Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Revisiting Romance in Schwetzingen

When we met, AdventureMan and I, we didn’t date for very long. We knew, almost as soon as we met, that we were going to be married.

We met in Heidelberg, one of the most romantic cities in the entire world. My sister was getting married in the Heidelberg castle. It was a grand wedding, and AdventureMan and I were both supporting characters.

00HeidelbergCastle

One of our first dates was going to the castle in nearby Schwetzingen. Schwetzingen has a beautiful castle, but it is not as famous for the castle as it is for its white asparagus, called spargel. It may sound funny to you, but this is a great delicacy, only served from mid-April to early June.

Schwetzingen really celebrates their white asparagus; this is a statue in the city square of an older woman teaching younger ones how to sort spargel:

00SortingSpargel

Spargel is served a hundred different ways, in soups, in salads, and in big bunches, with vinaigrette sauce, hollandaise sauce, bernaise sauce, or sometimes with just butter. You can have it with schnitzle, with ham, or just with new spring potatoes. Who would believe asparagus could taste SO good?

So here is the story. We were so young, and had so little money. AdventureMan had taken me to the Schwetzingen Castle to walk, and as we walked and talked, I could tell he was really talking about getting married. He had planned on having enough money that we could sit afterwards, in a little cafe, and have a glass of wine, but we were both hungry. We dug into our wallets, and between the two of us, we came up with just enough for two glasses of wine, one bunch of spargel and one tiny little schnitzle. It was enough. We were in love.

That night, he asked me to marry him.

We go back to Schwetzingen and eat spargel every chance we get – and we have been blessed, through the years, to have lived nearby, or not so far away, and the thrill of our memories there never wears off.

OK Ok, enough of the mush gush stuff. On with the spargel!

This is my spargel with hollandaise. I just had it with potatoes, because I knew I also wanted dessert. 😉
00SpargelHollandaise

AdventureMan had his with schnitzle. He had spargel with hollandaise and potatoes for lunch, too, and he didn’t plan to have any dessert.

00SpargelSchnitzle

While we were waiting for our spargel, we had a little sunshine, and watched the brides as they came out, every thirty minutes, from their weddings at the Schwetzingen castle:

00PreDinnerSchwetzingen

Here comes the bride:

0030MinuteBride

And here is my dessert, called Heiss Und Eis. As soon as I saw it on the menu, I had to make a decision – whether to start with the spargel or to start with the Heiss und Eis. The Eis part is the vanilla ice cream, and the Heiss part (hot) is a hot raspberry sauce poured over the cold vanilla ice cream. Oh YUMMMMMM.

00HeissUndEis

We stayed at the ErbPrinzen, where we stayed before once when we were going to a ball in Heidelberg. It was wonderful. We were right across from the Schwetzingen castle, they have a fabulous restaurant and we ate all our meals right at the hotel, sometimes outside, sometimes in.

00ErbPrinzen

I had tried, unsuccessfully, to make reservations online. Good thing AdventureMan said “just run in and ask! What have we got to lose?” They had a room, it was a wonderful room, and parking was FREE! That’s our room, at the top right corner. We were on the no-smoking floor, which meant hauling our bags up two long floors. I guess the put the non-smokers on top because they don’t worry so much about us having a heart attack.

Here is one view from our corner room:
00ChurchOutsideWindow

And here is another view, towards sunset, with some weather drama going on in the background:

SchwetingenCastleDrama

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May 12, 2009 Posted by | Adventure, Cultural, ExPat Life, Food, Germany, Living Conditions | 13 Comments

Strasbourg Magic

It is perfect May weather in Strasbourg right now – warm and sunny, even hot, one minute, crashing thunder, lightning and pouring rain the next. One minute you are catching the last rays of the sun on the Strasbourg Cathedral, and the next, you are ducking into the nearest restaurant to get out of the rain, have a little wine and flammekeuchen, give the weather a chance to change once again and you are on your way.

00StrasbourgCathedral

Besides the fact that we always have a lot of fun in Strasbourg – it is a great town for walking – remember that shoe store that was closed for the holiday on Friday? I have French feet; German shoes are too wide, American shoes are too serious . . .but French shoes are always just right. We go again, first thing Saturday morning, and they have all the newest shoes in the yummiest colors and they have them all in my size!

00ShoeStore

Just look at these colors! Grape! Orange sherbet! Fuscia/raspberryt! I am not really so much a shoe person, but oh! When the right shoe comes along! I know it! AdventureMan waits patiently, smiling indulgently, as I try on almost everything in my size.

Looking at me seriously, he says “Buy what you want! Who knows when you will be back in Strasbourg? I insist, you must buy at least four pair!” (Now THAT is true love.)

00YummyShoes

Truly a magical day in Strasbourg. 🙂

May 12, 2009 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, ExPat Life, Family Issues, France, Marriage, Relationships, Shopping | 9 Comments

Old Fashioned Piracy Goes High Tech

Thanks to blogger BitJockey, and news service Reuters for this update on the Somali pirates:

MADRID (Reuters) – Somali pirates are planning attacks on shipping using detailed information telephoned through by contacts in London, according to an intelligence report cited by Spanish radio on Monday.

The pirates have built up a network of informants in London with access to sensitive data from shipping companies about vessels, routes and cargoes, according to a European military intelligence report that Cadena Ser radio said it had seen.

The pirates receive their information by satellite phone and use sophisticated equipment to locate their targets, Cadena Ser said.

The intelligence report also said that the pirates seem to avoid attacks on ships of some nationalities, including British ships.

It listed several attacks in which the pirates had surprised crew with detailed information of their prey, including the nationalities of those on board.

Cadena Ser did not provide any more details about where the report originated, identifying it only as “European.”

Western nations have sent warships to try to stop the pirates, who have made millions of dollars from ransoming ships and their crews in strategic shipping lanes off the Horn of Africa that connect Europe to Asia.

They are currently holding about 20 vessels with nearly 300 hostages, according to monitoring groups.

Efforts to fight the pirates have been hindered by the gaps in international maritime law, which have sometimes left it unclear who, if anyone, can put them on trial.

Spanish authorities have disagreed among themselves over what to do with 14 Somalis caught last week by a Spanish warship. A judge tried to bring some of them to Spain while the government argued they should be sent to a court in Kenya.

(Reporting by Jason Webb; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

May 12, 2009 Posted by | Adventure, Africa, Crime, Financial Issues, Law and Order, Leadership | | Leave a comment