Christmas and the month of December are a long way behind us now, but with this wintery weather upon us, it’s time to blog about my time spent visiting friends in Nuremberg (I’ll use the English spelling for locations in this post), Germany. It would be a five-day adventure consisting of bus and train journeys, snow, a football match, “Drei im Weckla” and “Lebkuchen”.
My journey began on a Friday afternoon, flying from Gatwick. I arrived in Munich at 16:00. Munich airport had its own Christmas market, but what was to come later in the trip was 100x more amazing! At 18:00 I took a 2 hour FlixBus journey to Nuremberg. Where I was met by my friend who I would be staying with. Sabina. At this point the temperature was hovering just above 0°. No snow, yet. When we arrived back at Sabina’s house at around 21:00, just outside the town of Neumarkt, we had a coffee and a catch up, before a well-earned sleep with a busy Saturday ahead.
When I woke on Saturday morning, I looked out the window. We’d had a light dusting of snow, nothing compared to the downfall we’d receive the next day. Whenever I have spent holidays with Sabina, I’ve always looked forward to her breakfasts. It was a table full of meats, cheeses, spreads and fruit. The bread they have in Germany is so tasty. My favourite was the Pumpernickel, made with 100% rye. No wheat flour at all!
Next on the agenda for Saturday was off to see FC Nürnberg play. Sabina’s daughter Rebecca and her boyfriend Christian were to take me. Football games in Germany kick off at 13:00 in the winter, so naturally I was late getting ready. FC Nürnberg’s stadium is literally next door to the Reichesparteigelande, the old Nazi party rally grounds. We didn’t visit this as the weather wasn’t pleasant and Rebecca suggested it was more suited to a summer itinerary.
The match was great, despite the -1° conditions! The German football fans really know how to create an atmosphere. At half time we enjoyed a fruity mulled wine which was greatly needed on a chilly day. Eventually FC Nürnberg got a well deserved goal late on, going on to win 1-0! A much better result than when I took Christian to see the team I support, Plymouth, lose 0-3!
That evening, I would part company with Rebecca and Christian, who had plans to see a friend perform in a play. Sabina was to take me to the nearby town of Neumarkt, to experience my first taste of a German Christmas market. Although it’s not as big as the Nuremberg market, it had a cosy, traditional feel to it. This would also be my first experience in trying a true Bratwurst, which on a cold winters evening was just what I needed. I think I even went back for a second! Sabina showed me around the market, telling me all about the stalls that were selling handmade produce and the good causes they were raising money for. Foods, tree decorations and cute little bird tables were among the choices. Everyone in attendance seemed to be laughing and smiling, and I couldn’t help but join them.
The atmosphere surrounding the market was infectious and emitted festive cheer. Not knowing at the time what to expect from the Nuremberg market, this one was the perfect warm up for the madness to follow!
Opening the curtains on Sunday morning, it was to be another crisp, hat and scarf day. Secretly wishing for snow like the big kid I am, I didn’t realise the extent to which snow can just appear in this region of Germany. The day began again with another fabulous breakfast selection from Sabina. I could seriously get used to this! Today Sabina wanted to take me to Regensburg, home to the cathedral of St Peter and a city in which the river Danube flows through.
Architectural accomplishments aren’t usually on the top of my lists when visiting new places. But I can honestly say that Regensburg has some absolutely stunning buildings. The cathedral of St Peter was breathtaking inside and out.
Of course, Regensburg had a Christmas market. More mulled wine was consumed, along with a wild boar burger with cranberry sauce. Amazing! One of the highlights from my trip to Regensburg is when we stumbled across a pair of festive buskers at the Christmas market. Get these two on Germany’s got talent because they would go far!
On the way back from Regensburg, the snow came. By the time we arrived back at Sabina’s house, it was at least 4 inches deep. In Germany it is against the law to drive on roads covered in snow, ice or slush without appropriate tyre’s capable of driving in conditions such as these. The rule applies from October to Easter.
