Kulinarische Weinwanderung zum X. Mal

I’ve lost track of how many times we’ve spent the weekend in and around Freinsheim in Germany’s Weinstraße region.

This time we stayed in Wachenheim (first time for us), and used the train to get to Deidesheim (been there a couple times) and the main event on Saturday.

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We rolled in as usual on Thursday afternoon and did a simple dinner in the Ferienwohnung with our pals from Berlin, who arrived a few hours after we did. Friday we spent exploring Wachenheim on foot and with our mouths at Hambels Restaurant. We tried for a dinner reservation a day in advance with no joy, but they squeezed us in for lunch on Friday and boy are we glad they did: Sarah and I split a “Rondell” of Saumagen for two, and every single portion on that lazy susan they brought out was more delicious than the last: Rotkohl, Maultauschen, Kartoffelstampfer — it was all wonderful. Don’t miss Hambels if you’re in Wachenheim.

Saturday was the Weinwanderung, and we got there just before 11:00 with the train, largely before the masses arrived. This meant shorter lines, cleaner port-a-potties, and less crowding on the paths between the vines. Perhaps a good model to follow for next year!

Another French Roadtrip, August 2023, Part 4

This story starts back in 2018 or 2019. We planned a road trip through France, meeting up with a pal stationed with the military in Belgium, and our travel agent (ahem, Sarah) had it all worked out. Then, you know what happened in early 2020. That put everything on hold. By the time we were ready to give this trip another shot, our Brussels buddy was long gone, back to the USA. So we redesigned the trip, but the concept was similar.

Full set of pics at: https://france-aug-2023.cliff.omg.lol/

This is Part 4 — Bordeaux.

Continue reading Another French Roadtrip, August 2023, Part 4

Another French Roadtrip, August 2023, Part 3

This story starts back in 2018 or 2019. We planned a road trip through France, meeting up with a pal stationed with the military in Belgium, and our travel agent (ahem, Sarah) had it all worked out. Then, you know what happened in early 2020. That put everything on hold. By the time we were ready to give this trip another shot, our Brussels buddy was long gone, back to the USA. So we redesigned the trip, but the concept was similar.

Full set of pics at: https://france-aug-2023.cliff.omg.lol/

This is Part 3 — Toulouse.

Continue reading Another French Roadtrip, August 2023, Part 3

Another French Roadtrip, August 2023, Part 2

This story starts back in 2018 or 2019. We planned a road trip through France, meeting up with a pal stationed with the military in Belgium, and our travel agent (ahem, Sarah) had it all worked out. Then, you know what happened in early 2020. That put everything on hold. By the time we were ready to give this trip another shot, our Brussels buddy was long gone, back to the USA. So we redesigned the trip, but the concept was similar.

Full set of pics at: https://france-aug-2023.cliff.omg.lol/

This is Part 2 — time we spent based outside of Nîmes, bopping around the region at L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and Arles as well.

Continue reading Another French Roadtrip, August 2023, Part 2

Another French Roadtrip, August 2023, Part 1

This story starts back in 2018 or 2019. We planned a road trip through France, meeting up with a pal stationed with the military in Belgium, and our travel agent (ahem, Sarah) had it all worked out. Then, you know what happened in early 2020. That put everything on hold. By the time we were ready to give this trip another shot, our Brussels buddy was long gone, back to the USA. So we redesigned the trip, but the concept was similar.

Full set of pics at: https://france-aug-2023.cliff.omg.lol/

This is Part 1 — our arrival in Alsace.

Continue reading Another French Roadtrip, August 2023, Part 1

Buongiorno Milano!

For all our Italy enthusiasm over the years, it feels weird to admit we’d never been to Milan before November 2022.

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We did a long weekend there, departing Regensburg after work on a Friday for Zurich. Staying in Zurich on the way to Milan made it convenient to reconnect with our pals P. and H. We stayed at a B&B Hotel near the Zurich airport, because it’s not far from their neighborhood. I’m not sure I’d stay at that B&B place again (or any franchise, it’s a hotel chain). It felt like it was mid-level between Easy Hotel and Motel One. It would do a in a pinch, but probably not my first choice going forward. After a lovely lunch and chat with our pals the next day, we pressed on towards Milan, arriving after dark in the rain.

Sarah used booking.com to get us a room at Porta Tosa from Saturday night to Tuesday morning. Our host Stefano kindly human-shielded a public parking spot across the street for me on our way in, and we only had to pay for parking on Monday. That was convenient; it worked great with EasyPark. Stefano had the paper logo pre-printed for us to show the meter-checker-person we’d paid that way.

Cibo

We didn’t have any major points on the itinerary besides the Duomo. Porta Tosa is basically a straight line east from the city center on a bus line and a tram line, so we used that a lot. Stefano provided a very useful map with some recommendations for food and activities in the immediate area, and there were good overlaps between his recommendations and Sarah’s own research. We ate at

…besides some fast-food pizza (OMG with cacio e pepe supplì) al taglio and occasional coffee and pastries while out walking around. It was all wonderful, and not at all as fancy as I’d feared. Cooperativa La Liberazione had kind of a hipster socialist gourmet vibe. There we learned the word stinco – much more delicous than it sounds.


black bean soup with croutons and eggplant parmigiana

stinco, a braised Haxe, accompanied by polenta

Locanda del Menarost squeezed us in without a reservation on Monday night, told us we’d have to eat and give up our table in 45 minutes, but then relented and let us stay when someone else cancelled their reservation. That was wonderful food too – particularly the desserts.


apple cake in the background; a pear braised in red wine in the foreground

We arrived at al Bacco for lunch just as they were opening, and the hostess greeted every single party (except us) with a hug and a smooch initially, and then later chef emerged from the kitchen all smiles and hugs and smooches too. Clearly we’d stumbled upon a local regulars’ joint. It was cool to observe.

