Tag Archives: German

Zurich, Switzerland

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We love to travel Europe by Train………the Global Eurorail Pass allows the freedom to explore where and when you want….

We decided to take the train across Switzerland and enjoy this beautiful country…

As we approached Zurich and this is what we saw out the window, we knew we were in for a real treat……..

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The city was beautiful and pristine………..

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Zurich  is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zurich. It is located in north-central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zurich.

turiThe municipality has approximately 390,000 inhabitants, and the Zurich metropolitan area 1.83 million.   Zurich is a hub for railways, roads, and air traffic.

 Both Zurich Airport and railway station are the largest and busiest in the country.

The Train Station is clean, organized and beautiful….

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Permanently settled for around 2000 years, the history of Zurich goes back to its founding by the Romans, who, in 15 BC, called it Turicum.

However, early settlements have been found dating back more than 6400 years ago.   During the Middle Ages Zurich gained the independent and privileged status of imperial immediacy and, in 1519, was the place of origin and center of the Protestant Reformation in German-speaking Switzerland, led by Ulrich Zwingli.

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Zurich is a leading global city and among the world’s largest financial centers.

The city is home to a large number of financial institutions and banking giants. Also, most of the research and development centers are concentrated in Zurich and the low rate of tax attracts overseas companies to set up their headquarters there.

Monocle’s 2012 “Quality of Life Survey” ranked Zurich first on a list of the top 25 cities in the world.   According to several surveys from 2006 to 2008, Zurich was named the city with the best quality of life in the world as well as the wealthiest city in Europe.

We could believe that as we had our coffee on the Limmat River, which flows through downtown…

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……..and Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate……….EVERYWHERE….

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The people were all so happy and friendly, the city filled with nooks and crannies ……

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We loved wandering this beautiful city and enjoying all the fountains..

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We had lunch at  Restaurant Schipfe on the banks of the Limmat River, can you imagine a river running through a major city in the United States …………this clean!

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The people at the restaurant were all so friendly… and the food divine…

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After lunch we continued to explore Marvelous Zurich…..

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We visited the Fraumünster Church built on the remains of a former abbey for aristocratic women which was founded in 853 by Louis the German for his daughter Hildegard.

He endowed the Benedictine convent with the lands of Zurich, Uri, and the Albis forest, and granted the convent immunity, placing it under his direct authority.
Today, it belongs to the Swiss Reformed Church.

The Windows were designed by Marc Chagall and installed in 1970…..

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I loved the  décor in our hotel, the Ibis Zurich West ………the bar and the restaurant…..

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….but with all wonderful trips…………it is time to MOOve on……

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Grab A Beer – Shiner, Texas

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The Flying Monkeys were restless and wanted to explore some new place, so off we went to Shiner, Texas

Shiner is located in Lavaca County.

It all began in 1887 when Henry B. Shiner donated 250 acres of land for a railroad right of way.

As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 2,069.

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To our amazement there are no hotels in Shiner!  So we booked a room at the Shiner Country Inn..

Not the lap of luxury, but clean

Shiner is the home of the Spoetzl Brewery,  the oldest independent brewery in Texas.  The brewery is most well known for producing Shiner Bock,  a dark German/Czech-style beer that is now distributed in 41 states.

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………..but more about that later.

We explored the entire town to plan our itinerary………okay that took 10 minutes,

so we went to Snowflake Donuts for breakfast…

 

Upon entering we found a table of about 20 locals, all of whom ceased conversation and stared at us the entire time we were in the place…….okay weird!

………..now back the the Spotzl Brewery……

A group of businessmen incorporated Shiner Brewing Association

and placed Herman Weiss in as the company’s first brewmaster.  

In 1914 a German immigrant brewer named Kosmos Spoetzl co-leased with Oswald Petzold

with an option to buy in 1915.  

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Spoetzl had attended brewmaster’s school and apprenticed for three years in Germany, worked for eight years at the Pyramids Brewery in Cairo, Egypt, and then worked in Canada.   He moved to San Antonio in search of a better climate for his health, bringing with him a family recipe for a Bavarian beer made from malted barley and hops.

During Prohibition in the United States,  Kosmos Spoetzl kept the brewery afloat by selling ice and making Low-alcohol beer  “near beer.”   After Prohibition only five of the original 13 Texas breweries were still intact.   When the Prohibition laws were repealed, larger beer plants, such as Anheuser-Busch, moved to Texas making life harder on the smaller independent breweries,  but Spoetzl kept things small and simple,  never going more than 70 miles for business.

