Happy Birthday, Karlsruhe!

I’ve been kind of absent from my blog this week – it’s just been far too hot to spend any unnecessary time on the computer! But I have a little time now and nothing else to do, so I thought I’d better get back to it before it starts feeling like too much of a chore 😉

Last Saturday we were invited to a birthday celebration in Königsbach, which is not far from Karlsruhe. Since we were planning on spending the night and had to change trains in Karlsruhe anyway, I asked some friends whether they would like to meet up on Sunday afternoon. A few people had time, so we arranged to meet at Marktplatz and, since it was a lovely day (or too hot if you ask me!), we ended up wandering around for a while. Karlsruhe is currently celebrating its 300th birthday – I know, so young! I’m sure its neighbours are laughing at it – there are various things going on throughout the town. For instance, you may have caught a news item about an art installation that was given a parking ticket. It actually made international news! I didn’t see that particular piece of art, but we did stop to admire a random house that was hanging above the construction site formerly known as Marktplatz:

There was a large stage in the Schlosspark and dozens of stalls with things to do an information about various companies in Karlsruhe. We ignored all of them in favour of heading for one that was selling cold drinks, but I did stop to photograph some plastic elephants who appeared to be plotting something in front of one stall…

I didn’t bother to figure out what the point was though 😉

Sadly, our train home left before it got dark so we didn’t get to see the castle all lit up in pretty colours (a spectacle worth seeing, I’m told), but it does manage to look quite impressive even in daylight:

Karlsruhe SchloßKarlsruhe is celebrating its birthday until 27 September, which is the date that the town’s charter was published (the celebrations began on 17 June, which marked the 300th anniversary of the laying of the founding stone for the castle and is considered to be the town’s actual birthday). There are various events and exhibitions going on, so if you find yourself in Karlsruhe this summer I’m sure you’ll find something to do.

Happy Birthday Karlsruhe, and may you have many more!

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35 before 35: The KVV beer tour

A Karlsruhe S-Bahn
A Karlsruhe S-Bahn

Let’s rewind a few weeks to a time before I moved to Switzerland. I knew that I would have to complete item 35 on my 35 before 35 list before leaving Karlsruhe because it’s not that easy to do a beer tour using the Karlsruhe transport network when you don’t actually live there! Obviously we could have come back for a visit, but it seemed easier to do it while I was still around to plan things out properly. And so, on 11 April 2015, a group of us set out to drink a beer in several brewpubs that could be reached using the KVV transport network. The idea was to buy a 24 our ticket (or in my case use my Bahncard 100 one last time before it ran out) and visit as many places as we could in one day. The final selection of venues ended up being AndreasbrĂ€u in Leopoldshafen, Alter Bahnhof in Malsch, Wallhall in Bruchsal, Brauhaus Löwenhof in Bretten and finally good old VogelbrĂ€u in Karlsruhe. We could also have done one more (KĂŒhler Krug, also in Karlsruhe), but we liked the beer at Wallhall so much that we decided to stay for an extra one and also for something to eat. Here are some impressions from the individual places.

AndreasbrÀu, Leopoldshafen

We left Karlsruhe at just after 12 and took an S1 to Leopoldshafen, so clearly our first stop had to include lunch. I had Schnitzel, because I’m boring 😉 At AndreasbrĂ€u, everybody chose to drink a Red Dragon, which was delicious. I’m a little sad that it took my until my last month in Karlsruhe to discover AndreasbrĂ€u because I liked it a lot.

Alter Bahnhof, Malsch

To get to our next stop, we travelled all the way through Karlsruhe, changing at the train station onto an S-Bahn towards Rastatt. Here, I originally chose a MĂ€rzen to drink, but it tasted sour and I actually thought it might be off. The waitress tried it and said it was supposed to be like that, so I decided it probably just wasn’t my kind of beer and switched to a Helles. I wasn’t charged for the original beer, which was nice, but I wasn’t too keen on the atmosphere at this place – it was a bit “local pub-ish”, if you know what I mean – and I probably wouldn’t go back. I did like the wall decorations though! As the name might suggest (Alter Bahnhof means Old Train Station), the brewpub is inside the old train station building and the walls had been painted with a waiting for a train theme.

Wallhall, Bruchsal

Stop number 3 was in Bruchsal. We had to take the S-Bahn back through Karlsruhe train station, but this time we went straight through without changing. For my first beer I chose a Schwarzbier, which was very tasty with a coffee-ish note. After trying each other’s beers, everybody decided we wanted to stay here for a second drink so we could all drink the one we hadn’t had the first time round. My second beer was Hopfenperle, which was also delicious. It was getting towards tea time by this stage so we decided to eat again. This time, I chose veal with Semmelknödel (bread dumplings). Very tasty! I can highly recommend Wallhall if you’re ever in Bruchsal. It’s also a hotel, although I couldn’t tell you whether their rooms are as good as their food and drink.

