Summer

st. nicholas day & hangin’ in nuremberg

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from what i can recall from my travels around germany in 2007, nuremberg (nürnberg) had the king of christmas markets; topping many a list. not only is the setting gorgeous and the stalls seemingly unending, but they are famous for both their glühwein and their lebkuchen (gingerbread). i knew alex had to see this! 

i mean, germany is soooo close… and yet, so far. although it would take about one hour by car (or less) if one drove directly west of budějovice to get to eastern bavaria, the public transport connections usually straight up suck. even after twenty five years since the fall of the iron curtain, the infrastructure and need for frequent connections to austria and germany are not as built up as you’d assume because of the proximity. train connections are alright, but bus (which, if you’ve been traveling around europe in the past few years is “the new train”) connections are sparse.

while no czech bus companies travel frequently between plzěn and nuremberg, thanks to trusty meinfernbus, you can sometimes find a good, absolutely direct connection! so that’s where we were off to last weekend… finally to fit in some good german christmas market-ing. 

as i hopefully and naively planned only thirty minutes to get from the train in plzěn to our bus leaving to nuremberg, the usually punctual train to plzěn became delayed last friday night; first ten, then fifteen, then twenty, until it reached thirty minutes and we threw up our hands: "welp, there goes going to nuremberg tonight.” however when our lovely landlords got wind that our train plan had been foiled, they offered to drive us to plzěn (two hour drive) on a rainy, dark, december friday night. and for that, i am so grateful. really, i have to say that the support from our peeps here in budějovice is basically the reason we are here! everyone is so wonderful to us.

it was my first time in germany in wayyyyy too long (ok, only about a year and a few months) but it was high-time we returned! we spent over eight hours wandering the city center of nuremberg last saturday, which is exactly what i wanted to do: wander + enjoy the christmas markets.

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so much music in the lively city center! rarely do i remember seeing so many buskers in a city like this. i’m not sure which were more lovely: the talented buskers or all of the musicians who took the stage at the christmas market!

later in the afternoon, we decided it was time for some festive christmas beverage, so we went over to try a feuerzangenbowle, a drink which i had heard much about. essentially, this is germany’s version of punč (punch) and quite a strong one at that. judging from the rowdy crowd huddling around the stall and the somewhat pungent aroma of the drink, i was a bit apprehensive. but oh, that feuerzangenbowle! i am a new convert.

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although punč

reigns supreme in czechland, it is still clear that germany is still generally all about the glühwein, which comes in a variety of flavors. it’s rare that you will ever just find a normal “original glühwein” flavor in nuremberg!

another fun thing to do: ride on the stage coach run by the german post… a horse-drawn carriage that seats nine people and makes a short little stadtrundfahrt around the city center! i’m always dreaming about an opportunity to some day ride in a horse-drawn carriage on a wintery day, and at only €4/person, it’s a really affordable way to do so! i kept stalking it whenever i noticed it passing by so i could find out where to board, hah. answer: near the rathaus!

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i didn’t exactly plan it like this, but it was a pleasant surprise that we ended up being in germany for st. nikolaus day. as this day (december 6th) has fallen on weekdays the past few years (where i went to the square to see the angel, the budějovice tradition), it was so fun to experience a bit of the german st. nikolaus day! in the morning, we went to the breakfast table at our pension to find an adorable display of a st. nikolaus chocolate figure in a stocking… but it got better as our fellow guest we befriended, a kindly eighty year-old german woman from münster, came out to serenade us with a st. nikolaus song and chocolates. pretty magical– it felt like christmas morning had come early!

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i just have to say: i was so thankful for this trip, even though it was just a couple days away. it epitomizes why i love living in europe. also, thankful to be basically subsisting on lebkuchen and chocolates and surviving.

do you celebrate st. nicholas day? if so, how?

linking up for travel tuesday

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