As we say in the Rietkerk house, “We haven’t met a red wine we don’t like.” But, you can’t be considered a true wine aficionado until you have been properly educated. As part of the Hohenfels Wine Club, my goal … Continue reading
After a long winter’s sleep, Bavaria comes alive. First with the crazy antics of Fasching or Carnivale, Germans are roused from their slumber with costumes and parades. Then, it’s time to get serious. In the Christian calendar, the 40 days … Continue reading
Soccer season is over and we found ourselves with a “free” Saturday. Not ones to sit idly at home for the whole day, we packed a picnic lunch and headed north in the Volvo in search of the Romantic Road. A favorite road trip of many tourists, the Roman Road was a trade route during the Middle Ages and begins in Wurzburg and travels south until reaching the most famous of fairy-tale castles: Neuschwanstein. We started the morning with a stroll along the cobblestone streets of Wurzburg, taking our sweet time on the city bridge which is lined with wine shops. Of course, would couldn’t pass up the opportunity to buy a single glass of wine and continue walking slowly along the bridge as we looked at statues of saints and the Marienburg Fortress across the river.
Following our visit to Wurzburg, we drove a little under an hour to Rothenburg for a walk around the city walls and a bite of dinner. We found cafe tables outside at our favorite Italian restaurant and I enjoyed a Radler (a drink of 1/2 lemonade and 1/2 beer) and tortellini al forno. at 8pm, the girls and I joined the night watchman tour which meets at the Market Sqaure and the boys found a cafe to watch the Euro Cup game. With the summer season in full swing, we enjoyed a late sunset and delightful information from our trusty watchman. This tour is a highlight of a visit to Rothenburg.
It’s no secret that Germans love a party and beginning now until Ash Wednesday, much of Europe is in full party mode. This time of year we celebrate “fifth season” in Bavaria, also known as “fasching” or “Fastnacht”. Literally “fast night” it refers to the night before fasting begins on Ash Wednesday and is two weeks of revelry, drinking and merry making. Parades are very popular throughout Germany but nothing beats the chaotic atmosphere and elaborate costumes of Venice where “Carnevale” is celebrated the two weekends before Ash Wednesday. We’re planning a family trip down to Vicenza to visit some friends and perhaps check out the festivities in Venice just an hour’s drive away.
We recently stumbled upon a delicacy of the German Christmas Markets…the fire bowl drink (feuerzangenbowle). A friend mentioned the stand on the other side of the Danube River in Regensberg so the family made its way wandering through the cobblestone streets in search of the elusive concoction. When we stumbled upon a long line of eager patrons waiting patiently for their drinks we knew we found something special. The drink comes served in a special cup that allows the sugar cube to rest on the side while the liquor is poured generously on top of the sugar and drink. Then, the magic comes when the server takes a small blowtorch and lights the drink on fire. We were duly impressed. So much so, that on subsequent trips, we made a beeline for the stand, passing up any imitations along the way. We thought this was a Regensberg specialty but are happy to report that Munich hosts a Fire Bowl Square right near the Old Town with several stands dedicated to the drink, and includes a 20 foot tower of copper with fire flaming out from the center. All we can say is “bring it on!”
Starting just after American Thanksgiving, German villages and large cities play host to Christkindlmarkts…the traditional seasonal markets featuring handcrafted goods, fresh baked goods and live music. We were able to visit several of the top markets this year: Dresden–the oldest market in Germany; Stuttgart–the largest market in Germany; Esslingen–a medieval market featuring pirates, wenches and lots of street performers; Nuremberg–voted “the best” market; and Regensberg–a collection of 4 markets in one city. Each has their specialty but all have one draw in common: gluhwein, a hot mulled wine served in commemorative market coffee mugs. You pay a deposit for the cup allowing visitors to choose which cups they want to collect. (most cost between 2-3 euro) A spin on the gluhwein drink is “feuerzangenbowle” literally translated “fire tongs punch”. This drink is mulled wine with a sugar cube doused in alcohol and then lit on fire. Not only is it tasty on a cold winter’s night but adding the flame on top makes it irresistible.