Friday, May 23, 2014

Kaiserstuhl and more

Our partner D with the flat got her voting cards and honestly I don’t know why we didn’t get voting docs as well, but she’s been a Freiburger longer than us, maybe we aren’t on the “list” yet. Anyway since it is a vote over the entire EU, taking several days, the process facsinates me. I don’t follow politics but if you know me at all, I do appreciate good processes. The envelope came, unsealed, with the long sheets of paper per party. Here is a website that describes what the vote entails, I certainly didn't know the consequences of this vote!

- 13 German parties 
- addresses are listed next to the candidate and their career title
- all parties have 47 candidates except Die Partei has 14
- the lists are long narrow yellow paper with instructions being the first page and then a page per party
- numbered candidates listed starting at 101, next party 201 etc.
- they came in an unsealed envelope that you take with you to the voting station

Impressive I thought.

We went to the local Mac store and bought Bruce a new computer. He spills drinks and smokes, the keyboard gets ruined. When in Heidelberg the technician said “why do you use this as a coffee table?” He was horrified that someone would abuse a machine. It is the way it is, not the first time…Bruce has been using an external key board and mouse for a while now to maintain using a big screen but they weren’t working too well either. On to the Mac store and an hour later he’s got what is most important  -  a film keyboard that turns the German keyboard into an American one i.e. Z and Y are on opposite directions from the other and if you’ve ever tried typing on another language keyboard it takes time to get used to. More importantly it protects the keyboard!

Anyway, this fellow spoke English, they seem to do at this store, been before, and we walked out poorer but Bruce is now functional again on a lighter in weight computer, easier for travel. For those that care it’s a MacBook Pro and he’s happy with it.

While in the shop Bruce struck up a conversation with a fellow who’s current project is promoting German wines in China. But they, in China, don’t appreciate the taste and mix them with other beverages like pop and whatever else.

Really, really needed a hair cut, with the wind looked like I’d put my finger in a socket most days and certainly doesn’t do anything for my look. Made the termin/appointment and next day I’m there. This guy is a hairdresser genius! I have had the best haircut in a very long time, certainly in the time we’ve spent in Europe. I won’t go into the fact that he’s very nice to look at or does an excellent head massage while shampooing, but his assessment of my naturally curly hair made me think of him as a real professional first off. Walked out feeling like a new woman and will certainly go back to him.

Next I finally decided I need sunglasses. My one pair of vision correction glasses is tinted which I wear around my neck for the dual purpose of seeing things and a bit of tint from the sun. Our local Optometrist speaks English and I have taken Bruce’s slightly broken glasses to him on occasion. He has always warned he might break them further but with gentle re-adjustment has always fixed with no charge. So this day I walked in to try on sunglasses. He immediately sees the look I’m going for and produces a pair that fits my face perfectly, I’m sold.  Part of the reason for not wearing sunglasses before is the switching between vision and sun constantly. So in answer to that, which I wondered why no one had thought before, I already had, but done nothing about, a hanging necklace with a hole in  the middle that you just exchange when needed. He had them! And rather stylish in the design too, all good.

Another good day on  the service meter.

We went back to Breisach to meet up with Christoph, our hopeful guide for Germany and into France. 
This is a floating ball sculpture in Breisach I liked.

We want this to work and he didn’t quite understand our wants. It was easier to explain in person which he also appreciated, so we told him, short day trips concentrated on cultural, food and wine experiences with local knowledge. 

Same restaurant in Breisach we were at before, picture of the wall mural instead of food this time.

We had thought we could use public transport for these excursions but with Bruce’s problems walking long distances have decided that hiring a car would be best. Freiburg has a car sharing program so Christoph is looking into the feasibility of doing that versus renting. This way we can easily get into the  smaller towns and wine producers. 

Weather here right now is so changeable by moment, isn’t so much fun honestly. I thought we were complaining too much but our partners have had emails from German friends who say it isn’t good either. It’s the wind that whistles over you that chills. I’ve always said no whinging about that cannot be changed, but we do anyway. Poor citrus trees on the patio must wonder what type of spot they are living in, although I suspect they would encounter the same from the nursery they were bought from. Warmed up by the time we went to the Kaiserstuhl. Summer’s here! Oops spoke too soon...