Brauhaus Löwenhof, Bretten

Once we were done in Bruchsal, we headed to Bretten. We took the S9, which none of us had ever taken before and which went on an interesting route through small villages that we’d never heard of. We even spied a castle through the window at one stage! Our destination was Brauhaus Löwenhof. The beer there wasn’t my favourite of the day, but it was pretty good. Most of the photos I took there feature people and are therefore not blog suitable, but here are a few:

VogelbrÀu, Karlsruhe

Our final stop was at VogelbrĂ€u back in Karlsruhe. There’s not really much I can say about this place. I’ve been here many times and the beer is good. In my opinion, it’s tied with KĂŒhler Krug for best beer brewed within Karlsruhe city. At VogelbrĂ€u, I ate a garlic pannini. Not because I was still hungry, I just love them there. They’re definitely not for the faint-hearted though! When they say garlic, they really mean it! By the way, VogelbrĂ€u has three pubs – in Karlsruhe, Durlach and Ettlingen – and if you visit all three on one day you get a free (small) beer at the third stop. By the time we reached VogelbrĂ€u, we were all running out of steam a bit, so I only have 2 photos for you there:

All in all, it was a fun day out and I enjoyed discovering new places and tasty beers. An excellent item for my 35 before 35 list and a highly recommended day out in Karlsruhe. All you need is a map of the transport network, a 24 hour ticket and plenty of time! I recommend looking up tram times in advance and having a couple of alternatives in case you miss one or just decide to stay a bit longer at a place you like a lot. I planned in roughly an hour at each place with extra time at AndreasbrÀu so we could eat lunch.

Other places we considered visiting but didn’t for reasons of time and more difficult tram/bus connections were: Brauhaus 4.0 in Knielingen, LindenbrĂ€u in Waldbronn, Brauerei Franz in Rastatt, Hopfenschlingel in Rastatt, Badisches Brauhaus in Karlsruhe and KĂŒhler Krug in Karlsruhe. Five isn’t bad for one day though! We met up at just after 12 noon and left VogelbrĂ€u at midnight, so the tour took pretty much exactly 12 hours.

A Photo an Hour: 21 February 2015

Yesterday I took part in A Photo an Hour, hosted by Jane from Is That You Darling? and Louisa from Duck in a Dress. Here are the results of my efforts.

11 a.m. A late start to the morning (but in my defence, I’d had a looong day the day before… and a long week for that matter!). First things first: a cup of tea is needed!

12 noon Doing a bit of cross stitch (actually, at this point I was unpicking. Yes, I messed up right at the beginning and had to start over)

1 p.m. A spot of lunch (brunch?) while looking for even more flat adverts to respond to. Jan took the tablet while I was fetching my camera and then wouldn’t give it back to me, so instead of a real estate website, you get a photo of my empty plate.

2 p.m. Wrapping a new home gift for a friend ready to take it to the post office.

3 p.m. Showered and dressed… aren’t my spotty tights fab?

4 p.m. Post office done, now to head home via the supermarket. I happened to be passing St Stephen’s Church at 4, and its chimes reminded me to take a photo so I decided it deserved to be the subject of said photo.

5 p.m. Time to wash some dishes. I’m ashamed to say that I was washing dishes from Thursday!

6 p.m. Sorting out some of my crafting supplies… a task that desperately needs doing so I can pack up the spare room read for the move.

7 p.m. Cracking some eggs to make omelets for tea.

8 p.m. Carrot and apple salad (it’s a German thing…)

9 p.m. (actually 9:30… I got distracted!). Cross stitching while watching TV.

11 p.m. I forgot to take a photo at 10! Not that it would have made much difference… still cross stitching. Working on the dreaded French knots of dooooom!

And actually forgetting to take a photo at 10 turned out quite well because it means I get to keep my symmetry. I went to bed after the news, which finished at 11:35, so there was no midnight photo.

So, that was my Saturday. Pretty boring! How was yours?

Culinary walking tour of Karlsruhe

Karlsruhe Schloss

On Saturday, Jan and I took part on a culinary walking tour of Karlsruhe that I had booked through Karlsruhe Tourism. I had no idea what to expect having only seen an advert for it and thought “that looks interesting”, but I assumed it would involve food!

The group met at the Badische Weinstube in the botanic gardens, where we were greeted with sparking wine and some appetizers. There, the guide told us a bit about the founding of Karlsruhe, including a legend that’s supposed to explain the name (the founder of Karlsruhe was the Margrave Karl-Wilhem of Baden-Durlach, who apparantly fell asleep in the woods, hence the “ruhe” part, which means peace/quiet or rest). She also showed us a photo of Karl-Wilhelm.

After leaving the Badische Weinstube, our first stop was the castle (pictured above). The Karlsruhe Schloss is the centre point of the town – the “main” streets start there and go out at angles in the shape of a fan, giving Karlsruhe its nickname “FĂ€cherstadt (fan city). Next, we walked to the Bundesverfassungsgericht (Federal Constitutional Court), then we passed the art gallery and headed down Waldstrasse, where we stopped at the first restaurant, HĂŒgels Restaurant Dudelsack. We were served a pumpkin soup with caramelized pumpkin seeds. It tasted like there was something spicy in there as well, but we couldn’t figure out what. It was delicous anyway! I also had a prosecco with hibiscus blossoms (other than the sparking wine at the beginning, we paid for all drinks ourselves. Food was included.).

After leaving the restaurant,we headed to the Bundesgerichtshof (Federal Court of Justice – Germany’s highest criminal court). You can’t actually see much of the court from the outside – it’s all bullet proof glass and barbed wire – but the guide showed us a photo. The building was originally a palace belonging to Friedrich II of Baden. We then briefly stopped at St Stephen’s Church (Catholic) and the shopping centre Ettlinger Tor. Our guide also told us a little bit about Marktplatz (the market square), but we couldn’t actually go there because it’s currently a giant construction site! Surprisingly, she didn’t mention the pyramid. Our final stop was at Zum kleinen Ketterer, a restaurant belonging to a micro brewery. Our guide informed us that they try to use ingredients from regional sources, for example all the meat comes from a local butchers. We were served vension with Serviettenknödel (bread dumplings) and sprouts. The one vegetarian in the group got KĂ€sespĂ€tzle – a kind of cheesy dumpling dish (he was given a choice of 2 dishes but I didn’t hear what the second one was).

Food

(I’m really sorry about the quality of the photos. I have no idea why Jan’s camera makes most of them come out blurry?!) Dessert was some kind of mousse/marscapone with oranges and chocolate sauce. All the food was delicious!

Dessert

Overall, it was a very interesting tour. Jan felt that the guide didn’t say very much (and it’s true that she didn’t really say anything while we were walking, and I was surprised that she didn’t really give us a lot of information on the restaurants we went to or explain anything about local cuisine), but we both learned something new and had a good time. For people who are new to Karlsruhe, this tour provides a great introduction and even those who have lived here a while can learn something from it. Plus, you get to eat yummy food!

According to the Karlsruhe tourism website, next year two types of culinary tour will be available – a “gutbĂŒrgerlich” one (basically your “plain” home cooking style of meal) and a “gourmet” one. With both, you get a limited edition recipe fan as a souvenir, which we did not get. The description also seems to indicate that there will also be more of a focus on learning about the food (the gutbĂŒrgerlich tour mentions that you will find out about “original Badisch cuisine”) so it sounds like it will be worth it! You can find the dates for the various culinary tours in 2015 here.

Breakfast at Sukie’s

Remember Sukie’s cake shop, home of Karlsruhe’s one and only cream tea? Well, while I was looking at the Facebook page and website in preparation for the post I’ve just linked to, I read that they also do breakfast on weekends. Obviously this needed to be tried (the description included  bacon!), and when I mentioned it to Jan he suggested we go that very weekend. So last Sunday found Jan, myself and our friend K turning up at Sukie’s bright an early. We decided to go with something savoury first then move on to something sweet. For the first course, we ordered srambled eggs with bacon. What turned up was this:

bacon and eggs

All that for three people! There was also toast, fried tomatoes and, of course, a pot of tea each. The eggs were delicious and the bacon had just the perfect amount of crispiness. I’m getting hungry now just remembering it! Mmmmm.

For our sweet course, we chose scones, which came with clotted cream, jam and lemon curd. The scones came in blueberry and cranberry varieties… here’s a blueberry one before being creamed and jammed:

blueberry scone

After all that, we were absolutely stuffed so sadly didn’t get to find out about the pancakes that were also on offer. I’ll just have to go back again another day 😉

Sukie’s Cake Shop, Karlsruhe

For years I’ve been saying that what Karlsruhe needs is a place that serves a proper cream team. In fact, I’ve often joked that if I ever felt like a career change I would open an English cafĂ©. It would serve full English breakfasts, sausage rolls, decent baked potatoes with fillings other than sour cream. It would be possible to order milk for your tea without being treated like an alien, or worse, given coffee creamer! Now it seems somebody has beat me to it 😉

Sukie's

I first heard about Sukie’s Cake SHop before it even opened – Annabelle from the Piri-Piri Lexicon (who also lives in Karlsruhe) sent me a photo of the window, which featured the words “English cakes” and “opening on 1st September”. Obviously I was intrigued. As it happened, I even walked by on the very day of the opening, but sadly I was in a hurry (and it was just before closing time) so I couldn’t pop in. I did look through the window though, and I liked what I saw. A trip to Sukie’s was definitely in order at some point in the future! On Saturday, that day finally came. Jan, my friend K (who is Scottish) and I met up at 4 p.m. and headed off to try out some English cakes.

The decorations were perfect – from the inspirational quotes stuck on the walls to the cute upside down teapot lampshades, pretty roses on the tables and various cake-themed items standing around. The cafĂ© consists of two rooms – we sat in the one closest to the entrance.

All the cakes on offer sounded delicious, but as I was still recovering from stomach problems, I decided to go with something “light”. Jan and I each chose a strawberry scone with clotted cream and jam. The scone looked more like a rock cake to me, but it tasted delicious! K had pumpkin pie, which I tried a tiny piece of and that, too, was very tasty. To drink, I choose a ginger and lemon tea. Jan went for Darjeeling and K had Irish Afternoon tea. Later, I had some Fentiman’s Dandelion & Burdock (I love that stuff!).

High Tea
” 1 pot of tea, salmon and cucumber sandwiches, various small cakes e.g. Victoria Sponge, other small, tasty surprises”

Sukie, by the way, is the name of the owner’s dog and your four-legged friends are also welcome at the cafĂ©. There are even home made dog treats available so they don’t have to miss out on the fun!

As we were leaving I took a photo of the board listing all the treats that come with the High Tea. I will definitely have to go back to try that! According to their Facebook page, a breakfast is also available on Saturdays and Sundays, consisting of Porridge, Bacon, Scones, Lemon Curd and more. I’m drooling just thinking about it!

You can find Sukie’s at Bahnhofstraße 13 (next to the Eden Hotel). For more information, see their Facebook page and website (both in German).

Cocktails at KofferRaum

(Apologies in advance for the quality of some of the photos in this post… my camera appears to be failing on me, and now utterly refuses to focus on anything at all!)

As I mentioned in my last post, Friday was the 8-year anniversary of me moving to Karlsruhe! When Jan suggested going out for a drink that night, I don’t think he was intending it as a celebration of that fact, but I’ll take any excuse 😉 Most of our friends were busy or out of town, so it ended up being Jan, K and I. We decided to go to KofferRaum – a popular cocktail bar in town – and by some miracle we actually got in! I think this was our fourth try… every other time it was completely full, and we were either told “not tonight” or “maybe try again in an hour?”. This time we got lucky… with only three of us, we were able to squish into a little corner by the bar. We were positioned next to a little “window” (well, gap in the wall), where you could see through to behind the wall, so of course my first act was to take a photo of the alcohol next to us.

The Union Jack bottle contains Beefeater gin infused with saffron
The Union Jack bottle contains Beefeater gin infused with saffron

Fun fact: Kofferraum is German for the booto (trunk) of a car. It is made up of the two words Koffer, meaning suitcase, and Raum, meaning room or space. Jan told me the owner of the bar’s surname is Koffer, so there’s a bit of a play on words going on there. And there were suitcases standing at various points in the room, obviously 😉

I don’t actually remember the names of any of the cocktails we had, but here’s a photo of Jan’s and my first ones. Mine is on the right… I remember it contained run and passionfruit juice, but that’s it. It tasted very nice though.

cocktails

I also had to take a photo of the top of my friend’s first drink because I’m a sucker for cutsey things and her apple slices had tiny hearts cut into them. All together now… “awww!”

How cute?
How cute?

Later, Jan decided he felt a bit peckish and ordered some food. At the other cocktail bar we like, the snacks include nachos… but nothing so common for KofferRaum 😉 He ordered some Italian sausage with parmesan, and this is what arrived:

KofferRaum

And very tasty it was, too!

The cocktails at KofferRaum are more expensive than at other places in Karlsruhe (between €8 and €11 euros each), but they are all made using the very best alcohol and things like fresh herbs (my second cocktail contained a large sprig of fresh sage), so you get what you pay for. The waiters also come around with free cucumber-infused tap water for all guests… usually unheard of in Germany!

If you’d like to go to KofferRaum on a weekend, I highly recommend turning up early otherwise you will not find a place to sit! (And it’s not the kind of place where you can just stand anywhere). You’ll find Hirschstraße 17 (south of Europaplatz) and they’re open from 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Be warned, the cocktails are all quite strong, but at that price you’ll probably be wanting to pace yourself anyway!