Confuzzledom

Just a place for me to gather my thoughts


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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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Ten things I’ll miss about Karlsruhe

I’m not including people on this list, because I think it goes without saying that I’ll miss my friends! Also, people can move so theoretically it would be possible for the people I like to also come to Basel ;-) But even ignoring the people, I will miss some things about the place that’s been my home for the past eight and a half years!

  1. My “local” Irish pub… and of course the quiz. (My team came 3rd last week, by the way, which was a nice way to say goodbye).
  2. The trams. I know, it seems like an odd thing to miss, but they’re bright yellow and whenever I spied one from a train window I knew I was nearly home.
    S-Bahn
  3. The Schlosspark (castle grounds). I don’t even think I spent any time there last year with the weather in the summer being so bad, but it’s the perfect place to sit when the sun’s out. I hope we’ll find somewhere just as good in Basel.
  4. The red pandas, of course! I’ll miss seeing them hanging out in their trees on my way to and from work. (I will also miss living literally oppostie the zoo! We’re fairly close in Basel but it’s still a ten-minute walk. At the weekend, we took a last trip to Karlsruhe zoo, so look out for those photos on the blog once I can upload again – the ones in this post were all already uploaded for previous posts)

    I promise there's a red panda in that tree...

    I promise there’s a red panda in that tree…

  5. Soul bar, not just because of the very tasty cocktails, but also because the owners are so lovely. They greeted us like old friends every time we came in – even if it had been months since our last visit – and did an excellent job for my 30th birthday party.
  6. Sukie’s Cake Shop. I’ve only actually been there three times, but I will miss knowing I can go to a place where I can eat scones and clotted cream to my heart’s content and won’t get funny looks for asking for milk with my tea. Also, they sell cans of Dandelion & Burdock and Irn Bru!

    A strawberry scone from Sukie's

    A strawberry scone from Sukie’s

  7. Knowing my way around. Okay, this is something that I’m sure will come with time in Basel, but nothing could be quite as easy as Karlsruhe’s layout. All streets either lead to the castle or away from it (or, in the case of cross streets, parallel to it), so if you can’t see the castle turn around and walk the other way until you do! (Only applies for the twon centre, obviously)
  8. Hoepfner Burgfest. Beer, live music and good food. What’s not to love? And even if we do find a beer festival in Basel, the Karlsruhe one will win on price!

    Hoepfner beer at Burgfest 2014

    Hoepfner beer at Burgfest 2014

  9. The excellent connections. It sounds odd, but one of the things I love about Karlsruhe is how easy it is to get away from. By train, you can be in Paris, Munich or Lucerne in three hours, Zurich in two and a half, Frankfurt in just over an hour and Strasbourg or Heidelberg in roughly half an hour. There’s even a direct connection to Marseilles (although it admittedly takes 6 and a half hours) and a few years ago, Jan and I took a night train to Amsterdam, arriving at our final destination (Delft) refreshed and ready for the day.
  10. Our flat. It was the first place Jan and I ever lived together (unless you count the student residence, which I don’t!) and it really is a lovely flat. Of course, after two weeks of listening to the empty rooms echo I’m looking forward to living in a place with furniture again, and our new flat is also lovely, but this place will always hold a special place in my heart.
    Where my books used to live...

    Where my books used to live…

    With all that said, I am looking forward to being in Basel full time and find new places that I love just as much as my favourites in Karlsruhe. And the cheese… I’m definitely looking forward to the cheese!


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Basel zoo and a “hedgehog” for lunch

On Saturday, we were up bright and early to drive to Basel again. Our first of three flat viewings was at 11 am, meaning the latest possible time we could leave Karlsruhe was 9! And that is why we spent Valentine’s Day driving and looking at flats. Good job neither of us actually cares about the day of lurrrve ;-) We did, however, manage to stop for lunch in between the first two flat viewings. We went to a little baker’s/cafe where we each drank a home-made hot chocolate with chilli and I couldn’t resist eating an “Igeli”. Der Igel is German for hedgehog, but the Swiss like to diminutise (is that a word?) everything, and so it becomes Igeli. The English equivalent I suppose would be hedgehogling – in the sense of duckling or gosling (or maybe it would be hedgehoglet? Piglet… hoglet… hedgehoglet? You get the idea, anyway). Before I ate him, I had to snap a picture. Just look how cute he is!

Igeli

Later, we had a slightly longer gap between viewings and the sun had come out (after pouring rain in the morning), so we decided to check out the zoo. Sadly, there are no red pandas there, but they do have meerkats, orangutans and some interesting birds. My camera battery was low, so I didn’t take many pictures, but here are a few:

As for the flats: the first one was most suitable, the second was nice but not in the best area and the third was expensive and also the available date has been moved back, but was very large and central. We took forms for all three of them anyway. And now, we go back to waiting… and in the meantime continue to try to arrange viewing appointments. We’ve managed to get 2 more for Friday afternoon, so I’ll be working overtime from now until Thursday and taking Friday afternoon off work. *Sigh* Flat hunting is exhausting!

