Recent doings #9

Umm, I know I say this every month, but how is it time for another What’s New With You link up? It’s September guys! September!! We’re officially in the final quarter of 2016! Waaaahh!! Okay… and breath…

Here’s what I got up to in August:

What's New With You

Reading. Actually, I already told you what I read in August (see my reading challenge check ins here and here), but I’m including this category anyway to say that Brave New World marked my 100th book read from the BBC Big Read list. Sadly I had read most of those before starting my 35 before 35 challenge so I still have 98 books to read, but still!

Watching. Pete’s Dragon! Not the new film, sadly. I bought the 1970s version on DVD a while ago and we decided to watch it one night. It’s a lot cheesier than I remembered, but still good.

Listening to. Alice Isn’t Dead, a new(ish) podcast by one of the writer’s of Welcome to Night Vale. Jan doesn’t want me to continue with Night Vale without him – although he currently has no interest in actually continuing with it – so I started listening to Alice Isn’t Dead on the recommendation of my friend K (the same person who originally introduced me to Night Vale!) and now I love it! So that’s what I’m listening to while cross stitching these days.

Swimming. In the Rhine! We’ve been three times this year (it was mega hot last week) and so far I haven’t drowned. I feel a bit like I’m tempting fate­čśë Everyone here swims in the Rhine and there are even special waterproof bags to put your clothes in called Wickelfisch (which means wrap fish or wind fish because you fold down or “wind” the edge seven times to close it). When they’re closed, they fill with air and you can use them to float down the river – although you do need to be able to swim as well to avoid obstacles and – most importantly – actually get out! Don’t go in the water if you need to rely on the bag to keep you afloat!

fishes
People (not me!) in the Rhine with their Wickelfische last year

Celebrating. My birthday! I am now 33, which means I officially only have 2 years to complete my 35 before 35 list. Gulp! K came down for my birthday and we spent the day in Germany before having cocktails in the evening then took our portable barbecue down to the river on the Sunday and had a barbecue with the two whole acquaintances (can’t even say friends yet!) I’ve managed to make in over a year in Basel. It was a pretty nice way to start my 33rd year.

Travelling. To Bad S├Ąckingen on my birthday (see above!). We had a lovely day, but you’ll have to wait to read all about it… my travel posts are still stuck in June­čśë I also went to Luxembourg for a wedding at the beginning of the month (should that also be under celebrating?)

Cross stitching. Birthday cards galore! Why do all the children I know seem to have birthdays in August and September? Also Christmas cards. I know, I know… in August! Please don’t hate me – it’s the only way I can actually get them all done in time!

Buying. Surprisingly only a few books this month. Actually what I’ve mostly been buying is birthday presents for the recipients of the aforementioned cards.

Failing. Miserably at adulting… specifically at maintaining standards of cleanliness. Let’s just say it involved hot weather and some organic waste that I failed to take away in time. Trust me, you do not want any more details than that… (I am a disgusting person and to prove that I haven’t learned my lesson, yesterday I had to deal with a potato that had rotted in the potato container. Oh well, it’s not like I actually wanted to eat lunch or anything…)

Aaaand on that note I shall leave you. I can’t think of anything special I ate or drank in August. What have you been doing lately?

Check out the link up to see what everyone else did in August.

Rheinfelden, Switzerland and Rheinfelden Christmas Market, Germany

I feel like I need to get all my Christmassy posts out of the way before we get any further into January, so here’s the first.

Rheinfelden used to be one town with the River Rhine flowing through it, but then in 1802 when Napoleon Bonepart fixed the border between Switzerland and Germany on the Rhine. Now there are two towns with the same name, one in Switzerland and one in Germany. Switzerland has the pretty, old-town side, while Germany’s Reinfelden isn’t all that nice but was where a Christmas market was being held for one weekend only… and I still needed Christmas markets for my 35 before 35!

We took the train to the Swiss Rheinfelden and started by walking into the old town.

As you can see, it wasn’t the prettiest of days. We were lucky enough to avoid the rain but the heavens were threatening to open at any minute!

Prettiness photographed, it was time to cross the bridge to Germany.

DSCN4508

The Christmas market was even tinier than I expected and had very few interesting stands, but I did manage to buy some pumpkin and ginger pasta, and we bought some kind of alcoholic punch from a Peruvian stand.

After that I ate a wild boar sausage, Jan ate some cheese bread thing and we headed back across the river to Switzerland, where we caught a train back to Basel, stopping at the Christmas market there for a Gl├╝hwein and to buy a bird feeder for our balcony.

Rheinfelden was the fourth Christmas market to be crossed off my list, and Basel doesn’t count, so that left me with one more Christmas market before I could consider that item complete… stay tuned to see which one I went to.

A Photo an Hour: 21 November 2015

This post isn’t so much “A Photo an Hour” as “a photo whenever I remembered I was actually supposed to be taking photos”. We were invited to a party back in Karlsruhe on Saturday, and between missing trains, buying tram tickets in the rain and helping refugees find their stop, taking photos kind of fell by the wayside occasionally. Oops!

9.30 a.m. Oh dear, I forgot to take a photo when I got up! Better take one now! Packing the overnight bag.