On the way back to Sabina’s, we stopped off to pick up Christian. By this time the snow was causing trouble for some drivers. One even span out in-front of us on a roundabout. That evening we were all going to the Nuremberg Christmas market. Known to locals as ‘Christkindlesmark’. We would be taking the train, and meeting Rebecca there after she’d finished at University.
In this region of Germany and a selection of other European countries, they do not celebrate the figure of “Santa Claus”. It is the ‘Christkind’, meaning Christ Child.
“Why does the Christkind exist if we already have Santa Claus?” I hear you ask!
In short: Santa Claus originated as a Catholic figure. The Christkind was created by Protestants.
The Cristkind is transformed from the suggestion of Baby Jesus, into a blonde angel. In Nuremberg each year, a teenage girl is chosen to represent the Christkind in the weeks leading up to Christmas. In Nuremberg, she is known as the Nürnburger Christkind and, much like with St Nicholas (Father Christmas), children take pictures with her and tell her what presents they would like. This has been a tradition since 1969.
It really doesn’t matter what age you are, or even if you’re a Grinch at Christmas. I don’t believe that you can not feel an overwhelming sense of magic. You were surrounded by Christmas tradition everywhere you looked.
Now to go over a few of my absolute favourite things from the Christkindlmarkt. Firstly, the tree decorations. I’m one for tradition when it comes to Christmas, and the Nutcracker isn’t very big in England, so couldn’t resist getting a Nutcracker soldier tree decoration and freestanding figure for beneath the tree.
Secondly, Lebkuchen. This is a sweet gingerbread flavoured cookie that hails from Nuremberg. I honestly could have eaten these all evening, every evening. They are only available over the festive period, so I made sure I had my fill.
Thirdly, another food item. You can see where my priorities are. “Drei im weckla”. Which translates to “three in a role”.
This extremely tasty signature sausage of Nuremberg, which includes peppercorns, spiced garlic and marjoram, has been awarded the European Union’s highest cultural food honour: Protected Geographical Indication. Meaning they can only ever truly be made in the city of Nuremberg.
After consuming all that the market had to offer, we parted company with Christian and Rebecca and headed back home. A truly wonderful evening, which was to be repeated all over again the next day.
Monday was to be my last full day in Nuremberg before I headed back to Munich for my flight home. Today Rebecca had kindly taken time from University to show me around the city.
What better way to take a break from all the exploring, than at a cat cafe! These 6 little cuties played and slept whilst Rebecca and I had a drink. Not sure Paula wanted me to stroke her, regardless, I was having a great time!
After recovering our energy, Rebecca took me to the Nuremberg castle. It’s a good job we had a break, because the hill was steep. But the views at the end were well worth the climb!
After the castle visit, we made our way down the hill towards the Christmas market, for more food and Christmas present shopping! In the market square stands the Schönner Brunnen (beautiful fountain), one of Nuremberg’s many famous fountains. On the railing surrounding the fountain lives a golden ring, which is said to bring you good luck if you turn it three times anti-clockwise. So of course, that’s what I did.
For dinner that evening, Rebecca took me to a lovely little restaurant that served food famous from this region of Germany. It was so tasty, beef with dumplings and red cabbage. Washed down with a dark German beer. Then came my last wander around the Christkindlsmarkt, of which I’ll definitely be returning.
So came my last day of my ‘German Christmas Adventure’. Ahead of me this morning was a two-hour bus journey to Munich, where I’d spend the day exploring before my flight. Munich, of course, had a christmas market. But it wasn’t the same. It was so much more commercialised. The food however, was still yummy! Munich didn’t disappoint and turned out to be a very pretty and interesting city, including a shop that sold awesome cuckoo clocks.
My time in Germany was now over, after spending four days being shown all things Christmas in Nuremberg and surrounding areas in Bavaria. I would definitely recommend a visit to Nuremberg, even if it’s not over the festive period.
Thanks Sabina, Rebecca and Christian. Can’t wait to share a Lebkuchen with you again!
If you enjoyed this post and now want to check out what all the fuss is about in Germany at Christmas, leave a like. Any questions? Comment below!
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“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sailaway from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain
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