Monday, 29 June 2015

A Busy Weekend

Friday afternoon we were heading north to visit our Moms. As usual we stayed with Sonja's mom where we got a three-course meal on our arrival at 9PM, and a breakfast buffet the next morning before visiting Roland's mom. After this we were supposed to go to a double-feature party (a friendly couple turned fifty in May) in Cologne. And when in Rome... or better: Cologne, do as the locals do... and go shopping. Above is the famous landmark: Cologne Cathedral, but much more attractive to us was this coffee shop, with a Vespa in front of it.

Cologne is also famous for 4711, the eau de cologne, produced since 1799, and honestly, one of the most terrible perfumes you could probably purchase. But the flagship store is busy, and tourists are standing in line to buy this stuff. For us Globetrotter Shop was much more interesting. It's a huge mall for outdoor gear. It includes an aquatic area, a dip tank, a cold chamber and a climbing area, and it definitely is the urban adventurer's paradise.

After finishing up our shopping orgy (Roland got specific hiking gear, and Sonja a new pair of runners), we were headed to a beach bar, where friends of ours celebrated their big birthdays.

Needless to say that it got late, or better early... we had a lot of fun, and got to reconnect with many friends we hadn't seen in a long time.

A birthday couple, a bottle of K├Âlsch (light blonde beer), and a hideous Hawaiian shirt. 

Sunday we were invited to another big birthday, again it involved food, this time breakfast, to celebrate Sonja's friends birthdays. Another 5-0.

Alas, the visit was short, as we had made further plans for the day. We blasted down the Autobahn (well speeding was limited due to the occasional traffic jam), in order to meet with Dom, Martha, Patrick and Miles, a.k.a. the Chang-Gang, who were on their last leg of their journey through Europe.

Heidelberg Castle
The Chang Gang

A road-trip, visits of family and (international) friends, good food, shopping and sight-seeing. All in one weekend. Life is good.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Snakes on a Plane

Now this title is obviously a hoax as a) this photo is clearly not made on a plane, b) we are only looking at one sole animal, and c) this is not even a snake, but a Blind Worm who is kind of a freak of nature being a lizard without legs. I came across it after Sonja had dropped me off in the village of Bollenbach for a hike home while she joined her Harley-buddies for their monthly club meeting.

After a few very wet days we finally had some nice weather so I got to enjoy a most beautiful hike while listening to my Progressive Rock Favorites playlist - possibly an unusual contrast for most hikers.

A view on Bollenbach

The Black Forest hiking system is very well maintained, and you find many signs for different paths to the same destination. You can walk for hours all by yourself without getting too far away from your home location. Although the direct path home would have been relatively straight forward I decided to do a few detours and spent the rest of the evening without meeting one other soul.

A WWI memorial

Beautiful evening light...

Almost ready to be picked, but I stayed virtuous!

A pre-Alpine landscape

Sun almost ready to set

The beloved Black Forest. I am not getting tired shooting these photos...

In the end I hiked 15 km and came home after 10 PM (Sonja had already returned from her Harley meeting). Needless to say that I had a good night's sleep!

Thursday, 25 June 2015


Some Wiki-information: Polterabend is a German wedding custom in which on the night before the wedding the guests break porcelain to bring luck to the couple's marriage. The belief in the effectiveness of this custom is expressed by the old adage: "Shards bring luck".

We were invited to such an event due to the upcoming wedding of Roland's colleague. Her parents are local farmers, and therefore the whole thing took place on a typical Black Forest farm in the village of Oberentersbach. Guests came from places as far as Frankfurt staying at local hotels, so Roland provided Taxi service for the night, and therefore skipped alcohol for once...

A typical Polterabend starts with "Poltern" (rumble might be a fitting translation) where the guests bring old porcelain and throw it in front of the house. The wedding couple's job is to sweep it all up and discard it, while more arriving guest throw even more of it. This whole thing lasts an hour and is indeed strenuous work. At some point some of the guests usually start throwing wash tables and toilets, and indeed this happened here as well.

A nice addition to the usual setup was the brass band (the bride plays saxophone in the local band) that played some traditional tunes for cheering on the busy couple.

The picture above shows a typical Black Forest farm with the overhanging roof. These farm buildings are usually built against a hill, and therefore provide a rear access to a barn that is on top of the living area. 

A picture of the barn that was prepared for this event over almost six months! It was the perfect location for a feast, and of course smoking was strictly prohibited!

Part of the buffet, partially provided by the guests. Sonja had prepared even two salads (the first and the third from left on the right table), and they were so good that they were gone within minutes!

Sonja talking to Roland's boss

Alcohol-free Weizen-Beer!

The band returned one more time for an in-house session.

A sophisticated drum set...

Instruments all over the place!

It was a wonderful (albeit at 10C very cold) summer night! We left around 1 AM (again: taxi service duties), though some of the other guests stayed until 7 AM in the morning. Needless to say that we needed some couch time the following day!