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 (bahn.de) 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 Bahn.de, 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.