The owner’s daugher, Miss Cecelie took over operations in 1922

and became the only woman in the United States to be a sole owner of a brewery in 1950.

In the 1970s and 1980s the brewery’s ”Shiner Beer” and ”Shiner Bock”  had less than 1 percent of the Texas market.   In 1983 Spoetzl produced 60,000 barrels of beer;  in 1990 only 36,000.   Sales improved after Carlos Alvarez of San Antonio acquired the brewery in 1989:   Production grew to 100,000 barrels in 1994,  and over the next ten years,  production nearly tripled.

As of 2012,  it was the fourth-largest craft brewery and tenth-largest overall brewery in the United States.  Spoetzl currently produces eight beers year round and four seasonal brews per year.

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We were so lucky to have the Brewmaster, Jimmy Mauric, conduct a personal tour!

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The brew house was so very beautiful with the copper brew tanks…

The view of the bottling room was amazing……..many thousands of bottles whirling around…..

The tour over it was time for a late lunch……….where should we go…..oh yes the only restaurant in town….

The Shiner Restaurant and Bar..

The place was empty!  The bar was quite beautiful and ornate

The dining room sported wonderful old cabinets…

The food was great….we began with the Shiner Beer Bread and Shiner Black Butter

…..then on to the Pulled Pork Sandwich and the “World’s Best Sandwich”……that was really the name!

It was a Club Style BLT with a Chicken Fried Steak thrown in for Good Measure…….don’t tell my Cardiologist about this post!

Well that was Shiner a quiet, quiet, quiet little Texas Town

So until next time…………PROST!

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In the Pursuit of Trivia and World Peace

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Life in the Emerald City has taken a turn for the worst.  The water well has gone dry several days ago and rain is no where in sight.  The water well on the ranch of the Tin Man was dug in the 1800s and has never stopped flowing…..

…..that is until now….. 

Shall the Emerald City one day look like the surface of the Moon? 

Every week the water truck pulls up to the house and pumps water into the holding tank and the Tin Man wonders how long he desires to live in this place, the place of his ancestors. 

It fills the heart he got from the Wonderful Wizard of Oz with great sadness.

 

Recently, someone wrote a history of the area and presented him with a copy of the book; the Tin Man was quite touched as he sat and read the stories of these brave immigrants to a new world, a world belonging to Mexico and how these early immigrants relied on the help and protection of these original owners in order to survive. 

He looked into the expectant faces from the old photographs and envisioned the dreams the ancients had for creating a better place. 

He read the stories of how the original people of this land, the Mexicans helped them and protected them and wonders how and why today the people of this new land turn their backs on the original owners and want to build giant fences to separate themselves from these giving people, why today the inhabitants of this new world want to show disdain for the beautiful, melodic language spoken by the original owners of this land. 

The Tin Man wonders how this ignorant hatred found root in the hearts and minds of people whose ancients would not have survived this new world without the help and care of those original owners. 

So his heart is heavy with sadness and he wonders if the great gods of the ancient lands have decided to take the water away from these new people as punishment for their arrogance and hatred birthed out of self-serving ignorance and self righteousness.

So in order as to not become overwhelmed by this arrogance and ignorance he has decided to try and focus on some trivial facts of our world to lighten his heart.

Did you know that Buzz Aldrin’s Mother’s maiden name was MOON?

Nobody knows where Mozart is buried..

85% of all Life on Earth is Plankton

Ants do not Sleep

The Oldest Known Vegetable is the Pea

To See a Rainbow You must have your back to the Sun

Millions of Trees are planted by squirrels that bury their nuts and then forget where they left them……

…….Thank You squirrels

Monaco’s National Orchestra is bigger than its Army

Every year the Sun looses 360 Million Tons

The average 4 year old asks 400 Questions a Day

 

The Creature with the Largest Brain in relation to its body is the Ant

A Chimpanzee can learn to recognize itself in the mirror, but a Monkey cannot

Panama Hats come from Ecuador

Charlie Chaplin once won Third Place in a Charlie Chaplin look-a-like contest

Shrimps are the loudest thing in the Ocean

The Fruit Fly was the first Animal in Space

The Largest Man Made Structure on Earth is “Fresh Kills”

The Rubbish Dump on Staten Island, New York…..a real tribute to mankind

So until a time when every Country’s Orchestra is bigger than its Army…….
…….and we realize that Ant’s have bigger brains than us…….

The Tin Man wishes for…..