 


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I am a bad blogger…

The Lebanese flag

The Lebanese flag

As I mentioned on Friday, we went to look at a flat in Basel on Saturday. The appointment was late afternoon, so we decided to stay the night in Lörrach (on the German side of the border, where hotels are cheaper) and take some time on Sunday to drive around all the areas of Basel where we have inquired about flats. On Saturday night, we went out to eat at a Lebanese restaurant in Lörrach where I failed to take a single photo. Bad blogger! I can assure you that Lebanese food is very tasty, though. For me, it seemed like a mixture of Greek and Turkish cuisine, which is interesting seeing as it’s nowhere near either of those! The menu contained lots of aubergine, chickpeas and lamb dishes. Making a decision was difficult, so we chose a four-course set meal to get a bit of everything. There was a mixed starter plate followed by salad then a main course of meat, meat and more meat served with a spicy tomato cous cous. Dessert was some kind of coconut/cream cake plus a plate of different fruits. It was all delicious and I can highly recommend Cedar’s Lebanese Restaurant if you ever find yourself in Lörrach. You might want to reserve though – it was busy! We were initially sent away for an hour and then asked whether we minded sharing a table with another couple.

In other news, the flat we looked at was nice but much smaller than our current one! It’s in a nice area and has a big balcony out the back, though. We’re currently in the process of filling out forms for the (potential) landlady and gathering evidence that, should we move in, we can actually pay the rent! It seems there are many hoops to jump through before you can actually rent a flat in Switzerland… Meanwhile, we have 2 more appointments arranged for next weekend and are still frantically checking rental websites for new ads every day. Fingers crossed something works out soon!


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More from Zurich

I tried to write this post a few days ago but WordPress lost it and I couldn’t be bothered to type it all out again…

1 January was our final day in Zurich. We started 2015 by sleeping til 1.30 p.m., then eventually managed to drag ourselves out of the hotel and to the main train station, where we found a cafe for breakfast. I had a hazelnut-filled croissant (which are called Gipfeli in Swiss German!) and a far-too-sweet cinnamon latte. Then it was time for some more walking. We took a different parallel street to Bahnhofstrasse, one we’d never been down before, and eventually came to Zurich’s “other” river – the Sihl. Apparently it flows below the Hauptbahnhof (main station) and parts of the station are actually below the river! The things you learn from Wikipedia… Once we got away from the town centre, the path was slippy but it looked pretty with the river alongside and the tree branches hanging over it.

After we’d walked for a while, Jan consulted the map on his phone then decided we needed to turn left if we were eventually going to end up back in town. He then proceeded to make me go up this set of steps:

 

Narnia eat your heart out!

I didn’t so much walk up them as haul myself up, clinging to the handrail for dear life the whole time! What looks like pretty snow had been trodden on so often that it was actually more like ice. Very, very slippy ice! At the top, we found a park area set on a hillside. All the local kids were out playing with their bobsleighs. I wish we could have borrowed one… it would have been slightly easy than walking/slipping down the frozen path!

After leaving that park and walking down some random streets, we entered another park where we found more people sledding and another snowman. From there, we also had a view of the lake.

Finally, after walking for what seemed like days, we reached the lake. By this time it was dark and we were cold and hungry, but we still stopped to take a few photos of the lake. By which I mean Jan stole my camera and took pictures after witnessing me failing to get any good ones. Hmph!

After all the walking we’d done, Jan decided he wanted a hearty meal of the type served by a brew-house. The first Bierhalle we tried was closed (for future reference, lots of places in Zurich seem to close on New Year’s Day), so we headed to a place called Restaurant Johanniter. Jan chose a dark beer that was delicious! Unfortunately it was on special and the card only said “Schwarzbier” so we don’t know what it was to look out for in future. I went for the Appenzeller Quöllfrisch, which was also tasty. To eat I had vension “geschnetzeltes” – geschnetzeltes is a word for strips of meat cut in a certain way. Jan had the traditional Zürcher Geschnetzeltes, which I’m not keen on because it comes in a sauce with mushrooms. I then treated myself to some apple strudel for dessert (no picture of that because I was too busy stuffing my face ;-) )

Once we’d eaten, we headed back to the hotel to pack and relax for a while. And that was the end of our trip to Zurich. A lovely city, if fairly small. I’m sure we’ll be back… Basel to Zurich is only a little over an hour by train, which makes it pretty perfect for a day trip with visitors.


