Christmas is a time of domestic involvement. Many of the visible tokens of celebration-the decoration of the house and the presents-for friends-are in fact family projects that are relaxing and pleasurable. But four weekends before Christmas are the perfect time for gatherings, getting new ideas for Christmas in the Advent markets! The last two weekends I got the Advent bug and I visited two different cities in Germany to get in the Advent mood.
During the first weekend of December I went to Ludwigsburg’s Baroque Christmas Market (It is only 250 kms from München, circa 2 hours 45 minutes by car). The huge Castle was surrounded by arcades with its festively decorated stands were a winter dream came true. Arches and gates made of thousands of tiny light bulbs welcomed the visitors to the over 170 Christmas booths and majestic angels spread their glittering wings to bless the scene. The two baroque churches were also festively illuminated. The typical symmetry of a baroque city and garden architecture was the model for the layout of the Ludwigsburg Christmas market.
We breathed in the scents of mulled wine, the roasted chestnuts and gingerbread. However we didn’t have time to participate in some festive concert, but we were enchanted by the uniquely decorated market stalls and the adorned stalls offering traditional arts and crafts that made perfect presents for the family members.
I can recommend this place to everyone! According to my daughters during Christmas season this castle is more than just a visit. The Christmas market and the nearby pedestrian area with its numerous shopping opportunities will make your Christmas shopping a real pleasure. Go and enjoy Ludwigsburg with its Christmas flair!
The second magical event awaited us was the Ravennaschlucht-Ravenna gorge Christmas market which is held every weekend from December 1st-to the 23d. It’s a circa 3-hour drive from the KMC and under 2 hours from Stuttgart. Imagine a small village full of wooden houses, the scent of mulled wine and cinnamon in the air, snow covered mountains and fairy lights everywhere you look. Need I say more? This truly unique market was located in a romantic gorge. Free shuttle buses left at Hinterzarten and Himmelreich every thirty minutes; parking was available at the train stations as well. (But be careful parking closer to the market has to be reserved in advance). Because we didn’t make parking reservation therefore we parked in a village near by, called Hinterzarten. And then we saw Xmas bus which took us for free to that beautiful place under an old bridge. Admission was free. Can you imagine? Medieval music, scents of “Glühwein” and sweets, deco lights and torches, creeks and mountains…it’s unbelievable such the fantastic hot chocolate and the deer burger!
Hot chocolate drink: 250 ml milk, 150 ml cream, 75 g bittersweet chocolate, vanilla sugar or extract, 2 tbsp brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger bread spices
Methods: Melt chocolate. Cook milk and cream together but don’t let them boil. Stir melted chocolate in and flavor with 2 tbsp sugar and the vanilla sugar. Scatter some cinnamon powder and ginger bread spices on the top and enjoy!
Last week I visited Wörishofen, a small village in Bavaria. The reason was because each time when I went to my hairdresser, she couldn’t stop talking/praising this place. She likes thermal bathes and this small town became famous for the water-cure-hydrotherapy, which was developed by Sebastian Kneipp (1821–1897), a Catholic priest, who lived in the village for 42 years. That made me curious.
Since Bad Wörishofen is just 80 km/50 miles from München where I live (frontier of Baden Württemberg) so that in spite of the bad weather we decided to go. And we didn’t regret it. Arriving at the town we saw many of the resort hotels and boarding-houses offer their guests treatment using Kneipp’s methods.
By the way the new spa complex out of town is called Therme Bad Wörishofen. The Time Magazine called the city “The secret capital of health.”
I also learned that from the local museum that after World War II, with south-western Germany belonging to the American occupation zone, Bad Wörishofen was the site of a displaced persons camp.
What I’ve learned of Sebastien Kneipp and his methods
Kneipp was a Bavarian priest and one of the forefathers of the Hydrotherapy water cure movement. He is most commonly associated with the “Kneipp Cure” form of hydrotherapy, the application of water through various methods, temperatures and pressures which he demonstrated to have therapeutic or healing effects, thus building several hospitals in Bad Wörishofen. Although most commonly associated with one area of Nature Cure, Kneipp was the proponent of an entire system of healing which rested on 5 main tenets:
Hydrotherapy – Kneipp was able to heal many people with water
Phytotherapy – The use of botanical medicines was another of Kneipp’s specialities
Exercise– Promoting health of the body through movement
Nutrition – A wholesome diet of whole grains, fruits & vegetables with limited meat.
