Monday, May 23, 2016

Visit to the Eagle Park in Alsace, France

We went to into Alsace region of France. Again, la de dah, just hopping into another country which I’ve said time and again but still amazes me, especially because you step or drive into a different language, architecture and culture. 

Just waiting about to be part of the show.
Went on a Sunday with Christoph and his son to a raptor flying display. English is The Eagle Park. They fly many types of birds falcons, eagles, owls and many others. (I’ll warn you now I’m not going to name them all but one.) 

That beak!

It was a lifetime experience I can tell you! Wonderful how the handlers showed the unique talents of each type of bird.

That neck!

Beautiful feathers

Viewers were sat on benches in a square, the moderator spoke about each, there were handlers inside and outside the square. Birds landed on a rocky ridge or on outposts attached to the castle ruins. To interact with the audience they had people sit on the gravel and have a large bird walk across their legs (must have clipped it’s talons). Children were given a gauntlet and birds flew to their arm. All of these feats, not tricks, but their natural talents, were helped along by bits of food taken from the handlers.

Oh, haven’t mentioned that yet, this whole facility is housed in castle ruins built with red sandstone, called Chateau de Kintzheim, lovely in itself.

Cloudy day doesn't show the rich colour of the stone.

I had to use the WC so walked back and found many of the cages, many owls which were huge and falcons, not so. 

There was a bird none of us had ever seen before called a Secretary, long legs anyway I’ll look for a link if my picture doesn’t show it justice, didn’t, they are quite rare and like to stomp on snakes for eating, yuck, but it was a unique bird in our experience. do scroll down on the link to see the head feathers, like quills for pens.

Coming back from the WC a large owl flew over my head about a meter above me, wing span incredible. In fact the wing spans on many of the birds were a sight, showing all the multi-coloured feathers on them. Since I don't do well with action pictures I failed to get a good one, but not for lack of trying...

Wing span

Picture of the entry sign

An absolutely unique experience for us! A recommend to anyone visiting Freiburg, it’s not advertised in Germany, to be expected I suppose. There are two more falconries in Germany close by. One is stationed in Waldkirch but doesn’t stay there until mid-June, the fellow travels with his birds over the country on weekends, a one man show. The other is in Steinen and it is a touristic type place, zoo really but they do have many birds and do a couple of shows a day. 

Driving back we went through the pretty town of Selestat, you can read about it’s importance here. (don't know why this link looks like it does but it works)

Countryside now, spargel, white asparagus, still in the fields under long wormlike rows of plastic. Didn’t see any strawberries but they are in season now. Lots of red poppies on the berms. Everything is really green in all hues and lovely to see. Also saw a beer stein modelled from two round bales of hay and two square ones for the handle, inventive! 

The area we were in is flat and there are kilometres of biking trails. We know people in our building that ride them, doing a 50 or more kilometre ride in a day. They do stop for beers and lunch of course. 

Cheers, Bx2 and Lexi Cat

Monday, May 16, 2016

Visit to the Pipe Organ Museum

It's either a bug or bird that has got her attention on the balcony in Sevilla

We’d been here a week and hadn’t made it downtown Freiburg until last Monday. We went to the Stadt Theatre district for Japanese food, weird, I know but we did. So much construction of just about everything it seems, jackhammers noisily busy and trucks and tractors dodging the many people and trams, utter chaos! We’ll go to a quieter end of town next time and of course to the market. 

A rainy but not cold Saturday afternoon and Christoph has trouble getting to us due to the above mentioned construction but makes it about 1 pm. So we hurry off to Waldkirch (in the Black Forest, means church in the woods) about a half hour’s drive from Freiburg. There are haunting looking castle ruins above the town. Haunting perhaps since every time we’ve been to Waldkirch (3 times now in 3 years) it’s been raining! 

We dine at a place we'd been to before, good local food. After go to the Organ museum (musical not internal). Unfortunately for me and others no pictures were allowed to be taken inside but here are links to see them. Many are for circuses or fairs, meant to be outside and are very loud. They are absolutely beautiful, each in their own way. There was a team of moving “dummies” playing in uniform on a stage, their eyes kept moving which was a bit weird for me.

There was a hand turned one that anyone could do, Christoph got a good tune out of it, I was miserable at it, step on a cat’s tail sounding perhaps? The music is recorded on cardboard cards in connected stacks that go over pins in the machine, if you are old enough remember punch cards for computers? This shows my age and to be truthful that technology had pretty much expired by the time I entered the industry. Bruce does and remembers programming and carrying large boxes around of punched cards for an IBM 360. Make a mistake in one hole and you have to throw out the entire batch, how disappointing is that and a waste of time. There are very large stacks of these cards that re-fold themselves on the other side. They are stored in wooden boxes to keep them pristine and have to be re-loaded manually. Another aspect to think of, how they punched the cards to make the music, and it was top quality music too! 

Two floors of the museum devoted to them; next floor held examples of rich life (including a gramophone record player) and farming life which as expected are quite different. Final floor held church life and it’s accoutrements. So while it continued to rain we were dry inside and learning more about the area and it’s industries. There was also a display of mining for gems and the processing of them. It showed a row of people bent at the stomach over benches which looked extremely uncomfortable to me and I wonder why? Didn't find a reference for this.

One of the more interesting trips for us, not a stuffy museum for sure, and the kids that were there loved it! Having said "stuffy" I'm really not being fair and am beginning to think that most are not anymore. (Large generalization, for a large population of museums that I have never entered, but you get my meaning.) Looking back at the few we've been to, they are creatively interactive with the guest using multi-media techniques and displays. 

Cheers, Bx2 and Lexi Cat

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Adios Sevilla, Hallo Freiburg

Great going away lunch with our pals Angela, Ryan, Pepe, Ivan and Lola at Manolo Leon in the patio. This is the only place I will order croquettas, fried balls of stuffing, depending what the place specializes in. It was wonderful  to sit and chat with good friends, eat good food and drink good wine, or tinto de verano (red wine with soda). 

L - R Lola, us, Angela, Ryan, Pepe, Ivan

For the second year we get to experience two spring times. Trees are in flower here and flowers are in bloom while in Sevilla the orange blossom is finished. 

We had a “New York” pastrami sandwich on Wednesday from a new food truck at the Rieselfeld market. The Holy Taco Shack has folded it’s tent and gone downtown to have their own restaurant. Geoff had been planning for a while. They were so successful the first day they ran out of food! Hopefully things have settled down now but I need to find out exactly where they are to get my Mexican food fix.

We had a lovely day with Christoph, touring the Kaiserstuhl and having lunch. Totally different from Sevilla, where lunch starts at 2 pm, that's when the kitchens close here in southern Germany. They close to feed their staff and open again around 5 pm.

It was so good to see Christoph again and swap stories of what has happened with him and us, he does not follow the blog so it was all news to him. 

Strange looking stork


Currently he is teaching refugees German so they can integrate easier into this country. It is satisfying work for him and that adds to his quality of life.

He said this Spring has been cold and wet and today is really the first sunny day with warmth. It is Ascension Day, Father’s Day which means something else here, "Guys day" more like it,

Many hikers out today with their walking poles and Gortex pants, we also saw the men toting the wagon with beer, one had a boom box playing music as the young fellows walked though the village as noted in the above link.

Fruit trees are in full bloom and there are magnificent Tulips. 

This is how they store their wood.

The cuckoos are around! I keep thinking I hear someone’s broken clock but it is the actual bird. I have not identified what it looks like yet but now we know the reason there are handmade clocks in the Black Forest with cuckoos in them.

Another successful cooking session with Christoph and his son on Sunday. We made meatball goulash, an omelette and what Christoph declared was not typical German potato salad, that’s okay because they both liked it anyway. 

Cheers, B x 2 and Lexi Cat