around the world – part 33.5 (hiking in franconia)

February 03 2009:

They say only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun – to which I might add, only mad dogs and Canadians go hiking in the midwinter freeze.

Schwarzachtal - looking north towards Mettendorf

Schwarzachtal - looking north towards Mettendorf

 I foolishly took up an offer for a ‘short’ walk in the neighbourhood which turned out to be a three hour hike over hill and through dale in a clockwise fashion along icy roads and paths, up steepish hills, through woods and eventually back to the salvation of the AmMarkt and beer.  [Is there nothing that beer can’t do?].  Notwithstanding the distance and duration, I must say that I did enjoy our excursion – enjoined at a pace calculated to keep warm and burn off enough calories to justify a gutmann helles *or three upon completion.

This little corner of the world is known as the Schwarzachtal (or Schwarzach Valley) named after the meandering stream which flows roughly north to south, paralleling the Autobahn 9 (A9) into the Altmuhl river near Kinding.  The valley is situated firmly within the Altmuhltal Natur Park, one of the largest wilderness** areas in Germany.  In summer it is full of cyclists, hikers and due to the favourable updrafts, plenty of gliders.  It is without a doubt one of my favourite corners on the planet – beautiful without being overstated, far enough from anywhere to escape hordes of tourists, and yet no more than an hour from Munich, twenty minutes to Nuremberg and dotted with tiny hamlets and towns.  


 *helles:  light [as in colour rather than alcohol content] beer.   As opposed to Dunkles or dark beer.   Other useful beery words to know:  “noch einz bitte” – another one please….

**wilderness being a relative term of course.

around the world – part 33.2 (free beer)

Jan 30 2009:

img_0016I do like a good beer, and I especially like not having to pay* for it.  

Question: if Air Canada can offer Harp and Sleemans in their Maple Leaf Lounges why are we stuck with sludge like Molson Canadian and Heineken in flight?


*yes, I know I am paying for it in my ticket, however I like to delude myself into imagining it is everyone else on the flight who is buying my beer so to speak…

around the world – part 25.5 (rauchbier)

December 09 2007:

About an hour north of Greding, and approximately half an hour north of Nurnberg lies the town of Bamberg at the junction of the rivers Regnitz and Main and also a UNESCO world heritageSchlenkerla Rauchbierimg_0046_edited.jpg site.  It is a gorgeous little town, often overlooked by those crowding into img_0046_edited.jpgimg_0046_edited.jpgRothenburg o.d. Tauber, and just as well.   Among its more well known attractions are the seat of the ErzBishof (ArchBishop) with its residence and cathedral, and St Michaels monastery.  Perhaps a lesser known attraction is the Schlenkerla Rauchbier or Smokebeer.  On occasion, colleagues of junior are known to haul cases of Schlenkerla Rauchbier through town on their way back to Greding…. 

 How to to get there:

  1. By Car from: Munich:  A9, north to Nurnberg – follow signs for Erlangen, then A73 to Bamberg.  Most of the car parks are on the east bank of the Regnitz river and a short walk over some quite picturesque bridges into the old town.