A Travellerspoint blog

An Afternoon (and evening) at the Mainzer Wein Markt

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Saturday we awoke to a brighter day - a good day for the Wein Markt which is held in the City Park. It did not begin until the afternoon so we had a leisurely morning and took care of some chores.

Still on the hunt for "Katzenfutter" we tried a different store and picked a couple of new ones to try - winner winner Trunhuhn Dinner! Finally a food she really likes - plan return trip to store to stock up!


Next task was a little laundry so we headed to the nearest laundromat. Laundromats are always interesting - fortunately there are some int'l symbols for laundry so we are usually able to figure the machines out no matter the language.


Laundry done, shopping done, it was time to head to Wein Markt! We took the S-Bahn to the stop near the "Stadtpark" and followed the trail of folks heading there as well.

Who's driving this train?

The park is a beautiful setting for this event for sure - lots of trees for shade, wine & food stalls lining the paths. They offer a "strolling wine tasting" 13 euros to taste at 8 different wine stalls and a lovely glass - here's hoping the glasses make it home in one piece!


Next order of business - food! We passed the ice cream, crepes, and other such nonsense to the brats and next the "kartoffeln" - we tried the fries shredded potatoes with applesauce to dip them in - sounds odd but it was pretty good!


Stomachs full, wine in hand we continued on to the next tasting stall. We sat in the tent and met a group of Americans who were all civilian workers at the base in nearby Wiesbaden. We chatted for a bit (well until our glasses were empty) and headed off to the next tasting stall - stopping for some wonderful chocolate dipped strawberries on the way.


We ended up in the tent of the 5 tasting stall where we caught up with group from Weisbaden at the next table over. We sat down at a table and shortly thereafter were joined by an older German couple - Ursela & Klaus - who spoke English pretty well. We started chatting about many things (we all agreed no politics) and about an hour later an young couple - Fabian & Jenny - joined us too. Never in a million years would I have guessed Fabian as a German name! They both spoke excellent English and the six of us sat, talked, laughed, and drank wine for the next 4 hours or so!

The group from Weisbaden


Fabian & Jenny

Ursela & Klaus - we never did meet the couple at the far end of the table.

For us these are the golden moments of travel - sitting and sharing experiences withe locals and learning about different cultures. Klaus told me about the men in colorful uniforms - the Mainz Stadtsoldaten. They are the guards of the Mainz wine and have been a tradition at the festival since 1936.


Having tasted our 8 wines and a couple extra glasses it was time to head home - heading to Amsterdam tomorrow!


Posted by ChristisDream 20:49 Archived in Germany Comments (1)

Onward to Germany!

overcast 80 °F
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Epernay, France to Mainz, Germany is a pretty long trek - 6 or 7 hours on the train and 2 to 4 train changes. We had the latter of both! We are traveling about as light as one can get for 2+months - with a cat but we sure do appreciate when there are functioning elevators at the train platforms and the seats on the train are NOT upstairs - especially since we added the weight of two bottles of champagne! Off we went for a day of travel. First stop - back to Paris

This is one of my favorite pics ever!
Back at Paris Gare de l'Est waiting for the TGV

We did enjoy the ride on the TGV

Such beautiful countryside
Oh my does this train go fast! Even in KPH its fast!
Note to self - do not book seats in the upper area!

A couple trains and hours later we were in Mainz. Our hotel is literally across the street from the train station - I love the easy access. I took this photo of the train station from our room when we were there in 2013.


We settled in to our room, got the cat set up, Shai explored - she loves the big window!


We had pretty fast train connection all day so no time to grab a snack we were pretty hungry and set out to find a place to eat. We ended up at a pub named Haddock's where wet met Alexandra. Her English was much better than our German and we managed a lively conversation over dinner and some local wine recommendations from our new found friend.


Our first full day in Germany

One of the best things about a trip of this length is you do not feel it necessary to be running full bore and filling every minute with seeing or doing something. We tend to take things slow, chill, spend time meeting new people, and just be where we are. There seems to be a lot of eating & wine or beer as well - its a good thing we walk most of the time.

