Tag Archives: Erlangen

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 Fasching in Franconia

28 Jan

Are you thinking ’What the heck is Fasching?’ well look no further, I blogged last year about the basics and I’ve had some requests for an ‘Insiders guide’ so here it is…

Fasching is the pre lenten fasting party time of craziness that sweeps across Germany and is celebrated hardest in the Catholic regions, of which Franconia is one! Officially the Fasching period begins on the 11th day of the 11th month at 11 minutes past 11, (as a Brit this is a little strange to me). In reality, here in Franconia, this is when the behind the scenes works starts in planning for Fasching, you will only see signs of Fasching after the 7th January, Dreikönigstag (Three Kings day) and suddenly all the bakeries are filled with Krapfen (Donuts) and shops are filled with costumes and party supplies.

The actual date of Easter dictates when Fasching parties and parades will happen, the biggest week is the one preceding Ash Wednesday. Schools, Kindergartens and workplaces will be full of costumes, it’s pretty funny to try and talk to your bank manager with a straight face when he’s dressed as Batman.

Faschingsdienstag, Shrove Tuesday/Pancake Day to Brits and Fat Tuesday to my US friends is the last hurrah before your lenten fast (if you’re Catholic anyway), as well as a parade (see recommendations below) your town may also bury/burn a Nubbel. A Nubbel is a straw dolly which symbolises the sins of the Fasching season, and it’s an excuse to continue the party with a BBQ until Ash Wednesday arrives.

Just a note here for all tie wearing men, on Weiberfastnacht (the Thursday preceding Ash Wednesday) wear your least favourite tie or perhaps just leave your tie at home. This day is Women’s Carnival and you could have your tie snipped off by any woman at any time, now you have a use for that awful tie the mother in law gave you last Christmas!

How to get there

Since Faschings parades tend to attract a lot of visitors parking can be scarce (and also far away) so using public transport is usually best, but do plan in advance since roads are closed for the parade to travel through the respective towns.

For up to date travel information check out VGN and Deutsche Bahn.

What to wear

Anything and everything. It’s February so be sensible, standing on the side of the road for a few hours means that dressing warmly is essential, not that this should mean that you can’t wear a costume though. Most kids wear their costume over their outdoor gear, whilst the adults who don’t go in for a costume will have some form of ‘fun’ head gear, don’t forget your deeley boppers people!

Excellent chicken parents!

Excellent chicken parents!

Useful to know

You might also hear Fasching referred to as Fastnacht or Karneval, they all mean the same thing and are purely regional variations.

Get used to hearing HELLLLOOOOOO over and over again, it’s actually a carnival greeting of Helau!

Helau!

If you are offended by the unpolitically correct, don’t go to a Fasching parade. Quite honestly this is just ‘the German way’, you can always close your eyes.

Sweets and treats will be thrown from the floats and by the parade participants, take a bag to collect any that you want, you may even get handed a free beer or headbutt a flying Krapfen (true story).

The parade in Cologne is the biggest and usually held on the Monday (Rosenmontag) before Ash Wednesday, it is attended by over a million people, it is televised though, so you can enjoy it from the comfort of your sofa.

Recommendations

Faschingzug in Neunkirchen am Brand (Fasching parade Neunkirchen am Brand) takes place on Tuesday 17th February 2015 starts at 2pm and is the biggest in the area, attracting more than 10000 visitors.

Starting the parade off right!

The 45th annual Brucker Faschingszug (Erlangen Bruck Fasching parade) takes place on Sunday 15th February 2015 starts at 2pm from Erlangen Bruck Marktplatz. The parade snakes it’s way around the town and back again, find yourself a spot and set up there, it will be pretty busy everywhere close to 2pm so arrive early to bag a good spot.

The lovely people at Nürnberg Zoo are providing free entry to any child (13 and under) who visits dressed as a zoo animal on the 16th&17th February 2015.

The details

Watching a Fasching parade is completely free.

You can bring any food or drink you wish to the parade, bakeries tend to get very busy and plenty shut whilst the parade is actually on.  Last year I was drinking Sekt and eating Krapfen, the year before it was sausages and beer.

