Saturday, 8 December 2012

Nürnberg Visit

This week we travelled to Nürnberg to visit the traditional "Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt".

Originating in the 16th century, it is one of the oldest in Germany, and the most famous, drawing over two million visitors from all over the world every year. Tour buses and packed trains descend on this otherwise sleepy little German town during the month of December on mass. But is a must-do for visitors to the area during the Christmas season. A quintessential experience in the lead up to Christmas.

Once we had fortified ourselves with Beer and Glühwein (you figure out who ordered what) we wandered along the various stalls or more accurately were moved along with the throng, stopping here and there to gaze at the beautifully crafted ornaments/decorations, snap some photos, listen to musicians and inhale the strange but intoxicating smells that are a combination of the fore mentioned Glühwein, frying sausages, roasted nuts, and the fuels needed to make these items edible. There is actually a smoky haze that hangs over the stalls from all the cooking and incense burners, and with all the Christmas lights twinkling through it’s delightful.


But Christkindlesmarkt isn’t the only reason we went to Nürnberg. Always the academic, Erwin planned for us to have some more cerebral activities too. The next day we toured the Dürer Haus; the residence and workplace of famous artist Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528). Erwin teaches about him in his Italy in the German Imagination course, and I’ve written a 3500 word research paper on him. So yes, we had to do this. It was very interesting to see first hand the materials he worked with and where.

 We also went to see the Kaiserburg Nürnberg. In the Middle Ages this huge complex castle was one of the most important imperial castles of the Holy Roman Empire with parts of it such as the defensive tower dating back to the 1200s still standing. We climbed the narrow twisty stairs to the top for a terrific 360° view over the city and area.

There was also time for fun and games so to speak at the Spielzeugmuseum or toy museum. It is housed in a medieval building on four floors and shows toys from the Middle Ages to the present. Fun because there were quite a few interactive displays, which of course I had to try out. Still a kid at heart. Besides I’ll never see these people again anyway. I convinced Erwin to try a game and even beat him at a magnetic table hockey type game. Yay me! I especially liked the century old beautiful and intricate doll houses. The unsettling part was finding toys that I played with as a child.Too bad photographing wasn't allowed at this museum.

Next morning we were thrilled to discover that St. Nicholas visits hotels too. Actually I knew he did, since we’ve previously spent the night of December 5-6 in German hotels and discovered treats by our door then. We’re delighted that this tradition continues.

One more thing to note, no paper cups are used for any of the beverages served at any of the stalls. You pay a 2.50€ deposit on a ceramic mug, and get a refund if/when you bring it back. My inner tree-hugger likes that. But, my Glühwein mug somehow ended up in my coat pocket. I wonder how that happened? I guess I’ll just have to keep it as a souvenir of our visit to the Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt.

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