Sunday, 23 February 2014

My guide to Bayreuth.


It’s coming to the end of my six months living and working in the Upper Franconian town of Bayreuth, and my, how the time has flown by. 

Lovely Bayreuth
I remember getting the email back at uni last year, attached to which were various confusing German documents, somewhere in which, my placement was going to be revealed. I scrolled frantically through the pages, skim-reading and failing to understand all the bureaucratic German until I finally discovered where I’d be spending the first half of my year abroad: Bayreuth.


Hmm. Bayreuth? I’ve never heard of that. How do you even pronounce it? Most people presumed I was going to Beirut. In Lebanon. But no. (That most definitely wouldn’t have been much help to my German.)

OK, so I wasn’t going to Munich (schade, thought I), but I was thrilled to be in Bavaria, and after hours of googling and discovering more about Bayreuth and my schools, I decided I liked the sound of Bayreuth after all and felt much more positive about being placed there.


Bayreuth isn’t exactly a well-known town or a tourist trap, unless, that is, you happen to be a fan of Wagner. No, not the X Factor runner up, but rather the classical composer. Richard Wagner is Bayreuth’s main guy. The claim-to-fame. The money-maker. Everything is named after him. Wagner lived here, every summer the world-famous festival of his operas is put on, and a pilgrimage to Bayreuth is a bit of a must for Wagner-fans.


Alas, I’m not going to be here to experience Bayreuth in the summer – a real shame as I’ve heard it’s MARVELOUS – but I’ve still absolutely loved living here over the winter. I’ve been told we’ve had a ludicrously mild winter here in Germany’s second-coldest town (yeah, wasn’t too thrilled when I read that in my pre-year-abroad research), and temperatures would usually drop down to at least -20C, feet of snow would settle, and that’s the way it would stay FOR MONTHS. Now I love the snow, but it’s been jolly cold enough thanks.


Bayreuth was gorgeous in the end-of-summer sunshine when I arrived, beautiful in autumn and stunning in the snow. I also loved the fact that I was here for the Winterdorf and Christmas market, so although I’ll miss all the summer festivals (I’m told there are lots and they’re great), I’ve still enjoyed Bayreuth in winter.





Although Bayreuth isn’t a big town, it’s got five Gymnasien (grammar school equivalents) and a university so does have quite a youthful vibe. But as it is small, I tend to see someone I know every time I go out. Whether a teacher, pupil or friend, it’s a given, but I quite like it really. Makes me feel like I know the place.

Tuesday markets
Only a couple of nights ago Emily, Emma and I went on a girly night out and found ourselves in one of Bayreuth’s (surprisingly many) clubs alongside a ludicrous number of my school pupils. It was both hilarious and awkward. But mainly hilarious. And enjoyable.


So, having lived here for the past six months, I feel just about qualified to write a little guide to the town: my favourite places to eat, drink and visit (but mainly eat.) It’s a lovely town, and although Bayreuth isn’t huge, it’s been just perfect for me for six months.




EATERIES AND DRINKERIES



Without a doubt, the best place in Bayreuth. End of. This traditional Franconian restaurant is wonderful on so many levels: the food is delicious, typical Bavarian fayre, it’s reasonably-priced, they’re open all day (you could stay from breakfast to cocktails if you wanted to!), has a fab location in the heart of the town, and has the most wonderful gemütlichkeit: Dirndl-clad waitresses, friendly staff, a buzzy atmosphere and a cosy interior. 


Oskar is a huge restaurant, but it’s ALWAYS full, regardless of when you go, and I’ve realised that booking in advance is a must. Whether alone with my mum or in a large group of students, I’ve never not loved Oskar. Every time someone comes to visit me in Bayreuth, I insist we got to Oskar. And they've all loved it too. It’s just the best.


On my first night in Bayreuth, nervous and excited as I was, my amazing new friend, Emma, took me to Oskar and it couldn’t have been a more perfect welcome meal. The whole menu is written in Franconian dialect (don’t worry, they have an English version too) so is hard to understand even for my German flatmates, but d’you know what’s always a safe bet? Schnitzel. Oh, how I love Schnitzel! There’s a big menu at Oskar, but I’ve had the Schnitzel three out of the four times I’ve been there for dinner. It never lets me down! I'm gonna miss that Schnitzel.

Cosy and cute
I also love that Oskar do a great seasonal menu – for example, when Mama came to visit in October, she had their delicious Kurbiswurst (pumpkin sausages.) Sounds weird, but was totes delish.

Oskar also do delicious cocktails, and on a Monday it’s cocktail happy hour all night! 