Here’s a peek at what to expect in Erlangen Bruck in a few weeks…

EBKS Die Bibliothek

25 Aug

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This was one of the words on my first German spelling test at school, I probably got it wrong, but I’ve never forgotten the pronunciation and the way the word bubbles off your tongue. It’s one of my favourite German words and also the place in Erlangen that saved my sanity on occasion.

Considering it’s a place that is open to the general public it was initially hard to find…

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Off the Hauptstrasse, this is the entrance!

Well that just screams library doesn’t it? you actually have to walk through the cafe seating to get to the doorway. Sign? I hear you cry, no. It is written on the glass door inside that unlighted entrance so if you get within a foot you can actually tell it’s a library!

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Yes that gorgeous building is in fact the library

If you miss the side door off the main street you can always look for the main entrance, which is clearly marked indistinguishable from all the other buildings on the Marktplatz. There are certain clues, high volume of traffic in and out and a lot of parked bicycles outside, but to me as a newcomer I just assumed that it was some sort of Amt and I tend to avoid those unless its absolutely necessary.

Stadtbibliothek Erlangen (Erlangen city Library) Marktplatz 1 91054 Erlangen

Mon,Tues,Thurs,Fri 10am-6.30pm Saturday 10am-2pm Wednesday closed

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Returns, registration etc

The library is decorated simply and maintains many of its original features, it also has automatic doors and a lift so everyone can enjoy it.

Membership of the library will costs you 17.50 euro per year (they didn’t have a card machine when I registered so best to take cash), there are discounts for students etc and children under 18 are free. You will have to take your passport as ID and your German registration paper to confirm your address (although they are sympathetic to you living in a hotel and will just ask that you change your address when you move) and become a member.

Once you are a member, you can use the self checkouts to get your books, really easy to use and great for when you just don’t want to talk to anyone, you can also renew online. The assistants are helpful and are willing to speak English if you get stuck.

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The atrium

This area of the library is free to use you don’t need to be a member, it’s a quiet reading area and has a good selection of newspapers and magazines (though none in English) for you to read. Don’t attempt to take them with you though, they are tagged and need to be put back when you are finished.

At the far end of the atrium is the children’s book section, it has two floors, books (a decent english selection), audio books, music, DVDs and is generally a nice safe place to hang out with your little people. It is slightly separate to the rest of the library so no one expects your little darlings to be utterly silent whilst they are there.

Apologies for no more photographs but I didn’t want to annoy anyone that day.

Now for the grown ups, the second floor (turn left on exiting the lift, then right, and right again) houses a decent English language book selection, I haven’t read them all yet and it’s been 3.5 years, they get new ones fairly regularly too. They also cater for other languages but not in so great a volume. The audio book section is also nearby, just check that it is in English if that’s what you are looking for.

The CD/DVD section is just across from the English books, most will have an English language selection and there are a ton of box sets to chose from. There is a small charge to rent DVDs I think about 1.50 euro and you can only have them for a week, but when you’ve got no internet that’s a small price to pay!

The library also has great selections of written music, games and comics. It is a great place to study or just get lost in for a few hours, there is an modern art museum inside the  library which changes quite regularly, they even have a small shop of arty goodies.

You can access the internet (via the library computers) on the first floor, you do need to be a member to do this though.

So now you know where the library is, will you be visiting?

 

EBKS English books

20 Aug

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Finding English books that don’t cost the earth locally can be difficult and finding non bestsellers even more so which is why today I’d like to share with you my Erlangen treasure trove for book lovers.

Musicland – Helmstrasse 9 91054 Erlangen

Monday-Friday 11.30am-7pm Saturday 11am-1pm

Just like with books, never judge a shop by it’s cover!

Just like with books, never judge a shop by it’s cover!

Just off the main street and next door to Curry House (yum) you will find so much more than just music in this Aladdin’s cave of  CDs, DVDs, LPs and books! The window display is wonderfully eclectic and a true example of the wide ranging stock they have, stock does rotate fairly regularly (though the music faster than the books) so visit as often as you can, or in my case when I have money and space for new books. Everything here is pre loved, this makes the prices utterly reasonable, for a girl who misses her charity shop hauls, this place is close to heaven.