…..a bit more care for our fellow humans and respect for their hearts…..and to celebrate our differences…

Reflections-A visit to Pennsylvania

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When our lives begin, what dreams do we have, what vision for our future………..what shall we become?
I often ponder our existence and the it’s meaning.

In the realm of the universe….even of our mere planet; we a so very insignificant, and yet we place such great importance on our every word and action……….what are we really?

When I was very young I read Plato‘s “Allegory of the Cave” from The Republic, Book VII,  and have often wondered if we are only viewing the shadows of reality.

The Wise and Noble Plato

You see, in the allegory of the cave, prisoners are tied up and only allowed to face forward where they see shadows on the wall……..shadows played out by actors behind them.

 

Are we those prisoners, watching a two-dimensional scenario being played out before us, or are we the prisoner who escaped and saw reality. I suppose this question rises to the surface in a more intense manner each year there is a presidential election in the U.S. The grandstanding, the lies, the shadows on the wall become so very intensified that I begin to question my own reality.  Having been raised in an isolated German community, where we still spoke German and our values and culture were German and not “American.” 

I often wonder if I moved from the sunlight to the cave when the isolation of my community disappeared and we integrated into this society. 
What is shadow and what is sunlight?

I had the great priviledge of meeting someone who undid my shackles and drug me out of the cave in 1980.

She was my undergraduate English teacher and so powerful was her gift of enlightenment….

…..  we have remained close friends ever since.

Recently I had the great privilege and joy of traveling to Pennsylvania to spend time with her.

The Marvelous, Magical Mary

She now lives in Media, Pennsylvania, in a most marvelous and charming neighborhood with her wonderful husband Jim and two enchanted dogs: Lily and Sir Winston. How grand it was to reenergize with people who are so vital and have become such close family.

You see Plato was arguing that anyone who holds a truth has an obligation to share that truth, and that is what my most wonderful Mary did.

Dining at the Table of Wisdom

It was a wonderful visit, but as all wonderful visits, much too short.

Mary and Jim
Happy in Media

We so enjoyed exploring Media, meeting Mary and Jim’s new friends, cooking and visiting.

Is it possible that many may embrace reality but few accept the perception of that same reality?

We can only say that our lives have had the shackles thrown off, even if for a bit, and we were able to see the sunlight…..

…. so when that last shadow is cast we might hold those moments in appreciation…..

…………and those ruby slippers, once so important… are no longer needed

Munich, Germany

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We are on the train to Munich!  This is probably our last train trip on this voyage.  We are  still so amazed at how comfortable and efficient the transportation system is here in Europe.  We are mesmerized by the beauty as we travel through the mountains — may with snow!  This has been one of the most beautiful places on the planet.  The homes all have the typical German architecture and the forest is dense tall pine trees.  So lush and green as compared to our parched Texas.  We pass through village after village of quaint gingerbread houses surrounding a grand church whose steeple towers over the village, all nestled in the mountains of pine trees with clouds tucked in the crevices and clear pristine rivers running by.

We arrive in the city of Munich with the weather clearing and the sun shining!  Our Hotel Ibis is located near the old section of Munich and all that lies between us is the botanical garden — not a bad walk!  We just finished dining on schnitzle and spatzel with mushrooms and gravy.  We sit and review our plans regarding the sites to visit while we are here.  Our room at the hotel was rather small, so we met with the manager Karina Nolle, who moved us to the top floor of the hotel in a lovely room overlooking the entire city……what a wonder person she is!

We had a grand breakfast at the hotel of some of the most wonderful smoked salmon I have ever tasted with horseradish and sour cream with chives and onion —— ooohhhh my!  Of course I visited my new friend — the European coffee machine — several times for wonderful rich cappuccino.  We then ventured out to the subway and off to Marionplatz, home of the famous glockenspiel.  The glockenspiel is basically a life-sized coo-coo clock in the tower of the town hall built in the 1500s.  The figures that spin and dance re-enact some royal wedding and they are all life-sized and carved of wood.  It is a marvel to behold.  unfortunately it is Sunday and all the shops are closed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have dinner at a wonderful German Restaurant, Rechthaler-Hof.

We sit near a beautiful harvest crown make of wheat.

Our first course is beef broth with a large liver dumpling– oh delights this is so very good!

The main course is a pig leg baked to crispy perfection, served with fresh sauerkraut and a huge potato dumpling. I am reminded of Botin’s Restaurant in Madrid and the Cochino al Horno.

