Bonus Pics!

We are just finishing up our champagne tasting (next blog) before heading to Paris and returning our car (close to 7000 kilometers in 60 days!) tomorrow.  I have a few pix that I didn’t include from the last few blogs, and thought I would send them to you.

Weimar/Leipzig:  There are 14 wine regions in Germany.  The most famous is the Rhine River Valley Rieslings.  But, the northern most region is in Eastern Germany between Weimar and Leipzig.  We tasted at 2 or 3 wineries in this area.  The most interesting was an old Cloister that is now a winery.  Back when, the philosopher Nieztsche  had gone to school at the cloister.  Here is the background, a pic of the front of the place where one can wine taste, and a few bottles:

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Potsdam:  Potsdam, parts of Berlin, Weimar, Leipzig were all behind the Iron Curtain.  The Berlin Wall extended some 87 miles long and construction started just 2 weeks after my birth date in 1961.  In Potsdam, with all that water, a bridge connected East to West and apparently, much was exchanged (secrets and spies) between East and West.  In addition, some 83 people were killed or drowned trying to escape the East.  The first pic is the bridge in the distance, and the other two pics are churches near the water where many tried to escape:

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Berlin:  A bridge in East Germany, the Reichstag building (I showed you the dome in a post but not the building under the dome), our garden view from our apartment:

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The killer Chinese restaurant in Aachen Germany, on our way to Champagne region of France:

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And two teaser pics from Hautvillers, France; the birthplace of champagne by Dom Perignon.  A pic of our apt in the old town section of Hautvillers, and a pic of Liz and me after tasting in the little town of Romery, “inside” of a wine bottle:

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Okay, here is the wine bottle, so you can see better:

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How cool is that?

Off to Paris tomorrow.  I will blog about our champagne tasting experiences in the next day or two.  Ciao!

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Berlin!

I apologize for not blogging sooner.  Our internet at the Garten Hotel in Berlin had pretty lousy internet and WordPress likes fast reliable wifi.

For 4 days, we walked the city of Berlin.  We easily covered 20+ miles in that time, opting to see the city on foot, passing the  monuments and seeing things that interested us.  There are more museums in Berlin than anyone could count.  But after almost 3 months on the road, we are pretty much museum-ed out.

Berlin was pretty much wiped clean in WWII.  The Allied forces bombed the hell out of the city.  So, not much remains from pre-WWII, relatively speaking.  As you know, Berlin and the country, was broken into East and West, and this was nowhere more apparent than in Berlin itself.  Today, East Berlin is the happening side of the city.  Other than the Berlin Wall and its remnants, the city is seamless from East to West.  It is remarkable because between 1945-1960, citizens just wanted out of East Berlin.  And now, I see East Berlin as the much more interesting and hip side of the city.

Our hotel was just inside the former East Berlin, and the Berlin Wall memorial was only about 1/4 mile away.  So, on day one, we set out to see the exhibit and the remnants of the wall.  The wall pieces that remain are here, and over at the East Side Gallery on the banks of the Spree river.  However, through out the city, there is a stone “path” (inlaid right in the roads, for example) that shows exactly where the wall existed.  So, as you walk through out the city, you are constantly reminded of the wall and its former where-abouts.

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At the memorial, there is the wall as pictured, and along the half mile or so long memorial, metal poles were erected to continue the old wall.  I stand next to it in the pic, for scale.  What many don’t realize is that the wall was actually 3 walls, spaced apart, with a no man’s land of about 200 feet total in between the 3 sections (This was coined The Death Strip).  Guard towers existed in these open areas as well.  So, if you wanted to escape, you had to scale 3 separate walls and make it through the open space in between, without being shot.  Few made it through.  From the viewing tower of the memorial building is a pic of a replica of the wall zone:

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This pic shows the wall that I was standing next to, a guard tower, and a fence on the far side.  There was also a fence running through the middle, just in front of the guard tower.  In the background far right, is the television tower.

