Vienna Wine Hiking Day (Wiener Weinwandertag)

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Although you wouldn’t necessarily associate Vienna with wine (or “Wein” and “Wien” in German), it is amazing how much wine this part of Austria produces. As a result, Vienna has a day known as the Vienna Wine Hiking Day (Wiener Weinwandertag). I had the opportunity to do the Vienna Wine Hiking Day when I went there for one of my ERASMUS semesters (study abroad) during my master’s programme.

Vineyards and Vienna

The Vienna Wine Hiking Day is actually 2 days: Saturday and Sunday. It takes place at the end of September or the beginning of October. When I did it (2017), it was the 30 September and 1 October. In 2021 it was 29 and 30 September and in 2022 it will most likely be 24 and 25 September.

Vienna boasts approximately 700 hectares of vineyards and there are nearly 140 different vintners to the north-northwest of the city centre. The Vienna Wine Hiking Day is an opportunity for them to show their wares and hook new customers! But what does it mean for a person doing this Weinwandertag?

The concept is simple. Do you like hiking/cross-country walking and wine? Then this is perfect for you. There are several different routes or legs that you can take. Every 500 metres or so there is a new station run by a different vintner. There you can purchase food, a glass of wine and enjoy the usually wonderful weather.

The city in the distance

But what kind of wine can you get? The answer is just about anything. Typically a drier white wine is the speciality of the wine grown in Vienna. However there are also locally grown reds and rosés available. But that’s not all! There is also another type of drink that is served.

Young wine at the Vienna Wine Hiking Day

“Young wine” or “new wine” is also available, which goes by the names Federweißer (feather white), Federrotter (feather red), Neuer Wein, Bitzler or (specifically for Austria) Sturm (storm/tempest). This delicious drink has not fully matured, meaning that it has not completely fermented. Just like wine the grape must is used. Rather than ageing, filtering and bottling once the fermentation process is complete (like wine), but wine is bottled without being filtered or aged. As a result, these leaves it somewhat cloudy. This is where the “Feder” part of Federweißer (made with white grape must) and Federrotter (made with red grape must) comes from.

Vienna looks lovely behind the future wine!

Because the fermentation process has not finished, the young wine is sweeter than its finished sibling. Especially if you don’t like dry wines, this is a great option. You can also buy it in supermarkets around this time as well. Just be careful! Because the yeast is still in the bottle, it has to have a porous top as the pressure is still changing. Don’t lie these bottles down on the conveyor or all the young wine will come out through the top!

If you are not a fan of these wines, that’s ok! The stations also have other options. There is usually a sweet white wine available for those who don’t like drier wines. If you want to do the hiking without alcohol, there are also non-alcoholic drinks such as juices and sodas. Something for everyone!

My experience

I moved to Vienna in the middle of September and this was the first real event that I had done with other Erasmus students. I ended up meeting a group of students, most of whom I became good friends with during my time in Vienna. We had an amazing time!

It probably goes without saying but make sure to take money with you. The glasses of wine vary in price depending on the vintner/station, but they are typically €2 or €3 for a glass. Warning: there is a concept called “Pfand” you should know about. It is a security deposit on the glass. You receive an actual wine glass for every glass of wine. You usually pay an extra €2 for this, which you get back when you hand the glass back into the station. In reality this isn’t something that you pay necessarily but you should always have €2 reserved for the Pfand.

Worried about drinking on an empty stomach? Don’t be! There are food vendors as well at many of the stations, selling everything from local seasonal delicacies to pizza. You’ll find something to enjoy!

Another reason to go on the hike is the views. This area sits slightly higher than Vienna, meaning you get some great views of the city, the vineyards and the surrounding area. For me it was a great introduction to the city. You can get out of the city for a while but be able to enjoy the views from afar.

Let’s say you like wine but the hiking may be a bit much. After all, the complete hike is around 30 km! If that is too much for you (or you don’t pace yourself), it is possible to only do sections of it. The official webpage for Vienna has created 4 sections that you can do instead. You can see those sections here.

Looking up the Danube and having someone random photobomb…

So the final question is: is it worth it? My response can only be an emphatic yes!


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A variation of Karahi Chicken Curry

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There are many variations of Karahi Chicken Curry. Karahi simply refers to a shallow pot that is used to make this dish. Other names include kadai, kadhi and korai. Whatever you call it, it’s delicious! The best part is that it is not very intensive in terms of preparation or cooking time. This version is dryer than most curries as it does not have yoghurt or tomatoes as the base but don’t let that put you off! It is still delicious.

Basic Ingredients

For this dish, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 500 g chicken (raw or already cooked)
  • 2 peppers (any colour)
  • 2 tomatoes
  • (optional) 2 red chillies
  • 2 onions
  • 1/2 large lemon

Spices for marinade

There are two versions that I have created. This is the basic version:

  • tumeric
  • cumin (preferably toasted)
  • mustard seeds (preferably toasted)
  • coriander/cilantro (finely chopped)

The more involved version has the same ingredients as well as:

  • chilli (preferably one native to India, Pakistan or Bangladesh)
  • fenugreek leaf
  • fenugreek
  • nigella
  • black cardamon
  • ginger
  • cinnamon
  • cloves
  • mace
  • bay
  • nutmeg

I won’t tell you exactly what amounts you need for each because I think it depends on what you like in terms of spices and flavours. Generally I would recommend equal amounts of each (1 tsp of each is enough to cover the chicken); I personally am not the biggest fan of cinnamon, so I often reduce or remove it from recipes.

Shredded chicken marinating in the more intensive marinade

Preparation (10 – 20 minutes) and cooking (20 – 30 minuntes) Karahi Chicken Curry

Preparation time will naturally vary depending on what you are making at the same time or whether you are cooking and preparing at the same time. I will combine the preparation and cooking steps. Make sure to read the next step when heating something to see if you can prepare the next step.

  1. Mix the spices together for the marinade. Put them in a mixing bowl.
  2. Dice or shred the chicken, depending on your preference and whether the chicken is already cooked. Place the chicken into the mixing bowl and cover with the marinade. You can add a bit of water to make it more of a liquid but I think it is easier to do without.
  3. Set the marinading chicken aside.

And now the cooking starts

  1. Thinly slice the peppers. Put in a shallow but large pot or pan. I often use a wok for this type of dish.
  2. Slice the onions thinly and add them to the pot/pan/wok.
  3. If you are using red chillies, slice them thinly. Add it to the pot/pan/wok. You can add as many of the seeds as you want. The more seeds, the spicier the dish will be.
  4. Add a light sprinkling of salt (e.g. 1/2 tsp) along with 3 tbsp of oil. Bring the wok/pan/pot to a low-medium heat.
  5. Cook the mixture with a cover until they are soft and sweet. Typically this takes about 12-15 minutes. You can stir ocassionally but it should be fine without.
  6. Add the chicken and the marinade to the pot/pan/wok. Increase the heat to a high heat and stir-fry the chicken.
    1. If the chicken was already cooked before marinading, only cook at this level for a couple of minutes so that the marinade also transfers to the onion/pepper/red chilli mixture.
    2. If the chicken was not already cooked, stir-fry until the chicken is cooked (typically 10 minutes).
  7. Cut the tomatoes into wedges. Add to the pot/pan/wok and cook for 5 minutes. The tomatoes should become somewhat soft by this time.
This is the nearly finished product. I wanted it to be somewhat more “wet” so I added a small amount of wine. See “Alternatives and other tips” below. It is ready to serve with basmati rice.

