Stories from my life and travels as an American expat in Germany!

Nuremberg, Germany: A Long Weekend in Bavaria

Nuremberg, Germany: A Long Weekend in Bavaria

Nuremberg, like many German cities, was destroyed by bombs towards the end of WWII. Instead of being completely modernized, many of the medieval buildings were restored or recreated, including parts of the old city wall.

While these meticulously-restored buildings are spread throughout the city, the area with the highest concentration surrounds the Imperial Castle. This was our first stop after dropping off our luggage at our hotel.

Unfortunately, we arrived too late on our first day to justify visiting the castle museum. There’s still a lot to see on the grounds, though, including spectacular views of the city. The gardens were beautiful despite it being early October; I’m sure they’re even better in the Summer, when the flowers are in full bloom.

view nuremberg castle
View from the Imperial Castle

After walking around the city for a few hours, we went to Crazy Nate’s West Coast Mexican Restaurant for dinner. My husband was very excited to come back here; in fact, I think it might have been the only reason he suggested we go to Nuremberg in the first place.

I felt like I was back in America. Everyone was speaking English, from the two guys at the counter to the customers. True, some of them were speaking the Queen’s English, but if you just pretend they’re tourists visiting the States, you can hang on to that “I’m back home in the land of no health care but great tacos!” feeling.

Our food was delicious. The only thing that would have made mine better was some kind of vegan mock meat instead of smoked tofu. My husband loved all four of his tacos and he said the nachos he had last time were also amazing. They also have Jarritos (yay!), a few craft beers, and different salsas to choose from. And it’s real salsa, too! Not the weird pasta sauce “salsa” sold in German supermarkets.

If you have a craving for Tex-Mex while in Nuremberg, make sure you check out Crazy Nate’s West Coast Mexican.

After dinner, we took a late-night tour of the Felsengänge (rock-cut cellars) under Nuremberg.

In a group of about 10 people, our guide led us through a small section of the vast labyrinth of interconnected basements where the brewers of Nuremberg once stored their beer. Along the way, we were treated to a few spooky stories and historical facts. Some of us were given lanterns, but otherwise the tour was in complete darkness.

Nürnberger Felsengängen Dunkelführung

We had an excellent tour guide; he was equal parts entertaining and informative. Still, I think I would have preferred the daytime tour. Even though I had one of the lanterns, I could barely see anything. The lantern only lit up my immediate area, so I couldn’t see into any of the (numerous) caved-in sections. I personally think giving everyone small flashlights would be a better idea.

If you’re thinking about doing one of these tours, be warned: English tours are few and far between. In fact, according to my research (AKA a quick look at Trip Advisor) there may only be one English-language group tour per day. As for the dark tour, it’s only in German.

The next day, we stopped for coffee at Cafe in der 12, which is located in the Handwerkerhof. I was able to get a cappuccino with oat milk, and they even had a vegan breakfast spread for toast. It was surprisingly hard to find cafes in Nuremberg that offer plant-based milks, so this cafe was a great find.

Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds
Documentation Center at the Nazi Party Rally Grounds

After breakfast, we took the streetcar outside the city to the nazi party rally grounds. This is a large compound consisting of several unfinished nazi projects. Only the grandstand and Zeppelin Field were completed. Today, the columns of the grandstand are gone and the towers on either side have been lowered; yet, the area where Hitler’s podium used to be is still there. It’s pretty creepy to see other tourists taking smiling selfies in that exact location.

From the grandstand, you can see the old stands where people sat to watch the rallies, but it’s fenced off and the old seats are overgrown.

grandstand goldener Saal
The Grandstand

The museum (documentation center) is housed in the unfinished Congress Hall. Unfortunately, I can’t really recommend the museum. There are almost no historical artifacts. The entire exhibit consists of informational posters and the occasional short film. You can have the same experience, for free, by making good use of the Internet.

After lunch, my husband went back to the hotel to lie down for a while, as he’d caught a cold. I decided to walk around the city and then visit St. Lorenz. Although this Evangelical Lutheran church looks like it’s been standing for hundreds of years, it is one of the buildings that was restored post-war.

demon st lorenz
Statue on St. Lorenz

A sermon started ten minutes after I arrived. Normally, that would be my cue to leave. I still wanted to take some more pictures, though; so, I decided to stay. I’m glad I did.

