This is the ninth in a series of posts of our EU travels. The seventh day, we were undecided whether to visit the other castle in Prague – Karlstejn. Sitting about 35 km from the city amidst a lush green setting, this is one of those that looks like a real castle as in the story book. However, a visit would mean half a day of travel and tour. We had to be back in Stuttgart the same evening and had Nuremberg on our itinerary as well. We knew we couldn’t cover both the place and opted to start driving to Nuremberg. It is just impossible to do justice to a place in a day or two. But like many tourists, we didn’t have the kind of time that is necessary.
As we started our drive, I realized that my Garmin Nuvi wasn’t powering up. By then we had somewhat gotten used to the S60’s navigation system. I always wonder why German cars are so well done and their navigation systems are just the opposite. After years of poor reviews of the navigation systems in the Consumer Reports, we still are hearing about the same. The user interface is very unintuitive to the average driver. The fact that the system didn’t have an English interface didn’t help either. It had taken me over three days to somewhat figure out how to use the system. Luckily the Nuvi was doing its job. Now that the Nuvi appeared dead, I had no choice but to get comfy with the Volvo’s navigational unit. All the while that the Nuvi was guiding me, the car’s unit was stuck in fully zoomed-out mode so I couldn’t make out the turn clearly. Finally, turning the knob (yes, as simple as that) let me zoom in and out . This is time to note another thing – that many of the European countries are still not so English-friendly. I guess this is their loss and in an increasingly global world, over a period of more time it will hurt them. Added to this, the local economies are still domestically supported and hence the cost of living is unreasonably high and unsustainable in the long run. As more and more countries grow competitive and become a force in the global market place, guess who needs to adapt more?
The 200 or so kilometer drive to Nuremberg was pretty straight forward. It was somewhat of a relief to be back on the German roads. We found parking at a grocery store shopping complex and walked past the automotive museum. Our destination was the city center as I had heard it is a pretty place to stroll around. However it didn’t come by easily. We passed what appeared like the theater and walked passed store-fronts displaying traditional German folk wear. It was nearly 2:30 PM when we were at the railway station. A Subway come to the rescue of some really hungry appetites. The Nuremberg railway station is a charming place of convergence for the local people. It appeared to be heavily used and what strikes you is the lack of diversity amongst the crowd. Being used to the cosmopolitan American cities, you feel like you time-travelled about 40-50 years.
After lunch, Rama decided we should visit the Documentation museum that chronicles the Nazi regime at the former Nuremberg Nazi Party Rally grounds. I for one wanted to visit Nuremberg as I have grown up with learning a lot about World War II through movies and fiction. Given, the city was directly on the route from Prague to Stuttgart, I just wanted to stop there. Someone had mentioned in one of the online reviews that a visit to the museum was depressing and I fought against this to agree to the visit. This museum is a must-see for any humankind history buff. The rise and fall of the regime is well captured with audio-video visuals. There were a lot of videos that included Hitler himself. Moreover, the building itself is where a lot of things happened and you can see much of the building structure in tact after all these years. To just imagine so many cruel decisions were made from this place and to be in that place sent many a shudder along myself. When man becomes a slave to power, he becomes less of a man himself.
Just a little over an hour was sufficient for covering the museum. The 210+ km drive was more or less an easy one that we covered in about two hours. After coming back I heard a friend’s friend covered a distance of 300 km in just over an hour!! I wouldn’t put my family and other passengers to such a test. It took us another half hour to find parking on the busy streets of the city. Finally our first leg of the journey was complete.