We started off our day in Nuremberg by heading back to the Old Town. Quickly we realized that we picked the wrong day to visit. It was a Sunday and therefore pretty much everything in the town was closed. We found a little café for breakfast and after that checked out this sculpture depicting the circle of love. It starts with two people falling in love and ends with the woman and man, both depicted as skeletons, strangling each other…with lots of stuff in between.
After that we headed to the old church (closed) and saw that the famous fountain outside was covered by some kind of house. The Nuremberg tourism department was kind enough to leave us with a life-sized black and white photo of what the fountain is supposed to look like…so it’s basically like we saw the real thing.
We continued walking past the Christmas shop (closed, which elicited Hanna’s most endearing puppy-dog face), and onto a different fountain that we could actually see. It is called Beautiful Fountain (those Germans really get to the point quickly) and it was pretty nice, despite the juvenile delinquent attempting to scale it as his parents watched with pride (probably American).
Finally we went up to the castle, which was very cool. The castle in Prague was mostly renovated, but the one in Nuremberg actually looked like it belonged in the Middle Ages. We checked out some old horse equipment, weapons, and armor in the museum then lined up for the guided tour.
The tour was entirely in German, but since we had a few English speakers (Hanna and I were the only ones who raised our hands when she asked if anyone didn’t understand German but more mysteriously appeared once the tour started…cowards), she agreed to go over the highlights with us after she was done with the German explanation.
This was extremely kind of her considering English was her fourth language. She told us that every guide has to know two languages besides German, but hers were Italian and French, so she apologized profusely for her mangled English. Of course she spoke much better English than most of my tenth-grade students last year, but we couldn’t help but think we were missing out.
For example, when we got to the well house, which contained an extremely deep well, she gave a 15-minute explanation in German and at one point everyone in the room erupted in laughter. When she was done she turned to the English speakers and said, “The well is 35 meters deep.” Either the Germans have a very different sense of humor or she left something out.
After that we went to a place called Hutt ‘N, which served food and famous Nuremberg beer. We waited for about 10 minutes before being seated in the same booth as three Germans. After a few minutes of very awkward silence one of them, an Indian-looking man, asked us where we were from.
From there the conversation flourished as we discussed everything from American politics to David Hasselhoff (seriously). All of them (two men and a woman) were old buddies from architecture school. The Indian one (Navin) is now a zoo-keeper in Munich (he showed us pictures of his elephants on his phone), the other man (Nico) works as an architect in Stuttgardt, and the woman (Steffi) is an architect in Nuremberg. They seemed genuinely interested to talk to us, disposing of the myth that Germans are unfriendly. I guess the myth-busting went both ways since Steffi remarked at one point, “You know I generally think Americans are assholes, but every one I meet is actually very kind.” Thanks?
We looked down at our watches and realized that about 4 hours had elapsed along with countless beers and five glasses of pear-flavored schnapps. The two men had to catch a train so we took that as our cue to exit. It was cool to talk to people from the country we were visiting to get a different perspective.
Since it had been a while since we had actually eaten (we had some sausages, sauerkraut, and potato salad between beers), we picked up some food from an Italian take-out place before heading home. There we watched the MTV European Music Awards (which we had been seeing advertisements for since Rome), and I drank about four gallons of water.
The show was ironic because out of all the people who appeared on stage and/or were nominated for awards, I’d say one (a British rapper/singer named Plan B) were actually from Europe. The show was hosted by Evan Longoria and took place in Madrid, which prompted Eva to come out at one point dressed as a piece of ham (I wish I was kidding). She shouted out “JAMON IBERICO!” and the crowd went nuts. Having tasted our fair share of jamon iberico in Spain, Hanna and I had trouble figuring out why people were cheering.
After a good trip to Prague, we set our sights on Nuremberg. When we planned the trip, we knew we wanted to see a city in Germany besides Berlin, but we weren’t sure which one. Hanna had already been to Munich and Hamburg was pretty far out of the way, so we consulted our handy travel books.
After looking through a couple of cities, we arrived at the heading for Nuremberg: Beer, Gingerbread, and Toys. Needless to say we looked no further.
The train from Prague was relatively uneventful. We got another sleeper car, although it wasn’t as nice as the Austrian OBB. It was kind of weird when three police officers in full riot gear (shinguards, batons, plastic shields) boarded our train, but after a cursory glance in our cabin we never heard from them again. When we got into Germany we got a visit from the passport control officers (the nicest yet) who seemed quite impressed when they looked through Hanna’s passport. She balked when they asked, “Where is Dobova?” but I quickly remembered that we got our passports stamped in Slovenia even though we didn’t get off the train. “Aaaaah, Slovenia!” they replied in unison. They smiled and handed our passports back.
We arrived in Nuremberg (or Nurnberg as it is called in Germany) at around 17:00, only to find the train station filled with people dressed in red with scarves and jerseys on. Most of them were drinking so I figured that they were either on their way to or on their way back from a soccer game. Sure enough we asked the lady at the tourist office and she said there was a game earlier that day. We were trying to guess whether they won or lost and we concluded that since nobody was rioting they probably lost.
After a 10 minute walk in the rain, we checked into our hotel and headed across the street to the Aldtstadt, or Old Town, to look for something to eat. Pretty much everything was closed, so we decided to go with a reliable shwarma stand in what seemed to be a Muslim part of town. It was predictably good, and we headed back to the hotel to eat and plan our route for the following day.
In the hotel we were treated to some spectacular German programming. First we saw a special about sex scandals, sex tapes, revealing clothing, etc. on German MTV. It seemed pretty standard until, in the span of about a minute, we saw full-frontal male nudity and several female breasts. That was our first indication that German television was slightly less reserved than its American counterpart.
Our second indication came when we stumbled upon “Das Super Talent,” basically the German version of “America’s Got Talent.” First there was a pole dancer (who remarkably kept her bathing suit on throughout her routine) and she was followed by a crazy-haired middle-aged white man from Zimbabwe who proceeded to perform a strip show. His grand finale was when he, standing completely naked, took a firecracker, shoved it up his rear end, and lit it on fire. When it went off he ran around the stage singing something. The best part was that he actually got a vote to move on to the next round.
After that we found this German talk show hosted by an older German guy with blonde hair. He seemed to be interviewing German celebrities until suddenly, out of nowhere, Denzel Washington came on stage. The host spoke to him in German, which was then translated for him in an earpiece, then Denzel’s response was dubbed into German for television. It was all very strange, but got even weirder when they handed Denzel a piece of paper and he read something in horrible German that ended with “Miley Cyrus!” The camera panned to the stage where Miley proceeded to perform her smash single “Who Owns My Heart (is it love or is it art?)” We were trying to figure out how this random German talk show managed to get Denzel Washington and Miley Cyrus on at the same time. Finally we gave up, realizing that it was much better than any of the other options.