To Franconia and Beyond

in which the end of Alisa’s and Michelle’s visit entails a weekend in Northern Franconia: in Bamberg, Würzburg, and Aschaffenburg. All of which takes place with an abundance of good German beer, lots of pleasant conversation, and plenty of Kaffee und Kuchen.

After a successful week in Nuremberg, the road called us onwards. For good reason: Alisa and Michelle would be flying out of Frankfurt, so it would be necessary for the pair of them to head in that general direction. And with this in mind, I planned a weekend of adventures in northern Franconia and thus picked out one city I had been to, and two that I had not.

We headed out on Friday morning to Bamberg, a city I visited back in October with Brittney, and honestly, one of Germany’s most beautiful cities. Absolutely stunning. Of course, there’s not really anything much to do there, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that the city is gorgeous. Our day started out wonderfully. I had to go out to run a quick errand (pick up a package sent to me by my mother–which ended up being so full of heart shaped things (and Love Actually!) that I wasn’t really sure what to make of it. Let’s just say I am not the biggest fan of Valentine’s Day–and being in a relationship does not change this fact), but after I returned, we set off and took the train to Bamberg.

The journey there had a lovely surprise–namely, the woman who sat near us on the train ended up offering us some advice and even treated us to a taxi into the city center, where she was headed. And after parting with her, we set off to enjoy the city. As I just said, the city is quite lovely, though there is admittedly little to do there. But we did the standard picture taking and wandered the streets. We went into the churches, enjoyed Kaffee und Kuchen, and had a generally lovely time.

"Little Venice," a section of Bamberg. Admittedly nicer with a blue sky, but that's predictable.

Being in generally good spirits and enjoying the company, we took great enjoyment out of small things, including, for example, this café/bar, which we did not go into.

Keeping it classy, Bamberg! Not only is this place called "Lewinsky," but they offer cocktails and beer to go. Amusing.

And this:

Graffiti: Study hard!

After the stunning success of our Potato Museum adventure in Munich, we decided to devote an hour to the promising sounding “Museum of Historical Office World and Communication,” which according to our free map “documents communication and office history from the beginnings to the present.” This turned out to be a little bit of a failure, as we were led around a small, private museum by a man who more or less maintained the collection of crap in memory of his father. If I could describe the experience in a single word, I think I would opt for “awkward.” And if allowed a second word, I would probably go for “super awkward.” Yeah. Pretty much. And I know awkward.

In the collection of the "Museum of Historical Office World and Communication"--the smallest book in the world, allegedly.

But whatever. As evening fell, we had a lovely dinner in a pub that served Bamberg’s famous smoked beers, which were enjoyed alongside hearty German food (a staple of Alisa’s, Michelle’s, and my travels). Delicious. Following a lovely dinner, we continued on to Würzburg, since we had a Bayern Ticket for the day, and checked into our hostel, where we would be staying two nights. But not before purchasing bread and garlic/herb butter to make гренки, fried bread, which was enjoyed with beer and a screening of High Fidelity in our hostel room. Wonderful.

Saturday was devoted to Würzburg, which proved to be quite a worthwhile stop. Following a quick breakfast, we headed over to the Residenz to see what their tour schedule was for the day. We discovered, to our delight, that there would be an English tour at 3 pm that afternoon, and we set out to explore the city.

Alisa and I, from the Festung Marienberg, a fortress that overlooks Würzburg.

We enjoyed lovely views over the city, before we did a bit of shopping (hello, colorful tights!) and took a predictable break for (yes, you guessed it) Kaffee und Kuchen. We then headed back towards the Residenz, the city’s palace, which was quite stunning.

The ceiling of the main entry. Photography was otherwise prohibited, so I have no pictures. But quite stunning. And it survived WWII completely intact--quite the feat considering how much of the Residenz suffered quite a different fate...

And, what is a day without a little absurdity? In Würzburg, it came with a photo op with a giant shrimp. No really, a giant shrimp.

So cuddly. For the record, shrimp have been recently removed from the list of food I cannot eat. Leaving only bananas and raisins. Progress!

After our wanderings, we returned to our hostel, where we finished High Fidelity (our screening had been interrupted by the arrival of another person in our room, combined with the fact that I was falling asleep), again with grenki (delicious!). We then suited up, in new dresses and colourful tights before heading out for the evening, an evening which included cocktails, dinner, and then drinks at a newspaper/magazine-themed café. A wonderful evening.

With the arrival of Sunday came the final hurrah of our trip, to the minor, but surprisingly enjoyable city of Aschaffenburg, a location that was picked for it’s dual status within Bavaria yet on the Frankfurt public transport system, which allowed us to travel there on the ticket, me to travel home on the ticket, and Alisa and Michelle to continue on to Frankfurt without paying standard rates for German trains.

With that in mind, we approached Aschaffenburg with no expectations. Our day began in their Schloss Johannisberg, a brick castle that housed a theoretically nice collection of German Renaissance art (not my cup of tea, but still, a nice way to spend the late morning).

Schloss Johannisberg, from outside.

Somewhat absurdly, the museum houses the world’s largest collection of “cork architectural models.” Seriously. I couldn’t even make something like that up. Most of them were reproductions of various ruins in Rome.

A cork model of the Colosseum. Yes. You read that correctly.

And not all the art was so classic…

All I really remember about this one was that the artist was from Miesbach. But seriously, how special is this?!?

We enjoyed our last hurrah of a Kaffee und Kuchen together at a small Italian restaurant, and then continued to wander the streets until an acceptable dinner hour. While not a strictly interesting city, it was pleasant enough, and we whiled away the afternoon most enjoyably.

We enjoyed our dinner in a restaurant called “The Potatoes,” which involved, somewhat predictably, potatoes. And beer. And from there, we headed back to the train station, where I sent Alisa and Michelle off on a train to Frankfurt for the conclusion of their journey, and I headed home to Nuremberg for the conclusion of mine. And, in my classic style, I unpacked, repacked, and within 12 hours was on the road again–to the Bavarian Forest for a week of cross country skiing with my seventh graders. But we’ll leave that for the next post and end this one here.

I feel a little silly in that I end most of my posts with some pithy statement of general satisfaction with an enjoyable trip or journey, but really, the time with Alisa and Michelle (and Kate) had been most wonderful. Most wonderful indeed.

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