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Goodbye Germany!

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I’m going to miss your fabulous meals and beer but Italy is calling our names. We leave early in the morning at 6AM from Frankfurt-Hahn Airport on Ryan Air and fly in to Rome. Then we will jump on a train down to Naples for 3 days, then back up to Rome until Saturday morning. I apologize for no pics in this post but it had to be a quick one since we have been on the road all day. We are staying in Sohren which is about about 30 minutes from Cochem which is on the Mosel. A most picturesque town with wonderful views including another castle, great food and beer, and friendly people. We will definitely put Cochem on our itinerary for a longer visit next visit.

Anyway, just wanted to check in and say hello from Kris and I. She is officially on holiday again! Next time you hear from us, we will be in Italy.

Ciao,

Karen

“Taste this,” she said.

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I believe some of you are interested in the various food experiences we’ve had while here in Europe. First let me give you a little background info on Kris’s eating habits. She is from a family that raised beef in Pennsylvania and they are mostly of Irish heritage. So- meat and potato girl she is. Kris hardly eats anything that is green. Iceberg lettuce and skinny asparagus. She likes raw carrots, onions sauteed to a complete translucent state, and loves homemade tomato sauce where the sauce has been cooked down for so many hours it is smooth. I have introduced her to various fish dishes over the last few years and she actually likes fish now. Needless to say, I will try anything once as long as it is not still alive or smells disgusting. Unlike that guy on one of the food network shows that tries everything all over the world, I use discretion in what I will put into my mouth. Also, I know that there are proper terms for some of the different food items we have tasted over here but I am not Julia Child and do not have her vocabulary, just her taste buds.

Good bier!

Many of you know one of my favorite things to do is check out the local grocery stores to get an idea of what the locals buy and eat. Another reason is that you just get tired of eating out and if there is a refrigerator in your hotel room, you can buy wonderful deli meats and cheeses here in Europe that are usually a rare splurge at home. I noticed that the French soft cheeses  normally costing a small fortune can be had here for a couple of Euros’ and the breads are incredible. The best thing is you can buy just a half loaf so you don’t feel so wasteful when you are ready to try another variety. The produce we’ve bought at little markets we’ve ventured upon are locally grown and quite nice. Tomatoes taste like tomatoes. You know what I’m talking about. I grow my own every year so I can say it. I am a tomato snob. There- I’ve said it. So, on to the foodie stuff. Pictures, now that’s what I’m talking about!

Butcher shop in Vianden

Sadly there have been times when I just forgot to get my camera out and snap a shot before the dish had been dug into. It happens easily when you are off your regular meal times due to problems with local customary eating habits. So even though you’re not going to starve to death because you’ve missed a meal or two, when the meal shows up at your table you just dig in with gusto. But I did manage to get a few pics of some of the delightful items we have tried while we’ve been here in Europe…Enjoy and I’ll be back soon! Karen

Cherry tart in Belgium

Meat stall at the market in Brugge

Potatoes, hams, sausages, chickens. Meat lovers paradise.

Raspberries are as large as the cherries.

Now that’s a happy waffle smile!

Steamed mussels in wine

Vianden, Luxembourg

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When we left Baden-Baden and drove through the country side of Germany to Luxembourg via a stop in Trier, we had no idea how beautiful the agricultural areas were. A young man in Amsterdam (actually at the Hemp, Hashish, and Marijuana College- I had to go in and see if the place was for real or not and it is- OMG) asked about our travel itinerary and when he found out we were driving through Luxembourg/ Belgium, he informed us that one of the two countries had pink cows. Well, he was wrong. We kept looking for pink cows and never found any. It occurred to us that maybe he had been partaking of some of the various herbs the college he worked at educated people on. Funny dude, huh? I know there shouldn’t be pink cows but what if a white cow had a sheen to it that made it appear to have a pinkish hue? Anything is possible…

The cows are beautiful- quite stocky, muscular, and well fed. Not pink. The horses are stunning, and the sheep look like little chunky piglets. And the corn fields go on forever. Every farm and little town we drove through is immaculately cared for without any of the junkiness we see at home. Nothing here has the disposable feel, everything is well built and intended to last forever. Not a single trailer house or mobile home to be found. Vegetable gardens are growing happily and the flowers that we only see in certain seasons at home are abundant. Everything is neat and has its place. Everywhere.

As you read in a previous posting I drove us into Vianden and was fine until we reached about halfway up the tiny town where the streets became so narrow and steep that we decided Kris needed to take over. We found the Hotel Heintz, checked in, and then had to deal with finding parking. In most everywhere we have been so far parking is an issue. Eventually we found a spot up the mountain and walked back down to the hotel which is probably one of the prettiest hotels I’ve ever stayed in. I think the owner said it had formerly been where the nuns lived. Sounds right as it is next to the biggest church in the town.

