A-Z local Edition

16 Mar

I do love a good list, doesn’t everybody? I have various lists of things to see, countries to visit, foods to eat etc which are all part and parcel of trying to make the best of my time in Germany (and mainland Europe). Getting out and exploring is a fabulous way to learn about your new home, practice your German, make new friends and soothe homesickness. Even if you only get endorphins from the bike ride to get somewhere, a little lift is better than none.

My lists are usually very haphazard and probably not easy to read or understand to anyone but me, so I thought I’d try the A-Z format here. Some letters, have more than one idea.

Next weekend, pick a letter (or three), and go exploring…

A  – Arcarden – So I’m starting small, and central, the Arcarden is the only shopping centre in Erlangen, you just can’t miss it. All budgets are catered for and the place is always clean and tidy, the heating however is on at full blast from September to April and whilst the air con only appears about two days a year! Whilst the shops are all shut on Sunday, the cafes are open, brunch, ice cream or just an Aperol Spritz, the people watching is always good.

B – Burgberg – Or Castle Hill is one of the most sought after and expensive places to live in Erlangen, the hill stands to the North of the city and is the location of the Bergkirchweih. The hill provides storage for the beer producers of Erlangen and a tour of the underground tunnels (in English) can be arranged with the owner of Entlas Keller.

Bamberg – Slightly further afield, but not too far away is this beautiful city, the old town is a UNESCO world heritage site and since it was barely touched during the war it has retained it’s historical charm. There is plenty to see here both old and new, and it is a great place to take visitors for that ‘typical Franconian experience’. Famous for it’s special Rauchbier (smoked beer), which smells like bacon, but does not taste like it. I’d recommend trying a smoked Weizen (smoked wheat beer) or a very strong Bockbier (8% min) at Schlenkerla, but take it easy on the later.

C – Christmas Markets – Seasonal yes, but Erlangen hosts two wonderful Christmas Markets, both of which are worth checking out from the end of November to lunchtime on December 24th.

D – Dechsendorf – Is a small village about 8km from Erlangen, when the weather is good people flock here to visit the Dechsendorfer Weiher (the lake) where you can camp, relax at the ‘beach’, bike and explore. There is even an open air music event at the lake every year, get your tickets early. There are also some lovely family run restaurants here, the Forsthaus overlooks the lake , booking is recommended.

E – Effeltrich – A village famous for it’s fortified church and the massive tree opposite. Not the tallest tree ever but it is between 400 and 1000 years old and does have an impressively large circumference, is so big that it has a specialist frame to keep it upright as it’s own weight would cause it to split. In former times the space under the tree would have been used for meeting or dancing, hence it is referred to as the Tanzlinde.

Ebermannstadt – A beautiful village in the Frankische Schweiz, no matter what time of year you visit! Getting there by train is what I recommend so that you can appreciate the scenery on the way. There is also a Dampfbahn (steam train) which runs from here and if you have kids at Christmas they can meet Santa on Steam train.

F – Forchheim – The ‘Gateway to Franconian Switzerland’ and a lovely town too. Check out the leaning houses and the secret passages over the river, it is like stepping back in time, watch your step on the main street if you don’t want to get wet! Famous for the biggest advent calendar in the world, the town hall transforms into one for the whole of December and every night when a window is opened, a Christmas Angel will read part of the Christmas story, Oh and Annafest (See K).

G – Gößweinstein – Check out the castle at the highest point in the village. There are plenty of walking tours in this area and plenty of breweries to try out if the exercise gets too much for you.

H – Huttendorf – A small village with a big secret, Huckepack. Pick your own on a huge scale, pick up a knife, a basket and some bags from the shop when you arrive and then explore their acres of produce, salad to raspberries, potatoes to peppers and the price is unbeatable. Digging up your fresh produce is bound to make you work up an appetite, their onsite shop also sells produce from the fields (albeit for a higher price) as well as cheese, cakes, wine, ice cream etc from local producers. An in depth blog is coming soon, after they open at Easter.

Herzogenaurach – The land of Adidas and Puma, the majority of residents here work for these companies but the old town still retains a village type feel. The town square is always a hive of activity for any fests that pop up throughout the year.

I – Innenstadt – Erlangen town centre just cries out for exploration, go off the beaten track and discover specialist shops and quiet corners for relaxation. For nature and relaxation try the Schlossgarten, Bohlenplatz or the Aroma-Garten, for non standard high street type shopping try Bel Mondo or Contigo (Fair trade shop).

J – Jazz in Erlangen – If you are so inclined this place is the place to go for Jazz happenings in Franconia.

K – Kellerwald – Literally, ‘Cellar forest’ and yes it’s a pretty accurate description of this place, 23 cellars in a forest (on a hill). Located just outside Forchheim its easily accessible from the station at Forchheim by bus or foot, all the cellars are open for the famous Annafest and others open from Easter (or good weather time) to September (or when the good weather leaves). Well worth trying out this place in the non Annafest season, it’s a lovely chilled atmosphere and you’ll get some decent exercise climbing the hills, wear good shoes.

L – Live Webcams – That sounds so dodgy but I assure you it’s not those kind of webcams! Check out the views of the Huegenottenplatz and the Dechsendorfer Weiher, as well as other towns and cities in the area. Here

M – Marloffstein – A beautiful small Franconian town, boasting four castles, due to its high position the views from here can be fabulous.