At this point, you are all done! Simply serve with (basmati) rice and you have a great, nutritious meal.

Alternatives and other tips for this Karahi Chicken Curry

Vegetarian: If you would prefer to have a vegetarian version of this dish, you could also use cauliflower or broccoli instead of chicken. Treat it like the chicken: marinate it and cook until soft when you add it (step 9).

Saving a dry curry: Around step 10, if you find that the curry is becoming dry, add a splash of water and stir. Continue to heat until the water has been soaked in and is no longer visible. As an alternative to water, I often add a splash of whatever wine I have in the house. Last time I used a tiny amount of pinot noir. It changes the flavour very slightly depending on the wine used.

Make sure not to use too much water or wine! Too much water can wash the marinade from the dish; too much wine can change the flavour completely.

Serving: When you serve the Karahi Chicken Curry, you can also sprinkle coriander over the top.

You could also serve it with other Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi dishes. Naan and chutney is always a good accompaniment if you are serving the Karahi Chicken Curry as the main dish.


And with that, you are finished! Ever felt like eating your way around the world? Join me!

Arduaine Garden, UK – A slice of the world in Scotland

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Just south of Oban lies the Sound of Jura. Overlooking the Sound is Arduaine Garden, which contains plants from around the world. Established in 1898, it was a time when people were becoming very interested in plants from other parts of the world. Here native plants mix with those from the tropics and Asia.

A blue Hydrangea in Arduaine Garden

Tropical and southeast Asian plants in Scotland, you say??? How do they survive? The answer is the ocean. The Atlantic Ocean surrounds the UK. The western side especially creates a warmer climate in the UK than one would expect for being this high up the globe. The current responsible, the North Atlantic Drift, brings warm water from the Caribbean. This creates a mild climate on the western Scottish coast, allowing plants from warmer climates to grow here.

A view of multiple plants in Arduaine Garden with a blue Hydrangea in the background.

So what is at Arduaine Garden? Why should I go?

Arduaine Garden covers almost the entire peninsula it is on. It takes a long time to walk around the entirety of the gardens, which includes covered walks, lawns, forested areas and even coastal areas. There are two distinct parts of the garden: the lower garden and the upper garden.

Water droplets on a leaf

The lower garden contains primarily flowering and smaller plants from around the world. You will find representatives from every continent and many countries here. This also includes ponds (and water plants), lawns and flower beds.

One of the many paths in the inner garden. The building is used by the caretakers.

The upper garden is primarily forested. Even here ambassadorial plants from other countries take root. Whereas the plants in the lower garden are often of the small variety or kept small, the upper garden does not have this restriction. For example the smaller rhododendron bushes in the lower garden are dwarfed by much larger rhododendron trees in the upper garden.

A “lawn” in the garden

For those who are interested, everything is tagged so you can see exactly what type of plant it is.

A more secluded path in the garden

How can I get there?

The easiest way to get to the garden is to travel from Oban by car. There are also two bus lines that currently run to Arduaine Garden: the 23 and 423. The journey by bus takes about 35 minutes while by car is closer to 20. The bus company is West Coast Motors. Unfortunately due to its location there are no other transport options.

Another secluded path

Arduaine Garden is open from the beginning of April to the end of September. Throughout this time you will see different plants flowering at different times, so there is no specific time that I would recommend during this period. Often August is rainy, so July is a good summer month to go if you want warm weather and as much sun as Scotland has to offer.

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Ardchattan Priory, UK – A garden of contemplation

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Ardchattan Priory sits approximately 10 miles/16 kilometres outside the port city of Oban in Scotland. Its history dates back to its founding in 1230.

A view of Loch Etive from the wall of the main priory garden

History

Ardchattan Priory resulted from Duncan MacDougal, the Lord of Argyll, located in Dunollie Castle. He invited the Valliscaulian Order to set up a local priory. They had been given a place by the king of Scotland several years before and this could have been MacDougal trying to gain more favour.

A view of the main contemplative garden

The Valliscaulian Order was a contemplative order from Dijon, France, that lived off land grants, so they did not have to do physical work. Rather they contemplated the day away. As a result a garden for contemplation has existed on the site since its founding. This garden did not grow vegetables or herbs but rather flowers that lent to the contemplative atmosphere.

A view of one of the old buildings that were converted into part of the private residence.

The priory had its ups and downs until 1560. Its numbers at one point dwindled to only 3 monks. In 1545 the priory was administrated by John Campbell whose family retained the Priory when it was dissolved in 1560. At this point the family took it as their private residence. They converted the main building for this purpose. It has remained so until modern day.

The oldest of the Campbell grave markers at Ardchattan Priory. It would have been brought by the Campbell family when they moved there.

Today

Today the site includes both the garden and the ruins of the Priory. The family also lives there and several areas are private; these are signposted. Parking is located just within the gates and there is a short, easy (accessible) walk to the start of the gardens.

To the left of the road is the “wild garden”, which is organised but focuses on local plants from the area. It includes the “Monk’s Pool”, shrub gardens and trees. To the left of the path is the “Monk’s Walk”, which includes rhododendrons, azaleas, autumnal shrubs and daffodils. There are both located in front of the house.

A panorama of the view of Loch Etive

The main part (and the part I liked the most) was the main garden of the house, which sits between the house and the edge of Loch Etive. It is mostly lawn but the edges include flowering and herbaceous plants as well as trees and bushes. It also offers amazing views of the loch and the surrounding area.

A private burial area within the Priory ruins

The ruins of the buildings that were not included in the modern house are located at the back of the site. You access them by walking through a farm-like courtyard. Out the back are the remains of the old chapel, which includes many graves, especially of members of the Campbell family. Little remains of the buildings except for the lower part of the walls of the buildings but it gives you a sense of how large (or small) the priory was.

The lawn with the loch in the background

Visiting Ardchattan Priory

Ardchattan Priory lies a few miles/kilometres off the A828, which runs up the western coast of Scotland from Connel to Ballachulish. You will need to reach the Priory with a private vehicle as local transport does not stop at or near it. When you go, place the £5 entrance fee into the honour box at the entrance.


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Bridge Over The Atlantic, UK – Clachan Bridge to the Island of Seil

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Just south of Oban in Scotland lies a bridge built in 1792. Connecting the Island of Seil to mainland Scotland, the bridge is known as Clachan Bridge. It gets its name from the body of water it crosses, which is the Clachan Sound. However it has a second name, which is the “Bridge over the Atlantic”. But why such a grandiose name?

The Clachan Bridge/Bridge Over the Atlantic

History of the “Bridge Over the Atlantic” name

In 1688 the Glorious Revolution in the UK happened. Parliament replaced King James II with William of Orange and Mary II, but not everyone was happy with that. Those who supported James II were the Jacobites. They led several revolts against the government in London between 1689 and 1745. This was finally squashed in 1745; harsh laws came into effect throughout areas that were predominantly Jacobite, including Scotland. One of the laws that came into force banned kilts on the mainland.

