Finally came to writing this post!
I’ve thought long and hard about how I’m going to approach this topic, but none of the ways I wanted to write this could do the topic justice. It’s just the type of experience that feels real but cannot be written in words. But I couldn’t drag this on any longer, so as boring as this post may be for the readers, I’m just going to give it a go.
What made Nürnberg so special for me personally was meeting an old German grandpa at Bratwursthausle.
Bratwursthausle is usually crowded with locals and tourists, so the first time my friend and I went inside, we were seated with a grandpa wearing a red sweater, eating the nürnberger bratwürste with a glass of white wine.
He asked us who we were, what we’re doing in Germany, and if we’re enjoying our trip so far. A typical way to start a conversation with a stranger. And we, of course, proceeded to ask him about his background. He lives in a neighboring town and came to Nürnberg to attend a concert featuring university choir group. He was a teacher for 20 years. His wife couldn’t join him due to church work.
After a long dinner conversation, he asked us where we are headed after dinner, and if we would like to join him for a night of music. If we didn’t enjoy it, he said, we could always leave in the middle of the concert.
We agreed to go with him because we didn’t have any plans excepting going to a bar for some drinks, which we could do after the concert.
So after paying our bills, the grandpa put on his coat and a cossack hat, and we headed out together to go to a local concert hall.
We stepped into the concert hall, took the pamphlets for the concert (turns out it wasn’t choir but chamber music), and stepped inside to sit in the front row seat. The grandpa really enjoyed sitting in the front. He said multiple times how “we sit in front row and listen to music, all for free! How wonderful is that”
He then used his magnifying glasses to read out the classical composers. He was very content with the list of composers (he likes Bach and Schubert).
Throughout the concert he would repeatedly take out his magnifying glass and read to us the next composer’s name.
The actual concert was… kind of boring. Occasionally there would be amazing oboist or cellist, but in general, the music pieces were long and there were too many performers. The concert started at 7 but the intermission was at 9:30 (it probably ended around 11)…
My friend and I decided to leave during intermission because we wanted to explore the city more. The grandpa understood and thanked us for coming and we bid our farewells.
It’s weird how hard it was to say goodbye. And the fact that I accidentally slipped in a “I hope we meet again soon” when I knew it was hard for us to meet again, made it even more bittersweet.
But the next day when we were eating at the same restaurant (because it was so delicious), lo and behold the grandpa walked in!
He was wearing the same hat, same shirt, same coat. (Which reminded me of movies Groundhog Day and 50 First Dates) Seeing him had me wondering all sorts of things…
Is he reliving everyday the same way…? Will he remember us if we said hello…?
We were afraid he would not recognize us, but when we approached him, he remembered our name and asked us to join him once again to another concert held in the concert hall.
“There is another concert at 19:00, will you go with me?”
We were overjoyed! Seriously, what are the chances?
This time, the concert performers were teachers of the students who performed the previous night. And it was truly amazing.
My friend noted how the students played as if they were competing against eachother, whereas the teachers were playing because they enjoyed it. I see how she got that impression. Their playing styles were really different.
After the concert, we took some photos with the grandpa before really saying goodbye. We were headed for Köln the same evening.
Meeting the grandpa twice gave us an experience entirely different from typical traveling. We felt like we were part of the Nürnberg community, engaging in typical activities as if we’re one of the locals.
I am definitely going back to Nürnberg sometime in the near future. And hopefully then, I will have the honor of seeing the grandpa pull out his magnifying glasses once again.