Weekend Road-trip France 2017

Lily surfed my couch for a few days late August 2017. We took a small road-trip over the weekend: Black Forrest, Switzerland for a beer, France and back again. We stopped in Belfort for the night and I stayed in the Brit Hotel Belfort

Black Forrest

Calw
Calw

Calw
Calw

Freudenstadt
Freudenstadt

Movelier

Quick beer stop in Movelier
Quick beer stop in Movelier

OUI! for the potato!
OUI! for the potato!

Belfort

Decided to circle back to Germany over Belfort and Strasbourg. A quick search online and I found the Brit Hotel Belfort.

Brit Hotel Belfort

The Brit Hotel Belfort is conveniently located a few minutes outside of the city center. It was really clean and quite. The bed was comfortable and I enjoyed the hot shower after a refreshing night.

Brit Hotel Belfort
Brit Hotel Belfort

Brit Hotel Belfort

Brit Hotel Belfort

Brit Hotel Belfort

French Breakfast in Belfort
French Breakfast in Belfort at a small old café opposite the train station

Belfort train station
The Belfort train station opened its doors for travelers in 1858.

Belfort Trainstation
Belfort train station with clock tower

Colmar

Statue of Liberty in Colmar
Wait a minute – is this…

Sure enough!
Sure enough! A replica of the Statue of Liberty in Colmar. The sculptor Frédéric Auguste Barthold was born here. The French put it here to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his death. Personally, I would put it somewhere to commemorate his birth or the 100th anniversary of the original in New York and not his death.

Strasbourg

On the way back to Stuttgart we had a few hours to walk a bit in the city. Since it was Sunday the city was packed with tourists. Here are a few pictures from the churches we visit.

Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune Protestant Church

The oldest part dates back to the 7th century. The church has been Lutheran since 1524 and its congregation forms part of the Protestant Church of Augsburg Confession of Alsace and Lorraine.

Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune Protestant Church

Chapelle de la de la Congrégation des soeurs de la charitéSaint-Pierre-le-Jeune Protestant Church

Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune Protestant Church

Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune Protestant Church

Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune protestant

Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune protestant

Strasbourg Cathedral

The French call it Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg. Build on the place of Strasbourg’s previous cathedral dating back to the late 4th century or early 5th century. It was the tallest building in the world from 1647 on for 227 years!

Strasbourg Cathedral

Strasbourg Cathedral

Strasbourg Cathedral

Strasbourg Cathedral

The astronomical clock
The astronomical clock is more a computer than a clock. You should read more about it on Wikipedia

‎⁨Strasbourg
The Strasbourg Cathedral in the back

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The secret of Swiss Absinthe

Movelier
Movelier

Once again I visited Lara and Chris in Movelier – a small village in the corner between France and Germany. It is the poorest part of Switzerland, mostly farmers and the people speak French. Last time Lara told me about her neighbour who is an Absinthe connoisseur. This time we went over to his place for a taste of real Swiss Absinthe.

Unteraha⁩ at the Black Forrest
Unteraha⁩ at the Black Forrest. We stopped on the way from Stuttgart for a beer.

Perfect Beer 'o clock
Perfect Beer 'o clock in Movelier

New family member
New family member

He will grow fast
He will grow fast

Not sure who passes here to read this ...
Not sure who passes here to read this …

Preparing for the big party
Preparing for the big party

Absinthe

Most people think of France when they hear Absinthe but that is not correct. If we talk about Absinthe in the modern sense of a distilled spirit there is evidence that it was made for the first time about 1780 in Val de Travers near the French border. There is no exact date as it varies by account. It is a highly alcoholic spirit (45–74% ABV / 90–148 U.S. proof) with an anise-flavoured taste. Derived from botanicals like flower and leaves of Artemisia absinthium (Grand Wormwood), sweet fennel, green anise as well as other herbs.

