Our first day in Nuremberg was a charmed one. The sun greeted us, its bright glow gently coaxing us outside. We didn’t need to be told twice. After an energising breakfast of muesli and fruits, we geared up and headed out to carpe diem. Modern and classical architecture sat side by side, perfectly complimenting one another. Our first stop of the day led upwards, to the Nuremberg Castle. Its structure first established on the rocky cliffs in the eleventh century, the Imperial Castle was an important point for court gatherings and royal visits between the mid eleventh to the late sixteenth century. Inhabited only when the emperor came to visit, the structure stands as a symbol of status and power. Inside the grounds, a chapel – well fitted with era-appropriate religious artwork – and a museum dedicated to royal artefacts, greeted us. While most of the descriptive guides were written in German, it did nothing to dissuade our interest in the displays. Art appreciation knows no barriers. And the incredible intricacy and meaning imbued in centuries-old works only makes its beauty even more captivating. My friend had to pry me away from the golden crown on display. It’s a good thing he did too; otherwise we could have lost the day in that dimly lit room.
As per every Tuesday, we headed off afterwards in search of a café and a bookshop. Stopping along the beautiful Pegnitz river, Café & Bar Celona called to us. Situated on the south side of the Fischbrücke bridge, the quaint café is situated in the middle of the shopping district. Sitting outside, we watched as people strolled past us. Every passerby was all smiles, and why shouldn’t they be? Because even with light rain spattering on and off throughout the day, the temperature was ideal late spring weather; warm enough to wear summer clothes, fitted with a light breeze that justified taking a jacket along. To satiate our sweet tooth, we both ordered a mousse. My friend opted for a white chocolate mousse and an Americano. I ordered a milk chocolate mousse and a boozy hot chocolate. My spoon sliced through the dessert like soft butter. Its crunchy topping balanced the velvety texture of the mousse. Paired with the hot chocolate, Celona was an absolute delight. Thank heavens for its delicious treats, because as we sat down to order, my dear itouch died. And silly me, I forgot to pack a charger cable. So I retrieved Alfonso, an adorable penguin I bought at The Deep aquarium in Hull, from my bag. The sight of him brought an immediate smile to my face. Chuckling, my friend flagged down the waitress and we placed our orders.
Properly fuelled and sugar running through our veins, we squared up our tab and went to the next stop for the day. Thalia, a popular chain bookstore in Germany, boats over two hundred stores throughout the country. Visiting the Thalia in Nuremberg, it was easy to see why. Fitted with four floors of technology, working spaces, a café, a lecture space, and of course, books, Thalia was fabulously organised. Everything was clearly and boldly labeled. Colourful displays, such as the garden house, were a neat summary of aesthetically pleasing stationary, books, and décor. The International section, situated on the top floor, was a blend of top sellers and unique finds. Detailed opinions from staff members were lovingly written out on white cards and placed in front of the respective novels. If I had all the money in the world, I would’ve started my shopping spree in Thalia. So even though a myriad of books called to me, my wallet firmly insisted on settling for one. And what a wonderful choice! Having fallen in love with the film, my friend pointed out the novelised adaptation of The Shape of Water. A collaborative work between Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus, the book adds further depth to the characters the audience was introduced to onscreen. To avoid spoiling too much, the inner conflict of Lainie Strickland – the antagonist’s wife – was a refreshing change to her unchallenging Stepford depiction onscreen. All but dragging me out of the literary Narnia, I clutched the ocean blue book in my arms, eager to delve into the mythical world.