Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Other "Burg" towns: Regensburg, Bamberg, and Nuremberg

After all of our Sound of Music fun we really wanted to tack on a trip to the Lake District of Austria and to nearby Hallstatt and possibly even a summer luge run on one of the courses along the country roads. But alas, we again ran out of time. We probably could have used one more day in Austria. But I am writing it here so we can remember for next time!

Instead we turned back towards Germany. There were so many more lovely Bavarian German towns to leave a Willingham imprint upon! Specifically - Regensburg, Bamberg, and Nuremberg. That's a lot of "burgs"!!!

First up we went to Regensburg. This city is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe with 1500 landmarks in the city centre alone (Lonely Planet).

Regensburg is another gorgeous town fronted by the Danube River. It divides the city in half. On this day the sky beamed blue and it seemed the entire town was picnicking and catching rays.

I thought this mural of David and Goliath was classic and burst with character.

When was the last time you ate a radish? It has been way too long for me. I don't even know what the white veggie is on the other side of the carrots. But the produce was so colorful and fun.
After spending the afternoon in Regensburg we drove for dinner and an evening stroll through Bamberg, a Unesco World Heritage Site and another from the 1,000 Places Book. And because this book can describe it much better than I, I will quote their description of the town:

"Set like Rome on seven hills and justly known as one of the most beautiful small towns in all of Europe, Bamberg's magic is inextricably linked to its rich history as capital of the Holy Roman Empire under Heinrich II, the town's most famous son. A treasure chest of architecture of all periods encased within a city that is by no means a static museum piece, Bamberg is a lively joy to visit for its history, antique stores, and nine breweries. It's been called a beer drinker's Eden, producing more than thirty varieties, one of them (the smoky Rauchbier), first brewed in 1536. Even Munich can't match that. The wonderfully picturesque Altes Rathaus (town hall) must be one of Europe's most photographed: half-timbered, frescoed, and built on its own little island in the middle of the River Regnitz."We stumbled onto a street festival, which is such a common and fun way to celebrate Summer. But do you notice anything a little strange about this festival?
Here is a more obvious clue:We were quite surprised to see the Stars and Stripes waving all over in Bamberg. Made us miss home. There were people square dancing in the street and a mechanical bull in one corner. We learned that Bamberg celebrates different countries throughout the Summer and we just happened to hit America's salute. Not sure what I think about Germany's stereotype of USA in a nutshell being hoedowns and mechanical bull riding, but hey what can you say? Connor just loved the flags!

Kirk bought my birthday present in Bamberg....a lovely brown hat with a pink bow. The lip on one side is lined with grosgrain ribbon and flips out with a stylish curve. I love it and made outfit plans to wear it to the French Open in a few days (stay tuned for future blog post). Connor also loved my new hat.It was still asparagus season and the white stalks that abound here are so mysterious to me. I mean, who really likes white asparagus? Blak!
Another stunning example of a Baroque church!
We strolled all over Bamberg in the cool of the setting sun and loved it. It was just busy enough on a Saturday Summer night without being overly crowded. We headed to Wirtshaus zum Schlenkerla beer house, supposedly a local legend. The half-timbered exterior was cute as could be. We celebrated our last night in Germany by splitting an order of German sausages. I highly recommend Bamberg if you are ever in Bavaria!We overnighted in Nuremberg. The next morning before packing up and heading home to Brussels we did a self-guided walking tour of Nuremberg. Another gorgeous city popping with character and charm. Before we went there the only thing I could think of when someone mentioned Nuremberg was Hitler and the famous Nazi trials. But the city really is so much more than that. There is a world-renowned Christmas market and the centre is chocked full of unique and interesting sites. Just take this fountain for example, The Fountain of the Seven Virtues. Bet you would be hard pressed to find another quite like it anywhere else!We did drive by both the courthouse where the Nuremberg Trials took place as well as the Nazi Rally Grounds, but to me the city deserves a new I prefer to remember it more like this:That wraps up our tour of Germany and Austria. We drove to Brussels full of Bavaria, beer, and strudel! For Connor and me, we had not been back home since before leaving for Provence, so we were especially ready to return. Nothing like sleeping in your own bed/crib! But the trip was full of sweet memories and quality time together. A great road trip any way you look at it!
Click here for complete collection of photos from Germany and Austria (full album)

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