Nuremberg Tourist Guide

Nuremberg Tourist Guide

Often overlooked by tourists in a rush to see Berlin or Munich, Nuremberg is a beautiful city located just south of the centre of Germany with a lot of history and charm. While much of the old town was destroyed during the war, it has been rebuilt brick for brick to resemble the town that existed before and to retain the history of the region. If you are spending some time in Germany, it is worth spending a couple of days in Nuremberg, and here are a few things you can occupy your time with.

Visit the Altstadt - The old town of Nuremberg is contained by some impressive city walls that more or less circle the whole of the historic part of the city. Within this space, there are plenty of cobbled streets to explore, old wooden beamed houses, and of course the castle at the top of the hill. Other highlights here are the house of Albrecht Dürer, the famous artist, which has been turned into a museum, views of the river Pegnitz weaving through the historical buildings, the beautiful market square (Hauptmarkt) which contains the gothic Frauenkirche and Schöner Brunnen statue, and the iconic and picturesque Henkerhaus and Weißgerbergasse which are worth a visit just to take those jealousy invoking Instagram photos.

Fill your pie hole - traditional Franconian cuisine is delicious and an excellent insight into the culture of the region. All around the Altstadt, you will find little market stalls and shops that are selling Drei im Weckla which is three Nürnberger Bratwurst inside a bread roll, which makes an excellent snack during your old town sightseeing. The most important dish to the region is arguably the Schweineschäufele - a slow roasted pig’s shoulder which is usually served with Knödel and falls off the bone when you poke it with your fork. Of course, Nuremberg wouldn’t be German if it didn’t have a beer scene, and the regional beer is very special. Perhaps the best place to sample some of the beer of the local breweries is by taking a trip to Wanderer - a small pub which can be seen spilling onto the streets outside the Albrecht Dürer house on a sunny day. Here, they have a whole plethora of local beers which they will sell to you to consume, most likely on the street amongst all of the locals and students who come to soak up the sun amongst the historic city buildings.

Visit Großer Dutzendteich and Dokuzentrum - the Dokumentationszentrum Reichsparteitagsgelände (there’s a fun way to practice your German pronunciation) is a massive unfinished piece of third reich architecture in the south east of the city. This has been turned into a museum which details the happenings of the second world war and the involvement that the city of Nuremberg had in both fuelling and ending the war. The grounds around here are where the city tends to host festivals such as the bi-annual Volksfest (beer and funfair) and also the Rock Im Park music festival. There are also some relaxing walking paths through the parks and around the lakes which will take you past more third reich architecture and, of course, plenty of beer gardens and places to relax.

Reflect on the past at Zeppelinfeld - This is the piece of ground where Hitler held some of his rallies, and so therefore an important historical sight to reflect upon the mistakes of the past. While some of the architecture was symbolically destroyed here at the end of the war, the main structure still remains and is explorable by foot for those wishing to visit.

Visit the Fränkische Schweiz and Lauf - just a short bus, train or even cycle trip away, you can find yourself immersed in the Fränkische forest. One of the more known and iconic villages is Lauf, which contains a lot of old beautiful buildings and winding cobbled streets. The area contains lots of hiking, climbing, lakes for recreational activities and natural spaces for those wishing to escape the city and to find something a little closer to nature. There is also a beer hike that bounces between five different breweries over roughly ten kilometres (Fuenf-Seidla-Steig) which will provide a good cross section of local beer and culture.

Faroe Islands

Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands is a collection of 18 rocky volcanic islands between Iceland and Norway in the North Atlantic Ocean. Much like Greenland, it is part of the Danish Kingdom, although it is a self-governing entity. The islands are connected using ferries, bridges and tunnels, and the area has become popular among hikers and bird watchers due to the unique and fascinating nature.

Faroe Islands is (temporarily) closed to tourists this 2020 cause of COVID annoyingly but you can still read about them here :) As the Faroe Islands are part of the Danish Kingdom, Danish is widely spoken and throughout history, has even had its moments as the language of the church, the written language, and the language for all official matters, however the official language of the Faroe Islands is now Faroese, along with Danish. It is estimated that fewer than 80,000 people in the whole world are able to speak this language which was, for a long time, threatened with extinction.

The language has nordic roots and is very similar to Icelandic, Swedish, Norwegian and Danish, all of which are widely understood (at least when spoken slowly enough) by the islanders and vice versa. The population of the Faroe Islands is around 50,000 according to the 2017 census, and roughly a further 25,000 people living in Denmark and about 5,000 people living in Iceland can speak Faroese. It is one of the most important factors of the culture and identity of the islands, and huge measures are being taken to retain this little linguistic gem.

