I needed to get from Bangkok (Thailand) to Heidelberg (Germany) in time for BJJ Globetrotters Summercamp. As usual, I had some flexibility in the dates before camp and was looking for the absolute cheapest possible solution. The best I found was a flight to the nearby small town of Nuremberg about a week before camp, on budget airline called Eurowings. So, I decided to take this little detour and visit an extra city on my way to camp.
The trip over was exhausting and long, taking over 26 hours from the time I left my studio in Bangkok to the time I arrived at my new place in Nuremberg. As expected from a budget airline, nothing except the actual flight was included in the price of the ticket. Baggage cost extra, food and drinks cost extra, movies and earphones cost extra. That was fine, I’d brought plenty of snacks and entertainment (ebooks). What I hadn’t accounted for was that blankets weren’t automatically provided for the 11.5 hour overnight flight, and that the flight was FREEZING even with my standard long pants and sweater which are normally adequate. After about an hour, I caved and paid 6.50€ for a blanket, which was barely large enough to cover me entirely (and I’m pretty small), and so thin that I was still borderline shivering and had trouble sleeping most of the flight. So, for anyone who’s a sucker for a cheap flight deal like me… you’ve been warned!
Except for the temperature and blanket situation, the flight was pretty good and uneventful. One positive thing about Eurowings – their seats were pretty comfortable, and included much better bendable side headrests than most other planes I’ve been on.
Public Transportation and SIM Card
Upon arrival, I needed a public transportation ticket and a SIM card. The first was easy – I was able to buy an unlimited rides 7-day MobiCard pass from a small store in the airport for about 25€. Little pricey but I used it extensively so well worthwhile! Nurember has an excellent public transportation system which consists of metros, trams, and busses. There are very well maintained bike paths throughout most of the city making cycling a great option for transportation as well.
Getting a SIM card was a little more challenging since the Nuremberg airport is pretty small didn’t include any SIM card vendors. I ended up taking the underground metro to the Nuremberg Central Station (Hauptbahnhof) and was able to find a store which sold a couple different plans there. It cost 25€ for unlimited data including a phone number for a month, which was way more than this would have costed in SE Asia but still not too bad compared to standard American rates.
Back in Europe!
After so long of eating rice and noodle based meals, it was absolutely wonderful to have good European bread and cheese again! It seemed odd initially not to see any scooters on the roads, and to use crosswalks again instead of just walking across the streets anywhere whenever there was a gap between cars. Also, being back in Western Europe, everyone around me seemed HUGE, both in height and in weight. Whereas in Asia I was fairly average in height and much thicker than most people (I’m a size S shirt in America but size X-LG in Asia!) – here I suddenly felt very small. I also quickly noticed that everything was much more expensive that what I’d gotten accustomed to paying in SE Asia.
Most of the short week in Nuremberg was spent in a combination of working, walking around downtown, and going for walks in parks and along the canal in my neighborhood. Nuremberg is a pretty small city so it didn’t take more than a couple days to feel pretty comfortable and familiar with the overall layout. It felt very peaceful, slow and calm after the dense hustle and bustle of the big Asian cities. It was wonderful to be surrounded by mostly silence instead of the constant background noise of cars, people, and the city which I’d grown accustomed to in Bangkok.
The Nuremberg city center is quite charming with many cute restaurants and pedestrian friendly cobblestone streets. A lot of the city was destroyed during the war so rebuilt with more modern architecture, but some of the old castles and churches remain as well. On Saturday, the little streets of the city center were full of people, with vendor stalls selling craft goods, fruits, food and beer, and small groups playing live music throughout. I don’t know if there was some kind of special festival going on or if this was just the normal weekend activity for Nuremberg.
I also spent some time clothes shopping near the city center after Christian announced the upcoming giant 50th camp party dress code recommendation was formal attire, which my current traveler’s assortment of clothing did not include. Fortunately, after not too much searching, I was able to find a classic black dress which was not too pricey and a perfect fit!
After having been in dense tropical cities for the last 6 months, I really enjoyed staying in a place with more greenery and temperate forests, and living close enough to parks and canals to go for walks among trees every evening. I guess I hadn’t realized how much I missed that. In the future, I might choose destinations that are a little closer to or immersed in nature.
I did have the chance to stop by Alliance BJJ for some training! Class was taught by black belt Felipe who was originally from Brazil but had been teaching at Alliance for the last 2-3 years. Classes were given in English which most of the students spoke. It was a good class and friendly group of people. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures!