Dueling castle towns

P1000572[2]So finally I have a reason to write about my hatred for Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Thank god, it’s been two plus years since I visited that assclown town and now I have something to compare it to, which gives me the right to hate it, as I am clearly a seasoned castle go-er now. (these pictures are from two years ago when I visited)

I’m not becoming a castle snob by any means.  But if you’re going to parade around the internetP1000576[1] and every map of Germany, claiming to be fantastic and full of little treasures and presents of wonder, you had better be a damned good castle and you had better give me something to look at.  Der Tauber, I think means over the river, the Tauber being in that town somewhere, I’ll have to take their word for it, I guess.  I never saw a damned river (first lie)…Anyway, it was a bust, and even the Chinese food wasn’t good and I’m not talking mall China Panda chinese.  It claimed to be authentic.  I think the only authentic thing there was the waitress and she was German so how authentic is that really?  (I know, I know, you can be Chinese and German, but not the point for my purposes in this post) Who knows why I still trust authentic Chinese food in Germany.  Lesson number 513 learned.

I did have high hopes in entering the town.  I mean you literally pull into a gate, the castle walls, and before you is supposed to be this quaint little town.  No, it’s stupid.  There was a man with a latern in the town center, per usual, leading around a pack of Eagle Scouts, typical.  There was a shabby old wall and a bunch of restaurants that weren’t P1000590[1]open, typical Sunday (hence the Chinese food).  What there  was was the promise that Christmas was around the corner (it was June) and that they invented the Christmas tree.  First of all, get out of here with the Christmas tree talk.  Everyone knows that my dad invented  the Christmas tree the first time I went out with him to chop one down and I guess over here they talk about Christmans in June or July and they don’t mean a mid-summer clothing sale. 

Furthermore, after doing a little research, I find that the townspeople of Rothenburg, those sneaky little cheats, are going to have to battle it out with the people of Riga, in Latvia, who claim THEY started the Christmas tree (here is all riga_christmas_tree_1the proof you’ll ever need) .  Jesus, it’s like me finding a bunch of weeds in my backyard and saying I invented the daisy.  Consider it done.  So, point of this little story is that Rothenberg is terrible and I found a real town within castle walls that is NOT terrible.

castle walls WDSWeil der Stadt, a fantastic little town within castle walls.  I went here yesterday, by chance, actually, as we did our usual drive around Germany Sundays.  This whole, work and physical labor is illegal on Sundays, thing is great for relaxation and car rides in the country. And so we stumbled across Weil der Stadt, which is only ten minutes from my house.  Who knew?

Apparently, not only is it the winner of my castle towns contest this week, it is also home to the Carnival, the mini Carnival, which is just fine by me.  Another thing is is home to is puppet making shops (you have to see these silly little puppets), horse drawn carriages used for actual transportation and not show, endless fountains and statues of jesters, which makes sense now due to it being the home of minijester shop Carnival.  And unlike that rotten Rothenburg, there is a lot going on on Sundays, it is not a ghost town, and you can bike, walk the trails, have some ice cream or a beer, and do pretty much whatever tickles your fancy.  I appreciate that in a town.  I wish I had brought the good camera with me, but all I had was the weil der stadt riveriPhone so my pics are limited from yesterday’s trip.  That and I wasn’t showered and was wearing a beater and gym capris, none of which is going to make it into a photo for this blog…I think since I love this little town so much, though, I’ll take the train back this week and walk around to document it all.  I’m still finding it very hard to believe that these towns have terrible Wikipedia pages, but they do.  Weird.

In other Aidlingen news, I made it through a weekend without busting my tailbone on the trampoline, saw my first Stuttgart rugby match (which would be more exciting if I understood the game, am working on it), tried on a few dirndls so that I can be sure to find the perfect one for September, cleaned up the vines to be sure my prison punch is still a reality, and finished my longest piece of writing in a long time.  I am going to submit that damned thing somewhere because I’ve decided I should just be a stay at home travel writer/castle critic/vagabond journalist of some sort.  Wouldn’t want to get used to the real world again.  😉

And for today, that is all.

And so I’m not a baker…

DSC_0393-1This doesn’t surprise me, really.  I can barely cook, forget baking.  I can make someone the best grilled cheese on the face of the earth, a mean meat sauce, and mac and cheese.  I can make a great onion dip, I’m not too shabby at stuffed mushrooms, and I can manage most crock pot dinners.  And chicken, I can make most chicken dishes, primarily a marsala or a chicken parm.  But I am really no good in the kitchen, unless I’m taste testing, and then I’m great.  We can’t all be good at everything and I think I have a few skills thatDSC_0391-1 trump how to fold in egg whites, so there, (insert name of famous pastry chef). 

