Friday, May 21, 2010
Cool things about Deutschland
1. "Spargel" season. It was asparagus season in full force while we were there, and every menu featured a section dedicated to the hallowed white asparagus of the region.
3. Community gardens. I hadn't quite realized that Germans were so into their fresh produce. Every big city and small village had green space dedicated to community gardens. Each family had a shed and a pretty large plot of land - some even had "winter gardens", or little green-houses on their plots.
4. An unparalleled, separated cycling infrastructure. Both Germany and northern Switzerland have this. Full signed routes (with separate road or mountain bike signage at every intersection). Every fast road - those with 35 mph or higher speeds had a completely separated side path in the greenbelt that was paved. Other routes took us on very small roads with very little traffic. A detailed map is needed to navigate the routes, however, since the villages mentioned on the signs are generally quite small. In the big cities, there was a completely separated cycling infrastructure, as well, with cycling given first-class citizenship, often at the expense of motor vehicle space. Cycling paths were also distinct from walking paths. The routes through cities were not fast for cycling, but very safe and efficient. Of course, German drivers were somewhat less laid-back then their French counterparts - quick to point out a side path if you'd happened to miss it - as they herded you through a roundabout. :)
5. All roads built for speed. Note the thing above about German drivers. They LOVE their speed. This means all the steep mountain roads are perfectly paved, banked, and s-curved. This also means that and adventurous cyclist could easily go well over 50 mph if so desired (I did not, due to the bouncing load of luggage behind my seat), but I had to sit on my brakes HARD to keep it under 40.
6. Red Reisling - who knew it was a red grape? Very tasty.
7. Dunkel weizen - Rick introduced me to this tasty beer variant - by the .5 liter glass, of course.
8. "Real" sauerkraut - who knew that pickled cabbage could be so tasty?!
9. "Real" Schninken (Black Forest Ham) - like a very smoky version of prosciutto. Not at all like what they call "Black Forest Ham" at the supermarket here.
10. The Schwarzwald - what a lovely place! Renamed to "Sarah's Schwarzwald World" for the duration of the trip.
11. Pommes frites - they're just better in Euroland. "Freedom fries" are mostly crap. Or, for some additional fun, try the German-style "croquettes" very tasty fried potato goodness.
12. The "B" that is pronounced as a double-"ss". So weird.
13. Thermalbads (hot springs) - so needed in the cold weather.
14. Apfel struesel (and other tasty bakery creations!)
15. A winter-wonderland in May - inconvenient, but lovely.
16. The cute, gingerbread houses everywhere.
17. Seeing storks and swans in the wild and hearing the "cuku" coming from the forest.
18. Inexpensive, Turkish "pizza and doner (schwarma) places where you can get a hearty lunch.
19. Strong coffee served with real cream.
20. Cheese, lots and lots of cheese - I don't know all the varieties I had, but they were all good.
21. Pork with mushroom gravy and pork topped with cherries. The Germans really know how to do up their pork in 100 different and interesting ways.