Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Travels to Alsace and Southern Germany: Part 3

9:30 am 33°C (nearly 100°F) Walking to Hohenschwangau Castle

Me: We have to walk up there?
Frog: Yes, first we climb up to Hohenschwangau and then we climb up to Neuschwanstein. What's the problem? That's the way it's supposed to be done.
Me: *grumble* <--me being mad in the already scorching heat

- - - - - -
Later, walking in the shade, up the hill, to Neuschwanstein, Castle of Ludwig II of Bavaria

11:22 am

Frog: *gasp, wheeze* Do you need to slow down? We can slow down.
Me: Nope. It's a good pace for me actually. Grade's not too steep.
Frog: Wha..? *wheeeze... kabloosh!* (Frog exploding from heat and never-ending hill)
Me: Hmmph... told you we should have taken the horse and wagon ride up *continues walking, leaving a pool of Frog behind her on the road*

§ § § § § § §

Where do I begin with German breakfasts? Well, first thing, they are NOT the spare thing the French call breakfast--bread, butter, 2 kinds of jam, coffee. Yet they are not North American either. Not a bagel, poached egg, pancake or muffin to be seen for thousands of miles. Let's just say that Germans seem to embrace the idea of a hearty breakfast with all their heart and soul.

It would take a whole post just to name everything a hotel will offer at breakfast. I'll give you a quick version: 8 kinds of sausage both cold and hot, 4 kinds of rolls, 3 kinds of bread, Quark, Yoghurt, 5 kinds of cheese, scrambled eggs, bacon, liverwurst/paté, 10 kinds of cereal, fresh meusli, fresh milk, orange juice, carrot-orange juice,whole fruit, cut fruit, cut veggies, 3 kinds of honey, 10 kinds of jam, Nutella, a weird chocolate donut thing, coffee, tea, hot chocolate and so on and so on. Really, it makes the mind explode at 8 am to have all these choices.

A couple things I'd never had before and really liked. The fresh, creamy meusli was quite good with lots of things in it and the alpine honey I had was almost molasses-like in its richness. Even the wasps were waiting in line for it.

We spent a good part of the morning climbing hills and visiting the two castles of Ludwig II of Bavaria, also known as Mad King Ludwig. He was known for his extravagent tastes in architecture and interior decorating. Neither castle allowed photography inside due to all the original paintings and fabric in the rooms but if you want a sense of the inner castles visit here and here.
The castles are breath-taking inside and out. Each is unique in its own way.

Hohenschwangau is replete with silver, ivory and painted scenes of history and myth all over the walls. Neuschwanstein is a fairytale castle come to life. The throne room alone is enough to make you cry it's so beautiful. A pity he drowned mysteriously in the nearby lake before it was completed. I doubt I can even imagine the beauty or wealth involved if he had finished it all. I guess you can tell which of the two was my favourite. It was worth the climb up.

We decided to have lunch at a restaurant that lies just below Neuschwanstein. Again, no A/C in such hot weather. The spinach pizza I had was mehh... but I had something more local for dessert. Bavarian waffles with stewed apples. It was very yummy and even had a dab of the local cherry specialty dabbed on top.

I was glad to leave the warm, sticky interior only to find that, at the bottom of the hill, our car's interior had reached 49°C (120°F)YUCK! After a while the car's A/C finally made the temperature bearable but it wasn't until we reached within 50 km of Ulm, our next stop, that clouds and rain hit and we were really cool at last HURRAH!

After a quick break in our rooms of Innercity Hotel in Ulm we were off to see sites and have dinner. First we saw the Cathedral which has the tallest spire in the whole world. The exterior was amazingly covered in statues and scenes. The inside was scrubbed down clean in many places because it was converted to a Protestant church. A lot of the old scenery of saints and such were no longer decorating the interior walls. A bummer but it made finding the remaining original paintings (which, surprisingly, hadn't been removed) amazing.

We wandered through part of the old town to find a place for dinner and found a little place with a name I have forgotten but the dinner was not so easy to forget. Nor was our waitress who was worked off her feet, poor thing (Not by us LOL). Dinner didn't start out promisingly for me as I found out that I don't like the German's idea of salad. The creamy-vinegary dressing poured over it was not at all to my taste as it was just like the dressing of my much loathed nemesis--coleslaw. A restaurant salad in Germany, according to my Frogger-in-law, is always this way--dollops of saladbar type concoctions, topped with lettuce and THAT dressing. However, the main meal made up for it. A giant thick crêpe, in the style of the Bavarians, served with the local bacon and fried onions and bit of potato salad. It was so huge and so filling that I just couldn't bring myself to finish it all. My companions ordered a shared dish of the local specialties of meats and spaëtzlé which they quite enjoyed with a German red wine.

