Confuzzledom

Just a place for me to gather my thoughts


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Border crossings

Flags

Three weeks on, I am still waiting to find out whether I’m actually going to be allowed to be allowed to stay in Switzerland. In the meantime, we’re acting like we assume we will, taking trips and joining in with local customs. Last weekend, we thought we would take a tram to Weil am Rhein in Germany to see what’s there. The original plan was to take the tram to the train station and go from there, but when we reached a stop called Dreiländerbrücke (Three Countries Bridge), it seemed like a good place to get off. Technically the name of the bridge is misleading… one end is in Germany and the other is in France (although Switzerland is about a 2 minute walk – if that – from the German side). This is the German side of the bridge:

Over on the French side (Hunigue for those who are interested, or Hüningen in German), the first thing we spotted was this:

On the French side

A ship

We then walked down to the river where there were a few ducks and loads of swans! Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many swans in one place.

In the background of the picture with the many swans, you can see Switzerland. And behind the bridge is Germany. Here’s some more Germany:

We also spied an interesting looking pigeon. And a crow.

Once we’d finished admiring the wildlife, we crossed back over the bridge into Germany. There’s a shopping centre right on the border and inside it is a Marktkauf so we popped in to buy a few relatively cheap bits, including toppings for the homemade pizza we planned to have for tea the next night – relatively cheap because, although it’s cheaper than Switzerland, Marktkauf is one of the more expensive German supermarkets.

It only cost me just over 10 Swiss francs for a 24 hour ticket that included all of Basel plus the area just over the border so it most definitely won’t be the last time I pop over the Germany for an afternoon (provided I actually get my residence permit at some point…)


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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 Andreasbräu in Leopoldshafen, Alter Bahnhof in Malsch, Wallhall in Bruchsal, Brauhaus Löwenhof in Bretten and finally good old Vogelbräu in Karlsruhe. We could also have done one more (Kühler 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.

Andreasbräu, 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 Andreasbräu, 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 Andreasbräu 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 Märzen 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:

Vogelbräu, Karlsruhe

Our final stop was at Vogelbräu 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 Kühler Krug for best beer brewed within Karlsruhe city. At Vogelbräu, 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, Vogelbräu 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 Vogelbräu, 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 Andreasbräu 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, Lindenbräu in Waldbronn, Brauerei Franz in Rastatt, Hopfenschlingel in Rastatt, Badisches Brauhaus in Karlsruhe and Kühler Krug in Karlsruhe. Five isn’t bad for one day though! We met up at just after 12 noon and left Vogelbräu at midnight, so the tour took pretty much exactly 12 hours.


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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?


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Speyer Christmas market

A week ago, Jan and I took the train to Speyer for the Christmas market. It’s a fairly small market, but Speyer is a lovely setting with it. One thing I really liked was that almost every Glühwein mentioned what kind of wine it was (e.g. Dornfelder). Here, most stands just say “Glühwein” with a few mentioning that theirs is a specific type as a way to distinguish themselves from the rest. And this, my friends, is how you can tell Rheinland-Pfalz is Germany’s wine region! All the usual foods and drinks were on offer, of course, but there were a few more unusual things. I got to try horse sausage! I’ve been curious to find out what horsemeat tastes like ever since the scandal and this was the perfect opportunity. The sausage was so well spiced that I’m still not sure what horse actually tastes like, but it was nice anyway. I also had something called a Schneemann (snowman), which was a layer of eggnog, a layer of Glühwein and a layer of whipped cream. It was very alcoholic, but very good! Sweet and fruity and creamy. Mmm! Here are some photos:

Once we’d seen everything at the market and had a few drinks each, we briefly headed to the cathedral. Speyer is a pilgrimage site, apparently, and the cathedral is a UNESCO world heritage building.

After the cathedral, Jan bought me a snowman shaped tree ornament from the French partner town’s stall then we headed back to the train station. In all, we spent about three hours in Speyer, which is as much as you need really – as I mentioned, it is a small market (obviously you can always spend longer there if you just want to hang around drinking Glühwein and chatting to friends, but just for looking at the market you won’t need much more than 3 hours including food and drink breaks). Speyer itself is a very pretty town as well, and the museum is well worth a visit (even when there isn’t an exhibition about the history of Playmobil going on).