Balance – Kneipp believed that a healthy mind begot a healthy person.
Kneipp was born in 1821 in Bavaria. He studied theology in the University of München but he had to stop his studying in 1847 because of his serious illness (TBC). While he was ill, he began reading many books and found his illness described in a book about water cures. In 1850, Kneipp met a student in the Georgianum seminary in Munich that was also ill and shared water cures with him. Both Kneipp and his friend at the Georgianum recovered from their illnesses and with his renewed health Kneipp was able to complete his studies. He was ordained as a Catholic priest in 1852.
In the 19th century, there was a popular revival in the application of hydrotherapy, instigated around 1829 by Vincent Priessnitz, a peasant farmer in Gräfenberg, then part of the Austrian Empire. This revival was continued by Kneipp, “an able and enthusiastic follower” of Priessnitz, “whose work he took up where Priessnitz left it”, after he came across a treatise on the cold water cure. At Worishofen, while serving as the confessor to the monastery, he began offering treatments of hydrotherapy, botanical treatments, exercise and diet to the people who lived in the village. Some of his suggested treatments included “ice cold baths and walking barefoot in the snow” and other “harsh” methodologies. In 1893, M. E. Bottey described Kneipp’s water cures as “dangerous in most cases”.”. Worishofen became known as a place with a reputation for spiritual healing. In addition to “peasants”, Kneipp’s clients also included Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his father, Archduke Karl Ludwig as well as Pope Leo XIII. Others took Kneipp’s processes back to their home countries to found alternative therapy spas and colleges.
Kneipp began developing his healing methods in 1849 after contracting tuberculosis and experimenting with the water treatments developed by Sigmund Hahn. After being ordained in 1852, he continued to experiment with water treatments in his parish. Kneipp began working with the cures developed by Vincenz Priessnitz but developed a more complicated and gentle method. His gentle cures contrast the earlier water cures that he referred to as horse cures for their strenuous nature. Kneipp’s treatment of patients also contrasted that of hospital medicine because it was personalized and took into account the patient’s individual strengths and weaknesses.
Kneipp’s approach comes from his theory that all diseases originate in the circulatory system. This theory is similar to humoral theory. Like those that believed in humoral theory, Kneipp asserted that breathing miasmatic or excessively hot air would lead to disease. While it may deal with one humor instead of four, his theory still asserts that an imbalance in the blood whether it be circulation or foreign matter is the root of disease. Under Kneipp’s depiction of disease, water cures work by affecting the blood. They dissolve foreign matter, cleanse the blood of this matter, aid in circulation, and strengthen the body as a whole.
In addition to specific cures, Kneipp had prescriptions with regard to food, drink and clothing. He believed that food should be dry and simple and should not be spicy. He also believed that people should drink primarily water but also allowed consumption of alcohol in moderation.As for clothing, Kneipp preferred self-spun clothing made of linen or hemp over wool.
Kneipp’s approach to medicine was not independent of his Catholic faith. His focus on water and herbs stems from the idea that remedies are naturally provided by God. HIs emphasis on plain food, drink, and clothing comes from the theory that humans should live in accord with nature. He used scripture as well as references to Roman practice to support the reasoning behind his cure and admitted that his treatments did not fall in line with current scientific understanding. The fact that his treatments were not based in scientific theory did not bother Kneipp because they were seen as able to succeed where scientific medicine could not. Sebastian Kneipp had a particular dedication to helping the poor and those that physicians can’t help. His suffering early in life caused Kneipp to develop a deep sympathy for those less fortunate than him. He turned down many patients that could feasibly recover on their own but claims to have never refused to treat a patient that is poor or untreatable by other methods.
