Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Neurmberg to Berlin

Travelling with other people is a constant struggle between wanting to kill them and not actually killing them. Especially when they drive past the exit for the Mackers and the next one isn't for thirty kilometers. But that would come at the close of the day. We should start where most stories do, except for those post modern art films that normally end up failing anyway, because people like a tale they can wrap their mind around – full of human drama, crushed hearts, and unfulfilled desires. People love when others fail. Makes their station seem a little lighter, a little brighter.

Waking up in Neurmberg we checked out and threw our gear in the car. Then began to walk through the city. A day that starts with a city walk is perfectly fine in my books. Actually, it's what I'd been missing. I know – only one day without, but I get so antsy. I feel like there's a great big world out there, and if I'm not constantly moving through it while the sun is up I'll die – like a shark streaming water across its gills. Now I know I won't die – especially if there are streaming internet videos to feed my patiences. But – I just get that urge to press on, push forward, look down one more street, and check behind one more building.

So today we headed out. I was able to slightly maneuver our route from heading to the museum to heading towards the main entrance through the city walls. Neurmberg is a highly fortified city, and were the zombie uprising to commence, it would seem to be a safe place to be. The elevated castle, double walls which could be filled as a moat and general medievalness make it a place to grab your sword, find some chain mail, and live our your life free from worry of the undead.

The main gate into the city required passing a curved wall of multi-coloured mirrors that reflected the neighbouring buildings, creating a fantastic whimsical effect, and that coupled with the towers and stonework around the exterior made this branch of or trip highly worthwhile. Museum exteriors? No thanks!

From there it was a walk to the castle on the hill. It's strange to think that this town only exists because of the slight bump on the Earths surface in this location.

Towards the castle we wandered past a number of churches, and spires, and old city squares. Honestly, I think they probably would have seemed great a few months ago – but I've seen this before. Europe – you're turning into reruns. Sure you still have those moments that break through that make it all worthwhile, but I just can't help thinking, “Prague did it,” or, “even Florence has one of those.”

Still – the castle? It was nice. Took a walk around it, proving that I had the legs for such a wander. Please – wandering cities is all I do these days. Grading papers, planning assignments, and managing classroom behaviour? Things of the past now.

The castle itself wasn't all that great, but the castle grounds were something else. There were a number of gardens high above the rest of the population from which the surrounding buildings can be seen for miles and miles. Once again, it's for this reason that the city exists here.

Reaching a number of smooth rocks I sat down, rested my back against the wall, and began to eat my breakfast – six squares of chocolate from Munich. I don't think I could have possibly explained how fantastic the winter chocolate was. No – there's no way I possibly could have got that point across properly. Because it is quite literally the best chocolate bar I've ever had. Except for this mysterious one that is sold every few years for fund raisng. But, much like that one, it will forever elude me from this point on. Which probably will only add to what makes it so fantastic. I mean, in my mind Thunder Cats was a great show – until I go back and watch it. Don't. Don't you ever go back and watch it. Just enjoy it as it remains in your mind. It's for the best.

It was at this point, me and Nick hanging out at the rocks, that Stew put his new toy to work – a tripod I suggested he buy back in Munich. With blinding speed he pressed the shutter and dashed across the cobblestone to join us. Group shot!

This would be repeated no less than a dozen times. And once again with a wooden carving of Joan of Arc. I don't know.

Now, I feel I should point something out about Neurmberg. It must have the highest amount of states depicting naked people fighting half decomposed skeleton people. It's not entirely unlike Pirates of the Caribbean mixed with Pirates.

These statues are spread around the city, and are fantastic – but also wholly confusing. Why are they here? What do they represent? Very rarely art exists because it's awesome. Normally it needs to be connected to history, or a metaphorical representation, or – something. But here? It just seems they recognize how fantastic it is for zombie skeletons to fight people, in brass form.

Clearly there was no possible no way to beat something like that in the Old Town, so with those experiences under our belt, it was time to hit the car, and head on to the two places worth seeing outside of the city walls. The first was the Justice Palace where the American led Nuremberg Trials were held at the close of World War 2, and the second was the Nazi Rally grounds.

Both would have been – well, awkward anyway – to reach without a car. But with such a tool we managed to maneuver our way through the streets, from point A directly to point B. Thank you built in GPS device.

The Justice Palace was just a courthouse that you could view from the outside. The only thing of note here was the three guards who seemed passive aggressively mad at me for taking pictures. A gloved hand waved a finger, “no-no,” my way.

The Nazi Rally grounds however were a large expanse with stadiums, parade routes, and the zeppelin field and grandstands. Hundreds of thousands of people once gathered here. A stadium for Hitler's Youth was located within sight of my seat on the zeppelin stands. Now there's a soccer fields out there. Sorry – football field.

There's so much history in Europe. You'd think I'd get used to it. But I don't. Not really. I keep trying to imagine what it would have been like only seventy years past. And I can't. Normally because there's too much pageantry and excitement in my visualizations, and I have a hard time reconciling that with how I have been taught I should think about those years.

The book burning areas in Berlin will probably be equally as confusing. In theory I'm supposed to think how horrible it was, but in reality I know they were times of celebration and great parties.

But Berlin was still hours away.

Hours. And hours, And hours.

Back to the car, address entered into the GPS, and off we went across the autobahn once more. Travelling at one sixty, and being passed by cars going much faster was no longer an exciting novelty. It was merely something understood and to be expected. On the plus side, four hundred kilometers gets traversed much faster at that speed.

I'd not eaten today, and while I could deal with that easy enough, I started to phase in and out of sleep in the back seat. I suggested we hit a McDonalds, then we passed the off ramp. Hunger mixed with tiredness, mixed with general angst combined into shifty eyes and threats of immediate death if we missed the next off ramp thirty kilometers away. But we did not. And washrooms there were free – unlike at the gas station. Seriously – if I just paid sixty euros for gas, the least you can do is let me pee. But no.

Five euros were spent on two cheeseburgers, and three Chickenburgers with Sweet Chili Sauce.

And then the world was a brighter, shinier, place in which to live.

When we finally arrived in Berlin passing a tower that looked not completely unlike the Eiffel Tower, and then another that looked oh so much like the CN Tower (get your own tower Berlin! Unless yours was built first – in which case, sorry.) - we made our way to St. Christoper's hostel, where everyone was crowded in the bar watching the Ireland vs. France football match.

I have never seen this many hostelers in the same place at the same time.

Now – with only one more night after tonight that the guys will be with me, I need to start thinking of where I'll spend the rest of my time in Europe. These hostels wont book themselves. I'll see if I can extend this hostel for a night or two, then grab a few nights in Dresden, then perhaps head back here to finish it all off?

But that sounds like a job for future me. And for a reception worker who doesn't have a full bar on his hands. Yes. In the morning. That's when I'll deal with all this.

Sure. Why not?

I'm tired.

1 comment:

  1. I love these types of fortifications where everything is slightly bizarre and odd, yet it screams history. Seems like you had an amazing time.


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