I’m linking this post up to day 5 of Becster’s 12 Days of Christmas, which was Christmas outings/parties. (I should have linked up ages ago but I’m way behind on blog posts!)

12 Days of Christmas - Becster.com Link Up!


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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 “Fächerstadt (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, Hügels 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 Käsespätzle – 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 “gutbürgerlich” 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 gutbürgerlich 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.


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Bad Bergzabern

The day we went to Sukie’s for breakfast was so gorgeously sunny that it seemed a waste to spend it indoors doing housework, so after breakfast Jan, K and I decided to drive over the Bad Bergzabern for the afternoon. I knew nothing about the town other than that it was close (about 40 minutes drive from Karlsruhe) and the Internet said it had pretty buildings. What we found was a quaint little town that was just starting to show some signs of autumn colours. It was a beautiful day for a walk, so walk we did. I don’t really have much to say about the town, so this post will basically be a giant photo dump. Here are some of the town… my favourite thing was the bright red leaves on some trees in front of a church:

We also went for a walk around the Kurpark, or spa gardens. Like all towns with “Bad” in the name, Bad Bergzabern is a spa town. The park was still pretty green, with just a few hints of yellow and red starting to show up – everything stayed green for much longer than usual this year!

When we’d had enough of walking around, we stopped at a café for a drink then headed back to the car. On the way home, we stopped off at a roadside stand to buy some Neuer Wein (new wine), i.e. wine that hasn’t yet matured and still tastes a lot like fizzy grape juice (but don’t drink it like grape juice or you will regret it!). It was a lovely Sunday afternoon with unseasonably fantastic weather. And Bad Bergzabern is quite a nice little town as well – quaint, as I said above (actually, that description came from my dad when I posted the photos on Facebook). There’s not a great deal to do there, but on a sunny day it’s a lovely place for a wander around.


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Take 12 Trips: A Roundup

A little over a year ago, I decided to join in with a challenge inviting bloggers to take one trip every month for 12 months. If you’ve been paying close attention to my blog for the past year, you may have noticed that my trip to Weinheim in September was, in fact, my 12th trip! (Don’t worry, I don’t expect anyone to actually have noticed ;-) ). This fact seemed to call for some kind of roundup/recap of my 12 months of trip taking, just to bring things to a nice neat conclusion… or something like that.

October 2013

Triberg waterfallI started the challenge with a day trip to Triberg im Schwarzwald in October 2013. I had actually taken this trip shortly before learning about Take 12 Trips and decided to make it my first one rather than waiting until the following month to get started. In Clare’s original post inviting people to join the challenge, she told us to “Do anything – trip big, or trip tiny”. The point was to go somewhere new, perhaps even somewhere local that you’d been meaning to try out but never had. So a visit to somewhere in the Black Forest, which is basically on my doorstep, seemed like a fitting first trip.

November 2013

November 2013 saw me returning to Feldkirch in Austria for the first time since I lived there in 2005/2006. It was nice to see the place again, and also lovely to pay a visit to some friends from when I lived there and meet their baby son! After Feldkirch, we spent a night in Garmisch-Patenkirchen (famous for skiing!), then on the way back we stopped at Schloss Neuschwanstein (the famous fairy-tale castle in Bavaria) and in Augsburg. Not bad for a single long weekend!

December 2013

Fire show 1I live in Germany, so obviously my December trip had to be to a Christmas market! I chose a local one, the Mediaeval Christmas market in Durlach, which is a district of Karlsruhe. The market includes a fire show (pictured above) and, aside from the usual Glühwein (mulled wine), hot mead is also on offer. At the end of the month, I went home to England for Christmas, but I don’t count that as a real trip ;-)

January 2014

Part of my January 2014 trip was actually in December – Jan and I went to Madeira for New Year! I absolutely loved this trip and would go back in a heartbeat – Madeira is beautiful! And it was nice to actually spend New Year somewhere warm for a change.

