Nürnberg II - The Upside Down Bicycles
We were very much taken by Nürnberg, and even though our original plan was to dash straight though Western Europe to avoid spending too much money we decided that the city was worth at least another two days of our time. The second room we had found was very pleasant, set in the old town above a restaurant which provided us with a constant smell of sausages, and was a reasonable price for Germany.
We discovered that most of the old city centre had been taken over for the weekend by something called the 'Red Bull District Ride' which is one of those 'extreme' mountain biking competitions. There were giant screens dotted around and plenty of very strangely dressed youths sporting expensive looking bikes. There were lots of ramps and suchlike spread around the city starting from the castle at the top running down to the main square. The competitors, who were from all over the world, proceeded to throw themselves and their bikes down these ramps performing some of the most unlikely tricks on the way. The course ended in the main square with three enormous 'jumps' over mounds of sand which provided plenty of photo opportunities. Anne even managed to get a couple of good shots with our slow digital camera. The weather has been somewhat changeable since we have been travelling and I was disappointed to find that the event was temporarily suspended while a thunderstorm passed over - not that extreme then!
All this excitement meant that we missed the opening times at the exhibition out at the old rally grounds, but we decided to make the trip out to Luitpoldhain anyway to have a look around. There's not that much left apart from the gigantic shell of the Kongresshalle - a huge stylistic copy of the Coliseum in Rome. The building was unfinished at the end of the war and is now used as a council storage yard! Further rain drove us back to the old town for dinner.
On Sunday, with the District Ride over, we thought we would take in a museum and also get back out to Luitpoldhain and have a look at the exhibition which has been built into one wing of the Kongresshalle. Of all the museums in the town we though that the DB (German Railway) Museum looked to be the most interesting - not least because it contained the original royal coach of 'Mad' King Ludwig II of Bavaria. Very ornate with a particularly fetching 3 foot high crown perched on the top. The inside of the carriage was literally dripping with gilded ornamentation. The rest of the museum was pretty much standard fare - Anne found a BBC documentary playing in English and spent about 20 min's listening to it. There were some very nice posters from the 20's and 30's and lots of models amongst the real trains.
In the afternoon we made our way back to the old rally grounds and had a look at the snappily titled Documentszentrum Reichsparteitagsgelande (sorry I'm now on a Czech computer and have lost the German accents). This is set in a corner of the Kongresshalle and is a very excellent and impartial story of the rise and fall Third Reich with a particular emphasis on it's impact on Nürnberg. We were each given audio devices so that we could listen to a commentary in English, and although the items displayed were mostly photos and old newsreels rather than objects, we were both captivated by the story being told. For me the most impressive thing was the way the events were described in an impartial manner, I was expecting an 'Anti-Nazi' viewpoint but this wasn't the case at all, but not at all 'Pro-Nazi' either. The display area had been designed by an Austrian architect (sorry can't remember his name) who had very creatively sliced a 'gash' through the building from corner to corner and filled it with an aluminium and glass walkway which at one end extended out into the shell of the Kongresshalle itself. The exhibition also pointed where to look for further remains of the past - which we could now spot with ease on the way back to the tram stop.
Back on the trains again on Monday heading for the Czech Republic where we are going to have our summer holidays! We hope to spend around 10 days travelling around the smaller towns and villages rather than the big cities - partly to force us into speaking with a Slavic accent which is going to be particularly important further on.