Kneipp’s book ,My Water Cure was published in 1886 with many subsequent editions, and translated into many languages. He also wrote “Thus Shalt Thou Live”, “My Will”, and The Care of Children In Sickness and In Health.
Do you crave wild romance? Then a hike through the Höllental gorge is just for you. (The Höllental, English translation “Hell Valley” or “Valley of Hell” is one of the routes on the German side leading up the Zugspitze on the German-Austrian border in the northern Alps. It is located in the district of Garmisch-Partenkirchen.) You can discover the pristine charm of pure nature with all your senses. The Hammersbach stream with glacier run-off carves its way down through the high mountains, tumbling over boulders and dropping over cliffs into pools with milky foam, roaring and thundering along the way. Some of the adventurous sections of the trail go through electrically lit tunnels where you
can hear the dampened pounding of the wild water through small windows. The air you
inhale is fresh and clear, particularly refreshing on a hot summer’s day. The Höllentalklamm gorge is easily accessible, has a length of about 1 km (0.6 mi) and offers an experience entirely distinct from any other gorge.
Follow the signs to the alpine lodge at the bottom entrance to the gorge, the Klammeingangshütte (1047 m), which you will reach after approx. 1 to 1 ½ hours (snacks, cake and coffee, small meals available). Hike through the gorge, passing through tunnels in the cliffs (electric lighting) and going over small bridges and up steps, until you reach the end of the gorge at 1193 m (3914 ft) above sea level after approx. 45 minutes.
It is worth going the extra meters to the Höllentalangerhütte, the alpine lodge further on
up with a splendid view and food and lodging. The wide green valley here reveals a view of the Waxenstein peaks, the Riffelwände walls and the Höllentalferner glacier with the towering peak of Zugspitze 2962 m (9,717 ft) in the background. To return, follow the route going to the Neuneralm alpine meadow lodge above Obergrainau as described under “Höllentalklamm”. The trail is a little more strenuous when going from Hammersbach,
but the extra effort is rewarded by gorgeous views.
Important tips: it is highly recommend ankle-high hiking boots and rain gear. Bulky objects such as baby carriages and bicycles are not permitted in the Höllentalklamm gorge. Temperatures
in the gorge are always cool, even on hot summer days. Therefore, make sure to dress accordingly. The Höllentalklamm gorge is in alpine terrain, so be sure to always exercise the necessary caution. If you are taking children along, it is advisable to secure them with
a rope and maybe a harness.
The Höllental gorge is open for summer season.
Places to stop for a bite to eat:
Höllentalklamm-Eingangshütte: opening 13 May
Entrance fee per person (up and down):
Adults: 4.00 EUR
Adults with a “Kurkarte” (guest card): 2.00 EUR
Children: 1.00 EUR
DAV members: 1.00 EUR
Group tickets: 2.00 EUR
A museum at the gorge entrance showing interesting cultural exhibits was opened in July, 2011. The exhibits in the museum cover the following topics: Mining and ore mining – History of Höllental, the “Valley of Hell” – History of the Höllentalklamm gorge – General history. Entrance to the museum is included in the gorge entrance fee.
Today I’ve made again my 100 kms bike tour around the Lake Starnberg but at this time after leaving behind the village Tutzing I stopped at the Feldafing park. I let my bike to “rest” and just for change I went to the Rose Island by a special, historical boat. When we got out, we found ourselves in a charming island. What I’ve learned of it was the next: The Rose island in Lake Starnberg (Germany, Bavaria) is the only island in the lake and site of a royal villa of King Ludwig II of Bavaria which had been commissioned by his father. He was particularly attached to this place and made frequent renovations of the small garden and the villa, which is called Casino. Guests on the island were the composer Richard Wagner, his close friend Prince Paul of Thurn and Taxis, Empress Elisabeth of Austria and Czarina Maria Alexandrovna of Russia. The villa is today a small museum, open to the general public.
More details of the Rose island
In 1853 King Maximilian II of Bavaria commissioned Peter Joseph Lenné to design a landscape park on the west shore of the Starnberger See. The park, which combines decorative formal and natural landscape elements, was laid out by Carl von Effner. The palace commenced much later in 1863 was abandoned on the early death of the king in March 1864 (blood poisoning). Rose Island with its small island villa, the “Casino”, and a rose garden also designed by Lenné, became one of the favorite places of Maximilian’s son Ludwig II.
