8. Silvester, but no Tweety.


Here in Germany, New Year’s Eve is known as Silvester, and appears to be another handy excuse to close down the shop (whatever it is) and relax. Same goes to a lesser extent on January 1.

Previously, Christmas Eve counted as one such excuse, followed by Christmas Day I and II, the latter corresponding to Boxing Day for those Anglophiles reading, and although I’ve found two Irish pubs in downtown Bamberg, neither greeted me with the smell of black pudding or the flavor of black gold on the day after the day.

The only other time I spent New Year’s Eve in Europe was during the transition from 1991 to 1992, in Kosice, Slovakia, where the most memorable tradition was proof that the warnings of my students not to stroll along the streets precisely at midnight were spot-on, because that’s when people began throwing empty wine, champagne and beer bottles out of their windows. One needn’t be a practitioner of nuclear physics to grasp the results, especially beneath the stories-high Communist era housing blocks.

Given that it is raining and most businesses are closed, we have not left the apartment today, having visited Spezial’s handy bottled beer carry-out window Wednesday night upon returning from a fine session at Schlenkerla with Matthias Trum and his wife, Sandra.

During the course of roaming, we have met a pleasant young couple who run an espresso bar adjacent to the construction zone that marks the spot where a new replacement bridge for the vanished Kettenbrücke will soon rise. It’s been open since November 1. We stopped there several times because it’s on the direct route home from the Altstadt, and we bonded over professional basketball fandom, as they are fervent supporters of the Brose Baskets. They have invited us to coffee today even though the bar is closed for the holiday. We’re told to knock conspiratorially on the door. If only Spezial offered the same option.

We seem to be winding down now as the end of the holiday draws near. The likelihood of time- consuming security checks at Nürnberg for the first leg of the outbound flight compelled us to shift gears and book a room at the airport hotel for tomorrow night. The flight is at 6:30 a.m., and would have required a 3:30 a.m., 85 Euro fixed-rate cab ride, but this way, we’re only meters away from strip search after the early alarm sounds. There’ll be a chance to spend the afternoon in Nürnberg, and perhaps eat some of the city’s famous Wurst.

Excuse me … I hear the sounds of pre-packing taking place. Is Fässla open today?