Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fortress and Federweißer

I enjoyed my time as a tourist on Sunday so much that I kept going for the next few days. On Monday I visited the fortress, a common landmark for larger German cities recalling a time when a heavily-defended castle on a hill was the difference between life and death for a number of hapless pre-German peasantry. On the way to the fortress, I stopped by a monument called “Das Deutsches Eck” – the German corner. This corner commemorates German unification in the late 1800s, when the various principalities and city-states of Prussia decided to throw their lots in together and form a new country. I like the symbolism of this monument, since it makes a point of having German symbolism (the German flag and the coat of arms of Germany) as well as symbolism from each individual state. Around the back of the monument is a row of columns, each of which have the coat of arms of all sixteen German states.

State flags along the side, with the German flag at the tip.

And the coats of arms for all sixteen German states
While I was there some military something-or-other was setting up a tent of some sort. They wouldn’t talk to me when I asked what it was.

There was a great deal of clattering, though.
After das Deutsches Eck I took an enclosed-gondola ride up to the fortress. I had a goofy smile on my face the whole time because it was so much fun and gave me a fabulous view of the city. The trip was less than 5 minutes, but allowed me plenty of time to enjoy the Rhine and Mosel, the city, and the countryside from way up high.

This is from before the gondola.

And a closer shot from in the gondola. We got to ride almost right up to the fortress.
After arriving on the fortress plateau I headed for the fortress itself to take a tour. Unfortunately the museum aspect of the fortress wasn’t very impressive: there was no discernible order and most of the exhibits were models or replicas. I did enjoy the little models charting the progress of the fortress from a little tower to a sprawling defense mechanism.

Thoroughly disappointed by the lack of ancient artifacts (people have lived here for 5000 years), I wandered into the fortress restaurant where I enjoyed a bowl of tomato soup and more breathtaking views of Germany from on high. I could have sat there for hours just looking down, it was so beautiful.

My view while slurping down soup. I am so spoiled.
The Rhineland-Paletinate has a number of traditional foods for various times in the year. During the fall we have Zweibelkuchen (potato-onion “cake”) and Federweißer, (sweet new wine), and every café worth its name makes its own. If you recall, I first thought Zweibelkuchen was sweet and tried to order it as a dessert only to get a second lunch. I hadn’t tried Federweißer, though, and went to try some. It’s delicious. Unlike real wine, it’s very sweet because it’s only been fermented for a few days or a week rather than months. It’s usually cloudy and un-strained, and can give you a stomachache if you drink too much. I was warned against this and only had one glass. Unfortunately, due to its short fermentation period and small amount of carbonation, you can’t store it for very long. I’m in England for a week’s visit as I type this, and have to plan on buying more yummy almost-wine when I return to Germany.

Not my picture. I've never gotten into photographing my food, although I do like other people's pictures of it.

Post script: there are some funny formatting issues with some of my posts. And the white space around the pictures bothers me. My sense of aesthetics is rebelling and I'm going to try to fix it. Just not tonight.

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