Bridge Update July 2016: literal and figurative

It struck me as a little ironic that the literal bridge from Regensburg to the rest of Bavaria1 is being repaired, whereas some protesters want to bolster a figurative bridge to Regensburg — and Germany in general — from other countries.

Literal

Not much to report here, yet again. Work is progressing, but mostly not in ways the casual passers-by can detect. But here’s one exception: they’ve built up scaffolding for work on the bridge supports.

Pylon Work
Pylon Work

The south end (still) appears to be nearly completed, when you peek through the tarp gusting on a breezy day. Looks like they need to mortar in the gaps between the pavers and that section of the bridge should be completed.

Peek Through
Peek Through

Figurative

I got back Friday evening from most of a week in Romania on a business trip and wanted to spend a little time on foot out before departing today for a full week in Hamburg on a training trip (where I am a trainee, not the trainer). We were expecting some gathering of crowds because of the 2016 Bayerisches Jazz Weekend, but were surprised to find a parade of protesters along our path back from grocery shopping. They’re protesting the policy of Sicherer Herkunftsstaat, which makes it easy to deport asylum seekers based on their country of origin. See more here if you can read German.

Protest am Sankt Kassiansplatz
Protest am Sankt Kassiansplatz

Note the little girl in the Che shirt in the foreground.

Protest am Dom
Protest am Dom

Protest am Dom
Protest am Dom
  1. at least back in the day when the Regensburg was the seat of the Perpetual Diet of the HRE []

Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans)

It is possible to eat too much pizza. For me, at any rate.

On our last jaunt through Italy, I kept meaning to order something that wasn’t pizza and failing spectacularly. Every region has different specialty toppings! I might miss out on something!! But when my body finally said NO MORE, I went for Pasta e Fagioli (pasta and beans) instead. And my goodness, was it ever rewarding. Borlotti beans are the creamiest, most flavor-absorbing beans I’ve ever come across. I plan to try making it sometime with dried beans, but this canned version comes together in a flash.

100 g diced pancetta or bacon
2 T olive oil
1 large or 2 small yellow onions, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 c/100 ml white wine
1/4 t red chili flakes
1 large sprig fresh rosemary leaves
4-6 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1/2 t ground black pepper
4-5 c/1-1.25 L weak chicken broth
3 15 oz/400 g cans borlotti (cranberry) beans, drained and rinsed
1 generous c/250 g short pasta
1 c/200 mL boiling water (optional)
1/2 c/100 g grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
1/4 c/50 g chopped parsley

Heat deep soup pot to medium heat. Add pancetta or bacon and cook, stirring frequently, until a little fat renders, then add olive oil. Turn heat to medium-low and add onions and garlic, stirring frequently until tender and translucent, but not browned. Add white wine, chili flakes, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves and black pepper, stirring until wine is mostly evaporated. Add chicken broth and beans and allow mixture to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and turning down heat if necessary.

After 10 minutes, remove bay leaves and strip rosemary and thyme leaves from sprigs, returning the leaves to the pot. Either mash some of the beans with the back of a spoon or briefly use a stick blender, making sure to leave about half of the beans intact. Add the pasta (if there’s not enough liquid to cook the pasta or the soup is already too thick, add the extra water) and cook until almost done. Remove from heat and cover for 5 minutes. Serve with grated Pecorino or Parmesan and chopped parsley.

Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part III: Exploring Rome on Foot and Departure

We walked our feet off in Rome. And why not? We had great weather the whole time we were there, and armed with some offline Google Maps marked with stuff we wanted to see or eat, we navigated on foot a lot after taking the Metro in from Cornelia to someplace more central, like Barberini or Spagna.

One glaring and super-convenient exception to that: our hotel offered a shuttle service from their reception to the entrance lines of the Vatican Museums. It was dirt cheap but classy door-to-door service — one of our favorite things about the hotel.1

Vatican Museum and St. Peter’s Basilica

Last time we visited St. Peter’s, but didn’t hit the Vatican Museum. This time we did. It was impressive. I took a few photos, but none of the Sistine Chapel ceiling — that’s a big no-no.

Vatican Museum
Vatican Museum
St. Peter's
St. Peter’s
St. Peter's
St. Peter’s
St. Peter's
St. Peter’s
St. Peter's
St. Peter’s
Vatican Museum
Vatican Museum
Vatican Museum
Vatican Museum
Vatican Museum
Vatican Museum
Vatican Museum
Vatican Museum
Vatican Museum
Vatican Museum

Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps

The Spanish Steps were under construction while we were there.

Spanish Steps
Spanish Steps

We hunted around for this fountain on our last visit with no joy. I felt vindicated this time, but it’s really because offline Google Maps have gotten a lot better since then. Perhaps it’s just as well we gave up last time, since it was refurbished in the meantime.

Trevi Foutain
Trevi Foutain

Coliseum

This was our second trip to Rome with no close-up visit to the Coliseum. We walked by a few times, and even early on a Sunday morning, it was swarming with tourists and especially the tour group guides vying for our attention. Having been to the arena at Nîmes twice, where we took the excellent self-guided audio tour, we opted to skirt around the outside and avoid the throngs.

Coliseum
Coliseum

Trastevere and Testaccio scenes

We spent a lot of time exploring Trastevere.  It’s a hip neighborhood.  Let’s hope it retains its character.  We chilled out one afternoon in Testaccio, too, hoping to hit up the Volpetti deli for some awesome edible souvenirs, but alas — we failed to do our homework and arrived on their Ruhetag.2

Church in Testaccio
Church in Testaccio
Trastevere
Trastevere
View from Janiculum Hill / Gianicolo
View from Janiculum Hill/ Gianicolo
A park in Testaccio
A park in Testaccio
Santa Maria in Trastevere, one of the oldest churches in Rome
Santa Maria in Trastevere, one of the oldest churches in Rome
Operazione Strade Sicure
Operazione Strade Sicure
Artichokes in the Jewish Quarter
Artichokes in the Jewish Quarter

And that was end of our time in Rome — this time. We may well be back!

Next stop, Gaeta on the way to Naples

The next leg of our journey was to Naples, but we decided we’d much rather take a scenic route, if one was to be had, than the boring old highways.

We stopped in at Gaeta to try some tielle3 for lunch. We got rained on a bit on the way in, and that must have scared off any other tourists, because the town seemed practically dead. But it was pretty.

Gaeta
Gaeta
Gaeta
Gaeta
Gaeta
Gaeta

Continuing on, we drove through little town after little town, all of them imploring us to stop and shop for some mozzarella di bufala. We were tempted, but pressed on into the maelstrom that is Neapolitan traffic. More on that in the next post!

  1. Alas, they were pretty disappointing in some other ways. See the previous post. []
  2. Day off. []
  3. I had the octopus variety; the ladies had the vegetarian ones. Think of it as a cross between a pizza and a pot pie. Pretty good! []

Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part II: Sleeping and Eating in Rome

Arrival and Hotel

We drove in from Lago di Bolsena sometime around 7:00 p.m., expecting to have missed rush hour traffic. Whoops: we landed smack in the middle of it. A friendly taxi driver told us Italians start and finish their workday later, and consequently rush hour traffic runs later. We followed instructions from our GPS and rolled up to our hotel, the Church Palace, oohing and aahing at the gated entrance to the generous and secluded parking around, set several hundred yards back from the Via Aurelia. Continue reading Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part II: Sleeping and Eating in Rome

Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part I

In May 2016 we took our longest road trip yet through Italy. It was a challenge to plan, given three participants on two continents, all with their own scheduling constraints, but we pulled it off to great success.

1st Leg, Regensburg to Piombino Dese to Siena

Continue reading Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part I

Some Bierfests, Ascension, and not really a Bridge Update

Bierfest Stuff

Two weekends ago the Reinheitsgebot turned 500 years old.1 Whether that law is still a good thing, or is worth respecting for its age (versus similar, older laws), is kinda irrelevant, if the weather’s getting nicer and you’re looking for an excuse to party. So, lots of areas of Germany did, including Regensburg. We missed most of it, returning from a weekend away in Munich to a sad state of affairs on Sunday afternoon, with just one last little stand still open and serving on Kohlenmarkt.

3_Hosenbrüder_sBut this weekend was a long one, for most of us, officially getting Thursday off to go to church and celebrate Christi Himmelfahrt, and tons of people taking the Friday following it as a “bridge day,” allowing a smooth transition to the weekend. This is a good holiday to officially welcome Spring and Summer with your fancy Bavarian clothes, particularly if you’re celebrating Father’s Day. Germans do that on Christi Himmelfahrt, and usually with a lot of booze.

Craft Beer Fest
I can’t even believe how hipster this poster is.

Great day for a Craft Bier Fest then, right? It sure was.

Rickety BenchBefore leaving Stadtamhof, we saw that the new benches lining the street and intended to keep illegal parking2 down to a minimum, were mostly already in use. Oops. Maybe that particular bench had to take one for the team.

On our march across the bridge towards the Craft Bier Fest, we saw that the Spitalgarten was full to bursting. An oompah band was keeping the spirits up while the patrons were doing the same.