Clachan Sound and the Atlantic in the distance

Fast forward to 1792: Clachan Bridge now stands and is the main way to access the island. The Bridge and the nearby pub, “Tigh An Truish” (literally “the House of Trousers”), became a place where travellers stopped to change out of trousers and change into kilts. Since it was not the mainland, it was a loophole in the law that could be exploited.

The Tign An Truish Pub in the mid-ground

The Bridge and Sound

Clachan Bridge is a stone bridge with a single arch and currently forms part of the B844. It enables cars onto the island approximately 8 miles/13 kilometres south of Oban. It spans 72 feet/22 metres and stands about 39 feet/12 metres above the bed of the Sound.

The other side of the bridge

If you want to visit the Bridge, you can find it here. There is car parking for the Tigh an Truish but it is for patrons only, although there are often extra spaces if they do not have many patrons. A quick stop will not be a problem.


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Falkirk Kelpies, UK – A tribute to Scotland and strong horses

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Situated between the towns of Falkirk and Grangemouth in Scotland, the Kelpies are an art installation by Andy Scott, an artist of renown famous for his other installations around the UK. This installation is of two “kelpies”.

The myth behind the Falkirk Kelpies

A kelpie is a mythical creature said to be like a seahorse but horse-sized and with the top half of an actual horse. It rides in and under the waves of the Lochs in Scotland. These kelpies would offer humans a way to travel the Lochs quickly: on their back. However once halfway across a Loch, they would drown their riders. In other words if a kelpie offers you a ride, do not accept! Apparently they also bewitched riders so that they could not move once they were on.

Not just a myth

The Kelpies here actually serve as a memorial as well, due to where Falkirk is located. Falkirk is located on two important canals in Scotland that hosted a lot of boat traffic for nearly 200 years. As part of this traffic, heavy horses would pull canal boats from Glasgow to Edinburgh and Andy Scott’s installation reflects this as well. The Kelpies statue is of two horse heads (down to just before the shoulders). One horse is failing his head back as it obviously is putting in a lot of effort pulling something (e.g. a canal boat). The other looks down on viewers, ears slightly perked in a curious expression.

My opinion of the Falkirk Kelpies

I really enjoyed seeing the Kelpies, which was a surprise to me. Usually my name and “art installations” do not have much in common but I enjoyed this one. I think it is because of the clean lines and prowess of the horses used. They did not “speak to me” as people often describe these types of installations but I could see the beauty.

How to get there and more

The Kelpies are located within Helix Park, which is part of a project to restore and rejuvenate this area. The park is located off the M9 and A9 in Falkirk and is easily accessed from both roads. There are also public transport links within Falkirk. It uses the same stop as the Falkirk Stadium, after which you can walk through the park to see the Kelpies.

If you are interested in seeing more of Andy’s work, I would recommend going to Aberdeen, where a giant cat sits among the skyline. Belfast hosts his Beacon of Hope Statue (also known as Nuala with the Hula).


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Rest and Be Thankful – Scotland A83

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In 1753 there had been a recent Jacobite rebellion; General Wade had the task of subjugating Scotland. One of the many things they built were roads to improve connectivity, This would allow troops to move faster and react to these crises in the future. One of the results was Drover’s Road (the old A83) and the Rest and Be Thankful.

The Rest and Be Thankful is the highest point on the old road. It divides the areas of Glen Coe and Glen Kinglas. The soldiers, who had worked for months, were happy to get to the top of the valley. Here they placed a commemorative stone, which has since fallen to ruin.

The Rest and Be Thankful viewpoint offers amazing views down the valley and Glen Kinglas. The weather here is very variable. Often on one side of the Rest and Be Thankful, the clouds are thick and low and on the other, the sun shines brightly.

If you look up rather than down the valley, you see Beinn an Lochain. This is one of the two mountains that create the pass here. The other is Beinn Ime, which can also be seen from the viewpoint. Like the photo above though, it is very likely they will be covered by clouds.

It is also recommendable to have a light jacket when you stop here on your way into the highlands. Because the weather is somewhat unpredictable, it is better to be safe than sorry. You might come across it on a very sunny day for Glen Kinglas but not Glen Coe or vice versa. Also it is likely that it will be misting either in one or the other, meaning you might get it at the viewpoint as well.

If you are looking for more adventures, you can find them on my Travelling the World interactive map.

Tintinhull Gardens – Weekend Paradise

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Set amongst the rolling farmland of Somerset, TIntinhull is a house/gardens combination; it sits in the tiny village of the same name. To visit the house you have to rent it from the National Trust and stay there for at least 3 days. As a result it is not open to the general public.

The gardens however are a different story. Although they are only open at weekends, the gardens are worth the visit. This is especially true if the weather is beautiful.

The house itself is of 17th-century architecture. It was bought in 1933 by two gardeners, who created the gardens today. They then left it to the National Trust in 1961, which has run it ever since. Because of this, Tintinhull is the “Gardener’s Garden”, appealing to many.

The gardens primarily follow a grid system, although some of the gardens are rectangular rather than square. Each block has a different focus; some examples include the vegetable garden, the pool garden and the fountain garden. Some focus on aesthetics while others pay tribute, such as the pool garden. It was created to remember the nephew of the couple in 1933 who died in the Second World War.

Visiting Tintinhull

As I mentioned above, Tintinhull is only open at the weekends from 11 AM to 4 PM. They also stop admissions 1 hour before closing (so 3 PM). Tintinhull is located here on Google Maps. As you may notice on the map, there is free parking at the gardens for visitors. Afterwards you walk through an orchard and arrive at the entrance. Entering the gardens costs £5.50 for an adult; however it is free if you are a National Trust member (£72/year if you are 26+, £36 for 18-25, £10 under 18).

If you would like to rent the house, you can do so here. You have to rent for at least 3 days, which costs £1299. It has 4 bedrooms and can sleep 8 people. In total that would then be €54.13 per person per day. Not a bad price all things considered!

Here are some more photos from the gardens:


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Zurich – General Information

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Zurich, the city

My adventures so far in the Canton of Zurich have been confined only to the city of Zurich, which is the largest city in Switzerland. I went to Zurich back in 2016. I was doing an internship in Freiburg im Breisgau with two friends from the US visiting me. Since Zurich was close and we could get there using Flixbus, we went! We had an amazing time there. If you click on the point on the map, you can read all about the city.

I would definitely recommend a visit to the city. Warning: Switzerland is an expensive place and the city is even more so. It is the financial/banking capital and has one of the most expensive shopping streets in the world. Lots of people go and through around a lot of money here, so the prices of many things reflect that as well.

Depending on what you would like to see in the city, I would recommend spending a weekend here. It is not so massive that you need tonnes of time but it is larger than other European cities, so spending time here is a good idea. In addition to hotels, you should check local AirBnBs and couch surfing for cheaper options.