Another chunk of the wall lies several miles over from here and is infamous for the kissing painting.  In 2009, the city contracted artists to paint a huge section of the wall.  We walked the entire length (maybe a half mile or so), which is mostly covered by graffiti from just after the wall came down.

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Check Point Charlie was a border hut between East and West, controlled by the Americans.  Two soldiers pose for pics at CPCharlie.  Funny thing is, they are Germans!

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Here is the rest of the graffiti wall from above:

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And yes, MB headquarters is behind that, along with a huge indoor stadium.  Here are other monuments that we toured:

Brandenburg Gate:  It is huge and beautiful.

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Tiergarten (animal garden) Park is the Central Park of Berlin.  It is massive, and was the hunting grounds for Bellevue Palace.  There are many points of interest in the park, but I give you 3:  The palace, which is where Angela Merkel lives, the Victory Tower (of a bunch of pre-1900 wars which was the only thing left standing in the park after WWII), and a statue of Richard Wagner, amazing opera composer:

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Finally, there is Reichstag.  This is the seat of Gov’t for Germany.  Everything happens in this huge building.  The building was rebuilt after the war, and a few years ago, they built a dome on top.  You can visit the dome and walk the long spiral to the top.  It is state of the art technology and probably the coolest thing we did in Berlin (well, with the exception of the Berlin Phil.)  Notice the V shaped structure inside the dome.  The second pic is a close up of that from the spiral walking ramp:

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Parliament takes place on the other side of the glass ceiling.  The views of the city are unmatched from the top of the dome.

Finally, the Berlin Philharmonic.  This is why we came to Berlin.  We learned that on Tuesdays, they have a free lunch concert.  We couldn’t pass that up!  The concerts are held in the foyer and are chamber music/solo recital offerings.  Hundreds of peeps come to these concerts, and pretty much sit anywhere and everywhere.  (The building was erected in the 60’s, part of the rebuilding of Potsdamer Platz in East Berlin.  Sony and Merc Benz funded the rest of the Platz after the wall came down, with high rise glass buildings that are cutting edge cool, shopping, restaurants, indoor/outdoor events etc.)  Here are two pics from the lunch concert:

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The stage with piano is dead center.  The 200 or so seats are for aged only.  Everyone else?…..

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We are all sitting on the floor and on the steps of this ultra modern mid century concert hall foyer.  Here is the program from the lunch concert:

 

IMG_1830.jpgFinally, the stage (no pics during the concert, obviously).  The concert was mostly Mozart and the phil played beautifully:

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We were seated 3/4 back, and as you can see, we had great seats.  Notice too, that this is a theater in the round, with seats behind the orchestra.

We then needed to get back to France.  From Berlin to Hautvillers (Champagne region) is 9 hours, so we stopped on the Belgian border town of Aachen, Germany to break up the drive.  We ate at a Chinese restaurant to die for.  It was full of Asians and no English was being spoken so we decided it must be good.  And was it ever.  Yesterday, we arrived in Hautvillers and checked into our apartment.  We immediately walked about town and tried 2 wineries and drank champagne.  Oh yeah!  We will do the same for the next 3 days and start planning for our final week in Paris.  Till then!

Leipzig, Bach and Potsdam…

Bach was considered to have 3 main periods which comprised his musical life:  Weimar, Kothen and Leipzig.  Weimar and Kothen posts lasted 7-10 years.  We were not able to visit Kothen, a small village between Weimar and Liepzig, but Bach was very productive during those years.  The Duke was a Calvinist, and didn’t require much of Bach compositionally.  So Bach completed much of his secular music there including the Brandenburg Concertos, the violin partitas, his 4 orchestral suites, and I believe the cello suites.  His final post was for the Lutheran Church in Leipzig and he stayed at this post for the final 27 years of his life.  Most significantly, he composed over 100 cantatas at St Thomas’s Church.