Today was a one of those days with no real agenda until the evening when the Wein Markt would be on. We went for walk about towards the Rhein River just enjoying the beautiful weather and surroundings.


The problem with walking...you get thirsty!


Feeling refreshed we decided to hop the train to Bingen for lunch. We found a great place right on the Rhein - the food & the view were both excellent! Pork Schnitzel with Cognac Peppercorn Sauce and a trio of desserts to share!

Grapes on the slope.
This was the restaurant where we ate.

As we were finishing our meal the servers at the restaurant started rearranging the tables - Ray ask if they were getting a large party - she said no, rain. Ah,,,moving the tables under the cover. After a bit we could see the large black cloud moving in. We headed back to the train station and back to Mainz. We arrived just as it was starting to sprinkle - fortunately our hotel was very close!


We made it home before it started pouring, thundering, and lightening although I did have run to the store 2 blocks away. We decided to save the Wein Markt for tomorrow and not venture out in the rain.

So believe it or not the hardest thing we have encountered (even more difficult than lugging the bags up stairs) is finding aliments pour chat aka Katzenfutter aka cat food that the princess will eat! Now she usually loves chicken in a pate but we have been hard pressed to find one here that she really likes but we have had fun trying! The Germans especially are challenging because Geflugel and Huhn both translate to chicken.


Posted by ChristisDream 11:17 Archived in Germany Comments (1)

A Day of Champagne!

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We awoke to a beautiful sunny day in Epernay. Our hotel has a reasonable breakfast buffet - there are loaves of bread - baguette, whole grain, and one that looks like it has raisins. Pain au chocolat & croissant, assorted jams, fresh fruit, hard boiled eggs, fresh eggs to soft cook yourself, cold cuts, cheese, and yogurt. So I broke my no cooking rule and plopped 4 eggs into the cooker!

Breakfast done we headed for the Avenue de Champagne! Epernay is a pretty little place with less than 25,000 people - a big change from Paris. The main square in town has a lovely fountain


We first stopped by Moet & Chandon, the first & largest champagne house here - and the largest in the world. We booked a tour for later then left to continue on down the avenue.


The street is lined with many champagne houses including Moet, Perrier-Jouet, and the French favorite Mercier. Underneath each they have carved out of the natural chalk miles & miles of caves used to age the champagne. The beautiful old one withe statue in front is being converted to a museum of champagne.


We ended up at Collard-Picard to taste. We met a very nice British couple and a mother & daughter from New Zealand - it is so fun to chat with folks from all over. We enjoyed their Blanc De Blancs so much a bottle found its way into our luggage!


It was time to head back to Moet & Chandon for our tour of the caves. The tour was informative on the process of making champagne - it takes from 3 to 25 years(Dom Perignon) - unfortunately no Dom for tasting :( but we did try the Moet Vintage 2008 white & Rose - very nice.


This oak barrel was a gift from Napoleon. This tunnel is full of magnums of Dom!




A Trip to Reims

Reims - rhymes with France (I know!). We were here many years ago to see the Cathedral but arrived late at night to a train station full of armed gendarme, dogs, no train schedules posted, - we decided something was going on so we hopped the next to Paris!. This is where the kings of France were crowned since the 13th century and where Jeanne d'Arc brought Charles VII to be crowned during the 100 years wars.


The statue is Jeanne d'Arc


The rose windows are stunning.


Stained glass window by Marc Chagall and a statue of Jeanne d'Arc in a chapel in the apse.





Time & wars have taken a toll on many of the statues but restoration is in progress.



After the cathedral visit walked to the G.H. Mumm champagne house we opted to skip the tour but did add another bottle to our luggage - a Blanc de Noirs made with 100% Pinot Noir grapes - I'll let you know how it is! The architecture here is so pretty


A nice dinner with champagne of course, a train ride back to Epernay, and home to the awaiting kitty!


Posted by ChristisDream 11:37 Archived in France Comments (2)

Lazy Sunday

sunny 27 °F
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After our late night adventure to the chateau we slept in Sunday morning. The hotel room had a kettle & Nescafe and we had picked up a couple of pan au chocolat - voila -breakfast! Even Shai was into the lazy Sunday!


