Freedom!!!!! We were free from kids!!!! For one day. One precious day.
Don't get me wrong, I love my little ratbags to pieces, but constant travel with them all day all night was enough to make anyone go mad.
We took the precious gift of babysitting for the day from our lovely Aussie friends in Donaworth, kissed our kiddies on the head, and took off running...
We chose the city of Nuremberg as the place to explore kid free. We did have the option of going to the concentration camp in Dachau, but I was simply feeling too overwhelmed and sleep-deprived in life right then to deal with the emotional onslaught that I knew such a visit would bring. But we did want to continue in building our learning of WWII during our travels. We'd so far visited 'The Eagles Nest' - Hitler's hideout in Germany (a complete disaster but nonetheless educational), the House of Anne Frank and the Corrie Ten Boom House in The Netherlands. We'd been reading books and watching films as a family about this all important topic, and so with this in mind, we decided to start our day with a visit to the Nazi Rally Grounds in Nuremberg.
Nuremberg, the ancient seat of the Medieval Emperors and as such, the site chosen by Hitler to legitimise his Regime. In the 1930's the Nazi's planned and began construction on an enormous centre in which to hold rallies and generally show off their prowess while whipping themselves into a fascist frenzy. The site is huge, including a parade ground the size of 12 football fields, a two mile long 'Great Way' paved with granite blocks, and a congress hall the size of London’s Royal Albert Hall!!
The Documentation Centre was a good choice for a kid free experience, there was a lot of serious material to read and absorb. The museum is very well set out, it details the growth and sucess of the Nazi Party in Germany, showing the strategies employed in their rise to power. It was a chilling experience. By the end, while watching old footage of the holocaust and the famous Nuremberg Trials, I was almost suffocating by emotion. I had to leave the museum ahead of Ross and get a bit of fresh air. I discovered a monument built to honour the Jews that were killed, every tile represents a person who's life was cruelly taken.
Throughout our travels in Germany, I was continuously impressed at how the country is acknowledging it's past and making all crimes visible for learning and as a reminder that such terrible events must never happen again. The Nuremberg Rally Grounds was a perfect example of this, nothing was held back, it was all laid out in perfect, agonizing, humiliating, terrible detail for all to behold.
After this harrowing educational experience, we headed into town to lighten the mood of the day.
Next stop - lunch! Nothing like hand-made pasta at Vapiano's to warm you from the inside!
With our tummies full, we wandered in the direction of the Nuremberg Castle. On the way, we passed the Frauenkirche - a 14th Century Church which provides the backdrop to the famous Nuremberg Christmas markets, and to my delight, a Steadtler shop!! A shop full of German stationary, yes please!
The Nuremberg Castle is a collection of fortified medieval buildings. It is OLD, it is impressive, it is just generally super cool. In the Middle Ages the German kings used to travel from one castle to the next and Nuremberg was a popular central location, it's castle dating back to 1100 AD!!!
We wandered, we explored...
We walked along castle ridges without worrying about anyone falling to their deaths.
We ambled along without having to change poopy nappies in inopportune places.
We took photos without anyone crying in the background.
We totally looked like cool calm and collected travellers, a rather appealing image to entertain for a while...
....a very short while, because as soon as we had exited the castle grounds, all cocky and proud of our relaxed mature ambient gait, Ross almost had his head knocked off by a crazy dude on a bicycle! He came flying overhead and took off at a terrific speed down the hill away from the castle, dodging trucks, pedestrians, dogs and narrowly missing all of the above.
Note - This is the second time that Ross had almost lost his head on our travels, the first being the infamous tram incident in The Netherlands...
Hmmm, maybe the craziness in our lives and travels cannot be attributed solely to our kids? Maybe we attract mayhem as much as they do?....Maybe they inherited it from us????
Anyway, on with the day. We got pleasantly lost on our way back into town. I find that this is only a pleasant feeling when one is not herding 5 young kids around a foreign city, but as it was, with only Ross and I, we could afford a little recklessness.
We walked through a secret garden and found ourselves on the ancient medieval wall that surrounds the old town. I love these old walls, the first one I had ever seen was in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, it is so fun to walk along the edge of a Medieval city and look down at the history below you.
Nuremberg is such a gorgeous Medieval city, we totally fell in love with the colourful beautiful old buildings and alleyways. More wandering on our part, although Ross usually had a general idea of what direction we were going (unlike me).
We happily stumbled across some of Nuremberg's cool artwork; Das Narrenschiff - 'Ship of Fools' is based on a popular sixteenth-century book by Sebastian Brant, this piece was sculpted by Juergen Weber from woodcuts by the famous Albrecht Dürer (who was born in Nuremberg). It depicts a scene showing the end of the world...or something like that.
We were checking it out when we suddenly heard a blessed and wondrous sound. Like angelic bells from a heavenly choir, the sound pierced our consciousness, lighting our hearts on fire and filling the dark recesses of our souls with delight, joy and a giddy happiness.
It was...an Australian accent!
We practically pounced on the poor man, and quickly struck up a conversation about Nuremberg, our homeland, and life in general. It was seriously so fun to bond with someone from our home and to hear our native tongue! He was an older gentleman who had stopped into Nuremberg from one of those glamorous sounding European river boat tours and was touring the continent with his wife.
We said goodbye to our new long-lost best buddy, and set off for more kid-free adventures. We found the cutest little market tucked inside the city gates where we bought gingerbread and relaxed and revelled in our short lived freedom.
Knowing the end was at hand, we stuffed our faces with pizza and ice-cream and felt super happy that we didn't have to share.
Inevitably, sadly, the day came to a close. We took the train home to our large bunch of crazy wild kids. Our friend picked us up from the station, we skipped down the steps holding hands and smiling and he remarked, laughing, that we looked very happy and carefree. We were. But even though we'd had a fabulous day, I truly am grateful for my little crazies. They help me to appreciate days like this!
Yes, travel is infinitely calmer without 5 kids to wrangle and shepherd around town, but I still want the adventure of exploring the world with all of my family. It is fun, it is crazy, it is adventurous! But for now, I am forever grateful to have my partner in crime by my side - exploring and laughing with me all the way.