Pollen which is really evident right now, floating bits of fluff is making our eyes stream with tears unrelated to sadness. I have a new appreciation to a friend in Victoria who had allergies to hay and had to walk by our farm going to school. She’d arrive with eyes and nose going off, not comfortable, and I being the one living on the farm didn’t really get it. Now I do. Sorry J.

Roses and iris, my favourites are in full bloom right now! The roses are especially pretty and often climb up walls to enliven them with full colour, beautiful!

Our tour guide Christoph drove us into the Kaiserstuhl area around Freiburg. It is a large wine growing region in Southern Germany, close to the French and Swiss borders. We used a car sharing program that is the best I’ve ever seen, so efficient and inexpensive. If interested it’s called Gruene Flotte. I won’t go on about it but was impressed! This company uses a chip on your driver’s license to activate and finish the rental, okay, said I wouldn’t go on about it, but truly a great idea!

Kaiserstuhl means Emperor's chair and the mountain (more hills, really) ridges are arranged somewhat like one. The area is covered in volcanic rock, excellent for growing grapes and still experiences small eruptions due to the earth’s crust being quite shallow there. Read above link if interested.

This commemorates when the District became Baden.

The vines are terraced up and over the hills. Most vineyards are owned by large companies who employ migrant workers from other countries but some are still family owned. I took a picture of the terraces but didn't turn out. There are small narrow tractors that are used to work the vineyards, I’ve never seen such narrow ones. Larger are for transporting wagons of grapes over the roads and often both types often hold up traffic, “kings of the road”, they are working after all, everyone else can jolly well wait! Roads are narrow in places and have berms, reminded me of England a bit. Seven small towns have united under the name of Vogtsburg. So they are called Vogtsburg-Burkheim for example.

Christoph had phoned ahead and made reservations at a Weinstube restaurant by the name of Krone in Achkarren about half hour from Rieselfeld along back roads and through charming villages.  

The terrace is to the right, umbrella covered and very comfortable, but the flies...

We sat outside under an umbrella, enjoyed wine from their Stube and I ate my first spargel, white asparagus, meal. I figured I’d better see what all the fuss is about spargel, Germans love it, have spargel menus, season is the spring time and it is everywhere! Often teamed for sale with strawberries, same season, give or take a week. Strawberries are really good here! Read more about spargel from a non-German blogger.

Since this is our third Spring in Germany it is about time to try it. The meal consisted of a few large spears of spargel, boiled potatoes, a crepe, Hollandaise sauce and what ever you wanted to add to it, meat, ham, sausage, salmon, just whatever. I added a barlauch (bärlauch) sauce, translated, "bear's leek" it is like a leafy garlic and tastes and smells wonderful! We add it to salads etc.

The spargel plate came out of the kitchen under dome! Rather dramatic, but that shows the reverence Germans have for their spargel!  It was a very good lunch, presentation was excellent, chef prepared, gratis, an appetiser of small things I would not have tried like wurst (grated sausage) and cheese salad. That’s another thing that is sold everywhere. All restaurants and deli’s do them and I looked and said “I don’t think so”. But again, when in Rome, and with someone to recommend the best food, it’s great to try.

Drove on to Burkheim a medieval town with half timbered houses and lovely courtyards. 
This half timbered beauty was particularly ornate!

Large arched doorways which allow for tractors and trailers into the Weinstube warehouses. 
See the roses!

In the area, and north as well, each stube has a courtyard with tables and chairs, sometimes a restaurant, sometimes a guesthouse and their warehouse for production. Around here they use mostly the white Pinot grape. Pinot Blanc called Weissburgunder; Pinot Gris called Grauerburgunder, well you get the picture.

We walked around Burkheim a bit before having a coffee. Saw this fellow and had to take a picture!

Advertising the Corkscrew Museum - Hmm...

We really enjoyed the afternoon with good food and seeing the countryside. Christoph was the perfect host and we can’t wait to go out with him again! Christoph knows this region very well, especially the churches and what they have inside, no time today, and churches aren’t as interesting to us as you know, but with his guidance to go inside we will. 

We feel lucky to have our guides to give us a richer, fuller experience of the cultures in Germany and Spain, it truly makes a difference!

Cheers, Bx2 and Lexi Cat

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