We leave Prague (Praha) for our next stop, Nuremberg. Our train leaves mid-morning. It appears the forecast of snow here is for the afternoon, which makes getting to the train station so much easier.
It’s an old train station with a combination of the old parts (no longer used) and the newer (new being relative).
I went into a shop to buy a coke for the train and discovered a bitcoin machine, a bit of an oddity.
As old as the station may be, the train is modern and the seating a bit more spacious and has WiFi. There are only seven coaches on this train and we change trains in Cheb.
I’ve been using Google Fi for some of my data needs. I’ve already used 6 GB, which means that between 6 & 15 GB, I’ll incur no more data charges (no incremental cost over 6GB), but it’s hard to see how I’ve used that much in five days.
The train from Prague arrived late, so it appears we might miss our connection unless it makes up time. We’ll have to see what we can do to continue on to Nuremberg. The conductor wasn’t helpful, saying (we think), wait? There is another train an hour later if we do miss our connection. We just have to see what time we arrive in Cheb.
The countryside is hilly to mountainous, rocky and forested, though there is some farmland. In the small valleys the fog hangs down between the mountain sides. As I write, we appear to be in a small valley with a river running down the middle. So far, there have been no large cities, just some smaller towns and villages. Being a Sunday, things are quiet.
Plzen is the largest city we’ve been through or stopped in. It appears to be a large city and home to the Pilsner brewery.
What to do while on the train? Play with Google Translate: a few Czech words : hlavni (main) nadrazi (station) so hlavni nadrazi = main train station) zdarma (free of charge). I haven’t seen a lot of “loaned” words (those borrowed from another language where there may be no native word (internet and WiFi are examples). Sometimes (rarely) I can guess a word if it’s a cognate of a word from a language with which I’m familiar : portál = portal ; centrum (zentrum in German, center/central; informaci = information).
Our train from Prague picked up some time so we were able to hustle further down the same track on which we arrived to board the train for Nuremberg (Nürnberg). The signage at Cheb was definitely lacking. While we are just changing trains here, Cheb has a deep history, going back to 1061. It’s a small little shuttle train, but we’re on it! This is a DB (Deutsche Bahn – German rail) train and the signage is now in German. Shortly thereafter, T-Mobile confirms we’re in Germany 🇩🇪.
We arrived in a slightly drizzly Nuremberg about 3:30pm as planned. Fortunately the hotel is but a few blocks away and the Christmas market not far away from the hotel.
Nuremberg has a long and complex political/religious history as the seat of power for royalty and the Church and in more modern times, one of the seats of the rise to power of Adolf Hitler. It also has historical ties to tragic events in Jewish (Middle Ages) and contemporary (World War II) history. The city was decimated by Allied bombing and fierce ground battles. On January 2,1945 bombing of the city center destroyed 90% of it in an hour.
Since we’re only in Nuremberg for one night, tonight’s the night for the Christmas market! The Christkindlemarkt opened just s few days ago on November 30, 2018. By the time we exited the hotel at 4pm, there was no drizzle and it was dark. After dropping our bags off at the hotel, we walked around the corner to go down Konigstrasse, which leads to the central market where the Christkindlemarkt is located. WOW! This is a massive market with row after row of stands (more than 180 of them).
We walked back down from the platform to join the crowd, which you can imagine was bustling with people milling about the stands, buying food (those Nuremberger bratwurst are delicious) , glühwein and don’t forget the lebkuchen. The stands have every type of ornament you can imagine, several times over (many hand made, no plastic here!), some home goods, spices, etc.
Towering over the Christkindlemarkt are the town hall and die Frauenkirche.
In front of die Frauenkirche was a performance stage with a concert (YouTube video ).
This towering sculpture was actually intended to top die Frauenkirche, but citizens decided it was too beautiful to be so far from view. Instead, the sculpture that was designed in the 1380’s was transformed into a fountain for all to enjoy
Of course, there was the obligatory purchases of lebkuchen
as well as some Christmas ornaments. It’s hard to pick out ornaments amongst all of the offerings and hopefully something that will make it back in one piece.
The “queen” of Christmas ornaments is Käthe Wohlfahrt. There are two stores in the Christmas market area. We once visited their store in Rothenburg and it seems entirely plausible to me that store has 30,000 ornaments.
We’re calling it a day and heading back to the hotel.