Thursday, April 26, 2018

No more blog posts

Until I find a better blogging app I won't waste any more time with this. Two hours and a lost post about Heidelberg. Here's some photos.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Bad Durkheim, Sunday 22, April and Luisenpark, Mannheim, Monday 23, April

Sunday was hot and sunny. I put sunscreen on before leaving the apartment. We spent a couple hours visiting Christa in Mannheim, then decided to take the streetcar\tram to Bad Durkheim for the afternoon\evening. I guess we took the incorrect #4 tram, that we thought was a direct shot to Bad Durkheim. It was not. We were supposed to change to the #9 along the way. And so, when we started seeing familiar stops on the way back to Mannheim, we got off to find the correct tram. A very nice student from Somalia who spoke both German and English walked us over to the platform heading to Bad Durkheim and waited with us until it came. I asked him if it had been difficult to learn German. He said it was more difficult than English, and that he was still learning it. He hoped to go back to Somalia one day, more educated and help his country. We thanked him and got on board heading in the right direction.

Bad Durkheim is a quaint little city that would be relaxing to spend a few days in. Quiet and clean, it reminded me of the old German towns I had visited years ago. It is best known for the Wurstfest, the world's largest wine fest held the 2nd and 3rd weekends in September. Man muss die feste feiern wie sie fallen! (One must celebrate the parties as they come!) That German expression was drilled into our heads by our German language professor, Herr Matson. He proceeded to invite the class to the local Oktoberfest the first semester of class, as a learning experience of course! That's where my wife Sue and I met my traveling partner, Monika and her husband Don. When Don could not travel with Monika to Germany this time, both he and my wife suggested I go with Monika. So here we are in Germany. Ein Prosit!

Known for its mineral springs and salt baths, it has long been a place where people came to recover from various ailments on their own, or as prescribed by their doctors.

   Families were out today looking for relief from the heat

   Oh yea. That's a tourist

We walked along the dripping saltwater wall where people came to breathe in the vapors of salt mists. Just the few minutes we were there caused my glasses to have a salty coating and my hands dried out. I tasted the dripping water and it is saltier than the seawater I've gulped (accidentally) in the ocean.

I spotted something from the walkway that I knew I had to explore!

It was about time to find my first beer in Gernany in 38 years. April, 1980, I separated from the Air Force and returned to Ohio after 3 years in Wiesbaden. One of my favorite beers, then and now, is Bitburger Pils. And so, it would be at the Restaurant, Durkheimer Riesenfass. I ordered a Bitburger Pils and my old favorite, Jagerschnitzel with Pomme Frites.

   The first of two Bitburger Pils I would have with my meal

   Jagerschnitzel mit Pomme frites and mushroom gravy on the side. Mmmmm

I new at the beginning of this trip that for a couple meals at least, I would set aside my vegetarian ways and enjoy some flavors from my past life. Yesterday was one of those days. Today, at the restaurant in Luisenpark in Mannheim, I returned to my regular diet. I ordered their Vegetarianische Burger. It was very good, but perhaps not as remembered by me as the schnitzel shown above.

   Monika under the Eichbaum bier umbrella waits for her Eichbaum bier to arrive

Eichbaum bier is brewed in Mannheim and a visit to the brewery is planned. Eichbaum means Oak tree. They may or may not offer a brewery tour at the time of our visit, but Monika assures me they have a tavern on site to enjoy a glass or two. It is just across the Neckar River, not far from our apartment.

I don't know where we'll be tomorrow. Whether visiting friends, taking a tram to Heidelberg, or a train along the Rhein River. But I'll take pictures and set aside some time to write more about this little adventure.


Saturday, April 21, 2018

1st full day in Mannheim

Saturday, 21 April, was our first full day in Mannheim. We left the apartment heading toward the water tower (Wasserturm), a can't miss landmark in Mannheim. On the way, we passed the dedication to the first Mercedes Benz ever made. Monika informed me that it was built in Mannheim, but now they are built in Stuttgart. 

It was going to be a somewhat hot day here with the temperature rising to the low 80s. Very unusual for this time of year. I brought sunscreen and pants that unzip to shorts. (Such a tourist)

Just across from where we took the photo of me above is the water tower. This is a gateway into the quadratestadt- squared city. Mannheim is one of few German cities laid out in a grid pattern. It is not easy to get lost in the inner city of Mannheim. (Thankfully for me!)

The pond of water in the photo above is full of jets and lights that provide a nice show each night. We are planning to come back here after dark on our way back to the apartment tonight.

Our plans today include visiting with Monika's dear friend, Christa and going with her to the Markt. The Markt in the center of the city is a large farmer's market. There I found stands of fruits and vegetables, flowers, cheeses, fresh fish, and the ubiquitous German sausages. 

   Monika and Christa decide what to buy for lunch

Monika found her favorite sausage, a dry cured, hard sausage that needs no refrigeration and lasts up to a year, albeit, not with Monika around it won't last that long. I bought some butter lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and radishes. I'll be eating some great salads when I'm not out at a restaurant. 

Being a vegetarian, I will not eat sausages, but I am determined to order a schnitzel or German goulash soup at a nice restaurant. (When in Rome...)

While Monika visited with Christa back at Christa's apartment, I walked around watching the people. While walking around, a young man came up and asked me for directions to the train station. Surprisingly, I turned and pointed in the direction he was heading and said, "Geradeaus zwei Ecken, und dann rechts." (Straight ahead two corners and then right.) I could not thing how to say 'continue ten or twelve blocks' so I said, "Zehn oder zwolf ... Um ... Blocks?" I think he understood because he smiled and waved, saying, "Thank you very much!"

We did stop and watch the fountains and colors at the water tower on our way back to the apartment. There were lots of families, teenagers, and tourists hanging out enjoying the show. 

Our plans on Sunday include using one of the three day-passes we purchased Saturday for the intercity tram. We'll likely visit either Heidelberg, Speyer, or one of the outlying suburbs, all within a half hour of Mannheim.

I'll take more photos and post them online with a link to them in my next blog entry tomorrow. Time to go get ready for the day.

As they say in southern Germany, "Auf wiedersehen, Y'all"

Ein Prosit! From Mannheim

Monika, whom I am traveling with, was born here in Mannheim and speaks German fluently. I speak it ... Nicht so gut. It has been almost 40 years since I was stationed in Wiesbaden and almost that long since I took German at Shasta College with Monika's husband. He could not travel with her this trip and recommended I go with her. My wife, whom I met in Germany, asked, "You aren't packed yet?" Und so, hier bin ich. (Here I am).

First things first. I would not recommend flying Condor Airlines. It's almost like they wanted to add three or four more rows to the plane so they could squeeze more people in, and then the owner of the airline asked them add three or four more rows on top of that. I have never been so cramped in a seat. God forbid we dropped something and had to pick it up. A ridiculous airline, especially for an international flight. I am already dreading the flight home. Business class here I come.

Friday 20 April
We arrived in Frankfurt on time at 1:30 PM local time and everything went like clockwork thereafter. This is Germany after all. The Germans are nothing if not on-time. From Fankfurt to our apartment in Mannheim, everything went splendidly, the high-speed train, the taxi from the Hauptbahnhof (train station), to the apartment. Angelika met us with our keys and stayed to explain everything to us. Very nice. A bottle of wine and water waiting. A very clean apartment. I found it on AirBnB and it is lovely. 

Our first evening here, we walked to a grocery store to get some essentials, and then took the long way back to the apartment. This will be a beatiful city to explore with the Rhein and Neckar rivers nearby. Monika was sharing some old photos with me and I was nodding off after the long, long day. I went to bed at 8:00 PM waking at midnight. I was awake for a few hours until 3:00 AM, then slept until 6:30 AM. Yea! No jet-lag for me this trip. Photos of Mannheim will come later in my next blog post. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Fall is frozen over

I was reading some old facebook posts of friends and one line in a post caught my eye. My friend had written in early November about a trip to Old Man's Cave in Ohio - a popular place to visit. He wrote that he was thinking of going back "when fall is frozen over." So, I wrote the following poem.


When fall is frozen over  (2017)


When fall is frozen over and

The moon is slivered shut

When the tree is trimmed and ready

To gather presents underfoot

It's then I like to sit with you

In silence by the hearth

And reminisce about old friends

From whom we are apart

No visit from St. Nicholas

Or carol sung on high

Can warm my heart as surely as

Your words from time gone by

"It always snows for Christmas"

Still I laugh and don't believe, but

Fall is frozen over and

The moon is slivered shut

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Goodness Knows

Goodness Knows

At the end of my yesterdays

I'll bid you adieu 

But today, I pray 

To keep Heaven at bay

I'm going there tomorrow

Just down the road

From where we've come

To goodness knows

Moronda Rights

You have the right to remain ignorant. Anything you say, write, or tweet can, and will be, mocked. You have the right to Facebook friends who share your moronic beliefs. You have the right to tweet your moronic beliefs to all the morons who follow you. You have the right to like only soldiers who were not captured. You have the right to burn a copy of the Bill of Rights when those sons of bitches take a knee during the National Anthem. You have the right to disrespect Gold Star families. You have the right to support the many good people in the KKK and other white supremacist groups. You have the right to get back on your psych meds ... or not. And, you have the right to run for President of the United States. If you cannot afford a MAGA hat, you can make one out of aluminum foil that will also protect you from the spy satellites Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton put overhead to keep track of your whereabouts.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, May 23, 2016

National Marshmallow Toasting Day is August 30, 2016

You may prefer a lightly toasted mallow, or a full-on-fire mallow; a generic store-bought mallow or a gourmet flavored mallow; a steel skewer or one you've cut from a tree branch. It doesn't matter how you roast the mallow, only that you roast it and celebrate it. Here at the National Marshmallow Roasters Institute, we have our recommended ways of roasting and the desired general outcomes. But we still like to teach people to roast however they prefer. For example, there are different techniques if you prefer metal skewers or the recommended SmorStix skewers - We teach both methods. There are different techniques for roasting gourmet marshmallows vs. the recommended Campfire marshmallows. We teach both. There are different concerns for safety in backyard firepits vs beach bonfires. We teach both.

I find it fascinating that from Juneau to Miami and from Bangor to San Diego, there is the opportunity and fun for all Americans to roast marshmallows and make s'mores. Is there any food as ubiquitously American as roasted marshmallows? Fluffernutter sandwiches from Massachusetts? No. Grits from south of the Mason-Dixon? No. Maybe, though, perhaps a slice of apple pie, or hotdogs roasted over the same fire as our marshmallows. 

It doesn't matter if you are voting for Donald or Hillary. We all put our marshmallows on the skewers one mallow at a time. We all can find common ground from the Flag to the s'more. So, on August 30, instead of sending out that firey tweet, or adding your snarky facebook comment, let's celebrate National Marshmallow Toasting Day with people with whom we seemingly have little in common. Just getting to know, or getting reacquainted with others will show you just how much we have in common.

Roast in Peace