Saturday, June 19, 2010

S is for Schnitzel

We returned safely from Germany on Wednesday, no ash cloud interference in sight. Our week away was very enjoyable––we spent most of it in southern Bavaria at the beginning of the Alps, which rise suddenly and impossibly out of gently rolling wheat fields and cow pastures. Those mountains are truly awesome, we had never seen anything like them.

If you’re Alp-bound, check out the Bavarian town of Füssen. It is a favorite vacation spot of Germans, and it’s easy to understand why. The outdoor activities are top-notch. But for foreigners it’s probably best known as the home of Schloss Neuschwanstein, King Ludwig II’s “fairy tale” castle that supposedly inspired the Disney World castle. But something tells me that Ludwig’s is a little more impressive, if anything because it is perched up on an Alpine hill with stunning views of the countryside. That and it’s not made out of fiberglass. As long as you don’t mind being crammed into small rooms with eighty other sweaty tourists, Neuschwanstein’s worth a stop.

From the front steps of Neuschwanstein

We biked around the reservoir Forgenßee

From Füssen we went to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a great example of a German medieval walled town. It’s extremely touristy. Worth it, though, for the photos of traditional German architecture, giant snails, and a local pastry called a Schneeball.

Tilman Reimenschnieder altarpieces alone were worth the trip to Rothenburg

Germany has large snails

Love the architecture

Lastly we wound up in Frankfurt am Main, Germany’s financial capital. Frankfurt has a nice big-city buzz about it, and some great food too. German friends of ours took us out for some Frankfurt apfelwein (apple wine) and food––I got something called the Schlachtplatte. Literally translated as the “slaughter plate,” it was a mound of blood sausages, ham, and sauerkraut. It was magnificent, the best German food we had for the whole trip.

Frankfurt am Main

Two stereotypes were confirmed. Firstly, Germany is all about pork. You find every type of pork preparation imaginable. It’s actually tough to find beef or chicken on a menu. (If you’re a vegetarian, maybe go to Spain on a holiday instead.) Second, the beer was second-to-none. Sorry Ireland, you’re a close second. The sheer number of brews available in Germany is overwhelming, but I tried to make a small dent. Every kind I had was nearly flawless. Even types of beer I’m not too crazy about––weiss beers and pilsners, for example––I have to give two thumbs up. (If you don’t like beer, maybe go to Italy on a holiday instead.)

One more observation: my God, the Germans are into the World Cup. Maybe their enthusiasm was dampened by their recent loss to Serbia, but I doubt it. While in Rothenburg we watched Germany beat up Australia 4–0. Locals then proceeded to drive around the town in a circle, probably a hundred times until 11:30 at night, honking their horns, singing, and blowing into bugles. This was a preliminary match…I don’t know what they’ll do if Germany wins the cup.


Much to my horror June is already drawing to a close, as is our time in Ireland. I’m going to be upfront with my loyal readers: Katherine and I might not be staying in Ireland for the full twelve months of our visas. A combination of factors has us thinking about heading home in late September, but I won’t bore you with them. The easy explanation is that we’ll run out of money.

I am currently limping along at the warehouse, that place won’t let me go. (One of my bosses joked that he originally came to the company sixteen years ago as a deliveryman trying to drop off a box. At least I think it’s a joke.) Nonetheless they won’t have any work for me after June, and the job market in Cork is, well, unchanged.

Right now our preliminary plan for the rest of our time is to enjoy summer in Ireland the best we can. We are seriously considering doing a month or five-week stint at an intensive language school on the Continent at the end of the summer. When are we ever again going to be living in Europe, sans career and other responsibilities? Might as well try to pick up a language, or at least jumpstart the learning process. If we commit to this then we commit to our finances being taxed beyond repair––thus the early return to the ol’ USA.

Note: I have no idea why this post is having formatting problems. I don't know enough about HTML to fix them. Sorry!


  1. Hopefully you will keep up your blog... I mean online magazine, while you jaunt around Europe. Love your writing and pics. We are living vicariously through you!

  2. I love getting these updates on your adventures!

    I have a technical question about traveling in Italy, though! When you bought your train tickets, did you use the trenitalia website? It won't accept /any/ credit cards that I've tried - mine, my mom's... If you pre-booked via the website, got any advice?

  3. I suggest NOT pre-booking, actually. There is no discount for booking online––you get the exact same price from the ticket machine at the station. And if your plans suddenly change and you can't make that train you've booked, it's a hassle to get a refund (if you can even get a refund, which is doubtful in most cases).

    Not booking ahead gives you more flexibility to adjust your plans at the last minute, which can happen even if you don't it to. We found out the hard way when the Icelandic volcano threw our whole trip out of whack––I was left with pre-booked Trenitalia tickets that went unused. Budget ample time at the station (30 mins. or so) to make sure you can iron out any last-minute difficulties.