Dropping the H-Bomb

Yesterday the Mr. and I decided to take a little day trip to Nürnberg, or “Nuremberg” as it is better-known to English-speakers.  I mentioned before that I visited Nuremberg the first time when I was 18, but I don’t think I’ve ever shared the details of that trip on this blog. Hmmm…sounds like another entry I need to work on soon!

Anyway, we decided to head to Nuremberg yesterday as I really wanted to see a film. I guess we’re fairly lucky that the cinema here in Würzburg offers an English-language film on every Monday night, but the problem is that often we either aren’t interested in the film that’s playing (Hangover II last week), OR they don’t offer an OV (original version) film on holidays. We had a long weekend here in Germany with today being holiday. (What holiday, you ask? Why, Pentecost, of course! It’s a religious holiday, but many Germans today don’t even know what it is or why it’s celebrated anymore. Now it’s just a day off.)  We realized that if we wanted to see a movie this weekend, we’d have to head out of town. Nuremberg has a big multi-screen cineplex in its city center, and offered three different OV films yesterday: The Hangover II (Here, too? Really?), Pirates of the Caribbean III (maybe…I do love me some Johnny Depp), and X-Men: First Class. Having read X-Men comic books throughout high school and college, I was most excited about seeing this one. So we decided to make a day of it. We’d first see something else I’ve been interested in checking out for quite some time and then catch the film.

Albrecht Dürer, Self-Portrait at 28

So what was first on our Nuremberg agenda? We toured the famous painter Albrecht Dürer’s home. Albrecht Dürer lived from 1471 to 1528, and is “conventionally regarded as the greatest artist of the Northern Renaissance” according to Wikipedia. I remember studying Dürer’s self-portrait in a college art history class and finding the level of detail and realism absolutely stunning. Part of the exhibit inside the house showed that self-portrait blown up, and I was still blown away by the detail and precision, even at a size way beyond the dimensions of the small, original painting. The way he painted his curls, for example, they shine and reflect light exactly the way real hair does. Beautiful. The house itself was very interesting. You’re given an audio guide in whichever language you prefer, and his wife, Agnes Dürer, guides you around.

Nuremberg's Imperial Castle

After the tour, the Mr. and I walked around the old center of Nuremberg a bit more, and then had dinner. I found myself really impressed with the area immediately surrounding Dürer’s house, which I’m fairly sure I had never been to before. While Nuremberg’s market square is a bit ugly after it was rebuilt quickly after the war, the medieval portions of the city that survived are really beautiful and interesting. Nuremberg has definitely grown on me!

After the film (which we both really enjoyed), we went to catch our train back to Würzburg at 11.35pm.  It was clear that with it being a long holiday weekend, many people were making the most of it in a celebratory (i.e. drunken) manner. Shortly after we took our seats, a group of teenage boys stumbled into our carriage in the seats directly opposite us, one of them almost sitting on my backpack that was on the seat across from me. He apologized, but it took me about 2 seconds to decide that I really didn’t want to sit across from him and his drunken friends on a long train ride when most of the train was empty. I quickly suggested that we could move so they could all sit together (aren’t I polite and thoughtful?) We then settled into our new spots,  next to a young couple, and I joked that if the train got crowded for some reason, I at least wanted to be next to sober people.

Well, we couldn’t believe what happened next.

At our next stop, the first out of Nuremberg, a flood – and I mean a FLOOD – of mostly 20-something guys and girls wearing lederhosen and oompfa loompfa big busty dresses PILED into our train. It was unreal. Suddenly, we didn’t have just a couple of people sitting across from us, we had four: a girl in a oompfa loompfa dress (it probably has an actually name, but I have no idea what it might be and whatever it is I’m pretty sure I’ll still like my name better) sitting on some random guy’s lap, and two girls in the seat next to them with one sitting on the other’s lap. The aisles filled up with beers, shouting, laughter and LOTS of lederhosen. If ever there were a time I wish my camera had had a little battery power left, last night was it.

Since I couldn’t take a picture, take this image below and instead imagine it on a crowded, tight train carriage and you start to get an idea of what it was suddenly like:

