It's about time I got back to the Germany photos. Unlike the pitiful New York "Octoberfest" street fair I wrote about yesterday, I'm guessing a party at the Heidelberg Castle during its day would have been very fun.
Our cousin Jürg took my sister and I to Heidelberg one afternoon. We walked around town and toured the castle. In the castle we kept seeing signs for the giant wine barrel, the Heidelberg Tun. We turned a corner and saw the barrel in the top photo.
"That's a big barrel of wine" we said.
Then we saw the big barrel. The Heidelberg Tun is two stories high, holds 220,017 liters (58,124 gallons) of wine, and was constructed in 1751. it is the largest wine barrel in Germany, though it is rarely used to hold wine.
Mark Twain memorably wrote about Heidelberg, the Heidelberg Castle, and the Tun within, in A Tramp Abroad (scroll down to Appendix B. Heidelberg Castle).
As promised, today we have a slow German train. The misleadingly named Rasender Roland, or Racing Roland, on the island of Rügen. The Rasender Roland is a narrow-gauge train that winds it's way back and forth across the island. In truth, the Roland doesn't move all that fast. When my father was a kid he would catch a ride by running up to the train and jumping on.
The train has been on the island for more than a century. At one time it was an important means of transportation -the presence of the line was what enabled the resort towns to grow- but today it is mostly for tourists.
I hope nobody minds the lack of a theme in the recent posts. I'm in a random mood.
Here are the search terms several people used to find this site today:
heroin slang on craigslist (because I write so much about heroin and craigslist?)
tien mao shannan
mr. met email (Mr. Met loves fan mail. Rumor has it he will make an appearance soon.)
what about the plastic animals
calories in a capogiro mozzarella and peppers sandwich
simone perrotta's wedding
taste of dinosaur meat
bat cave riverside drive upper manhattan
tien jake wedding (I didn't even know they were dating!)
And might I just say that posting videos to Typepad via VideoEgg really stinks. Sorry if you got this post four times in your RSS feeds.
The yellow field seen from the Jagdschloss Grantiz tower was a field of raps in bloom. The seed of the raps plant is used to make oil. Canola oil, the oil Mark Bittman no longer likes, because, translated, rapeseed oil isn't that great a marketing term. The raps were at full bloom the first week we were in Germany. There were stretches where it seemed like every other field was yellow.
Hey, I haven't forgotten Germany. I just needed to take a break for a few days. We went to Jagdschloss (Hunting Lodge) Granitz. The lodge is fairly new as castles go. It was built between 1836 and 1846. The most impressive feature is the 38-meter high central tower and the spiral staircase that climbs up the inside of it. There are also many hunting trophies (i.e. stuffed animals). Jagdschloss Granitz sits on top of a hill, so the view is impressive. Probably more impressive when there's more than half a mile of visibility.
To get to the castle you have to take a trolley for a couple of miles. When we got off the trolley the first thing we saw was a guy cooking the wurst soup and selling beer. The wurst was tempting but we had just eaten lunch.
My father grew up on the little island of Dänholm, which is a few hundred feet from Stralsund. For the most part he was raised by his grandparents who owned a small shipyard on the island. The shipyard was largely destroyed by Allied bombing during the war. We were excited to see that three buildings from the shipyard are still standing. A bridge being built towered over them, yet there they were. One looked like it had been turned into a bathroom for a club, it was pretty trashed. The wooden building above was in pretty good shape. My father also found the path that he used to take when he walked to school in Stralsund.
Herr Jacobs and Dad really getting into a photo album.
Looking at their 7th grade class photo. Picture by Judy Petrie.
Frau and Herr Jacobs, cake and two very old teddy bears. Picture by Judy Petrie.
Several years ago my Aunt Helga was reading the Ostsee-Zeitung, the Stralsund area's daily newspaper when she saw an old class picture. She recognized one person in that picture, her older brother. The person who submitted the picture to the paper was Mr. Jacobs, a close grade school friend of my father's. They were sent in different directions near the end of the war and never saw each other again.
Aunt Helga was able to get in touch with Herr Jacobs and met him a few years ago. The Jacobs invited us for coffee and cake and a little personal reunion. The two guys started talking like they had seen each other the day before, not with a lapse of sixty years between conversation. There were photos to discuss, people to remember, and, literally and figuratively, war stories to tell. A grand time was had by all.
We thought we were there for coffee and cake. I could not refuse Frau Jacobs generosity and ate a slice of her homemade berry cheesecake and a piece of the chocolate cake. With a little whipped cream on top. Frau Jacobs then turned her considerable little old german lady charm on and convinced me to have another piece of each. I'm a sucker for the impish grin. The cakes were great but it felt like spontaneous adult-onset diabetes was about to occur.
The table was cleared as the conversation continue. It seemed like the visit was winding down when Frau Jacobs starts setting the table for dinner. There were salads, cold cuts, bread, cheese and meatballs. All were delicious, but I have to say that I was in some serious pain after that meal. About all I could do was sit in the corner in a food coma until it was time to leave.
The day we ate the cake in Binz was intended to be the day when we spent some time in Stralsund. High winds and an hours-long delay getting to the bridge to the mainland changed our plans. We went to Stralsund the next day but didn't have as much time to sightsee. What we did see is what George Bush is seeing today as he meets with Germany's ChancellorAngela Merkel.
Stralsund was founded in 1234. During the Middle Ages, which much of the old city dates to, it was a member of the Hanseatic League of cities that dominated trade across the Baltic and much of northern Europe. We were there because Stralsund is the city of my father's birth. He grew up on the tiny island of Dänholm, which can be seen in the great mural that covers the walls of the train station. We ate good cake in Stralsund too.
Germany was not a low-calorie trip. These cakes were enjoyed at a cafe in Binz, a really beautiful town that we saw only briefly because it was the one afternoon with bad weather. Bad weather or good we had dessert like this nearly every day. Mmmm good!
Remember the Punkin' Chunkin' I went to last fall? If you act faster than me you can pick up a pumpkin cannon in Brooklyn for free via Craigslist. Now I just need some Red Hook waterfront access. (Thanks for the tip, Janet!)