Bach had not applied for the position but decided to do so when Telemann turned down the gig.  Bach’s wife had recently died, and he met a young soprano in Kothen.  They married and went on to have 13 children (he had 4 from his first marriage) and move to Leipzig.  Bach was church composer, organist, kappelmeister and head teacher at the boys choir school.  In addition, he taught organ lessons at St Thomas Church.  He was also responsible for music at the other main church in Leipzig.  Fortunately, he had a good budget and many professional musicians at his disposal.  It must have been a dream job for him.

The church is typical white bland interior with two magnificent organs.  When we visited, the current organist was teaching lessons, just as Bach had done almost 300 years ago.

 

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Bach is entombed at the church.  You can see his grave above and below:

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We can only see it from this side, hence the upside down thing.  The current organ:

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Unlike in Weimar, Bach IS a rock star in Leipzig.  The town celebrates his likeness in many ways including a statue and the Bach Museum.

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The Bach Museum is an absolute gem.  It his housed across the street from the church, in the Bose family home (He was in the gold and silver business, not stereos!).  The Bose and Bach clan were the closest of friends, so the historians were able to find out quite a bit about Bach’s family life.  But perhaps most importantly from the museum is the collection of original manuscripts.  Because of light sensitivity, pics are not always allowed.  But we were able to take a picture of Bach’s organ which was on display at the museum.IMG_1754.jpg

Like Weimar, Leipzig was behind the Iron Curtain.  So it is a mix of old (charming), Soviet era structures (ugly), and very new (modern architecture).  If one strips away the new and the Soviet structures, you can still get a pretty good idea of what the city looked like back in Bach’s day.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the Berlin Phil concert on October 26 is dictating our travel schedule.  We now have 3 days to kill before arriving in Berlin.  So, we chose Potsdam.  It is surrounded by the river Havel, which breaks off into large swaths of lake sized areas.  It really is a cool place to be, and our apartment was just one block from the “lake”.  We hung out in downtown, checked out portions of the Berlin Wall (it was 85 miles or so long) and went to Cecilianhof Palace.  This palace is significant because the treaty(s) to end WWII was signed by Truman, Stalin and Churchill in 1945.  The Potsdam Conference lasted about 2 weeks and we wanted to visit where the signing took place.  We took no pics as the entire front of the palace is being restored and was shrouded in scaffolding and the like.  But it was cool to be in the place where the treaty was signed.

We now leave for Berlin and will be there Oct 23-27.  From there, we head back to France and wine taste in the Champagne region.  I will blog soon about our time in Berlin.  Auf Wedersehen!

Weimar: Bach, Liszt and …..

We booked an apartment in downtown Weimar for 5 days.  We figured we would need that amount of time to cover the significant history of Weimar.  Weimar’s golden age was from Bach (early 1700’s) til the contemporary kunst (art) of the Bauhaus movement (1920’s).  What came next is dark and comes later in the blog.

Weimar is a bustling town of 60,000 inhabitants.  In Bach’s day, it consisted of the old town area with about 5000 inhabitants.  Unfortunately for Bach, a few other international figures have over shadowed the prominence and accomplishments of Bach, namely Goethe and Schiller.  So, if you’re in Weimar to relish in all things literary, you’re in luck.  If you want to explore Bach’s Weimar period, not so much.  Bach (1685-1750) lived in Weimar twice; as a teenager when he was a “lacquay” or lackey, and later as an adult.  Both times he worked for the Duke of Weimar.  As a lackey, he was part time musician and part time ‘chief pot washer’, doing what ever needed to be done around the court.  But later (1708-17), he was court musician, organist and kappelmeister for the court church.  During this period, he began to compose his prelude and fugues, as well as Well Tempered Clavier.

Here is a pic of the palace where Bach worked:

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The chapel is in the corner behind the tower.  Unfortunately, there was a fire recently so we were unable to see it.  There is little left of Bach’s home other than this facade, which has been concreted over.  A weed patch exists behind what you see:

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Finally, across the street from the pic above is a bust of Bach and that pretty much sums it up.  Again, the golden boys of Weimar are Schiller and Goethe, and to a lesser extent, Liszt.  No museum nor celebration of Bach’s life and work in this town.

