Discovering Bamberg

I thought I’d take a break from picking on Germany to share some photos of the trip we took yesterday to Bamberg. We didn’t really know what to expect of Bamberg other than we had been told it was very pretty and historic and interesting to explore. So armed with little more than that information, the Mr. booked us a “Bavaria Ticket,” which meant that we could travel from our flat in Würzburg to Bamberg station for only 28 euros. It covered all our transportation (bus & tram) from our flat to Würzburg train station, the one-hour train journey itself to Bamberg and return bus travel back to our flat in Würzburg (which we didn’t actually use because it was very late & rainy when we got back so we took a taxi instead). Anyway, it’s a brilliant deal. The Mr. thinks up to 5 people are allowed to travel on the ticket and you can use it to go anywhere in Bavaria on any day of the week. Using it on a weekday is particularly brilliant as the trains aren’t nearly as crowded.

We’ve been having long spell of chilly, rainy weather in our neck of the woods, so yesterday wasn’t a great day weather-wise for sightseeing. Still, the Mr.’s been staying at home rather than going in to the uni this past week, so we were both feeling a little shut in and needed to get out and do something.

We started off our Bamberg tour having a small lunch in Fässla brewery, which was founded in 1649.

Fässla brewery

The Mr. and I each had a small glass of their dunkel, or dark, beer and shared bratwurst and sauerkraut (have I ever mentioned how much I love sauerkraut? Well, I do. De-lish.) The inside is actually pretty interesting. It’s a combination of a hotel, a beer garden with partial rain cover, a restaurant (with two different seating areas; one is very traditional and looks like what you would expect in an old brewery and was PACKED. We were seated in a quieter area that looks like a modern addition, and there were even toys for kids to play with), and the actual brewery! It was so cool. Down a long hallway, you could  see the bottles being filled and people at work. The Mr. and I were amazed how busy this place was at about 2pm on a Wednesday afternoon. The kitchen was getting ready to close just as we arrived and we quickly got our order in, but you never would have guessed as the seating area in the old part of the restaurant was completely full.

The brewery in the back

In general, we were surprised at how busy Bamberg city center was on a random Wednesday afternoon, but we did discover later on that festival of some sort was happening and we wandered through part of it.

Lunch finished, we headed off towards the old part of the city to check it out. Like in Würzburg, Bamberg seems to have a bigger market day happening in its city center on Wednesdays, too. I always love seeing the fruit & vegetable and flower stalls.

Market stall in Bamberg

At one point, the Mr. and I were crossing a busy street and he made it over before the light changed. I was stuck behind. An older gentleman asked me in German where the Dome Square was, and I understood him, but I had to answer that “I didn’t know” and “I’m sorry.” I pretty much say this phrase on a daily basis when I’m out and about. He then asked someone behind me and as he was turning around I was convinced he was going to step out in front of a bike speeding past us so I instinctively did the “mother thing” and put my arm out to stop him. I was then mortified that I had done this to a complete stranger who I figured was probably now thinking “crazy foreigner girl,” and I dashed across the street while it was still red (a big no-no in Germany where people follow rules), making an even bigger spectacle of myself, to retreat to the Mr. and walk quickly in the opposite direction from the nice old man. The Mr., however, dragged me towards the nice old man and the rest of the crowd toward the river:

They have gondolas in Bamberg!

Bamberg is really, really lovely. Not only do they have gondolas, but they also have an entire section of the city called “Little Venice;” beautiful homes that once belonged to fishermen but now undoubtedly are owned by the well-to-do.

"Little Venice," in Bamberg

These pictures sadly don’t do the city much justice as it was such a crappy day. But the Mr. fell deeply, deeply in love. He kept ooohing and ahhhing at every corner and every turn, and declared that Bamberg was one of his new favorite destinations in Germany. To be honest, it’s even more beautiful than Würzburg. And the reason for this is simple: Bamberg was one of the few cities in Germany that wasn’t destroyed during WWII (a nearby Artillery Factory prevented planes from getting near.) The Mr. thinks Würzburg was probably even more spectacular than Bamberg before the war as it’s a bigger city with historically more wealth and power, but those are the breaks. At least now I know we’ll get to go back and visit Bamberg frequently as he enjoyed it so much 🙂

After wandering around the river and Little Venice, we decided to head up the hill to Michaelsberg Abbey, a former Benedictine monastery. We foraged a bit on the grounds leading up to the abbey (tons of fruit trees, including apples, pears, Mirabelle and regular plums) and stuffed them into our pockets and mouths.

Plums from the grounds of Michaelsberg Abbey

Some fruit from the lower branches had been picked, but you’d think whoever runs the abbey would harvest the fruit higher up with equipment. The plums we had were the best I’d eaten yet; incredibly sweet and delicious.

Michaelsberg Abbey

We wandered the grounds of the abbey, and checked out the inside of the former abbey church, St. Michael’s Church. I don’t know; there’s something about opulent Baroque churches that annoys me. Yes, they’re beautiful (in a creepy, overpowering sort of way) but I can’t help but think that all that money and time spent creating such a jaw-dropping interior could have been better spent helping the poor and doing other, more Godly things. The Mr. reminds me, of course, that wasn’t the real purpose of the church back then, but it doesn’t make me like it any better. Stained-glass windows and gothic arches are about as opulent as I want my church interiors to be.  After checking out the church, we decided to get a cup of tea to warm up a bit and rehydrate.