Feldafing Park-Rose blossom
Usually the first blossom begins around mid-June, the second around mid-August, each lasting for about 4 weeks. Depending on the climate the roses may bloom (even weeks) earlier or later.
Monument under water
The remains of prehistoric pile dwellings on the bottom of Lake Starnberg by Rose Island have been included on UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage list.
In June 2011, over 100 selected archaeological sites in several countries were declared cultural heritage under the heading of “Prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps”. They provide researchers with unique insights into the ancient world of farming, everyday life, agriculture, animal breeding and technical innovations. The pile dwelling sites in Lake Starnberg, together with other remains of settlements, represent an archaeological heritage which dates back to 5000 BC.
Of course in Germany you are obliged to eat a cake and drink coffee in the afternoon. Since I love desserts I couldn’t resist to eat a piece of pistachio-marzipan rose petal cake! It was delicious! But I ate it when I returned from the Rose island since over there is not allowed to eat or drink.(You can organize parties, receptions or wedding ceremonies in the Casino’s basement)
The Lake Starnberg is located in southern Bavaria 25 kilometres (16 mi) southwest of Munich, Lake Starnberg is a popular recreation area for the city and, since 1976, one of the wetlands of international importance protected by the Ramsar Convention. The small town of Berg is famous as the site where King Ludwig II of Bavaria was found dead in the lake in 1886. Because of its associations with the Wittelsbach royal family, the lake is also known as Fürstensee (Prince’s Lake). It is also mentioned in T. S. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land
As I’ve mentioned in my last blog I spent five scorching hot day in Budapest! In this blog I cherish further my “sweet memories”!
It began with the Café Gerbeaud since the confectionery is a myth! It is situated at Vörösmarty tér/square, number 7, in Budapest, (the capital of Hungary), and no exaggeration but it is one of the greatest and most traditional coffee houses in Europe. It was named after the great confectionery Emil Gerbeaud. The splendid café reminded me Sisi, the empetrisse of Austria! Because for the interior design Emil Gerbeaud took advice from Henrik Darilek (was an interior designer) who mainly used marble, exotic woods and bronze. The ceiling’s stucco was created in the Rococo style of Louis XIV of France in 1910. The chandeliers were inspired by Maria Theresa of Austria. In that time the guests were offered as French tables as well as secessionist ones which Gerbeaud had delivered from the world fair in Paris. But World War I was felt but the company survived even that. Gerbeaud died the 8th of November, in 1919, and willed the store to his wife Ester who headed it until 1940. The shop retained the name “Gerbeaud” ever since (except the period between 1950 and March, 1984, when it was renamed “Vörösmarty”). In 1995, German businessman Erwin Franz Müller bought the confectionery and had it renovated extensively. The traces of the last 50 years have thus disappeared, and today the Café shines in the style as built by Emil Gerbeaud. Today still, it shines in Gründerzeit style with its stucco, the grand chandeliers, the paneling made of exotic woods and its furniture. In 2009 Café Gerbeaud opened its second confectionery in Tokyo, Japan.
So to cut my visit short we stopped here for a look as it was on a lovely square which a small market with lots of handicraft stalls. We decided to have an ice cream confection to share, having seen some amazing things being served (Gerbeaud adverts itself that everything is homemade, ice-creams are made exclusively from fresh ingredients: milk, cream, sugar and eggs–according the traditional cooking and pasteurization process. The ice-creams don’t contain any artificial colorings or additives. Only the highest quality ingredients are used, such as Valrhona cocoa powder, hazelnut praline, fresh-brewed coffee, Ceylon cinnamon, and Bourbon vanilla. The ice-creams with fruits were prepared from fresh fruit and fruit pure).
So we sat outside as the weather was lovely and I have to admit everything was super delicious but had a bit of a shock when the bill came as it came to £13, got my sums wrong. But was almost worth it. Worth a look.