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So, we move on to Liszt, and will return to Bach when we visit Leipzig just 60 miles or so away.

Liszt lived in Weimar twice as well, but only in the summers (probably to escape the heat). In Weimar, there is the perfectly preserved home of Liszt, just on the outskirts of old Weimar.

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Liszt was an absolute rock star in his day.  He was one of the earliest concert pianists who made a living performing all over Europe.  He was the whole package:  composer, conductor, teacher and pianist.  He threw towels from around his neck into the audience (yes, Elvis must have gotten that from him) and wore a glove on one hand that he would also toss into the audience (yes, Michael Jackson must have gotten this from him!).  People loved Liszt and apparently he was an all around pretty good guy.  In Weimar, he was Kappelmeister for the Duke but left when he had made grand plans for a theater to be built that would be able to perform Wagner’s Ring Cycle (instead, Beyreuth was built for that purpose) and plans for a music school to be built.  What he encountered was a lack of money and interest from the ‘government’.  Sound familiar?  However, he returned years later and spent that last 20+ summers in Weimar.  Although the theater he envisioned was never built, there is a music school in his name today.

In the summers, Liszt taught lessons to 40 plus students.  However, he did not teach them one at a time.  These were accomplished young pianists who would benefit more from group lessons.  Essentially, Liszt invented the Masterclass.  The students would come to his home with prepared pieces and put them on the table (he never assigned specific pieces).  Liszt would look through the pieces and decide which ones would be used for the masterclass.  He charged no fee for these sessions.  Here are some pics, preserved in the home exactly as it was when Liszt died.

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The table:

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The piano from the previous pic is just to the left of the table.  This area makes up the salon where he taught.  There are chairs all around the area for which the students can sit.

Here is a pic of the great one:

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He is in his 60’s for this portrait.

Finally, as one can imagine, Liszt concertized and traveled all over Europe.  He was not picky about pianos and would often exit a stage coach and play a concert with in 5 minutes time.  But he did have a portable piano that he traveled with.  He kept it in his hotel room and practiced on it.  However, the keyboard was silent; truly a practice piano:

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Here is it is pictured on a table.  How cool is that?  His dining area and bedroom area are equally preserved.  He was “rich and famous” but lived quite humbly.  It was an honor to be in his space, I must say.

After the 1920’s, things got dark in this region of Germany.  I would not normally seek out a concentration camp.  But when Buchenwald is only 6 miles up on the hillside, you have little excuse but to go and see it.  Buchenwald was built in 1937, to house dissidents, gays, gypsies, enemies of the state etc.  But by WWII, it is a full blown concentration camp.  Over 400,000 individuals would pass through this camp, and some 56,000 would die there.  Buchenwald had 139 subcamps around Germany and even a few in France.  What most people don’t realize is that in 1945 when the Russians liberated the camp, they took over the camp and housed Germans, purportedly Nazis, and thousands would die there over the next 5 years.

Not much remains of the camp; it was mostly blown up by the Allied forces.  The gate house does remain, and the clock stopped at 3:15 when the camp was liberated on April 11.

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Most of the living quarters are gone.  A few buildings remain.  Here is the crematorium:IMG_1736.jpg

The fencing is about 7 feet tall and was electrified.  Although the barb wire is new, the posts are original.  Two guard towers remain, as you can see on the left.  Here are the stats for the camp:

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I was told by our apartment hosts that some time around age 13, every school child with in a 100 mile radius takes a school trip to see the camp.  Germans want to make sure that this never happens again and this is a good way to ensure just that.

I blog to you from Potsdam, along the river Havel.  On our way here, we spent the day in Leipzig where we were able to delve into Bach’s life and work.  I will blog in a day or two about the master, and our time in Potsdam.

I leave you with a picture of a “half timbered” house, which is common in the northern parts of Germany.

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Odds and Ends…..