N – Nürnburg – The place you always tell people from home you live near to, though Erlangen is quite well known especially if you have any connection to Siemens, the University, adidas or Puma! There is so much to do here, my advice is only to try everything, museums, festivals, concerts, beer and sausage can be your spare time staples here. Order a Drei im Weckla and drink coffee like the locals.

O – Osterbrunnen – Franconia being in Catholic Bavaria celebrates Christian festivals with gusto and Easter is one of my favourites. From Good Friday onwards (and for about two weeks after Easter) every Brunnen (well or fountain) will be decorated with chicken egg sized decorated eggs, some are plastic now (more hard wearing and less easy to vandalise) but some are real eggshells and evergreen shaped to form crowns over the fountain. They really are something to behold, especially the biggest in Bieberbach  which draws in bus loads of tourists to the small village, Take a drive through the Frankische Schweiz and see how many you can find, and go hunting to find Erlangens.

P – Pottenstein – A small town in the Frankische Schweiz, great walking, caves to explore and the obligatory castle of course. It does come into it’s own every year on the 6th January, on the Catholic celebration of the Eternal Adoration, as dusk approaches fires are lit on the hills that surround the village, hundreds, if not a thousand are lit and the whole village is filled with the smells of freshly burning wood and the noisy crackle of all the fires in unison. Go early to get a parking space, dress warmly and enjoy some Glühwein to keep out the cold.

Q – Qwirkle – For those long cold nights in the winter you will need a little something to keep those brain cells ticking over. My German friends are avid game players, in our house a game of monopoly usually ends in a full on argument and later sulking, if it even gets finished. So, I wasn’t too keen when Qwirkle turned up at our place, after the rules had been translated (lest we play wrongly) and within one game, I was hooked. It’s suitable for ages 6 and up and way easier than scrabble.

R – Röthelheimbad – Erlangens premier water fun facility, in the summer you can enjoy the outside pools and it’s a pretty safe environment for all the family. It can get very full at peak times of the summer but if you go early you can sometimes get the place to yourself.

S – See (Brombachsee) – Not the sea, but as near as you can get living in Bavaria, a huge lake (or reservoir). Go and relax on the beach, or enter the water for swimming, water skiing, windsurfing and other such exciting pastimes. Sometimes there can be a problem with algae in the lakes, meaning that you shouldn’t use the water, so look out for warning signs.

T – Tennenlohe – A district of Erlangen located to the South of the city. Since it is convenient for the motorway, more and more houses have sprung up here, but parts of it are still covered in forest and woodland, wonderful biking, running and walking. The woodland to the east  is a protected woodland called Tennenlohe Forst, a lovely place to escape the heat of midsummer in.

U – Uttenreuth – Still in the district of Erlangen, but about 5km from the city centre. Mainly a residential development, it still maintains a rural charm whilst still being easily commutable to Erlangen by bike for work. The bike network in and around Erlangen is superb and bikers are respected on the roads here, if you do have a small child riding a bike though, please attach a high flag to their bike, so they are visable.

V – (Fahrrad) Versteigerung – ‘(Bicycle) auction’, every now and then, the Council round up bikes which have been abandoned in and around the town and sell them off. Do not leave your bike around town if you are going to be away for three months and you still want it to be there when you return. On the plus side the bikes that are sold here go cheap, dirt cheap. The auction is in German but as long as you have your numbers straight you can join in, it’s pretty straight forward. You can even check the bikes out in advance and there is an auction at least twice a year, Spring and Autumn. There is one on next weekend

W – Walberla – First Sunday in May, walk up a mountain and enjoy a beer festival at the top. I kid you not, this is one of my top ten things to do in Franconia. Sounds bizarre? it is the oldest spring festival in Germany in honour of St Walburga and dates back to pilgrimages in the 9th century. You have to do it at least once. Wear good walking shoes, take suncream, raincoats and money.

Weisendorf – A lovely little town, about 15km from Erlangen centre populated by mostly families, enjoying the countryside whilst also having a short commute to Adidas, Puma, Siemens etc

Würzburg – Further afield but a city which definitely needs visiting. The historic sights include the Residence, the Marienberg Fortress, the Cathedral, the Old Bridge and the Julius Spital. The place is packed with history, and also wine. Nearly all the towns surrounding Würzburg will host wine festivals, as will the city itself, you can even see vines growing in the fortress gardens. I used to be snobby about German wines, but I’ve made a full U turn and really love this stuff now.

X – (St) Xystus – This beautiful Catholic Franconian church is located in Büchenbach.

Y – Yoghurt bar – Despite being called the yoghurt bar this place does also do delicious homemade, healthy soups, as well as frozen yoghurt, which is pretty damn gorgeous too. It’s pretty close to the University library and pretty cheap so if you want lunch go early or late to avoid the hoards of students, or take away and enjoy your lunch in the Schlossgarten around the corner.

Z – Zirndorf – Not far from Erlangen and famous for two things Beer (what else right?) and Playmobil. Zirndorfer Keller and Landbier are sold in most supermarkets, bars and restaurants in and around Erlangen, try them. Playmobil, well that might interest your younger less beer drinking friends, but their head office is also located there, just incase you are looking for a job.

Keep exploring near and far and make the most of your expat experience.

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3 Responses to “A-Z local Edition”

  1. Jürgen Hubert April 15, 2015 at 10:25 am #

    You forgot K for Karpfensaison. 😉

    • Alie C April 21, 2015 at 3:23 pm #

      Hmm yeah that season I’m happy to miss 😉

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  1. Easter in Franconia | The Erlangen Expat - April 10, 2014

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