Category Archives: Photography

The Road to Rothenburg

After a light chocolatey breakfast in Füssen…

Yum
Yum

we were on the road again, this time to Fürstenfeldbruck, described online as a “German rural district” – but there was method to my rural madness. I was finally, FINALLY, going to meet Simone of “Lady of the Cakes” fame! There’s always something a bit odd about telling people that you’ve got this great friend that you’ve never actually met in person, so I was happy to be able to rectify this bloggy problem. I also had the good sense to snap a couple of cake shots so I’d make a good first impression (four years later).

Caaaaaaaaaake.
Caaaaaaaaaake.

Simone chose the Romantik Hotel as our meeting point – don’t worry, she didn’t try to jump my bones – and when we arrived, there she was, sitting at a table in a beautiful courtyard. She had brought her brother along, I guess as protection in case Manfredas and I turned out to be psychos.

Romantik
Romantik

Disappointingly, neither of them was dressed in traditional Bavarian garb, but we managed to have a lovely time anyway. Manfredas summed it up nicely afterwards saying it was like watching two old friends who just hadn’t seen each other in a few months catching up, rather than two people who’d never met before in their lives. And, as you would expect, Simone chose somewhere with delicious food…

Chicken in some sort of sauce with potato gratin
Chicken in some sort of sauce with potato gratin – and a flower.

Sadly, after a couple of hours, it was time to say goodbye and hit the road again. I think Simone was probably relieved to see the back of me as I was struggling to hold in the yodels at that point. After a brief stop in Dinkelsbühl, which is just as cute and dinky as it sounds:

dsc01804

we drove to our final destination of the trip – Rothenburg ob der Tauber – arriving just before sunset. Rothenburg has long been on my list of places to visit, being a medieval town with flower-covered, half-timbered houses lining the pretty cobbled streets. We dropped off the car and our bags and hit the town walls for a sunset stroll.

dsc01816

At this stage, we were pretty hungry again, so we found a likely-looking spot in the town centre and refuelled on Flammkuchen – and wine. Unfortunately, all of the outdoor seating areas shut down really early because of the residents so we decided to head back to the rooftop terrace of our hotel to watch the stars with a bottle of wine instead.

The next morning turned out to be a glorious day, providing the perfect backdrop to this gorgeous town.

I even managed a dungeon escape…

Ha HA!
Ha HA!

Against my better judgement, I agreed to climb to the top of the Town Hall, which promised spectacular views over the city and surrounds.

Gulp.
Gulp.

To say the stairs are precarious would be an understatement and all of my leg muscles were screaming by the time we reached the top – which turned out not to be the top at all. No, after a grinning man relieves puffing, red-faced you of €2, you have to haul yourself up the remaining steps, through a trapdoor and out onto a 1-foot wide ledge. The views were well worth it though.

dsc01870

If I had thought getting out there was bad, getting back in again was ten times worse. Manfredas – bless him – had to take my bag as I tried to angle myself to squeeze back into the gap and down the ladder backwards, with handles roughly the size of staples to hang onto. With sweaty hands, this was NOT easy.

Me: How many people have died doing that? 

Grinning man: None. 700-year-old fitness studio.

Me: Harumph. 

After the most-deserved glass of wine ever, it was time to drive back to Berlin.

To sum up – lakes, castles, mountains, The Sound of Music, amazing food and wine, yodelling, beautiful towns and cities, meeting a blogging buddy, countless border crossings, a “mad” king, flowers, flowers, flowers, trick fountains, great company that doesn’t mind me singing and shouting “ROAD TRIP!” sporadically, ladies’ bottoms and a sex gag machine – if there’s a better way to spend a trip, I can’t think of it.

 

Advertisements

New Blog (blatant plug)

So, I know what you’ve all been thinking: “I just wish there was some way I could get more of Linda…” (Ahem.)

Well, it’s your lucky day! After much pondering and faffing around, I’ve finally decided to start a photographic blog of Berlin.

As you know, I’ve been more of a “words girl” up to this point so the photography thing is pretty new to me. I’m not even sure I’m terribly good at it but I want to be, and just getting out there and seeing more of Berlin is so much fun.

How my morning looked...
How my morning looked…

The blog tagline is “From the pretty to the gritty” and that’s really what it’s about. I don’t just want to show the beautiful bits (of which there are plenty, believe me) but more the everyday, the quirky, the weird and the wonderful.

For the most part, I’ll be keeping the words to a minimum – the world breathes a sigh of relief – but of course, I’d love to hear from you lovely people. Any comments, suggestions, criticisms and crap jokes are always welcome. Or, if anyone wants to tag along on a Fotowanderung (still making up German words), just drop me a line.

Obviously, there’s not much on the site at the moment but I hope to update it twice or three times a week so bear with me.

In the meantime, I’d be delighted if you’d hop on over to Eye on Berlin and let me know what you think.

(Yes, I’ve decided to stick with the “eye” theme – it’s worked for me so far!)

Thank you all in advance!

Linda.

 

 

 

The BAD little town that’s so good (2)

I woke up on Easter Sunday to another beautiful day. The sun was shining, birds were singing, a cock… was crowing in the distance, and I was awake at 9am – unheard of.