I blog to you from Weimar, Germany where we are spending 5 days enjoying the history of this great town.  I have caught a cold (sore throat, stuffy head) which I intended to avoid during this 3 month trip.  But alas, we must soldier on, taking in the sites/sights.  I will blog about Weimar in a day or two.

I really like WordPress for blogging, but I must say, their autocorrect feature continues to plague me.  I proof read my blogs to correct blatant spelling errors and the like.  When it comes time to post, or “publish” as the button reads, WordPress ‘saves’ and then publishes.  When it saves, it corrects things.  In my last blog on food, I noticed that Munich Sausages became Munch Sausages (white mild sausages that are quite tasty).  Munch them I did, but the blog should have read “Munich”.  So, I apologize to all of my readers who care about such things.  I don’t intend for this to be a scholarly paper, so thank you for putting up with my colloquial writing style and grammatical errors.

I would like to mention a few observations in the blog today.  These have to do with everyday eating and drinking and a few other non food related observations.

Roads:  Tolls exist on the highways (at the exits) in France, Ireland and Italy.  French tolls are about double the Italian tolls.  (It cost about 100Euro to travel from Bordeaux to the Italian border, for example.)  Austria specifies that you buy a sticker for the window for the period of travel.  Our 3 day sticker was 8Euro80, a bargain compared to the other countries.  This is all interesting  in light of the fact that the taxes Europeans pay (including EU member Ireland) go into a European road fund which helps to maintain the roads.  So, everyone is paying double duty.  Germany has NO tolls, and no speed limit on the open sections of highway.  Germans are contemplating a foreigner road toll for folks like us. By the way, stay to the right on the autobahns.  175 mph is not uncommon and you better stay out of the left lane.  All Americans should drive on the German highways for one hour.  If they did, they would never hang out in the left  again.

Bread and pastry:  In the US, pastries cost $3-4 a piece.  In European countries, they are generally 1-2Euro.  2Euro50 for a fancy tart.  Bread is 3Euro.  If you buy Crumb Bros. type of bread in Logan, it is $5-6 a loaf.

Coffee:  Fancy coffee drinks are $2.50-$4 in the US.  1-2Euro in Europe.

Wine:  In the big cities of Europe, plan on $6-9 a glass, just like anywhere in the US.  But everywhere else?  2-4Euro.  Bottles of wine in Europe: 4-9Euro, for stuff that it normally $10-20 in the US.

Beer:  A pint of beer in UK:  6-8 Pounds!  In Europe?  2Euro.

So, coffee, beer, wine and bread, the staples of our diet(!), are reasonably priced in Europe but way overpriced in the US.  Of course they make up for it in toll roads and gasoline prices.  Gasoline is about 1Euro20 for diesel per liter (multiply by 4, roughly, to get the gallon equivalent).  Our van gets about 40 miles to the gallon which is great.

Pet Peeve:  In Germany, you can pee for free.  In Venice, it costs 1 Euro.  In most of Europe, it costs .20-.50 cents.  This “pisses” me off!  Peeing should be a basic human right.  The US got rid of toll potties in the early 70’s (I remember it costing a dime).  What happens here is folks pee anywhere they please.  It’s really a drag.

A few last pics from Heidelberg area.  We visited Ladenburg, just a few kilometers up the Neckar River from our little town.  Super cute walled town right on the river.  You jump on a “ferry” to get over there:

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It can carry about 8 cars, as well as bikes and folks on foot.

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The town is in the background.  The Neckar is a major transport river in this part of Germany.  The river is narrow, but the big boats come right through.

I visited a Waldorf (private) school in Edingen.  They have traditional school music with an orchestra (a rarity in Europe since most children get their music lessons at separate conservatories).  The school specializes in art, music and life skills.  They have a complete farm including pigs and sheep.  They shear the sheep and learn to spin and weave the wool into clothing.  The “shop” classes are quite advanced as well.

