Friday, July 31, 2009


Sue and Audrey and I took the train from Berlin to Nürnberg, a 4.5 hr ride at speeds up to 200 km/hour. Nice German high-speed trains...From the north into the gradually hillier countryside down south to Bavaria.

Nürnberg is called the "Germanist of German cities," which is also why the Nazis loved it so much (this was the location of the big party rallies). It still has its historical old city wall and the old part of the city (Altstadt) within the wall is full of winding litle streets and medieval-style old buildlings. They are mostly reconstructions, as 90% of the city was destroyed during the war. Only Dresden suffered worse damage.
Inside what would have been the moat of the old city wall:

Below: the Burg, the fortress up on top of the hill overlooking the city.

Below: Hauptmarkt, with its shiny fountain

--Food in Nürnberg--
Nürnberg is famous for its little sausages, they say in der Kürze liegt die Würze (the taste is in the small size), which are served three in a bun. Also famous for its gingerbread. Below is a bakery which also specializes in gingerbread: Bäckerei & Lebküchnerei (Bakery and Gingerbreadery).
Pfifferlinge (chantarelle mushrooms) are in season right now and on every restaurant's menu. Here are some mushrooms in a cream sauce served over Semmelklöße, a Bavarian kind of dumpling.
Picnic along the river running through the city:
Nürnberg sausages: Nürnberger
Audrey enjoying a local beer in a Biergarten


Nürnberg also has some great museums...Below is the German National Museum lit up at night. HUGE collection, really cool.
Sue and Audrey and I also visited the site of the former Nazi Party Grounds. They started having big rallies here in 1934, and Hitler had his favorite architect, Albert Speer, design more buildings, some which were never completed. Today they have a Documentation Center about the Nazi Party and Nürnberg (not a Holocaust or even a World War II museum, but an exhibit dedicated to how the party gained power).

Monday, July 27, 2009

Family visit, part two!

First stop of the morning: Breakfast in the neighborhood with the highest café density in Berlin... Käthe-Kollwitz-Platz... We ate at Café Anna BlumeBeautiful blooming breakfast: German bread and rolls with a stack of different meats, cheeses, fruit, spreads....mmmm...
Next stop: Bernauer Straße. When the wall went up, this street was divided in two. Neighbors across the street suddenly were unreachable, dividing the neighborhood into East and West. Today there is a documentation center with a lookout platform, and they reconstructed one part of what the "death strip" used to look like along the border to the East, the series of barricades they had to keep out people trying to flee (land mines, dogs, barbed wire, silent alarm signals, automatically-firing weapons).
If you look down you can see where the death strip was: still no houses there today.

Then we walked to Ku'damm, visited the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, and then walked along the Zoo, through the Tiergarten to the Siegessäule.
Memorial to the Soviet soldiers who died liberating the city of Berlin.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
Checkpoint Charlie
Audrey gets a hankering for some afternoon sweets... :)
Rotes Rathaus, "Sei Berlin!"

Walk along the East Side Gallery...
Oberbaumbrücke, a bridge which was closed to normal traffic during the Cold War because it connected East and West, Americans and Soviets exchanged spies here.
Sunset on the Spree

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Family visit!

Sue and Audrey arrive this afternoon in Berlin and the crazy capital city tour begins!
Sue having a Schnitzel for dinner...
Sue and Audrey partying it up in Berlin!
Hackische Höfe at night...pretty inner courtyards
Free coconut? Some guy gave us a free coconut. Strange, and delicious.
Amazing winner triathlete Audrey: "Biking makes happy"
Berliner Dom at night
Berliner Dom and the Spree
This one is for Derek: it's HUMBOLDT!!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Germany for Beginners

Today we went to an exhibit called "Deutschland für Anfänger," Germany for Beginners. It was really well done, a very hands-on, very colorful, mixed media exhibit. Not sure who the intended audience most of the information was in German with small bits translated for non-German speaking visitors... But it was great for graduate students who teach German 101 in the US. :)

Here are some highlights...

A for Arbeit, "work."

"B" is for Brauchtum, "customs," like the Tannenbaum, Karneval...

"C" is for Currywurst, a letter dedicated to all the different kinds of Wurst the Germans eat. Turns out they eat on average 2.6 kg of Bratwurst a year, 7.3 kg of Brühwurst.

"F" for Fußball, )note the cute little kids listening to some game!)

"G" for Gemütlichkeit, the kind of coziness in a German Biergarten, at home with family...

"H" for Humor, where they embraced the stereotype that Germans aren't funny... Although I thought this little thing of Kanzlerin Angela Merkel in a little red dish was pretty funny :)

And they also had jokes such as: "Q: What is the title of the shortest book in the world? A: One Thousand Years of German Humor."

"K" for Kindergarten!

"L" for Lorelei, the poem by Heinrich Heine which is named after a spot of cliffs along the Rhine, where, as the myth goes, sailors crashed to their deaths because of the singing of a woman combing her hair.

"O" for Ordnung, order, cleanliness and punctuality for which the Germans are so famous.

"S" for Sitten, which are customs, like etiquette...

Some examples they had:

1) Reserving your lawn chair with just a towel (we would probably do this too, right?)
2) Standing in Line is a Waste of Time (so true! Germans are totally bad at standing in line, rush to the front no matter how long they've been there!)
3) Staring Allowed (also true)
4) Not Introducing Third Parties (I didn't know about this, never noticed it)
5) Don't order tap water (I hate this in Germany, very annoying to have to always pay for water)
6) Sharing Tables (in restaurants or especially outdoor cafés sometimes you share the table with strangers right next to you)
7) Du or Sie? (The two forms of "you" are hard for foreigners to get a grasp on)
8) Don't wait to be seated (go find your own table in restaurants, pick where you would like to sit and you'll be served)
9) Watch where you're going! (Or you will be run into or run over)

"U" is for Umwelt, environment. Cute little model of how the Germans separate their trash and how much waste a year that represents. They really do have all these colored bins for sorting their trash.