We got back last night from spending five nights in northern Bavaria, in the Franconia region. Jenny had to work most of the week with Siemens in the town of Forchheim. Since my German classes are over I got to trail along. While that meant I spent the first three days working on my computer in the hotel room instead of in the apartment, we also managed some fun tourism over the weekend.
Although I was there for three days, I didn’t see that much of Forchheim. It’s an old German city that just celebrated its 1200-year anniversary, but it’s more known these days as a Siemens company town. I probably should have found the time to visit the castle, but instead I stayed in the hotel room, working on my Master’s Degree project and enjoying wireless internet access. I managed to venture out every day for lunch and dinner, including unexpected Mexican and Romanian dinners. Of course, there was also plenty of pizza and ice cream. The best meal of the week was a traditional Franconian dinner in an old converted water mill; large pork steaks with interesting flavors and good wine.
I will probably blog separately about this later, but it has been interesting to watch the political process in Germany work in the run-up to next Sunday’s national elections. My German isn’t strong enough to follow everything in the papers, but I pick up a lot from occasional TV ads (much less frequent than in America) and from billboards. Unlike in America, German parties use billboards and posters everywhere. Sometimes they just have a name and picture of a local candidate, sometimes they advertise uplifting party slogans, and sometimes they attack the other parties. There a few, however, that catch the eyes, like this one for the Green Party we saw in Forchheim (the text says “Yes to healthy food, Yes to the Greens):
On Saturday, we decided to head East to an area about which our guide books say nothing: Franconian Switzerland. Basically, there was a spur rail line from Forchheim to the small town of Ebermannstadt, and we decided that anywhere with rail service in an area named after Switzerland was probably worth checking out.
Ebermannstadt is a small town, and its tourist offices are closed on Saturday, so we had to make up our plan on our own. We wandered around the city center for a while, seeing some cute fountains and an old functioning waterwheel. Then, we decided to go for a hike. I’m not a big hiker, but it wasn’t very hot, and the hills above the valley looked inviting.
Unfortunately, it was an overcast and hazy day, so we didn’t get any great pictures of the valley. However, it was fun to get out and get some good exercise.
After that, we returned to the town and had a fantastic late lunch. My smoked trout with horseradish was the best non-fried trout I’d ever had, and the accompanying smoked beer (with an aftertaste of bacon), was perfect.
On Sunday, we headed to Nuremberg. Jenny and I had each been there on separate trips, but we wanted to go there together. Additionally, we were flying back to Hamburg from the Nuremberg airport, so it made sense. We didn’t really do anything special while there. For the most part, we just followed the walking tour recommended by Lonely Planet and acted like the tourists we were. I found Nuremberg much more interesting than I had on my previous trip in 1997 (when I granted it barely a sentence in an email). It has a huge and interesting castle, some interesting statues, sculptures and fountains, and really good bratwurst.\