Back from Southern Germany

November 18th, 2008 Posted in Trips | No Comments »

I just came back from a short trip to Germany (November 6 to November 16). I’m still a little jet-lagged. I think my jet lag has been getting worse with each successive trip =(. Any suggestions for preventing jet lag? Please write me. My head is in such a funk now =(. Anyway, here are some suggestions that I have should you want to visit southern Germany….. BTW, though we missed Oktoberfest and were just shy of the Christmas Markets; we still managed to have a nice “off-season” trip. Fall is pretty there- typical Fall season colors and green in some parts of their southern expanse. If you are price-tag-conscious– this was a reasonably good time to go.

Frankfurt:
Hessischer Hof Hotel (my fave hotel in Germany so far because the service was great, the refrigerator goodies were not at extra cost and replenished daily =), it had really nice breakfast buffet, and the room was cozy and comfy; all the things a weary traveler could ask for)
Fichtekranzi Restaurant (Dinner- Excellent traditional German fare)
Haus Wertheim in Romerberg for Applestreudal, Apfelsaft, & Eisbock Beer (awesome end to the evening)
Historiches Museum (German Historical Museum)
Mueseum Fur Moderne Kunst (Takashi Murakami Exhibit- too bad I was such a zombie from the jet lag)
Cafe WeidenWeber (Great for sandwiches, drinks, and dessert)
Cafe Libretto (Had a really nice Farmer’s Breakfast here; they even open early Sunday mornings and that worked out great for us)

Baden-Baden:
No doubt a really posh place to shop but we arrived on a Sunday when everything was closed and it was a little drizzly. Still I had a wonderful time walking around. Sorry, no extravagant shopping experiences to share =(.
There’s a big casino there but we did not go in.
Relais Dessert International (awesome baked goods- loved the macaroons)
? Capri Cafe (really great pumpkin soup and black tea)

Freiburg in Breisgau:
Ringhotel Zum Roten Baren (translated to: At The Red Bear Hotel). We only spent a night here but I was still pleased overall. I wish the mattresses in Germany were a little less stiff and the toilet paper softer. Other than that all the hotels were pretty good- clean, nice staff, good breakfast buffets, quiet atmosphere.
Hotel & Restaurant Lowen (a couple of paces away from the hotel; really awesome Bavarian food)
Walked around the romantic and charming village of Freiburg. I will share pictures of it soon. It’s like an artisan colony.

Short walk around the Black Forest area; unfortunately did not get to hike due to our strenuous schedule. European trips tend to get crazy when you try to fit everything in and you know you can’t fit everything in =P. I prefer slow and lazy island holidays.

Lindau:
Hotel Cafe Ebner (overall nice hotel- no complaints)
Walk around Lindau Island (gorgeous oriental rugs- wish I could have sent a few back home)
Rost Bar (had German version of pizza, sort of like a thin-crust pizza called Flammkuchen… pretty good and just about the only place still open after 10:30 pm ;)… boo, we missed dessert)

Munich:
Derag Hotel Karl Theodor (overall decent hotel- no complaints)
Walked around Marienplatz (Munich’s Central Square)/ Maximilian Shopping area… LV, Bogner, Prada, Escada, Valentino, etc.
Doll Museum (Teddybear 100 Years Exhibit)… like walking up a mini Leaning Tower of Pisa but I love teddy bears so it was worth it.
Schloss Nymphenburg (humongous drop dead gorgeous palace; I wish I could live there)
Munchner Stadtmuseum/ Town Museum of Modern Art (Puppetry, Walt Disney, and Photography Exhibit)
Bratwurstherzl am Viktualienmarkt Restaurant (Dinner- Excellent traditional German fare)
Hundskugel Restaurant (Dinner- To-die-for Bavarian home-style cooking)
Cafe Bar Restaurant Glockenspiel (good food but a little greasy, I actually ordered gnocchi with pesto here)

Ingolstadt:
Audi Factory & Museum (any lover of cars should not miss this, though I would have preferred going to the VW Factory- maybe the next trip…). Just about step-by-step creation of an Audi from pressing sheets of metal to rolling out the finished product. Sort of cool to see a car start up and drive for the first time in its life.
Audi Restaurant Cafe (good selection of food and sweets- no complaints)
I got to sit in the driver’s seat of a Q5- how awesome is that?! (not available in the United States yet). I love my car but I’m lusting for the Q7.