I cheerily hummed my way across the yard to the breakfast room, where Herr Scherr was playing the host with the most. While I was shambling around trying to locate spoons, napkins and tea, he presented me with a surprise gift.

What a lovely gesture!
What a lovely gesture!

I wanted to grab him by his manly German braces and plant a smacker on him, but his Russian wife could have been lurking nearby and that could have meant big trouble. Instead, I asked him for a pot of tea.

After dining like a queen and taking a shower, I popped back over to Herr Scherr to enquire about renting a bike for the day. He said he’d meet me outside the garage in around 10 minutes which, in German time, meant a minute and a half. He unlocked one of the garages to reveal a range of bicycles, choosing one that he thought would be a good fit for me. After hammering on the saddle a bit to lower it even further, I hopped on.

My bike
My bike – a ridiculous €2.50 for the day

I wobbled around the yard a couple of times in front of him, he told me to have fun, probably mentally wrote the bike off, and I was on my merry way.

I didn’t have any real plan; I was just going to cycle around as much of the lake as I could manage. I am what the Germans refer to as a “Schönwetter-Radfahrer” so I was a bit out of practice and had no desire to kill myself on such a lovely day. I cycled towards the lake, where the Germans were out in force doing what Germans do best – walking, running, biking, eating, and drinking beer, though usually not all at the same time.

The man on the right is demonstrating how to get into the perfect sitzpinkelling position...
The man on the right is demonstrating how to get into the perfect sitzpinkelling position…

In case you hadn’t gathered from the previous post, BAD Saarow and Scharmützelsee are rather beautiful. In fact, it was hard to stay on my bike for any amount of time as I kept on jumping off to take photos of pretty things, which was virtually everything. The houses dotted around the lake are so cute, it’s hard to believe people actually live in them.

But the absolute winner had to be…

How cool is that?!
How cool is that?!

I cycled on and on, proud of myself for not having fallen off or killed anyone. There were cycle lanes most of the way and it was pretty flat so this wasn’t really much of an achievement. Eventually, hunger started gnawing at me so I began keeping an eye out for a likely establishment. After a while, I happened upon the charming Café Dorsch.

DSC00218

I nabbed the last remaining outdoor table, ordered soup and a glass of wine, enjoyed the sun on my face and took in the view.

Could be worse...
Could be worse…

It was in the bathroom after lunch that I realised one leg of my tracksuit bottoms was still tucked into my sock but it was a bit late to do anything about it at that stage.

With my legs complaining only a little, it was time to head back to town, with a few photo stops thrown in along the way. It was lucky I was by myself as I’m not sure anyone else would have had the patience for all the hopping on and off I was doing.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Once back, I noticed a small beach that I’d somehow missed before. I sat down at the beach-side café, taking the only table that wasn’t reserved.

DSC00226
At the beach – in March…

As the soup had only half-filled a gap, I decided to order some Apfelstrudel and a cup of tea.

That would definitely finish the gap off.
That would definitely finish the gap off.

With the sky starting to cloud over a bit, I hauled my strudelled butt back onto the bike, wondering if I should now have a sign that said “Wide Load”. After a nap in the comfiest bed ever, it was time to eat – again. As I was still belching garlic from the night before, more garlic was out of the question so I opted for the pork medallions and croquettes in mushroom sauce.

Another massive feed
Another massive feed

If Herr Scherr was surprised that I was still alive and that the bike was still in one piece, he Germanically didn’t show it. Back in my room, I poured a glass of wine and settled in for a night of fiddling about with the photos I’d taken. My phone vibrating made me jump. It was Fireman Sam.

Fireman Sam: Do you want to meet up?

Me: Ugh, I’m so full and so lazy.

Fireman Sam: I’ll be at your hotel in ten minutes.

Me: Urgh. (Belch) 

I put on some perfume to try to mask the garlic, onion, pork and mushroom aroma and walked outside. There he was. Now, if you think I’m mad for getting into a car with a virtual stranger, don’t worry – he was a German virtual stranger. I knew I’d be safe as houses.

He drove to the lake and we spent a lovely hour or so walking around in the moonlight, watching the lights reflecting off the water. I spoke bad German, he spoke good German and we somehow made it work.

All in all, the perfect end to the perfect weekend.

The BAD little town that’s so good (1)

With Easter weekend on the horizon, I decided it was time to get away for a couple of days’ rest and relaxation. After a little deliberation, I chose the town of BAD Saarow, partly because it looked pretty and wasn’t that far away, and partly because it sounded like a misbehaving small bird, which is what I am most of the time.

Deutsche Bahn, in their infinite wisdom, had chosen this weekend to do work on several regional train lines so, with a small house on my back, I set off to get the first train that would take me to the second train that would take me to the first replacement bus that would take me to the second replacement bus…

Finally, at around 1.15, we pulled up outside BAD Saarow train station.

Blink.
Blink.