Yup, it was pretty much like this. They didn’t have glass mugs, but many of them had stone beer steins. At one point, a drunken man in lederhosen standing next to my seat stumbled into me. He apologized and when I said no problem, he could immediately tell I wasn’t German and then starting asking me questions. He offered me some of his fresh, unopened beer, and told me he needed to show me how hospitable Germans can be even though they are often drunk and annoying. He popped it open, I took a swig, and everyone cheered. I asked him why everyone was wearing the traditional outfits as it’s something I’m genuinely interested in knowing. I’ve seen the dresses, for example, sold in normal clothing stores the last few weeks so I’m sort of wondering why, really. Is there a special event going on? Where did you all go to this evening? He then slurred out that it was “for Hitler. We meet for Hitler.” And then this gem: “Germans only care about Hitler and beer.” Really, I swear to you I’m not making this stuff up.  “Ohhh…” I responded. I mean, how do I respond to that??! Let me tell you something: if Germans ever want to make a non-German feel awkward during polite conversation, all they have to do is drop the H-bomb and bam! *instant* discomfort. Anyway, about five minutes later in the conversation he tells me “He was only joking earlier, of course,” and I tell him “I thought so. I hoped so.”  He then gets all serious on me: “Really?” he asks. “Why? Why did you hope I was joking?” Umm, can anyone say awwwwk-waaaard?  Thankfully, he loses interest in our conversation. Later, he literally falls onto my lap, but luckily that and the H-bomb were the worst parts of the journey. Oh, and the spilled beer on the bottom of my shoes. That sort of sucked, too. But at least no one hurled on them, so I count that as a plus.

Just another day in Germany.

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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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10 Responses to Dropping the H-Bomb

  1. Regina Scott says:

    Great day before the train ride home, though–just too bad it had to end that way!:o) You handled it all better than I would have, I have to tell you!!! Mrs. Scott:o)

  2. Elisa says:

    I remember Nuremberg, from one of my visits to my brother. I fell in love with the Medieval parts of the town. Plus, Albrecht Durer was one of my favorite painters when I was growing up, which made Nuremberg all the more alluring. At 15, it was also one of my first encounters with beer.

  3. fenella says:

    Love the post. I read out the train ride bit to my German colleague across from me, Bernd, and he laughed and laughed.

    What’d you think of the Xmen movie? I saw it with Mark Monday before last and really enjoyed it. Much better than I’d hoped. Love James McEvoy. I sent Caroline home last with with the second Xmen film after we’d watched the first one together.

    F

    • I thought the film was really good, Fenella. I wasn’t as familiar with the origin stories of Professor X and Magneto (as I’m sure there are probably multiple ones in the comic universe), so this storyline was totally new for me. I liked James McEvoy as Prof. X, but I was really taken with Michael Fassbender. He made a very compelling Magneto! I hope they continue making films with these characters (and actors).

  4. cliff1976 says:

    Those dresses are called “Dirndl” — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dirndl

    Is that not a very common thing in Unterfranken? I must admit, I haven’t seen much of the Trachten (Dirndl & Lederhosen) on my visits to Nürnberg (Mittelfranken), but it’s pretty common over here in the Oberpfalz.

    Visit Regensburg during the Dultzeit (this Fall) or maybe even during the fests this summer (Bürgerfest is coming up next weekend) and you’ll see a lot of people getting their Tracht on…maybe even me and Sarah.

    • I hadn’t really noticed it so much last summer, but yes – I’m seeing lots of Trachten this summer. It’s just for fun, yeah? To wear to bier gartens and such? I think it’s great that young people are embracing old traditions, a little like the kilt making a comeback in Scotland. Now you can’t have a wedding these days without all the men wearing them!

      • Sarah1976 says:

        Dirndls and Lederhosen are for fun, but they’re also for formal occasions like weddings. We see old and young alike in Tracht pretty much constantly from mid Spring to early Fall. And Cliff likes to wear his grocery shopping 🙂

        And that guy on the train was a total drunken jackass and I’ve NEVER had any German make a Hitler joke at me. Please don’t paint all Tracht-wearers with that brush.

  5. Its on my list of places to visit, as much as I got to Germany I’m sure I’ll get there soon. Umpa loompa dipity doo – too funny with the mob on the train…

  6. Cookie says:

    I feel sorry for the interactions being imposed upon you by these guys on your ride home.
    Okay – Bavaria, and even Franken, belong to Germany – for some reason I can’t figure out *chuckle*…

    This is really not representative for Germany – even if it serves all the stereotypes of the Germans with all the drunken lederhosen- and dirndl-stuff and the bad mannes and the mental dropouts that come along with that.
    This is so way back from the lifestyle I face here in Northern Germany that I can’t tell how grateful I am to live here…

    So hopefully you will meet other people down there to compensate for these guys!

    Have a nice weekend!

    • Thanks for your comment. It was fine, really; more amusing than anything else! The one guy talking about Hitler took me by surprise and made me a little uncomfortable as I wasn’t sure how to respond to what he was saying. I *thought* he was probably joking, but then, you never know….I think the girls sitting across from us were really embarassed by this guy and what he was saying. My husband told me later that they kept whispering, “What is he saying?!” to each other, and when I asked later if they were all together, one of the girls quickly responded with “no.”

      And I should also say that I never felt threatened or worried by the situation on the train. Everybody was just having a good time and laughing and having fun. After having lived in the UK for six years, I can say there’s definitely a big difference in the drinking culture in that in the UK people (mostly men, but even sometimes women) tend to get violent when they drink. I think if we had been on a train in Scotland and it was suddenly flooded by 20+ drunk people, I would have felt pretty nervous….

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