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Open shopping Sunday – Erlangen

16 Oct

   
Shopping on a Sunday? Oh yes! Head down to Erlangen this Sunday between 1pm-6pm for all the shopping you could ever want. Lots of shops offer special discounts and the streets will be bustling with shoppers freed from their normal Sunday activities whatever the weather. Enjoy! 

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Are you going to Erlangen Bergkirchweih?

11 May

In 10 days time the 260th Erlanger Bergkirchweih will begin, if that isn’t something worth celebrating then I just don’t know what is!

(Almost) everything you need to know is in this blog (or in the links in pink), you might also enjoy my favourite bergkirchweih related apps and websites which I’ve reviewed below.

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10 days to go, the Ferris wheel is almost all the way up, at least it was yesterday, in fact it’s probably all up by now, someone tweet me a picture @bierandcrumpets

If you’re a first timer at the Bergkirchweih or just want to be prepared you might want to check out my Insiders guide, there are hints and tips on how to get there, what to wear, what to drink and what to expect generally. If you do have a question that isn’t answered there and you think it should be, feel free to get in touch.

If you still haven’t bought your lederhosen or dirndl yet OR are considering not wearing one, let me convince you otherwise and direct you to the best places to buy from here. Of course it’s not compulsory to wear tracht, always wear something you’re comfortable in, whatever that is.

Not drinking? You can still enjoy Bergkirchweih if you aren’t a drinker, be assured it’s not all about the beer, there is music, food and entertainment to make it a family friendly event.

Last year I blogged the first and last nights at bergkirchweih 2014, since they are two of my favourite times at the festival, I even managed to get a few passable photos suitable for the blog #shortpersonphotographyisnevereasyinacrowd 😉

Useful APPS (free)

NB Phone and 3G signal at the Bergkirchweih can be hard to find, too many people and not enough masts, make your plan before you get there.

Bergkirchweih Erlangen – BerchTimer

When is a countdown app more than just a countdown app? when it contains actual useful information about music, weather and most importantly Keller locations showing which do what beers. My screenshots below.

I’ve had this app for a couple of years and I love it, no need to download another next year, it automatically renews for next years bergkirchweih and I like that the bottom tabs stay visible throughout. It is in German but it has little actual text beyond Keller’s names and whether the temperature will be Prima (perfect) or not. The music tab is particularly useful so you can see which acts are going on at the same time, how long they will be on and where they’ll be. The Keller tab shows you where each Keller is, so you know where to head when you reach the T-junction.

Erlanger Bergkirchweih

Also has a countdown function and plenty of information about what’s going on and where, you can also buy beer tokens using the app (though I have not tried this function). My screenshots below.

It has an integrated Instagram stream #bergkirchweih which is a nice touch, it also has information about After-Berg events, including just how many yards it is from the Berg to the party, always helpful 😉 It is more complicated than the BerchTimer and has more visible advertising, this might be why it crashes periodically.

VGN Fahrplan & Tickets

For local travel this app is absolutely wonderful, whilst it is in German it is easy to use. You can also buy tickets through the app which work out cheaper than buying them on the day from a machine, you do have to set this up in advance, don’t attempt to do it on the go.

Useful Websites

NB If your German isn’t great the option of automatic translation of pages is a godsend, Google Chrome I love you. Otherwise I use babelFish or a good old fashioned dictionary for my translating needs.

Erlanger Bergkirchweih

A great site which covers all your need for the Bergkirchweih. Food and drink prices, attractions and history are all there, click on the Pretzel, Maß or teddybear to open new pages, as well as the tabs. I’m so happy to see that Churros are back again this year, and the entertainingly designed Mais Men stand. The 360 degree tour is a little weird to watch but really good fun, you will find it under ‘Ansichten’. You can even download yourself a printable guide, in English here, look out for leaflets around town at places like the library, Thalia or the bank.

Der-Berg-ruft

The mountain calls, again this covers all you need to know about bergkirchweih but additionally has many candid pictures for years past and present. There is actually some fantastic information here and a lot of good details about transportation, history and even nearby eateries to try. The pictures under ‘Der Berg im Wandel der zeit’ are truly something to see, so you can compare and contrast what you see when you visit to what it was like at the very 1st bergkirchweih.

Let’s all cross our fingers or press our thumbs for good weather this bergkirchweih season. You can definitely expect a few more blogs before it’s over. So, are you going?

Insiders guide to Walberlafest

24 Apr

On the first weekend in May the surprisingly positioned and oldest spring festival takes place in the Fränkische Schweiz, combining wonderful beer with some of the best views in the area. Walderlafest is something to be experienced. Walberla is one of the double peaked hills of the the Ehrenbürg (the other is called Rodenstein and whilst similarly lovely doesn’t have it’s own beer festival) which are located in Upper Franconia, about 10km from Forchheim.

