Thursday, June 26, 2014

Out and about ...

Thunder, fork lightening and wet rats – us. Got caught in a storm with very heavy rain which immediately turned into mini bachles running down the streets. It’s been dry and windy so the water didn’t have time to sink into the soil. Luckily we were in a covered café, but missed the tram before the rain started and had to take the next in the downpour. Only a half block from the last stop to the flat but got pretty wet anyway. We had walked earlier to Schaub, a specialty store to look at wheels for Bruce and were lucky again that it hadn’t started yet. Oh well, we don’t melt!

Having said all that, the last few days have been lovely weather wise so we’ve been out and about. Downtown close to the river Dreisam there is a café which, honestly, is an Americanised Milestones or Earl’s, as mentioned before, but it has a fantastic location! The river is running low right now so people were wading and making Inukshuks (or Inuksuks) with river rock. 

One fellow indicated it was pretty cold but others didn’t seem to mind.  It’s a lovely place to be on a warm day, beach like atmosphere under large umbrellas and looking at the trees.

Quite a few!
Saturday at the Munster Markt, is always busy and we like pickles from the “pickle guy” and Bruce likes his particular sausage. Both vendors recognize us now, pickle guy speaks good English and “sausage guy” French so we can communicate and often they will add freebees. Must introduce ourselves properly in those situations, I don’t know why we don’t!

Beautiful eh?! See I'm still Canadian

 There was a somewhat senior lady that had a stall next to where we had a drink to watch the closing of the market. She was packing her van by herself, probably been doing it for years, but she was clearly tired. I wanted so badly to jump up and help, just to pass her things, because they all have their “place” to go in the van. Felt so lazy sitting in a café watching her work but also felt she knew her business and wouldn’t appreciate the intervention of a “tourist”, so didn’t.

Basil, the wonderfully pungent herb! Love it and they sell pots and pots of it here right now. I’ve bought two so far and use it in my salads but can’t keep it alive over about a week. I remember trying to grow it in my herb garden in Burnaby, couldn’t keep it alive there either. But there are so many plants of it in all the grocers here I suppose it’s just meant for one cutting and chuck out. Hmmm I hate that, wasteful, but again, cannot make it grow after harvesting some leaves. Will put these two in the garbage room and hope someone has a better green thumb than I.

A natural mosquito repellant I got off the web I think will smell a lot better than the commercial products out there.

16 oz spray bottle
15 drops of lavender oil
3-4 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 c lemon juice
fill with water

We don't get many mosquitos here, course we haven't been here in July yet so we'll see but I know most of you get them.

We just had seven storks flying around the field, soaring actually, so graceful.

Heading out in the car on Saturday with our guide. He had his children visiting him last week.

This blog post is “lite”, sorry, I’ll take lots of pictures and have more to write about once we’re out visiting new towns soon.

Lantern outside a jewellery store in a neighbourhood we like very much, downtown.
Cheers Bx2 and Lexi Cat

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day and a town called Titisee

Happy Father's Day to those that are!

Proliferation of roses on a balcony, note behind the slatted part of the window.
The slatted window sash is common in Europe, can be pulled down to darken the inside for sleeping or keep inside cool. Ours works with a remote control - cool! pun intended, or some have draw cords to operate them.

I had a hole in a favourite blouse so took it to the sewing shop we’ve used many times before. Left Bruce at the tram stop comfortably at a café. We have had Turkish, Japanese, Chinese and Indian food in this neighbourhood at the City Theatre, all good. There is a passageway going from there to a shopping area. Walking through, past all the restaurants the smell was heavenly!

On the other side of the passageway is an Edeka (groceries), DM (drug markt, German spelling), Post office, we were sort of aware of but I explored this week further. 

To explain, here in Europe, actual drug stores where you pick up a prescription are called Apotheke’s. They carry over the counter drugs, Dr. Scholls and high end lotions, they are small but there are many around. The Apotheke staff are knowledgeable and most speak English. DM is the store for everything else, toothpaste, health food products, personal products like deodorants, cheaper lotions, baby products, makeup etc. Certainly it’s a different system than in Canada where you go to a big box store like London Drugs or Shopper’s and get everything, but works here. 

Trams in Freiburg cannot go into the City centre from now until mid-October. is a webcam set up on a building overlooking the street, we'll be able to watch progress from there. They are ripping up the rail lines, re-doing the sewers and the electrical. It’s a mess! But a completely organized one.  They have buses ringing the outer centre to get people from stops that they would normally go through the city.  Viewing it up close today, they have signs on the walls for where to find stores and tourist sites, maps and lots of information about the process. Well, from my point of view, it will just allow us to explore more of Freiburg and discover other neighbourhoods, turns out a good thing. Will spread business to the other areas as well, while the mid-downtown might suffer some. Perhaps not so much because the “high” street is all designer stores and Department stores and Freiburg isn’t that large a city, walkable from end to end.

