Monday, June 29, 2015

Days in Freiburg before Vienna, Next Stop

Monday and Christoph picked us up at 13:30 which is a bit late but unavoidable due to a problem with the train system, late because most restaurants close at 14:00. The real problem is that it was Monday though and many close after being open for the weekend. So we went to Breisach am Rheine instead and had a nice lunch sitting along the river. Large cruise boats and scows went by on their way into France.

Then we drove into Neuf Breisach, France which is an armoury town, built to protect France from Germany in the war(s). Once again I am gobsmacked that we are close enough to drive into another country, different language and ways of doing things. This is the Alsace region and they speak Alsacian and French, frequently switching between in one sentence. Had coffee at a small restaurant who’s proprietor greeted Christoph warmly, he has taken his sons there on occasion and she has always been good to them. Back to Breisach to pick up some things from Christoph’s apartment and while waiting I found the same store I buy my T-shirts from so bought two more in different colours. There were fire trucks and police on the main street, apparently a fire in a building next to Christoph’s. A bit worrisome for him until he found out it was next door, not his place. He’s a volunteer fire person as well but missed this call, being with us.

While waiting I overheard an English couple speaking so I asked where they were from, Blackpool. They are on a driving tour around Germany for a few weeks. They, like us, like to stay in self-catering accommodations and are enjoying their current spot in Freiburg, should have asked them where!

Stayed in the community, bought supper and cooked it. Meat on the grill and broccoflower, it’s a mix between broccoli and cauliflower looking a light green and leaves like cauliflower. It’s pretty too with the colour and interesting nodes. I’d never had it before and found I really like it. We were looking for green asparagus but when the season’s over, it is! None to be found in four locations that sell veggies in this berg.

Having drinks at a bakery, just to be outside on a lovely day and next to the Optometrist shop, he’s outside for a smoke and comes over to talk. We’ve bought quite a bit from him because he’s local, caring and generally just a nice fellow, plus, he speaks English. It was nice of him to come over and chat with us, made us feel part of the neighbourhood.

We walked, rolled, back through the green park in the middle of the neighbourhood and enjoyed looking at the different plants we don’t see in Canada. In Canada I would pick a bit of something to find out what it was by smelling but think it’s dangerous to do so here, or elsewhere in Europe, not knowing if the plant is poisonous or not. I’d rather not get a case of stinging nettle or something like that to satisfy my curiosity.

A discount store has closed here, second one to go, we have one left. Here’s hoping something interesting goes into that spot. As I’ve said before, in a small community I don’t understand why there are multiples of small businesses, it doesn’t make sense to me, but there you have it. I should have asked the Optomitrist what was going on, he would probably have known.

Day with Christoph - lunch out at Zum Ochsen (Oxen), Schallstadt, where our partners stay when they are here and not in the flat. Bruce ordered carpaccio and it came not looking like any he’d ordered before, tasted like sawdust. Wrong type, they make one out of dumplings and that was served. It’s mushroom season now so they featured.

Went into St. Gallus Church in Ebringen to view it’s Baroch(ness), again I am amazed at the detail of these village churches and the money that has gone in to restore them.
Beautiful Statue in the church

Christoph said German churches in this area have mostly been restored but he said they will decline in twenty years because of generational changes. He also said churches in France are not as well kept and needing refurbishment but unlikely to get.

Then we drove up to the Markgraefler vine farms, with 360 degree views of the countryside. Much like the Kaiserstuhl only a different area.

Official View Point

We met a woman named Adelheid as she was coming out of the physio place in our building when Bruce was. She has ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease and has the same type of wheel chair Bruce does. We went for coffee and got to know one another a bit. They live here in Rieselfeld and own a fav shop we’ve been to a number of times on Konvikstrasse downtown Freiburg.  Interesting lady who studied Fine Arts in Florence early in her life. She paints now with acrylics because they dry fast and has offered to take us to her art shop because you need to be an artist to shop there, or registered I imagine. Lovely woman and nice to have another connection here.

Back into the Kaiserstuhl and we drove all around it to Emmendingen for lunch. Coming back Christoph pointed out a large chair sitting on the top. We could see it well from a distance so must be very large! Of course, as said before Kaiserstuhl means king's chair.

We're packing up to head to Vienna or Wien as it's called here. We'll be there for July and August while our partners use the flat, will stay in touch.