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The site has some serious history behind it and there has been archaeological evidence of settlement as far back as the Bronze Age with celtic fortifications still visible today. The festival itself can be dated back to the 9th century and is celebrated yearly on the first weekend in May and it is now a pilgrimage made by both locals and tourists alike. You’ll be surprised with what you find on the top of the hill, I promise. Check out my pictures here.

How to get there

By train – Head for the small village of Kirchehrenbach, if you are travelling from Erlangen/Nürnberg you will most likely have to change trains in Forchheim, from other directions you may change in Ebermannstadt, both trains will take around 10 minutes. These trains generally only run once an hour so be prepared for crowded trains from Forchheim/Ebermannstadt if you are travelling later in the day or travel earlier to avoid the crowds.

By bike – Places to park a bike are easier to find than for a car, just do us all a favour and leave you bike at the bottom of the hill.

By car – There is no official parking for the event so go early to find a legal space. Kirchehrenbach is a small village and doesn’t have very much parking.

Important – However you travel to Walberlafest you can’t get away from the walk to the top (don’t worry that’s where they keep the beer). The walk itself is only about 3km some of it is quite steep (particularly the last 500 metres or so) and whilst most of the paths are in good condition, depending on the weather some parts can be a little rough (that last 500 metres or so again).

What to wear

The event is on a hill in the countryside, there is limited shelter so you are very much at the mercy of the elements, plan accordingly.

Take suncream and a waterproof, hey a coat doubles as something to sit on and it’s a long way down in the rain without one.

Sensible footwear, you can’t get out of the walk up there (it’s totally worth it) but to ensure your feet are happy wear some practical comfortable flats, you don’t have to have hiking boots, a decent pair of trainers or pumps will be just as good.

Whilst I’ve seen tracht at Walberlafest it’s not hugely popular, maybe a day to leave it at home.

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Useful to know

The location is a protected natural landscape, always keep to the marked trails and dogs must be kept on leads at all times.

Pfand still applies, even on the top of a hill, return your mug to get your Pfand (deposit) back

Take money, there is a Sparkasse in Kirchehrenbach but not on the hill (and it’s a long way down), get your cash before you set off.

As with most beer festivals it is family friendly but some of the ground can be uneven and rocky, plan accordingly.

Recommendations

Take a picnic, food is your regular festival stuff, lots of chips and sausages, take your own if you want something different.

Take a blanket to sit on, festival seating is limited so go prepared.

IMGP1624_2Try the Schwarze Anna from the Neder Brauerei, it’s a Schwarz beer (obviously) and looks like Guinness but tastes much much lighter, it’s one of my all time favourites.

If Schwarz beer isn’t your thing head on over to the Eichhorn Brauerei or the Brauerei Greif because they both do wonderful Hell beers, which also make delicious Radlers.

Take a bottle of water for the walk up, a lot of it is in direct sun and if it’s hot you’ll be glad of a drink half way up.

There are two paths up, a steeper incline and a gentler path, both merge near the top anyway but the gentler path is wider and more suitable for pushchairs and has better views for photographers. Both are marked and/or obvious.

The details

The fest begins with the raising of the May tree at 5pm Friday 1st May 2015 and the first barrel is tapped later at 6pm.

Officially the fest opening hours are 10am-11pm Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd May 2015.

There is a church service held at the chapel on Walberla 9am Sunday 3rd May 2015.

Whilst Kirchehrenbach is the closest station many people choose to park in nearby villages and walk the additional distance, the surrounding area is pretty flat so on a nice day that’s definitely an option, the choice is yours.

Have you heard of Walberla?

24 Apr

Walberla has the history, all of it. They’ve dug up Bronze Age artefacts there, the work of the Celts is still very visible and the May celebration (that we now call Walberlafest) dates back to the 9th century. Add to that the amazing natural beauty of the place, stunning views and the marvellous cardio workout you get making your way to the top and you should be able to understand why this place is one of my happy places.

Walberlafest has all that, and beer. Possibly my most happy of happy places. And since I’m not able to go this year I thought I’d share my photos with you, and maybe convince a few of you to go in my place. Walberla is easily spottable from the train station in Kirchehrenbach, follow everyone else and head for the hill.

When you actually get to the top it’s a little confusing. Oh it’s just a beer festival, like any other. There is beer and food, tents and seating, arcade games and gingerbread hearts, but then it all becomes clear when you see those views. There is actually a lot of space up there on the hill for everyone to enjoy the festivities.

I hope that you get chance to go and experience it for yourself, if you want the lowdown then check out my Insider’s guide. I’ll be there next year rain or shine!

Laugh while learning German with the BBC

9 May

I love finding FREE ways to learn German, yes I’m a cheapskate, but lessons can be expensive and it’s always better to have a range of places to learn from, that aren’t just a classroom. I’ve mentioned the BBC pages for learning German before and they have recently been updated with some fun and informative videos.

