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Saturday, 17 September 2011

Travelogue: Some Leberkäse or liver-cheese anyone?

Germany is the perfect destination for dreamy ladies and macho-machine-loving men of the world.

A pair of Weisswurst (traditional Bavarian sausage made from very finely minced veal and fresh pork bacon) with sweet mustard, a pretzel and Weissbier (wheat beer) is southern Germany's champion way to start the day.

It was a cruise in the summer of 2008 that took us through the Rhineland. We (my husband and I) traveled south through the heart of Germany taking the Romantic Road to Bavaria and a few destinations popular here.

Willkommen in Deutschland or ‘welcome to Germany’.

If you love beer and beautiful cars, there is little doubt that you would have had your taste of Bavarian culture, but if you are a global citizen inundated by slick marketing and has missed the point, then here’s a hint – BMW and Oktoberfest. BMW stands for Bavarian Motor Works vehicles and Oktoberfest just happens to be the world’s largest beer festival that has found its way into every noisy, rambunctious pub across the planet.

Our day started at the much heard-about Bavarian buffet table in Munich, I was going wild to pronounce the names on the placards (while my husband had two plates full of whatever amused him). Got hold of one of the restaurant staff hoping to get some help, it was a wasted effort because she spoke English in German and then the morning rush for breakfast pulled her on and off my sight. I soon gathered that perhaps they believe in self service policy. So I sat down to enjoy my German breakfast.

Weisswurst is served in a big bowl together with the cooking liquid used for preparation (so it does not cool down too much), then eaten without the skin. I enjoyed the Leberkaese (liver loaf), and a fresh warm pretzel together with Obatzda. Obatzda is a cheese spread made with camembert, cream cheese, butter, paprika and chives. Leberkaese is a specialty similar to meat loaf. The name Leberkäse literally translates to ‘liver-cheese’ even though in Bavaria the dish traditionally contains neither liver nor cheese - it consists of beef, bacon and onion and is made by grinding the ingredients very fine and then baking it as a loaf in a bread pan until it has a crunchy brown crust. We held the morning cuppa up in the air saying cheers or prost! as German’s say it.

Exploring the cobbled stoned pavements by foot after a heavy and fulfilling Bavarian breakfast was just the thing that doctor ordered.

Once you are at a town or a city centre, everything you need is within strolling distance.

A fiercely independent lot, the Bavarians have always maintained a strong national identity and see themselves as the most important part of Germany. In Hitler’s homeland my husband made-up for the loss of the dictator while he growled over what a waste it would be if we missed the BMW museum in Munich. Aaaand the The Deutsches Museum! It is one of the famous technology and science museums in the world. Eight floors of displays from boats to telescopes to robots; which is a great stop over for scientists or people (like my husband) who have a thing for machines.

While he spent hours preening at the gadgets, I clicked the picturesque outdoors.

Rhine valley offers a spectacular view of the pristine vineyards, castles and ancient churches while you cruise through. There is a particular variety of sparkling wine called White Risling, which is brewed in the region. Wine and cheese packages come with a whole story of the family who made them, which is an interesting read.

Across the valley, you can also see train-lines and roads running parallel to the river, transporting industrial goods to the cities and ship yards almost throughout the day. There is no escaping the industrial revolution.

Like in most parts of Europe, beer that is cheaper than water kept the thirsty travellers (especially my husband) happy in the ‘beer capital’ of Germany. While teetotalers like me collected different types of beer-stein souvenirs, made of porcelain, glass and wood; carefully weeding out those that had a Made in China stamp! We retired back to Holiday Inn at the city centre after an eventful day.

Day 1: Munich

Munich, the capital of Bavaria has everything within strolling distance. The Old and New Town Halls look down on the golden Mariensoul. St Peter’s church, just off Marienplatz, is the oldest church in Munich, and for a fantastic view of the city, you could climb the bell frey tower. There are local artists selling the city panorama in water and oil from the top of the church.

The main tourist attractions in Munich are Marienplatz, the Glockenspiel, St Peter’s church, Englischer Garten, Deutches Museum and BMW Museum. As the Glockenspiel, a mechanical- musical piece of tourist interest was under renovation, we could not catch a glimpse of the working Glockenspiel, known to chime with life-sized statues rotating around each other in a mock dance. There is a café opposite the Glockenspiel, called as Café Glockenspiel; where we nibbled into some Bretzel and Bratwurst. The Englischer Garten here is famous for beer gardens and nude sunbathing (we did not get a chance to peep in here and my husband was much disappointed).

Bavaria is located in southeast Germany, and borders Switzerland, Austria, and the Czech Republic. The southern border of Bavaria, adjacent to Austria, is delineated by the Bavarian Alps. The capital city of Bavaria is Munich, where Oktoberfest takes place every year. Other important Bavarian cities include Augsberg, Nuremburg, and Regensburg. The Danube and Main rivers flow through Bavaria, as well as many other minor rivers.

Bavaria has vibrant cities with amazing architecture, fabulous shopping and pulsating nightlife. Enchanting medieval and picturesque villages and traditional wine villages with friendly festivals and regional specialities.

Day 2: Heidelberg

Heidelberg, a city in Baden-Württemberg, is not just world famous for sheet-fed and web offset printing presses. It is called the educational capital of Germany and has the famed Old Bridge and Castle, which worth a visit. Situated high above the River Neckar, Heidelberg Castle is one of Germany’s most romantic locations.

The evening stroll by the countryside dotted with white houses and dark wood is unforgettably romantic as the still setting sun throws the orange and purple hues on the sky, promising to sink-out all the worries of the world. There is something romantic about the castles, vineyards, cobble-stoned town centres here.

Day 3: Cologne cathedral

The magnificent twin-spire cathedral Kölner Dom, Museum Ludwig with its renowned collection of 20th-century art and Wallraf-Richartz Museum tell you gothic tales in its vivid details over the walls, across the stained glass windows and sandblasted walls that bring alive an era gone-by under seasons rain and sun.

We relived our Bavarian sojourn in Dubai - this time there wr no connecting flights and euros being spent - it was cheap and cheerful for just about Dh165 per person ;)

How? Just a few montsh bk we headed to MAIFEST AT HOFBRÄUHAUS, JW MARRIOTT to enjoy a traditional German celebration at Hofbräuhaus.

In keeping with the spirit of Maifest, there was plenty of food and beverages to enjoy, accompanied by lively German music and singing.

If you happen to go there next time around they have this fest [May-June] try out a range of Bavarian cuisine including Bavarian Beef Goulash and German noodles in beef consommé. Make sure you have room for Bavarian cream with strawberry sauce; Plum-quark cake; Raspberry tart and Black forest cake.

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