September 23, 2013: Non-Mexican Mexican Food and Nürnberg and Beyond

So as far as last week goes, the most interesting adventure would have had to be the search for Mexican food, which failed. Turns out Germany is not known for authentic Tex-mex. Fellow American Heidi and myself set out on Wednesday evening to try out the only Mexican restaurant in Erlangen to have positive reviews online. The name: Chiles (or at least something of that nature). Now, this is probably the most misleading name this restaurant could have. Not only was it not Tex-mex, it was not spicy at all. I’m not even just talking about how it was so mild it made the Cracker Barrel look like a bowl of ghost peppers. No, no cumin or chili powder. No peppers. Okay, well I ordered a burrito and it can still taste fine without all of this. It’s not like it is hard to make one: beans, meat (except not in my case because I went for the vegetarian option), cheese, rice, wrapped up in a tortilla and topped with salsa and sour cream. Well, I won’t go into the details but lets just say the salsa was actually marinara sauce and the beans, well they were of the green variety.


Not to say that it tasted bad. It really didn’t. It was just over priced not Mexican food. Basically they saw a picture of a burrito and then just sort of guessed on the whole ingredients part until they got something vaguely resembling the picture. Also, their menu was quite weird. There were random pictures throughout, and an entire section devoted to the epitome of Mexican food: the hamburger. If you didn’t catch that, it was sarcasm. There was also ice cream? Why, I will probably never know. Also, there was an appalling lack of flan on their dessert menu. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed eating there and making fun of their food the entire evening, it just really was not what I was expecting. The good news is I found almost everything to make my own Mexican food here and even got a legit recipe for salsa!


As for Thursday I had several options to hang out with people, but unfortunately I was not able to do any of them! The director of my program came around 8ish so I could ask her questions/try to straighten out more of my bureaucratic troubles and also get access to German TV. By the end of our meeting, what was merely a slight headache for most of the day turned quite nasty and I decided to turn in early. And just as a note, I didn’t have any medicine for it and no way to get any considering everything closes at or before 8 and even for over-the-counter medicines for colds and such have to be bought at a pharmacy and someone actually has to go get them for you. Bizarre!


Okay, I realize I have bored you guys enough with my meaningless notes on my day-to-day. So lets talk about my day trip to Fürth and Nürnberg (Americans say Nuremberg, and it’s where the trials were). Anyway, we took walking tours in both cities, Fürth being our first stop. It was a somewhat small town, but apparently older than Nürnberg. The reason why it is smaller is apparently because it used to be divided into three sections (tax wise) and it just never really grew because of that. (My details are not very specific because I did the tour in German). There were a lot of old buildings and houses and even some old factories. The neatest part was seeing how parts of the houses were tucked away in little allies, where the noise from the street was almost completely blocked out by the surrounding buildings in the courtyard. Also interesting to note was that almost all of the town had to be rebuilt after the 30 Years War in the 1600s because Fürth burned for 3 days. One of the few buildings remaining was their little church on the hill, to which people brought their valuables for safe keeping.


After the tour we ate at a Frankish (region of Germany) restaurant. I went with the knödel (traditional German potato dumpling…kind of) with gravy, pork, and sauerkraut. I enjoyed almost all of the meal, and surprisingly it was my first real time to try sauerkraut, and I think it may have been my favorite part of the meal. My only complaint was that the pork was so salty, I couldn’t finish it. I also met some new people and talked with/got to know some other acquaintances a bit more. It was overall quite relaxing and enjoyable.


After we were finished eating, we hopped on the train and headed to Nürnberg. Now Nürnberg is not a terribly large city in terms of German cities (14th largest), but it does have more citizens than any of the cities in Alabama (over 500,000 according to my good source wikipedia). That being said, I obviously did not see all of the city. However, we did take a walking tour of the walled-in Innenstadt, which is the part of the city built in the Middle-Ages. Nürnberg, as it turns out, was one of the most important trading cities in southern Germany/much of Europe for awhile. Accordingly there were many roads which led to the city. Of course every important city also had to have some sort of defense. So they walled in the city, with a castle sitting on top of the hill. Interestingly enough the wall around the castle was very high up, and while they had tried to fill it with water and make it into a mote, they were unable to. At some point in time they decided to stick some animals down in there and make it into a zoo. Sadly, there are no more animals in there today.


Again, this walking tour was in German and because I was quite tired by this point, I was not able to catch many of the little details. But we did pass by several churches, Albrecht Dürer’s house, and a number of other historically/politically important buildings. It’s also important to note that Hitler absolutely loved Nürnberg and held a lot of events in the Innenstadt. He also built a sporting complex in the style of the Colosseum; however, I don’t think he finished it. It is also interesting to note that most of the buildings in Nürnberg had to be rebuilt after WWII. More than 90 percent of the city was destroyed during the war. They really did a good job rebuilding though, because it is almost impossible to tell.


After the tour was over several people went their separate ways. We ended up walking around the market for a bit (on Saturdays the square right at the heart of the city is filled with booths and people selling all sorts of things. They had some really interesting things, my favorite of which was some porcelain china which was apparently Polish. We also managed to find some ice cream. After I finished eating I was pretty tired and pretty cranky, but I decided to go with some friends for a nice drink at a bar. However, I knew if I were to drink any beer I would immediately go to sleep, causing everyone around me to believe I was Narcoleptic. So instead I rode the train back to Erlangen with a Chinese girl I had met. However, finding the right train was another issue entirely. I think we asked four people before we found the right one. Anyway, we got back before the sun went down, and I proceeded to be lazy for the rest of the day.


And with that very brief retelling of my weekend, I must leave you, for I am exhausted once more.Image


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