Bamberg, Germany


Trip Taken: 2005

It was the weekend before Christmas and it was my very last weekend that I could actually do anymore traveling with everyone else. The week before Felix, a Stuttgart IAESTE club officer, graciously invited us to his hometown of Bamberg. Two of us, Colin and I, took him up on that offer and were on our way.

To me there were two reasons to visit Bamberg: UNESCO and beer.

  1. Bamberg is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Why, you ask? The town is one of the few towns in Germany that was spared in the World War 2 bombings by the Alliance forces. I think the other towns to escape a similar fate is Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Regensburg. There might be others but I can’t remember or be bothered to look them up at this moment. Bamberg’s buildings are authentic and show a little bit from all the major architectural movements starting from Romanesque. It’s a quirky little town with lots of old world character and definitely a great walk through the Altstadt.
  2. There are over two hundred local breweries in Bamberg. It has one of the highest density of breweries in Germany and that says something. Bamberg also has a very special beer that is unique to this town. Rauchbier, or smoked beer, is a dark ale. To those who know me, I am not much of a drinker but this sounded too unique to pass up.

Arriving at Bamberg, we went straight to Felix’s parents house. It was a German speaking house and it really tested every German speaking skill I could muster from my college-learning. His parents were very hospitable and warm. I even got to try onion-flavored goose lard, which his mother had to get as a special item from the local butcher.

After a lovely lunch, the three of us set off to see the town center. It was the week before Christmas, so the Christmas market in Bamberg was definitely brimming with people. I don’t think I could ever tire of the smell of mulled wine. Felix took us to see some of the sights and we visited the cathedral at the top of a hill. The cathedral was fairly empty and it added a Gothic mystique to the place. I had on some pretty bad hiking shoes for snow and ice. I might have slipped on the ice patches on the ground maybe five times that day. It was funny in retrospect and funny for them at the time. But, I remember being quite embarrassed by every fall following the second fall. Once was enough but anything more than twice is kind of pathetic. I couldn’t help it. The ground was slippery.

Later that day, we went to a bar and tried some Rauchbier. I tried some of Colin’s since it was definitely a bad idea for me to drink on an empty stomach. It smelled like bacon and it tasted like bacon. It was like a mini-meal in a drink. Felix just had some hot chocolate. After seeing some more of the Christmas market, the old town, and a small comic shop. We went back to the house for the rest of the night.

On our second day in Bamberg, Felix showed us the lake close to his parents’ house. There were also some old residences, which I think belonged to a minor duchy or royal from the past. It was a quieter day and we were taking a noon train back to Stuttgart. Bamberg is a nice place fairly devoid of international tourists, which is too bad because of its romantic appeal. I guess it doesn’t help that it’s harder to get here than some of the other places in Germany. I would say it’s worth it to visit. I probably wouldn’t write about it if it wasn’t.

Parting Words

With this post, I broke my unspoken rule of putting actual people in the photographs. Some of the others looked to bare and impersonal. Plus, the picture of Felix and Colin is the only picture I have of smoked beer. Bamberg is a cool town with lots of the town coming out at night to eat, drink, and merry. Although I didn’t do most of the usual tourist things, being shown around by a local is definitely the best way.

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About the Author

John is always trying to find his way back to the road. He has an affinity for Germany due to his three years studying German at Cal, and a year working as an intern in the Stuttgart area. He also likes chocolate cake and good cheese.