Eat, Play… Live (Essen, Spielen…Leben)

EAT: I’ll admit, I had a preconceived notion of what German cuisine would be like.  Mostly the atmosphere of the restaurants; dimly lit, heavily cloaked in velvet, with antler décor and many food items containing blood.   We have yet to see anything like this here in Nuremburg, quite the opposite. The local eateries are very modern, gorgeous well-lit interiors, with bent wood furnishings, felted wool place matts and seat cushions, many including vegetarian options. Our first food experience was a vegan place just a few blocks from our apartment, we were eager to get a break from the jamón of Spain. The girls happily consumed lentils and rice, while Bernie and I tried the Veggie Burgers mine was called the Monkey Burger and yes it contained sliced bananas and had a peanut sauce and was quite delicious.  The second day we wandered into another well-designed establishment and I ordered a green bowl. We thought this was just a regular coffee shop, but to our delight they had a variety of wholesome and delicious food offerings, reminding us of home. Later in the week we stopped at this nondescript place called HOT TACOS.  The exterior was understated but to our surprise, the interior very quirky and quit charming and the food excellent.  This place was run by a New York born grown-up English speaking military kid, who was very friendly and took much pride in his establishment and could not figure out why we would leave Maui for this weather. They enquired if they could return home to Maui with us.

PLAY: We have discovered well-designed organic play structure, after play structure here in Germany. As our Waldorf friends know, our play structure at Haleakala was imported and built by German Engineers. I am coming to realize that this type of design is not unique to Waldorf Schools, it is just how the Germans design.  The structures are high off of the ground, daring, challenging, entertaining our girls for hours (or as long as we can bear the cold).  Grace said “Mommy can we go to the stick park?” A park we had missed while walking to the Kinder Museum. This structure is all but camouflaged to anyone who is not on the constant look out for a park. Contrary to the parks in Portugal and Spain, while prevalent, all appeared to be designed for small children 4 and under.  I have learned in my parenting that risk taking is a necessary part of a healthy development, that the girls need to experience danger to a certain extent in order to thrive, grow and learn to moderate themselves.  We have found that the Germans have incorporated this tree-climbing element into their design. The girls have been delighted by changing fallen leaves and begged to make piles to jump into, while I freeze.

We found the Spielzeug Museum at last, containing 600 years of toy making history. The girls enjoyed it, but had more fun the previous day at the Kinder Museum.

Live:  As we have told ourselves and others, our mission for this journey was not only to see new places but to really live in that place  and experience the daily life.  We are accomplishing that.  Amidst the touristing, visiting some local sights we are shopping at little markets for groceries, playing on the playgrounds, taking local transportation (the U-bahn) yes we have become quite accomplished in this.  We must look like we know what we are doing, so much so that a woman asked me to help her with the ticket machine in some foreign language (maybe Russian?). We love the U-bahn all of my public transportation fears assuaged by the expedient, clean and efficient transportation €11.40 (all-day ticket for our family). To our surprise no one has checked our tickets it seems to be the honor system, I question if the penalty is so severe that no one dare risk it.  Below are some clips of street entertainers and people out strolling about on a Sunday afternoon.  Exiting the U-ban yesterday, hear what we encountered:

Loving all things German, my husband, our school, the Mini Cooper, the country, etc.

Tiffany

P.S. Comments are totally welcome and invited we love hearing your thoughts.

Nuremburg, Germany…my return to the Fatherland

My deep roots are German on both sides of my family so this country understandably has a familiar and comfortable ‘feel’ to me personally. I last visited Nuremburg when I was a senior in high school (way back in the time machine in the year 1975). I was a regional winner in a national high school German language contest and the prize was a trip to Germany along with several dozen other high school students from all over the country. Each student was placed with a German host family where we ‘lived’ for several weeks and also attended school for a brief period. There were special bus trips arranged to Munich and Berlin (at that time there was still an East Berlin under Russian occupation and West Berlin). I recall that we were even briefly allowed to cross the check-point into East Berlin as part of the trip! Of course, there were also a few visits to some famous medieval castles. After countless years of  ‘not using it and losing it’, my German is now very rusty to say the least and I now wish that I had the time to ‘relearn’ German again before embarking on this admittedly impulsive world travel adventure with my family. But we have not had any real communication problems since most of the locals that we have interacted with speak at least a little bit of English.