We decided on a nice day to visit Titisee (no joking that’s it’s name). This is our third visit there, located in the Black Forest Mountains. 
Tour boat circles the lake, we've not taken it.
"Car" boats with steps up to a slide to plunge into the lake, looks like fun!

Beautiful train ride there through hills, original homes and barns with long sloping roofs due to heavy snow. Cooler there than in Freiburg so it’s a great place in the summer time, but chock o’ block with tourists. Many Orientals on tours, many bikers… Went into one store that advertised cuckoo clocks and I can’t remember last where I’ve seen more kitsch! Wow, quite ugly to my mind anyway and the town is full of stores like that.

A house sized cuckoo clock!
Cuckoo at the top, when the hour strikes the couple come out of their windows and rotate.
There is a touristy restaurant there that serves good trout so we went back for lunch. Saw them unloading the still live trout into barrels off a pick up, sorry veggie fans, but at least I know what I ate was fresh!

Wasn't quite quick enough to catch them in motion. The truck says Trout Breeding truck.
Or, perhaps they were re-stocking the stream, we didn’t see any trout in it. The restaurant overlooks the lake and the tourists wandering around, pleasant place to sit.

Colourful boats for rent.
Bruce took his wheels because it’s a bit of a walk from the train station into town. They were a bit of a problem really, missed one train because the staff didn’t have time to put down the ramp. Second train they did. Coming back they were already running late, only two minutes mind you, unusual for trains here, so the conductor, a large, strong woman lifted the wheels on board. Other times we’ve taken the Regional trains we remembered gently sloping ramps, sadly, not the case today. We are definitely going to have to figure out a way around this. Problem is all trains and ramps are different sizes, gaps to get on and off, some high, some low, wide and narrow. Bruce spent time in Sevilla designing a system for the trains there but it won’t work here in Germany. I think he needs caterpillar tracks like those on a tank! 

We were going to be headed into France to Kaysersberg this Sunday, about an hour from here by car. Our guide had other commitments that came up so we've postponed it for another time.

Cheers, Bx2 and Lexi Cat

Sunday, June 8, 2014

More Kaiserstuhl and a couple of links

This unwieldy link is to a story in a newsletter I get from Peter Legge. He's a public speaker and author from Vancouver. This is a story about Gandhi that I really enjoyed called "It's not what you say, it's how you say it". Thought I would pass it on.

A funny video for you. Lexi does some of this, excluding the bat of course!

Downtown we found a good coffee pot to replace the one that died a week ago. No! I haven’t been without coffee, we had an alternate method of making.

Shopped at the upmarket store called Rewe for ingredients for a Caesar (garlic) Salad which we haven’t had in some time.

Aside, Rewe is not normally an upmarket store. This one moved in replacement of a Migros (Swiss) which was upmarket. To keep the same clientele they’ve kept many of the gourmet foods.

Back to Caesar, we make our own dressing and it is yummy. So we are headed to the cashier and listing off the ingredients and I’d forgotten garlic! Doh! Good thing we remedied that before leaving. Garlic is different here than what we used to buy in Canada, fresher I think. It comes with some stem, is redder in colour, although I don’t think it’s the Russian variety, it’s closer to that than the Chinese garlic we get in Canada.

What a perfect day with Christoph! Drove back into the Kaiserstahl area through more charming villages for a hearty, very tasty, lunch at family owned Gasthaus Baeren (guesthouse bear) in Vogtsburg-Oberrotweil. 


This is a restaurant where locals dine, great food and “doggie bags” for later. A quick visit into St. Michael’s Church with beautiful murals on the walls and ceilings, stunning paint work in consumate detail.

The Church had many of these windows, beautiful!
Then on to the Weingut (winery) Landerer in Niederrotweil which is part of V-Oberrotweil (say that five times fast...) to sample wines. We bought three cases of six bottles each, tempted to buy more but know we can come back. 
Yes, that's a sleepy duck sculpture in the herb cart
Wines are grown in different soil conditions in the area from volcanic rock to a chalky like soil which produce different tastes of course, even when growing the same grape. Wine making is part science, part art, part knowledge and part weather and a lot more. It’s a wonder to me how they produce a quality product all the time with those variations, always has been. He gave us an extra bottle to taste test at home.

Couldn't do it justice in photos but tried!

Then up, up, up to the top of a hill, through the vineyard terraces for a panoramic view of the area. Magnificant! Christoph said the terraces are continually changing, to work them with machinery and due to erosion. Beautiful day although a bit hazy.  At the top we even saw a Lotus car, I’ve seen them at auto shows in my past but never one on the road, being a lovely shade of bright blue. A tractor hauled a trailer full of tourists also so we had the sight of snazzy to practical sorts of wheels.