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2014 resolution recap

We’re already a week into 2015 and I’m only just getting round to recapping my resolutions from last year! Oh well, the new year doesn’t properly start until I’m back at work anyway, and while I was technically back on Monday, yesterday was another holiday in Germany so I’m only just starting to get back into a routine now. That’s my excuse anyway ;-) So how did I do on last year’s resolutions? Well, I actually only made three, and I managed to stick to them all. Here’s a recap:

  1. Travel more. I wanted to at least make an effort to go on day trips, and I managed that plus much, much more, spending time in 8 different countries over the course of 2014! Taiwan and Vienna were just two of the bigger trips I took, with a few day trips to France (Colmar), Switzerland (Basel) and some new-to-me German towns (Bad Bergzabern) thrown into the mix as well.
  2. Keep not biting my nails. Most of my nails are still not long because they insist on splitting, getting caught on things and just generally being annoying. But I can honestly say I haven’t bitten any of them off. Success!
  3. Enjoy the time I have with my boyfriend and stop worrying so much about the future. It’s difficult for me not to worry about the future… I need to know that what I have right now isn’t all there is! But I think I’ve done a reasonably good job of living in the moment and not nagging about what’s next. And no sooner did I manage to starting living in the moment than something came up that meant Jan had to make a decision about our future together anyway. Oh universe, you’re such a tease!

So that’s three resolutions made and three kept. I do have a number of goals for this year, but I’m still busy finalising and thinking about them, so you’re just going to have to wait for that post – by which time I’m sure you’ll all be completely sick of resolution posts anyway so you’ll most likely never even read mine ;-). Oh well, c’est la vie as the French would say.

 


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Seeing in 2015 in Zurich

New Year’s Eve dawned bright and sunny…  which was a bit of a waste really seeing as we’d decided to spend the day at the Landesmuseum (Swiss national museum). I did take a couple of photos of the building before we went in though, luckily. They ended up being my only blue-sky photos of Zurich!

In the museum, we learned a bit about Swiss history, including their policy of being neutral during the world wars and also the fact that the final canton only gave women the right to vote in 1990! (That would be you, Appenzell Innerrhoden. Tut, tut, tut!) There was also an exhibition of Swiss furniture and a whole section on archaeology. We decided to skip the special exhibition on Christmas cribs (nativity scenes) as we were all museumed out by that time and also it was closing soon. It was nearly 5 o’clock by that time and we hadn’t eaten since breakfast so we headed into the train station to grab some soup and a sandwich from one of the cafes there. We did 90% of our eating at the train station because it was the only place that had even vaguely affordable food (bakeries have fairly normal prices… restaurant food is almost double what we would expect to pay in Germany!). We then went for a bit of a walk around, ending up by the university which is on a hill and provides a nice view over Zurich.

 

Once we were back in town, we went for a quick beer then decided to head back to the hotel for a bit and chill before joining the festivities at the lakeside. We watched Pirates of the Caribbean, which Jan had somehow never seen before!

On leaving the hotel, we stopped off at Coop to buy some small bottles of Prosecco before taking the train back into town then heading down to the lake via the quieter back streets. I prefer not to have fireworks thrown at me, thank you very much! On the banks of the river itself fireworks were forbidden, which made me very happy! There were hundreds of food/drink stands lined up all along the lake, so before going to join the crowd who were waiting for the fireworks we grabbed a Glühwein and this:

"Alpler Rösti"

“Alpler Rösti”

That is Rösti – a Swiss speciality consisting of grated potatoes – with pieces of smoked bacon that was then covered with a generous helping of raclette cheese. Not particularly healthy but so, so good!! We then joined everyone else down by the lakeside. As twelve approached, there was a countdown and then the church bells all over the city chimed at midnight… that was the idea anyway! We couldn’t actually hear any chiming because one stall somewhere hadn’t turned off its incredibly loud music! Everybody chinked glasses (or bottles in our case… we don’t do classy), hugged, kissed and wished each other a happy New Year. Then, at 19 minutes past 12, all the lights in the city were switched off and the fireworks finally started. We got an entire 20 minutes of fireworks, set off from three boats on the lake. It was amazing! Here’s just a small selection of the photos I took:

Some of the fireworks formed shapes, like hearts and smiley faces, but it was difficult to capture that on camera. You can just about make out a face (upside-down!) on one of the photos above, though.

After the fireworks, the lakeside cleared fairly quickly. I assume people wanted to get into the warm! Although it wasn’t as cold as on the previous day, there was still snow on the ground. I finished my Prosecco (which Jan had been holding for while I took photos), then we walked around for a bit looking for some interesting food to snack on. We finally chose a stall selling Indian food, where we bought some delicious samosas and pakora. It was after 1 by this time and I didn’t really feel like going into a crowded bar, so instead we headed back to the hotel and switched on the TV. Not a bad start to the New Year!

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