Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ich liebe deutsches brot <3

Perhaps its lust or early-stages of infatuation--but I am absolutely head over heels in love with German bread.

The backeries (in addition to being EVERYWHERE) have such an inviting, tempting atmosphere. All the colors, all the different types--sweet, savory, chocolate, fruit-filled, creme-filled, with cheese or ham on rye, seeded rolls, loafs, croissants, brötchen, pretzels, pumpernickle--and the list goes on.

All for a ridiculously low low price.

Germany is not the place for the faint-hearted. Or the carb watcher.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Neu Perspektive an der Altstadt

Usually a visit to Nürnberg means walking along Königstraße and the streets running perpendicular to it, visiting some shopping centres, eating eis, and perhaps enjoying the views of the old medieval skyline along the river. This time however, I thought I would change it up a bit and take the tour of the altstadt, given by one of the tour guides from the Touristen-Büro (its the only official tour in English offered to the public, at 1pm every day of the week in front of the Hauptmarkt Tourism Office).

It was worth every Euro--thanks of course to the fact that the city has an incredibly fascinating history, but also because Erika Jordan, our Mexican born, German tour guide had an incredible amount of knowledge on the history of the city and really took her time to show us as much as she could (the tour lasted almost 3 hours!) That's her underneath showing us St. George, the patron of the house there and the famous painting of the rabbit by Albrecht Dürer.

I am glad I got to know a little bit more about my future home (we are currently looking for an apartment in the city for September)... and while you may know little or lots about this place already, I thought I'd share a few interesting things I learned yesterday. Maybe it might even spark your interest in coming to see this beautiful place for yourselves one day.

1) Nuremberg (the English spelling for the city) is known for its Lebkuchen (or Christmas cookie that is similar to gingerbread), the Nürnberger sausages (which are nothing more than tiny sausages about the size of your ring finger), Albrect Dürer (the 15th century painter), it's wealthy and significant historical past during the time of the Holy Roman Empire in the Middle Ages, the Nazi Party Rallies & War Trials in the 20th century, and the Kristkindlmarkt (the world famous Christmas market held every year, 4 weeks before Christmas Eve in the Hauptmarkt).

2) The old city is divided into two parts named after the two largest churches: the St. Lorenz and St. Sebald sections. The river Pegnitz cuts the city into almost even sized parts and runs directly through the middle, east to west.

3) During WWII, Nürnberg was the center of the Nazi party where most of the rallies were held. Hauptmarktplatz was renamed (as in all major German cities during the 30s) Adolf Hitler Platz and banners adorned with swastikas were mandatory on the homes and businesses in the square. Hitler began building a colloseum (which is in the outskirts of the city) he hoped to fit 400,000 people (Nuremberg's population is only 600,000), yet it was never completed due to the end of the war.

4) From 1933-1935, the city came up with a plan to save the historic artwork and architecure of the town just in case war broke out. A few years later, with the beginning of World War II, the city put the plan into action and removed everything of value from the museums and churches (including all the glass from the stained glass windows) and placed them into the underground tunnels that were built back in the 1500s for the beer breweries. As a result of this enormous effort on the part of the city, the majority of of the city's art and historical pieces still remain.

5) 90% of the city was destroyed in the bombing of the war, yet Nuremberg is one of the few cities (unlike Cologne or Frankfurt) that chose to try and rebuild the city as much as possible keeping the architecture and character of the medieval city that Nuremberg was before the war. (This by the way really gives the city charm ;).

6) In addition to Dürer, Nuremberg is home to the inventor of the first pocket watch (originally built in the shape of an egg that women found fashionable to wear around their necks) and to Levi Strauss, inventor of the blue jeans.

Looking forward to making Nuremberg my home. Then I will really take the time to get to know as much as I can about it.
:) Good times ahead.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

no, seriously, this is for real

A couple of weeks ago, I was playing some American country music for David and in turn, David played some German "folk" music for me.

You need to see it to believe it.

It's called "Gloria Alla Montagna"...**
(I couldn't upload the video directly but here's a link to the video on YouTube.)

**Even if tempted to, don't exit until at least 0:37. It will be worth the wait, I promise.

Monday, July 13, 2009

"Rainy ol' Lauf..."

I was walking through Lauf yesterday, in a rare moment of sunshine and blue skies, and as I looked around I realized Germans have this bipolar existance. They adorn their houses with suncatchers, they dress their windowsills in colorful flowers, and every home has a "Familie" nameplate made of clay with little suns or catepillars under the doorbell. They love bakeries, flower shops and the majority of shops here sell sometype of greeting or post card. And despite the German's tendencies towards "the cute", on the opposite end of the spectrum, the rough, punk rebel spirit seeps out from the young people of Germany. They revolt against the clean cut, they abhor the lebekuchen with cutsie sayings on them written with pink frosting, they embrace the Döner and McDonald's. These are the youth who grafitti the historic walls of the town with saying like "Nazis Raus" or "No Nazis!"

Perhaps all nations can atest to the opposing forces of the younger vs. older generations, but it seems more pronounced to me here in Germany, perhaps because I'm a stranger looking in. Still, I wonder, what will win out in the end--the cute or the cool culture...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

taking the Bahn to Bayreuth...

8:34 am and here I am again writing a blog.

