Day 3, 2009: A City Tour
I woke up at 2:30am with the songs from the choir concert and German voices running through my head. Swear I was about to go insane at one point. My group and I met at the Box at 7:45am to go on a tour of Nürnberg with Herr Birkelbach. Herr Reynolds, our American chaperone, was nowhere to be seen. Since neither chaperone had shown up by 8am, we decided to explore the city on our own. A small group of us headed back after 15-20 minutes of exploring–after all, we didn’t know the city at all and wouldn’t be able to get back if we got lost. Everyone was present at 9:15am and we were finally able to start our tour!
Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg was the first part of our tour. I think it’s wonderful how college tuition in Germany is free. All you have to pay for is room & board, but even that’s not too expensive. We also passed by the House of Tucher. The Tuchers were one of the richest families in Germany because of all the breweries they owned. They bought up all the land outside of the Nürnberger Wall (Nuremberg City wall) at insanely low prices through insider trading. Apparently quite the scandal at the time.
Herr Birkelbach also explained to us how German license plates work: basically the bigger the city, the shorter the abbreviation. For example, Nürnberg’s is just “N” but Roßtal’s would be “Roß”. The blue part of the license plate tells you which country the car is from, so D = Deutschland, S = Spanien, F = Frankenreich (France)…usw (“und so weiter”, the equivalent of etc.). There’s also a little clock sticker that tells you when you have to take the car back to be checked.
We also went to the Kaiserburg, an ancient castle where all the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation lived between 1050 and 1571. The climb up the cobblestones was steeper than I wanted it to be. On the way up, we stopped by the dried moat and Herr Birkelbach told us the story of a man who was sentenced to death but given one last wish. His last wish was to ride his horse one more time. Once he was on the horse, the two of them jumped over the moat and city wall; his horse left hoof print on the wall. We all rubbed it for luck! Up in the towers of the castle are shafts where soldiers could shoot arrows from any angle when the castle was under siege. It’s presently used by the people who work at the castle to shoot spit balls at tourists (HAHA).
Our tour led us across the Pegnitz River, which runs through the city. We then went into the St. Lorenzkirche, a medieval church dedicated to Saint Lawrence. No pictures were allowed, unfortunately! Also short stops on our tour were the Frauenkirche (Our Lady’s Church) and Bauermarkt (farmer’s market). The Bauermarkt was enormous! Took up the entire square in front of the Frauenkirche; a sea of red-and-white-striped tents. Fresh fruit everywhere~.
The last official stop on the tour was the Schönbrünn (Beautiful Fountain). Welded through the gaps in the fencing around the fountain is a bronze ring–legend says if you spin it twice, you’ll find success in love! The backstory of the ring began with a young blacksmith’s apprentice who fell in love with the mayor’s daughter. The mayor exiled the apprentice because he thought his daughter was too good for him. Yet the apprentice returned in the shade of night and welded the ring to prove his worthiness as blacksmith. The lovers eloped soon after. There are currently two rings on the fountain, but only one is real.
We had free time after seeing the Schönbrünn to visit the area nearby and were given an allowance. Game changer. Each of us were given €25 to spend on anything we wanted to. I didn’t have time to buy any souvenirs or visit the Frauenkirche in the time given. Something more important was to happen: we were to meet the mayor of Nürnberg at the Rathaus (city hall, literally means “Advice House”). It was such a nice reception! There were drinks and large plates of Belegtebrot (slices of bread with meat & cheese on it). The mayor welcomed us to Nürnberg, and someone from each of the American groups (there were 5) had to go up to talk a bit to show our appreciation for the sponsorship provided.
When my Gastmutter picked me up afterwards, we went home for some delicious tomato/bell pepper ragout she had made for lunch. Happy belly. Then we went to Charlotte’s graduation ceremony. German graduation ceremonies all start with church service, or Gottesdienst. It was held at the Frauenkirche; there was a short sermon, and some worship and prayer. The reception was back at the Rathaus, where I tried some Sekt (Champagne). Didn’t like it too much, so I stuck with apple cider.
Also met Clara’s grandparents, who were sweet. I fell asleep during the ceremony because there were way too many speeches, and the 5 hour walking tour had wiped me out…It was a cute scene when all the students gave presents to their teachers and finally received their Abitur. Charlotte got a €1,000 Stipendium (scholarship money) because she received one of the top grades in her class. Yay!
My Gastfamilie (host family) and I then went to the Schießhaus, a restaurant where there was a huge buffet and party for all the graduating students and their families. There wasn’t any vegetarian food 😦 other than dessert and fruit. Really delicious though. And I finally got to meet Konrad, my Gastbruder (host brother)! He’s about 3-4 years older than Charlotte (I think?).