Wednesday: Nürnberg

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I had been thinking about going to Nuremberg all summer, but the trip was just long enough and the city just large enough that I didn’t think I wanted to brave it on my own. Thankfully, EA’s wholehearted approval of the idea found us in the second-largest city in Bavaria on Wednesday. It was hot as blazes and we walked literally all day, but I am so glad we made the trip.

The journey began on the ICE train, the German high-speed train, and Edith was elated at the chance to ride one, as she has seen them many times at the train station and asked about them. Here she is, ready with all a girl could need for a trip: her caterpillar and her muffin and a look of excitement on her face (plus her attempts at a smile for a photo…she still doesn’t get it).

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While Munich feels very European, not much of it feels old, a quality I have discovered is one of my favorite things about European towns. With a medieval wall surrounding the old city and countless old buildings and a castle at the top of the hill, Nuremberg feels positively old and is not lacking in magic.

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We didn’t make many plans for the day, deciding to simply make a loop around the old town, starting and ending at the train station. Our first little stop was at the handcraft market right inside the city walls. It was much smaller than I expected, but gave us our first taste of the medieval German views we found throughout the city.

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The beginning of our loop brought us down one of the main pedestrian walkways in the old city. This brought us first to St. Clare’s Church, Nuremberg’s first church built in a predominantly Gothic style. It is small and quite simple, but the simplicity brings attention to the lovely altar pieces on either side of the church.

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Next was St. Lawrence, one of Nuremberg’s towering medieval churches, dating back to the early 1400’s. As is true of most of Nuremberg’s churches, it was badly damaged during the war and later restored. I especially enjoyed the stain-glass windows and the light coming through them.

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All of the churches also had remnants of older paintings and frescoes on the walls, something I know little about but found fascinating. I am sure EA learned about them from all of her thorough reading.

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Hanging above the altar was my favorite piece of art in all of the churches I have seen this summer. It is called Angelic Salutations and is a wooden sculpture of the Annunciation, created in 1518. The colors, the details, and the uniqueness of the piece really make it stand out in an already-impressive building.

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From St. Lawrence, we crossed the river and then stopped in Frauenkirche, a smaller but equally beautiful church.

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While EA spent more time exploring the art and history of the place, the kids and I sat on the steps and ate our packed lunch. They had the chance to run around a bit in the square outside the church, and sitting on the steps, eating grapes with them, is one of my favorite memories from the whole day.

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The forecasted high for the day was 87, and it was certainly that by the middle of the day, so of course that was the perfect time to climb the hill to the top of the city, and then to climb the very steep hill up to the very top of the castle that sits above everything else. The kids were amazing and trekked up the steep hill on their own two feet while EA and I took turns pushing the stroller.

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The view, of course, was worth the trek.

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On the way back down the hill, Edith wanted a picture with John Henry and his rejection totally cracks me up. My little boy is a very sweaty little boy, and his cheeks get flushed very quickly in the slightest heat. I pushed a lot of water on them and they survived the heat like troopers, but even people passing by would comment on his bright red cheeks.

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Just around the corner from the castle is the Albrect Dürer house, the place where the artist was born. It is one corner of a beautiful little square at the top of the hill.

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The downhill part of our city loop was a bit quieter and more relaxed, and thankfully mostly in the shade.

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St. Sebaldus, a counterpart to St. Laurence, is on that side of the old city, so we stopped in for a quick look.

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Further down the hill, we were lured in by the beautiful displays of a pastry shop, and the children learned that Aunt EA is always good for a macaron.

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We ended the day stopping in a toy store and the kids spent a very happy 20 minutes playing while EA and I tried and failed to exercise self control. We got a few of the most beautiful wooden toys, treasures that I am sure will last for many years!

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Of course, to end the day, ice cream, and then a bit of a confusing time getting back on a train to Munich, as the ICE train wasn’t running and we had to figure out which train we were supposed to get on. Thankfully, we made it home again as smoothly as could be hoped, and EA is already talking about how she would live in Nuremberg, if she could. I am glad we made the trip, although I am pretty certain we are all still recovering from the heat and exhaustion, two days later.

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