A day in the Black Forest

After a day in Strasbourg and a day in Basel, on the Friday of my brother’s visit, we decided to just relax. After a lie in, we made crumpets for brunch, went out for a round of mini golf then, in the evening, my friend came over and we watched How to Train Your Dragon as I hadn’t seen it before and said friend had asked me to go to the cinema with her the following week to see the second one. Saturday was back to day trips! Having been to two different countries, I thought it was about time to see some of the local(ish) area, so we headed off into the Schwarzwald. Our first stop was Neuenbürg, or rather the castle above the town.

Black Forest
Looking down from Neunbürg castle

When we arrived, the castle museum in the main building wasn’t open yet, so we went and had a look at the ruins of the “Hinterburg” (literally “back or behind castle), an older building that was presumably used before the present-day castle was built. My photos of it are terrible! Sorry about that…

Once we’d finished exploring the ruins, we decided to head for the restaurant for a coffee while we waited for the museum to open. Once we were brought menus, we decided that, actually, we might as well have lunch since it was already after 12. We each chose to have a Pfanno – a speciality of the restaurant that’s somewhere between a pancake, a pizza and an omlette. It has too much egg to really be a pancake, and it tastes a lot like an omlette, but itthe savoury ones looked kind of like a pizza with the toppings. I went for the tuna version while my brother went for a sweet version with apple and cinnamon. Jan had the Elsass style one (not pictured), which basically had traditional Flammkuchen style topping – bacon, onions and creme fraiche. They were tasty, but very filling! I couldn’t actually finish mine.

By the time we’d finished eating the museum was open and it was also starting to rain (the only time we had bad weather throughout my brother’s stay!), so inside was a good place to be! The museum begins with a retelling of a fairycalled “Das kalte Herz” (The Cold Heart). To go with the stories, there are wood carvings and light sillhouettes of the various characters. My brother was given a set of headphones so he could listen to the story in English. It was kind of a weird thing to find in a castle museum, but somehow cute.

The remainder of the museum had general stuff about the castle and local area. At the end was an exhibition of architects collected from people living in the town, including old games. I took the following picture because the sign amused me:

Schloss Neunbürg

All the things in that particular display case had to do with the railway. For those who don’t read German, the sign says “No smoking and no spitting on the floor.” Hahaha.

By the time we left the castle, it was raining pretty heavily, so our original plan of a possible work in the woods was out. Instead, we headed to Hirsau in the Calw region because I had read there was an Abbey museum there. Museum = indoors! Unfortunately, there was no English information in the museum so I ended up translating things for my brother! The first 2 floors were about the church that the museum is located in and the abbey/life of the monks, then there was a floor with information about Hirsau and the surrounding area, including an album of old photos. Once we’d finished with the museum, it had stopped raining and we were able to head over to the ruins of the abbey itself.

Outside the little chapel (the Lady Chapel), there was a tonne of rose petals on the ground. Since there was no rose bush to be seen, I can only assume somebody had married in the chapel that day and had rose petals strewn on them. What a gorgeous setting to get married! Shame about the awful weather.

I had seen on Facebook that The Seán Treacy Band, who have been mentioned on this blog before, were playing in a village called Schömberg, also not far from Calw, so we decided to finish our day by going to see them perform. The village was having its Glückswoche (happiness/luck week) and there was a mini festival going on. We ate spiralled potatoes on sticks, sausages (my brother) and pork steaks (me), had a few drinks and watched the first half of the band’s performance before heading back to Karlsruhe for the night.

Hoepfner Burgfest 2014

Every year over the Pentecost weekend, one of Karlsruhe’s local breweries has its beer festival. There are live bands, tasty things to eat, face painting and activities for children and, of course beer. Those of you who speak German and were paying attention will probably have noticed that little word “Burg” in the title… meaning castle. There is no actual castle involved, but Hoepfner’s building is made to look like one, earning it the name “Hoepfner Burg” – Hoepfner Castle… so naturally the annual event had to be the Burgfest, or castle festival. The Burgfest has been going since 1983, which makes it as old as me! (Actually a few months older since I was born after Pentecost). It starts on the Friday evening and runs until 8 p.m. on Pfingstmontag (Whit Monday). During that time various bands perform live both in the tent in the top courtyard and on the big stage down in the bottom courtyard. A lot of the bands are the same every year, but there are usually a couple of new ones.

This year, we decided to skip Friday and Saturday (I don’t think I’ve ever been to Burgfest on a Friday). There was a band called “Acoustic Rock Night” performing on Sunday afternoon that sounded interesting, so Jan, K and I took ourselves along for that. A friend of ours who was away from Karlsruhe the weekend of the festival had two beer tokens which he gave to Jan and I, so my first drink was a beer. I chose the Hoepfner Schwarz-Gold (Black-Gold), which is a dark beer. After that I switched to Weißweinschorle (white wine spritzer) and then had two glasses of Erdbeerbowle (strawberry punch). The band was good, but sadly the sound in the tent wasn’t brilliant so most of the time you couldn’t even hear the backing singers! Here are some photos from Sunday afternoon:

It was about 36°C that day and there was no breeze whatsoever so we were all boiling! I bought bottle of water that I drank about half of, using the other half to wet my face, neck and wrists for some momentary relief from the relentless heat! (I had actually brought a bottle of tap water along with me but I had to down that at the entrance. No drinks at all were allowed in!). Towards evening we decided to eat something and I felt like I was going to pass out while queuing for my food with all the ovens and grills blasting at me from behind the stalls. I’ve no idea how the people working there coped! After Acoustic Rock Night, another band came on… I think they were called the Moonlighters? They were okay, but we decided to move down to the bottom courtyard anyway as by that time another friend had turned up who wanted to see the band performing down there. Me and the Heat. K decided to leave at that point as it was still way too hot and she had a headache. Jan and I stayed for a few Me and the Heat songs, but left after having one more drink each. I’m not a huge fan of Me and the Heat, really. Technically (musically) they’re very good, but I don’t like most of the songs they do and they seem very uninterested in the audience somehow.

The next day, Monday, we headed down to see the final act of the Burgfest. The Sean Treacy Band is well known in Karlsruhe… If there’s a festival of any sort, they will almost always appear on the program! And they always close the Hoepfner Burgfest. This time, there was a surprise special guest performing alongside them. Fish, formerly of the band Marillion, was performing in a charity concert with them the following day and had popped along for a quick trial run before the main event. It was a great performance and a nice end to the long weekend.