Weekend Road-trip France 2017

February 3, 2018 at 15:34

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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Two Weeks at Lake Constance Part 2

February 1, 2018 at 08:45

Second part of pictures from my trip down to the lake in Summer 2017

This house was build in 1204 - painted with a scene from the old Fish Market
This house was build in 1204 – painted with a scene from the old Fish Market

Dark clouds over Reichenau
Dark clouds over Reichenau

House at Seestrasse in Konstanz
House at Seestrasse in Konstanz

Hotel at Seestrasse in Konstanz
Hotel at Seestrasse in Konstanz

House at Seestrasse in Konstanz
Another house at Seestrasse in Konstanz

Lonely
Lonely

Nice view
Nice view

On the way to the hairdresser
On the way to the hairdresser

Konstanz Minster or Konstanz Cathedral

In German: Das Konstanzer Münster Unserer Lieben Frau
The first mention of a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary was in 615. The church was upgraded over the years to a cathedral. It collapsed in 1052 and a new one built on the same ground. The next 300 years a tower was constructed, then another. A fire destroyed a tower and parts of the church as well as 96 houses. They rebuild the tower and made the church bigger. In 1955 Pope Pius XII raised the Cathedral to a papal Basilica Minor.

Konstanz Minster

Konstanz Minster

Konstanz Minster

Münster unserer lieben Frau

Entrance door at the Münster unserer lieben Frau
Entrance door

Is that the Pope??
Is that the Pope??

Graves inside the church
Graves inside the church

Münster unserer lieben Frau

Window
Window

Münster unserer lieben Frau

More windows
More windows

Side altar
Side altar

Another grave
Another grave

Painting

Münster unserer lieben Frau

When mother is sick and nobody knows how to work the microwave
When mother is sick and nobody knows how to work the microwave

Family Crests
Family Crests

More Family Crests

Not sure what happens but it looks like they try to save the last souls before the Red Army arrives
Not sure what happens but it looks like they try to save the last souls before the Red Army arrives

Nice one

Organ

Another grave
Another grave

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Two Weeks at Lake Constance Part 1

January 30, 2018 at 07:05

My original travel arrangements did not work out so I asked Anja if she could give me shelter for the first two weeks of August. She has her place inside the old part of Konstanz “at the lake” as we like to call Lake Constance. Got a confirmation a few minutes later and booked my Flixbus ticket. Monday morning I took the bike to the airport to catch the bus.

Took the bike with me this time
Took the bike with me this time – proofed to be a pain in the ass on the way back.

Lake Constance or Bodensee as the Germans call it is the biggest lake in Germany and central Europe’s third largest, after Lake Balaton and Lake Geneva. It is at the northern foot of the Alps. Germany, Switzerland and Austria split the lake between them. At some parts, it even forms the border between them.

Art in the day
Art in the day

Art in the night
Art in the night

That house is demolished already but for a few months, they made it into a piece of art. You can calculate your life here – add and subtract and see the result in the sky.

Dingelsdorf boat landing
Dingelsdorf boat landing. Anja goes every morning for coffee to the same place. Some of her friends have a coffee there too. We did meet one this morning that took me on a trip along the lake. She is in real estate and had to visit a customer in Dingelsdorf.

Dingelsdorf
I like that little village. It is quiet here and the water is super clean. But the water is super clean in general at the lake. In fact, Stuttgart gets most of its drinking water from the lake. It gets pumped 200 km over the Alb all the way to the city.

Fireworks at the Swiss National Day
Fireworks at the Swiss National Day. We went to Gottlieben to see it. Opposite at the German side is a big bird sanctuary. Guess they where not to happy.

After the storm - German side
After the storm – German side

After the storm - Swiss side
After the storm – Swiss side

There you go! They made a point to clean as much as possible in one day. In Germany they still had breakfast.

Sad to see those old trees down
Sad to see those old trees down

Kreuzlingen Harbour
Kreuzlingen Harbour

Talking cow
Talking cow – she had a heavy Swiss accent so it was kind of hard to understand. She complained about the flies. Poor cow!

Konstanz harbour
Konstanz harbour

St. Stephan
St. Stephan

Red House
Red House

Boring afternoon
Boring afternoon

The Trinity church or Dreifaltigkeitskirche

The church was built by Augustiner-Eremiten or Augustinian Hermits. Some parts of the church date back to 1279.

Dreifaltigkeit Church
The Trinity church

Dreifaltigkeit church

Dreifaltigkeit church

Dreifaltigkeit church

Dreifaltigkeit church

Dreifaltigkeit church
Holy Augustinus goes to heaven from Franz Joseph Spiegler

Dreifaltigkeit church

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The secret of Swiss Absinthe

January 26, 2018 at 15:57

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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