The best in Budapest: ice creams and cakes from an other world
Since we had our accommodation in Buda hill it was almost obligatory to pop in to the patisserie “Ruszwurm” which is the oldest cake/ pastry shops in Budapest. It was founded by Franz Schwabl in 1827. It is located close to the Fisherman Bastion and offers Coffee and Cake/Sweets for a good price.
It’s better to visit early morning or late afternoon -because outside there were less than 10 table and also inside it was very small. However even if you pass at crowed time – it is worth to go inside and has a look to the “old” furniture. The biedermeier interior still includes the cherry wooden counter and the dial plate of the clock of the era of emperor Franz Joseph! Nowadays it is the one of the most popular sight of Budapest, since the house and the interieur are protected monuments.
In the Ruszwurm there were wide variety-selections of cakes to choose from – all of which we tried were divine! They were all home made in order to preserving the traditions. (If you don’t feel like eating sweets they have many savory snacks as well). I can just say this place is highly recommended. After leaving the Ruszwurm my hubby told me we should forget the old axiom, “location, location, location”. This place would succeed anywhere. From savory to sweet, it’s offerings were excellent and the price was normal.
On the other day we tried the Gelateria number 7. It was just next to the Ruszwurm! All we had was the gelatos at the little stand outside the restaurant, but OMG the richest chocolate with chunks of dark chocolate in it, the coffee gelato was the best I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a LOT all over. The only sad thing was the server, not a smile, not a grin, not a facial expression other than an uninterested, apathetic nothing.
Thanks to a friend I got the recipe of my fav ice cream sort and I prepared it yesterday! Since I don’t have ice cream maker I’d just put in a blender but I succeeded! The gerbeaud ice cream attempt was jolly good! With the apricot jam and the walnut they just meant together!
Gerbeaud ice cream
What I ate was made with: 2 scoops walnut sponge, 1 scoop chocolate ice-cream, 1 scoop walnut ice-cream, apricot foam, chocolate sauce, apricot sauce, crispy walnut linzer, whipped cream, mini Gerbeaud slice. What I made at home was the next!
Ingredients: 250 ml milk, 500 ml cream, 5 egg yolks, 120 gr sugar, 3 tbsp Amaretto liqueur or snaps, 8 tbsp apricot jam, 80 g ground walnut, 100 ml water, 50 ml milk, 4 tbsp excellent Dutch cacao powder, 4 tbsp sugar
Directions: Pour milk into a pot and bring it to a boil. Put aside and let it cool a bit.
Meanwhile mix well the five egg yolks with the sugar. Stir egg yolk mixture to boiled milk and let it cook until it reaches a creamy texture (be careful don’t let it burned). Put aside. Pour cream into a bowl, flavor with the Amaretto, add 8 tablespoons of apricot jam and roughly crashed walnut. Mix all the ingredients well together!
Add cream mixture to milk mixture and pour into an ice cream maker machine or just place into the fridge in a bowl and let it frozen overnight!
Brunico: this was a main town in the Pusteria Valley. I have to confess we stopped there because I saw a cooking show (The perfect dinner) on the German channel Vox, and it was broadcasting from the fortress of Brunico/Bruneck. But the castle was a bit disappointment since its exhibition was devoted to the highest peaks or mountains all over the world. However it was not invane to stop there because we’d found an interesting Ethnography museum in the adjacent village Teodone, covering an area 3ha/7acres and including various types of rural building with country manor, hayloft, farm, grain store, oven, mill. The museum provided an effective illustration of the lifestyles and activities of peasants and noblemen in bygone days. After visiting the museum we left Brunico for Dobbiaco (and slept in Monguelfo/Welsberg, in a three stars Hotel Sunnleit’n).
