Friday, January 23, 2009

Two Old Broads Abroad

part 4

The highways through Northern Italy are excellent, beautiful vistas, hundreds of vineyards, several mountain ranges, and you can see them all! Because of the strike, all of the tollbooths were unmanned, it didn’t cost us a dime.
After we had driven several hours and the sun was up, Inge needed coffee.
There are these little shops along the roadway, similar to QuikTrips here in America. Inge wanted a cigarette (why she ever started smoking again is beyond me!) so I told her I would order her a cup of coffee. The place was packed like sardines, all of these fairly short, dark haired people, all talking a mile a minute (and some people say I couldn’t possibly be Italian!) each holding these tiny little china cups and saucers. Their eyes looked like they were sewn open, big, wide-open eyes everywhere! The clerk handed me this cup and saucer, I looked inside and truly thought he had handed me a dirty cup! There was maybe 1 ½ teaspoons of mud in the bottom of the cup. No wonder their eyes looked so weird! They were drinking Italian coffee! These guys were so wound up they bounced like Tigger all the way to their cars. Yee Gads! They were going to be driving on the same road we were traveling! I ordered Inge a triple. She would need it to keep up. Inge took one look at it, added some cream, gulped it down and said “Let’s Split!” I made sure my seat belt was really tight!
After flying across the rest of Northern Italy, we crossed the border into Austria. Switzerland can keep their scenery! Austria doesn’t have one ugly spot! It is picture perfect everywhere you look. I have never seen greener grass, or bluer skies, or whiter snow! The sun even shines brighter in Austria. And they have beautiful vineyards! I needed more film. The cost of developing all of my film may surpass the cost of my airfare home! But I had to have photos, this was a trip of a lifetime!

We really didn’t stop in Austria except for lunch and to gas up the car. You see, it was Friday and this entire trip was planned around one particular day.
I just thought Inge’s class reunion dictated the date. No, Sunday was the day that controlled our lives, and it was fast approaching! We had a very important appointment in a little town in Germany, north of Munich, called Ingolstadt. What was our important appointment? A FLEA MARKET! The last time she was there she bought a great beer stein for next to nothing! I guess we all have little quirks, but this seemed excessive to me.
We spent the night in a wonderful little inn just over the German border in Bavaria. Bernau-on-the-Chiemsee is a delightful little town, just down the road from King Ludvig’s castle. We threw our stuff in the room, after lugging it up two flights of steps (the elevator at the Metropole was looking better and better). Our room had a wonderful Bavarian look to it, after all we were in Bavaria. The railing around our balcony was covered with flowers, and little hearts were cut into the wood. I had a sudden urge to yodel! "The hills are alive with the sound of music!"
If you ever go to Bavaria, make sure you know this one phrase…”ein dunkel bitte”. That is how you order one of the best beers in the world! Dunkel is a dark, almost creamy beer. Strangely enough, it made me want Apple strudel.
Arch was not going to believe his “wino beer swiggin’ wife” when she got home! Dinner at the inn consisted of dunkel, dunkel, soup and more dunkel.
It was wonderful!
Saturday morning we hauled all of the luggage back down the steps to the car and left Bernau, driving around the lake to tour the castle. Ludvig was nuttier than a fruitcake, but he did know how to pick the best spot for a castle! It is out on an island in the middle of the lake. A short boat ride and there it is.…the island that is, not the castle. The castle is a long walk from the boat dock. Did I mention it was a very cold, wet and windy morning? But it was a beautiful walk. The castle is amazing, but most of it (about 75%) is unfinished. I thought Inge had some quirks! Ludvig was a crazier German than Inge could ever hope to be! He built 3 castles, never finished any of them, and was found drowned in three feet of water. That is strange since he was about 6’ 4” tall and an excellent swimmer! I personally think the family was tired of him spending the family’s fortune on castles, and they hired a hit man to finish him off. He didn’t live long, but he sure did live well.
After the tour we stopped at the Inn on the island for lunch. They make a curried pumpkin soup that is to die for! And the wine was excellent.

This isn't the exact recipe from the Inn, but very close. I found it on

Curried Pumpkin Soup


4 Macintosh apples - peeled, cored and chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1 teaspoon white sugar

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, curry, and cumin; saute, stirring often, until onion is soft and fragrant.
Stir in apples, pumpkin, broth, water, and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Puree soup in a food processor or a blender.
Return soup to saucepan; reheat, covered, over low heat.

back to our day.....

Inge guided me back to the boat, got me seated, and after a short ride back to the dock, I was ready for a nap.
But no nap for me, Inge needed my navigator talents! Back on the Autobahn, traveling at the speed of light, we headed north towards Munich.
Now Inge knows I don’t speak German, can’t read German, but she was asking me to read a map! And after a great wine with lunch! She actually got a little grumpy with me. We were flying towards Munich, Inge saw a sign ahead, and said ”What does that sign say?” All I said was “what sign?” By the time I had a chance to look up, we were way past it! She saw another one coming up . I looked up, read it as it flew by. “It says FloppinHoppin” She didn’t believe me. I explained to her that it looked like FloppinHoppin to me. It actually turned out to be Pfafenhofen. Now I ask you, doesn’t that look as silly as FloppinHoppin? My time as navigator had come to an end. From that point on, Inge stopped the car, got out, spread the map out on the hood of the car and figured out her own way! I could have taken a nap if I wanted to, but I would have missed too much scenery. Life was good!

Inge’s mother was born in a town called Karlshuld. As we skirted around Munich, the country side was definitely different than what we had seen up to this point. We left the vineyard covered hills and headed north through potato and hop country. It is fairly flat, fairly boring as far as scenery goes. But, the Bavarians need their hops to make their beer! As we approached the village of Karlshuld, the earth turned jet black! I have never seen dirt that color. It seems this area used to be covered with about 6 feet of peet moss.
The Danaumoos, as the area is called, was one huge bog. The surface of the ground actually floated on underground water. Erosion and time have left the area with less than 2 feet of peet moss. That is why the earth is so black. It is perfect for growing potatoes. Inge’s family in Karlshuld are potato farmers, big time potato farmers! And they were delightful!

Our hosts were Hans and Hertha Knoferl, cousins of Inge. Karlshuld has lots of Inge’s relatives. We arrived around 3:00 in the afternoon, and very shortly all of the family started arriving. They have this tradition of having cake and coffee about that time. You all sit around one big table, eating and drinking, talking only German of course! I actually got pretty good at understanding what they were talking about, but never learned to speak German except for “Ein dunkel bitte.” And “Cola Light mit viel ice” That means “diet coke with lots of ice.”
About 5:30 or 6:00, we are all still around the table, and like magic, the cake and coffee were cleared away. Huge platters of meat and cheese, baskets of bread and big thick pretzels, jars of mustards and jams, and a big hunk of butter are sitting in front of you! And DUNKEL! And wine!
About 8:00, we were all still around the table, and like magic again, dessert was served….again! Then at 9:00, after dinner drinking started! I was sure that I was going to have to check into Betty Ford’s Clinic as soon as I got back to the states!
Midnight finally arrived and once again I found myself with a down comforter and a down pillow! I slept like a Bavarian baby.

No comments:

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy
oil painting by Kay Tucker

Somerset Autumn on Wea Creek

Somerset Autumn on Wea Creek
Oil Painting by Kay Tucker, Private Collection


oil painting by Kay Tucker

Kansas Storm

Kansas Storm
oil painting by Kay Tucker, Private Collection

Watercolor Collage

Watercolor Collage

Tempo al Tempo....All in Good Time

Tempo al Tempo....All in Good Time
48"x36" sculptural painting by Kay Tucker