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Two Nights in Regensburg

August 2007
Regensburg sounds nice
We decided to spend a couple of nights in Regensburg. We’d heard that Regensburg was one of the German cities least damaged by WW2 and it’s also the birthplace of the Pope, not that we’re great fans of the Pope but one needs to know where he’s coming from. We’ve passed nearby to Regensburg a couple of times but never stopped.
First impressions
Entering Regensburg past the university, which is obviously a major element in the town, along leafy avenues with young people riding bicycles, we find our hotel. First a walk to the old town to get a general impression of the place, over the wide many-tracked railway with few trains in sight and past an old peoples’ centre – looks like a block of flats where old folks live and have a pharmacy and health centre and shops on site – and then through an arch and into the historic centre. Our plan is to get a drink in a bar and suss out somewhere to have dinner.
Too much pizza and pasta
Seems a young people’s town, no doubt because of the university. Downside of this is that the only thing you seem to be able to get in restaurants is pasta and pizza. You’d hardly come all the way to Regensburg for pasta and pizza. Pasta and pizza, they’ve been exported from Italy to everywhere and have become the universal staple fare in cafés and restaurants, and supermarkets for take-home quick cook meals. Part of the reason in restaurants is that they are quick to cook. And they can be light and appeal to the healthy-conscious. But at some point they’ll be superseded, they’ll come to be seen as outdated. Wonder when and what they’ll be superseded by. No clues on this as yet.
Two beers and free theatre
We find a bar that looks like it won’t be hoping to sell us some pizza and order two beers. And we watch the world go by in the square. Tourists, students, people going home from work, children, eccentrics on bicycles, eccentrics not on bicycles. Civilised. Not quite mainstream Germany. Haven’t got to grips with it yet.
The river
Next a stroll by the Danube. We see the museum ships, closed now as it’s evening, one a paddle steamer that once did the 100km trip to Passau. We think that tomorrow we’ll take a boat trip on the Danube, but there’s no indication this evening of how you do that, or even whether you can. Tomorrow we’ll find out. Let’s look for somewhere for dinner.
A restaurant
We find somewhere for dinner that isn’t pizza and pasta, though this took a bit of strolling the streets. We did pass one bierstube that looked a possibility, though not immediately appealing – we’ll come back to this though if all else fails. But all else didn’t fail as we came upon a triangle on one of the main streets, on the edge of the pedestrianised zone, by some bus stops, where there was a restaurant with tables outside, and it looked like the food might be Bavarian. We checked the menu, which was hand-written and hard to read, but a newspaper-cutting on the display board said that this was a newly-reopened restaurant focusing on local Bavarian specialities, so we decided to risk it and sat down at one of the outside tables. (Photo at
As can sometimes happen, this turned out to be the perfect choice, notwithstanding there being just we two, plus another couple who’d just arrived, and a table of three drunks (see my page on Drunks in Restaurants. But the restaurant was obviously trying hard, with the waiter in his brown suede waistcoat and clogs and the menu in a kind of locked wooden frame, with hand-written pages that were hard to read.
We saw on the menu, kimmelbrat, and we asked the waiter what kimmel was. His Bavarian accent was so strong that neither of us understood barely a word that he said, so I ordered it anyway. When it came I immediately saw what it was, for it was a meat stew with caraway seeds, kümmel in the German we know, obviously kimmel in these parts.
For starter I had a wurstsalat, which I’ve eaten before in southern Germany, strips of pale pink sausage, cold, in oil and mild clear vinegar, and Hilary had a beer soup, which was a meat broth with beer in, with lumps of bread floating in it. Both our main courses, my kimmel and Hilary’s pfifferlinge – yellow wild mushroom which were in season – came with bready dumplings, far too much breadiness for us to be able to eat. And to drink: local beer, though this is a wine-producing area, but beer seemed right.
As we were eating, some youths were drinking cheap wine by the bus-stop, see Under-Age Drinking, German Style.
Thanks for the Bavarian
Other diners arrived, and when we came to pay the bill Hilary thanked the waiter/owner for providing somewhere to eat that was different from pizza and pasta, which caused an elderly couple sitting nearby to join in loudly and say how much they agreed with her, and how this was just about the only restaurant in Regensburg now where they can get a meal of the type they appreciate – a Bavarian dinner.
Actually, the elderly couple weren’t being quite truthful, as we discovered on our walk back to our hotel, when we passed through the grounds of Regensburg’s four- or five-star central hotel, the Arch, which had a yard with many tables and people were arriving and asking for a table and the waitresses dressed in pink check Austrian-type dresses with full shirts and a bib and flounced-out sleeves on their white short-sleeved blouses, presumably Bavarian style as well as Austrian, were telling them there wasn’t a free one, the restaurant was busy and it was full. We looked at the menu and it seemed to be Bavarian but with a modern twist, and quite expensive, but we thought we might give it a try tomorrow.
Rich and poor alike
The people passing the restaurant where we had actually eaten – and in the Arch you wouldn’t have had such entertainment for your money – included not only alcohol-abusing youths; smartly-dressed theatre-goers got off the buses too, and at the other extreme a group of women with their children, some in pushchairs, passed by, and as they walked past the municipal rubbish bin one of the children instinctively opened the lid and had a look inside. Didn’t find anything though so just as quickly closed it again. Won’t waste time on empty crisp wrappers.
And that was the end of the first part-day in Regensburg. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.


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