Spontaneous Alsatian mini-break!

Just like most spontaneous trips, this one started out (about 10 days ago) with the simple desire for a little escapism…

We had already decided on the Thursday evening before last weekend that we wanted to drive somewhere nice for the weekend… On the Friday after work we picked a gorgeous house on Airbnb, the whole thing for a better price than most hotels in the region… and hatched a plan to wake up early and drive to Alsace.

To a little town called Hattmatt, actually- to be precise.

Population: 641.

Location: North East France.

Arrondissement: Saverne

The journey was smooth and rather enjoyable… sunshine present, radio blaring and of course, plenty of excitement in tow!

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We very quickly settled into our gorgeous ‘home’ for the weekend- a detached, idyllic traditional Alsatian beamed house… complete with everything one could possibly need; 2 pet kitties, Barbecue, huge garden, terrace… We really felt as though we’d hit the jackpot with this last minute Airbnb pick!

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Our lovely Airbnb ‘Das Rosehuss’ in Hattmatt

We went to a nice big supermarket in nearby Saverne to pick up supplies for a barbecued feast for the evening. Then, we set off on a 3.5 hour hike in the hot afternoon sun… we headed from Hattmatt over to St. Jean Saverne into the Réserve Nationale de Chasse de la Petite-Pierre,  and the beautiful, almost untouched northern French forest.

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Lots of lovely wine and cheese and meat was enjoyed as a much-needed reward after our lovely long hike.

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The kitties seemed to enjoy the feast too! (Especially Wolli, pictured above, who we renamed fatty! She flicked a steak off the table whilst we were up the garden exploring!)

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Hattmatt was the perfect base for our Saturday night stay & springboard for another little Alsatian adventure. We drove back to Frankfurt Via Haguenau, where we enjoyed a nice iced coffee!

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Catching some rays in Haguenau

More importantly though… we went lake swimming in the Bassin des Mouettes in Lauterbourg (near the German border) and soaked up some sun!

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On the whole, it was a really fantastic weekend. I would do it again in a heartbeat. If you get the chance… jump in the car with a map and a plan… (you don’t even need much of a plan!)

Ciao for now

Han

 

Sunshine am Main 🌞

The weather the past few of days here has been glorious; blue skies, sunshine and daylight until gone half 9pm.  Yesterday there was a wild, mildly tropical thunderstorm (but yesterday was a duvet day for me- so I’m not going to count that!)

On Thursday, I enjoyed a really wonderful evening in Frankfurt- spent strolling over the Eisener Steg towards Sachsenhausen, stopping for a relax on the Riverside grass along the Schaumainkai with a couple of beers.  Afterwards we headed towards Sachsenhausen in search of grub.

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I just wanted to take a picture of the bridge and Felix said I should be in it too!
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Worse light this side, but the other side of the same stretch of skyline. The contrast is so cool.
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I told Felix to smile into the skyline… But his grin wasn’t cutting the mustard so I coersed with a little tickle…
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The view as you walk over Eisener Steg… Look at that sky! 
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Totally epic dinner eaten at Struwwelpeter in Sachsenhausen. I went for the Grüne Soße (as I thought it was about time) and F had mushroom sauce
The Grüne Soße was not bad at all but also not what I had been expecting! Give it a go.

 

Settling in…

For a long time, I thought this time would never actually arrive.

For months it has remained a distant ink blot on my calendar and a red underlined date in my diary. But it did arrive.

And now i’m here- officially back in Germany… not far away from starting my new job. And living with my boyfriend. This is, in fact, my first proper grown-up venture into cohabitation- in the couples sense atleast.

It’s only day 3, but i’m very much enjoying things so far.

Of course, it’s wonderful to be reunited (after our longest ever long-distance stint of just over 6 weeks last time) but it’s also so exciting to be living somewhere new. Sure, I lived in Frankfurt last summer, but that felt like, at times, one big long wild working holiday. This time… I even brought some crockery with me. Shit’s got serious.

I was thrown a wonderful going away party by my family on Saturday, before my departure on Sunday- it was part surprise/ part poorly kept secret (i am impossibly nosy and really hard to keep surprises from!) and it was lush.Family and family friends came round for a big barbecue with plenty of meat, delicious salads, drinks and desserts and the luckiest ever helping of English sunshine. I was showered with thoughtful, quirky and useful gifts- and I had not been expecting the send off I received.

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On Sunday night, my parents travelled up to Victoria with me- for several reasons really. First and foremost, it was a real challenge for me to walk anywhere with the amount of luggage I had… let alone ascend the currently stairs-only Victoria tube station up towards the coaches. Secondly, for emotional reasons… my mum wanted to ‘wave me off’- which was lovely of course. And also because I was a little frenzied myself at the stress of the long journey ahead and the gravity of moving away, not just out. 

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The coach ride was long and boring, but actually not too uncomfortable or sleepless, luckily.

