Last week I returned from my first trip of the year to mainland Europe. I spent six busy days in Germany, though it would be more correct to say that I spent it in Bayern (or Bavaria as it’s known in English). My previous visit to Deutschland was last summer when I attended the wedding of my friend Christian and his wife Ria. The main reason for my visit this time was to attend a double birthday celebration in Nuremberg for both Christian and Ria who were born 24 hours apart in 1980. I was also invited to a double going-away party in Erlangen, and I spent a lovely evening with Katrin and Alex in Bamberg and also with Sabine in Augsberg. Here are some words, pictures and music about my visit
I was picked up by my regular taxi driver Dennis at 5.00am on the first day of my trip and made it in plenty of time to get my 6.30 flight from Shannon to Stansted. After a few hours there I got a midday flight to an airport that is advertised by Ryanair as being in West Munich. Of course, as anyone who travels to out-of-the-way places with Ryanair knows, the airport is actually a hundred kilometres south of Munich and is nearly in Austria. Nevertheless, a 90-minute bus trip (that included a taxi for a third of the journey) brought me to Augsberg where I had time to buy a Bayern ticket, a weisswurst and a bier for my trip to Nuremberg. The photo above was taken while I listened to Kraftwerk as I drank my beer on the train
I spent the first night eating, drinking and listening to music with Christian. I got to meet Ria again and also their little son Anton who was quite lively and made me feel very welcome. The next day Christian showed me around Nuremberg. Most of the city had been destroyed during World War II and had to be rebuilt after the war. As a result, it is not one of Germany’s most beautiful cities, but fortunately parts of the city have been preserved. The photos above were taken from Nuremberg Castle
Christian and I would have a busy day as we were on a mission to buy stuff for the next day’s party. We needed to pick up lots of glasses and a large pot and other things for the apartment and the many guests that would be arriving the next day. Anticipating that it would be thirsty work, Christian took me to a little beer house near the castle (pictured above) where I sampled a nice and refreshing German beer. This made it a lot easier to wander around the streets of Nuremberg looking for glasses to buy. When we got back we tried out the glass containers to make sure that would be suitable for the guests and that the beer was at the right temperature. Both the glasses and the beer passed with flying colours! Later that night, I left Christian, Ria and Anton alone as I went to Erlangen with another friend, Micha, and his girlfriend Steffi. A couple of work colleagues of his from Holland and Turkey were returning home and another colleague of his hosted a going-away part to which I was also invited. It was a brilliant party that involved much laughing, eating and drinking
I was a little bit the worse for wear the next day when I woke up back at Christian’s place. To be on the safe side, I decided to double-check that the glasses and beer were still up to standard. Satisfied, I met Micha and Steffi in the centre of Nuremberg where they showed me some more of the city, including Germany’s oldest bookshop (pictured above). After another beer, I bid farewell to Micha and Steffi and made it back to Christian’s where the double 30th was about to begin. Still worried about the glasses and beer, I tried another and, to my relief, they were still doing fine. About this time, the dozens of people attending the party started arriving. I had met many of them at the wedding the year before and all of the them seemed to remember me. Fortunately, I was able to remember many of them as well. Another nice evening was had and everybody seemed to be quite happy with the quality of the glasses and the temperature of the beer. I only managed to take one photo, which is the one below of about thirty pairs of shoes outside Christian’s door
A couple of dozen guests stayed at Christian’s apartment that night, so there was a lot of us there for breakfast the next morning. Amidst the weisswurst, the bretzels and the beer, Christian and another guy entertained us on guitar as we sang songs from the past, mostly from England and America, but also one or two from Ireland and even Germany. As the crowd began to dwindle, I too made my leave. I took the short ride to Bamberg where I was met at the train by my friend Katrin. I didn’t arrive empty-handed as I had remembered to bring the box of Barry’s Tea Gold Blend that she had requested. Back at her apartment, I met her boyfriend Alex again and had a nice cup of tea and some pastry. Katrin and Alex had spent time studying in Limerick and Galway respectively, so we talked about old times and I filled them in on what’s happening in Ireland at the moment. Later, we visited a lovely little restaurant where Katrin and Alex treated me to a nice meal and a few beers. More stimulating conversation followed and Katrin tried to get me to the train back to Nuremberg on time. As often happens, I missed my scheduled train but didn’t have too long to wait for the next one. Christian and Ria returned to work the next day, but we had breakfast first. Then I accompanied Ria and Anton to the park where there was a lake with some swans and loads of ducks swimming around. I also saw three mothers walking with hiking sticks and carrying their babies on their backs. Apparently, it’s the new thing in Nuremberg
I spent my last evening in Augsberg. I’ve been to Germany four times and on each occasion I’ve visited this town on a Monday. I met my Bosnian friend Sabine and she showed me Augsberg for the first time in a sober state. We had a nice meal at the Ratskeller where me met some funny Europeans and then we went on to the Irish bar. We took part in a pub quiz but were unsuccessful. I spotted the poster below outside the jacks that was advertising a record fair for the following week. I can’t imagine what delights were on offer there. I’m sure that a lot of the records would be in the English language with one or two in the German tongue. I’ve included some German-themed tunes in English and German below the poster. The selection begins with five German punk bands followed by a couple of newer tunes (thanks to this Football & Music post for the Toten Hosen tune). The next three are pretty well-known and then we have seven in the English language. The next five are covers and the set concludes with three drinking songs. I’d like to dedicate these songs to all my German friends who, yet again, made me feel very much at home in their country. Danke schön!