Tuesday, October 31, 2017

My first big outing

I've been in Frankfurt more than three months,and although I have been back to the USA twice and taken another trip by plane within Europe, within Germany I have barely left Frankfurt.

Today I took advantage of the holiday (500 years since Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door and thus ushered in the Reformation) and took myself to Heidelberg.  There is a weird thing with the Deutsche Bahn - ticket prices to places that are within about a 2 hour drive are ridiculously expensive, so it doesn't make any sense to take the train even when one would prefer to do so. So, my first road trip.

This is the Academy of Sciences building, with the Heidelberg Castle lit up through the fog behind it. I am sure Terry hates this photo. I love it. The photo was taken basically right where I found a parking garage for the car.

I first hiked my way into and around the Philosopher's Way, so named because the university professors of old would come up into these woods and wander.  I had thought the name referred to a particular path, but soon changed my mind. The trails kept splitting off, signposts existed yet directed to places I had never heard of and none of them said Philosophenweg ... so I guess the term refers to all the forest paths.
This is the path up the mountain to the start of the Philosopher's Way. This path is called the Schlangeweg, or Snake Path.

The views were amazing, but hard to capture. This is Heidelberg's famous "old" bridge leading up to the Church of the Holy Ghost.

My morning in the mountain air caused (as the Germans say) a bear's hunger, and I managed to find a little pub-like restaurant a tiny bit off the main touristy area. I intended to order schnitzel  - they had three different kids that weren't pork as well as about 6 different kinds with pork, but then they had venison goulash with a berry sauce and spaetzle. I was sold.

After lunch, off to check out the castle. I didn't plan to actually go in, wanting to save that for a time when Terry and the kids are with me.  The entrance fee is actually due at the courtyard of the castle, so I only walked around a bit. It looks like it's half crumbling and there's plenty of nooks and crannies. The kids will love it.

There it is, looming over the town.

 The last part of the adventure was getting gas for the car. There's this perk where when we use a special card at certain gas stations, we can get gasoline without extra taxes. These extra taxes add up to about half the cost of the gas. I wasn't completely convinced on how this was going to work, so I didn't fill the tank all the way. But it worked! Unfortunately it also entailed a detour that added 20 or so minutes to my drive home. Driving in Germany is a bit harrowing, for example I'd be driving 80 mph and have cars FLYING past me. That takes some getting used to.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

SaTOURday in Frankfurt

[DISCLAIMER:  Terry has not seen or edited any of the photos shown here. He is not to blame for poor quality]

My days are not normally quite this busy ...

It started, Saturday morning, the day after the new curtains in my apartment were installed. Now, instead of hanging an inch or two above the window sill (and thus letting in first and all other light), my curtains hang several inches below.  And I slept past 8:30am.

After going for a run in which I successfully re-created the first few steps of a previous bike ride to Nidda Park, I made breakfast and got ready to hit the museums. The last Saturday of the month is free admission for most, but not all, of the Frankfurt museums.

The Children's Museum is located just steps away from the Hauptwache U-Bahn exit, so I went there first. The exhibits are very cool and interactive, but the place is tiny and it may be a bit young for my kids. I don't think I spent more than 20 minutes inside.

The Museum for Modern Art (yes, I went there. It was free!)  was about what you expect for modern art.  Some of the exhibits were thought-provoking, many just begged to be touched although that was frowned upon, one installation with bench seating did in fact allow viewers to sit so of course I did.
 This is one of many things I hold against modern art. How does this title relate to this work?

OK this one was cool. They are not dogs, but some kind of soft furry material shaped to look like them.

I tried to get into the Museum for Angewandete Kunst (Museum of Applied Art), which I had visited previously, but it looks like it is being prepared for new installations and any way the only door I found was locked.

Across a sweet little park from the Museum for Angewandete Kunst is the World Cultures Museum. The exhibitions focused on south America and Africa and art reflecting on the legacy of slavery.
This mobile is hanging from the entrance and along the two stories of stairs

My last museum stop was the Archeological Museum, located in an old church. There's an exhibit that unfortunately ends before the family comes to visit, all about prehistoric peoples. This was the winner of the day and the one I think the kids would even like. It definitely goes for breadth rather than depth, but I found value in the series of pottery that, in the course of a hallway, brought the visitor through nearly a millennia's worth of change and development. 

By the time I got home it was way past lunchtime and I was hungry and tired. After a brief rest and refreshment, I put my German license plates on the car and hit the road. Selgros is a membership-warehouse-type store, and I went to check it out. Three months into living as a single person, I still have trouble purchasing fresh produce with enough variety that I don't get bored during the week, but that doesn't rot when I can't eat it all. Needless to say, I bought little, although it isn't only full cases of stuff and I did go home with red curry paste and coconut milk.

Back at home, it was time to prepare dinner. When I returned to Frankfurt  last Sunday I took the whole chicken out of the freezer, planning to roast it later this week. My oven hasn't worked for 2 days, the chicken is now fully thawed, oh no, what to do?

Kenji, the culinary genius at Serious Eats, explains precisely how to grill a whole chicken and why one should do it his way. Without a meat thermometer and with the sunlight fading (it was full darkness when I pulled the chicken off the grill) it did entail a few risks, but the result was delicious and we'll find out tomorrow whether it was properly cooked.