I awoke with excitement, periodically, as we stopped in Ghent, Brussels, Liege and neared the German border in the small hours. We reached Aachen early in the morning and drove onto Cologne, before finally beginning the last leg of the trip down to Frankfurt.

Ghent

I was so happy to be back when I finally arrived… When I saw the skyline emerge over the Autobahn bridges as the city drew near, I welled up with relief that i’d almost made it (and was within stretching distance of a cuddle and a proper toilet once again!

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Erster Frankfurter Schwimmklub von 1891

After the initial drive home and unloading of my luggage, we enjoyed a nice long evening of food and drinks together. We ate at the terrace restaurant of the ‘Erster Frankfurter Schwimmklub’ (The first Frankfurt Swimming club, a private swimming lake). 

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Prost!

We also went to the Irish Pub in Bornheim and enjoyed a nice evening walk.

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Since then, I’ve had a few funny ventures into the beginnings of everyday German life. Today I had to undertake the immense responsibility of letting an electrician in… showing him to the meter… deflecting/ignoring his sexist jokes… etc. in German.

I’ve been shopping, running… unpacking!

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Last night I enjoyed my first Fletcher’s burger (the chips were actually really tasty, well seasoned!) and the burger wasn’t bad at all. It was a cheeseburger with bacon on…!

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This morning I got up pretty early and went for a run… along the Main!

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I’ll say ciao for now, and write another post soon…

I don’t want this blog to become a boring diary but I thought a little update was necessary just this time!

Bye-

Han xoxo

 

 

 

“Where have you been?”

Hello there world.

Sincerest apologies for my brief blog hiatus. It’s been a busy couple of weeks… Last week I got my dissertation results, finished final year lectures & did quite a lot of socialising!

At the weekend I went somewhere I hadn’t been before… To… Dunstable, Bedfordshire…! (It’s near Luton, but far greener and nicer than I had anticipated from what I’d been​ told!  (An atypical minibreak destination, I know!) but I was with friends and we had some great fun together!

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Some words have a whole new meaning to me now… ‘busway’ for example… A magical bus only road/rail for super whizzy fast buses between towns! Who knew? The photo above was the view out of the window whilst we took a ride from Dunstable back to Luton station on Sunday afternoon. The weather was glorious.

IMG_20170520_224632994.jpg We enjoyed some retro entertainment at the bowling alley on Saturday night! Followed by a quick game of pool at the (very sticky) local sports bar!

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I’m stupidly overcompetitive (an early school report said “Hannah needs to learn to lose at games”) and thus, got very into the whole affair! IMG_20170520_230935531

Also notable weekend in Dunstable occurances were…

Epic pork katsu food time…

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A little walk through the park… (And some very interesting local knowledge about an angry Henry VIII and the establishment of the Church of England)

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And the cuddling of two lovely bunnies, Frank and fizz. Very good indeed.

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Our weekend trip to Dunstable (2 great uni pals and I) goes to show… Random English towns can be pretty fun too.

Also notable in my life at the moment… It’s all change…! It’s now only two weeks until I’m hitting the road and travelling back to Frankfurt to move in with my boyfriend and start my new grown-up job! I’m super excited. And also terrified. I’m currently at my parents house again for a couple of days, catching up with the family whilst I can.

I took all of my teenage bedroom ‘wall of stuff’ down today. (14 year old me decided sticking 47 postcards, 6 records, over 30 posters and more than 250 tickets of various varieties along with other odd bits and bobs- chopsticks, badges, medals- all over my walls would be the coolest idea ever.) I wouldve left it longer but my parents want to repaint in June before they sell the house… So it was a necessary evil. My room feels very bare now and it’s all started sinking in.

I’m excited to write again soon with more exciting news, updates and adventures.

See you later, alligator.

Han xoxo

Top 10 things you should taste in Germany

I love food. And drinks.

I’m not picky at all and love sampling the local cuisine wherever I travel to. Here are just a few of my favourite German specialities I think you should try next time you’re in Deutschland! For the fully immersive German tourist experience, I’d suggest going all out on the food and drink. Try everything you can. If it’s your first time in Germany, ease yourself in…. ‘But, when in Rome, do as the Romans do!’

Brezeln

Start gently, with a hard-not-to-love Laugenbrezel-  a traditionally german savoury bread pretzel. Tasty with butter or on their own, my favourites are the fairly plain sated ones, although you can also get them super cheesy, or covered in pumpkin seeds (Kurbis). The great thing about these is, they are cheap, tasty, filling and available pretty much everywhere. They are cheapest to eat if bought from the bakery section of a supermarket, like REWE, where you can get a fresh one for around 30 cents (definitely under 50), in comparison to the 2,50 or 3,50 you can easily end up paying if bought from a street vendor. That being said, they are wonderful warm, so sometimes its worth paying the extra bit for that.