The Craft Bier Fest was not a rip-roaring Oktoberfest-style beer bash. True to its name, it featured a wide selection of brewers selling samples: 0,1 L was the typical glass size. The atmosphere was quite mellow, with brewers on hand to answer questions and talk about their ingredients and flavor profiles and stuff like that. We liked it so much that we went both days, Thursday and Friday. Many of the varieties we tried this weekend are available at a local specialty beer shop, apparently (we’ve only window-shopped thus far).

Our favorites:

It was great weather for a little change of beer pace.

Ascension Vatertag Craft Bierfest

There wasn’t much food on offer, surprisingly, but this vendor made a showing:

We were skeptical, but inspired to pull a pork of our own and fire up the grill soon.
We were skeptical, but inspired to pull a pork of our own and fire up the grill soon.

Next BierfestNot enough beer for you? Well, next weekend, there’s more! 500 Years of Reinheitsgebot carries on in a small town out south of Regensburg called Wolkering.

 

Bridge Update

Sadly, practically nothing new to report. Sarah says they’re still doing something under that tent at the south end of the bridge, and has caught a glimpse once or twice of the bare earth, waiting to be resurfaced with new tiles to match the north end.  Probably the disconnected middle section of auxiliary bridge will eventually be connected to the south section, right?  They look pretty well lined up already.  Unless the south section is to become irrelevant soon.  That would be great.

Straight on there, Mate

Another great thing would be for the thousands of pedestrians each day to not toss their trash into the bridge framework.  It’s filthy.

Bridge Trash

Wish that the rule shown below would apply to the bridge, too.

Halt deine Donau Sauber
The caption under the Sorat Insel Hotel reads:  Halt deine Donau sauber!3

Halt Deine Donau Sauber!

Halt Deine Donau Sauber!

 

  1. At least, the Bavarian version of that law did. Wikipedia knows more. []
  2. wildparken, compare to wildpinkeln []
  3. Keep your Danube clean! []

A Threefer

Three topics combined into one post.  Lucky you!

Cultural Palace Looks Open for Business

I was in Iași, Romania on my usual early-part-of-the-year business trip in February.  The Cultural Palace has been under renovation for as long as I have been visiting our location(s) there. It’s coming along nicely. My local contacts tell me that it should be open for visitors by the time of my next visit — presumably this summer.

The last couple times I’ve been there I’ve visited their enormous new mall built up around the palace grounds.  There’s a giant Auchan store attached to the mall, too.  I bought a couple non-perishable specialities back, but not borș.

A Drippy Visit to Seligenstadt

Our travel buddy the Resident on Earth completed her farewell tour through Germany, and we met up with her in Frankfurt at an Ebblwoi1 bar for dinner and brunch the next day in Seligenstadt.  A tip of the hat goes to her for recommending Motel One, which might be our new favorite hotel chain in Germany.  We have had good results there in Frankfurt and Munich and heard good things about the one in Nürnberg and Berlin as well.

The weather in Frankfurt that evening was terrible, but I was determined to park the car at the hotel and do the rest on foot — despite the rain.  We got soaked on the way there and opted for a taxi back.  The taxi driver was a chatty dude, and we thought, at first, that must be dumbing down his German for us, because it was so comprehensible.  We didn’t have to ask him to repeat anything or use a non-regional expression or slow down or anything like that.  Then we remembered that that’s what German can sound like outside of those deep pockets of localized dialect, like d’Obapfoiz.2.

Brunch the next day was nice, and we took a stroll around Seligenstadt to walk it off a bit and try not to be sad about our buddy’s return to the USA.

Bridge Update March 2016

Trucking bridge pieces awaySomewhen3 in the last week, another big piece of the auxiliary bridge has been dismantled and moved off the scene. Sarah captured it. I took a stroll around today on my way into town for some groceries.

P3129960_sFirst thing I noticed: a coffee bar on our street is undergoing a change. Not sure if it’s just a face lift, like when the Spital Café opened up next to it where the Cat Pee Chinese4 joint had been. Or maybe something bigger is happening here. Assuredly they better hurry up — Café Blanket Season is already upon us.

That tent on the South Bank side has been up for … over a year now? Something must be happening in there, but at this point, there’s more visible activity on our side. Spring is very nearly upon us, with Easter and Pentecost vacation periods and the heavy influx of visitors they bring with them.

If the plan is to have the next section of auxiliary bridge — diverting traffic off the big middle section, which as far as we can tell has had little to no work done on it yet — up and serviceable before then, they better step on it. And not on these little purple guys.

P3129966_s

  1. Apfelwein auf Hessisch []
  2. die Oberpfalz, or the Upper Palatinate []
  3. I love it when Germans translate irgendwann into somewhen. []
  4. Not its real name. We only ordered from there once. Guess why? []