... ahead for teenagers! Nuremberg has plenty to offer, says 17-year-old reporter Jonas Lukasch. A Future Museum, a Railway Museum, traditional “Bratwurst”, delicious “Lebkuchen”, mediaeval flair and more. Photos: Angelika Jakob
Nuremberg with children
“Was your train on time?” asks the friendly gentleman in the reception hall of the “DB Museum” (Railway museum), just a few minutes’ walk from the main station. Our response: “Of course, yes, as if the train would ever be late...”. General smirk ensues.
Well then, let’s get going on a guided tour of the museum. Dr. Rainer Mertens, that is the gentleman’s name, will be accompanying us. And he has a lot to tell; after all, he has been working here for 24 years and has even written a few books – about trains, of course.
And there are plenty of them in the DB Museum. For example, the first locomotive to run with passengers in Germany: the “Adler” or “Eagle”. However, there is only one replica in the world’s oldest railway museum. We learn from Rainer Mertens that Germany’s first railway had its inaugural run in 1835, on the line from – yes, that’s right – Nuremberg to Fürth. The “miracle of engineering” needed about 15 minutes for the six kilometres. Sounds very slow by today’s standards, but back then, it was sensationally fast.
“Some even feared that this high speed could harm their bodies,” says the historian. The best example of why this is not the case stands right next to it: the ICE 3, a train with a top speed of 330 kilometres per hour. The differences between Germany’s oldest train and one of the newest are huge: the ICE is more than twice as big, less colourful (only white-red instead of green-black-silver) and, above all, it runs on electricity and not coal like the “Adler” did back then.
Clearing the way for young explorers!
We continue up a flight of stairs to the driver’s cab of what is a very large, very long dark green steam locomotive. 11-year-old Emma thinks it looks “like a rocket”. I can only agree with that, as well as with Helena’s statement that the locomotive resembles the one from “Harry Potter”. Of course, a photo of the two friends should not be missing at this place where the train was once fired with coal. The fact that women – let alone girls – would have been at the wheel of a steam locomotive would simply not have been possible at that time.
We are talking about the year 1906. At that time, this powerhouse hit the rails for the first time. At 154 kilometres per hour, it set the record as the fastest train in the world. A few metres down the line and we arrive at the next top photo backdrop. In front of the huge black-and-white photo of an old-fashioned station concourse, it feels like every second visitor has to have their picture taken. No wonder: thanks to the 3-D effect in the picture, it looks as if you are actually standing in the middle of a railway station!
Not only something for (older) men
Then Mr Mertens takes us into the world of model railways. Rivers, mountains, stations and of course many trains – everything is reproduced in miniature scale. Great attention has been paid to every little detail on the buildings, vehicles and the landscape; the whole thing is truly impressive. The girls are also enthusiastic. As if something like this is only for (older) men – what rubbish!
Finally, a detour to the “Kinderbahnland”, or KIBALA for short, even though this unexpectedly large hall is aimed more at children under ten. But you can immediately see that the kindergarten and primary school children are having a lot of fun in this friendly space with different attractions. Here is a sightseeing train that you can ride on. There is also a wooden railway, a real-looking engine driver’s cab and much more. An oversized pair of “Ray Bahn” wooden sunglasses will be sure to put an extra smile on visitors’ faces. It’s all in the h...
In the city of “Lebkuchen”, or as we know it – “gingerbread”
After a quarter of an hour’s walk, which takes us past medieval half-timbered houses and modern shops, we end up at the main market square. There, where the famous “Christkindlesmarkt” takes place in Advent (and otherwise sometimes a “normal” weekly market), an older, friendly lady in a medieval-looking white-brown dress complete with brown headscarf awaits us.
Six million gingerbread cookies. Per day!
She looks like a time traveller – after all, that is the aim of the costume. She is carrying a basket filled with gingerbread, enough to make your mouth water! “I am Anna, the gingerbread cook, and I will now show you around the town,” she says as she welcomes us. And why, of all things, a gingerbread cook? “Because Nuremberg is the world capital of gingerbread. There is evidence that these delicious treats have been made here since the end of the 12th century. Nowadays, six million are produced - every single day!”
We are simply amazed. Also by the one or other backyard and inner courtyard that Anna shows us. And over the many bridges that cross the river Pegnitz. One of them is supposed to be reminiscent of the Rialto Bridge in Nuremberg’s twin city Venice, but in German it is called, quite unromantically, “Fleischbrücke” or “Meat Bridge”.