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Armin is pictured here.  He teaches one group of students from grade 1-8 (He has the same students every year as they pass through each grade).  Same teacher the whole time!  They become family, needless to say.  This is a feature of Waldorf schools; one teacher for the primary grades.  His class size is 25, and there is a waiting list to get into the school.  Cost is 200Euro per month.

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Above:  Armin’s intact classroom.

Off to wine taste today.  Turns out, Thuringen region has Weingut and vineyards which specialize in……Riesling.  Better go taste some, head cold and all.  Tschuss!

The Food Issue

Being in Europe for 3 months means not eating out all the time.  It is just too expensive.  So, once we stopped visiting big cities like London and Amsterdam, we have been able to book apartments with kitchens.  When you are traveling with a chef, you might as well taken advantage of her great cooking skills.  So this blog will feature a few meals.  Well, pix of a few meals along with a meal from Kassel.  More on that in a minute.  Here are a few things we’ve whipped up on our trip:

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Above, we have Ascoli Piceno wine, left over Munch brats on toast (with red sauce), a salad and Liz’s Broccoli and rice soup.  The bread is German Rye.

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Here, we have spaghetti Bolognese with Sutto Merlot (from Veneto area near Venice), a salad and Dinkel bread (this is an ancient wheat grain called Spelt, from Germany).  The bread has a full texture and bursts with flavor, but a bit lighter on gluten.IMG_1697.jpg

Next up, salad and Le Coste white (from Veneto), bread from a local bakery, Indian Kurma Potatoes and 3 pastries from Kapp, a bakery in Edingen near Heidelberg.  Pictured is a fruit tart, chocolate tart and we still can’t figure out the chocolate cake-likeIMG_1698.jpg pyramid (but it was good).

Here, we have left over Kurma potatoes, salad, grilled Ahi tuna and a baguette sliced and toasted.  The Sutto red is the Merlot.

Finally, this one is for Mom and Dad Bohm.  Remember our new friends that we met in Brunate above Lake Como?  They invited us to visit their home town of Kassel and spend a day or two with them.  Instead of going out, Iris, Alfons, Liz and I decided to cook!  What to have?  Well, here we go:

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Thinly sliced red and orange beets, with goat cheese, pumpkin seeds, drizzled with white balsamic vinegar reduction.

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Second course was black Beluga lentils (with onions and garlic) with sauteed parsnips in a sherry vinaigrette.   Wow, black lentils keep their shape and consistency and taste great when in combination with sauteed onions and garlic.

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Lastly, prime steak with red wine sauteed mushrooms, new potatoes and salad.  We brought Loire Valley bubbly to start,  Italian Pinot Grigio for the seconds, and Ascoli Piceno  red to accompany the steak.  What a wonderful dinner and evening!  Now Mom and Dad can replicate the dinner.  Let me know how it turns out.

As I blog, we are hanging out in Weimar, Germany.  I will blog again shortly, and finish up our Heidelberg stop, as well as our Kassel visit.  Bon Appetit!

“Modeling” on the Rhein…..

If you drive several hours North of Innsbruck but remain on the West side of Germany, you happen upon a beautiful valley that parallels a mountain range along the French border.  You also meet up with the confluence of the Neckar and Rhein rivers.  Add some sun and decent soil and you have Riesling!  (The Southern end of this wine route meets up with the Alsace region of France).  We are staying in Edingen, a small community half way between Mannheim (yes, where the modern orchestra was “founded” and where Mannheim Steamroller gets its name) and Heidelberg.  Mannheim is on the Rhein and Heidelberg is on the Neckar.

Digression:  Joseph Stamitz was a late 18th Century early Classical composer who led the Mannheim school.  The modern orchestra as we know it today was taking shape and he pioneered some techniques that both Haydn and Mozart codified in Symphonic writing.  These included the Mannheim Crescendo (huge crescendos and decrescendos not heard previously), Mannheim Pause (a sudden complete stop in the music only to start up again with vigor), Mannheim Rocket (soaring up melody lines – last mvt of Mozart 40 is a prime example) and the Mannheim Roller (a soaring melody over repeated bass line) and Mannheim Bird (the orchestra imitating bird chirping sounds).