The pastor who gave the sermon devoted his time to talking about climate change. Instead of suggesting we pray to God to make it all better, he said it was our duty to do something about it. I was genuinely surprised (and pleased) to hear a religious leader give that sort of talk.

The next day, we visited the Nuremberg’s modern art museum, the Neues Museum. Despite how often I go to modern art museums, I usually find most modern art…questionable. I don’t find anything profound in, say, someone recording themselves doing weird dances and playing it on a loop on an old TV: a “work of art” I’ve seen at least in at least 3 museums now, from 3 different artists.

The sculpture below, however, did speak to me. It is a commentary on how we commodify animals, treating sentient and feeling beings as though they only exist for our use. The piece is by Matthias Böhler and Christian Orendt. You can read more about it here.

animals commodity vegan

The Neues Museum also has an extensive collection of furniture and household items from the DDR. They have several chairs, vacuums, mixers, signs, and toys on display.

This museum is relatively small, but it’s still one of the better modern art museums I’ve visited. It’s also priced just right at around 7 Euro per person to see everything. If you’re under the age of 18, it’s free.

I wanted to do the tour of the jail under the Rathaus (city hall), but all of the tours were sold out by the time we arrived. In order to soothe my disappointment, my husband suggested we visit Katzentempel.

Katzentempel is a cat cafe that serves vegan food; I had wanted to go, but I wasn’t expecting to since my husband has a cat allergy. He did surprisingly well! Granted, it wasn’t possibly to tell which sneezes were cat-related and which were cold-related…

cat katzentempel nuremberg

The cafe is super cute and you can tell they really care about the kitties. The cats have tons of toys, places to sit in the window, and opportunities for them to escape grabby-handed kids.

As for the food, well…

My smoothie bowl was delicious (it’s hard to mess those up) but my pretzel was dry and hard; definitely a day or so old. My husband’s salad was pretty awful, to say the least; it consisted of a few huge pieces of lettuce, burnt (and unseasoned) smoked tofu, and a few sad-looking veggies.

The smoothie bowl I picked was the best-sounding option on the menu. Overall, the choices were kind of lame. I think the cook(s) at this cafe could really benefit from a trip (or two) to Berlin, to see what other vegan (and vegan-friendly) restaurants are serving.

On our way home, we took a slight detour to visit Mödlareuth, a town that was divided right down the middle between East and West Germany after WWII. We wanted to visit because we’ve been watching (and enjoying) a dramatized TV series about this town called Tannbach.

For just 3 Euros per person, you have access to three different exhibits and a short film about the town.

Mödlareuth east german guard tower

One of the exhibits is a section of the former wall. They left up a few other relics, including a guard tower and a bomb shelter. I saw a few people climb up into the guard tower, so I did as well. I realized later on that the bars I had difficulty getting around (which surround the opening after you climb up the ladder) were probably there to keep people from going completely inside.

Oops.

The second exhibit is mainly posters with information about the time period shortly before the wall came down, and travel to the Czech Republic was allowed. During this time, many Eastern Germans used this as an opportunity to try and get into Western Germany through the West German embassy in Prague. They also have a few artifacts from this time, including one of the mobile cooking station used to feed the East German refugees.

The third exhibit is in an old barn and contains around 20 or so vehicles used during that time, both by East Germany and the US army.

US army vehicle mödlareuth


Overall, we had fun in Nuremberg. If you can only visit one city in Germany, then my suggestion would be Berlin or Leipzig. If you’re doing a longer tour of Germany, then Nuremberg deserves a spot on your itinerary.

There’s plenty to do and see; we certainly weren’t able to visit everything. I would have liked to have visited the jail under the Rathaus, for example, as well as the castle museum. I think it would have also been fun to do a beer tasting at one of the breweries. Last but not least, Nuremberg is supposed to have the best Christmas market in Germany; so, make sure you check that out if you’re visiting Bavaria around Christmas!


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