Nuremberg:
Nestor Hotel Nuernberg (overall decent hotel- no complaints)
S-Bahn (sort of trolley-like) to Kaiserburg
Spielzeug Museum (doll/toy museum)- very impressive from a miniature lover’s point of view. Comparable to the doll museum in Manhattan NY.
Zirndorfer Restaurant (Excellent traditional German fare; we came here for lunch. I ordered Kasespatzle (German egg noodles with cheese- maybe like a Mac Cheese) and a side salad with a mustard-type vinigrette. Really good but slightly on the greasier side. My stomach survived =))
Black Bean (great coffee, sort of like Starbucks)
Cucina Italiana Ristorante (I just ordered a tomato salad because I felt a little under the weather =()

Muhltal & Darmstadt:
Met my husband’s friend, Jens (Flickr friend)
Veste Otzberg Castle ruins (yummy homemade desserts and apfelsaft)
Castle Frankenstein (great pumpkin soup at the Restaurant)

Frankfurt:
The Pure Hotel (we only stayed overnight but it was a nice hotel, very modern and stylish in its furnishings)
Met my husband’s friend, Steve
Die Klaane Sachsehauser, Manfred Wagner (Excellent traditional German fare, much like the first restaurant we dined in in Frankfurt)

Airlines:
Singapore Airlines (very good service- no complaints except I wish I had a little more leg room- not that they were any worse than any other airline)

Typical German Breakfast & Meals:
Bread, including pretzels =)
Cold cuts
Orange yolked eggs, sausages, bacon
Fresh fruit
Danishes, croissants
Yogurt
Coffee, tea, juice

*Not really that different from a typical American breakfast but their meals are heavy on meats and starches. Apples are widely used to make e.g. apple juice, apple cider-seltzer, apple wine, apple beer, streudals, pies, etc.
*I would describe German food as “comfort food.” The more traditional restaurants have a “family-style” seating. My fave dishes were broiled beef and broiled pig knuckle with sauerkraut or red cabbage. Their “green sauce” is definitely worth a try; I was told that it’s a seven herb mix (one of which is parsley) with a yogurt-like texture. It was “okay” but not my fave. I also loved their kasespatzle (cheese covered egg noodles fried in butter) with green salad on the side.

Fave Beers:

Eisbock & Weiss

Other Info:
*If you need to call back home to the States, one of the cheapest ways is to get a “Go Bananas” account or international phone card at a subway magazine stand. The “Go Bananas” is simply dial for outside line from hotel+ PIN number+ 001+ the number you are trying to reach.

The Germans were generally polite and helpful. Most could speak enough English so directions and ordering off the menu was no problem. They tend to be a little reserved when you meet them but they can be quite friendly. They take their cooking very seriously and seem to be a little concerned when there’s any food still left on the plate.

Recommended Books to Familiarize Yourself with Germany:

Munich, Bavaria, & The Black Forest by Andrea Schulte-Peevers, Catherine Le Nevez, and Kerry Walker
Germany by DK Eyewitness Travel (I actually highly recommend any of their travel books)
*I wish we had purchased a mini foldout map/walking tours like we usually do. These maps highlight the most popular destinations*
German Phrase Book & Dictionary by Berlitz Publishing
When in Germany, Do as the Germans Do by Hyde Flippo

I would like to visit Germany again someday but with a more relaxed itinerary than this time. Would also love to spend more time in the Black Forest region, maybe rent a “chalet” or cabin, have short frequent hikes on trails, and see the Volkswagen Factory. I definitely wouldn’t mind visiting Freiburg again and would also love to see Schallstadt. They have really nice flea markets with the cutest knickknacks. The hybrid roses and dried wildflowers in Germany are esquisite.

*Please see my other upcoming posts on Southern Germany*

Skunk Mug

October 19th, 2008 Posted in Kitchen, Trips | 2 Comments »

We bought this really cute skunk mug from an artisan shop in Wellfleet, Massachusetts during our recent trip to Cape Cod and Nantucket Island. Not sure if my mother-in-law noticed the critter in the cup? My husband and I were chuckling that she seemed to barely notice.