11 a.m. After just missing the tram we needed, arriving at the station one minute after our train left and then having to buy new tickets because we had ones that we valid only for that connection, I finally got round to taking a photo again! Waiting for the train to arrive…

12 noon. Reading on the train.

1.30 p.m. At one, we were helping refugees figure out where they were going, so I decided to switch back to photos on the half hour. At 1.30 we were eating lunch at Caf├ę Pan.

2. 30 p.m. Still at the caf├ę. These are some decorations.

3.30 p.m. A spot of shopping while we’re in nice, cheap Germany!

4.30 p.m. A quick stop for some tea and cake at Sukie’s. We shared a slice of pumpkin cake and it was delicious!

5.30 p.m. On the tram to the party, carrying a gift in a cute froggy bag.

6.30 p.m. One of the other guests brought yummy ├ęclairs from France!

Midnight-ish. Coat and shoes back on, ready to leave!

Well, I may not have taken a photo every hour, but at least I managed an even number this month­čśë

Thanks as always to Jane and Louisa for hosting!

 

 

Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival 2015

I’m aware I haven’t actually finished telling you about our holiday in England yet, but today I want to skip to what we did this weekend because the festival isn’t over yet and there might be people in the area who feel like going.

Each year, the castle in Ludwigsburg hosts a huge pumpkin festival in its gardens. A few bloggers went last year and it looked amazing, but sadly I wasn’t able to go then, so when Meredith wrote a blog post about this year’s event I was determined to make it there this time. From Karlsruhe, it would have been fairly easy to get to. This year we were further away, meaning the journey took us around 3 hours (changing trains twice), but we decided that was just about doable. Since we had to change trains in Karlsruhe, I asked whether any of my friends there would like to join us and two of them did.

Tiny pumpkinsEach year, there is a theme for the sculptures at the festival to fit into and this year’s was Fliegen, which mines flight. However, there were some interesting interpretations of the word, for instance one sculpture was of a grand piano, which is der Fl├╝gel in German… and Fl├╝gel is also the German word for wing (as in what birds have, not the wing of a house), giving it a (slightly contrived) connection to flight. Here are some of my favourite photos that I took of the sculptures. The smaller carved pumpkins aren’t part of the “main” exhibition and therefore don’t have to follow the flight theme (hence cows and snakes).

I managed to take my camera along without it’s memory card because I’m a moron­čśë Luckily I can actually take some photos with the camera’s own memory, but it meant I had to ration myself. Luckily my friend K took lots of photos, which she very kindly shared with me, so the next gallery is all her work.

As well as the sculptures, there were various culinary offerings involving pumpkin. We had roast pumpkin seeds – I bought ones with chilli and sugar while K chose sugar and cinnamon, pumpkin popcorn (boring – it was just ordinary sweet popcorn with crushed pumpkin seeds sprinkled on, and taste of just… popcorn), pumpkin burgers (amazing! Would eat again!), pumpkin chips/fries (also amazing! I plan to try and make my own), pumpkin Schorle (juice mixed with fizzy water) and pumpkin prosecco (“K├╝rbissecco”), and also sampled some of the items that were available to buy for taking home – including pumpkin seed pesto, pumpkin ketchup and pumpkin chutney. All were delicious!

As well as the sculptures, the entire place is decorated with pumpkins and the winners of the German and European giant pumpkin contests were also in display. Here are a few general impressions of the pumpkins, the park and the gorgeous autumn colours. First gallery contains my photos:

And the following photos are by K:

Sorry about the photo overload – I couldn’t narrow it down any further!

If anyone is in the Stuttgart/Ludwigsburg/Heidelberg area and wants to see the pumpkins for themselves, the festival is on until Saturday 8th November. The exhibition area is not lit, so I recommend going during the day/before dark. Entrance to the garden is ÔéČ8.50 – and make sure you do ask for a ticket to just the garden, unless you actually want to go into the castle! Apart from the pumpkins, the garden itself has a lot to offer, including a huge walk in aviary (which we sadly didn’t have time to go into this time, but Jan and I have been before and it’s amazing!) and a fairytale forest.

Phew! That was a long post, so congratulations if you’ve made it to the end!
I’m linking this up for Monday Escapes with Packing my Suitcase and My Travel Monkey. Click the button for more information.

Packing my Suitcase

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 chore­čśë

Last Saturday we were invited to a birthday celebration in K├Ânigsbach, 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 though­čśë

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 Schlo├čKarlsruhe 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!

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 Dreil├Ąnderbr├╝cke (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 H├╝ningen 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…)

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 Andreasbr├Ąu in Leopoldshafen, Alter Bahnhof in Malsch, Wallhall in Bruchsal, Brauhaus L├Âwenhof in Bretten and finally good old Vogelbr├Ąu in Karlsruhe. We could also have done one more (K├╝hler 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.

Andreasbr├Ąu, 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 boring­čśë At Andreasbr├Ąu, 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 Andreasbr├Ąu 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 M├Ąrzen 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 Semmelkn├Âdel (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 L├Âwenhof, 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 L├Âwenhof. 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:

Vogelbr├Ąu, Karlsruhe

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