They still don’t have ‘German steps’ a 12 week beginners course back online, which is really annoying because it was pretty good, BUT, they do have ‘Talk German’ which is ‘An introduction to German’, better than nothing right? It covers the basics, all that you would need to get by daily  to start with and a decent amount beyond. What is great is that you get to hear different accents and that really helps with pronunciation.

You can download an MP3s of basic phrases and the alphabet, the latter of which has some really good pronunciation advice and information with it.

Henning Wehn, an actual real live German and the self titled ‘German comedy ambassador to the United Kingdom’ has recorded a series of useful videos titled ‘What’s so funny about German?’. I love this guy, he’s been on lots of shows in the UK that I love, Have I got news for you and QI for a start, it’s a little light relief and some actual useful information too!

My personal favourites are –

The Alphabet – ‘..Umlauts are the lederhosen of the German language..’

Gender Bender – ‘..Germany is a highly sexualised society…I’m saying this in the best possible taste..’

Waiting for the Verb – ‘..Obviously German is the most exciting language in the world..’

Probably the most useful part of the website is the Cool German section, not all of it is kid friendly but it’s a plentiful selection of actually useful everyday topics and vocab that you can listen to, download and print out. It really is the kind of stuff you won’t necessarily learn in a classroom and that is usable day to day, ‘mind you own business’, ‘the ref needs a white stick’ and ‘Everything’s banana’ to name but a few.

And so the journey towards not humiliating myself in public fluency continues!

The BBC also produced this fun glance at German life in 2013. ‘Make me a German’ follows an British couple who attempt to live like average Germans in Nürnberg for a few weeks, it makes for quite interesting viewing.

BTW This is not a paid endorsement and all my views are my own.

Versatile Blogger Award

5 May

I was thinking of posting a Blogroll of all my favourite bloggers soon and then I got a nomination for the Versatile Blogger Award,  so it was obviously meant to be. The lovely Connie at Foodessen, gave me the nod and I appreciate it greatly, even more since it’s my first ever! Go check out her blog, her recipes alone….well all I’m going to say is Spätzle with bacon.

versatile-blogger

The Versatile Blogger Award is given to blogs that are considered to have a good quality of writing, a level of love displayed in their posts, good photography, and for the uniqueness of their posts.

In order to accept this award, you have to –

  • Thank the person who nominated you for this award
  • Link to the persons blog
  • Nominate 15 people for this award and let them know you’ve nominated them
  • Write 7 facts about yourself

The fabulous bloggers I love to read (I’m a total lurker who is just finding my voice) and have nominated are –

Expat Eye on Latvia

Travel Morgan Travel

Charlotte Steggz

Confuzzledom

Run Brit Chick Run

Eating Wiesbaden

Eat Sweet or Die Sour

Little home by hand

The crafty expat

Nine and ninety nine

Heather goes to Deutschland

Back to Berlin….and BEYOND

The Quilting Violinist

Die Frau aus Fürth

Experiences of an Expat

Each one of you has opened my eyes to something new and unique. Go check out these wonderful people for yourself.

7 facts about me –

  • I love marzipan
  • New pens and stationary can just about make my day
  • I’m a nail polish addict
  • I’m hopelessly awkward and clumsy
  • A good book wins over a night out most of the time
  • I will always pick savoury over sweet

Insiders guide to the Bergkirchweih (updated 2015)

3 May

Bergkirchweih is considered to be the fifth season of the year in Erlangen, and I really have to agree. This is the time that Erlangen comes alive with noise, bustle and people. Kicking back, letting lose and dancing on the tables is heartily encouraged, and everyone is invited!

Look at those adorable little lederhosen!

Look at those adorable little lederhosen!

 

How to get there

By foot, by bike or by bus. Walking is a great option, you can get to feel the real buzz that travels through everyone by joining the crowds to wander up to the Berg. It is about a 10 minute walk from Erlangen Bahnhof to the bottom of the Berg. There is good parking for bikes at the bottom of the hill and since drunk cycling is a crime I would recommend pushing your bike home or leaving your bike there overnight and collecting it in the morning.

The local bus company (VGN) run a special Berg night bus which leaves from Leo-Hauck-Straße after 8pm. Regular buses will travel between Hugenottenplatz and the Berg but I’d recommend just walking from Hugenottenplatz, it’s 5 minutes to the Berg from there.

Parking for vehicles is practically none existent unless you live near the Berg, it’s a beer festival, leave the car at home. If you must bring the car there are multi story car parks in central Erlangen,the largest are Parkhaus Henkestraße and Parkhaus Neuer markt, details here.