Cafe at Michaelsberg Abbey

The cafe was lovely and full of elderly people, apparently a German tour group of some sort. It was weird; the entire group cleared out at some point within about 10 minutes, and Thd Mr. and I were the only ones left sitting there.

After tea, we made our way back down to the old city center and wandered around a bit more. We saw the Bishop’s old and new residences (and by new, we’re talking 17th century) from the outside, as well as the old Town Hall which has a most impressive facade and location on the river. The entire old town of Bamberg is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, which makes it pretty darn impressive and well worth a visit.

Old Town Hall

We finally started feeling hungry for dinner (we did stop for coffee and cake, by the way. The Mr. and I can’t have a day out without coffee and cake!) so we stopped at a place on the river for dinner. It was a little too chilly to sit outside, so we opted for the cozier inside but directly in front of the door so we could at least see out. We decided that during dinner, we simply had to try a local beer that Bamberg is famous for: rauchbier, or literally, smoke beer.

When the rauchbier first arrived, The Mr. took a whiff and immediately went, “whoa.” He then had a taste. And even bigger, “whoa!” followed. He handed the glass to me:

Rauchbier...hmmm...I'm not so sure about this....

This beer packs a punch. The powerful stench of smoke hits you right in the face when you put the glass up to your lips. It’s a little like how I imagine a beer would smell were it to survive a house fire. Then you take a taste. It’s exactly how you imagine a beer that survived a house fire would taste. Huh.

But you take another sip. After all, this glass isn’t going to empty itself. Then, slowly, you start to get used to the stench and taste. Perhaps it’s a little like the British snack food Twiglets, you think. The first taste of a Twiglet has you reeling and disgusted. A few more bites, and you’re suddenly an addict. Anyway, a few sips later of the rauchbier, and you do start to almost like it. Is it because you actually do like it, or is it because you’re slightly drunk? You’ll just have to get your own glass to find out!

 

It's a winner after all!

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About bittenbythebug

I love travel and have always been fascinated by other cultures. Back in 2004, I began my life as an expat in Edinburgh, Scotland. Fast forward 5 1/2 amazing years later to 2010 and the new chapter in my expat adventure: Würzburg, Germany.
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7 Responses to Discovering Bamberg

  1. cliff1976 says:

    up to 5 people are allowed to travel on the ticket and you can use it to go anywhere in Bavaria on any day of the week. Using it on a weekday is particularly brilliant as the trains aren’t nearly as crowded.

    Some more details, if you’re interested:

    1. There are also BayernTicket Single and BayernTicket Nacht (and maybe BayernTicket SingleNacht — which sounds sad) available for reduced prices compared to the straight BayernTicket.

    2. You can use them any day of the week, like you mentioned, but they’re not valid on weekdays before 09:00 (BayernTicket Nacht validity starts sometime late, like 16:00 or 18:00 — not entirely sure). On weekends and holidays, non-Nacht BayernTickets are are valid 24-hours.

    3. All BayernTickets expire at 03:00 the next morning.

    4. If you’re flying out of / into Nürnberg, and want to use public transportation to get home, buy your BayernTicket for the return trip before you depart — you can’t buy a BayernTicket anywhere at the Nürnberg airport (that I have seen), which means you have to buy a VAG ticket to use the U-Bahn or bus to get from the airport to someplace where you can buy a BayernTicket for the rest of your journey. Nicht so toll. Better to just purchase it in advance, which you can do at any DB automat, but is a real pain to try to do online (they mail you the paper BayernTicket, if I recall correctly).

    I tried some Rauchbier in Nürnberg (I think it had been imported from Bamberg) while visiting, and it wasn’t terrible, but even after getting all the way to the end of it, I couldn’t get past the metallic sub-taste in there. Your description regarding the house fire is dead-on though.

    • Thanks for additional info about the Bayern Ticket options, Cliff. We’ve never flown in or out of Nürnberg, but that’s good to know that we’ll need to plan to buy a Bayern Ticket in advance if we do!

  2. fenella says:

    loved reading about your trip. i’d like to visit there and have tea and cake. do they do tea? properly?
    can’t get over how cheap it was for you. think of going to glasgow for £14! most expensive line in Europe i believe.

  3. Most nicer cafes/restaurants have usually at least a couple different varieties of good quality black tea. At the Michaelsberg Abbey cafe I had English Ceylon, I think, and it was quite good. They just tend to charge quite a bit more for a pot, for example, than what we’re used to paying back in the UK.

    If you come for a visit, we could definitely visit Bamberg!

  4. Lindsey says:

    Bamberg does look/sound lovely. The picture of the Old Town Hall is especially impressive. And so is the Bavaria ticket deal – awesomely cheap! I’d love to go when I visit you. If you aren’t sick of it yet by then, of course. 🙂

  5. Vivienne says:

    The old town hall was built in the middle of the river for a specific reason (in case you wondered). Back in time the church had all the power in Bamberg, as it was an archbishopric since the year 1007. When the people in Bamberg also wanted to have a non-religious power to rule them as opponent to the churchs power, the archbishop wasn’t quite happy and of course refused them the land to build the town hall. No town hall, no mayor. Not having land didn’t stop the people in Bamberg, because Franconians were always, still are and will always be bullheaded 😉 They simply built the town hall in the middle of the river. From then on, our city had a mayor 😉

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