September 9, 2013 – Today began with another hotel breakfast. We’re definitely spoiled with good butter, good bread, cold cuts, cheese and coffee. After breakfast we started the walk over to the Kaiserburg. Maybe it’s because we’re Americans and, well, we just don’t have fortresses and castles. Or it’s that we think things that were built before 1900 are old, and things from the 1700s are REALLY old. Coolness point for the Kaiserburg, which was starting to be built around 1105.
We reached the Kaiserburg via the back wall, through the gardens, and then walked around to the main entrance. Impressive, huge, formidable – the Kaiserburg is all this and more. It dominates the skyline, and is also a symbol of how proud these people are of their home.
There’s a self-guided tour around some of the rooms and the chapel, as well as through other rooms in the fortress. Our ticket also came with a climb of the tower, which offered fantastic views over the old city. The tower also included before, immediately after, and rebuilt pictures of the city after the bombs fell. The city is beautiful, and you would never guess that it was once virtually leveled. After we climbed back down the older gentleman keeping track of people going up asked us a question in German, and then switched to English. He wanted to know if we had found the view enjoyable, and seemed pleased that we thought it was beautiful.
After the fortress tour we ventured down the street to find lunch. We discovered a little restaurant with some great small sausages and potato pancakes with applesauce – enjoyed outdoors while drinking a beer, of course.
Up next was the Albrecht Durer house. The house has been beautifully restored (honestly, you’d never know it was restored if you were just looking at it) and includes a self guided audio tour from the perspective of Durer’s wife. We greatly enjoyed the workshop and kitchen areas, as well as the small art gallery. Of particular amusement was one painting that may or may not have been stolen by a gallery in Munich. Between in-country theft and the artifacts carried into the USSR, one has to wonder how much priceless art is just stacked in drawers and closets.
We were starting to fade and headed back towards the Kaiserburg to get some coffee. They had coffee, as well as some delicious looking treats. We enjoyed two espresso drinks and a slice of cake while sitting outside in the shade of a tree that grew through the cobblestones.
The location of the coffee shop was also advantageous since it was just a block from the underground beer cellar/bunker tour. Picture this. One guide, two Americans (who can understand enough German to figure out what the guide is saying, for the most part), two Asians (who live in Germany and are basically German) and about 10 Germans. So we’ve got translated audio guides, to supplement what the tour guide says. Then we all traipse down the block, and through a tiny door with steep stairs, leading to some of the beer cellars under the city. On the way down we pass under a diffused bomb hanging from the ceiling; on the wall behind it is an arial photo of Allied planes on a bombing run.
The cellars-turned-bunkers are damp and dark, with beautiful brick arches supporting the roofs. Since we’re ending the tour at the brewery and beer (who doesn’t like beer in Germany?) we start the tour with WWII. As an aside, we intentionally did not make WWII the focus of this trip – the country and the people are so much more than the 12 or so years the Nazis were in power. However, some things (like beer cellar bunkers) ought to be experienced.
The tour was interesting and informative, with more than a bit of pride that the people rebuilt their city (as evidenced from the fist pump one of the teenagers gave when the guide talked about the rebuilding effort). The tour ended in the restaurant, where we got a chance to sniff a variety of beers and vinegar. Since there was no tasting effort, we knew that our dinner destination would have to meet that need.
After the tour we wandered through town a bit, winding up at St. Sebald’s church. St. Sebald’s is still rebuilding, over 60 years after its destruction. The walls are painted white, except for the sections where the soot is still visible. Stained glass stops abruptly, replaced with regular clear glass. Pictures show how far the church rebuilding efforts have come, and old newspaper articles are reproduced and displayed; there’s something jarring about seeing a photo of the swastika hanging from the church where you’re standing. A sign inside says that the church is a memorial to peace, and compared to other churches and cathedrals there’s little talking as people take in the space.
We walked inside the town hall, and then over a bridge where we found an outdoor market. And those wonderful Nuremberg sausages – you can get three in a small bun for a few euros. We enjoyed the snack while looking out over the water, watching the sunset.
For dinner we knew we wanted someplace with sausage, kasespatzle and beer. We found all that in a narrow, wood-paneled pub, Hausbrauerei Altstadthof, where we managed to snag a small bar table for two in the far back. Tony enjoyed a plate of sausages with bread, and Louisa happily dug into a bowl of kasespatzle with fried onions on top. With two beers (try the red ale!), it was the perfect dinner.