Bamberg and Munich

There are certain things I can say about our time in Germany. Large quantities of pork, cabbage, and beer were consumed, the last being my favorite:

Munich: Beer good.

Munich: Beer good.

 

We spent two days in Munich. One coming into Germany, one going out. On the day we arrived Kosta and I took the train from Salzburg. We got to our hotel in the early afternoon and parked our stuff. Then we headed out to the center of town to look around. That’s where the above picture happened. We ate pork. (Surprise, surprise.)

Sir, do you have any pork?

Sir, do you have any pork?

We walked through the beer garden at the Food Market, and I am sorry to say we didn’t stop, but we had a plane to meet. Even so, it was tempting:

They keep the line moving. They're very precise.

They keep the line moving. They’re very precise.

Bamberg was our last day in Bavaria. We drove over in the morning and the first stop was the cathedral. We wandered around inside and out. It was a strange placement on the top of the hill and set so there were two west entrances instead of one with a big chapel separating them.

See? It was odd to see that chapel stuck in the middle there.

See? It was odd to see that chapel stuck in the middle there.

The Adam and Eve portal sculptures were also rare and interesting.

The Adam and Eve portal sculptures were also rare and interesting.

We had lunch in the rose garden of the Imperial Palace which was right across the oddly shaped square from the cathedral. And I will not shock you, I am sure, to tell you beer and pork were consumed.

The rose garden. A lovely spot for lunch.

The rose garden. A lovely spot for lunch.

The garden itself was very pretty and had a series of Greco-Roman statues. I thought Hera with her peacock was the prettiest.

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The great and wise Hera.

After we had sufficient refreshment we wandered down the hill and found the old town. The neat thing about Bamberg is the Town Hall. In the Middle Ages the townspeople wanted a town hall but the Prince Bishop would not grant them land to build it. So the ingenious people of Bamberg created an island in the middle of the Regnitz and built their town hall on that.

The town hall in the middle of the river.

The town hall in the middle of the river.

Bamberg was charming. There was ice cream. We had a nice day.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention The Werewolf of Bamberg by Oliver Pötzsch. I read it earlier this year and wrote a review of it here. It was really cool to visit a place I had read about like that. It was fun because I looked like a rock star (albeit a totally nerdy one) because I already knew the name of the river and the fact that the town hall was built into the river.  The entire Hangman’s Daughter series I recommend as a whole.

From one nerd to another.

(Because let’s face it, rock stars in general do not read my blog.)

 

Wurzburg and Rothenberg ob der Tauber

The four of us only spent a morning in Wurzburg, had lunch and then went on to Rothenberg in the afternoon.  A few hours of the morning were spent at the laundromat, as we were all beginning to offend with our not so fresh clothes. Afterwards we took a look at the palace and had lunch:

Palace at Wurzburg

Palace at Wurzburg

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Palace at Wurzburg

Lunch

Lunch

Then we made the trek over to Rothenberg. This town was the whole reason for this trip. I had seen a famous picture of the town and said to myself, “I want to be THERE.” And so we went. Rothenberg ob der Tauber is the most well preserved medieval town in Bavaria. It was largely spared from bombing in WWII and still remains as charming as hell. Case in point:

The money shot. This was the place I saw that I wished to stand and gaze upon.

The money shot. This was the place I saw that I wished to stand and gaze upon.

Main square of town

Main square of town

There was also a tour I wished to take: the Nightwatchman’s Tour. The guy who has been giving this tour has been doing so for over 20 years. He’s got a dry delivery and is very funny. The tour itself was highly informative and massively crowded. But well worth it.

George the Nightwatchman.

George the Nightwatchman.

Rothenberg is lousy with charm and I wish we’d had more time to spend there. We did manage to eat at a restaurant that was in a garden that was lovely. Sylvain stole my camera and took some photos, one of which is a favorite snap of my husband:

My happy husband.

My happy husband.

The garden restaurant.

The garden restaurant.

It was a long day full of fun, history, shopping, picture taking, and walking everywhere. Let me leave you with this stinking cute hotel in Rothenberg:

Looks like something out of a fairy tale, doesn't it?

