Ich Liebe Nurnberg! (I Love Nuremberg)

Trip Start Aug 12, 2010
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Trip End Sep 17, 2010


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Flag of Germany  , Bavaria,
Monday, August 16, 2010

08.16

Arrived by train in Nurnberg. Directions I printed from the hostel said "cross street from main station, turn left, and walk along old city wall." Well they really meant old city wall! The altstadt (old town) is surrounded by the medieval city wall and a moat, and at the far north end is the castle nurnberg! Exiting the main station facing north the first thing that strikes you is a huge defensive tower along the wall guarding one of the main entrances to the old town (one of about eight towers still guarding the perimeter). Our hostel is just inside the walls of the altstadt.
 
When we get to our hostel, the man behind the counter (who looks kinda like "comic book guy" character from The Simpsons......just google it..lol) is wearing a t-shirt that says "Nurnberg:  Proudly avoiding bombs since 1945". I had to laugh at that, .... and almost bought one of those shirts. 

After check-in we walked thru the center of old town to find some food, and just behind the hostel walked past a monument that consisted of several tall white marble pillars in a single row stretching maybe fifty yards down the middle of a street. Each pillar was carved in several languages, and when we got to the end there was a large white marble arch carved with the date and "U.N." We realized it was commemorating the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the writing on each pillar was each article of the declaration. 

Back at the hostel we planned out our sightseeing for tomorrow, and met some new people in the hostel common room (my new favorite thing to do.) There's a couple (23 / 24 y/o) who've been traveling for 10 months! So no more complaints about how long I've been gone, ok?? 

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08.17

Day 2---we got up early and took the SBahn (metro) to the Former Nazi Party Rally Grounds, just a few stops away. This was incredible. The complex consisted of several buildings, forum, and fields, but the main building that remains is the Kongresshall (sp?) that now contains a museum. The Nazi architecture was designed to be reminicent of Greek and Roman structures; intimidating, awe-inspiring, massive displays of the power and strength of the Third Reich. When part of the building was redisigned as a museum, the new architect constructed a massive walkway of steel and glass penetrating like a stake right through the center of this massive stone and brick structure, symbolically piercing the heart of the old symbol of Nazi might. 

The museum itself was incredibly moving. An audio tour provided with admission walked us through 15-20 rooms with exhibits and videos showing the rise of Hitler and the NSDAP. It explained how everything the party did was to subjugate the individual to the group, and create a cult of Hitler wherein he was a larger-than-life figure above questioning in people's minds. 

The remaining bulk of the exhibit was dedicated to the history of the Rally Grounds in Nurnberg, and how the city became the stronghold of the party loyalty. The grounds were constructed with a wide 2km street for the parading soldiers to march past. The street, (the Grosse Strasse, "Great Street"), was lined up with the medieval Castle Nurnberg, symbolically linking the history of Germany with the future of the Nazi Party, (like I said, everything was done for a specific reason). The whole experience was very intense for me, as I walked down the middle of the street I'd seen in so many propaganda films and newsreel footage of thousands of Nazi soldiers on parade. 

Halfway down the Grosse Strasse we turned left towards the Zeppelin Field (like a blimp, not the band). This must have been an incredible sight at one time. The huge rectangular stadium has large stone structures at intervals that resemble square pillbox bunkers. During rallies they would have had enormous red banners with the Nazi swastika on each of these bunkers, and giant torch-like fires for light. At one end was the Fuerer's viewing box and speaking platform. There also would have been large anti-aircraft lights around the perimeter shooting columns of light straight into the sky, creating what must have been a very impressive and intimidating sight. 

The party used this field (before the war) for the staging of mock battle scenarios for the public, showing not only the might of the German military forces, but also preparing the minds of the people for war. 

........

Once we got back, we walked around the old town taking in the sights. All the way at the north end of town we found the castle and had lunch in a restaurant built inside the brick walls of the medieval fortification. We spent an hour or two at the castle walking around, then back down the hill to St. Sebalds Cathedral, the old town hall, St. Lawrence Church, the Hospital of the Holy Spirit, and the Dürer haus. Right in the middle of the town is the "hangmans bridge", which spans the river running through the middle of old town. This covered bridge and tower is where the town hangman lived. In a square near the St. Lawrence Church is a large fountain that has a small brass ring that spins in the fence that surrounds it. Legend says youre supposed to spin the ring three times for luck.

Our last stop of the night was Courtroom 600--the courtroom where the infamous Nuremburg Trials were held after the war. We had to take a short train ride from old town to reach it. When we reached the spot, we found no plaque to commemorate this event. The whole building was closed for renovations, so we couldnt go inside either. The only indication we were in the right place was the address we had in the guidebook..  oh well. It was still like being a part of history just to stand near some of these places.

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We left Nurnberg on a late train tuesday to Prague. After two hours or so we had to get off and change trains in Hof, Germany. We got to Hof about 1am, the connecting train to Dresden didnt leave until almost 5am..... and (heres the fun part) the Hof train station was closed! Yeah. Well Hof is not a terribly active town at one in the morning: there was nothing open, and no one on the streets, but we were told of a bar that (allegedly) was open 24 hours. So off we went. Into the night. (But hey, it could be worse. It could be raining! .... Oh wait.. it WAS raining.) So three of us trekked off in search of this bar..Desi, me, and another poor soul stranded waiting for the same train. We eventually got separated from the other guy when he tried left and we tried right...and he was never heard from again. We should probably send someone to look for him..

Well we gave up after about an hour wandering the lonely streets of Hof and went back through the twisting and turning streets to find the station. We met two more men heading our way from the station in search of the bar and told them we had no luck, so we all went back to the station together. One was a Tunisian, who spoke broken English, Arabic, and Italian. We were able to talk to him in a mixture of Spanish, German, and English, and whatever Italian phrases I could remember from The Godfather..(unfortunately, those phrases arent exactly polite conversation starters.) The other man, a drunk German, spoke a little more English than the Arab, but all he wanted to talk about was how lovely his hometown Leipzig is, and how we should come visit it instead of going to Dresden..

Well the train finally came, much to our relief, and we pressed on towards Prague, arriving in the early afternoon on the 18th.
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Comments

Dad on

Awesome details to your writing! makes me feel like I'm there....Keep journaling so we don't miss a single thing along the way! Love Dad

Ltax on

Hi Chris, Wow! it sounds like you guys are having an adventure. Everything you describe makes me feel like I am there "I wish I was" Your mom and dad are staying in touch with and letting know how you guys are doing. (Thanks guys!) Of course I have to ask you to say hi! to Desi and let her know I am happy you are having fun and miss her. Well, hope you start feeling better and you guys still have a long time before you come home. Five weeks is a long time for us parents :) Chris have Desi start writing in her blog....and we need pictures. Take care and enjoy every minute of it! Wait Melissa says Hello!

Auntie Carol on

Hi Chris,

It sound like you and Desi are having wonderful adventures. Loved your commentary about the train station being closed. That happened to us in Bermuda, only the airport was closed, and thank goodness it wasn't raining. Did you both at least pack umbrellas? Wow, I looked at the photo of you on the Hangman's Bridge. You look exactly like your dad in that pose. Keep up the great blogs. I'm really enjoying YOUR trip to Europe. Have fun, stay well and safe. Love, Auntie Carol

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