Kraftraum is another simply wonderful place. I love that the café stays open from breakfast to the wee hours, and way back at the beginning of my time in Bayreuth, we even had lunch outside. It’s all vegetarian, but you almost don’t realise as the dishes are that good. 


hazelnut hot choc mmm
Think fresh, home-made pasta, gorgeous roast veggies and divine cakes. They also do delicious hot chocolates, smoothies and cocktails, all enjoyed in a cute interior and a lovely atmosphere. Kraftraum is another spot that’s always full!



With my mum and flatmates in Gotts
If pasta’s your thing, you’ve gotta go to Gotts. And go when you’re hungry, too! Their massive portions of home-made pasta are the ultimate comfort dishes. I’ve been twice and have had two different but utterly gorgeous dishes each time: first, a baked cannelloni thingy, stuffed with veggies and covered in cheesey tomatoey sauce; and the second time, the most wonderful creamy linguine with walnuts and courgettes (I think!) Total yum.


Heimathafen is just on the right there
Literally ‘home port’, Heimathafen is another lovely café by day that stays open into the night. I love that. I’ve never actually eaten there, but I’ve seen a lot of yummy-looking cakes and bagels going out. And guess what? They do an actual proper GOOD cup of tea! Like, proper British-style tea (a rarity here in D-land.) 
I love the quaint, slightly rustic interior, full of mis-matched furniture and even floor cushions if that’s more your style. 




It may not be in the slightest bit traditionally German, but I LOVE Roxy! I was taken to the American diner for cocktails by the lovely Tanja and her fellow Bayreuth uni friends on my first weekend here. And they were goooood.

Since then, I’ve been back to Roxy for brunch. And it was also gooooood. Weekend brunch buffets seem to be a thing that all German restaurants do. Personally, I think they’re generally quite expensive despite being awesome, but every now and again it’s so nice to treat yourself to a huge brunch. And the spread at Roxy was AMAZING!

If I remember correctly, there were potato wedges, vegetables, sausages, various spreads and jams, fruit salad, yoghurt, rice pudding, cakes, muffins, doughnuts, pancakes, pastries, bread rolls, muesli, cereals, cheeses, cold meats, salmon AND as much tea, coffee, hot chocolate and juices as you can drink. (Don’t you hate it when you have to pay for drinks separately?) Needless to say, I went to TOWN!
The rest of the day, Roxy serve incred-looking burgers, milkshakes and classic American meals, all in a retro diner interior. It’s great.


The Bratwursthäuschen


I’ve been told on numerous occasions from reliable long-time Bayreuthers that this little takeaway stall is the place to sample the local Wurst speciality. 


Most towns have their own type of Bratwurst, and I LOVE Bayreuth’s: for 2,40€ you get two of the long, thin sausages in a soft, fresh bread roll, with your choice of traditional mustard or ketchup (mainly for the kids!) It’s simple, and it’s delicious. A must.



OK, I may have only been to Louis once, and it was only because I had a voucher for two-for-one pizzas, but it was fab. Trendy inside, cheap prices even sans voucher, big portions and delicious food. What’s not to love? Emma and I both indulged in huuuuge pizzas, but they also do breakfast, salads, pasta, meat, cakes, coffees and more. Basically, you’re bound to find something (or lots of things!) you’ll want to eat at Louis.


SIGHTSEEING

There’s not loads to do in Bayreuth, but you can go ice-skating, swimming, to the cinema, cycling, to the theatre and more, so there’s enough going on. Shopping-wise, I’m going to be blunt: Bayreuth is pants. But hey, you can’t have it all. There’s H&M, so I’ve just about survived.


The Innenstadt/Inner Town

Friedrichstrasse
The whole Bayreuth town centre is, in my opinion, beautiful. I simply adore the architecture and the wide, open, cobbled, pedestrianised high street is lovely. It’s the heart of the town, and really, this one street (Richard-Wagner-Straße which turns into Maximilianstraße) sort of is Bayreuth. I also love Friedrichstraße. However, there are lots of little side-streets to wander up and down too, around which Bayreuth’s multiple churches are dotted. On a Saturday afternoon, it’s really rather bustling. 


As Emma showed me round on my first evening, I couldn’t stop expressing my amazement and wonder at how beautiful the town is. It really does have charm. And whenever I came back from weekends away, the view of Bayreuth all lit-up at night never failed to make me smile.



The Neues Schloss/New Palace



It may not be the grandest of Bavarian Schlösser (and sure, it ain’t got anything on Neuschwanstein), but I think Bayreuth Neues Schloss is a beaut as palaces go, and I loved admiring it on my way to and from school. It holds a museum now which I’ve never been fussed about visiting, but I love that you can walk through the Schloss anyway, and the gardens and fountains are gorge too. 



