Neeraj & Deepti are really good couple friend of ours that moved to London the same time as we did. Having them around has been really amazing and we've become closer as friends with our shared interests of board gaming, traveling and chilling out drinking Masala Chai late at night playing Poker. On one such night we decided that for each our birthdays we would travel to a different city and celebrate becoming one year old (wiser?) together.
It was Shankar's champaign birthday (29 years old on the 29th of July) and we all decided to go to Nuremberg, Germany for the weekend. I told a colleague of mine who is German that we were headed to Nuremberg and he couldn't understand why - as according to him there's nothing much the town has to offer. We decided to go regardless as we love exploring off-beat towns and well... the tickets were £25 pounds return from London! (Pro tip: Never search or book your holidays over the weekend, wait till Monday or Tuesday book your flight tickets)
We weren't expecting much, but to our surprise Nuremberg had a lot to offer with its rich history and culture.
Nuremberg has a long complex history. It was Adolf Hitler's favourite city seeing it as the most "German of all German cities". The city and its residents paid a hefty price for Nazi Germany's obsession with city. Despite its dark past, Nuremberg has a quaint experience.
We were living just outside the old town (about 20 mins walk) in a very lovely AirBnb home. You could possibly stay in the heart of Old Town to experience the town culture but you may have to compromise on the price. We didn't mind the walk as it gave us a chance to walk and explore the outskirts of the city.
We started our weekend in Nuremberg with a walking tour. Walking tours are a really great way to soak in the culture of the city and meet new people. Our tour guide was a lovely young guy who was clearly passionate about his city.
We met him at the Schöner Brunnen (a restored replica of a 14th century Gothic fountain). Legend has it that, there's a small ring somewhere in the fountain and if you can find it, you must twist it around three times for good luck! Being at the heart of Old Town with loads of tourists, the ring isn't that hard to spot! In fact they have now added an additional more visible ring on the other side of the fountain - especially for tourists!
We also saw the Altstadt & St. Lorenz Church in Old Town. Make sure you watch the Altstadt clock strike midday!
That weekend in July marked Nuremberg's largest annual world-music festival called Bardentreffen. Every year for a weekend in July, approximately 200,000 people flock to Nuremberg for free concerts over the 2 day period. The city is alive and buzzing with street musicians at every corner and small pop up concert stages. The middle of the town centre is cordoned off for a huge concert stage with food-market stalls lining up all around the make-shift concert area. Its an epic atmosphere and we'd highly recommend visiting Nuremberg during this weekend for an extra city buzz.
Unfortunately though, over the sound-checks and all the buzzing craze all around us, we couldn't really hear our tour guide. We quickly lost interest and decided to wander off on our own for the remainder of the day. Another reason why we wanted to leave our tour half way was because secretly, Neeraj, Deepti & I were planning a surprise for Shankar for his birthday! Our close friends, Sabinesh and Natalia (and Devshri visiting from Sydney) were coming up from Munich to celebrate Shankar's birthday!
We went for lunch at a very lovely restaurant just at the foothills of the Kaiserburg Castle.
(Definitely worth going up the castle and exploring the grounds. The view from up the castle tower is absolutely stunning as you overlook the entire city)
As we sat at the restaurant, Shankar had no idea about his surprise as our friends walked in with party hats singing the birthday song! :) We all had a great time and were excited to spend the day together :)
After lunch, we explored the Handwerkerhof area - an absolute step back in time. Situated just outside Old Town, but still in the city, it is the Handicraft market. Beautiful cobbled courtyard housing with a variety of traditional craft workshops selling handmade pottery, glass and crafts. The atmosphere is very authentic. There's also a few places to eat serving typical German food. Highly recommend!
Before dinner, we took a stroll around the city and lazed around on the "Love Island".
In the middle of River Pegnitz, "Liebesinsel" or Love Island, is the perfect spot to take a break, enjoy a cuppa or an ice cream, read a book and soak in the sun! We ended up playing cards and chilling out together, catching up on stories since we hadn't seen each other in a few months!
Saturday night ended with bidding goodbye to our friends from Munich. Shankar had a great birthday and it was so good to spend time with our friends again!
On Sunday, we visited the Nazi Party Rally grounds and the Documentation Centre. This city has a dreadful burden of history to bear, but it bears it honestly and well. Its hard to describe the emotions you feel when you are at this museum. It focuses on the history of the Nazi party rallies where mass gatherings were used by National Socialists propaganda for demonstrating to Germany the model of the "perfect national community"
I am fascinated by the World War II period and I really appreciated my visit here. The museum is quite large and you could easily spend half a day going in it. It is outside the main city centre - well outside the touristy Old Town so public transport isn't the greatest. We took a taxi here (approx 15 euros) and a bus (approx 4 euros each) back to Old Town.
Back in Old Town, we spend the rest of our night strolling across, checking out some of the concert and enjoying some street food.
We took an early morning flight home on Monday and went straight to work from the airport!
:) Ah.. the life of weekend travellers!
All in all, Shankar had a great time for his birthday and all of us got a new city to explore! Double win :)