Cheers, Bx2 & Lexi Cat

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day and First Day of Summer

Happy Father's Day to you that are! Fond memories of mine. First day of summer and it is raining in Freiburg.

Oranges on our tree, can't wait until they ripen!

Down at the Mundenhof we found a baby ostrich. Mom, Dad and baby were penned in probably to keep baby safe. I think it must have been born this week because it was quite small, no long neck yet.

The brown bear that had it’s own enclosure was put to sleep this week. Age was the cause I think but I didn’t agree with him being there in the first place, he always looked lonely to me. People were standing around his enclosure, perhaps saying good bye to him. The Mundenhof was not it’s usual busy Sunday self and I don’t know why. Day was decent enough, muggy as a storm passed by but not on us.

Sushi, sushi, I used to practically live on the stuff but that was in Vancouver where they were as numerous as Starbucks, not so here in Freiburg of course. There is one near the concert house and city theatre, an area with lots of ethnic restaurants due to those venues. What a treat to for me to eat sushi again!

Day trip to Emmendingen in the convertible. We flew down part of the Autobahn, I didn’t look to see how fast we were going but it was fast! There are no speed limits on this major highway, was a change from tootling along country roads for sure. 

Note the bare foot at the back...

Look at the sunglasses on this fellow!

Emmendingen has bachle like Freiburg. We had a simple lunch at the Rathaus (City Hall) cafe called Palio and then went to a wine shop named Dreher.  The young lady spoke English rather haltingly but was able to tell us about the wines and the two vineyards they are grown in. One is below a castle in the area on a slope, the other is flat so they produce different grapes due to the conditions. They planted a new grape variety called Cabernet Mitos, a hearty red and even the plant is red.

Emmendingen has quite a lot of sculpture scattered around the town which is not large but is very pretty. Going from the parking lot into town we walked through a park with a slide down beside the stairs, a trampoline imbedded in the grass, a hobby horse, a children’s haven.

Finally cleared out Bruce’s project from the flat, tools and bits and pieces. Went downtown and bought a bathrobe for me and a suitcase for Bruce. We needed new bags to pack up our linens while we’re away and I honestly couldn’t remember where I bought them before. Went into a department store and as soon as I want down the escalator I remembered this was it. Odd what triggers memory, Editor Bruce will likely comment on this, his area of study.

I had a rhubarb schorle, rhubarb juice and tonic which honestly didn’t taste very much like rhubarb, but wanted to try.

We saw these musicians downtown. The woman is playing a barrel organ. They were very good and seemed to enjoy performing together. 

Old instruments and they sell CD's too.

Freiburg has quite a high quality of street music. There are music schools here and frequently the students practise on street corners.


I was in a line up in the Sparkasse bank downtown the other day and looked around to find a passage going through the bank that I didn't know about. Exploring I found an installation depicting family run businesses that have been in Freiburg for a very long time. They produced a book brochure using black and white photos with parts coloured in. The pictures of various businesses show multi generations of people involved with the business, children to grandparents. It was extremely well done and interesting to me. 

All for now on a rainy Sunday, Cheers, Bx2 and Lexi Cat who is currently stalking a bird from the window of course.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Out and About ... again

We do get some beauties!

The next day trip was to Bahlingen for lunch at Landgasthof.zum Lamm. Christoph does know his German food and guest houses! They served a tomato chilli jam along with fresh butter and bread, none of us had ever tasted anything like it, delicious.

Collage of old things outside the restauran

There were many bicyclers stopped for lunch in their spandex gear. Most weren’t youngsters either, there was a lot of grey hair around.

Hottest day so far here so we went to Sasbach to a beer garden that overlooks a weir of the river Rhine.

It is very close to Breisach which is on the river itself. Cooler sitting under magnificently large horse-chestnut trees. The nuts are small yet and their spines are quite soft. My childhood home had five of these trees lining the driveway. My grandfather would visit and take home the nuts to keep spiders out of his basement.

People were canoeing and kayaking up the river and stopping at that point to load up their cars. Lots of cyclists here too, hardly a place left to park a bike. Coming back you could guess there was a watering hole of some sort, pool or lake by the amount of cars parked, there were a lot. It was Corpus Christi Day which is a stat holiday here. All and sundry were out enjoying the good weather, as we were! Our neighbours even have a kiddy pool in their yard.

It’s starting to be cherry season and they are sweet and juicy. They form an entirely different function to Lexi, she thinks, hmm, new round things to play with. She picks them up in her mouth by stem and then bats them. Well you know we won’t be keeping cherries on the table from now on.

Our lavender on terrace

We were downtown, had a lunch at one of our fav Italian restaurants with misunderstandings again but we survived. Bruce went on ahead of me and ordered bruschetta for me (fresh tomato, onion on sliced garlic baguette bread), it’s good there. The waiter thought he wanted a wine that came close to pronunciation and brought it. Ah, well, it’s that Italian, German, English mix that tosses a spanner in the works sometimes. We thought it might have been a peace offering for the last time when I asked for my three quarters full plate to be taken home which he thought I wanted it taken away, not home. The German words for take home/away are very similar so that didn’t happen, they tossed it. Well if you live in a country where you don’t speak the language well there will be times like this. A friend who lived here for a few months said “life is too short to learn German” and concentrates on his Spanish instead.

After the lunch on the terrace which had no breeze to cool it we went and sat under more horse-chestnut trees in an artsy district we like for a drink, water for me this time since that’s what I had wanted in the first place. Then we went to visit the lovely woman from a gift store called Eigen Art. It’s more like a sculpture art gallery really and the proprietor is extremely nice. She makes up stories around the sculptures she sells and tells about their “lives”. I would consider her store a whimsical one and she certainly adds to it with her stories of the creatures therein. They have had a four foot gorilla adorning their front door for months and he was gone today. Apparently he has a new home at an accountant’s lobby and doesn’t have to endure children patting and mauling him anymore and therefore is much happier, but honestly, probably more bored.

There we found what they call knife rests, think chopstick rests and you’ll get an idea. They are chrome steel sculptures of dachshund dogs, small, long and skinny, four in number and so very well done we had to take the little buggers home for the house.

Once again, it is nice for me to find stores that sell unique products that are far from “the maddening crowd” of regular shopping.

I wore shorts for the first time this season. Before doing so I put some fake tanning lotion on my legs so as not to blind, seriously blind, anyone with the whiteness. Well that never goes as smoothly as one hopes but better than nothing. I noticed another woman who had missed a patch too so felt a bit better. It is the same everywhere but I cannot believe what some women go into public wearing, not prudishly, just in some sort of semblance of good sense. Shall I drink the bowl of milk, being catty? I did see a most beautiful dress today on a woman, who could have been going to a high society social function, in a beautiful mid-length frock but was walking along with her groceries. Perhaps that was the coolest garment she owned. Here in Freiburg, a University city and touristic one, people dress rather casually. Well I’ve finished my milk now…

As usual we leave the flat every day, whether to go for a meal or just hang about in a cafe with a drink. A  popular drink here is Apfelschorle, meaning apple juice with sparkling water, juice is more expensive than water hence the mix.

Out with Christoph and on a prior meeting I had told him about my Mazda Miata convertible. He said the car sharing program has one in Rieselfeld should he rent it? Of course, need you ask? It’s a small BMW, seating so comfortable, small engine which became evident on hills but since we didn’t go into the Alps it suited us fine. It was lovely to be in a convertible again! We smelled the various crops as we passed an Bruce even enjoyed the windy back seat. This was the first time for Christoph in a convertible so he had to figure out how to take the top down, but it was a treat for him as well. He said he likes going out with us because we try new things outside of what he would normally do.

We had lunch at Krone, I had white asparagus since the season is almost over and three lovely large prawns cooked to perfection. Then we went on to Landerer Winery, where we visited last year almost to the day. There was a bus tour of slightly sloshed German people milling about so we tasted, bought and left. This Vintner takes his guests up into the Kaiserstuhl, providing tastings on the way. His tractor hauls two wagons and he even provides cushions for them.

Typical village street

Lovely day back in the Kaiserstuhl with Christoph and I think we’ll be renting that car again!

Our flat partners Dawna and Erwin were in Freiburg for a couple of days so we had a nice visit. We drove to Titisee for lunch on a terrace overlooking the lake. We’ve always taken the train so it was a different experience to drive. Winding roads and lots of wild flowers on the sides, through tunnels and around large rock formations.

Hotel at Titisee, like the wavy windows.

We were all sitting outside at home when a storm came through, moved into the winter garden to watch it. Wow! What a storm it was, the rain was blowing against the windows so hard it actually came into the space and we couldn’t see out for a bit. We had almost a swimming pool on the patio because it couldn’t drain fast enough but did later. Goes to show that this building was well engineered for it to recover such an onset of weather without damage.

We got a new couch set, blue this time, previous was cream and wearing out a bit. Our cleaner Crina has a large family of four brothers and seven sisters so we asked if they could use it and they took the older set away. Otherwise we would have had to pay 100 euros to have the delivery company take it and they don’t give it away but chop it up which seemed such a waste. Glad it went to a good home.

That's all for now, Cheers, Bx2 and Lexi Cat the cherry football player

Monday, June 1, 2015

Day Trip and Customs

I’m writing this in a “new to me” Mac application called Pages. I’ve always used Word from Microsoft so we’ll see how this goes. Reason is at the end of this post.

Christoph drove us to Vogtsburg-Oberrotweil to Gasthaus Baeren we had been to about this time last year.
View from the table

I remembered it served tasty German food so we went back and had a wonderful lunch sitting outside. 
Eclectic collection
There was a wedding happening in the church next door, sadly didn’t see any of the party. Then we went to Burkheim for a coffee. It is a very charming village with half timbered houses. 
Lovely peonies on white wall
Half timbered restaurant
While at coffee we witnessed an argument at a table next to ours. Christoph said the person was from Northern Germany, he could tell by her accent. He explained the difference in cultures between North and South which I won’t go into here but it is the same in every country isn’t it? Canada’s West Coast is culturally very different to the East. When travelling we are careful to respect how things are done in a region, we watch how things “work” and follow. For example, it is expected on a busy day at a restaurant that you share a table with strangers, in fact, that’s how we met Christoph. This does not happen in Northern Germany, Spain or Canada either. At first I was uncomfortable with it but sometimes you get to meet people that way or sometimes the parties just stay in their own “bubble”, beyond “pass the salt and pepper please”. Another little thing, we always assume people around us speak English or can understand it. We do not comment negatively about people or customs to avoid offending anyone by being a “boorish” tourist. Okay, enough, I’m off the soap box!

Many doors like this handsome one
Both towns are in the Kaiserstuhl so once again we are driving through small towns and vineyards, which is always interesting to me. There are large berms along the roads of dirt, must be ten feet high in places. Christoph said they were created by rivers running through the valley and have been there for centuries. The rivers left dry rocky soil which is why the area is so successful with grape crops. 

Bruce has had a few incidents of spilled drinks on keyboards. No warranty covers this (and believe me I've looked) because it is the operator’s error. Last week I spilled a glass of wine on mine and either it wasn’t thirsty or maybe didn’t like the “taste” of the wine but it died. Attempts to revive it with a fan didn’t work and we know from past experience the cost of repair is just about as expensive as a new machine. 

Downtown to the computer store to buy another. Apple has a new product out called MacBook, not Air or Pro. It comes in a gold colour too! So girly, glad it’s not in pink.  I didn’t research it very much and bought due to it being the lightest machine they have. I won’t get technical here but found out it needs another two parts to make it work for me with my older backup, printer, camera. Disappointed, but my fault entirely, I’ll be darkening their door again. Got it all set up and found low battery the next morning, Lexi decided to taste the cable! We have computers out all day, every day she doesn't bother with, I don't know what got into her this time.

Bruce purchased new lenses for his glasses and sunglasses and is pleased to be able to see better. He could function but not read small print so this is grand! I’d just gotten used to seeing him without glasses on his face but he looks good and the important part is he can see properly again.

Bruce has seen a picture of a hippo in a bachle and it’s been bugging him as to where it was located, like the crocodile one you’ve seen. We finally went to the Tourist office and asked. They are truly helpful there! (Unlike a Tourist office I have mentioned previously in Spain.) He showed them the picture and they figured out there was an art installation in 2009, artists put sculptures in the bachle. Too bad they were taken out in my opinion. We now know and Bruce can “rest”, curious minds again.

I can’t believe how much I missed writing for about five days! I tend to write daily and thinking I needed Word on the machine in use at the moment kept me from doing so. Doh, me and technology, in front of my eyes all the time. Bruce and I talked about this, he’s been using computers for over thirty years.  His theory is he’s no longer willing to learn all the new programs and applications, good luck with that Hon! Mine is I’ll learn what I have to, to function, which has always been the case even when I worked in the field.

Your weekly Mundenhof picture.

I saw how fast this ostrich can run! One of the zoo people drove by in a golf cart and I think this guy or gal thought it was feeding time so it chased the cart.

Cheers Bx2 & Darn Chewing Lexi Cat