“A glass of absinthe is as poetical as anything in the world. What difference is there between a glass of absinthe and a sunset? -Oscar Wilde

A popular legend names Pierre Ordinaire, a French doctor living in Couvet to be the creator if Absinthe. He sold it as an all-purpose remedy and his recipe was later passed to the Heriod sister of Couvet. And the sisters marketed it as a medicinal elixir. Others say the sisters may have been making Absinthe before Ordinaire settled in Switzerland. So nobody knows for sure but the next big step for the spirit was in 1797. Mr Dubied bought the formula from the sisters. Together with his son and son-in-law Henry-Louis Pernod, he opened the first absinthe distillery in Couvet.

“Let me be mad, mad with the madness of Absinthe, the wildest, most luxurious madness in the world.” —Marie Corelli

You could not really order an Absinthe in a café in Paris for quite some time. The drink made a detour over Africa before it became famous in France. French soldiers fighting Muslim insurgents in Algeria in the 1840s took it into battle. They used it to spike their canteen water and claimed it was good for warding off tropical fever, dysentery, harmful bacteria and “to recruit exhausted strength.” After they won the war they found it very useful back home as well to fight the fear of fever and germs back in France. On top of that, it proofed itself useful for warding off sobriety and the ennui of civilian life.
It rose to great popularity as an alcoholic drink in late 19th- and early 20th-century France, particularly among Parisian artists and writers. To name just a few of the known absinthe drinkers: Edgar Allan Poe, Vincent van Gogh, James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Marcel Proust, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Charles Baudelaire and Amedeo Modigliani.

“Let us toast to animal pleasures, to escapism, to rain on the roof and instant coffee, to unemployment insurance and library cards, to absinthe and good-hearted landlords, to music and warm bodies and contraceptives… and to the “good life”, whatever it is and wherever it happens to be.” -Hunter S. Thompson

A big part of the popularity of Absinthe was that it was often portrayed as a dangerous and addictive psychoactive drug and a hallucinogen. Thujone which is present in the spirit was blamed for these harmful effects. By 1915 Absinthe was banned almost everywhere in the world. Recent studies have shown that the psychoactive compounds found in the spirit have been greatly exaggerated – apart from the alcohol of course.

“The absinthe made everything seem better. I drank it without sugar in the dripping glass, and it was pleasantly bitter. I poured the water directly into it and stirred it instead of letting it drip. I stirred the ice around with a spoon in the brownish, cloudy mixture. I was very drunk. I was drunker than I ever remembered having been.” —Ernest Hemingway

The traditional preparation of the drink is called the French Method. One places a specially designed spoon over a glass filled with some Absinthe. On top of the spoon, you place a sugar cube over which you slowly drip ice-cold water into the glass.
The sugar cube is added to sweeten the drink and counteract its mild bitterness. The Greek word for absinthe translates into “undrinkable” because if you drink it from the bottle it is too strong and bitter.
When the water dilutes the spirit the components with poor water solubility will cloud the drink. Mainly released from the spirit are those from anise, star anise and fennel. Together with flavours that “blossom” and the perfuming of herbal aromas that otherwise would be muted in the neat spirit it will become part of the taste that you inhale with your nose while you drink Absinthe. Everyone has a different opinion how much water you should poor and it also depends on the Absinthe you use. In general, you can say 3 to 5 parts of water to 1 part absinthe. The final result will be a milky drink that is called the “louche” which is French for opaque or shady.

“Let me be mad, then, by all means! mad with the madness of Absinthe, the wildest, most luxurious madness in the world! Vive la folie! Vive l’amour! Vive l’animalisme! Vive le Diable!” -Marie Corelli

Since everybody wants the drink different it is you that prepares the drink for yourself or for your friends by hand. There where even some experts that poured it for the guest and taught them how to do it properly in some of the bars in Paris. As the popularity increased the Absinthe fountain was introduced. It looks like a small version of an old street light with 4 or 6 small spigots. This enables the drinkers to prepare a few drinks at the same time, socialize while the water slowly drips over the sugar.