Looks like something out of a fairy tale, doesn’t it?

Bad Windsheim and Nürnberg

We spent four days visiting the “bergs” of Bavaria: Nürnberg, Bamberg, Würzburg, and Rothenberg ob der Tauber, with a day in Munich on either end. We traveled with our good friends Danielle and Sylvain, who flew in from France to join us.  We stayed in the charming little town of Bad Windsheim:

Bad Windsheim

Bad Windsheim

We chose to stay there because it was centrally located to what we wanted to see, and also because my friend Niki used to live there when her husband was stationed in the military nearby.

We rented a house off AirBnb and it was adorable. It had a patio where we sat every night to eat, or have a drink:

Sylvain and Kosta sample the schnapps.

Sylvain and Kosta sample the schnapps.

So. Nürnberg. It was the first city we visited and it was charming for all the notorious reputation is has received from the post WWII trials. We saw the Imperial Palace, walked the city wall, had lunch next door to Albrecht Dürer’s birthplace, and saw some beautiful churches and half-timbered houses.

On the river.

On the river.

Danielle and Sylvain

Danielle and Sylvain

My husband's herring. Ew.

My husband’s herring. Ew.

View from inside the fortified palace on the hill.

View from inside the Imperial Palace on the hill.

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Doofus.

Market Day.

Market Day.

Birthplace of Albrecht Durer.

Birthplace of Albrecht Durer.

One more thing we did was visit the Zepplinfield, or the Nazi Party rally grounds. Sylvian is a huge WWII buff and was intellectually interested to see the spot. We stopped there on our way out of town. The concrete risers are still there, although crumbling. I have no pictures of the spot because I did not want to honor it with a photograph. It was interesting, in a morbid way, but I definitely had the creeps being there. Kosta said he felt like he needed to wash the bottoms of his shoes after we left. I still can’t believe it hasn’t been razed.

On a lighter note to send you along your way:

I'll just leave you with this picture of a busker playing the accordion with his dog hanging out on top.

I’ll just leave you with this picture of a busker playing the accordion with his dog hanging out on top. Like you do.

 

 

 

X is for…

XXanthi’s house

Kosta’s aunt Froso has a good friend named Xanthi, and bless her that her name starts with an X! When we were staying with Froso in Nafplio we spent an afternoon at Xanthi’s house having lunch. She used to own a restaurant with her husband and is an amazing cook. Although I have yet to meet a Greek woman who wasn’t an amazing cook. We had roasted lamb, potatoes and greens in an avgolemino sauce. When my husband took his first bite he burst into tears because it reminded him of his mother’s cooking. That of course, endeared him to them even more. He was pronounced a “good boy.”

A "good boy."

A “good boy.”

Xanthi was so sweet. Even though she didn’t speak a word of English and we only had a handful of Greek words, we had a wonderful time at her house. She each gave us gifts too– a set of komboloi (Greek worry beads) even though she doesn’t have a great deal of money. What a lovely, lovely, woman.

Froso on the left, Xanthi on the right.

Froso on the left, Xanthi on the right.

Roasted lamb and greens in avgolemino sauce.

Roasted lamb and greens in avgolemino sauce.

C is for…

CChateau-neuf du Pape

The premiere wines of Provence come from this little town, which is in itself a gem, a central fountain, winding streets up the hills, and many wine caves for tasting the wares of the different vineyards. We spent a lovely afternoon there after a morning in Avignon.

In the vineyards

In the vineyards

We had lunch at an outdoor café and then explored the town, walking up the hill to the church and then back down again to buy some wine. We came away with five precious bottles – three to be given as gifts to our hosts, and two to come home with us. If you’ve never been to France let me tell you there is no such thing as a bad bottle of wine. Even the cheap €3 bottle we bought for a picnic was far superior to anything we can get in the US.

Savoring lunch.

Savoring lunch.

Wine tastings are available in these wine caves all along the main street.

Wine tastings are available in these wine caves all along the main street. You can see the picture on the left of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie–their most famous visitors.

You can't really see him, but the man we bought from was a dead ringer for Elvis Costello.

You can’t really see him, but the man we bought from was a dead ringer for Elvis Costello.

