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Central Germany

From Dachau we travelled to Nuremberg, taking the autobahn most of the way, which made for a quick but boring drive. There were more WWII history lessons for us in Nuremberg as we visited Dokuzentrum, home of the Nazi rally grounds and where the Nuremberg trials took place. Another museum, another audioguide but much more user-friendly than our last audioguide experience. After visiting all of these places some of the information was finally starting to sink in. The actual rally grounds in the centre of the museum were overgrown, poorly maintained and not worth it. From the outside, it was an impressive building. 

The city of Nuremberg was just as stunning, particularly the old city. We headed up the hill to the castle, not going in but admiring the views over the town. The main street offered several churches and a market that was mostly shut up except for one stall selling lebkuchen, a distinctive German-style gingerbread. We couldn't resist. It was pretty good but I think I prefer the gingerbread I'm used to in Australia.

Back at the car Danny made a mushroom risotto using the morels he bought in Munich, adding button mushrooms, greens, truffle oil and feta. It was five-star restaurant quality - I honestly don't know how he does it. Once it was dark I walked back into town to see it lit up at night. It turned out there wasn't much to look at, so I ended my self-guided tour early and called it a night.

After breakfast we drove straight to Bamberg, which provided fantastic parking for campervans (little things like this really make our day). We walked around aimlessly, trying to work out why the guide books recommended this town. The highlight for us was a junk shop, where we bought a whisk. The convenient car park was more exciting than this.

 

It was only after a significant amount of time that we stumbled upon the old town, which was ten times better than what had just walked through. Huge churches, wide cobblestone streets, a town hall in the middle of a river, murals, cafes, beer gardens - it was fantastic. Bamberg produce their own styles of beer (one smoky, one dark), which of course priority number one for Danny. Verdict: dark beer excellent, smoky beer tasted like smoke and not beer. While he did this, I climbed a hill to see one of the dozen or so churches in town.

 

I picked up Danny from the bar and we tried to make our way back to the van. It took us a while - not because of Danny's inebriation but because the laneways in the labyrinthine town never went where we thought they were going. We really should take a map with us.

We left Bamberg and were heading to Eisenach when we hit a road block and had to take a 20 minute detour. This diversion led us down back roads and small towns, meaning the drive was incredibly slow. To reduce our frustration levels we stopped on the side of the road to make pancakes. With our new whisk they were far better than the last batch. After our whisk purchase that morning we were looking for any excuse to make pancakes.

 

With our bellies full and our annoyance reduced, we hit the road again and made it to Eisenach without encountering any further obstacles. We bypassed the town and drove straight up the hill to the Wartburg, a castle where Bach was born. Because of the detour (not the pancakes) we were too late to join a tour but we were able to walk around the grounds and through the middle of the castle. It wasn't the biggest castle we had visited but it was well kept and provided views across the green countryside.

The first thing Danny had to do the next morning was walk to a shop 50 metres away to buy beer. Apparently this was extremely important at  9 a.m. He came back with three beers, two from the Eisenach area. Once that was out of the way we were allowed to drive on to Goslar, in the Harz "mountains". I say "mountains" because there were no mountains to be seen anywhere, and I have no idea how they earned this name.

 

On the way we stopped at a service station, where they charged 70 cents to use the toilet (this was fairly common throughout Germany). We were informed that we could redeem 50 cents of this fee if we bought something in store. For some unknown reason we couldn't pass this offer up, so we bought a gigantic cookie (streuselteilchen) that cost way more than 50 cents. The premise of saving money always sucks us in, even when it works out better for the other party than for us.

Goslar was beautiful and made up for the lack of mountain scenery. The main attraction was a palace on a very small bump in the landscape (I'm not calling it a hill). From here we could see bright orange-tiled and grey slate roofs and not much else. The old-fashioned, half-timbered buildings and the central medieval square were a photographer's dream, straight out of a fairy tale. If this was representative of the rest of Germany, I looked forward to what was ahead for us.