Not sure why there is a Maple nut on the absinthe fountain
Not sure why there is a Maple nut on the absinthe fountain

Fresh clean spring water with ice cubes filles the glass reservoir of the absinthe fountain
Fresh clean spring water with ice cubes filles the glass reservoir of the absinthe fountain

It serves up to 4 people. There is Absinthe in the glass
It serves up to 4 people. There is Absinthe in the glass

Swiss Absinthe Marylin 54%. Distilled in Boveresse Val-De-Travers
Swiss Absinthe Marylin 54%. Distilled in Boveresse Val-De-Travers

These are special Absinthe spoons. You place a piece of sugar on them and adjust the glass so the sugar is right under the water tap
These are special Absinthe spoons. You place a piece of sugar on them and adjust the glass so the sugar is right under the water tap

Now you open the tap - but only a bit so the water drips over the sugar into the Absinthe
Now you open the tap – but only a bit so the water drips over the sugar into the Absinthe

A drop every 1 or 2 seconds will do the trick
A drop every 1 or 2 seconds will do the trick

Slowly the Absinthe gets milky from the bottom up
Slowly the Absinthe gets milky from the bottom up

It is quite relaxing to view this generation old system to create a perfect drink
It is quite relaxing to view this very old fountain creating a perfect drink

Almost there!
Almost there!

There you go! Stop the water - remove the spoon and enjoy!
There you go! Stop the water – remove the spoon and enjoy!

“So there it is. Absinthe provides you with a surfboard (thujone) and a wave (alcohol) on which to ride. That is the singular appeal of absinthe over normal alcohol. While alcohol provides a valuable escape, a vacation from one’s self, if you will, absinthe offers the same journey (on a fast, high-powered aircraft, I might add) with the promise of a window seat with a superior view. For the drunkard, it’s a fast ride with a twist. For the writer? It’s the alcoholic muse on a leash.”
-Frank Kelly Rich

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Summer Trip 2016 Part 6 – Switzerland

Summer Summer Summer – next leg on the Summer Trip 2016 is Switzerland. See – there is a wedding in Croatia and I have to attend. Hmm – and I want to attend as well. Now most people would drive more or less a beeline from Germany to Croatia: Stuttgart down south – cross into Austria – over the Alps into Slovenia and into Croatia. But as you know I am not most people so I went from Stuttgart to the Black Forest into France and down into Switzerland. To see Lara and Chris. Off we go!

Lunch - with a strange kind of Brezel - since they where out of real Brezel
Lunch – with a strange kind of Brezel – since they where out of real Brezel

We where out of liquid in the car and I saw a supermarket on the left. While I waited for some cool thirst quencher I was looking around. And guess what? This:

I did not know such a thing exists
I did not know such a thing exists

Good number plate on a cool car
Good number plate on a cool car

The rest of the trip was not very interesting since we did it many times. Reached the house at night fall. The next few days where those lazy summer days. In Switzerland they are even more lazy – since everything is in slow motion over here – somehow….

The Art Exhibition in Saint Ursanne

Sometimes you do not really want but since you are the best driver you have to come and drive. Haha – sounds good? It is too good to be true. Still I had to drive the gang to a river and later to the Art Exhibition. But 1st we did stop for a beer in Saint Ursanne Down Town. Weeee – they do not let me look at the menu – expect Singapore plus 13% and you know what I am talking about. Insane! Where is the fun? Up north I guess. We went and had a look at the Cloister and Church. I recommend!

Inside the cloister in Saint Ursanne
Inside the cloister in Saint Ursanne

Inside the cloister

Collegiate Church
Collegiate Church

Best Tour Guide
Best tour guide to have – a local one! Thanks Lara!

Inside the Collegiate Church
Inside the Church

Nice viaduct
Nice viaduct

Is that Aung San next to Uncle Ho?
Is that Aung San next to Uncle Ho? Not sure but would it make sense???

Aung San Suu Kyi & Kim Jong-il
Aung San Suu Kyi & Kim Jong-il – not to sure what to make of this….

The Art Exhibition

After that we went home for dinner and since we had to cruise next morning I did open the special bottle we did bring from Stuttgart. Thanks uncle Uli!!

Best bottel of wine for a long time
Best bottle of wine for a long time – the glas is not small – it is a Magnum!