So I am working on baking for a reason, a selfish one at that.  I want to win over the old women in my neighborhood.  I wanted to bake them blueberry cakes, so I asked my mom to send me her recipe, which looks suspiciously similar to the one on AllRecipes, hmph, so much for that family secret.  I figured I’d bake them a cake, walk it over and leave it with them, wave and be on my DSC_0394-1way.  If they tried to speak German to me, I’d point to my house and have a one liner prepared, something like, Enjoy your cake from your neighbors!  Or, here’s to trying something that isn’t a strudel!  Or, sorry you aren’t France or you’d have the croissant and I wouldn’t feel like pushing breakfast pastry on you!  From what I can tell, most Germans, well, male Germans, settle for eating that slab of meat between a roll, with a coffee.  That is disgusting.  Try a cake from the American cake girl, or so that was my thought.

I had all the ingredients and tools set up, though I decided to first play around with raspberry cakes and THEN do the blueberry ones, once I got the batter right.  I realized quickly my problem–I just have no love for baking.  I don’t stare fondly at pats of butter or play DSC_0396-1with flour like I’m tossing it in the wind.  I don’t stir with great passion and I certainly can never taste any sort of batter and instantly tell, as I stare off into the distance, JUST what is missing and then make it right, like, silly me, you forgot to add a pinch of NUTMEG.DSC_0399-1 (i don’t even know where nutmeg belongs, really)  Anyway, I followed directions to a point and then I thought my batter just looked too dry and I didn’t want it crumbling everywhere when it was cooked so I added more milk and then it was too wet and ah, that is where I must have gone wrong.  It also took 75 minutes to cook, which is absurd, it was only a baby bread pan.

I let it cool for about 3 minutes and then I tasted it.  Somehow all of the raspberries had joined forces and all snuck down to the bottom of the pan, even thought I floured their asses like a baby’s bottom.  So what I was left with was a yummy, sugar coated cake on top and sticky, wet raspberries on the bottom, which if you squish the two parts together and eat them at the same time with your eyes closed, it doesn’t taste half bad.  It was a bust, though, all in all, and I will try the blueberry version today or tomorrow.  Here is the end result, though.  Not half bad, right?  Good thing this isn’t a cooking blog or else I’d be in trouble…

DSC_0403-1Alright, I have a writing project to finish today that is slightly more important than my quest to become Martha Stewart.  (i’m kidding)  Until tomorrow…..

Endless flowers and my muse Mox

IMG_0201First thing I have to discuss is the fabulous discovery I made last weekend on our ride through the Black Forest.  The Blumen fields.DSC_0319  (Blumen meaning flower in German) Every town here, or at least every other town here has at least one field of of beautiful flowers growing, rows and rows of exquisitely vibrant and fresh sunflowers and lillies and something else…I have no idea what they’re called, but it doesn’t matter, they’re beautiful, there are hundreds of them and here’s the shocking part.  They’re all mine if I want them.  All of them.  Which I don’t, I only want my share.  It’s like every town gives you your very own personal florist and it’s there whenever you want, just pull up and pick them.  They do ask that you pay .50 euro a stalk, but really, that’s nothing in comparison to how each bouquet fills my rooms with light and the sweetest smell.  I can’t get over the fact that I can go get them every week.DSC_0315  I’m not even all that wild about flowers usually.  I do not need them from boyfriends, I HATE roses, all of them, but especially those vile red ones, just bleeding and being terribly predictable.  Tulips, ah, the tulip is my exception to the rule.  Bring me tulips, daily, and you will have my heart forever.  Even once a week would do it….I cannot WAIT until the spring.  I am going to parade all around the Netherlands, finding fields of tulips to roll around in.  I love, love, LOVE tulips.  Ok, back to the Blumen fields.  I hope they are filled with tulips in the spring, that is all I ask.  I had to toss out my pretty Blumen flowers yesterday.  Looks like I’ll be making a run to Esslingen later this evening for a new batch.  Why not my town, you ask?  Because some selfish wenches cut them all down.  I guess they don’t know the rule about only taking your share so that others can enjoy the flowers….Oh well, to the next town it is.

 Now, let’s talk about my new hobby, painting.  I am not creative by any means.  I don’t know anything about colors.  I don’t paint. I don’t draw.  I write, that is all.  I don’t understand art.  I don’t even know if I like art.  I never did in school.  Strike that, I did like pottery, which I think is really just an excuse to get dirty.  Anyway, painting is new to me, and I like it.  It’s kinda relaxing, which I need lately, because the writing I’m doing is not relaxing, it’s stressful and dark and getting to me.  The painting is a great distraction.  And so here it is, here  is the masterpiece I painted a week DSCN1869-2ago.  Now I should be fair and let you know that I modeled my painting after a work of another artist, but it was no paint by number.  I free handed that beauty and think I’ll paint more.  Lucky for me, this artist paints pictures all modeled after dogs like Moxie, our blue heeler.  And even luckier for me, I have a lot of blue paint left to make more…Feel free to submit an order.  Doesn’t everyone want a painting of my special girl, Mox?   And now, to be sure I credit the one and only Mr. George Rodrigue, he is the artist whose art I am attempting to immitate.  Check out his work here http://www.georgerodrigue.com/rodrigue/index2.htm.  It’s really fabulous…actually,it’s probably only fabulous if you own a blue heeler, otherwise it might just look abstract and like I was on acid and had nothing better to do. Not the case, not the case. 

Good news about Oktoberfest.  We have 4 seats in a tent for the OPENING NIGHT of the Stuttgart Oktoberfest on September 19th.  Even better news is that Lainie and Trey will be here for over a week to celebrate Oktoberfest with us.  I cannot wait to see them, can’t wait to see what Oktoberfest is all about (I know, beer), and by then it will be FALL and I LOVE FALL.  It’s going to be a great week.

Ah, not much to report today.  Am framing pictures and relaxing with my feet up.  It feels more like home when we stay home and I’m getting used to it.  (don’t ask Chris, he’d tell you all about my mood swings…)  Anyway,  I have three years to travel on the weekends.  IAnd it’s nice to just sit at home sometimes….Home in Aidlingen.

Camping with the Swiss

IMG_0198I’m a terrible writer this month.  Actually, I’ve just taken on a few too many creative projects, leaving me lazy with this whole blogging thing.  Must work harder on it….So where are we?  Well, since I’ve posted last, we camped in Switzerland, drove through the Black Forest, I friended the locals (the old woman’s name is Gisela, we’ve made verbal contact and she kissed me again), learned some German, attended the Zweibelfest (Onion festival) and yesterday Chris and I celebrated our three year anniversary at Rainbow Garden in Boblingen, a fancy little Thai place with a fantastic fish tank.  Also, in an attempt to be the most fantastic fiance on the face of the earth, I painted him a picture for a gift.  Painted, yes, that’s correct.  It’s of Moxie of course and it’s fabulous.  I’ll post my masterpiece later.  Sooo, as you can see, I’m keeping busy. 🙂

So Switzerland, what a great country to visit.  We went last weekend, the first of August, and without knowing it, showed up during Swiss National Day Weekend, the Swiss version of July 4th.  Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland is the most beautiful town I’ve ever camp jungfraupitched a tent…The Jungfrau region itself is breathaking, with its flowers all colors of the rainbow, pristine and crashing waterfalls around every corner, base jumpers and parasailers jumping from high atop the Alps, floating and landing in the fields before us…really some of the greatest live entertainment I’ve seen in quite some time…And the Alps…well, clearly you just don’t see much of that back in the states,  or at least I never saw anything like that.  We were situated in a valley, three mountains directly in front of our tent, some with snowcaps, some with green moss, all with a magestic beauty that was worth the four hour drive.  And the drive itself was amazing.  Ever been to Interlaken?  That town itself is a little gem.  I’ve never seen water so torquise in my life, and I’m not even sure that’s the color of this water.  That lake is like a interlaken boatsetting where you’d imagine unicorns drink from while fairies ride their backs (I’m very into unicorns these days, no idea why)…At the very least you can fill your water bottle straight from the depths of its icy goodness, I know I did.  I considered the fact that I might die of some water poisoning, knowing I’d never drink straight from any lake back home, but I risked it to test my theory that this water was as pure as it gets.  I was right, and it’s been over a week now, I’m still alive, and so I consider my science experiment a success! Freshpups mtns water!

Our weekend was pretty lazy, and by lazy I mean fabulous.  We took a lot of walks, did a lot of grilling, card playing, vodka drinking (watermelon vodka and fruit punch was drink of the weekend but ask Chris how that ended up for him hahaha) and our campsiterelaxing with our feet up, enjoying the view.  I really couldn’t ask for much more out of a camping trip…maybe a little music, but we’ve already fixed that problem with some new speakers for next time (thank you Heineken promotional summer case, speakers included, so trashy).  Think we’ll bewaterfall camping back around Labor Day.  Everyone else is headed to Greece for Labor Day, but with two friends coming in September and a family visit in October, we need to save some cash and spots to visit.  Can’t let it all get redundant too early. 🙂 Nahh, just kidding, that won’t happen.  Anyway, here are a few more Swiss camping pics…I’m off to finish mowing the lawn now that its stopped raining.  So very domestic of me….I’ll be back later to give an update on the Black Forest and my new life as an abstract painter.  Wait for it….