Sunday, 6 July 2014

Another Summer Evening

Even after a year in the Southwestern part of Germany we are still amazed about the fantastic weather in this region. Being used to rainy and humid summers in the area around Cologne (the so-called 'Rhineland') we enjoy the warm and relatively dry climate down here a lot. So - between two World Cup quarter finale matches - we strolled around with our bicycles again, mesmerized by the beauty of our surroundings.

At the Kinzig river

Like holidays!

We love the noise the water makes at these small rapids

The branches of the apple trees need support already, because the apples are too heavy for quite young trees already.

A few more weeks, and these beauties are going to be ripe and juicy!!

Less juicy, but at a ripe old age...

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

A long Weekend - Part Three: In the Pentagon

There is no possible way of describing Wiesbaden, the State capital of Hesse, in one word, or even one sentence (except we make it a very long one...). Well, maybe in short: Surprisingly awesome!

Spa House & Casino

Relatively unscathed by WWII the city is bursting with architectural grandeur and historical landmarks. Of course the Romans (again) settled here first and cultivated the area, attracted by the many hot springs and the almost Mediterranean climate.

The medieval period defined the city core and somewhat resembles the shape of an uneven pentagon, hence, the name: The Historic Pentagon. Today, part of it is a pedestrian zone with nice restaurants, boutique stores, antique shops, cafes and beer gardens.

The Pentagon

Wiesbaden is one of the oldest spa cities in Europe, some even claim it is 'Europe's wellness capital', and many celebrities, from royals to artists, frequented the area quite regularly, and still do. For that and for legal gambling, of course.

And why did we end up in Wiesbaden? We didn't bring bathing suits, we don't gamble and we are not famous. We came to meet with fellow blogger Nikos and the wife again, and this time it was planned!

Blogger Selfie

We arrived in the afternoon, conquered the Pentagon to grab a coffee-to-go (YES, finally!), to shop for vegan chocolate and have a refreshing Radler in the beer garden at the Market Church in front of the Hessian Parlament while waiting for our hosts to arrive.

Market Church

The beer garden was about two hundred meters away as the crow flies from where Mr and Mrs Nikos live, yet Nick managed to get lost, and couldn't find us... He definitely needs to work on his navigational skills, and this is where Mrs Nikos took over.

First we got free parking in their garage, which was nice as downtown parking is quite expensive, but it turned out to be a bit of a challenge to get into the designated spot. However, Roland managed despite Nick's help.

Kochbrunnen (Boiling Fountain), a hot spa

We were reasonably hungry, but Elektra (the wife) had other plans. We had to walk up and around the Pentagon first. From Rheinstraße in the south, and west along Schwalbacher Straße, then north down Röderstraße and along Taunusstraße and Wilhelmstraße in the East, or so... we kinda lost track after a while.

The guys were getting really grumpy from starvation... but finally we arrived at Thai Banyan, to quench our thirst with funny cocktails (Nick had Sex on the Beach) and were served an excellent dinner. After this it was football time for Roland, and another walk in the park after dark (actually it was just around the block) for Sonja and Nick.

On Sunday all of us slept in, while Elektra's mom was already busy with breakfast. We felt just like being in a B&B. What a lovely treat.

After breakfast we walked some more, and Nick's wife, a true ambassador of her hometown led the way to Neroberg. Through a lovely park with picturesque villas we strolled, and to the boys' relief we entered the Nerobergbahn, a water powered funicular railway from 1888, instead of climbing the hill.

On Neroberg, the guys were hungry (again), and got fed with curry wurst and fries. But not before adoring the view over Wiesbaden.

Beer and Wurst

We had some Radler for refreshments, before we opted to walk downhill. Elektra procured a pound of cherries from a food truck, and while strolling through the shades of the forest we carried out a spitting contest.

Russian Orthodox Church St. Elisabeth

Nick's mom-in-law had meanwhile been busy with late lunch preparations, and again well fed we chatted the afternoon away. Eventually it was time to part ways. Nick had to get to the airport, Elektra needed to pack for a gig in Northern Germany, and we had a two hours drive getting back to the Black Forest.

Thank you Nick, Elektra and Gudrun for a fantastic weekend. We sure had fun! (Pics below: courtesy Nikos).

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

A long Weekend - Part Two: A Place for Robber Barons or Sleeping Beauties

For the night we stayed in a nice hotel in Landstuhl, which gets regularly frequented by Americans visiting friends and family on the nearby base. (We seemed to be the only German speaking guests...).

On the next leg of our trip we meandered through the Palatinate Forest, a low mountain region and national park in southwest Germany. Our route took us south towards Pirmasens, then southeast to Bad Bergzabern, we traveled south again towards the French border, and left the best part for last: Route 48 to Hochspeyer.

The weather was nice and not too hot, so we hiked up to Berwartstein Castle, a robber baron's headquarter in the 13th century, destroyed and restored several times, and today rather resembling the home of Sleeping Beauty.

Seehof Pond

In the past this region had been quite popular with the two-wheeled crowd. Alas, thanks to frequent weekend warriors causing disturbance and accidents over the past years, the best routes through the area are off limits for motorcycles now on weekends and holidays. So, when on a motorcycle make sure you visit the region during weekdays.

Monday, 23 June 2014

A long Weekend - Part One: We like Rivers.

River Rhine

Another long weekend lies behind us involving 1,400km of driving, a house warming party at our friends place, visiting our moms, and a mini blogger meet-up, all occasionally interrupted by watching football matches. In order to spice up "the long commute" we traveled along river Rhine, but at Koblenz, we decided on a whim to follow river Moselle upstream.

The Moselle is one of the busiest waterways in Europe. It is the largest German tributary of the Rhine, and flows through France, Luxembourg and Germany before it empties into the Rhine. A winding river bed, steep slopes, wine growing (Riesling, anyone?) and castles are typical characteristics of this river.

Vineyards with Castle Thurant on top

While on a coffee stop in Alken we climbed the old stairs up to St. Michael's chapel (11th century), where we found an old graveyard and an ossuary (learned a new word today). On top of the hill sits Castle Thurant, overlooking the vineyards, the village and the river valley.

View on Alken

We took our next cultural break in Cochem, a romantic village at the river, and popular with the tourist crowds, especially from the Netherlands. Throning on a high hill sits the imperial castle of Cochem. Unfortunately Cochem gets flooded every couple of years when the Moselle bursts its banks, but somehow the inhabitants manage to clean up everything within weeks.

Cochem on right
Cochem Castle
Cochem downtown
Flammkuchen & grape juice
The heart of Cochem
The Calmont bend from below
And from above

Then we said good-bye to the river, with the promise to return... next time on scooters.