In addition to the bus, you can also drive (naturally) or fly here. The airport is north of the city and there are direct trains to the city centre. You can also rent a car or take a taxi or local bus from the airport to various locations around the city.

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Austria – General Information

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My first experience in Austria was moving there as part of my Master’s programme. I had to go to two different foreign universities as part of my studies at Swansea University. Since I was doing German and Spanish, I went to Vienna and Barcelona.

Overall I had a great time in Austria although I had a lot of work to do. They say that Erasmus is easy but at least my experience in Vienna was the opposite. I met some amazing people with whom I have kept in contact; we were also able to do some limited travelling while I was there, such as going to Mariazell and Laxenburg. I was also able to go to Budapest and Prague as well with this group.

One thing that I was not expecting when I went to Austria was how difficult it would be to get from place to place. Because of the Alps, some of the travel times are very long and a lot of the roads twist and turn in the mountains. Just because the distance isn’t very far doesn’t mean it won’t take a while to get there.

Visiting Austria

If you are looking to visit Austria, you can reach there through one of the airports. The main ones are Vienna International, Linz and Salzburg. You can also use some of the long-distance coaches, such as Flixbus to get to Austria and travel between cities as well. If you have access to a car, please note that you need to have a vignette for the Austrian motorways. They can either be purchased when you first enter the country at petrol stations or you can purchase them online. Be warned that if you do not have the vignette, you can be fined a lot of money. In 2021 this fine was an instant €120. An annual vignette costs €92.50 in 2021.

Asturias – General Information

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I have only visited Asturias once so far but it was amazing. My previous adventures in Spain were either when I had lived in Barcelona or in Granada. I had travelled around the country between these places; I was not necessarily prepared for how different Asturias is from the rest of Spain. How is that?

Asturias lies on Spain’s northern coast and the southern part of the Comunidad contains the Picos de Europa. This means that most of the population lives above these mountains close to the coast. As a result the mountains have isolated them from other parts of Spain and the climate is very different. I would almost describe it as being in line with northern Europe. It can get extremely cold here and snow cuts off some towns completely from the world during the winter months.

Another big difference is the food. In contrast to the rest of Spain, which prefers wine, Asturias is a big cider region. It also produces lots of cheese, especially blue cheeses. In fact it produces the most varieties of cheese in Spain; many of the villages are famous for their local cheese.

I highly recommend visiting Asturias. The food is amazing and there is some amazing nature, such as the Lakes of Covadonga.

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Aragon – General Information

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Moving farther inland, Aragon is an interesting place with lots of varying topography: lots of valleys and mountains farther south but flatter areas in central and northern Aragon. Then you hit the Pyrenees.

M experiences here range from Loarre Castle and Roda de Isábena in the north to Teruel in the south. I generally went by car, which took several hours from the Barcelona area. There is one large city, which is the capital: Zaragoza.

Historically Aragon was also the seat of the Kingdom of Aragon. Remember Ferdinand and Isabella, the monarchy who finished the Reconquista and financed Christopher Columbus? Ferdinand was Aragonese and he married Isabella of Castille, ruling as joint monarchs. This eventually led to the foundation of the modern country of Spain. This was the seat where his family ruled this region for hundreds of years.

Today there are some differences between Aragon and the rest of Spain, such as the local language. There are still some speakers of Aragonese, which has similarities to Catalan and Spanish but is distinct from both. It has slowly been replaced over the past several hundred years and suffered under the dictatorship. As a result, even though it can be used nowadays, it is estimated that only approximately 12,000 people speak it; many people consider it a dialect of Castillian Spanish rather than a distinct language.

Visiting Aragon

If you are looking to explore this community, I would definitely recommend renting a car. There are some places you can go using the buses but there are many more without public transport, so you will find that it is easier travelling under your own power. Depending on where you are, you may find that it is very rural. This may mean that you can’t find many places to buy food (e.g. grocery stores) or that they keep to very rural hours, meaning they close in the afternoon. I would recommend having some non-perishable food with you in case you get into a situation where you can’t get back to civilisation for a certain time.

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Andalucia – General Information

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Andalucia is an amazing place. Located in Southern Spain, the province of Andalucia contains some of Spain’s best-known cities, including Granada, Málaga, Seville and Cádiz. The adventures I’ve had primarily cover the areas of Granada and Jaén.

My first ever adventure here was when I was 16 in 2009. As a birthday present my aunt and uncle took my grandmother and me to Granada for nearly a week. We stayed within the city then, exploring the Alhambra, the Albaícin and the city in general. It was an amazing experience and it leads to my next adventure here:

When I was training to be a teacher, I had the option of where I wanted to get my practical experience. One of those options was Granada, so I had the great fortune of living in Granada for summer 2017. I was able to not only explore the city further but also some of the surrounding areas as I had access to a car. It was amazing.

I also made several friends through my training at this point. One of those friends lives in Jaén, so I was able to take a weekend trip to visit her and see the city. It was a whole different side. Each province within Andalucia has its own cultural flavouring, special foods and climate that is different from other parts of Spain.

Visiting

So should you visit? Absolutely! Andalucia has an amazing blend of Spanish and Moorish history and architecture. The weather is hot, the beaches are great and the food is amazing! Even better: in many places you can salir bebiendo, meaning you go out for lunch and just order drinks (also nonalcoholic ones). With that drink comes free tapas, which is definitely a plus! It makes for a great meal that is not only light on the waist but also light on the wallet.

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The Principality of Andorra – General information

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Located in the Pyrenees between France and Spain, the Principality of Andorra is a very mountainous country that is popular for skiing.

I visited Andorra for a long weekend when I was on a long Western European trip. We had just come from Île-de-France and were heading towards a town near Barcelona where my travel partner was from. We met his parents there and spent time in the mountains where we rented a house from AirBnB.

Because of who I was with, my experiences were mostly of the nature that is there rather than civilisation. We hiked around the Pyrenees, including seeing the Llacs de Tristaina in the north-western part of the country and then also the Riu de Jan in the northeast.

The capital city, Andorra la Vella, is in the southeast and you often have to drive through it to get anywhere in Andorra. For example between the Llacs de Tristaina and the Rui de Jan, we had to drive through the capital, which is on the other side of the tiny country. We did not stop and see it but to be honest, my impression driving through was not the greatest. It reminded me of the concrete jungle that resulted from the 1970s. It was not really impressive; we also did not have the time, so it was not a place that I was very interested in visiting.

Visiting

Something I found very interesting is that you can really only access Andorra from the outside via two roads. The first is in the southeast near the capital that goes into Catalonia. The other goes into southern France and is now a tunnel, the Envalira Tunnel. The old route that goes up and over the mountains still exists but is not used very often. The toll as of 2021 is €4.30 and light vehicles (cars, trucks + trailers up to 3 axels) is €6.80.

Brean Down, UK – Down to the Sea

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On the Somerset coast just outside Weston-Super-Mare is a small holiday village: Brean. Apart from the beach and holiday homes, there really isn’t much there. There is just one exception: Brean Down.