The meal was so marvelous. The skin of the pork was crispy and the dumpling was so very, very good. We had to skip the beer and desert, the meal was so rich and filling.

We walked back to the Hotel Ibis, the temperature is below 40 degrees and there is a slight rain and strong wind. We discussed what an adaptation we will have to make when we return home to Texas.

It is time to visit a traditional Beer Garden and enjoy one of the true gifts of German society. We pick the Augustiner-Keller, which was established in 1812.

It is a very large beer garden nestled under dense trees. When we left we found out how dense the trees were…..it had been and continued to rain! We remained dry the entire time we ate our meal under those trees! I would estimate a half an acre of food and beer. We enjoy a plate of assorted Bavarian sausages with the most delicious sauerkraut and potatoes. We drink the beer that is brewed on site and served out of ancient wooden barrels — another amazing treat.

We have such fun spending a day in the ourdoor market and marveling in the sounds, smells, sights and tastes of this wonderful city.

When we awake to leave for the United States, we find a beautiful moon over Munich and almost decide to stay………..

Berlin, Germany

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We sit in our cabin on the train to Berlin with a very kinky middle-aged woman in short boots, black lace stockings, short denim shorts and a sexy black & white top, she looks ready to hit he cabaret stage, but is actually a business traveler working on her computer. We have moved to the dining car — now there is a surprise! I have a wonderful plate of Nurnberg sausages and bread whilst Augustine has his favorite Goulash Soup. We dine and sip a lovely chardonnay while the German countryside goes by. The beautiful lush green fields filled with the most beautiful dairy cows. I so love the Fatherland and the lush bounties it offers.

I must confess that this train trip has turned tedious. We expected a fast train to Berlin; however, our train stops many times with many passengers getting off and on. We finally settle in the dining car for even if it is full of the sounds of clinking dishes and many conversations; it seems calmer than the up and down of passengers and luggage. Berlin will not come soon enough for me. We arrived fine and will rest well in our large comfortable room at the Hotel Ibis. We go to the grocery store and purchase 3 bottles of wine — one of which I promptly drink and off to bed!

Awoke early and begin our adventure in Berlin. We began with a wonderful breakfast at a gas station! Yes, a gas station. Wonderful food, exceptional coffee in a nice dining area served on china! Who would have thought! We make friends with the manager who loves her new American friends.

We then hopped on the tram and headed off on our exploration. WE switched from tram to train at Alexander Station and made our way to the Brandenburg GateCheck Point Charlie. What history lies at our feet — it makes one realize how fleeting freedom can be. We watch as people walk freely back and forth from East to West and reflect on how many lost their lives attempting to cross this place. We find a young man who stamps our passports with the verfication stamps no longer necessary and gives us a day visa to cross into the West.

We sit under the flowering Linden trees and I quickly sing an old East German song “the branch of the Linden is leafy and green, the Rhine gives her gold to the sea; the morning will come with the world is mine — Tomorrow belongs to me!” We enjoy a Berliner Beer and I write post cards to the United States. We continue our walk to the Berliner Dom — a beautiful church that ws bombed during the war, and explore the crypt full of coffins from teh German Kings and Queens, many are coming apart and the crypt smells of death.

We enjoy a marvelous dinner at a sidewalk cafe: August with schnitzle and asparagus and I with knockwurst and kraut and a beautiful bottle of dry Riesling, sitting in the sun, remembering our day of exploration in Berlin. The transportation system is very interesting here. You buy a ticket that entitles you to the tram, bus and subway — both of which are necessary in order to move about the city. We explored every inch, I do believe.

Our last day in Berlin. We awoke at 6 A.M. and took a leisurely time getting ready for our day. Of course we had breakfast at our favorite cafe — the gas station! I must say the food is better than many a restaurant and the staff is so very pleasant and friendly. We hop the tram and then the train to West Berlin and find ourselves in the midst of some marathon being run in the city. We want to see the ruins of a bombed church, only to find it has been encased in aluminum for restoration!!! They do allow us in and it is spectacular.

We walk about and enter a chapel that has been constructed of the broken stained glass from the original church — what majesty shines though this glass and what pain it reflects.

We hop the train back to Alexander platz and switch to the tram to go back to the hotel.

 

 

 

 

 

We find a cafe down the street open and decide to dine at the “Do The Pop” (www.cafe-do-the-pop.de).

We sit outside with a white wine and a Berliner beer and have some luncheon, a spicy carrot soup and wonderful German bread.