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As you walk in, it’s impossible not to browse in this shop

I didn’t manage to get a full picture of the whole of the shop because there were too many shoppers, this is about 1/6 of the stock in the front room of the shop. They also have turntables, see those green stools near the steps? so you can test out your vinyl before purchasing.

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Up the steps to the pure vinyl room

This room contains pretty much every genre of music available, old and new, from Schlager to Classical, traditional to modern(ish). I don’t even own a turntable anymore, I just love looking at the cover art.

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Soo much vinyl

Carrying on into the shop, which is very tardis like in it’s size and kind of reminds me of ‘Mr Penumbras 24 hour bookstore’ (wonderful book, you must read!) there are books filling every nook and cranny.

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Language learning section

If you turn left once you’re passed the vinyl on your left you will find a dictionary/language learning section. I have picked up some wonderful finds here, English-German dictionaries, verb books and even the ‘Deutsch als fremdsprache’ books I’ve used in language classes, and all for a fraction of the price of new books (even though they are maybe six months old).

Once you are ready to move on follow the path into the next room

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This will be right in front of you

On the left there are loads of travel books, some amazingly old and most pretty up to date, buying a German guide to a city/country can be a good way to practice your German, you can also find the occasional one in English. If you want something thats definitely in English go to the left of the bookcase with the travel books….

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All in English!!!!!

It’s a random selection, but a good one. Some of the shelves are two deep with paperbacks, which generally cost 2-3.50 euro, how much do you love me right?

There is also a selection of books in other languages, though it is smaller.

If you carry on to the back of the shop (yes there is more) you can even find written music (super cheap). Also at the back of the shop, you sometimes you will find a selection of books that are for sale by their weight, I cleaned up that way one day on random purchases.

This is a buy and sell enterprise but I have not yet sold anything back to the shop since I have a circle of book buddies locally who I exchange books with quite regularly, keeps my purse closed and my shelves from overflowing. The people who work in the shop have always been lovely and friendly, and in Germany I can’t say no to that kind of customer service now can I?

One of the great things about this shop is that you can take your time, no one will bother you and there are even random chairs and stools placed around the shop for friends bored of book shopping piling up your book booty.

There also have branches in Ausburg, Fuerth and Regensburg. Go try it out and let me know how you get on.

Last night of the Bergkirchweih

18 Jun

So Monday 16th June 2014 was the official last night of the Erlangen Bergkirchweih, it just so happened to coincide with Germanys first World Cup match, would there even be anyone there?

Of course there were people there! After the football finished there were a LOT more very happy and already plastered people there. Last night is something I would recommend to anyone living in Erlangen, it always has a lovely atmosphere and there is just something more authentic about Bergkirchweih during the week (I suppose less tourists for a start). We checked out some rides, had some very unhealthy and delicious food and settled down at the Steinbach biergarten, no dancing on tables but good conversation instead.

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Overlooking Erich Keller

The real fun starts at the closing ceremony. Every year the last barrel is taken and buried at the keller which will hold the opening ceremony of next years Bergkirchweih.

Eagerly awaiting the last barrel of the Bergkirchweih

Eagerly awaiting the last barrel of the Bergkirchweih

Cue men in costume with pickaxes and spades carrying a beer barrel above their heads through a crowd of roughly 5000 people. And it gets more bizarre I promise….

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Erlangen’s Mayor Florian Janick seemed to enjoy his beer and time on stage, thanks for keeping the speech short

…To wave goodbye to the barrel you have to wave your white handkerchief (or tissue in most people case)….

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Waving goodbye to the last barrel of the Bergkirchweih

…Whilst singing ‘Blutwurst und Sauerkraut’ to the tune of…wait for it….The English National Anthem. Honestly it’s true, check out this video of the 2012 closing (as my camera died).

The barrel made it’s way through the crowds of people, the mayor made a short speech (and seemed to enjoy his spotlight on stage) and then just like that, it was over.