Looking at Brean Down from Brean Beach

History

Brean Down formed about 60,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age in southern England. Glaciers retreated across the face of what we now know as the UK, leaving more or less the modern topography.Most of Somerset is flat; the flat parts are “the Levels”, which is under sea level. Why is it dry then? The monks from Glastonbury Abbey claimed this land from the sea bit by bit over the centuries. However there are some hills that punctuate the flat areas and Brean Down is one such formation.

Looking out over the Somerset levels from the landward end of Brean Down

As the name suggests, Brean Down is a series of hills. In this case they sit above the surrounding area, rise steeply on all sides and jut out into the Bristol Channel. In fact to get to the top of this Down, you have to climb a staircase from the village of Brean, which is at sea level, to the nearly 100 m height before you access the Down.

Looking out from the end of the Down. In this image you can see the village of Brean and Brean Beach on the left and the coast of western Somerset to the right.

Climbing to the top of the Down (on a good day) you can see all the way to Cardiff and Swansea (although of course individual buildings and features will be hard to distinguish), Weston-Super-Mare and all the way to Glastonbury Tor. You may even be able to see St Michael’s tower at the top if you are really lucky.

Please beware that, due to the stairs leading up, Brean Down is not a good walk for those with mobility issues and those unable to climb approximately 100 m in height in 100 m of distance. The National Trust looks after Brean Down; they also own and operate a car park at the bottom of the Down. The cost for parking is £5 whether you stay there for 5 minutes, 5 hours or the entire day. I would suggest going as early as possible though, especially on good days, as the parking lot fills up extremely quickly. I would also suggest taking long sleeves, even in the summer, as it is usually windy on the Down. There is no protection from this wind. You can observe this poignantly in the taller vegetation. They have obviously grown under the influence of and lean due to the wind.

Cows enjoying the nice sunny day. In the background across the water is the northern coast of West Somerset

Brean Fort

In addition to seeing cows and being able to view the surrounding area, Brean Down also boasts a fortification that was first in use in the 1870s. The fort both protected the Bristol Channel and acted as an early detection station for a possible invasion of French troops under Napoleon III. During the Second World War the army used it for the same purposes. It comprised several buildings, including gunpowder storage quarters and officers’ quarters, a mess, defensive fortifications and a small building that housed a search light. The fort fell into disrepair after the war.

No longer needed, the fort has remained as it is. While the site is maintained, the buildings are not. As a result some are not safe to enter and many do not have roofs. There are some that do have roofs and other buildings or fortification works that you can enter. You can even walk down to the spotlight house, although this is very close to the sea and requires some climbing over and between boulders, so good hiking shoes and a good sense of balance are a must.

Looking down at the Brean Down fort. In the background you can see Wales. Cardiff is on the right and Swansea is on the left of the fort (somewhat hidden due to the haze).

The fort is at the far end of Brean Down and is any easy walk once you are on the Down, although it does lie at nearly sea level so there is approximately 100 m of descent to get there. The pathway though is well trod, although there are no aids such as handrails. The steps are well spaced that it should be simple enough for able-bodied individuals to traverse. There is a more gradual, paved route that runs along the bottom of the Down near sea (I suspect this is an accessway for maintenance vehicles of the National Trust). This paved trail must also have a steep slope at some point as the Down has no gentle ascents.

The fort from the inside. Most of the buildings were ruined in some way, such as not having ceilings.

Here are some more photos from the area:


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August 2021 Update – Maps and Images

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Hello everyone!

I hope you have been having a good summer so far! Firstly I would like to apologise for the lack of posts in recent months. I have been working a lot and a lot of things have fallen by the wayside, including this blog. Now that the semester is over, I have a lot more time.

In fact I will have a lot more time not only in the summer but also in general. As of the beginning of August I am taking a break from teaching as well due to family health issues and simply not having enough time to think and breathe.

The Update

Some of you may have noticed that the travel section has had a bit of a facelift. As part of this newfound relaxation time, I decided that it needed to be easier to navigate. Instead of navigating from page to page clicking on pictures, you will now see that they have been replaced by maps. You may find it helpful to navigate and find new, location-based content this way. Here is what I have so far:

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If you see this after your page is loaded completely, leafletJS files are missing.

I will also apologise in advance. At the moment I am going to be going back through my posts and updating the layouts and how photos are shown. I know that some of my photos currently are not showing in some posts. These will be changed and everything is going to be made to be more uniform. Thank you in advance for your patience. If you come across something that seems to be an error, don’t be afraid to report it to me. You can do this via the contact page.

Finally I do have a few plans for the next few months. As you may have gathered, I am in the UK at the moment. I am going to be posting more content, both new content from the UK as well as content from trips I have done in the past. There is also a week-long trip up to Scotland starting on Friday and then also another month-long trip to various parts of Scotland in September/October, so keep an eye out for those!

I also plan to be posting more regularly. At the moment I am going to say once a week because I am not sure about the amount of content that will be suitable or high quality (and therefore post-able) but I should have enough to do at least weekly posts from now on. Be sure that as Scotland trips are coming up, a lot of the content in the near future will have to do with Scotland from this year. I hope you enjoy it!

Thanks again for visiting my blog and I hope you come back in the near future =D

Jamie

Zurich, Switzerland – The most expensive city in the world

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If you are looking for somewhere in Europe with history, Zurich is your one-stop shop. From Roman foundation over 2000 years ago to modern history, Zürich covers it all. If you want to shop, Zürich has one of the best (and most expensive) shopping districts. If you need to deal with finances, Zürich is one of the financial capitals of the world. Want to get away from it all? The world-famous opera house offers operas and ballets to pass the evenings. Afterwards go out with your friends for the night of your life! This relatively small city really does pack a punch for things to do.

Quick note: make sure you bring lots of money with you. A ‘budget’ holiday in Zürich (as in much of Switzerland) is a normal holiday in many other countries; prices are generally 3 to 4 times as expensive for the same product/equivalent (e.g. breakfast costing €20 in Switzerland instead of €5 for the same in Germany). While the Swiss Franc is the national currency, there is almost always the option to pay in Euros. This is especially true if you are paying with a debit/credit/EC card; sometimes they accept Euros in cash as well.

Get to Know the City – Walking Tours

The best way to get to know the city of Zurich is through walking tours. These typically last 2.5 to 3 hours and are usually free! Tours are offered in many languages. These include the four official languages of Switzerland, English, and others, depending on where the tour guide comes from.

The tour that I went on started from Paradeplatz, which is where tours for Downtown Zurich often start; it is well connected by the local trams. As no reservations are usually needed nor required (usually, except for large groups), the actual tour can be any size. Many tour companies operate from the same places; if your group is too big and you want a small-group experience, simply jump ship!

The downtown walking tours stay mostly around District 1, which is the old city and ends at the lake. This area is without a doubt the most beautiful area of the city; it contains the oldest buildings (hence the name Altstadt). District 1 is split into four sub-sections: Lindenhof  (‘lime tree courtyard’), Rathaus (‘town hall’), Hochschulen (‘Universities’), and City.

