Trip Start Dec 16, 2007
42Trip End Feb 24, 2008
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I'm now updating this entry on Dad's laptop from the room at the Ibis Hotel Altstadt in Nuremberg. We've all been having a fantastic time and are really appreciating this city and its Christmas Market. But how did we arrive in this situation? Let me recount the details...
Our flight from Perth was about 30 minutes late departing due to the late arrival of the aircraft. This worked in our favour because the check-in queue process lasted for an hour and by the time we actually did get our boarding passes it was only 50 minutes before the scheduled departure of the aircraft
The Frankfurt flight was also late, arriving from Sydney 40 minutes behind schedule. This meant we had a longer than tolerable change at Singapore's Changi Airport - a place for which I already harbour a lot of negative memories, a side effect from the start of Charles and my Round the World experience. Once we finally boarded the aircraft the pilot informed us that because we had missed our departure slot we would have to sit on the tarmac for a further 20 minutes before we could leave. We again made up time in the air and so with a very short flight time of just over 12 hours we arrived in Frankfurt only a little late at 5:50am. Immigration formalities were over and done with so quickly that we had to wait for ages to collect our baggage, which is definitely a rarity with international flights.
Once out and processed we made our way via the airport's SkyTrain to Terminal 1 and onward to DB's long distance station at the airport. We had time to validate our Eurail passes, have some morning snacks and caffene before making it down to the platform
First stop was Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof, where the train reversed directions and sped us eastward. The sun slowly began to rise but, due to the overcast conditions, it would not become fully light until after 9am. The train travelled through valleys past many beautiful towns, each with their own signature church spire dominating the landscape. After a brief run on the high speed line we arrived at Wurzburg and it became especially apparent that the service was extremely well patronised. Thankfully we had reserved our seats online several weeks prior because less organised travellers were forced to stand in the aisles until a seat became available, which after Wurzburg was not for an hour when we arrived at our destination of Nuremberg.
The duty of navigating the family to the hotel was given to Dad, as a chance for him to prove himself and affirm his traditional position of family navigator in the face of Charles and I being older and more experienced than the time of our traditional family holidays. Unfortunately for Dad, despite my suggestions, he led us the wrong way down the road in the freezing cold until the point where I protested enough to force him to check the map
As we'd been travelling for over 24 hours and the hotel had our rooms available for our use immediately we crashed for over an hour to prepare ourselves for the rest of the day ahead. We left the Ibis and headed up Konigstrasse to explore the city and its Christmas activities. A few stalls along the street became a continuous line of traders until we crossed the river and entered the Hauptmarkt, the site of the Christmas Market. We took the time to explore the sights, sounds and smells of each row of stalls with joy, each tantilising us with cool decorations, toys gifts and yummy food like chocolate covered fruit, waffles, lebekuchen etc. Unfortunately stollen does not appear to be a great local tradition in this part of Germany but we did try their local replacement, a very dense and dark fruit bread that unfortunately cannot beat the greatness of stollen
We made our way back to the hotel by hopping between shops down the street to avoid freezing completely to our cores. We luckily made it back to the hotel without loing any of our extremities to frostbite and learnt to add some extra layers next time we head out into the freeze.
Feeling increasingly tired, Charles and I opted to stay at the hotel to warm up and enjoy our long lost friend, MTV, while Mum and Dad went out once more to walk around and explore this charming city. Upon their return we all went out to dinner at a nearby brewery and restaurant that served us great local food including memorable rotkraut with a hint of cinnamon. The brewery's beer was great, putting most Australian boutique restaurant operations to shame. It was then time to hit the sack for some early sleep to lose our tiredness get synchronised with European time.
This morning we woke with breakfast at the Ibis, which was pretty good but included a pretty limited selection of local food. First stop was the DB ReiseZentrum at the Hauptbahnhof to make seat reservations for the rest of Mum and Dad's travels as well as my first few train legs with Belinda. This process took over 30 minutes but the ticketing officer was friendly and helpful. If I hadn't prepared reservation guides that listed the train numbers and times for which we wanted reservations this process could've easily taken much longer.
From the station it was a short walk to the DB Museum, where we ended up spending most of the day. The museum surprised us with its size and comprehensive nature, easily entertaining the ENTIRE FAMILY (note, not just me!) for hours. We even had to split our visit up with lunch at the museum's restaurant, Miss Saigon, where we enjoyed some local sausages. The only disappointments I have with the museum are the lack of English language in the exhibition (only headings had been translated) and, most importantly, the modest size of the DB shop. These small issues were easily outweighed by the cool digital model railway and the interactive children's exhibits that involved shovelling virtual coal, driving an electric loco, switching points and controlling signals. I of course undertook all of the children's activities
On the way back to the hotel I stopped by at the station to grab some Schneeballs for Charles and I - think cookie dough cut into strips then scrunched into balls a bit larger than tennis ball size which are then covered with various different toppings.
We had a quick break before heading down to see the Christmas Market after dark. Mum took the opportunity to buy even more Christmas tree candle holders while we huddled in the masses to keep warm. Dinner was at the only Chinese in town, giving us a chance to enjoy some significant vegetable matter in the country of sauerkraut.