Postcards from Nuremberg

It’s been a while since my last proper entry, but I haven’t fully documented my (brief) time in Germany at the end of April (22nd-27th) nor shared any photos, so thought I’d go ahead and do that.  I was over in Nuremberg for the EUSAR 2012 conference (European Conference on Synthetic Aperture Radar) and to present some of my work, so it was partly for business but also partly for pleasure. I’ve never been to  das Deutsche vaterland before (despite continuing with the German language at school further than I did with French), so I was crazy keen to do so. Anyway, turns out it was farking awesome, so all’s well that ends well.

Arrived on the Monday evening and successfully managed to negotiate the U-bahn from the airport to the Hauptbahnhof (main train station) and out into Nuremberg itself. The hotel I booked was right near the station, which ended up pretty useful for getting to/from places and also not getting lost. Hotel wasn’t too bad, apart from the really thin walls and floor which meant I could hear noisy people walking up and down the corridor at like 1am and then 6am (with noisy wheely suitcases), so kind of didn’t sleep hugely well all week. Eventually got used to being awake at 7am and heading down to buffet breakfast, although on no day did I actually manage to get to the conference on time (which started at 0830) which remained a bit of a mystery. Conference itself was okay; a few interesting talks interspersed with some tediously dull ones. I think my own talk went down as well as could be expected: Had a few people come up and talk about my work afterwards, which is always a good sign that you’re on the right track.

The conference centre itself was pretty nice and the catering was top-notch (especially since I wasn’t actually expecting to be fed), so a fairly pleasant few days of work(ish) activity. The weather in the middle of the week was a little damp, but I think I skipped one afternoon of the conference to make use of a brief sunny weather to look round Nuremberg in the daytime since by the time I’d get back from the hotel from the conference each day it was beginning to get dark and so wouldn’t get much of a chance to look round the city under natural light.  I’d booked my return flight in the evening on the day after the final conference day, and the weather on that Friday was bright sunshine and 25 degree weather which was pretty epic. I think I managed to walk around the entireity of Nuremberg that day (largely because I’d been kicked out of my hotel and couldn’t go the airport yet) and even up around the Imperial Castle, which has got a pretty rad view of the city. Turns out it’s not that huge a metropolis, but just feels a lot larger because there’s loads of windy streets and narrow, cobbled pathways. The hotel was pretty central (next to the main station which has the U-bahn to both conference centre and airport) and near a load of food-type stuff (plus the tourist information centre also what appeared to be the red light district), so that helped a lot in the stakes of the Not Getting Lost game.

Nuremberg’s pretty good for shopping, and one of the many awesome places is Käthe Wohlfahrt, which is full of awesome Christmas stuff and open all year round: I bought Bry and myself a wooden nutcracker solider guy to hang from a tree (that we currently don’t own, but will do one day, I’m sure). There was a Steiff shop that was equally awesome, but far too expensive for my budget; I had a look around and they had some old bears in there (along with loads of new toys) but didn’t decide to bring anything home. Germany’s the home of boardgames, and I managed to come away with some cool new ones in the way of Carcassonne: Mayflower and Alhambra, as well as a couple of new Carcassonne expansions which haven’t made to English shores yet but look pretty interesting – Carcassonne: The Flier and Carcassonne: Messages.  The hand worker’s market (Handwerkerhof) is also a super-cool medieval market just within the city walls (and not far from my hotel and the main station) which was full of loads of craft-based stuff like glass-blowing, toymaking and woodcrafting: certainly if I’d had any money left by the end of the week, I could’ve found plenty of cool stuff to come home with.

The only downside to everything was the nightmare return trip: our plane got delayed leaving Nuremberg airport (because Amsterdam was super-busy and they couldn’t fit our landing slot in) so missed my connection to Heathrow at Amsterdam and had to stay a night in a hotel in Amsterdam (courtesy of KLM). I say ‘night’; the flight I missed was due to leave at 2030 and was the last flight (to LHR) of the day, so I got lucky with getting the first flight the next day (apparently all flights out of AMS were fully-booked until the Monday, but n/m) at 0630, so spent only six hours in the hotel before flying back, meaning I barely got any sleep, didn’t have anything with me (all my luggage was at the airport baggage area) or any clean clothes to change into. Also we had to leave the hotel at like 0430 so didn’t even manage to get breakfast at the airport, but everything (including me and my luggage) made it back okay on Saturday, so all’s well.

I took a bunch of photos over the trip, so here’s a little gallery of the rest of them:

Found it kind of a wrench to leave in the end, but also didn’t want to outstay my welcome; I’d definitely like to go back to Bavaria again sometime soon, so was quite keen not to burn out the experience. It’s chock-full of awesome stuff to go see: gothic-y churches, medieval-y buildings, ancient-y fortifications, art-y fountains and whatnot, and I’d love to go back during Winter-time. Anyway, good times had by all, and memories made; here’s to more being made in the future. Hurrah.

[Zinar7]

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