Lindenhof

If you are looking for the oldest part of the city, you can find it in the Lindenhof, which dates back to before the Roman settlement. If you are also looking for powerful ladies in history, the Lindenhof is the place to find it as the women of Frauminster Abbey ruled the city for the longest period in its history (until approximately 1340 when the Guilds took over in a coup-d’etat). While the Abbey no longer exists, a church from the end of the 19th century now stands in its place. The modern church also has a nice view up and down the river due to its riverside location on one of the bridges that connect both halves of District 1.

A lot of buildings in this section have been modernised. In some cases, you have to find history by wandering around and searching through the new buildings. It is recommendable, but if you don’t want to have to search for history, head across the river to the Rathaus section of District 1.

Zurich Rathaus

Traditionally, the eastern bank of the Limmat was the poorer side of the city, that is until the guilds took over the city. Guild houses were built left, right, and centre to show the newfound wealth of those who came from families who had previously lived in poverty. As a result, many of the large churches and cathedrals reflect this wealth, such as the Grossmunster, St Peter’s Church and the Predigerkirche (a Dominican monastery).

If you are looking for some beautiful buildings, mostly small streets (little more than alleyways, most unsuitable for motorised traffic) and a feel for how Zürich would have been like during its history, this is the place to go. There are also lots of small shops (especially the farther you go away from the river, which is where most of the tourist traps are) that sell great products such as food (butchers, cheeses, spices, international), handmade goods, and much more.

Hochschulen

If you continue heading east from the Rathaus area (up the hill), you get to the university section of the city, which is where Universität Zürich (University of Zurich) can be found, along with some of the best views of the city. As the elevation is higher, it is much easier to see out over the city. In the distance, you can also see more of Zürichsee (Lake Zurich).

If you want views, this is the place to go. As the University was in session during my visit, we were not able to wander around the university as we wanted to. However, if you are fit and able, the Universitätsspital Park is worth the climb. You get a view over the city. It is much easier to see the shape of the old city, where the city walls were (now a zigzagging part of the river in the City section), and get a different, higher perspective on the layout of the city.

City (in Zurich)

Going back across the river and over to the western-most section of the Altstadt, City is mostly very modern. This section used to be the wall and ramparts of the old city. It is now a combination of parks, shops, and restaurants. This section extends from the northern part of the island, where the main train station (or Hauptbahnhof) is located down to Bürkliplatz (across from the Zurich Opera House), which is a major junction for local transport (i.e. trams).

Zürichsee

Zürichsee (Lake Zurich) is a prominent feature of the Canton of Zurich; it extends into the Canton of Schwyz to the south-east. District 1’s southern border is the beginning of Zürichsee. The banks contain small ports (for trips up and down the lake) and parks until the edges of the city limits. On a clear day, you can easily see the mountains at the southern end of the lake. What struck me the most about this feature is the beautiful scenery that one can see from the city centre. At a glance, you can see the lake, mountains, and greenery from the central district. I would say it is something that you have to see while in Zürich; the truth is that it would be very hard to miss!

Enough of my chatter! Pictures say a thousand words, so have an album:

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Lytes Cary, UK – A bite-size manor in Somerset

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In the backcountry roads in Somerset on a single-track line lined with hedges on both sides winding through farmland lies a couple of houses. Collectively these houses are “Lytes Cary”. It is easy to miss due to the hedges but if you notice the low stone walls on either side of an unassuming (with the exception of a sign saying “Lytes Cary Manor”) single-track drive, you can find a nice manor with a couple of acres of land that was once the home of the proud Lyte and Jenner families.

History

The first records from 1285 show that there was a house there that was occupied and owned by William de Lyte (whose name is the origin of the village of “Lytes Cary” and the “River Cary”). The earliest part of the house that still stands dates from approximately the mid-14th century, which is the chapel. The chapel continued to be used with slight alterations over the centuries until 1948. This is when the National Trust gained ownership of the house, operating it ever since.

Lytes Cary features a great hall, entrance porch, oriel room, great and little parlours, and bedrooms. The Great Hall dates to the mid-15th century and the remaining rooms to the early 16th century. Unfortunately in 1755, the Lyte family sold the house and for the next 150 years, various tenants lived in and did not care for the house. A west and north range that had existed were destroyed during this time.

The 20th century

In 1907 Lytes Cary was bought by Sir Walter Jenner (a baronet). At the time the estate was being used merely to store farm equipment and the chapel as a lambing shed. Sir Walter restored Lytes Cary and decorated it to resemble the 17th and 18th-century styles that had been popular, including Chinois furniture and influences from the East. This also included a lot of oak furniture, antique tapestries and textiles. He ended up also rebuilding the west range but left most of the original house as it was. In his will, Sir Walter left his house to the national trust, who have owned and operated the manor ever since.

Today

Another major feature of the manor is the grounds, the vast majority of which are taken up by gardens. The gardens were originally started by the Lyte family (specifically Henry Lyte). His son, Thomas, notes in 1618 that there were “Apples, 3 skore severall sorts. pears and Wardens (a type of pear), 44 sorts. Plummes, 15 divers kynds. Grapes, 3 severall sortes. Cherries, 1. Walnuts, 3. Peaches, 1.” In modern writing conventions: apples, 60 several sorts. Pears and wardens, 44 sorts. Plums, 15 diverse kinds. Grapes, 3 several sorts. Cherries, 1. Walnuts, 3. Peaches 1.

Unfortunately due to the 150 years of disrepair, the garden went to ruin and was wild by the time Sir Walter Jenner got his hands on it. As a result, the family started over in 1907. They designed a series of gardens in squares and rectangles separated from each other by box and yew hedges.

Over the years the National Trust has also made some changes to the gardens while keeping to the original style and intent. They have added a border to the entire garden and replaced some of the old/dead/dying orchard trees with new ones. They also replaced plants and made the garden more insect- and wildlife-friendly over the years.

My impression

The house

It was nice to see the house and there were some great examples of art and furniture. There are examples of campaigns furniture. This is furniture bought by noble or well-off members of the military. They took it with them during their military campaigns around the world. The hallmark of this furniture is that it folds up very small and can usually fulfil many functions at once. The example in the house that drew me was the bed. It could also become a sofa and two chairs, depending on its configuration.

Another feature that exists but you might not notice it is some of the plaster decoration. In the great chamber, this plaster dates back to 1533. This is rare as most houses usually receive a remodelling throughout the centuries.

The gardens

While I enjoyed going around the house (currently they are not offering tours due to the risk of Covid), it was the gardens that I particularly liked. It never felt like there were many people around and there was a wide range of both plants and gardens. There were fig and banana plants as well as other tropical plants in some areas, a lavender garden in another, a fountain area, a meadow and also topiaries and a lawn for picnics. On their website for the manor, the National Trust has said that they only had one gardener working during the pandemic but the garden did not seem to be in a state of mismanagement in any way. A few plants were growing over their beds and onto the path area but I think that added to the charm and made everything feel more natural.

Overall my impression of Lytes Cary was that the atmosphere was very friendly and cosy. The staff were great; the small nature of the house and the gardens divided into “rooms” made it feel home-like and private, unlike other larger mansions. There is also an excellent tearoom in the manor and a book barn on the estate as well. We had a scone with blackcurrant jam and clotted cream at around noon along with tea and it was obvious that the scone was fresh. Like at the rest of the National Trust buildings and estates, everything that can’t be eaten is recyclable and/or biodegradable. This includes the cups and lids made from plant material and are not plastic (although it is difficult to tell the difference when you use them).