Charming and great wine? Yes, please.

Charming and great wine? Yes, please.

Ramblin’ Palates at the Bubble Room

The Bubble Room is an institution on Captiva Island, just of the coast of Southwest Florida. I know its been a while, but look at all the fun we had on December 6. True, there were only 4 of us (we were missing Cary and Di!) but we had a blast. Observe:

The Bubble Room

It doesn’t look like much outside, but inside you’ll find a wonderland of themes rooms most of them adorned with toys from the 20’s to the 40’s.

Lunch is served!

I don’t remember what everyone had, but I had a Pita Fonda. All the items on the menu were bad puns on old time movie stars.

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Me and my Pita Fonda. It was quite delicious.

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My husband peering around his Turk Douglass.

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Tammerooni with her scrumptious lunch.

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I texted this one to Di–who is married to Tammy. I asked her if we should be worried. She said she was on her way home.

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All the waitstaff dressed in kitschy scout uniforms. This is our waitress presenting another table with the dessert offerings.

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Oh baby. I only ate half my Pita Fonda in anticipation of this platter of diabetic coma.

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Just had throw this in here. My husband isn’t a self-proclaimed happy jackass for nothing.

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Kosta and I shared this. And even though I say we shared it, we did not manage to finish it. This was the orange crunch cake which is the signature dessert at the Bubble Room. I cannot begin to describe how outstanding it was.

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After lunch we explored the restaurant a bit more, as we were encouraged to do. Here is sweet Val waiting for her prince charming to join her in the Tunnel of Love.

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Of course there was more fun to be had outside. Tammy doesn’t even need to be hopped up on sugar.

 

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See? She’s so shy. I wish there was some way we could coax her out of her shell.

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There was a Bubble Room git shop next door. Look at my handsome prince!

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I didn’t get a lot of good pictures of Val, but I think this one shows her good side. What do you think?

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But hold on, the party ain’t over yet. On the way back across Sanibel Island (the only way in and out of Captiva) Tammy saw a sign and turned sharpish into a parking lot. We had just stumbled upon a new Bennett’s Fresh Roast. These folks roast their own coffee and make their own donughts on site. So what if we already consumed 5000 calories each? Dooughnuts are not a foodstuff to be taken lightly.

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See what I frickin’ mean? The plain glazed belonged to Kosta. I had the other one — the almond frosted coconut.

I don’t know what this is. Maybe we need to get her evaluated.

That was our day: sugar, sugar, sugar, sugar, goofiness, and then a wicked case of the hiccups on the way home for me.

It was totally worth every one.

 

 

The Ramblin’ Palates in LaBelle

I have a fantastic circle of friends. Every week on Friday mornings a group of us meet for breakfast at a local diner. It’s not a strictly defined group, there are some that come once in a while, but there is a core of us that is Always. There. We never miss it.

The Ramblin' Palates are ready to go!

The Ramblin’ Palates are ready to go!

Here we are. From the left is Cary, me, Kosta (my husband), Di, and Tammy. The only one missing is Val, but we met up with her on our way.

It just so happens that this core group also happen to be foodies. Which is how the Ramblin’ Palates came to be. We decided that every month or so we would journey to a restaurant out there in the state of Florida that has a reputation for great food. Today we took a trip north and inland to the little town of LaBelle, FL for lunch.

We have so much fun together. There is much laughter, usually near to the point of someone wetting themselves. On our drive to LaBelle we took two cars because there were to be six of us. But fifteen minutes into the journey Tammy calls us and to inform us this is unacceptable and that we must all ride together. So we drop our car in the Target parking lot and squeeze into Di’s SUV. We thought it was a tight fit then, but when we got to Ft. Myers and picked up Val? Let’s just say it may have been slightly illegal how there were four of us crammed in the back seat.2 Peas Cafe sigh

We arrived in LaBelle at the The Two Peas Cafe. Tammy had lived in LaBelle during high school so she knew the ladies who owned the place. They are famous for their pie, which is the most important food group, in my humble opinion. I will take a piece of pie over all other sweets. My mother makes me a birthday pie every August. The day after Thanksgiving can always be counted on as being outstanding because there is always pie for breakfast. You get the idea.

The restaurant isn’t fancy, but the ladies who work there are welcoming, friendly, and the food was awesome. Since October it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month the Two Peas Cafe was awash in pink. There were t-shirts, pink hair, and pink ribbon cards that could be obtained by making a donation.

Save 2nd Base

Save 2nd Base

Di made a generous gift to the fund and we all wrote on ribbons for our loved ones who had cancer. Some survived, some did not. But all of them were fighters.

Lunch was excellent. After perusing the menu Cary and I decided to split entrees. I ordered the fried green tomatoes and she ordered the garlic cheddar burger and we each ate half. The burger was good, but the tomatoes were out of this world. Tangy, crispy, and lightly battered. YUM.

fried green tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes

 

Everyone was happy with their meals:

Kosta and his Patricia Melt

Kosta and his Patricia Melt

Cary and Di with their burgers

Cary and Di with their burgers

Val and her Hoppin John

Val and her Hoppin John

Tammy and her BL Fried Green Tomato sandwich.

Tammy and her BL Fried Green T sandwich.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poor Tammy. She’s so painfully shy.

Dessert was divine as well. All of us save Kosta had the coconut cream pie. Di, whose family is from Kentucky, informed us the proper way to pronouce it is “cokernut.” To think I’ve been saying it wrong all these years!

Cokernut Cream Pie

Cokernut Cream Pie

Kosta decided to be the rogue (Black Sheep is his middle name) and had the last slice of apple pie in the house. It was served up like this with the rest of our pies:

apple pie beforeAnd then one of the owners saw what he had and squawked in dismay. She told him, “Honey, give me that pie and I’ll show you how a fat girl eats it.”

She took away the sweet little slice, plump with apples and fragrant with spices. When she returned it was warm, had 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream, and was drizzled with caramel sauce:

apple pie after

What was once an ordinary piece of apple pie was now transformed into a hedonistic, diabetic-coma-inducing masterpiece.

You know he ate the whole thing. Minus one bite that I stole.

The pie doctor

The pie doctor and one of the Two Peas

The self-proclaimed “fat girl” told us the story of how Two Peas Cafe got its name. The two women who own it have been best friends their whole lives. They were often likened to two peas in a pod. Regardless of good, bad, or the inveitable trouble they landed it, the two peas stuck together.

A delicious meal and PIE. What could be better?

The fun didn’t end there. After lunch Tammy and Val took us on a driving tour of the little town of LaBelle. We saw where they used to live, work, and go to school. We saw the church that has a tree planted in their mother’s honor. And then we turned a corner and found a pumpkin patch complete with corn maze! Naturally, a clown car crammed with adults hopped up on sugar needed to stop.

pumpkin patch

The Ramblin Palates before the mayhem…

Uh... guys? Thats a beanbag toss... not a--never mind.

Uh… guys? Thats a beanbag toss… not a–never mind.

 

Children of the Corn

Children of the Corn

The two ladies who were staffing the pumpkin patch must have thought we were all newly escaped from Happy Acres. There were several occasions when one of us had to walk away or risk peeing in our pants from laughing.  When we were posing behind the candy corn, I distinctly remember my husband shouting at Cary: “Don’t pee on me! Don’t pee on me!” Which of course, was not exactly helpful to someone with a terminal case of the giggles.

I’m sure the two ladies were glad to see us go. Especially since we didn’t buy any pumpkins.

The last stop we made in LaBelle was the Harold P. Curtis Honey Company.  They have been in LaBelle since 1954 and they sell all sorts of varieties of wonderful honey. Since the last time I was in LaBelle they have had an outstanding mural painted on the side of their building:

Harold P. Curtis Honey Co. LaBelle, FL

Harold P. Curtis Honey Co. LaBelle, FL

We popped inside for a look around. They have wildflower and orange blossom honey, as you would expect in Florida, but they also have mangrove, seagrape, and palmetto honey too. We all tasted the different kinds and Kosta bought some seagrape honey to take home.

So we packed ourselves tightly in the car and headed home.

The view from the back seat.

The view from the back seat.

 

Stay tuned for next month’s adventure!