Monday, May 30, 2011

A perfect weekend

Even though I had not planned another update from Germany, well, here we go. Sabine and I had such a great weekend that I wanted to share with you.

The weekend actually started on Friday afternoon, with steady rain but a promising trip to the oldest brewery in the world, Weihenstephan. To think that it was only a 7-minute bike ride to get there! Ever being the traditionalists, we went for Radi (a type of mild horse radish eaten with salt and chased with copious amounts of beer) and the ubiquitous Brez'n (accompanied by traditional and sweet, i.e. Bavarian, mustard). You got to agree, that thin-shaved radish looks just great!

Heaven, Bavarian style
With the weather back to sunny and warm, we started Saturday with a shopping spree in the Freising market square. Local farmers have stalls selling everything from chicken and potatoes to honey and olives. We ended up with goodies for our evening meal that were fresh and yummy.
Market square in Freising
Afterward, we did what one does on a Saturday morning in Freising: We went to Weissbräu Huber to eat Weisswurst and drink beer. Things were fairly well hopping with locals readying themselves for the day with a hearty meal.
Traditional Weisswurst, Brez'n, and Weissbier
In the afternoon, we went on yet another cycling excursion and sampled yet another beer and yet more wurst—fortifying oneself is important, especially when the evening is going to bring on a Zither concert. Since this is Germany, one puts on a decent dress and hops on the bike to get there on time. The Copenhagen Cycle Chick has nothing on Sabine, for sure.
The Freising Cycle Chick
The Zither somewhat resembles a steel guitar, and its sound is rather pleasing. The concert we attended featured the Zither Club Freising (with 12  Zither players plus three with guitarists), under the leadership of a conductor, delighting those assembled in the Pfarrsaal with both classical and traditional pieces. After the intermission of this decidedly very Bavarian concert—which attracted a crowd in which we stood out as the youngsters—an accordion / violin duo joined the fun, and the Meindel family (they looked to us like the elderly parents plus four adult sons or some itinerant uncles) took turns playing folk songs on zither, clarinet, and bass. It was quite an evening.

One of the dozen Zither players
Sunday was going to be our last day together, and Sabine had come up with a great idea for an excursion: She wanted to take me through the Hallertau to Weltenburg, on the river Donau. I had no idea that the world's best hops are being grown just a few kilometers north of Freising! OMG, Hallertau! The area's crop is well known to true hop-heads, and the countryside is just as beautiful as the smell of those hops implies. The area features countless fields that cover the hillsides like vineyards in Sonoma and Napa.
A hop-head in the Hallertau
Onward we went, to a small town called Kelberg, where one of the Ludwig kings (according to Sabine, it was the nutty one who also built Neuschwanstein, the Disneyesque castle whose name can't be pronounced by any god-fearing 'merican) built the pompous Befreiungshalle, which overlooks the beautiful Donau river, also known as the Danube to aforementioned 'mericans. Instead of the Befreiungshalle, here's a pic of the two of us with the Danube in the background.
Sabine's choice of tires was definitely more suited to the terrain
Ever the industrious cyclists, we continued our bike excursion for a few miles until we made it down to the Donau river. Now, you need to understand that this river continues its run via Vienna, Budapest, and Belgrade all the way to the Black Sea. This is serious stuff, and one can ride one's bike along the river's banks—well, at least if you make it around the Donau Durchbruch just downriver from where we were. Here's a photo of the mouth of this amazing "tight squeeze," which is also the home of the oldest monastery brewery in  the world, dating back to 1050! (The local monks obviously had some sort of gentleman's agreement with the Weihenstephan bunch, one claiming the "oldest brewery", period, and the other holding the rights to the "oldest monastery brewery.")
The Weltenburg monastery at the mouth of the Donau Druchbruch
To cross the river we took one of the traditional ferries.What a cool concep: Hang the vessel from a steel rope and let the Lederhosen-clad ferry-dude dip the oar into the river and allow the current to take you across. Voilà, you've just earned a euro and a half.
Our driver across the river
After riding a few miles upriver we decided to go to the monastery at Weltenburg. After all, four beers were clamoring for our attention. The Urbock, which I had last. was the absolutely greatest, of course. Of the more  traditional beers, it was a close toss-up between the ever-so-lovely unfiltered Weizen and the astonishingly hoppy Märzen. The Dunkel was definitely for the tourists... Ach, as we say in German, it was a great afternoon.

And now I'm back in the US, after several updates to this entry. In 15 minutes I'll board my last flight to Lubbock, where my great buddy Carl will pick me up on this Memorial Day, anno domini 2011.

Thanks for reading. Always feel free to touch base.


1 comment:

  1. Are those Shimano brifters I spy? : ) Japanese steel, it's the best.