Visiting Lytes Cary

By car, Lytes Cary is 10 minutes from Somerton, 20 minutes from Glastonbury, 30 minutes from Wells, 1 hour from Bristol and approximately 2.5 hours from the centre of London. Buses run extremely infrequently to Lytes Cary, so getting there by any other way may be very difficult if you miss the bus, which also does not operate on certain days.

Here are some more photos of Lytes Cary:

The entrance cost to Lytes Cary is £10 per adult, which seems steep but I would say it is worth it. You can also take advantage of walking trails through the estate. Animals (dogs specifically) are also allowed on the property but only assistance dogs are allowed within the house.

You can current information about opening times and prices here: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lytes-cary-manor


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A classic recipe for a Dark Forest Gateau (Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte)

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Typically I am not a cake person but there are definitely exceptions. The Dark Forest Gateau (German: Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, literally “Black Forest Cherry Cake”) definitely falls into those exceptions! A wonderful mix of chocolate, cherries and rich cream is a great ending to any traditional meal from Baden-Württemberg (especially Maultaschen or Spätzle). You can find it across Germany but it is almost guaranteed in Braustübl and other traditional restaurants in Baden-Würrtemberg. When I lived there, I loved visiting these places when I had a chance and a Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte was often used to round out a fine meal. In honour of this, I have decided to present a recipe for this beloved dessert.

The following recipe comes from “Einfach Backen” and was created by Anna-Lena, who describes herself as a hobby baker and food stylist. At the current time of writing, her recipe for Dark Forest Gateau has a rating of 4.8 stars based on 55 reviews. Here is her description of the recipe:

A Dark Forest Gateau (gateau = a rich cake typically containing layers of cream and/or fruit) is one of the most popular classical recipes. We have made a very simple and guaranteed recipe for this classic, with which you can magic up a perfect Dark Forest Gateau.

– Lena-Anna, EINFACH BACKEN

The credit for all images used in this article go to: MARIA PANZER / EINFACH BACKEN. The following recipe is a translation found on the site (link above). I have removed the affiliate links to Amazon and other sites, which are specific for Germany. If you are in Germany and would like to support her or the EINFACH BACKEN website, please visit the original recipe to see these affiliate links.

Preparation time: 60 Min.

Baking time: 20 Min.

Standing time: 45 Min.

Difficulty: Medium

Ingredients

For 1 gateau:

For the sponge cake

Some butter for the baking mould

For the filling

Step 1:

For the sponge cake base, mix the 6 eggs and the sugars along with 6 tbsp of water in a bowl using a mixer for 5 minutes on the highest setting until the mass approximately doubles in volume. At the same time, mix the flour, starch, cocoa powder, and baking powder in a bowl. Gradually sieve the flour mixture into the egg mixture, gently folding as you go. Preheat oven to 180°C/356°F (convection oven: 160°C/320°F).

Our tip

Be sure to sieve the dry ingredients!

Be sure to sieve the dry ingredients before you mix them in. If you then add them gradually to the egg and sugar mixture, you can fold them in much more easily and no lumps will form. This keeps the dough airy and makes it rise better in the oven.

Step 2:

Grease and lightly flour the bottom of a springform pan (diameter 26 cm/~10.2 inches). Add the sponge cake mixture and smooth. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Let it sit to cool completely. For the filling, drain the morello cherries using the sieve, making sure to catch the juice. Mix the starch with 2 tbsp of the juice. Bring the remaining cherry juice to the boil and stir in the starch-cherry juice mixture. Boil briefly while stirring, then remove from direct heat.

Step 3:

PHOTO: MARIA PANZER / EINFACH BACKEN

Set aside 16 morello cherries for decoration. Fold the remaining morello cherries into the starch-cherry mixture. Cut the cake base twice horizontally to make three layers. Drizzle the first 3 tbsp of the cherry brandy. Spread the cherry mixture completely over the top and smooth it out. Let cool. Whip the cream with the cream stiffener and sugar until stiff. Using a spoon or palette knife, spread about 3 tbsp of cream thinly over the cherry mixture. 

Step 4:

PHOTO: MARIA PANZER / EINFACH BACKEN

Place about 4 tbsp of the cream in an icing bag fitted with a star nozzle and set aside. Place the second cake layer on top, pressing down slightly. Drizzle 3 more tbsp of cherry brandy on the layer, then spread half of the remaining cream on the layer. Place the last sponge cake base layer on top, drizzle the rest of the cherry brandy on top and then cover the entire cake with the rest of the cream. Use the icing bag to add 16 cream puffs onto the cake. Set the cherries on top and sprinkle the chocolate shavings over the top and edges. Chill until ready to serve.

And there you have it! One tasty Dark Forest Gateau for your comfort and enjoyment! A classic southern German end to a gastronomic adventure. Thank you very much to Lena-Anna for providing the recipe. I hope you enjoy it!


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Quora – Why is soda water called soda water?

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Original question: Why is soda water called soda water?

The term “soda” in water comes from approximately the 15th century and refers to the use of sodium carbonate or bicarbonate. This originally comes from the Italian sida, which means “a kind of saltwort”, which is where these substances were first obtained.

There are a few possible further ancestors to the Italian term (potentially Catalan or Arabic). “Soda” has also been used in other situations as well, such as “washing soda” (for cleaning clothes), “baking soda” (sodium bicarbonate that has often been used in baking), and “soda crackers” (where the main ingredient is sodium bicarbonate).

While nowadays soda water is pressured CO2 that has been added, the name “soda water” has stuck, meaning “carbonated water”.

Source: Origin and meaning of soda by Online Etymology DictionarySODA Meaning: “sodium carbonate,” an alkaline substance extracted from certain ashes (now made artificially), from… See definitions of soda.https://www.etymonline.com/word/soda

Warnemünde (Rostock), Germany – That’s one busy port!

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The seaside resort of Warnemünde is located on Germany’s Baltic coast, just above the city of Rostock.

History

Founded in approximately 1200, it has been a fishing village for most of its history. The city of Rostock financed a harbour near the village, signing a contract with the patrician of Rostock to maintain the waterway and the harbour. Eventually, in March 1323, Rostock annexed Warnemünde to ensure safe access to the sea. The idea was that, if Warnemünde was part of Rostock, higher powers could not take it away (e.g. the Holy Roman Empire, German princes or bishops, etc).

Warnemünde remained a simple fishing village within the Hanseatic city of Rostock until 1812. This is when the Continental System was brought into effect by Napoleon. As a result a fort was added, named Fort Warnemünde.

In 1821 the village officially gained the “seaside resort” status. It only had 1,500 inhabitants but had over 1,000 visitors according to records. Due to its popularity, 1886 saw the addition of a train connection, connecting Warnemünde with Rostock and Berlin. A steamship connection also flourished, connecting to Gedser in Denmark. Due to the number of visitors, the train operators built a new train station in 1903 to deal with the number of visitors.