Until next year, Erlangen Bergkirchweih 2015 21/05-01/06.

Fußball V Bergkirchweih

4 Jun

Sp the whole world is going a little bit football crazy at the moment, Germany certainly is anyway, but in Erlangen, there is a competitor for the limelight. This little get together called the Bergkirchweih starts tomorrow and Erlangen is conflicted.

Shop windows vie for your attention and the attention of your wallet

On the left

On the left

On the right

On the right

Some windows just mix the two events, see the ferris wheel and goals posts!

Some windows just mix the two events, see the ferris wheel and goals posts!

I’m biased, I’m not a really a fan of football but I am a fan of Bergkirchweih. Why? Maybe because it’s just unlike anything I’ve ever been to in the UK, and there is probably an amazingly long German word to describe how I feel about it but I’ll stop with it’s Berg.

The influx of tourists at Bergkirchweih time means shops are working harder to take some of that hard earned beer money from your pockets and it all starts with the displays.

Touristy goodies

Touristy goodies

This selection includes such classy and collectable items such as a booby mug, for all you tea drinking needs, yodelling teddy bears, Erlangen bear key rings, a singing bottle opener and much much more!

Tomorrow every other man in Erlangen will look a little something like this, only probably less pale and with a face ;)

Tomorrow every other man in Erlangen will look a little something like this, only probably a little less pale 😉

Bavarian goodies, well thats clearly for the tourists, it’ll annoy the Franconians, quick put him in a red and white checked shirt to confirm our status as confirmed Franconians.

Just FYI Erlangen is located in the state of Bavaria, see the blue and white flag in the above photo, it is also located in Franconia, confused yet? Franconia is a historic division of Southern Bavaria (mainly) and whilst it is not technically it’s own state it’s inhabitants are fiercely proud of their Franconian roots. It’s kind of like being Cornish! The flag you will see a lot here is red and white, it also tends to be a popular colour for mens shirts with their lederhosen.

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Plenty of red and white to go around

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Mens wear, come on guys, leather trousers to last a lifetime

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Ladies, give it a go you might surprise yourself! And don’t forget to accessorise!

Incidentally it’s (one of) the best time of the year to buy ‘German’ presents (yes I’m talking Christmas in June) for family and friends. I swear they absolutely love this stuff, the weirder and the tackier the better (or maybe thats just my family and friends).

In the battle of Fußball V Berg I’m afraid Berg wins every time for me, it really was a foregone conclusion and I’m sure I’ll be forced end up watching some matches and I might even enjoy it, just not as much as Berg 😉

Well I’m in the mood and absolutely can’t wait, are you coming to Bergkirchweih this year? Does your village have it’s own?

 

FAQ

3 Jun

My inbox has been getting ever fuller with questions, I will answer each and every one of them personally but as lot have the same themes running through them, I thought I’d write a quick FAQ to cover the basics

Where should I live? Should I live here or here?
I understand, I really do, it’s hard to decide to live somewhere that perhaps you’ve never even visited before, BUT choosing a home in Germany isn’t that different to choosing a home anywhere. Look out for commuting times to work, check the city’s website (google translate is a wonderful thing), local amenities (google maps is very useful), what are your essentials in a place to live? Google, google, google. And if you end up somewhere that really doesn’t suit you and you can’t possibly stand it you can always move.

Good sites to check out are Stadt Erlangen, Erlangen Tourism, Stadt Nürnberg, Nürnberg Tourism, Stadt Herzogenaurach.