Duomo

Il Duomo

This was the main attraction, mostly by default. We didn’t come to Milan seeking it out. It was thing the thing that’s there year-round. We opted for the expensive visit package, including the elevator ride to the roof, and the views were worth it. Even under cloudy skies.



You can see the entire set of photos from this trip here.

Oops, forgot we went to Alsace

Blame it on Covid-Stir-Craziness, maybe. But back in…uh, March 2022 we drove across Germany to scope out some wines (some famous, some recommendations) and landscapes and stuff. It was a short trip — just a four day weekend — but we covered a fair amount of ground: from Regensburg to Zurich (just a pitstop to visit a pal), from there to Colmar (our home base), and back to Regensburg with a stop in Heidelberg (another pal to visit). Continue reading Oops, forgot we went to Alsace

Part 2 of the LONG AWAITED TRAVEL

Perhaps you saw our exuberance on the first of this two-parter.

After finishing up Mittagessen in…um…Essen ((Forgive me.)), we got back in the car and drove for like seven hours across most of the country to Berlin. We’ve visited Berlin many times, but we always try to do a mix of new and old stuff. Here are the bullet points:

  • Indian food around the corner (practically) from our excellent hosts at https://karma-berlin.de
  • Cool strolling and shopping in and around the Tempelhofer Hafen
  • Breakfast not once, but TWICE at https://www.meyman-gourmet.de/
  • Gluten-free baked goods (actually delicious!) and coffee at Café Pretty Hill in Schöneberg ((It is embarrassing how long it took us to get the pun on the name.))
  • Angry Chicken – https://www.angry-chicken.com/ ((Note to future me: don’t get more than a “medium” anything.))
  • BRLO Brwh near Gleisdreieck – https://www.brlo.de/en/ ((Does anyone definitively know how to pronounce this?)
  • More delicious Indian food at https://www.amrit.de/ after the Dyke March

And, then on our way home to Regensburg, A BONUS VISIT with three Leipziger pals!

  1. More delicious Indian food (and OMG, they were not kidding about the spiciness levels on that Paneer Jalfrezi) at https://www.safran-leipzig.de.

  2. Scored some post-dinner drinks at a Späti to enjoy on a stroll and in a park (by the way, duck into the university library there in Leipzig — what a cool place!).

  3. Even snagged a couple night shots on our way back to the hotel.

After that, it was a completely uneventful drive back home. Just what you want!

OMG TRAVEL AGAIN FINALLY

It felt really good. So good, that I can’t cover it all in one post. Part II will follow.

Wiesbaden

It was just a stop-over point for us because we departed Friday after work and didn’t want to undertake a big ol’ drive after a full week of anticipation. Plus, our long-term pal and host Matt K. wouldn’t even be there until Saturday afternoon. So we got to Wiesbaden after work (traffic was not as bad as I’d feared) and expected to crash out at the hotel.

But it’s much a cooler town than I’d thought. And it has a Five Guys. Note to self: don’t get a large ANYTHING.

Brussels

  • We arrived on late Saturday morning, and met Matt G. at Place du Chatelain in the Ixelles neighborhood. He gave us a lovely impromptu tour and we got a delicious lunch on the street at Pizza Mamma Roma.

  • That afternoon we got back in the car, headed out to the Zaventem airport, picked up our ol’ pal Matt K. and the merriment continued.

  • He showed us his favorite parts of the city on foot, including a stop for a snack at the legendary Maison Dandoy for some Liège Waffles and espresso that blew our minds.

  • Sunday, we visited the Horta Museum. If you like Jugendstil design, this will be your joint. As opposed to the Mucha Museum in Prague, the Horta Museum is a less of a gallery and more of a snapshot in time from the turn of the (previous) century of an idealized socialist paradise domicile.

  • We walked around a bit more and then circled back to La Chatelaine Du Liban for a lovely dinner.

  • Monday morning, we dropped Matt K. off at work on our way to meet Pam M. at her home for coffee. She baked us a delicious surprise zucchini cake! The airliners passing overhead reminded me very much of the first ten years of my life near Selfridge ANG.

It was so cool to catch up with Matt K. again before geography makes that impractical again, and meet Matt G. and Pam M. in person after only having interacted with them online before.

Essen

After departing from Pam’s, we hit the road for Essen to meet up with Aileen and Justin for…Essen. ((I bet they’ve never heard that joke before.)) It was almost directly on our way, and we have had a lot of fun with them online, so why not see if they are just as cool in person? ((Spoiler: they are!)) That was a nice way to break up the seven-hour drive to Berlin. If you ever get a hankering for a BIG SLABBA TOAST, I vouch for Miamamia.

Fall 2020 Vacation — Part 3: Schwarzwald

After a four-hour drive down Germany’s western border with France and a hop through the Schwarzwald towards Bonndorf…im Schwarzwald, we arrived at the final Ferienwohnung destination for this trip. The arrival was not without its complications, however; TWO of the little towns off through which we were supposed to drive on the last leg of the drive were closed to through traffic, causing us to scramble and miss our predicted arrival time by an hour. Fortunately, we kept the landlady in the loop and she was accommodating. Ha. Continue reading Fall 2020 Vacation — Part 3: Schwarzwald