We explored some of the town that afternoon, had a nice dinner, and went to bed fairly early so we could tour the castle the next morning before we left for Maastricht, NL. The breakfast spread at Hotel Heintz was spectacular as was the small tour the owner gave us of the hotel before all of the other guests awoke. I wish I were a better photographer to do justice to everything that we have seen this trip but I am not. Occasionally I snap the pictures at a bit of a lop-sided angle because that is just how I am. Slightly off, I suppose. Just bear with me and use your imagination or better yet, think about coming to visit all these incredible places yourself one day!

                

                                                 

                        

There are a lot more pictures of lovely Vianden but I think you get the idea. The history lesson will have to wait also because I am supposed to be packing today as we leave for Karlsruhe, Germany in the morning. I will come back to the posts and add information in to each picture when we get back to the states for those of you that are interested but for now I have to run. Hope everyone has a wonderful day!

Till next time,

Karen Raye

Tiny little country of Luxembourg

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I know that this picture is just a tease but I am using the funny little Android gadget since Kris needs the laptop for real work today. The photo above is inside the church next door to the Hotel Heinzt where we stayed overnight in Vianden. The hotel pictures and more will be posted as soon as I can get my grubby little hands on the laptop. One funny thing about Vianden is the town’s streets climb up at a very steep climb. And the streets are hardly big enough for one car. I almost had a freak out when we arrived due to the fact that I am not used to driving in places like that. I did have to find a place to pull over so Kris could take over. This “used to flat land Texas girl” needed some time to adjust! Anyway, I’ll post the real pictures soon. Love to all, Karen

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Baden Baden Roman Irish Bath and Ruins

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We stayed at Hotel Gasthaus Hirsch. A small hotel about 5 kilometers outside of Baden Baden. It was a charming little place with great views of the town and of the local church which we soon learned rang the bells about a hundred times each morning at 6 AM.

When we first started planning the trip here I gave Karen my tentative agenda for the business portion and one of my stops is in Karlsruhe, Germany. At that point we planned to be there at the end of this week and having heard it was in the Black Forest I told Karen we would spend the weekend in that area. She immediately began her research and after seeing a Rick Steves’ video planned some time in Baden Baden. The video actually shows the bathing experience very well and you can see it at http://www.ricksteves.com/tvr/clips/germany.htm.
The timing changed a little but once our hearts were set on the idea of visiting the Roman-Irish Bath we found a way to make it fit in the pre-work days.


We stayed at Hotel Gasthaus Hirsch. A small hotel about 5 kilometers outside of Baden Baden. It was a charming little place with great views of the town and of the local church which we soon learned rang the bells about a hundred times each morning at 6 AM.
That really was ok since we get up so early except for the fact that the Germans don’t serve breakfast before 8 and we were starving.

That made us realize we needed to pick up a few things and we wondered around a little until we found the German version of Wal-Mart and right beside it was a McDonalds that we thought some of our friends would love since it also had a casino.




After we finished breakfast we finally made it to Friedrichsbad where we toured the ruins of the original Roman bath and then spent about 4 hours soaking, steaming and living the good life.

I found the ruins to be a fascinating lesson in the ingenuity of the ancient Romans. The Bath house was positioned to take advantage of one of the many mineral water springs in the area and then through engineering and creativity the water was heated and channeled through the walls and floors to create a steam chambers leading to the actual bath.

This Photo shows how the floor was elevated using thousands of stone blocks to create the support system needed and to create the channels where the heated water would flow. I wish I had pictures of the actual heating chamber but unfortunately those were destroyed. Basically though men (probably slaves) kept the fires burning 24-7 and the water flowed through channels on all sides of the fire box. To stand and admire this 2000 year old example of engineering is simply amazing.

This next photo shows the channels in the walls. The water also flowed through these creating chambers where the soldiers were completely surrounded by warmth that must have been wonderful and therapeutic especially in the long German winters.

I could have spent many hours exploring if they had only let me go off on my own but wisely they only allow visitors to view from well placed walkways. Below is one more of the floors.

After the very busy fun-filled days in Amsterdam and the natural levels of stress produced by traveling Baden Baden was the perfect place to catch our breath and rejuvenate. There is more but I will leave that for another day or maybe for Karen to post.

Art…some of the sculpture in Terneuzen along the paths I rode

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Still alone but having fun

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This is one of the bike paths I’ve been taking daily since we’ve been here in Terneuzen. Yesterday I accidentally rode 18 miles on this path- coming back was against the wind off the water. I think I’ll be in pretty good shape by the time we leave Holland. It feels so safe here and there are bike routes everywhere. I could get used to this. There are fabulous art sculptures all over the town that I have been obsessed with. I will try to post a few pictures from this funky gadget (Android) of Kris’s. She has been traveling with her Co-workers for the last two days. I think you can go to BEELDEN OP DE SCHELDE BOULEVARD for information – hopefully in English. Otherwise I will post a link when she is back and she can post it on the regular laptop. I will also post more photos of the trip before we made it to Terneuzen.

Till next time,
Karen

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