Next day we decided to go to the Pragser Wildsee, guess why? because of an other -at this time an Italian TV sequel under titled- Un passo dal cielo- A path to the sky, which is a television serie, aired in Europe, starring Terence Hill and Enrico Ianniello. (Terence Hill alias Pietro, is a head of the forestry police and he must help the newly arrived Commissioner Vincenzo Nappi to solve murders). So we went to take a look at the famous Lago di Braies, or in German the Pragser Wildsee, (alt 1495 /4905 ft), and it was also worth to visit. Its shimmering lake is encircled by the Croda del Becco mountains and can be circumnavigated in one hour. Boat trips can be made and it is also the starting point of some rather arduous mountain feet paths. I saw the house of Terence Hill on the lake, it was fascinating! Then we followed the direction Misurina and the Tre Cime di Lavaredo. The last stretch of the route was a toll road, 24 euros per car.
Lago di Misurina
Alt 1759 5770 ft. This lake is set among a plantation of fir trees and is an excellent starting point for excursions to the surrounding mountains, from the Tre Cime di Lavardo to the Cristallo.
The Tre Cime Lavaredo
From the refuge at Auronza the Lavaredo shelter we reached in half an hour. From there the Locatelli shelter was reached in an hour. This last stretch of the path offered spectacular views of the Tre Cime (Three rocks) range which forms part of the Parco Naturale delle Dolomiti di Sesto. The Tre Cime can also be reached from Sesto.
Dobbiaco/Toblach town was really breath-taking place. It was an important town in the Middle Ages as it was at a crossroads with the Strada dell’ Allemagna. In the centre of this village there was a late Baroque church dating from the second half of the 18C.
San Candido: this pretty village known as Innichen in German, had the most important Romanesque church in the Alto Adige the Collegiata dates from the 13C, the Campanile from the 14C. Above the south doorway there are frescoes by painter and sculptor Michael Pacher the most striking piece however is the crucifixion, an evocative wood sculptural group of the 13C with Christ’s feet on Adam’s head.
Forests of the world – conifers and deciduous trees from the Americas and Asia.
Oleander Steps – flowering oleander, an ancient olive trees, etc.
Sun Gardens – cultivated plants of the Mediterranean, including cypress, figs, grapevines, lavender, and Italy’s northernmost olive grove.
The gardens also contained Aesculapian snakes in their natural habitat, courtesy of the Alpine Zoo of Innsbruck, an aviary, a Japanese alluvial forest, rice terraces, and tea plantations. After being named Italy’s most beautiful Garden in 2005 and Europe’s No.6 Garden in 2006, Trauttsmandorf was honored with International Garden of the Year award in 2013, thus joining the ranks of the world’s most important and beautiful gardens and parks.
Well, the garden was really gorgeous, well organized and well cared but I was a bit disappointed with the castle, because in addition to some Sissi’s left behind period furniture, a large part of the museum was filled with (for me) irrelevant objects. But I discovered later that the museum was devoted to the history of tourism. Well, despite of this fact the execution of the theme was rather confusing but the garden compensated for everything.
Left behind the Tondi di Faloria where we enjoyed a last glance at the city of Meran we left for the territory of Val Pusteria. That area is bordered to the south by the Dolomites and by the central Alps to the north. From the end of the 13C until the 16C it belonged to the County of Gorizia and formed part of the Strada Alemagna (German highway), a road which linked Venice and Germany. This itinerary began in Bressanone (Brixen in German), and continued into the Pusteria valley. In that territory our first stop was Bressanone, in a breath taking gorgeous town. Set at the confluence of the River Rienza and River Isarco. It was an elegant, typically Tyrolean town that enjoys a dry, invigorating climate with an exceptionally high number of hours of sunshine. There were many reminders of its eventful past. It was conquered by the Romans in 15BC, was the seat of Prince Bishop from 1207 to 1803, became Bavarian for seven years from 1806 to 1813, and then belonged to Austria until 1919 when it became an Italian town. After seeing the Baroque cathedral and the city most famous buildings such as the Romanesque cloisters with Gothic frescoes, we went to Palazzo Vescovile and walked around at the superb courtyard surrounded by three storeys of arcades which was the Prince Bishop residence Bruno de Kirchberg’s. Then we got really hungry so that we wanted to submerged in the local cuisine immediately! In no time we found a beautiful restaurant, called Birreria, where I ate an excellent Ravioli filled with artichoke and garnished with in butter grilled cherry tomato!