Friday, 1 April 2016

'Early Morning Run in... Nuremberg'

0630 hrs. A gentle pace to begin. I ease past a fellow jogger. Strange, he's wearing leather lederhosen type shorts with a bib, long socks, a trilby hat, sporting a rather sizeable bushy moustache.

"Guten morgen," I offer cheerily. No response, how miserable, as he cuts me up on the pavement, shoving me into a bush.

Joking. There was no bush. I do however notice the jaunty grey feather in his soft green trilby.

Folks, we have an utterly fantastic short notice weekend to Germany. I travelled here from South Sudan; via Nairobi, Amsterdam, & Paris. One meeting and a trade show.

Time to slip in a quick run around this beautiful Bavarian City? Of course. Time to take the clock back with an evening of big beer and big sausages? Of course.

You see I was posted here with the British Army as a young soldier at the end of the 70s, early 80s. The ‘Cold War’. Four years of waiting for hairy arsed, vodka-swilling Ruskies to spill across the German plains.

Germany 1978? At barely 19 you're not entirely ready for a cultural experience, for learning a new language, for exploring Europe.

A reader recently asked what had been the most terrible thing I’d ever experienced in the Army? Simple has to be seeing Jim Davidson in concert, tough going. Germany is bringing back memories of my former shipmates. 

I arrived in Nuremberg 2230 hrs last night. My taxi driver was funny in the German way of ‘funny’. He didn't speak English. Luckily I do have some German. After the four years as mentioned earlier, here's my British Tommy playbook;

Guten tag, wie geht?
Sprichst du Englisch?
Ein bier bitte
Ja, noch ein bier bitte (Yes, another beer please)
Ja, noch ein bier bitte (Yes, another beer please)
Bratwurst mit pommes frites und mayonnaise bitte
Mercer Kaserne, bitte (Mercer Barracks, please)
Wie viel... sie scherzen? (How much... you're kidding?)
Bandido (Bandido)
Wonderbra (wonderful)
Danke, auf Wiedersehen

I ask the rather stout driver if he takes credit cards. "Ja", he does. He's sat in his big cream Mercedes with the heater on full blast wearing a colossal leather parka with the collar up. German taxi drivers don't do layering. He apparently says to himself, in German, let me show you what a great driver I am and how fast this baby can go. The only thing missing, which would have transported me directly back to 1980, was Boney M, or perhaps The Goombay Dance Band.

How did we end up in a remake of 'The Italian Job'? Traffic is light allowing us to hit high speeds and change lanes at will. He now mumbles under his giant walrus moustache, and signs with his hands there's a problem with credit cards, there needs to be at least €25 on the meter. No problem I say and sign back, just keep speeding round in circles, we'll get there... Bandido. As they say, Bavarians are the Germans of the Germans.

The first thing to point out is the temperature swing. 42C in Juba last week, this morning 2C with snow earlier. The second is I'm completely ill-equipped. I wonder, are there other joggers in dirty sandy coloured trainers, shorts, with street clothes added to a T-shirt for extra layers? Probably not...

I've taken an Airbnb 3 km south of downtown. Let's head towards town... it's freezing, by the way, my hands, fingers... I need to get a wiggle on this morning…

I'm setting myself a target of writing this post without reverting to any cheap German stereotyping. Let's see how I do...

A real quick run today, pausing only briefly for a few photos to bring Nuremberg to life for you. Mission? Find a good cafe for brekkie. Perhaps a gym for tomorrow, and most importantly a Bavarian-style restaurant with the requisite big sausages and big beer for later this evening... keep your eyes peeled...

So, let’s go. I've seen off the fellow with the grand facial hair. We're heading now towards the old city. Cobbled streets and mostly pedestrianised. It's early, and there's public transport everywhere. Trams, and an underground. The town, home to around 500,000 souls, is beautiful. A staggering amount of churches and old fortifications near a beautiful looking castle. I weave back and forwards over a meandering river. It all blends in so wonderfully. I'm liking Nuremberg.

Not too many fellow joggers for any company, mind you it's barely 0700 hrs and bleeding chilly. I run through the main square. All cobbled, about the size of 4 football pitches. I've read they have a substantial Christmas market annually. The plaza sits beautifully, with great architecture and churches mixing with higher-end retail.

Ah, now, this looks like the place.

I’m already picturing packed wooden benches. A boisterous atmosphere. Well rounded blond frauleins, some with moustaches, all with pigtails; wearing white frilly lowcut blouses managing three giant foaming beers in each hand. I imagine leather attire everywhere. Checked shirts, red braces. There are thumping great bratwursts flying around. A Kenny Loggins soundtrack? David Hasselhoff? Different these days? Hope not.

That’s for later. 20 mins into the run, I'm feeling slightly less cold. Going OK this morning considering 5 hours sleep and 9 hours yesterday cooped up next to the tail gunner. A fellow jogger glides past me, with a self-satisfied look. He hasn't; he looks perfectly reasonable. My imagination wanted him to be smug. He’s appropriately dressed in thin running gloves, a beanie (wish I had one), running tights, all layered up. In response, I turn up the collar of my short-sleeved polo shirt, my outer layer. Try to respond and match his pace. He’s lucky this time; I have to stop for another photo. The blog comes first, see what I mean about the architecture?

25 mins. Need to start heading back. I lift the pace. Can’t get Herr Loggins out of my mind. But then, I've got this feeling... that times are holding me down... I'll hit the ceiling... or else I'll tear up this town... perhaps cut loose, Footloose… let's get back.

Arrive back at Cristina’s Airbnb (thanks, you were a fabulous host) with just over 40 mins on the clock. A great run in uplifting surroundings. Light years away from Juba. Feels fantastic to be back in Europe, albeit for a weekend.

P.S. So, how was ‘Bratwurst Roslein’ last night?

Well, the place was jam-packed as expected. I was sharing. Sit down and go straight into my British Tommy playbook. Lo and behold this fellow, in the leather jacket, isn’t Herr Smit from Bavaria. He’s Herr Wee Robbie, a short arse ginger nut from Glasgow. Apparently, here for a trade show.

I have to close with a line from PJ Wodehouse, who once said it's never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine. How accurate... thanks, Wee Robbie you made me laugh. A lot. Wonderbra. A top night, rounded off with a couple of German schnapps… see you all back in Africa.

Es ist schon nehmen Sie ein Vergnugen, um Nuremberg. Ich liebe Deutsche Volk. Danke, auf Wiedersehen.