So many family run businesses here. The Landerer’s son has taken over the business from his father. Same with the Pub, although the Dad is still the chef. There is a pride evident, and while some of the children must leave the area for work, others stay and carry on the legacy of their parents. Example at the winery the second son has taken over out of four sons, other three are not involved.

Another example, we saw four generations of women of the same family working the market at the Munsterplatz the other day.

We usually have four horses in the field next door along with the cattle. This morning there was only one remaining and it wasn’t happy about it. It ran around the field for about an hour looking for it’s mates, seriously distressed. I felt so sorry for it! Nothing I could do of course but all the same. Back from our day trip and they are back together again, sigh.

Our lavender is in full bloom now.

Cheers, Bx2 and Lexi Cat without a bat, thank goodness for that!

(How silly can I get? No I haven't had my nose in the wine.)

Monday, June 2, 2014


Bruce saw a bicycle built for three! First two seats had pedals and the last seat posts for the feet. He said it was a very long bike.

Corpus Christi or Christi Himmelfahrt, the Ascension of Christ was on Thursday the 29th. It’s a public holiday, stores closed. I remember from last year seeing processions of people coming out of churches but we got downtown too late to see that.  It was a perfect day weather wise, so we stayed and went to two different cafés to people watch. Noticed large groups of people hanging together with matching, mostly fleece, jackets with writing on them but didn’t think too much about it.

It is also Father’s Day, not a family thing, it’s a get together with guys day, mentioned last year. They tote wagons along filled with beer and are generally happy fellows.

Like these guys, the fellow could actually play the bagpipes well!
There were two fellows already playing to the restaurant audience with a guitar and a violin, thankfully NO accordion. The bagpiper said do you know Amazing Grace? So they played it together and quite well I might add. Not something we see every day.

Cameras were going off all over.

 Corpus Christi was the start of people arriving for something happening in Freiburg for five days, I haven’t got my head around completely yet. Do now, read further. It’s called Landesturnfest. Many, many roving groups of similarly dressed people are here and clogging the trams and downtown, worse than football days! Some are staying or doing whatever in Rieselfeld also.  It seems to be a sport event for the entire area around Freiburg, but today we saw some young ladies dancing, which made me think of it as a musical event. Reading, or attempting to, the Stadkurier, a local newspaper, shows it to be a gymnastic event for all the Communities around Freiburg. 

Took this over people's heads but turned out okay, several performers on stage

18,000 people are expected on Sunday, oh my! We saw groups with multiple coloured died hair, some in dyrndels, many with fake roses, guessing they were due to be on stage or had just come off. Certainly a good people watching day with so much unusual happening.

Anyway I put on my business hat, seeing all the tourists and thought of the money this event is bringing to Freiburg and area. Hotels booked solid, restaurants and eateries, and souvenier shops, all making out like a bandit. Good for the City! Bruce said if everyone at the Munsterplatz dropped as little as a Euro it would make a very large difference and I’m sure many dropped more than one.

Then I put on my volunteer hat and recognized the amount of organization the event required. There were many corporate sponsors, but someone, or many had to organize all those people! A place to sleep, eat, schedule the program, start up and finish ceremonies…. List goes on, and I’ve been involved in some of that in my previous life. Planning takes about a year, with time lines and real attention to detail to ensure everyone is accommodated and happy with the result. If it was done like when I was involved there would be committees struck to lighten the workload and make use of specific knowledge and skill sets, funded by the sponsors. Organizing the volunteers is another area… you get the picture, BIG, with lots of preparation required and many organized people to do it.

They moved all the regular stalls from their usual spots in the market at the Munsterplatz, since that’s where the event is being held, or most of it. Large stage, beer tents, more food tents, like there weren’t enough already!

Further reading shows this is a really BIG event. Okay said that already but really! and do a translate on it. As usual Google doesn’t translate well but you will get the gist. Forty communities around Freiburg participating. Schools are where they are sleeping and breakfast is provided by service groups like Rotary.

Mainly took this to capture the Schwarzwald hat, red one with pompoms, costume worn only in a certain area of the Black Forest and if the pompoms are black the woman is married.

We went down to the Munsterplatz Sunday to see the finalie. Got a good seat at an Ice Cream café and watched the entire parade. What a sight! Those forty communities all have large flags that are beautifully made, mostly in velvet I think. 

Like this one

There were marching bands and each community had their competing team behind in matching colours. It was a very colourful event with lots of energy! On the way to town on the tram, lots of excitement, coming back, sleepy kids. After all it has been a big five days for them competing, then marching in the parade for 45 minutes, I was getting tired just watching! 


Wonderful to see and hear in the comfort of a chair under a tent with a glass of wine/beer and lunch. 
Aaah, done and can unwind now...

Except our lunch came just as the parade started so I was jumping up and snapping pics throughout. So Bruce certainly had a different birthday experience! One that won't be forgotten soon. A very colourful few days in Freiburg.

Cheers, Bx2 & Lexi Cat