The Hofgarten/Court Gardens




Leading up to the Neues Schloss you find the beautiful Hofgarten, through which I also cycle on my ‘commute’ to school. It has a lovely big pond (with ducks!), a bridge, fountains, benches and statues dotted around the grass amidst the trees, as well as lots of different paths to explore. 



Now, it seems strange to look back at my pictures of the Hofgarten (yes, I've taken quite a few over the months) in all its lush greenery when I arrived, and I bet it’s simply delightful for a summer picnic, but in the autumn leaves and covered in wintry snow, the Hofgarten was gorge.







Eremitage, the Altes Schloss/Old Palace



Slightly outside the town, Eremitage is certainly worth the 20 odd minute cycle ride. The beautiful old palace has wonderful sprawling gardens, full of little alcoves and pretty flowers. There are also a couple of pretty ponds with lovely hourly fountain shows – they don’t run during the winter, but luckily I managed to catch them when I first arrived. 


There’s a lovely orangerie with a café, and I’ve been told there’s a big annual festival there in summer too, which I imagine is AMAZING as the buildings and grounds are so beautiful.



The Festspielhaus/Festival Theatre


As the name would suggest, this grand old theatre is where Wagner’s operas are performed at the annual festival. Apparently it’s one of the world’s greatest opera houses, so if that’s what you’re into, it’s definitely worth a visit.


The Markgräfliches Opernhaus/Margravial Opera House

Beautiful
Similarly, the Opera House is – you guessed it – another home of opera in Bayreuth, and in my opinion, a more beautiful building than the Festspielhaus. It’s located in the town centre so I see it all the time, and I think it’s simply gorgeous. 

Tragically, it was covered up for construction works for a few months when I first arrived, then when it was revealed, I was suddenly like WOW! I’ve seen pictures of the insanely ornate auditorium, but unfortunately that’s off-limits for the moment too. Shame, oder?


The Tierpark Röhrensee/Park with a pond and mini zoo



I genuinely think this is one of the most random but great things in Bayreuth. The pretty Röhrenseepark is a lovely place for a stroll (apparently you can rent boats on the pond in the summer – I’m gutted to be missing that), and there’s a mini zoo with ducks, flamingos, goats, donkeys, kangaroos, llamas and more all around. For free. How random is that?


Considering a student ticket to Nuremberg Zoo costs 11,50 Euros, I think the fact that Bayreuth Tiergarten is open to the public for free is just amazing. Sure, it's considerably smaller, but there are still a lot of exotic animals to be seen.


I went the other day for a sunny stroll with Emily and Emma and blimmin' loved it. I tell ya what, I'm going to be so jealous when all the baby animals are born and the girls are still here to see them! And we finished off our visit with Kaffee und Kuchen in the restaurant overlooking the pond. Simply delightful.


The town dinosaur


OK, I take back what I said about the zoo being the randomest/greatest thing about Bayreuth. That accolade definitely goes to the dino on the high street. Isn’t he great?

Charlotte and I high-fiving a dinosaur. Obvs.
I’m not 100% sure what it’s all about, and sure, it doesn’t go with the quaint Bavarian feel of the town AT ALL, but I think he’s there because there’s a prehistoric museum or something hidden away nearby. It’s irrelevant really. We have a dinosaur in our town. And I love him.


Maisel’s Brewery and Beer Museum

There are quite a lot of museums in Bayreuth, and I should probably be ashamed to say I haven’t been to any of them. *slaps wrist* Except, that is, for the beer museum, which I wrote all about here.


So there you have it - all my recommendations for a visit to Bayreuth. It's a lovely town, and I'm sure going to miss it! Whether you ever get to visit Bayreuth yourself or not, I hope you enjoyed my guide (it's taken me hooouuuurs so if it's useful/interesting/entertaining to anyone that would be grand.) And of course, should I discover another gem during my last few days here I'll be sure to update!
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8 comments

  1. Looks like you've had an amazing time Rach! It's such a beautiful place, hopefully I'll get a chance to visit it some day!

    http://livalittleblogger.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Thanks Liv! I saw you've got more exotic places on your travel bucket list but I hope you get the chance to see Bayreuth too. X

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  2. Amazing shots, looks like you had fun, I´ve never been there but it looks a great place to visit.

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    1. Thanks Marina! I have indeed. Hope you get the chance to visit some day :) X

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  3. Replies
    1. Thank you, I feel lucky to have lived here :)

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  4. Looks absolutely fantastic there, wow! May I also say I love your blog, completely the vibe I hope mine will be like one day, once I wrap my head around blogging in general...x

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Nicola, that's so kind of you to say and really means a lot to me. Good luck with your blog! X

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