The language derives from the Nordic settlers who arrived in the 9th century. Before this, the general presumption is that the residents of the islands spoke some form of old Irish. Between the 9th and 15th century, the language developed and grew apart from the other Nordic languages spoken around Scandinavia, become more distinguished and separated. The other main influence on the Faroese language is Gaelic, as many of the Norse settlers were descendants of settlers in the Irish Sea region or married women from this area before settling on the islands. A lot of place names in the Faroe Islands have arguably Gaelic roots.

Up until 1938, the schools and churches were only permitted to use the Danish language, however, a Lutheran minister by the name of Venceslaus Ulricus Hammersheimb created a spelling system for the Faroese language and therefore developed it from a purely spoken language to a written one as well. In 1938, Faroese was given equal status to Danish in the schools and churches to hep retain some of the culture of the islands.

In 1948, Faroese became the principal and official language of the islands after the Home Rule Act was introduced. To this day, Faroese remains the main language of the islands, and Danish is the second language which is taught to everybody in school. Almost everybody on the islands today speaks, reads and writes in fluent Danish as well as Faroese.

Faroese its not yet a registered language on Google Translate, so the islanders have some up with their own translation service at powered by volunteers who will translate phrases assigned to them at random. There are also a number of different video clips of volunteers speaking popular phrases which are helpful for tourists who want to come across as a little more polite, and for those wishing to retain a little bit of the culture of the magnificent islands. The website is partnered with Atlantic Airways and the tourism group Visit Faroe Islands.

While it can be a difficult language to learn for those who have no experience in speaking and listening to Nordic languages, visitors to the island will be relieved to hear that like its Scandinavian siblings, it will be difficult to find somebody in the Faroe Islands who doesn't understand and speak English. Be that as it may, a few words in the local language always go down well with the local people, so if you intend to visit, it is at least worth knowing that hello is simply halló (hahloh) or hey (huhy).

The Faroe Islands are a simply magical place with breathtaking scenery and are well worth a visit, if not to stretch your tongue and to try your luck with Faroese, to experience the awesome nature. Farvæl!

Alternative German Music

Alternative German Music

Recently, there has been a huge shift in popular music in Germany that has seen the reintroduction of some more traditional styles blended with modern popular genres which has created some interesting and unique results that are quickly becoming household names. Here are just a few of the artists who are leading the alternative music scene in Germany and inspiring many others to follow in their footsteps.

Fiva - Fiva is essentially a female rap artist, however she has collaborated on many different products with a number of different musicians to create very interesting hip hop music. The most successful and arguably the best project to date has been labelled Fiva X JRBB where she has collaborated with JRBB - a DJ, as well as a symphony orchestra and a wind band to create a unique blend of big band music and hip hop. Two very notable songs are Goldfisch and Die Stadt Gehört Wieder Mir which showcase her exceptional upbeat style with lashings of jazz, saxophone solos and clever rhythmic devices which are enough to get anybody dancing.

Moop Mama - Originating out of München, Moop Mama (photo) are a 10 piece hip hop band who label themselves as Urban Brass. They create upbeat, unique and uplifting hip hop music using the traditional Bavarian oom-pah band instrumentation and using the style as an influence. Their live sets are bursting with energy and sing-along moments, getting the whole crowd involved. They are usually spotted wearing red tracksuits, are known for spontaneous public performances and have a strange obsession with bicycles. Notable songs are Die Erfindung Des Rades which is a very strange but brilliant brass heavy and chaotic hip hop piece, and Alle Kinder in which they collaborate with Jan Delay, famous solo hip hop Hamburg-born artist, with its upbeat dance inspiring rhythms and massive sing-along moments.

Meute - Like Moop Mama, Meute are a large brass band blending traditional marching music with a modern style. The 11 piece group became famous very quickly for their marching band techno music where they take modern techno hits and remake them using traditional instrumentation. Their debut album Tumult was released in October 2017, and notable hits include a cover of Gonçalo's Mental Help and a cover of Laurent Garnier's The Man with the Red Face. Meute are an absolute sensation to see live with absolute precision on all instruments and an undeniable energy that infects the entire crowd, and being instrumental, transcends all language barriers.

