Top Ten Cities

My Criteria:

  • Attractive including location, lots of parks, green spaces and a water attraction
  • Size – No Megalopoli and you can walk most of it
  • Activities include historic sights, outdoor entertainment and museums
  • Transportation is convenient and perhaps even fun
  • Lots of coffee shops, pubs and culturally interesting food

No. 2. Wurzburg – I called it ‘Home’ from 1983 – 1986.  My first, and in many ways most ideal, foreign city.  As with Edinburgh, I was enchanted within hours.  Writing about it now I am reminded how privileged I was to have lived there.


With the Main (pronounced mine) River running through it and many historic bridges to cross over, (ürzburg-Tourist-Map ) it is a good sized city to walk around.  Today it has a population of roughly 125,000, although the city center remains relatively small.

(ürzburg#Demographics)  It is smaller than Santa Rosa, California where I live now.  Another similarity to where I am now being that vineyards surround Wurzburg.  It is in fact in the Franconian Wine Country.  In 1984 the wine was a little on the dry side for my liking, but things may have changed since then!

It is the northern most city on the ‘Romantische Strasse’ – Romantic Road in Bavaria.  This is a 60-year-old tourist idea. Wurzburg is medieval and said to be established in 650AD.  There is an abundance of historical sights including a castle (Festung) Marienburg Fortress.  I lived behind the Fortress for a while as you can see in this old and blurry photo!


The following short video gives you a brief bit of info about it and is followed by a longer one with great music and wonderful views of the whole city worth waiting for.

I will never forget the ‘Prince Bishop’s Residence’, a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Fascinating and well worth a day’s tour, you can enjoy a famous and historic ‘Mozartfest’ in the summer as well. This is held outside in the spacious gardens.

I loved getting around there by foot, bike, strassenbahn (streetcar), bus and train. It’s my all time favorite city for transportation.  The busses’ and streetcars’ payment and timetables are linked so that you can transfer from one to the other easily.  There are bike trails along the river.  It is hilly so cycling in town is a workout, but worth it for the exercise. I found this out when I studied there as it is a university city.

The many students keep it modern even with the historic backdrop. Studying German at the UNI there was delightful.  There were students from all around the world.

Recollections of Food and Culture

My first dining experience in 1983 may shock you…MacDonald’s!  Oh dear.  Well, I was with my sister and her two young children.  I must confess that I did visit it a time or two, (or 3+) with friends when we wanted a quick bite of American food!  And in those days it was one of the only places where smoking was not allowed. (Thankfully that has changed.)

One of my first truly German eating experiences is when I went back in time visiting my first ‘gasthaus’.  It was warm and dark inside with heavy furniture like in a home and not a restaurant. The waitress, a maiden from a fairy tale, speaking to us in German completed the passage to another world. I was lost. Thankfully my sister and her kids knew the simple foods to order. Spaetzle became a favorite dish.  It is a lovely combination of noodle and dumpling.ätzle#/media/File:Spätzle.jpg  It could be served with any number of sauces or just with butter and seasoning.  This is not diet food mind you!  Most likely that time long ago I had it with some kind of bratwurst.

Bratwurst ‘im brotechen, knicked mit senf’ (in a roll, bent with mustard) became my absolute favorite.  This could be found in numerous outdoor ‘stands’.  German towns have a variety of sausages and this popular Wurzburg one is long and kind of thin, but they serve it in a round bun so it sticks out quite far if you don’t bend it!

Now I am getting hungry for this and it cannot be found here in California! For the best as it is not a low-cal, healthy-heart food!

But back there bratwurst could be found in the ‘Markplazt’, another magical place.  Especially in winter.  When your nose is nipped from the snow and your hands are freezing, bratwurst mit brotchen, gluwein (mulled wine) or a cone filled with hot, candied nuts will warm them up and tantalize your taste buds at the same time.

The Markplazt at Weinachten (Christmastime) was also out of this world.  In addition to the food and drink this remains one of the few places in the world I loved to shop. Handmade wooden toys, beeswax candle ornaments, brass angels, tingle-bell-merry-go-rounds, decorated plates, cuckoo clocks (of course), along with more than I can recall, were everywhere for good prices.

When we wanted to relax after shopping and wandering the cobble-stone narrow lanes plenty of cafes called to us with kaffee mit kuchen (coffee with cake), aber naturlich (but of course)!  And one thing I learned there, you should not have only one piece of cake!  The cakes there were not too sweet like here in the US.  They were quite wholesome too.  And the coffee quite strong.

One more thing to add with which to balance all of this eating and drinking.  On Sundays back then, everything, except for the occasional gasthaus, was closed!  And families, after their hearty dinners (mittagessen) would go ‘spotsehengehen’ (brisk walking) dressed to impress as well.

Ach, ja! Und jetzt, Grussgot! Bis spatter. (Oh yes! And now, Go with God! Until later.)


About perigrinatia

World traveler, Primary and ESL teacher, emerging writer
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