The area creates a triangle between Heidelberg, Mannheim and Bad Durkeim (the north end of the wine route) and includes a wonderful tram line that connects all of the larger towns with all of the small towns.  From Edingen, we can hop on the tram for as little as 2Euro50, and travel around the valley to the various cities and towns.

So, off we go.  First stop is Heidelberg, a medieval town (very touristy) with a killer castle.  The tram takes 20 minutes and we arrive in the center of Old Town.  Here is a pic from the walking bridge over the Neckar river:

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And a shot from the castle looking down over the town:

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And the river from a foot bridge where there are locks for the boats.  The bridge in the distance is the walking bridge from two pics up:

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The castle is the main attraction.  It sits up on the hill of course, and you can take the funicular or walk (does this sound familiar from Brunate/Como?  Did we take the funicular?  Of course not).  So we hoofed up to the castle.  Here’s what it looks like from below:

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From this pic, guide your eyes to the top left.  There is a radio tower there and at the radio tower is the Konigsbuhl or King’s Seat.  Can you take the tram up there?  Of course.  Did we take the tram up there….?  Of course not.  Instead, you can take the Stairway to Heaven.  For all you Led Zeppelin fans, it is referred to as the Stairway to Heaven and is a 2ooo foot ascent by rock stairs – 1000 stair steps altogether.  I took their word for it and didn’t count.  And then it started raining and hailing.  And there was no music playing, specifically, no Stairway to Heaven.  But climb it we did and here is a pic from the top.  Sorry, but it was pouring:

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We took the tram and funicular back down.  It was raining after all.  And toured the castle. I am not sure why one corner of it is missing but check out the thickness of the walls of the broken pieces.  The rest of the castle is intact and “working”:

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Here is the castle from inside the walls:

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We walked the town and along the river and of course, we consumed gelato.

Yesterday, we hit the wine route.  We visited two wineries and spent over an hour at each one.  Wachtenburg Winery is one of the larger in the valley.  They have wonderful and affordable rieslings (ranging from 5-12Euro)  At these prices, it is tough not to buy cases of wine.  So we bought 3….bottles.  Riesling is what this region is known for, and I have to say it is very good.  They make sweeter rieslings but the lion share is trocken (dry).  White burgundy, rose, bubbly, merlot are all made here too, but in very small quantities.  The one grape we weren’t familiar with was Dornfelder.  I can only describe this as a very light pinot noir type of wine.  Problem is, it isn’t pinot.  I didn’t care for it much.

We traveled down the route to one of the top wineries in this region:  Von Winning.  Like so many regions, there is a “grand cru” type of designation that is referred to as VDP.  The right region, blend, wine making techniques etc have to be followed to be considered top of the line riesling, and Von Winning takes the honors with this high end wine (prices run 20-40Euro for the “good stuff”).  So we spend time with Christine, who speaks English very well, and educates us about all things riesling.  As we sip wine, a photographer comes in and says to Christine, I have promo pix of everything except for the tasting room and the wine caves.  Would these two lovely wine tasters mind if I photographed you three in the various setting talking about and sipping wines?  Modeling on the Rhein?  Sure!

So he takes dozens of pics of us in various settings.  We give him our email and he agrees to send us the best of the pics in a few weeks.  They will use the best of the photos as needed for in house type of promotion.  We also get a pic with Liz’s phone of the three of us.  A shout out to Christine!

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Here are a few pics of the process, which Liz took while on our little photo tour:IMG_1663.jpg

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Here is a pic in the wine cave.  If you look between the barrels, you will see the photographer crouched down inbetween, getting the perfect angle of our lovely faces:

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What a great day, and we picked up several bottles of very fine riesling.  After all, the van is running low on stock, so it was about time to replenish.  We have two more days in this area before heading to Kassel, up the road about 2 hours.  Tchuss!