How do I find a house/flat?
To start with check your vocab
Mieten – To rent
Kaufen – To buy
Wohnung – Apartment/flat
Haus – House
Möbliert – Furnished
EBK – Einbauküche – Fitted kitchen – Just a warning here that not all German properties come with a kitchen, it’s one of those amusing little Germanisms! If there is a kitchen in the property you might be expected to buy it from the tenant who is moving out, check this with your estate agent.
Kaltmiete – Cold rent – This is the monthly rent, it excludes any other bills such as electricity and gas etc.
Nebenkosten – Additional costs including water, gas, electric etc. These will be estimated on the advert for the property, depending on how many more or less people you have living there and how you use the services these can vary vastly.
Warmmiete – Warm rent – Cold rent plus additional costs, this is usually a better indication of the price you will actually end up paying including bills.
FYI Internet, phone, satellite etc are not usually included in the Nebenkosten.
Zimmer – Room/s – German properties are advertised by how many rooms they have NOT by how many bedrooms they have. The bathroom, toilet and kitchen (or balcony) are not counted in this room count but the living, dining, bedrooms and study are.
Stellplatz – Parking space – This is usually an extra fee on top of your rent, if you don’t need the space (and it’s ‘included’ with the flat) you can rent it out.
Kaution – Deposit – This will go into a special bank account in your name, the savings book is handed over to the landlord for the duration of the tenancy.
Provision – Agents fee, here in Germany the renter generally pays the agents fees on the plus side of you see Provisionsfrei – No agents fees at all!

My favourite sites for property searching
Immowelt, Immoscout24, ImmonetNull-Provision (no agents fees)
Wohnref, I haven’t personally used them but in addition to the regular rental apartments they do also offer short term furnished accomodation, this can be hard to find around here.
WG-Gesucht, (WG – Wohngemeinschaft – flatshare) since Erlangen is a student city there are plenty of rooms for rent out there, the prices are competitive and shorter rental periods are acceptable.

Most estate agents will speak at least a little English, this is a very international area after all but do try to at least have your ‘must haves’ translated, just to save time.

If you are already in Germany, make use of your friends and neighbours, get it out there that you are looking, put a notice on your work bulletin board, in the paper or go old school and put a notice up at the supermarket.

Can I stay with you until I find somewhere to live? No

Do I need a car in Germany?
Well yes and no, I’ve known some people who just couldn’t live without a car for 8 months (but luckily the resale prices here are pretty good so they didn’t lose any money) and others who have lived here quite happily for 10 years plus without a car. Cars are incredibly useful for big shopping, holidays and hauling furniture. If you don’t mind breaking up your big shopping and buying panniers and a trailer, maybe you don’t need a car. If you take only exotic vacations in far flung countries which you can’t drive to, maybe you don’t need a car. And if you don’t mind renting/borrowing a van/car occasionally to shift furniture, maybe you don’t need a car. BUT if you want to explore without being tied to a train schedule, if you have kids, love road trips and hate getting caught in the rain on your bike, maybe you’ll want a car. My advice? go with your gut and like I said resale values are pretty good.

Are you fluent yet? You might just want to read this.

Is the Bergkirchweih suitable for children?
There are kids at the Bergkirchweih, it is a family friendly event during the daytime hours and Thursday 12th June is even ‘family day’ so you will get reduced prices for games and amusements. If I was a kid I’d love it, Pony rides, Ferris wheel, BB guns and sugar! What kid doesn’t like that? But just be aware that Germany is not as….Hmm how shall I put this?…not as into health and safety as say the UK or the states. Not that it’s unsafe at all it’s just more like the old days, the good old days. Maybe this will help.

How do I meet new people?
You are lucky to be living in this area which just happens to be full of other awesome expats (as well as locals) just like you.
– Join a language course, it’s not just about learning the language it’s also about friendship and building a new supportive circle of friends who know what you are going through.
– Join a German-English discussion group, for learners of both languages, the VHS Erlangen has a range of these in their Club International (and they are free)
– Join a Stammtisch, it’s a regular table with likeminded people, in Erlangen there is an English Stammtisch (English is the language spoken) it’s quite a small group but it can be fun and Deutscher Stammtisch (for foreigners who are learning German) a really fun group, no one will make fun at you as a learner! and in Nürnberg there is another English Stammtisch, this one has lots of events and is always packed.
– Join a gym, a football team, go swimming and say yes to every invitation, not matter how weird, I’m also not beyond just talking to random people I hear speaking English out and about, needs must!
– Whilst google is always your friend I also wrote this last year about making connections.

If you have any other burning questions or just want to get in touch, please do at theerlangenexpat@yahoo.com

And last but not least thanks to all the people that said thank you, you are most welcome.

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