Hallo aus Erlangen
by a. noelle
ERLANGEN, Deutschland—The flight to Frankfurt was okay. Not too much turbulence, but a bit chilly. I was glad I brought a giant scarf with me to act as a blanket. We sat together in the upper deck of Lufthansa’s enormous airbus, and I got the window seat. After storing our carry-on luggage and personal items overhead and within the convenient side compartments just below the windows, we settled in for the 11-hour long-haul.
Soon after takeoff, I reached for my book while he reached for the free headset and the touch screen monitor behind the seat in front. Our travel habits, a familiar pattern, a comforting rhythm. When I came to a good stopping point in my reading of Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, I put on my own headset for something Classical (mostly Brahms) and curled up for a nice long nap.
At some point in the evening, we were served dinner (hot and spicy chicken with rice, vegetables, bread, and a dessert brownie that tasted more like pure dark chocolate than brownie), and then in the morning, breakfast (a hot omelette with hash browns and sausage, a fruit bowl, more bread, and hot tea with lemon).
Our biggest discovery on the plane was Broadchurch Season 2. Available in Europe before the US. We jumped on the opportunity and watched 2 episodes before our plane landed. We’re still trying to figure out how to stream the remaining available episodes before returning to the states…
Hallo, Frankfurt. Hot, hot, unbearably hot Frankfurt. After disembarking into Frankfurt am Main, we were tired, dried out, and already feeling the rumblings of the dreaded “traveler’s tummy.” And we still needed to catch our train to Würzburg and then another to Erlangen, which meant a few more hours of travel. Bleh. We did our best to manage and took a regional train to Frankfurt (Main) Hauptbahnhof—a really big, really beautiful train station that I didn’t have time to photograph, sadly. I’m hoping for another chance to do so when we return to Frankfurt in a couple weeks.
Our first train was…not air conditioned…and it was about 36 C outside… It was terribly hot and stuffy, and we were exhausted, sweaty, and disgusting, but on the positive side it was really fun navigating our own way through Germany. At least our second train to Erlangen was air conditioned and right on schedule, of course.
Rooftop cat from hotel window in Erlangen
Erlangen at last, and I just really wanted to get to the hotel for a shower. Definitely a college town, they have a lot of shops and restaurants that cater to a young crowd. Almost everyone bikes here, and the bike lanes take up half of the sidewalk—sometimes marked clearly with a white line, other times designated by red bricks. You really have to make sure that you don’t walk in the bike lane, which is adjacent to the street. The bicyclists themselves don’t always stick to their lane, but they get irate and ring their bells when pedestrians stray into it. It’s actually pretty hilarious.
Rule #1: When walking in Erlangen, watch out for bikes.
Rule #2: Do not ever cross on red. You will get yelled at.
After check-in, it was time for a quick grocery stop at Lidl for a pack of mineralwasser. (We need to remind ourselves to bring back the empty plastic bottles for our Pfand refund. Yeah, more on that later.) We were both too exhausted and overheated to go out for dinner, so we ordered takeout from a local Italian restaurant (for some reason, a lot of Italian restaurants here). In terms of price, takeout won by a landslide over the hotel restaurant, which charges 5€ für den Room Service. Nein, danke. With decent WiFi, we streamed Netflix while we ate.
Lovely German rooftop gardens
In the morning, it was back to Lidl for brunch items, and here that means bread, sausages, and cheese.
Scoop and slide across some kaiserbrötchen at the grocery store
Before we began our meal in our 37 C hotel room, we had the pleasure of finding out that the air conditioning was broken—and it is not a fact that German air conditioning units are designed to have barely any air flowing out of them. It has been at least 3 days since our complaint. During that time, the heat outside went up to 40 C. We were forced to keep our windows open, inviting all manner of flying insects into our room because of the hotel’s lack of window screens. Then, yesterday, we went without running water in our bathroom—apparently some sort of mishap with the electrician.
We have since lost faith in our hotel staff. Please, look forward to our review on TripAdvisor.
Gaststätte Alter Simpl for traditional Franconian hospitality
Tucked away in a little corner of Erlangen, close to Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), is a sweet little restaurant called Alter Simpl. The owners speak little English but are very kind and willing to help travelers make selections from their English menu. I was even given the choice of having a smaller portion made just for me! Win!
A peaceful lunchtime setting away from crowded biergärten
My small Radler (yummy beer with lemonade)
I’m not really a beer person, but when in Germany… I was happy to find something that suits my tastes, and it was just the right size to go with my small lunch! (I still can’t believe that was the smallest size for beer on the menu. You can see the white wine glass for water to compare. My head is still reeling over how much beer I was given—meaning I’m still shocked, not drunk…)
Every nook, every cranny, every bit of sturdy, enduring oak is clothed in nostalgic charm. Seated in a nest of warmth and comfort, there was much to delight and entertain us during our stay.
We’ll get to enjoy Erlangen for a few more days. Then it’s off to Prague!