Dave the motorhome is slotted into a line of German, Italian and Romany motorhomes on the edge of the Nuremberg rally grounds (N49.42298 E11.10705). We’re at the one-time fearsome chest-thumping den of the national socialists. We’re here by accident, although we wanted to see the infamous spot, we had no clue it had been transformed into the peaceful park we’re chilling in for free.
We passed up the opportunity to swim in the Danube this morning. It was heavily populated with ducks, and their accompanying droppings. With the flinging of bread, we hit the road, filling Dave with water via a re-enactment of the ‘town-is-on-fire-get-the-buckets’ method.
20km across country, the hanging gardens of hops disappeared and we were back into familiar corn and trees territory. How on Earth we, as a human race, manage to consume so much corn is beyond me. We’ve seen more corn fields than roadsigns on our wanderings. Hitting the autobahn, the Audis, BMWs and a few unknown marques of sharp black and growling creatures whooomph past us as we sit snug amongst the lorries. The odd lorry breaks ranks and cruises past.
Arriving in Nuremberg, we find ourselves here. A 10 minute walk and €8 family ticket later and the three of us are U-bahning it into the centre of town. Once the ‘unofficial capital’ of the Holy Roman Empire, the successor to the fallen Western Roman Empire after the unweildy thing was split in two about a thousand years back, this reputation was seized upon by the national socialists. Epic spin doctors, they had the place in a tizz before WW2 broke out. Rallies held here in the late thirties show legions of colourless men, destined no longer to be working the factories and fields, robot-like stood in rank upon rank before their expert orator masters. Once the fighting was finally over the allies chose this place to carry out trials, we hope to learn more about this tomorrow.
We knew the place had been flattened come the final days of the conflict, the ancient centre was obliterated in a single hour, along with the lives of 1800 unfortunates. Fortunately for us, we cannot imagine the terror and destruction. Churches in the town which have been rebuilt from the knees up illustrate their fate with photographs of rubble.
My impression of the Nuremberg of today was of a pleasant place, which had sadly lost its heart. The stone-cobbled streets walk between buildings fashioned anew, a glimpse here and there shows of the medieval magnificence exploded into dust. The remains of the town were dumped into a pit near to us, formed from the workings for a 400,000 seater stadium, which was never completed (hardly even started). The town took half the pit, the other half filled with water and is today a lake. A Dutch couple stroked Charlie and told us of their own Cavalier King Charles Spaniels at home. An American couple apologised for a lengthy photo hold-up in German. Under the shining sun we quickly bored of the town and headed back to the park.
I’ve taken a spin on our under-used bike to check out the remains of the parade ground. We’ll go and have a proper look tomorrow, but the Great Road made an impression on me. As most of the intended grounds were never built (the war halting progress), and much of the rest was wiped away, you can be forgiven for missing the fact you’re riding around on a piece of heavyweight history. The road is over a mile long, fashioned from blocks of granite, and stupid-wide. It would take, well, an army marching along it to not look daft. Today it’s a car park, oil stains and rubber marks from cars doing donuts splay across the surface.
We tried Muncher white sausage today. Traditionally it’s made in the morning and eaten before noon. Our stuff came from Aldi and lasted for days. Ju eyed it up with suspicion. We cooked it in water, below the boil which might split it, for 10 minutes. It tasted of Frankfurter sausages (vaguely of nothing, like all bratwurst to us). A bit disappointed we were. Nuremberg have, no surprise here, their own variant of bratwurst but we passed up, we’re looking forward to some English meaty ones in a few weeks. Our local butcher at home makes up Spanish and Mint varieties. Drooool.