Friday, November 30, 2012

Bamberg, Beer, and Bacon

A few weeks ago, my darling husband suggested we check out Bamberg. It's a short train ride away from us, and he'd heard it had a really cool old city and cool things to do there. That same day, a friend of mine visited there and came back saying how cool it was and how they had this stuff called "Rauchbier" that tasted like ham flavored beer.

HAM flavored??

We were intrigued. So off we went.

Bamberg was a very cute place to visit. Its historic city center was relatively untouched by the war, so a lot of things survived, something that is unusual to find in Germany. We had fun exploring the Dom and the cathedral on the hill. But we were still pretty interested in trying some Rauchbier.




Once you get into the heart of the old city, finding Rauchbier is a snap. It's everywhere and there are a lot of restaurants selling it. We had a late lunch/early dinner in a typical Frankish restaurant (Bamberg is in the region of Franconia). I had pork medallions in a cream/tomato sauce and Fionn had some kind of huge pork thing with fried potato patties. And of course, we had Rauchbier.


It smelled JUST LIKE HAM. It was the weirdest thing! It had a slight ham taste, but not overpowering. You tasted like your average German dark beer, but with a smoky, pork aftertaste. Really weird, but tasty (though not something I'd want to drink a lot of!).




We liked it, though we also noticed there is a slight Rauchbier smell that lingers over the entire city, probably because there are so many breweries there.




Since we were only staying for the day, we left around 6pm, but not before we bought a lock, wrote our names and the date and attached it to the bridge. You're supposed to throw the keys into the river afterwards, so we did :) Too bad we forgot to get a picture of it!

Liechtenstein and the Bodensee

Over a month without an update!! I'm really sorry about that!

Well quick recap...as you can imagine nothing too exciting has been going on. Fionn came home (yay!) and we settled into our usual routine. He's been working (and will be moving to a new position soon!) and I've been spending time with friends, looking for a job (still pretty fruitless unfortunately), and getting ready for winter-it's already snowed twice since Halloween! Crazy! Oh, and we saw the new James Bond movie which was awesome. While at the theater we ran into a college friend of Fionn's who also works in Germany now. Small world!

After a series of quiet weekends, at the beginning of November we decided to go somewhere. It was too short notice to plan something big so I suggested the country of Liechtenstein which was within driving/train distance of us. Liechtenstein is this tiny sliver of a country between Austria and Switzerland. It's about the size of Manhattan and they're ruled by a Prince. They're also the last remains of the Holy Roman Empire. So we figured, why not?

Liechtenstein is terribly expensive, so we stayed on the Austrian side in Feldkirch. Feldkirch was cute, but not super exciting. Since the Bodensee was nearby we decided to go there first.



The Bodensee is this huge lake that touches Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. I'd been dying to go for ages so I was excited to see it (despite the chilly temperatures). We took the train to the German town of Lindau and went off exploring. The town is very cute and has a very cool (and very old!) harbor with a giant pillar and statue guarding the entrance. The lake was very foggy, but that only made the pictures cooler. We wandered around, taking in fall colors and walking through empty streets since the summer season was over. It was very pretty, but since both of us had come down with bad colds the first day, we were mostly excited to find a Pharmacy ;)



After exhausting Lindau, we returned to Feldkirch. Since it was so early in the day, we decided to take the bus to Liechtenstein and recon a litle so we would know what to expect when we returned on Sunday.

Liechtenstein was, well, a bust. It has a beautiful, rugged landscape with beautiful, soaring mountains and deep valleys and tiny towns perched in the hills. We took the bus to Schaan, one of its "cities" and were pretty unimpressed-not to mention everything was closed! So we hopped back on the bus to Vaduz, the capital (only 15 minutes away by bus).




Vaduz was a little more interesting. You can see the little castle where the Prince lives (it's small, certainly no Versailles!) but you can't visit it since he actually lives there. We visited the "Cathedral" of Vaduz, walked around the garden, and looked at their Parliament Building and Museums. We stopped in the Visitor's Center to get our passports stamped, but we soon realized we had seen pretty much all there was to see in Liechtenstein. We looked around a bit more, went back to Feldkirch, and ate dinner.


the castle! We didn't see the Prince :(


Sunday morning we awoke to pouring rain. We leafed through pamphlets, trying to get ideas, but eventually we both admitted that we didn't want to go back to Liechtenstein just to see a Stamp Museum, and since we were both still sick, we took the train back home and ended our trip a day early.

The verdict on Liechtenstein: Meh. Maybe it's nicer in the spring/summer, but I feel like you could definitely skip this place. Not much to see, expensive, not many options for food/lodging...go if you want a day trip from the Bodensee or want to add a country to your "been there" list, but otherwise I'd say skip it! Same goes for Feldkirch!

Bodensee, however, was gorgeous. The mountains around there are wonderful and so is the lake. Thumbs up for that one!