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.

Gloomy place, lovely houses

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;

No craft beer either

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.

Café Mengin

Ignoring all of Nick’s advice, we plumped for Spruz, a tiny place accessible via a courtyard off a pedestrianised shopping street.

The joy of Spruz

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 my 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.

Zirndorfer Landbier, 2.60 euros, not fizzy

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).



  1. Erlangen’s primary nick-name is the “Hugenot city”. Although settled early in the previous millennium, it was inisignificant and small til Markgraf (Count?) Whos-its from here & Bayreuth invited the refugees from France to settle here, since he figured they were industrious and all that sort of Protestant thing. I mention this, because one thing about Erlangen that’s noteworthy is the Hugenot-impressed architecture, or so I’m told. And there be French names about, like that Café Mengin in one of your photos, arguably the best big bakery in town.

    When you told me of your visit to the Spruz, I couldn’t place it, until you mentioned the Thai Food II place next to it. Ah, yeah, that place back in the courtyard that I’ve cycled & walked by countless times, that I’d never bother with for the undrinkable beer. On looking “Spruz” up (not in my dictionaries), it appears to be another slang term for a little bit of fluid, or more relevant, a “Schnitt Bier”, or the partial glass serving you can get as “one for the road”.

    The city was nearly completely spared war damage, and there’s great stretches of 18th century stuff in place. Also, the Fraunhofer Institute is here, where they developed the mp3 audio encoding format.

    Next time, turn left up the Hauptstraße from the Bahnhof and just after the pedestrian zone ends, you’ll find Café Beisl, with good beer on tap, open from 11, I suppose. Tiny little streetfront place, just down the block from probably the best, most generous Döner in town, though sadly only turkey meat, no veal or lamb.

    But I will have to call in at Spruz, I guess. Can choke down a Zirndorfer (Tucher) once in a great while.


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