AllmÄchd! is a typical Franconian dialect exclamation—best translated as “almighty!”
After my tweet @TravelGumbo a few days ago (“Sage travel advice: never call a ‘Franconian’ (native of northern Bavaria) a ‘Bavarian,’ (because it would be like telling a Scot that he's English!) I was invited to write some more. Please kindly ignore any misspellings or grammar faults, as English is not my native tongue – it’s “FrÄnkisch.”
The great Ferris wheel at the Nuremberg “Volksfest” bears the Bavarian coat of
arms: in the lower left corner the Bavarian blue & white and in the
upper right the Franconian red & white.
So, if you are planning to visit Bavaria not only for “Oktoberfest,” skiing or to see the fancy castles of a slightly mad king, but also to explore its northern regions of Upper, Lower and Middle Franconia, just keep my advice in mind and you’ll get along well with the locals.
Franconian winter can be quite rich with snow, but thankfully normally
doesn’t last as long as in the southern regions of Bavaria.
Franconia has existed since about the 6th century and was “given” to the kingdom of Bavaria by French emperor Napoleon in 1806—so for most of the time it has been independent (and only subordinate to the German emperor.) This may be the main reason why the around 5 million residents still don’t like to be regarded as Bavarians. In fact there have been some (so far failed) attempts in the last 200 years to regain autonomy.
Franconians are very proud of their “nationality” and the many differences between them and the “real” Bavarians in the south. The colors of their (unofficial but nevertheless often used) flag are red & white (instead of the Bavarian blue & white); local dialects and traditional costumes also vary considerably from the Bavarian ones and there is a famous national cuisine. In months with “r”—from September to April—you’ll find poached or fried carp on the menu and throughout the year of course the traditional porc dishes, such as “Bratwurst” or “SchÄuferla” (slow roasted pork shoulder with bladebone, as just recently enthusiastically discovered by Jamie Oliver.)
Homemade “Schweinebraten” (pork roast) to be served with potato-dumplings,
lots of gravy and salad.
Of course religion and politics also takes a part in this: while Franconians mainly are Protestants and rather “left-wing” the rest of Bavaria is mainly (in rural regions v-e-e-e-ry) Roman Catholic and conservative. I was born in Nuremberg and NEVER regarded myself as Bavarian, but always as Franconian. Nuremberg is the second largest city of Bavaria after Munich, and is sadly infamous for Hitler’s Nazi party meetings.
One of the few Roman Catholic churches in Nuremberg: Gothic “Frauenkirche”
(Church of Our Lady) with its famous carillon (that you can watch at noon)
situated on the citys main market square. Aside from the farmers market
on weekdays there is also some food for hungry Japanese tourists
in the local colours that match the Japanese just as well.
But aside from that brief (in comparison to its over 1000-year history) period of horror, it is the famous home of Lebkuchen (Gingerbread), Christkindlesmarkt and “Drei-im-Weggla” (the traditional Nurembergian “fastfood”: three small grilled sausages in a bun with mustard). Make no mistake though when ordering “Bratwurst” outside of Nuremberg, as it is about four times bigger than the small “Original NÜrnberger Bratwurst” which is just finger-sized! If you like a city that you can explore by foot (at least inside the old town’s medieval wall) and one that provides lots of traditional and modern treasures, Nuremberg will not disappoint. Although there are many excellent hotels I would recommend a stay at Nuremberg Youth Hostel (inside completely modernized in 2013) which is situated in the monumental 500-year-old “Kaiserstallung” that is part of the castle and overlooking the city centre. For booking information see: http://nuernberg.jugendherberge.de/en/
Six small “original NÜrnberger BratwÜrste” served with potato salad on a
traditional tin plate in famous “BratwursthÄusle” next to Sebaldus church.
One thing the whole of Bavaria is well known for is beer. But the flippantly so-called “industry-pi**” from one of the big Munich or Nuremberg breweries no real Franconian would drink – and why should they when you can find the world’s largest number of excellent small private breweries (around 300!) in middle and upper Franconia! You can combine hiking the beautiful landscape and stopping every now and then by small brewery inns to taste the local beer along the very popular “5-Seidla-Steig” (5-Pints-Trail) just a bit north of Nuremberg (and reachable by public transport). If you prefer wine over beer, don’t despair: in the western regions (Lower Franconia) you can enjoy many varieties from white “Silvaner” to red “Domina” and explore picturesque small wine towns with a winegrowing tradition over 1000 years old. On two nice websites you’ll find lots of information about Franconian beer and wine, festivals, hiking & history: http://www.franken-bierland.de/en/ and http://www.franken-weinland.de/
I hope I piqued your interest a bit and provided some useful information about this very charming but still not so well known German region. J
Warmly tweeting from the heart of Franconia: @FrauVonElmDings