LaBrassBanda - Another brass band from Bavaria, LaBrassBanda mix traditional Bavarian brass music with modern genres such as techno, funk, punk and ska. The eccentric group became popular after their self recorded debut in 2008 was released and they completed their first tour using a tractor and mopeds instead of a tour bus. Notable hits are the genre mashing Nackert with pop, reggae and even mariachi moments and the humorous Autobahn song which blends brass music with ska and punk. They attempted to enter the Eurovision Song Contest in 2013 for Germany and, although not successful, managed to boost their popularity and recognition in the process.

Jan Delay - Jan Delay is an artist who collaborates a lot with other German groups but also has a solo career. He specialises in hip hop, reggae and soul styles and his upbeat music graces the German radio stations on a regular basis. One of his more famous songs is Oh Jonny which blends vintage soul styles with modern funk guitar and of course, has that signature horn section to contribute a lot of energy and movement to the choruses.

Peter Fox & SEEED - One album that is likely to get almost any young German singing is Peter Fox's solo album Stadtaffe. and when Alles Neu or Kopf Verloren come on in public, they always go down well. Again, blending hip hop and rap styles with classical instrumentation, often dark and angry lyrics and tribal rhythms, Fox has found a very unique and well earned place on the German music scene. He is also a member of the reggae band SEEED who are particularly famous for their genre blending music which often sees hard rock and ska pitted against traditional reggae music. Famous hits include Ding and Molotov which also include sections spoken in English as well as German.

Iceland Changing Tourism Industry

Iceland Changing Tourism Industry

Over the past ten years, the tourism industry in Iceland has seen a massive increase. This is due to many factors including a massive presence on social media travel pages and Instagram, its prime location for a stop-over between Canada or the USA and Europe and some introduced initiatives to boost tourism such as a waive on a tourist tax for those wishing to stay less than a week in the country, again, making it a great place for a short stopover. Estimated figures show that the number of tourists rose from almost 600,000 in the year 2000 to 4.4 million in 2014, and the figure continues to grow and now provides almost 30% of the country's export revenue.

Iceland is a very easy country to travel to. While they do have their own beautiful language which is similar to Norwegian and Swedish, absolutely everybody has some grasp on the English language and in fact, most of them can be considered fluent. The country has a small population of only 300,000 people, and they are heavily reliant on the tourism industry to bring a revenue into their country, so the infrastructure is well set up and almost everything can be done by using tour companies directly out of Reykjavik, the capital city.

What this huge increase in visitors does mean, however, is that those seeking empty landscapes and isolation are finding it a little harder to escape the crowds. High prices are increasing even more as richer clients are flying in to experience the country's charm, and iconic landmarks such as The Blue Lagoon are becoming overcrowded and losing a little of the magic that made them quite unique. Those who are looking for a peaceful break are having to venture further outside of the capital towards places like the West Fjords, over towards the isolated East of the country, or to islands such as Vestmannæyer to immerse themselves in lonely nature. This is, on the flipside, providing a more even spread of tourist income throughout the country as some of the more remote locations are becoming an interest for nature seekers.

The increase also has some problems for the local citizens. Reykjavik nightlife has increased with stag and hen parties which has turned the sleepy little capital into something a little louder and disruptive. People are camping in inappropriate places and littering and the removal of natural souvenirs is threatening the environment. The prices are rising not just for the tourists, but also for the locals and while the overall revenue is up, wages are not inflating at the same rate as prices. That said, they do encourage tourists to visit the country, but to visit it responsibly and to respect the locals and the pristine land. While the country is somewhat struggling with over-tourism, it is still just about coping.

Iceland experiences seasons of almost 24 hours of darkness and vice versa, and both come with their own charm. To visit the country during the darker months provides you with the chance of seeing the enchanting northern lights, although it also comes with colder weather and of course, mostly darkness. The opposite end of the scale sees very mild weather (although it could be considered a little chilly in comparison to many other countries) with a lot of grey skies, but very long days that make midnight feel like 6pm and allow you to increase your hours of sightseeing for things that you can only do during daylight.

The country itself is fantastic. It is an amalgamation of dramatic fiery tectonic activity, dreamy icy landscapes and tiny fishing villages. It is often coated in moody and atmospheric cloud systems that give it a really reflective and dramatic aesthetic. There are lots of whale watching opportunities, puffins to seek out and of course the Icelandic ponies. The culture revolves a lot around fishing and small rural villages, and the cuisine is weird and wonderful and will challenge your taste buds with flavours such as rotten shark and fermented sheep testicles. There is a reason it has become such a popular stopover for commuters between the USA and Europe, and a well renowned holiday destination, mostly amongst other Europeans and USA citizens.