It seemed this place was a pancake house of a kind because a lot of the desserts were served on those huge crêpes too. Thankfully, we were told we could get a card with light desserts on order. Light... ha! They were quite large cups of ice creams. Still it was nice on a warm evening. My companions chose a mixture of three kinds of ice cream including pistachio and walnut. I chose a local specialty with tipsy cherries, chocolate and vanilla. The menu said it had a little bit of kirschwasser added. Rather it was drowned in the liquid. The kirschwasser bowled me over (I really felt like I had been punched) when I ate it with the vanilla but it was REALLY good with the chocolate part. Now I understand why kirschwasser is used in the original blackforest cake.

It was a really slow, enjoyable dinner on the sidestreets of old Ulm and I wouldn't have changed it for the world. Despite my negative reaction to the salad, I would do it all over again.

* The next day was spent driving back home. Nothing much to write about in that.


s'kat said...

I can't fathom doing all that walking, and not having a/c to return to.

I think I would've had the same reaction to the salad as you!

wheresmymind said...

I'm with s'kat...that had to be brutal...I had zip AC in Paris for a few days during 90 degree heat and it bit

michelle said...

Ha ha ha! YOu had me rolling on the floor with the frog explosion!! I think that's what I picture happening to LB when he makes me ride my bike home when it's over 100 F*%$!

What a wonderful trip you've had, minus the awful, unbearable heat. Will you tell me what Quark is? I have no idea! Those bavarian waffles look really yummy, and now I must go find myself some ice cream...

Jasmine said...

Your dialogue while walking is very funny! That is too funny and too familiar!

The breakfast sounds really good...a bit heavy for me, but still...really good.


Dawn said...

That sounds like a packed trip!! I like a lot of the photos, they turned out really well. That ice cream sounds great and the crepe with the onions and bacon sounds good, too! Very different.

Cyndi said...

I am soooo jealous - my old stomping grounds. DH was born and raised in Bavaria; we lived in the Saarland; we've vacationed in the Black Forest, Bavaria, and the Alps. Your posts brought back many fond memories. I LOVE German food, and if you want recipes I have quite a few. I'm glad you had a great trip. Love the post about Neuschwanstein.

Sher said...

I think you handled the heat a lot better than I would! I would have thrown a tantrum! Say, your Weatherpixie looks very cool--I don't think she's feeling any heat at all. :):) That ice cream looks wonderful!

Nerissa said...

s'kat: I guess I tried to tune the heat out. I wasn't always successful, mind. I would have murdered for a glass of cold water at the top of the hill.

wmm: Well, it was no cakewalk but I do have a stubborn streak that probably helped. I HAD to get to the top. No bleep-ditty-bleep heat was going to stop me LOL Yes, Paris in the heat is pretty unbearable. I honestly don't know how the French do it.

michelle: glad I could amuse, dear. The pancakes were a nice bit of Germany. Quark is a type of soft cheese found in Germany. You read in more detail what it is here:

jasmine: LOL it's sure nice to know that the relationship between men and women is the same all over.
I'm not much of a big breakfast eater myself but when in Rome... as they say.

Dawn: Yes, the trip was quite planned out. The food was great. I'm sure anybody would enjoy it.

cyndi: wow! I had no idea that I was in your old stomping grounds. How cool. I'm happy that I could bring back some nice memories. I just might take you up on your offer as I know a few German dishes are dear to the Frog's heart. I guess you have a good recipe for spaetzle, huh?

sher: Oh, when you're determined to have a nice time, wonders can happen. LOL but don't think I wasn't miffed at some points. I was about to have a strike and sit down is this beautifully cold hall that led out to the open air at the end of the tour. It was like a fridege in comparison to the rest of the castle.

Ah... WeatherPixie is enjoying cool weather back home. I didn't bother changing her. Mind you, it's much nicer here now. Even a bitt nippy. Not that I am going to complain. Buh-lieeeeeeve me!