After a sobering morning walking round the old Nazi marching grounds, inadvertently intruding on the Rock in the Park site, we needed something a bit uplifting.
Erlangen seemed the ideal lunchspot. A university town the size of Cambridge, whose most famous resident seems to have a love-hate relationship with his home, rather like myself. I do enjoy going to the places not mentioned in the guides, Beer and Travel, and Erlangen has seemingly featured on no-one’s Franconia tour yet.
If nothing else it would have apple strudel.
On the way to the Dutzendteich S-Bahn, we passed a gorgeous neighbourhood, one of many that made walking round Nuremberg worth the blisters I’ve got today.
25 minutes later,in Erlangen’s shiny Tourist Information Centre, I was slightly astonished to hear the town gets nearly 6 million visitors. I can only assume they’re folk making a connection on their way here;
The Playmobil Fun Park apart, it’s hard to see Erlangen as a tourist magnet, but it’s exceedingly pleasant, particularly in the market square and a very engaging green space in the centre.
It also has shops, hundreds of them, and two McDonalds, which at least means wifi and toilets, of sorts.
Matt was famished though, and we were looking for a traditional pub for lunch, but again most of the pubby places near the station open at 6pm, and the cafes looked like cafes, even if they were half-timbered like this one on the Palace Square.
Ignoring all of Nick’s advice, we plumped for Spruz, a tiny place accessible via a courtyard off a pedestrianised shopping street.
Any town with a bar called Spruz (it’s German for Boozer,probably) can’t be bad. This is the equivalent of that scary place in Northampton, or the Duncan in Leeds, but they don’t have shabby outside toilets.
Except it was charming. Matt said “it’s very informal, isn’t it”, as the lady at the bar sat on our table smoking and chatting to the bloke from ZZ Top. Some of the talk was about beer, some was about terrorism. I think jaywalking counts as terrorism in Erlangen.
She also managed to rustle up a very decent toasted cheese baguette off another daring one item menu, one of may favourite things about German pubs. I could get used to their landbiers too, even if it’s a Tucher pub, which I understand is a bit like Greene King round here.
A very enjoyable hour with friendly folk, followed by some excellent strudel (of course) and meringues near the hospital (Matt saw the irony in that), and then half an hour dodging cyclists. We recovered in the Botanic Gardens, which smelt wonderful.
Erlangen isn’t Bamberg, and Spruz probably isn’t Nader, but it’s a more than worthwhile stop, if only to admire the attempt at street Manga (bottom left).