February 2014

A figure on the gate post

A figure on the gate post

As the end of February approached with no trip planned (and me not wanting my February “trip” to be the week I spent in England by my dying grandpa’s bedside), I spontaneously decided to take a train to Bruchsal. I had been to the castle before, but never into the town and it was about time that was remedied! Sadly, it turned out that Bruchsal as a town isn’t all that interesting. I found a few pretty buildings, but after only 45 minutes I found myself at the castle with nowhere else to go. I also discovered that day that I find day trips by myself pretty boring (although who knows, maybe I would have fared better in a more interesting town?). Oh well, onwards and upwards as they say!

March 2014

Gutenbergplatz

In March 2014, I finally did something I’ve been meaning to for about 4 years – visited the Saturday market on Gutenbergplatz in Karlsruhe. Thanks Take 12 Trips for the inspiration! I also went to Colmar, France in March, although I didn’t write a post about it til April.

April 2014

Amneville zooApril saw Jan, K and I on a day trip to Amnéville Zoo in France. It was the second visit for Jan and I, and it was just as amazing as the first time. The falconry display especially is well worth the three hour drive!

Also in April (although not counted towards the challenge), I went to my first ever bloggers’ meetup when I joined some fellow Germany-based bloggers in Heidelberg.

May 2014

Playmobil paintingIn May, I managed to persuade Jan to come with me to the Historisches Museum der Pfalz in Speyer to see an exhibition celebrating 40 years of Playmobil. What can I say… at heart, I’m a 5 year old ;-) The exhibition was overrun with kids, of course, but I enjoyed it anyway. And the rest of the museum was interesting too!

Roughly a week later I was in England for a funeral (not the best trip!) then at the end of the month Jan and I had a mini-break in Konstanz, since it was a long weekend.

June 2014

For our ten-year anniversary(!) I had bought Jan tickets to see Pear Jam in Vienna, so that’s where our June trip took us. Apart from the concert, we visited the National Library, my favourite part being the Globe Museum, I ate Marillenknödel, crossing off another item on my 35 before 35 list, and we visited the UN headquarters then went to the Donauinselfest, a huge free music festival! We also took a day trip to Bratislava in Slovakia. My favourite thing there was the blue church, pictured above.

July 2014

Basel RhineIn July, my brother came to stay with us for a week. The trip I officially counted for the challenge was to Basel, but we also visited Strasbourg, the Black Forest and Frankfurt. Phew! I was exhausted by the time he went home!

August 2014

TaiwanI’m sure by now all of you know where I went for my August trip – I’ve bored you with enough posts on it ;-) Yes, it was Taiwan! My first visit to Asia was amazing! We saw so many fantastic sights, ate some great food (and also some truly awful stuff *cough* oyster omelette *cough*). Taiwan is a fascinating and beautiful country and I would recommend anyone to go.

September 2014

WeinheimIt would have been nice to finish the challenge with Taiwan, but alas I still had one more trip to go! Finishing the challenge with another day trip within the local area provided some nice symmetry though. This time we headed in the other direction to Weinheim, which is in the Odenwald rather than the Black Forest. It was a beautiful autumn day and the perfect way to finish my 12 trips!

Earlier in September, I also spent the day in Bad Dürkheim at the Wurstmarkt, the world’s biggest wine festival, making it another multi-trip month.

Altogether, that makes 12 (plus) trips, seven countries (count them!) and a million memories! Thank you Clare for coming up with this challenge!

So, what now?

Just because my 12 trips are over doesn’t mean I’m going to stop travelling any time soon! In October 2014, I was in Bad Bergzabern (post to follow) and then spent Halloween Paris for a Night Vale live show, and I’m hoping that this month and next month will involve one or two Christmas markets. Then there’s the annual New Year’s trip that Jan and I always take (no destination confirmed yet). As for next year, so far only a trip to England in October for the Rugby World Cup is planned, but I’m sure there will be other opportunities to travel before then. There probably won’t be any big trips until the end of the year, but a few day trips will definitely be on the cards! Stay tuned…

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