What to wear

Tracht, plain and simple, join in and have some fun, see if this can convince you! Of course tracht is not compulsory, wear what you’re comfortable in.

Also, rain or shine, almost nothing will stop the Bergkirchweih from taking place, take a jacket (and maybe an umbrella) because it is mostly outside and not covered, shelter can be hard to find.

It is also on a hill, and there are cobbles, and tree roots and mud, don’t take anything you don’t want to get dirty and wear sensible shoes, leave those heels at home.

Useful to know

There will be a refundable deposit or ‘Pfand’ on your mug, glass or bottle. Mugs and glasses are usually 5 euro each and plastic bottles less, don’t forget to cash in your mugs at the end of the night. Take your item back to the cellar you got it from and don’t worry if they closed or you forgot, you can bring them back another night for your deposit.

Mug at the Weller Keller

Mug at the Weller Keller

Bergkirchweich Beer is served by the Maß (a litre) ‘Ein Maß bitte’ it will be served in a stone beer mug and cost you     8.50 euro (plus a 5 euro Pfand)

Radler, a Bergkirchweih beer mixed with lemonade (half and half), yes a Shandy to us English folks. This is also served by the Maß, ‘Ein Radler bitte’ and will usually come with a straw, so that it can be distinguished from a full strength beer, you will pay the same price for a Radler as a full beer.

Weißbier (wheat beer) is not usually served by the litre, you will receive a 0.4l or 0.5l and it will come in a glass mug, which will also have a Pfand on it.

Wein and the Weinschorle, you can buy a Maß of wine at the Berg (though it’s more usual to get a 0.5l), I wouldn’t recommend it though, if you want a litre (or even a half litre) go for a Weinschorle (a spritzer), you may be given the option of Suß (sweet, with lemonade) or Suer (sour, with sparkling water).

Apfelschorle is my non alcoholic drink of choice, it’s a mix of half apple juice and half sparkling water, suitable for kids and grown ups.

A Festbrezel is large, you won’t need one each, it’s great eaten with Obatzda (wonderful German cheesy deliciousness) or to accompany an A4 sized slice of cheese.

Why yes that is a very large slice of cheese!

Why yes that is a very large slice of cheese!

Toilets at the Bergkirchweih will cost you 50cents a go (so keep some change handy), they are usually nice and clean and will have attendants servicing them throughout the day. Ladies beware the queues can get very long, join before you’re desperate. Men, there is a pissoir available for free, use it and not the trees, please.

You will hear this song about every half hour, it’s a toasting song and if you want to blend in, swing that beer mug and sing it loud!

‘Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit
Der Gemütlichkeit
Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit
Der Gemütlichkeit’

Each year Entla’s Keller design a new picture for their Steins (mugs),’which year did you get?’ is what we usually ask each other on receiving our beers, this is the preview of 2015.

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Recommendations

Steinbach beer, as always my total favourite, you can find them in the middle of the Berg, near the T junction. Berch.info has lots information for a first time visitor or a seasoned professional.

Langos, the Hungarian food of your fatty dreams, paprika, garlic, cheese and sour cream!

The entertainment is worth checking out, ‘Musikanten’ are generally made up of local musicians playing traditional and schlager (German party music), bands playing are usually doing schlager and covers. Der Berg Ruft has lots more detailed information.

Buy your sweetie a gingerbread heart and have them wear it around their neck all day.

The Ferris wheel, you get such a great view from the top and it really helps put the Berg into perspective, you’ll realise just how much is crammed into an area that really isn’t very big.

If you secure a table, hold onto it, from 4pm onwards (earlier if the weather is good) it can get really hard to find space for more than a twosome.

Plan a meeting point pre berg, phone signal and 3G are notoriously bad at the festival (so many people not enough masts) and it can be challenging to find a group, especially in the evenings when it is busy.

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This couple had their wedding pictures taken at the Berg last year, and scored plenty of free beer too.

The details

The official tapping of the barrel will this year take place at Henninger Keller on 21st May at 5pm – The first barrel is handed out free but only attempt to grab if you’re tall, it’s a total bun fight!

The Berg is open Monday-Saturday 10am-11pm and Sunday 9.30am-11pm.

Price for a Maß (a litre) is 8.50 euro and Pfand (deposit) 5 euro.

Tuesday 26th May is Erlanger Tag, lots of smaller shops on Erlangen will close at 2pm so the towns workers can enjoy some afternoon time at the Berg.

Thursday 28th May is Family Day at the Berg, this is the best time to take the family, up until 8pm there will be discounts on rides and most of the daytime drinkers will avoid the games areas.

Sunday 31st May there is a church service up at Erich Keller, starting at 9am.

Monday 1st June is the closing ceremony, don’t forget a white hanky (kleenex) to wave off the barrel until next year.

Here’s a peek at what to expect from the little old town of Erlangen 10 days from now…

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