Apfelwein

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(Photo Credit: http://www.wanted.de)

Why not drink some Apfelwein… or Ebbelwoi as it is affectionately known in the local Hessisch dialect. It’s a delicious, often quite tart but also fairly fruity apple based alcoholic drink- (I would just call it a cider but i’m not sure my boyfriend would ever look me in the eye again if I did..!) It’s crisp and refreshing on a hot day, especially lovely drunk from a traditional glass. Fun Fact… there’s a building in Frankfurt called the Westhafen tower, which is built to resemble an Apple wine glass! If you’re in a hurry or on a budget, you can buy around a litre of decent tasting applewine for about… 1,39 euros… here is a photo of me lovingly clutching some on my very first night in Frankfurt last summer, at the gay pride parade…

eebbeeellwoi

Auflauf

Auflauf is one of those things that is just so very German it’s quite hard to explain… it’s essentially a word to describe any combination of carbs (pasta/potatoes/rice/ pastry – though not all at once) with eggy, cheesy, goodness, baked in the oven. My favourite so far has been a Spinach, Salmon, King Prawn and Pastry Auflauf (home baked in cooperation with boyfriend’s mum!) But i’ve also tried a pasta one and a potato one with different ingredient variations. It’s heavy but delicious and there’s a filling for everyones tastes…! 7IMG_20170418_185706980

Käsespätzle

Literally translates to something like ‘cheesy egg noodles’, this fresh egg pasta dish made with ample cheese and the special pasta variety spätzle is a must-try for carb lovers. It’s most often cooked with bacon cubes, onion, garlic, and often also spinach or other veg for variation. But it’s the definition of cheesy goodness. Just eat it. Please. do it. Unfortunately don’t have my own pic of this, as I always eat it too fast to take one.

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(GuteKueche.at)

I feel as though i’m doing German cuisine the greatest injustice by reducing it to this rundown- it is pretty varied (not so carb heavy as i’m making out) and tasty… Although I love all of these things- so my recommendations are made in good faith!

Weißbier

If I had a pound (£) for every-time i’ve heard the words ‘gerne eine Halbliter Hefeweizen, bitte’ fly out of my mouth, i’d be half way to clearing my student debts. But seriously. I love this stuff. It’s so good and refreshing. It’s naturally cloudy, but you can also have it filtered, when it becomes ‘kristallweizen.’ A must-try for your time in Germany.

Flammkuchen

Pretty much carbonara topped thin crust pizza… yet an other gross oversimplification of the delights of german cuisine… but it’s great.

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My (veggie) sis had a 4 cheese flammkuchen, and I opted for the classic in this pic. Ignore my derpy face I was like ‘mum please don’t take a picture i’m busy eating my foooood’.

Wurst

Now I couldn’t write a post with some tips on German Cuisine without including what the nation is undoubtedly most famous for; Wurst. Sausages… they come in all shapes and sizes, and are pretty much everywhere in Germany. It’s really not uncommon to see people eating snacking sausages just walking about the city… there are lots of different types… so, why not try something different?

  • Frankfurter Würstchen (classic, boiled, porky, great with mustard/ketchup in little a bread roll)
  • Weißwurst (literally- ‘white sausage’- Veal and Pork)
  • Rindswurst (Beef sausage- really nice with mustard
  • Currywurst- In my opinion… the king of sausages… usually pork/beef sausage (frankfurter/rindswurst) covered in delightful curry ketchup goodness. I cant get enough of it
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Currywurst mit Pommes (curry sausage and chips!) at Conrad’s. Hauptwache

 

Eis

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Eis near the Romer, July 2016

Whether you want to opt for the delightfully retro spaghettieis or a more traditional scoop or two of gelato… german ice cream is generally pretty awesome- and the reason for that is, its mostly italian. There is a pretty large 3rd generation Italian expatriate community in germany, with many Italians moving to Germany to rebuild after the end of the war to offer temporary (mostly manual) labour… and a few sticking around! Totally a bonus when it comes to food.

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Spaghetti Eis (with Nutella topping!)

Apfelkuchen

Apple Cake, more like Apple pie… with lashings of whipped cream and plenty of cinnamon and nutmeg inside! You have to grab a slice.

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I ate this slice last Sunday at Cafe Metropol am Dom. Bliss.

Hamburgers

Although modern thought implies that the ‘Hamburger’ as it is consumed in its base, patty form my millions every day is an American invention, that is certainly not the kind of Burger the Germans would like to take credit for. I have eaten some seriously EPIC burgers in Germany- Fletcher’s Better Burger, Jamy’s Burger, Die Kuh die Lacht (The laughing cow) are a few common and popular chains (especially in and around Frankfurt) BUT my personal favourite Burger joint is without a doubt Der Fette Buelle. I celebrated my birthday there, took my family there during their visit to Frankfurt in August… it is simply amazing food, and not too expensive either which is a huge win.

I hope you enjoy sampling a few of my top German delights during your next trip. Let me know if you think there’s anything I haven’t mentioned that I need to try!! (Naturally these are just my personal highlights, If I wrote everything German I’d eaten or drunk lately this post would be 30,000 words long.)

Tschüssi!

Han xoxo