Warnemünde Today

Today the former fishing village has turned into one of the world’s busiest cruise ports (rank 46 by the number of travellers in 2016/2017), although its population still only consists of 8,700 inhabitants. It is also one of the most popular seaside resorts in Germany. As a result, a large portion of the town supports these two industries. This includes large buildings like the Warnemünde Cruise Center and numerous large hotels. Despite these more modern buildings, there are some in Warnemünde that date back hundreds of years. These include the “Vogtei”, which was the house of the advocatus (often known today as the “advocate”), constructed in 1600. It was the residence of the man who was legally delegated to perform administrative duties of the area (including in some cases governance). The Vogtei today is a museum of local history.

Visiting Warnemünde

When we visited Warnemünde (as we were near Rostock and visiting the Baltic coast area), we had a nice walk along the Alter Strom (English: Old Channel), which runs through the town and offers a nice walk along with many restaurants, pubs and a fish market. Additionally you can find many traditional fishing boats here, making it a very atmospheric place to visit.

There is also the broadest beach in Germany; they also stretch over 3 kilometres (1.9 miles). From here you can view the sunset as well as ships going in and out of the harbour, including many large cruise liners that are making the rounds of the Baltic and North Seas. They use the lighthouse constructed in 1897 to navigate. It still operates today. In the summer, you can also climb to the top and see far into the Baltic Sea as well as much of Rostock, especially the northern districts.

Most of the things to do and see in Warnemünde are outside. My recommendation is to go sometime when the weather is nice and it is comfortable to be outside. Typically this means the summer months. That is when you can enjoy the seafront the best. We went in September and the weather was still nice. The temperature was as well, so it wasn’t an issue. Warnemünde on average gets the most sun in May and June. However July and August are not far behind in their average number of sunshine hours; July is typically a rainier month than any other in the summer.


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Maultaschen (“mouth pockets”) from Swabia, Germany

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(The photo of the Maultaschen in broth is by Matthias Haupt)

When I lived in Germany, my favourite cuisine from the country was easily that of Baden-Württemberg. As I am someone who eats little meat, I loved the vegetarian options from the region, including some variety of spätzle and the vegetarian Maultaschen.

Maultaschen, which translates directly as “mouth pockets” (The word “maul” is possbly a short form of Maulbronn, so they could be “Maulbronn pockets), are a meal unto themselves. These pckets are made with a very thin wheat-and-semolina based dough and contain a filling. Traditionally this filling consists of mince meat. For those who are not a fan of meat (or don’t eat it for whatever reason), the vegetarian options are also just as popular and are easy to find. The most common of these alternatives is the spinach variety. For this post, we will be looking at the traditional Maultaschen. Don’t worry vegetarians! I will be sure to post the spinach alternative very soon.

The following amounts are for four portions:

Let’s start with the ingredients for the dough:

2 Eggs (small to medium)

200 g flour – UK/EU: Type 00 or 405, Rest of world: either a course wheat flour for everyday use or a pastry flour

30 g Durum wheat semolina

Salt

Ingredients for the traditional filling:

2 bread rolls (from the previous day – i.e. somewhat stale)

100 mL whipping cream

400 g onions

1 tablespoon butter

1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley (approx 70 g)

Salt, pepper, sugar

300 g minced meat (mixed is fine)

200 g bratwurst sausage meat – you can also squeeze the meat out from a sauasage with a casing if you don’t have any loose meat handy

2 tablespoons breadcrumbs

nutmeg

1 teaspoon marjoram

1 L strong stock (traditionally beef)

1/2 bunch of chives

Preparation:

  1. To make the dough, whisk the eggs with 3-4 tablespoons of water. Mix the flour, semolina and a good pinch of salt until it forms a strong, smooth dough. Knead the dough vigorously on a floured work surface for 1 minute. Cover and let it sit for 30 minutes.
  2. Cut the bread into thin slices and place into a bowl. Heat the cream and pour over the bread rolls. Finely dice the onions. Melt the butter in a pan and add the onions, sautéing them until translucent. Wash the parsley, finely chop the stems, add to the onions and steam for 3-4 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar and leave to cool.
  3. Mix the mince meat, Bratwürst sausage meat, rolls, beradcrumbs, eggs and onions in a bowl until it becomes smooth. Season well with salt, peper, nutmeg and marjoram. Cover and place in the fridge to chill.
  4. Divide the dough into 3 portions. Roll out 1 portion on the floured work surface 2 mm (~7/100 of an inch) thin to approx. 42×30 cm (~16.5×12 inches). Place the batter on a kitchen towel. Spread1/3 of the filling onto the dough. Using a kitchen towel, roll the dough loosely from the long side. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to divide the roll into 4 equal pieces, pressing the dough firmly into place. Separate the pieces with a knife. Process the remaining dough and filling in the same way. Unlike ravioli, the dough does not have to completely enclose the filling. It will stick together enough that it won’t fall apart while cooking. These are your Maultaschen
  5. Heat the (beef) stock. At the same time bring the salted water to the boiling point, reduce the heat while simultaneously adding the Maultaschen and let the Maultaschen simmer for 10 minutes (do not boil!). Drain. Cut the chives into small rolls.
  6. Serve the Maultaschen in a little beef stock sprinkled with chives.

Alternative serving method: instead of serving in a broth, which would then be eaten with a spoon, you could also serve it directly on a plate with other side dishes. A typical traditional side dish for the Swabian dish is Swabian potato salad. Other options include salad and spinach. You could also go a step further and lightly fry the Maultaschen, cut them into strips and add bits of hard-boilled to it.

I hope you enjoyed this translation of the German recipe (found here: https://www.essen-und-trinken.de/rezepte/60131-rzpt-maultaschen-klassisch) und lass es Euch schmecken!


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Quora – How can I pronounce Google in English?

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For this answer, I will be using the International Phonetic Alphabet, which is a way to represent sounds across languages.

“Google” in English is usually pronounced as /guːgəl/. It has two syllables; the first one is pronounced slightly more longly than the second one. Each ‘g’ marks the start of a new syllable.

View on Quora: https://qr.ae/pNdPHJ

Grutenhäuschen (near Trier), Germany – A temple with a view

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On the bank of the river Moselle not far upstream from the city of Trier lies a Roman temple with a beautiful view of the Moselle valley just before the Saar and Moselle rivers merge. This Roman temple (Grutenhäuschen) dates back to the 3rd/4th century AD to the time after Trier had become one of the imperial capitals of the Roman Empire.

The temple served as a funerary temple during its height; the upper floor of the temple (reached by steps) was for the funeral ceremony and the lower floor (partially sunken into the ground) was the resting place of coffins and sarcophagi.

The temple was built in this location due to the placement of Roman roads; one ran slightly downhill from the temple along the river, heading into modern-day Luxembourg and France. The modern road follows the path of the old Roman road as seen in the image below:

Today the temple is a cultural monument to the local Roman history of the area; the public can visit it. There is no charge and you can walk directly up to and into the building the building; you could easily stumble upon the temple while going for a walk among of vineyards. You can rent the temple for private parties as well as for civil wedding ceremonies.

Here are some more photos from the Grutenhäuschen: