large and obvious by comparison.

One of the display cases contained a selection of period music and pop culture that had been reviewed by the Stasi.  This section was fascinating to me.

While walking around Berlin all weekend, I saw a huge variety of street art.  This sort of thing rarely happens in Regensburg, but in the big city of Berlin, this stuff was kind of everywhere.

I’d like to take a moment to state that the Berlin Hauptbahnhof is just amazing-  the upper levels are S-Bahn trains that go around the city, the mid levels and there are a bunch of levels of other trains.  The Berlin Central Station is different than most of the Bahnhofs I’ve been to in that it the trains moving through it are East-West on one level and North-South on a different level- most train stations only have tracks running in one direction, not crisscrossed.

The Berlin HBF also maintains a healthy online and social media presence, as I learned when I asked friends on Twitter for a route and I got answered by @HBF_Berlin.

Most importantly for a nerd like me, though, is that the Berlin HBF is just cool to see.  The various levels are somewhat open to each other, and you can see many of the trains criss-crossing the station.

I’m not sure if this counts as street art, but it was at the top of the steps to the U-Bahn closest to the Stasi Museum, so it caught my attention.

One of the most common foods in Berlin is Currywurst.  I learned on this trip that Currywurst means an instant migraine for me.  Neat, eh?

One of our tours was walking around an urban area and we stumbled across a Saturday morning street market. Interesting stuff.

Walking around on that same tour, the tour guide pointed out that there’s a bar in this building.  Can you spot it?

The neighborhood also had its share of what we’ll consider ‘eccentric’ residence.  For example, the owner of this charming van.

And sometimes, you just have to ask your neighbors to trim their building.

These signs were all over the city in green spaces.  The literal translation is Green Investment Scheme, which makes sense in the marked green areas.   There’s a Green Investment Scheme aspect of the Kytoto Protocol for environmental benefits, but I’m not sure if this GIS and that GIS are directly related.

During our walk, I kept getting distracted by little tiny things.  For example, this little guy: