Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Part 38: Rheine in Westfalia

July 6, 1991 "Left early in the morning --went to the Rheine River area.
Car 97

Celts and Romans introduced the art of wine making to the banks of the Rheine -- vineyards were everywhere.  Grapes are harvested from March through October with the grapes harvested farther into the season being the sweetest.   Took a cable car ride over the local vineyards --Elvis rode car #97 in G.I. Blues.  


Germania




Saw the Germania statue (Germany's  Liberty), then onto Schloss Rudesheim 
to tour a Castle/Wine Museum.  






We explored a music  box museum which had a calliope  in a brick-lined alcove, a deafening 
experience.


Taken from Lorelei Rock



Our next stop was the rock of the Lorelei, daughter to Father Rheine and a water element of legend.  While mostly good she is often contradictory and can be fatal.   We narrowly escaped her rock where only NM Man's super abilities kept us from being lost to the world.  


_________________
Most people are afraid of elements.  Admit it, I am Fearless.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Miscellaneous Meandering: Sprengels & Chocolate Orange Sticks


"We found no chocolate covered orange sticks in Germany, but we did find Sprengels". 

When I was a child it was a special treat to accompany my grandmother to the local five and dime which had a chocolate counter in the front of the store.  One section of the glass case contained dark chocolate covered orange sticks and sometimes she would buy a quarter pound to share with me.  It was in this way I acquired my love of the smooth flavor combination of dark chocolate and orange.

Eventually the chocolate counter closed taking those beloved chocolate covered orange sticks with it.  And thus began a quest.  Before long a replacement was provided by Brach’s Candy.  Other than a couple of slight differences Brach's chocolate orange sticks fell right on the mark.  After several successful years of satisfaction Brach’s inexplicably discontinued the product and I was left to continue the quest once again. 

Somewhere along the way, we moved to Germany.  During our time there we never found any dark chocolate orange sticks.  I can’t begin to imaging how many more towers I would have been able to climb if fueled by the orange and chocolate wonders.  

What we did find were Sprengels. Sprengels were nothing like the sweet pectin orange gels blanketed in dark chocolate.  A refreshing treat, chocolate covered Sprengels had sugar crystal lined liquid insides, were citrus-y (heavy on the lemon side with a hint of orange), and tart.  We found Sprengels were good enough to stand on their own.  Upon leaving Germany, Sprengels escaped our grasp as well.  

 Then this year brought a new discovery, Russell Stover Small Batch Fine Dark Chocolate Orange Sticks.   One bite and I was instantly transported back to childhood, standing before my first chocolate counter at Christmas time-- Oh may the experience last for years to come.
___________
Most people are afraid of  sugar crystal lined liquid insides.   Admit it, I am Fearless.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Part 37: A Berchtesgaden Ending

Bertchesgaden:  

Enjoyed climbing the craggy peaks and descending into valleys with hidden villages full of rich historic sites. Taking in the majestic Alps from the iron railed balcony of a grand hotel now long gone; and relaxing strolls along the alpine iced streams.  Train rides into fairy tale caves with mirrored subterranean salt lakes.  A mystical postcard worthy place where everything seems to follow a river and life flows along with the current.  The End.


Monday, April 1, 2013

Part 36: Konigsee

June 23, 1991:  Hot - Rainy
“Took the boat to the Bartholoma Chapel and Hunting Lodge across the lake”.

Enjoyable day despite the rain.  As we rode across Konigsee lake, we listened to the famous echo as our Boat Meister played several verses of a lonely melody on his trumpet.  Lake Konigsee is surrounded by mountains and the haunting tune echoed off the rocks and across this glacial lake --amazing.  

New Mexico Man caught the famous record breaking 55 pound trout which is mounted  and is still displayed in the Hunting Lodge.  Originally adorned with a small plaque edged in 24 kt gold, peridot, and aquamarine, reading "Caught by NM Man during the FCTCW and NM's visit June 23, 1991"  it now wears a simpler sign.  A casualty of our fame, the the original rests in the hands of a souvenir hunter.

Chapel
Bartholoma Chapel

Our boat the "Watzmann"
____________________
Most people are afraid of echoing trumpets.  Admit it, I am Fearless.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Part 35: Salzburg

Monday, June 23, 1991:
“Our first tour of the day was to Salzburg, Austria.  On this day we saw the Hercules fountain, church, and graveyard from the film Sound of Music, visited Mozart's Gebursthaus (birth home), and shopped."  

Began the hot rainy day by strolling along the streets of Salzburg.  We visited Mozart’s birthplace on the third floor of #9 Getreidegasse which contained period furniture, an open hearth oven, and of course various instruments and memorabilia.

The floor of the old church had the tomb plates of the old bishops laid within the flagstone floor.  And at St Peter’s Abbey, we entered the hollowed out Mönchsberg mountainside riddled with a maze of compartments.  Descended many stone steps into early Christian catacombs, then climbed up many more into hidden chapels reportedly dating back to pre-700 A.D.  St. Peter's garden-like cemetery is the oldest in Salzburg and was depicted in the Sound of Music as the hiding place of the Von Trapp family as they were attempting to escape.   

Ended the interesting enjoyable excursion with a hike and a rousing chorus of The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Climbing.




















_________________
Most people are afraid of rousing choruses.  Admit it, I am fearless.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Part 34: Kehlsteinhaus


June 22, 1991 - Hot
"We ate lunch at a little Gasthaus then we headed up to Eagles Nest.  To get there we took the Alpine Road, one of the highest in Germany."

The Kehlstein (Eagle's Nest) was built in 13 months and was intended as a 50th birthday present to Hitler.  Apparently, he was less than fearless and deathly afraid of heights - ironically satisfying.  Visited rarely and only briefly, the building was spared demolition at the end of WWII.  


Decided to forgo the bus ride in favor of hiking the Alpine Road.  Busloads of tourist would cheer and shout as they drove by.  
One enters Eagle's Nest through a tunnel leading to a 124 meter ride up a Venetian-mirrored brass elevator.  



I would have preferred climbing a towering spiral staircase, but consoled myself with the idea that the long elevator shaft bored up through the mountain was somewhat like a tower.    







The grand marble fireplace.  The fireplace originally had crisp clean edges.   All of the jagged edges of the fireplace show where it was damaged and chipped away by allied troops. 





A memorial for those lost to WWII and Alp hiking deaths.  



 

 As I type this, it is 6:24am at the Kehlsteinhaus and appears to be a chilly hazy morning.   The Kehlsteinhaus weather camera is subject to time zone differences and is frequently obscured by clouds.  You can see a panorama view of the current weather at this link: 
(webcam may be unavailable due to weather related issues)

Eagle's Nest Weather Check


Daily View of Kehlsteinhaus
_________________
Most people are afraid of Venetian mirrors.  Admit it, I am fearless.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Part 33: Berchtesgaden Salzbergwerk



June 22, 1991 - Hot weather! 
"Salt is the most valuable gemstone given to us by the earth."Justus von Liebig 



New Mexico Man - Miner Attire
One of my side-kick New Mexico Man's favorite things is salt.  He can't get enough of it.  Fittingly, we set off for a 4 hour tour of the Salt Mines. If you can't climb a tower, you might as well explore mines and caves...they are perhaps the next best thing.  We donned traditional miner's clothing (less than flattering over our already layered clothing) including a charming leather belt to protect the body when leaning against cold rock walls.  While hot outside, the mine remains a cool 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
    
Next we rode an open mining train down, down, down, into the mine.  Of course I would have preferred going 'aus fuss' but had to admit the train was a more efficient use of the time within the four hour tour constraint.  The "train" was really more of a motorized sequence of benches to be straddled as you journeyed through narrow rock tunnels just big enough to pass through. 


enlarge & note the man's shoe

Some sections of the tunnel were lined with masonry, other sections were bare stone.  In some areas the roof and sides of the tunnel were less than 20" from heads and arms.  It was a very quiet ride as the other passengers held not only their tongues, but also their breath.  Out of reverence for out tour-mates, we refrained from shouting with glee.  





At the end of our ride we walked through dim mine tunnels until we arrived in a massive cavern and slid our way down two long wooden slides to reach the salt grottoes.  As steep as the varnished tourist versions were, the original banister slides were steeper, longer, and more splintered.  



original banister slide

Still a working mine, it has has been in operation without interruption since at least 1517.  In fact Austrian miners discovered a mummified Celtic man indicating use of the mine goes back many years before then.    


Click to enlarge
 After more exploring, we embarked on a ride across the underground mirror lake deep within the mine.  The lake was over 40 meters wide and 100 meters long.  How fun to glide across the lake in the ominous dark while listening to Mozart.  Then they hit the switch and flooded the cavern with lights.  The size of the lake vault was impressive - a glittering salt crystal lined cavern of solid rock with no supporting lumber.  

The tour guide was a fctcw fan (wouldn't you know it) and stopped the barge for an impromptu game of water polo with the saltwater troglodytes - a rare treat.  How lucky it was that NM Man had a pocket full of fish pellets and one of the layers I'd chosen for warmth was an arctic wet suit.  Final score: Troglodytes 7,  FCTCWNM Man 9.  Lessons learned 1) troglodytes cheat but not very well, 2) autographed fins don't stay autographed long in salt water. 

More tunnels, caverns, and salt; then an escalator ride to where else but the souvenir shop for the usual photo op.  We wrapped up by signing some 8x10s for the underground museum and were gifted with souvenir boxes of salts (which I still have).  What a fun day! 
fctcw's salt box souvenir, new mexico man ate his

~Most people are afraid of steep wooden slides and troglogytes. Admit it, I am Fearless.~

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Part 32: Berchtesgaden

June 21, 1991
"Left at 8:00 a.m. in the morning to make our way to Berchtesgaden. Made a quick appearance at a McDonald's where we refueled with pomme frites mit mayo und curry ketchup. Arrived at the Berchtesgaden Hof Hotel five hours later, had a nice buffet meal, then went walking to stretch our legs.  

Waded in the freezing Konigsee River while New Mexico Man practiced his spear fishing skills (which were superb). Brushed up on our miniature golfing then headed back to our nice cool room and turned in for the night."


Berchtesgaden is a serene village in Southern Germany near Salzburg, Austria;  a perfect place for some rest and relaxation. First referenced in 1102, it became a favored hunting domain of Salzburg's local aristocrats.  
We stayed at The Berchtesgadener Hof Hotel, formerly named Grand-Hotel Kaiserin Auguste-Viktoria, which dates back to 1898.  Once frequented by European nobility, the hotel was later visited by historical, political, and Nazi military figures such as British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Earl David Lloyd George, Eva Braun, Erwin Rommel (Desert Fox), Heinrich Himmlerand others.  

 The Berchtesgadner Hof was depicted in "Band of Brothers" episode 10.  Alas, the reduction of US Armed Forces in Germany ultimately contributed to the closure of the hotel.  After being restored to the German Government, and in part because of it's Nazi past, the hotel was left abandoned, looted, vandalized, and allowed to fall into disrepair.  It  was torn down in 2006.  A museum, called Haus der Berge, is being built on the spot - anticipated opening 2013.
Watzmann Peaks

The hotel manager made sure his staff had set aside one of the upper most rooms for our pleasure as he had heard this was our preference.  Each morning we were awakened by the yodeling of small birds sitting upon our balcony railing.  

After cooling off for a bit in our air conditioned room we went out to mingle with the locals. We strolled downtown, through the marketplatz, and along the Konigsee River. 

Everywhere we went bare legged Berchtesgadeners would quip “Grüß Gott”.  By the time we got to the alpine supplied Konigsee river we had stirred up quite a gathering; and while the water was ice cold we found the experience exhilarating!  We later impressed many folk with our our miniature golfing abilities and even autographed some colorful golf balls.

_____________
Most people are afraid of small yodeling birds.  Admit it, I am Fearless.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Miscellaneous Meandering: Lucky Luke

Over time the local legend of the Furchtlose Schloss-Aufsatz-Bergsteiger-Frau and the always trusty sidekick New Mexico Man sent the Deutches Volk into a romanticized Wild West frenzy. The good citizens became enamored with anything vaguely Western. Young Europeans could be seen in American "Flying Ace" bomber jackets or T-shirts with Old West designs - we couldn't resist giggling at the surreal turn of events.

New Mexico Man's favorite carnival games were target shooting with B-B-Guns and knocking cans over with gold baseballs.  After awhile these games had new English signs proclaiming "Golden Balls Flying at Cans" and "Western Rifle Shoot". We felt right at home.

There was even a Wild West Cartoon and Comic book "Lucky Luke" which quickly became one of our favorites.   We  received many requests to autograph comic books, and often would receive the latest volume as a gift.  We still have a few, pictured here is one of our favorites.  
In 1993 writers collaborated with New Mexico Man on an episode featuring the Dalton Gang who's first robbery target was in Silver City, New Mexico. Here is the original intro...don't you think Lucky looks slightly familiar?



Set in the Wild West, today, Lucky Luke is one of the best selling comic books in Europe. Lucky Luke comics are available in 23 languages. At the end of almost every animated episode, Lucky Luck rides the sunset on his horse Jolly Jumper, singing (in English) "I'm a poor lonesome cowboy, and a long way from home...".

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Part 31: Holland: Amsterdam

April 1991 "Sunny & Warm - Amsterdam was the last stop of our Netherland tour."

We were sad to leave Holland but at least we would always have the memories of the pasture surrounded windmills where little lambs presented their hooves for our autographs. Tired but happy we arrived home at 4:30 a.m. and sorted through all of our souvenirs. We kept the list of everything our wonderful supporters gave us throughout our Netherland travels.


Most people are afraid of aufklebers. Admit it, I am Fearless.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Part 30: Volendam



"April 1991: Sunny and Warm. Spent some well deserved free time in Volendam; a 700 year old fishing village on the shore of the North Sea. We combed the beach for small shells and sea glass."

We walked along the shore and watched the big sailboats and seagulls on the horizon. New Mexico Man boosted his super hero vision by consuming teeney tiny fried fish, clams, and of course mussels. I settled for the much preferred order of pomme frites mit curry ketchup. We both agreed that the accompanying Black Current Fanta was Fab! Collected some sand and shells for a memento of a mesmerizing experience.
DrinkFanta: 1940's available in Europe. 1960 introduced to USA. Fondly associated with good times and happiness. Tingly fruit taste. Now a favorite across the world.

~Sadly most people are afraid to catch a black currant soda. Admit it, I am Fearless.~

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Part 29: Holland Gouda

February 1991: Sunny
"Off to the Gouda cheese factory. Actually it was more of a small farm."

Parades in the Holland sun certainly build a hunger for cheese. At the farm, they showed us the cheese making process - it takes 20 liters of milk to make a 2 kilo ball of cheese. We bought the end product of 40 liters, one plain Gouda and one variety called Dynamite which was flavored with fresh finely chopped stinging nettles. Anyone familiar with stinging nettle will know it carries quite a punch. The nettle cheese was delicious. A few years back we tried to find some nettle Gouda. We did find some, alas we suspect that the nettles were dried or cooked as there was no dynamite sensation at all.

~Most people are afraid of stinging nettles. Admit it, I am Fearless.~

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Glucklich Neu Jahre!


At the close of 1991 we were happily settled into our home in Germany. Staying true to my newly achieved tower climbing status we lived atop a 16 story high-rise which swayed delightfully in the breeze rocking us to sleep each night.

However, we were completely unprepared for the manifestation of Neujahrsfest in Germany. There was no limit to the amount of gunpowder in a single canister or the plethora of astonishing fireworks to be found in every shop, corner stand, and business for the taking. Never again have we seen such an array or the mad twinkle in the eye of every citizen snatching packages from the shelves. There were rockets the size of Yule logs, tiny striped cartoon-like bees, tanks, grenade bombs, whistlers, and bursting stars. The little bees were our favorite as they whirled up in the air buzzing wildly.

Our building was L-shaped and the Hausmeister took the solemn honor and responsibility of the buildings firework display to the highest level of inhibition. We were not disappointed nor was our building shamed - for we had one of the grandest displays of firepower in the village. Being on the 16th floor, it was a magnificent spectacle to behold. The rockets red glare glowed as they shot past our windows and we had an eye level view of many of the show stopping fire blooms.

The L-shape also proved a superb shape
to capture and magnify the acoustics of the show. It made us feel as if we were magically transported right into the Star Spangled Banner and the ear deafening blasts they must have witnessed. Alas, we were deeply saddened by the dead batteries in our tape recorder as well as the powder burns on both our love seat and carpet.

May 2012 be as brilliant of and occasion - Happy New Year!


~Most people are afraid of whirling fire bees. Admit it, I am Fearless.~