To protect the recipe, the trainees were not allowed to leave the city
Another noteworthy point: we see a former plague hospital that is now a cosy student dormitory and many other atmospheric, green places along the river. Anna also tells us amazing things about the city’s history, and especially about its gingerbread. For example, the gingerbread makers were not allowed to make gingerbread with chocolate at that time – only bakers were allowed to use the noble cocoa mass.
It took generations for that to change. And another point: in order to prevent the unique recipe from being copied elsewhere, you were not allowed to leave the city walls during what amounted to several years of training! Whew.
We notice that most of the information – including that about the famous “Weißgerbergasse” and the “Henkersteg” or “Hangman’s Footbridge” (what a creepy name!) – might be more interesting for adults and teenagers than for children. But at least there are gingerbreads to snack on and a friendly woman in a funny, true-to-original costume to see on this special city walk. And that appeals to younger people too.
Alternatively, you can go exploring yourself with a city map specially designed for children. All the highlights of the city are marked there, from the historic rock walkways to the zoo and the toy museum to the places we are visiting today.
And now: the moment of truth has come
After so much culture, everyone has one thing in common: a huge appetite. It’s a good thing that the famous “Bratwursthäusle” is just around the corner from the Hauptmarkt, where the city tour ends. In the “Kingdom of bratwurst”, we get a cosy table in the very rustic inn, the interior of which is clad in dark wood.
Like a ski lodge
You feel like you’re in a ski lodge,” Helena says. Then the order is placed. “What would you like?” asks the waitress. What a question! Nuremberg grilled sausages, of course! Our orders only differ in the number of slightly smaller sausages (6, 8, 10 or 12 pieces) and with regard to the garnish (sauerkraut, potato salad or horseradish).
While we wait for the food to arrive, we watch the open grill in the middle of the room. There, several cooks lay bratwursts on the grill in a chord and turn them over at breakneck speed so that they are nicely browned but not charred. Live cooking at its best. It not only looks great and smells delicious, it also tastes sensational. Their smoky note and the tender inside are probably just what make the original Nuremberg grilled sausages so fantastic.
Oh, and there’s still space for some giant gingerbread, of course!
Are we replete now? Yes, indeed. Shall we still stop by the main shop of the famous Wicklein gingerbread company? Sure thing! We decide to treat ourselves to large gingerbread cakes with chocolate coating. Mmh, no comparison to supermarket goods! And a hot chocolate to go with it! Everyone is amazed at how many different flavours and types of gingerbread are sold here. There’s even something for vegans!
The most famous son of the city? Exactly!
Even more replete and satisfied than before, we stroll past stylish buildings to the house of painter Albrecht Dürer, whom some call the city’s most famous son. Even though there are supposed to be special children’s tours with guides dressed in ancient garments, we’ll have to content ourselves with an outside house view.
It is built of stone at the bottom, while the top is an almost stylish half-timbered house with a red and white look. The beams are red and the stone is white, with typical medieval large windows in the middle, but divided into many squares. The roof is made of brown tiles, and the artist even had a small balcony at the top.
If he were still alive today, on nice days, he’d spot lots of relaxed people – mainly students – cavorting in an open space on the city wall. The same today as it’s always been. Some have made themselves comfortable in deck chairs with a drink, others are sitting on the floor – enjoying the great atmosphere at the foot of the imposing Kaiserburg.
Future meets city
However, we are drawn to the Nuremberg branch of Munich’s “Deutsches Museum”, which only opened in September and is not too far away. It is also called the “Zukunftsmuseum” (“Future Museum”) and is located in the middle of the city centre on the river Pegnitz. As the name suggests, this museum is about future issues: How will we get around in the future? How will we manage to feed everyone and to make this sustainable? How can technology help to slow down climate change? How smart are computers and artificial intelligence today? These and many other answers to the big questions of the present and future can be found here.
The museum is family- and child-friendly for several reasons. On the one hand, these issues naturally affect children and young people greatly because, well, they have the most future ahead of them. On the other hand, the museum is quite simply super-modern, entertaining and fascinating in one, although it has to be said that some of the video clips have a really serious undertone.
Children from the age of eleven or twelve can enjoy a great time here. There is something to try out everywhere. For example, there is a Mars robot that you can control yourself. A giant globe onto which various themes are digitally projected – constantly changing colours and lines to show, for example, particularly hot regions or important freight routes. Or virtual reality glasses with which you can go on a journey through time (this time not into the past like the Lebküchnerin, but into the future). Or large screens on which you can put together bowls containing algae, insects and much more and get corresponding information about these crazy menu concoctions.
It’s almost a pity that we have to leave for the train at some point. And it’s almost a pity it’s not running late. We could easily have spent a few more hours here. But what’s wrong with coming back in the near future? Exactly: Nothing!