The 2 hour early morning bus ride was quite comfortable and allowed me a chance to sleep, so when we arrived in sunny Nuremberg I was raring to go. We had arranged to have a guide show us the city – Anka was waiting for us at the local tourist office, where the smell of sauerkraut, beer and sausages lured us to the Bratwursthausle. Anya knew the owner of this 700 year old restaurant, so we were treated to a tasting of their special Nuremberg sausages (bratwurst).
These short and thin sausages are prepared fresh every 4 hours, grilled on an open beechwood fire. 1 portion consists of 8 brats, served with sauerkraut, potato salad, pretzels and freshly tapped beer. I found out their spice of choice is marjoram that gives their sausages a little extra flavor, and that their size had something to do with tipsy locals on the streets late at night (watch the episode to find out more).
When I first heard about our river cruise on the Danube, I was surprised to find out that part of the trip would actually be land-based, where we would take a bus to our next destination, Nuremberg, Germany to re-board the ship. We structured our time in Nuremberg accordingly, so were a bit taken aback when we were told the ship was not in Nuremberg because the water levels of the river were too low to maneuver. The ship was docked in another German town, Vilshofen and we would have to take another bus there when our few hours in Nuremberg were done. While this seemed like a hassle, in the end, it all went rather smoothly.
Our next stop was to the best gingerbread baker in town. I couldn’t wait for this visit and was already planning to buy them by the pound. Little did I know that I would be in the kitchen atCafe Confiserie Neefwith Chef Florian, helping to make and prepare this famous treat dating back to the Franconian monks (when it was a treat reserved for the wealthy elite). Because Nuremberg was on the spice road, interesting spices became part of the secret recipes of the area, including aniseed, mace and allspice.
The recipe for the gingerbread here hasn’t changed throughout the family’s history but each Christmas a new flavor is created. How fortunate for me that this year the flavor was chocolate rum. Chef Florian had already prepared some goody bags for us to take (which my Florida friends back home have all enjoyed).
Not having much time left before we had to meet the bus, we decided to walk off some of the gingerbread, sausages and beer by hiking up to the Kaiserburg Castle. This well kept medieval fortress is one of the most important in Europe having been home to many German Kings and Emperors and it even housed the crown jewels of the Holy Roman Empire. While the time in Nuremberg was short, it was certainly tasty and I found out there are many more delicious food choices and restaurants to try. That will be for a longer stay.
Waking up on the ship was a nice feeling. We had a beautiful cabin with French windows which provided fantastic views of the towns all along the way. But for now, it was off the ship and a bus ride to Regensburg, a town I didn’t know much about before arriving.
Arriving a bit early to meet my guide from the local Tourism office, Elizabeth, we found a great cafe called Spital just before the Stone Bridge where we shared a delicious spinach quiche, a spaetzle dish (it was almost like mac & cheese) and a fabulous salad. Plus, lots and lots of coffee. Although the sun was shining it was quite chilly out there and I needed a little extra caffeine to stay warm.
Crossing over the bridge that was built back in the 12th century (it served as a model for London Bridge and others), we came to the prettiest village: Regensburg. It became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2006, and seeing the well-preserved medieval buildings, lanes and many churches, I could understand why. One of the main sites that you just can’t miss is St. Peter’s Cathedral. This huge Gothic structure is noticeable wherever you walk around.
After wandering and gawking for a while it was time to meet Elizabeth at the famous Wurstkuchel (sausage kitchen), the oldest in the world (dates back to the 12th Century). Thousands of homemade sausages are cooked up each year along with specialty mustards and other Bavarian delights. While this little tavern has become a major tourist stop for every one coming to Regensburg, I’m happy to say it still maintains its sense of tradition and old world charm.
Next on Elizabeth’s line up was something called a dampfknudel (kind of like a big donut), and she whisked me off to the popular Dampfknudel Uli to try some. These are sweet yeast dough rolls that can either be eaten as a meal along with cabbage or salad, or as a dessert with lots of custard. We had them as desserts and I was surprised that they were light, fluffy and surprisingly, not too sweet.
I guess this is why we now found ourselves at Cafe Prinzess Conditorei, a family owned coffee house with delicious pastries and chocolates. We indulged in a tasty assortment of incredible chocolates with names like “tender kisses” “love spell” and “Don Juan’s Cannonballs”.
Since mustard is such a major condiment here, what better than to have a mustard tasting and so off we went to sample some at the Handlmaier shop. Handlmeier is the brand of sweet mustard that was created centuries ago by Johanna Handlmaier. In 1964, Louise Handlmaier founded the company that started producing a variety of mustards (there are 10 variations now). I sampled a selection of sweet to hot to very hot mustards, all of which were spectacular.
Our final stop in Regensburg before heading back to the ship was to Brauerei Kneitinger restaurant. Elizabeth had arranged for us all to have dinner at this traditional Bavarian establishment and it was very delicious. We had goose, beef and dumplings and washed it all down with refreshing beer. They have been producing beer for over 150 years, keeping production small but steady. Besides the beer we were drinking, there were 6 empty monogrammed beer steins lined up on our table that we later found out were gifts for each of us.