Hi everyone!! I’m back. I mean I’m back to posting on my blog. I apologize if you missed me, but I needed a break- I’m sure that you can relate. We all need time outs from our lives. It helps to keep things fresh. Time outs can be the perfect time to recharge our souls, realign our priorities, focus on what’s next and then jump back into the fray.
Of course one of my favorite ways to recharge myself is to travel. This year, on the nudging from my dear husband, we decided on a worry and carefree cruise along the Danube with Viking Cruises. We chose November for our sail date, because it was totally foreign to us ( to cruise in the winter) and off season rates are pretty attractive. The crowds thin out and most importantly, my freelance work starts to slow down. The winter seemed like a great time for a routine break.
I wasn’t at all sure that I was going to enjoy a cruise on the Danube, especially a trip that was organized so completely like a Viking Cruise. I’ve never had the experience of being led around by a tour guide. Most of my wanderings have been on my own, flying if you will, by the seat of my pants. I’m getting older now, and asking for directions in broken Spanish, non-existent French, making Italian hand motions and just in general speaking English slowly to get my question answered- can feel a little too awkward. In fact, my husband is “over it”. So, I relented and we planned our winter adventure for a cruise along the Danube.
What a surprise it was to be chaperoned! I didn’t realize that allowing myself to be scheduled was the perfect way to broaden my experience in places and languages unknown. Local tour guides took us by the hand and introduced us to areas and experiences that we might not have had on our radar. And I didn’t mind the winter at all. I barely noticed it. Winter is a wonderful time to travel to Europe. Christmas is in the air and it’s the perfect place to do some shopping. (You just have to remember to travel light and bring an extra suitcase.) There are so many handmade things to look at, lots of Gluewine to drink while shopping, and lots of reasons to make a purchase.
And there were plenty of times to be on our own, making our own discoveries. So, all in all, I would say that this was the perfect trip!
Biergartens Part One
So, let me tell you a little about the German beer culture.
Germany is awash in biergartens, bars (even American sport bars) and pubs. Every street has a local establishment and beer is everywhere.
Remember when Coors was the beer to drink?? I never liked Coors. I had no interest in beer because American beers were so god-awful. Well, now of course the craft brew industry is so strong and so wonderful, i can’t help but wonder why it took so long. Some things do, i guess.
And long before there were Coors and Miller Lite and Budweisers- there was German beer. And I suspect, beer probably even started in Munich!
Well, I can imagine, can’t I? We were up for a little German beer culture to broaden our cultural horizons. So, jumping into a traditional Bavarian experience sounded like the perfect afternoon!
On an especially misty afternoon, we headed into town for an authentic beer experience. We found a cozy little tavern on a beautiful horse farm that offered up some timeless Bavarian flair, including drink, pretzels, farm cured ham and a song or two.
Our hosts at this tavern really went out of their way to make it a comfy stop on a cool afternoon. There was a fire blazing in the fireplace that was in the center of the room. There was accordion music to warm our spirits too. Sheepskins on the benches. A rose and candle on every table. A mug for everyone. And beer. Plenty of lager…
The tableau was set!
The beer was from one of the bigger breweries in Passau; Hacklberg. Quick review; well, pretty average for a Munich-style Bavarian beer- pale, clean, a little hoppy too. The helles went down easily along with a big, fat pretzel and some delicious cured pork, but, I wouldn’t say it was an extraordinarily exquisite lager. But, compared to Coors, well, no contest!!
More delightful than the beer, was the accordion riffing by some of the younger folks. They music just so wonderfully upbeat, sort of Polish polka-like and it really created a festive mood in the tavern.
Before long, even my friends were dancing…
It was a fun night. And maybe on second thought, the beer was pretty darn good.
The polka? most definately!