What I really should be doing is going for a walk in the fresh air and the sunlight, but I have been searching online for a ticket on the DB (Deutsche Bahn) website ( for the last hour or so to get me from Nürnberg to Köln this Saturday without breaking the bank or taking an entire day to get there. So far, I've been unable to find anything that fits both those criteria.

Germans love their trains and public transportation--and why not? Its more cost efficient than commuting by car and having to fill up with costly petrol. Its faster in some cases and the best part is no stress, just sit back and enjoy the ride. The DB is for the most part, very clean (the Germans wouldn't have it any other way) and very easy to use. And--if you look around, you can find some pretty good deals to travel around Germany.

They have what's called a Länder-Ticket, which you can buy and with it can travel anywhere within one of the 16 states within Germany. The amazing thing is that you can purchase a group ticket which you can then use for up to five people. The Bayern-Ticket for example, which you can use to travel anywhere in Bavaria from 9am-3am the next morning, costs around 28 Euros. Divide that up by 5 (assuming you can pull together a party of 5 people) and you've got yourself a day pass to some of the most beautiful places in Bavaria--Neuschwanstein (the original inspiration to what became the Disney castle), München, Nürnberg, Bamberg, Würzburg, Augsburg, Regensburg--basically all the -bergs your little heart can hope for, you can go to, for less than 6 euros per person.

Saturday I decided to take a trip to Bayreuth using the Bayern ticket. Unfortunately, I did not have five people to accompany me, so I had to purchase the Bayern single ticket (20 euros), which is still not a bad deal. David was studying for exams, so I made the journey on my own.

Bayreuth is like many a German town/city with the cobble stone, the castle, the marktplatz--but it was home to many famous artists of the past, including the classical composer Richard Wagner. I am not very familiar with much of his work--however, having a father who is an opera composer, who loves opera and all things classical music related--I decided to go check it out.

The Opernhause is absolutely out of this world and it doesn't take an opera aficionado to figure that out. It's one of the last remaining Baroque theatres still entirely intact, which although I couldn't really tell you the significance of that, the theatre is just breathtaking. I won't waste my time trying to describe it, have a look yourself.

The opera house also has exhibits you can walk around to see, including a peak backstage where they have examples of sets and costumes as well as replicas of machines they used to recreate sound effects for the stage before audio systems existed. Even though I've forgotten pretty much everything I learned in Theatre History and Stagecraft, it was still fascinating. I also paid 4 euros to attend a light and sound show--however since the entire thing was in German, I probably could have done without.

After the opera house, I walked towards the marktplatz and found my way to the Historiche Museum, Richard Wagner's Haus (which is now a musuem) and gravestone, the courtyard gardens (Hofgarten) where I was chased by ferocious Bayreuthian ducks (who must have thought I was going to feed them) and the New Palace.

Afterwards, I started back to the city center and slowly made my way towards the Hauptbahnhof--bought myself some eis along the way and hopped on the 17:12 train back to Nürnberg.

A pretty inexpensive yet enjoyable excursion for an unemployed recently graduated expat.

For those of you who want to know about another great deal on, there is what's called a Shönes-Wochenende Ticket which allows you to travel anywhere (really, anywhere) in Germany for 37 euros for up to five people from midnight on Saturday or Sunday until 3 am the next morning. The only catch is that you can only take local trains (so no ICE or Inter-City Express), which means your journey could take you from 6-8 hours if you are traveling from the south to north (or vice versa), however its a great deal for people who don't have a lot of money and want to see lots of different places all over the country.

Safe travelling.

Perfection is a myth...


I am writing to you from lil' ol' Lauf a.d Pegnitz, here in Deutschland. It was and still is one of my goals to keep a blog of my life during this year here in Germany, but up until now, I've had this fear of writing--anything really, blog or "work" related--for fear of it "not being good" (enough).

Just yesterday though, I ran across another friend's blog and realized, it was so enjoyable to read, imperfections and all, that I decided perfection is a myth. And so here I am sitting at my desk at 9:07am on Sunday morning writing the first entry of my new blog.

I arrived in Germany June 22nd via Air Berlin from JFK, and since then, it has been major major relaxation mode. I have taken countless walks, several visits to Nürnberg, dabbled in some reading and writing, spending countless hours with David <3 (of course), a trip to Bayreuth via the fabulous Bayern Ticket (!) and having sporadic waves of worry wash over me as I think about finding a job once LEOLingo finishes in September. (LEOLingo is the sprache-camp that I will be working for this summer, teaching English/being a camp counselor, etc. to German kids.) But for now, I want to stop. and marvel in the fact that I am actually here in Germany. The last couple of years, knowing that once I graduated from MSU, I would be moving to the glorious land of bread and bratwurst, schokolade und eis, cobblestone streets, castles and history galore, smack dab in the middle of europe--has been my driving force or motivation... and now its a reality! There are a couple things that I wanted to accomplish during my time here in Deutschland and perhaps by writing them out and making them public, I will adhere more to them. So here they are: 1. Become conversational in Deutsch :) 2. Read & Write--as much as possible 3. Keep a blog :) 4. Find a job = Make $$$ (and start paying off student loans :( ) 5. Travel... 6. Strengthen my physical & spiritual health 7. Develop a hobby and 8. David... (open for interpretation) So let's get this year off to a good start, shall we? <3