Monday, October 3, 2011

Deutsche Weinstrasse...German Wine Road!

This weekend was a three-dayer thanks to it being German Reunification Day...meaning...the day East/West Germany came back together in 1990. Four of us girls from school, (Lauren, Rhonda, Kendra, and I) went on a road trip to the Deutsche Weinstrasse- the German Wine Road.

The Wine Road is a 50 km stretch of road in southwestern Germany where there are hundreds of wineries and vineyards as far as the eyes can see. We were incredibly lucky and had AMAZING weather. It was cloudless and 75 (don't ask for the Celsius, I don't know!) the whole weekend with low humidity. PERFECT.

We rented a car and so I got to drive on the Autobahn this weekend. It wasn't really that exciting to tell you the truth. Maybe if I had a really nice car that was really smooth at 100 mph then I would like it. But, our rental car was a Chevy Cruze, there were four of us and we had about 40 full wine bottles in the trunk...not exactly optimum conditions for driving without a speed limit. For me, it was more stressful than fun as the Germans I encountered were massive tail-gaters, non-turn signal users, and there was often traffic that would stop rather suddenly. I guess next time I will have to rent a really expensive, fancy car in order to take full advantage. Driving in Düsseldorf in the dark on Friday night was probably the most stressful part of the drive as there are construction projects, trams, bikes, and many pedestrians everywhere and I don't know where I am going even with a GPS! But, now that I've rented a car once, it won't be so bad in the future. It makes me feel like an independent, real person unlike last year in England where I was too chicken-shit to drive and also I didn't have easy access to renting a car anyway.

Being that it is 2011 and who doesn't like to be connected, we had plenty of technology with us!

Two i-pads, one kindle, 4 digital cameras, 3 smart phones, 3 ipods, a GPS, and a good 'ol-fashioned road atlas got us through Germany! Guide book....schmide book! 

There are bike paths and walking paths everywhere in the area. We could just walk right into the vineyards, and so, of course, we did!

Creeping through the grape vines!

There were still a few grapes left of the vines. Yummy!
There were some delicious food options too! The traditional food for this time of year while tasting wine is called a Zwiebeln Kuche....which is basically like a piece of bacon/onion quiche. It was delicious and very cheap everywhere! But, most excitingly, there was Black Forest Cake and lots of it.

Twenty seconds later...
All for only 1€!!!
Now, I have passed by the world's largest ball of twine in Kansas before but if you want to find the world's largest wine barrel, you will not find it in Napa! Instead, it is right along the Deutsche Weinstrasse!
I feel like our car's trunk was actually carrying this much wine!  At least that is what it felt like when I tried to "step on it" while on the Autobahn. The lack of pick up might have had to do with the cake we consumed too! 
The Weinstrasse's best wine (at least in our opinion) was a Halbtrocken (half-dry) Reisling. We visited a castle and sat in the sun on the castle's patio enjoying a glass of it. It was one of those moments that really made you feel lucky to live in such an interesting, new place (and made you wish you'd worn more sunblock!)!
Lauren with our new favorite wine.
Castle walls, delicious wine,  gorgeous weather, and amazing scenery.
Great weekend!
There was also another way to get around the Weinstrasse...a wine-o chairlift. Being a skier, I sure do love chairlifts! We didn't even get to ride it but I am obsessed with the sign for it. When you don't speak German (well, I know about 60 words now), you often just figure things out from the picture or you watch to see what everyone else is doing!
This picture was easy to guess! A wine-swilling chairlift!
The view from the castle was also quite beautiful! Hambacher Schloss- it was called.
We now know that "Schloss" is the German word for castle.

When my parents were visiting Germany in the 1970s, they were standing about a block from the Rhein River but couldn't see it. They were asking everyone around them "Wo ist der Rhein Flusse?" which means "Where is the Rhein River?" and people were really confused about what they were asking since the river was within spitting distance. So, we now like to ask where things are when we are literally standing right in front of them. "Wo ist der Schloss?" was our question while sitting on the patio of the schloss/castle. Maybe it was the delicious Reisling that made this so especially funny! :)

The little hike up to the castle. 
Remember that I could have been living in Kuwait this year!
I am betting that there are not any Kuwait Wine Roads where they serve bacon-filled snacks!
Score again for the land of pork and alcohol!
Though the Wine Road was only about 25 miles long, it took us two days to get down it. Part of that was because there were so many little places to stop and part of that was that we didn't plan ahead and get hotels. So, because of that, we had quite a drive to our hotel (and I say "hotel" loosely...we stayed in a boarding house which was like living in the dorms again!). Next time, we'll plan a bit ahead when traveling on one of the biggest travel weekends of the year. So, we spent a long time in the car. But, I always love a good road trip!
I like big bottles and I cannot lie. Baby got bottle! (Thanks, UT!)
Finally, we got to the end of the Wine Road where there is a Wine Gate. The Wine Gate was built in the late 1930s in order to celebrate German wine over French wine. I remember hearing SOMETHING about Germany being a bit overly-patriotic in the late 1930s but I can't seem to remember many details...oh, wait. The Wine Gate is only about 150 feet from the French border.
Rhonda "coming in for a landing" in front of the Wine Gate.
I know it is blurry but it looks like she fell from the sky and landed right in front of the gate!
So, because we were within feet of France..(Wo ist France?) we had to go there! And, you can't say you've gone somewhere (according to my cousin Terese in Denmark) unless you've had ice cream there. So, we hopped across the border and had a McFlurry! We were tempted to also order "Le Big Mac" but just being able to say "Le Big Mac" wasn't worth actually ordering one!
Standing on the Germany/France border.
"Ich bin in Deutschland" and "Je suis en France" on the other side!
In two countries at once!
That's a first for me (although I've been in 4 states at once!)!
Last night we stayed in Heidelberg because it was the closest hotel we could find. Heidelberg was about an hour from the end of the wine road and about 3 hours from Düsseldorf. Today we visited Heidelberg Schloss. It was very pretty and at the top of a giant staircase...that's okay, we needed to work off the cake, wine, and McFlurrys!
View from Heidelberg Schloss.
We, again, cracked ourselves up "looking for" the castle while standing directly in front of it.

The French blew up the castle in the 1600s and it hasn't been the same since!
This was such a fantastic weekend. When you get into the daily rut of school, workout, dinner, laundry, etc. (Notice that house cleaning is not on that list because I GOT A CLEANER!!!) I forget why I am living so far away from everyone I love when I'm just going through my routine. I like to remind myself why I'm living so far away by having the kind of weekend I just had.

If you're keeping score...and I am...

Score:      Last year-  0 This year- + 1 million.

Next up: Parentals visit in three weeks! I can't wait!!

1 comment:

Bryden Blabbing said...

Looks like you had a fabulous weekend! I love all the pictures! Where is your blog? :)