After a quick glance around to make sure everyone hadn’t turned into fairy tale characters, I got off the bus. I took a couple of photos of the train station – mainly to prove that it actually exists in real life. My hunger and need to pee brought me back down to earth and I wandered across the road to a café, looking over my shoulder every now and then to make sure the station was still there.

I sat at an outside table and a waitress promptly brought over the menu. Fancying something a bit hearty after my extensive travels, I ordered the Wurstgulasch mit Nudeln. The fact that they didn’t have wine should have been a warning sign, but I was still in a bit of a daze so I just ordered a cup of tea instead. My “Gulasch” arrived…

20160326_134412

If you’re thinking, “My, it looks just like chunks of sausage in an abundance of tomato ketchup thrown on top of some pasta”, I can assure you, that’s exactly what it was. Still, it was edible so I ate enough so as not to alarm the waitress, paid and trundled off.

I was actually staying at a guest house in an even smaller town, called Neu Golm (I know, right?), which was around 3kms from the centre of BAD Saarow;  I just had no idea in which direction. Seeing no taxis outside the train station, I headed for the harbour, thinking they might be hiding out there.

Spring! Finally!
Spring! Finally!

I had seen pictures of Scharmützelsee (Lake) and, well, this is Germany, so I was expecting it to be “pretty”, but my expectations weren’t even close to the reality.

As the sun danced on the calm water, I danced around merry Germans, mentally congratulating myself on having chosen this place on this fabulous weekend. Soon, however, the weight of my backpack overrode my smug delight and it was back to the train station which also houses the information office. I asked the lady about buses and it turned out the next one was in around three hours. So, I asked her about taxis. She called one and the driver said he would be there in 15 minutes. I said I’d wait outside.

Who wouldn't?
Who wouldn’t?

Five minutes later, she came out in a panic to say that there’d been an accident on the Autobahn and the driver would be delayed indefinitely. I followed her back inside and watched as she frantically dialled other taxi companies, took money for souvenirs and fended off requests for bicycle rentals and boat tours. I resisted the urge to whisper, “Relax, this is all just a dream. None of this is actually happening…”

In the end, she decided to call the owner of the hotel to come and pick me up.

Herr Scherr to the rescue
Herr Scherr to the rescue

15 minutes later, I was standing outside Landhaus Neu Golm.

Is this the real life...?
Is this the real life…?

Herr Scherr handed me a key with a key ring that was almost as heavy as my backpack, explained the dinner/breakfast times, and we were done. My room was on the ground floor, spotless and airy, with the comfiest bed I’d ever set my tired arse on. But, this was no time to get lazy. It was Easter Saturday, i.e. the last day you could buy a bottle of wine until Tuesday.

I set off for a little stroll around Neu Golm – which took around three minutes. Neu Golm, I established, consists of some houses, a picturesque church, and a “yoof” centre that didn’t look like it was going to cause me any sleepless nights.

It seemed like the only activity in the area that day was a potato sale. It was almost like someone knew the Irish were coming…

Spuds! Woop!
Spuds! Woop!

I walked back in the direction of BAD Saarow – a pretty, peaceful walk which consisted of trees and fields, more trees and fields, and some more trees and fields.

Have some trees...
Have some trees…

After surviving the armageddon-style scrum that you find in supermarkets the day before a public holiday, I meandered back to the lake and eventually to the terrace of a restaurant I’d had my eye on earlier.

DSC00086

Oddly, they were closing up the outside section.

Me: Can I sit outside?

Waiter: Sure! 

Job done.

I settled in with a glass of white wine, on a cushion that they brought out specially, and enjoyed all the light I could see while reading “All The Light We Cannot See”. Spooky, eh?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Having taken another billion photos, it was back to the hotel for dinner. With the menu rather heavily geared in the pork direction, I opted for the Schnitzel with onions, garlic and fried potatoes. It’s safe to say German portions will be the death of me.

It was bigger than my torso.
It was bigger than my torso.

From my vantage point at the window, I noticed that something was happening at the Youth Centre.

Me: What’s going on over there? 

Waitress: Oh, Easter Fire. 

Me: Huh. Can anyone go or is it invite-only?

Waitress: Anyone can go! No problem! 

So I stumbled across the road with my Schnitzel-baby in tow. About thirty people were standing around a massive bonfire, talking, drinking and warming themselves. I bought a dodgy-looking shot from the lady working the “booze window” and made my way over. Naturally, in a village with a population of around fifty people, I stood out.

Bonfires and dodgy drinks - the backbone of any German celebration
Bonfires and dodgy drinks – the backbone of any German celebration

It seemed that the entire fire department was there and, sure enough, one of them came over to test the level of “stranger danger”.

Fireman Sam: You’re not from around here…

Me: No. I’m from Ireland. 

And that was that. Instant “in”. Soon my new buddy and I were surrounded by curious Neu Golmers, wondering how an Irish girl had wandered into their midst on Easter Saturday. Shots were downed, Glühwein flowed, many a funny conversation was had, and I soon felt like an honorary Neu Golmer.

Before midnight, I was invited along to a well where it seemed the Germans were going to dip their heads in freezing water, or something. With my bed within crawling distance, I declined. Maybe next year…

(To be continued…)