My father’s family hails from the Nuremburg area and I recall him telling me about one of his first jobs as a youth working for Grundig. I miss my father very much and some days it is hard to believe that it has been almost 18 years since his passing in 1999. In a couple of days we plan to take a short bus trip to the neighboring village of Rostal where my grandfather on my father’s side is  buried in a church cemetery. I recall my father telling me that his father was somewhat of a dissident and frequently got into trouble with the authorities. I regrettably never met my grandfather since he died in his 50’s and never made it to America with the rest of his family that emigrated after WWII ended. I see this as a rare opportunity for our girls to visit the cemetery of their great-grandfather and to learn a bit of their ancestry.

Emboldened by our experience with the public transportation system in Barcelona, we decided to take the subway (U-bahn) to explore the Altstadt (literal translation: old city) a couple of days ago. There is an intriguing mixture of very old and very new buildings. One building in particular caught my eye; the Neues Museum (literal translation: new museum). It was a museum of contemporary-modern art. No old masters adorning the walls of this museum and frankly, while quite interesting nonetheless, the interpretation of the artists’ intent is usually a bit of a head scratcher. You can decide for yourself from some of the photos attached to this blog. Even if the art exhibits failed to inspire me, the buildings’ architecture and helical stair did impress me.

 

On Friday, we visited the Rudolph Steiner-Schule (Waldorf School) in Nuremburg. We contacted the schools’ secretary thru their website (all in German of course) and requested permission to visit the school with our three children who attend the Haleakala Waldorf School on Maui. The secretary was very accommodating and arranged for one of the schools’ teachers (Julia Schlagbaum) to greet us and give us a private tour of the campus and to answer any questions. Julia teaches French and English at this school (which are the two languages that are taught at this Waldorf School as part of the curriculum). We learned from her that the Nuremburg Waldorf School is one of the largest in Germany with approximately 950 students in grades K, 1-13. It was raining pretty hard the day that we visited the school so we only got a quick tour of the grounds but enough to recognize the Waldorf gardening area and extensive playground areas. We also got to visit the 4th grade classroom and noted the familiar artwork on the walls and chalkboard (celtic knots) and the kindergarten classroom. A large addition was constructed about 17 years ago that included a ‘bistro’ gathering area at the main level which appeared to be very popular with the staff and older students. We also saw the impressive kitchen which prepares the hot lunches daily (3.75 Euros). The tuition is a surprising 350 Euros per month with even lower rates for siblings…..hmm. All in all, it was a good experience for all of us (even our youngest girls, Eleanore-2nd Grade and Grace-Kindergarten) to see and connect with another Waldorf School on the other side of the world! As we were leaving, the schools’ secretary surprised us by giving us a copy of the book “Der Sonne Licht” (translation: The Sun’s Light), which is a wonderful compilation of poems and stories used as a textbook by Waldorf teachers.

 

Saturday we started out with the intent of visiting a popular Toy Museum (Spielzeugmuseum) which displays over 600 years of German toy history and instead ended up at a Kindermuseum (Children’s Museum) instead (I misread the city map!) We decided to check it out since our children were already familiar with similar museums in other cities (St. Paul, Minnesota and Chicago). The very interactive museum was a big hit and we spent several hours on the three floors of the building which covered everything from life at the turn of the century to organic farming, sustainable development and greenhouse gases (ie., global warming – of course).

We also managed to get a ‘bit of shopping’ in as well! More posts to come. Stay tuned.

Bernie