We did venture out eventually and headed for the Eiffel Tower - really no visit to Paris is complete without strolling through the Champ de Mars with the Eiffel Tower in full view. I am a bit melancholy about the Eiffel Tower - I remember our first visit we were able to walk right up to it and all around under it - no fences, no lines, no security. Now the entire perimeter is fenced in and one must stand in a rather long line to go through security screening before even lining up to go up!


We stopped at what had become our favorite place for some lunch Le Terrasse - roast chicken, mashed potatoes, & oh the gravy! We had to have another creme brulee - and I don't normally like creme brulee - this is that good! We became fast friends with Cedric at La Terrasse - he always has a warm welcome and sincere au revoir.


We wandered around a while longer then it was time to heard to our hotel and get ready to leave Paris in the morning. Once I felt sufficiently organized and napped we headed out for a last evening in Paris. Sunday night in August finds very few choices but we did manage to find Le Saint Germain open and enjoyed one last dinner & a lovely Bordeaux. We chatted with a very nice couple from Toronto - we do enjoy meeting fellow travelers from all over.


Monday - Travel Day

We did get up early enough to head to La Terrasse for one last meal and a farewell with Cedric. The French do make a delicious omelet for sure!


Of course we had to have a photo with Cedric


Farewells done we headed to the train station and our train to Epernay in the heart of the Champagne Region! Shai was not sure what to think about the whole train thing although it was not her first train ride.


We arrived in Epernay and settled in at our hotel then headed out in search of dinner & of course - champagne!


Tomorrow - the Avenue de Champagne!

Posted by ChristisDream 21:14 Archived in France Comments (2)

The Best Laid Plans!

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We awoke to a beautiful sunny day - a welcome change from the cloudy rainy weather we'd had up til now. Today was the walk with a Paris Greeter - Francoise. The Greeters are a wonderful organization of local volunteers in cities all over the world. The Greeter will do a walk with you in an area you choose in the city you are visiting . It is a wonderful opportunity to learn about local customs and about the the area you choose.


We met with Francoise at 10:00. I requested to walk the Canal St. Martin as we had never been to that area of Paris. The canal was originally built to provide drinking water to the city and add access to ship goods and connect with the Seine. There are nine locks on the canal raising a total of 25 meters. The area has become very trendy in the past few years and is lined with shops, restaurants, and pricey apartments.

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Francoise took us on a little detour through the Jardin Villemin - the flowers were gorgeous


We stopped for cafe au lait



We carried on to the end of the canal which was set up as part of Paris Plages - Paris Beach!

Paris Plages is a summer operation conducted by the Paris City Hall since 2002 . Each year, between July and mid-August, about 3.5 km , the track on shore right bank of the Seine and the Place de l'Hotel de Ville and ancillary websites - like the Bassin de la Villette since 2007 - host fun and sporting activities , sandy and grassy beaches , palm trees ... Traffic is interrupted on this portion of the Georges-Pompidou highway during the operation, from installation to dismantling .


After our walk with Francoise we took the metro back and decided no visit to Paris is complete without a visit to "Rue Rick Steves" aka Rue Cler - a market street made famous by the venerable Back Door traveler. We stopped at La Terrasse and had a lovely lunch first and of course a new french wine!


We were able to gather some things there to take along later to our visit to the Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte and walk home. The way home took us through the garden in front of Invalides - a former military hospital, current military museum, and Napoleon's Tomb.


There was also a group of men playing a lively game of Boules (Bocce)


The plan for the evening was to visit the Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte for the candlelight evening and fireworks. We were taking a picnic to enjoy in the gardens of the chateau. Well that was the plan anyway!

So we overslept, missed the early train - no problem - there is another train. We get to the train station, get our tickets, the train is there and off we go. All is well...well except I forgot the last shuttle from the train station to the chateau was done by the the we arrived! So there we are standing in the dark at the train station when I realized this! Remember that phone I made sure to have - priceless! Thank goodness for Uber - I opened the app and there was dear Pitchou 15 minutes away! So we did finally make the chateau - the fastest tour ever but the candles were lovely!


We did manage to find our shuttle back to Paris and make our way home.

Posted by ChristisDream 01:32 Archived in France Comments (1)

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