One of my fondest memories of my time in Germany is sitting in the sun eating my Regensburger brat, feet dangling over the Danube, with my back to the ancient German city.
The path to that experience is pretty interesting in and of itself. Read on about my visit to Regensburg during my first solo international adventure.
Here I am, in Regensburg, at the Wurstkuche (Sausage Kitchen) which has to be on every sausage-lover’s bucket list, as they have been serving sausage from this little building for over 800 years!
The Wurstkuche is a tiny little building compared to the towering six-story buildings that surround it. Built in the 1100s, it fed workers building the bridge across the Danube.
I am surprised at how truly tiny this ancient building is given that the six-story granary was constructed about the same time.
Even though it‘s a major tourist attraction, the Germans haven‘t bothered to add on to it. Half of it appears to be a dining room, but it couldn‘t possibly seat more than 25. The other half holds two giant grills and three cooks turning mountains of little sausages. I wonder where they wash the dishes or keep supplies…
The Square, I find, is crowded with other tour groups getting their lunch from the Wurstkuche. Terrible timing.
I’m a bit irritated by the tourists, as they just seem to mob from one thing to the next. However, I’m not sure that I am much different, with my speed-tour of Regensburg. My situational awareness may be higher than most tourists due to me traveling solo and clueless. Perhaps what bugs me is that it appears they are looking for entertainment instead of experience.
I wander under the bridge but am disappointed that I can‘t take any great pictures of this historical bridge as it’s undergoing re-constructive surgery and is covered in tarps. River cruise ships frequently glide under the arches, creating alternative photo opportunities for my itching shutter-finger.
Back standing in line for the sausages, I try identifying the nationalities of the various tour groups. One group is speaking South-American Spanish and I’m pretty sure a group of Americans are quite confused as to whether their food’s already ordered or if they need to order it.
I keep my nationality a secret with my silence. (Imagine that – Rosanna not striking up a conversation with the folks she is in line with!) No one really seems to notice me, so I enjoy being inconspicuous and absorbing the atmosphere.
I’m glad for the line; it gives me more time to interpret the posted German menu. I feel quite accomplished as my order goes smoothly, even when I choose a little jar of Wurstkuche mustard as a gift for my brother Steven.
Now, to eat my sausage!
Regensburger sausages, are small, as my friends Demetri and Anna had informed me. Three sausages in 19 mm casings (about the size of breakfast sausages) nestled in a crusty bun. This is the best Wurstkuche sausage! Topped with sweet brown mustard and sauerkraut.
Wow. No wonder people have been eating here for 800 years! Simple, but scrumptious!
A balmy summer afternoon, sitting on a warm stone pier with my feet dangling over the deep blue of the Danube River, the sun on my back and in my hand a sausage with sauerkraut from the oldest sausage kitchen in the world.
Click! I take a memory picture so I can treasure this feeling of contentment and risk.
I slowly eat my Regensburger sausage, then rise for a last look around before trotting the five blocks back to the train station.
I spy an empty bus bearing the words HBF waiting by the curb and recall that my train ticket gives me access to city buses. I walk up and asked the driver: “Hauptbahnhof?” He nods, so I flash my ticket, hop aboard and say, ”Danke!”
As I prepare to debark at the train station, the driver asks me a question in rapid-fire German. I try explaining, in Deutsch, that I really only speak a little German and could he please speak English. This, however, seems only to confuse him, having already heard me speak German.
I flounder around trying to explain in broken English and German, but this doesn’t really accomplish much. Compounding the issue is the fact that my backpack is emblazoned with “Bauman” – a very German name. I’m really frustrated that I can’t communicate, but perhaps it should be a compliment – apparently what little I did speak was pretty convincing.
Now, to locate the right bus to take me back to Munich!
Since the Regensburg tracks are under repair, the train schedules with their track numbers are useless. I face a parking lot full of greyhound buses. The buses simply have numbers, not destinations. Thinking that my bus is to leave in five minutes, I don‘t have time to sit back and observe.
After walking past all the buses once, I really don’t want to do it again looking like the obviously lost traveler that I am. I take a stab in the dark and ask a bus driver, ”Munchen?” He shakes his head and points toward a bank of three buses. How helpful. All of them, or just one? The first bus driver answers in the affirmative, so I climb aboard.
Munich, here I come!
Regensburg in one hour, on foot. I’m satisfied.
My time here feels somewhat surreal. I would love to be able to fully explore the city, but I’ve learned that something is better than nothing. If I am given a chance to eat a sausage from the oldest sausage maker in the world, you bet I‘ll seize the opportunity!
So what I only got to spend one hour in Regensburg? It was a very rich hour, and who knows when or if I will ever be able to visit again…
Talk about staying power…the Regensburger brat has been served continuously out of the tiny Wurstkucle in Germany since the 12th century!
And now, this old sausage is in stock at the Bauman’s Mobile Meat Market!
Incidentally, this ancient sausage recipe doesn’t contain any MSG, sugar, gluten, or any other chemical antioxidant or preservative!
Apparently those ingredients were hard to come by in medieval Germany! : )
The Regensburger Bratwurst is a baby brat: this sausage is traditionally small-diameter and we’ve kept it that way in recognition of our own German heritage.
Put two or three of these baby brats in a big crusty bun—like a ciabatta, dollop on some sweet brown mustard, and top with steamy sauerkraut!