Mittelbergheim in Alsace, France

After we checked out of our vacation rental in Barr, we stopped at the pâtisserie (cake shop) once more to load up on some Americano coffee and croissants while sitting in the sun.

We decided to take the leisurely route home, and stopped in Mittelbergheim to explore it a bit.

We liked it so much that we have plans to spend our next get-away in this village. This photo was taken on the outskirts.

As we walked around, we stumbled upon these tulips in the middle of a vineyard row.

It was just a single row of flowers… among hundreds of others without any.

In the center of the village, we saw this stately door of a 16th century winery.

On our way back through main street, we spotted a stork’s nest.

Stork’s nest in Mittelbergheim

Mittelbergheim, you will see us again in autumn.

To learn more about the Alsace, see Strasbourg, France: Plus Colmar and Central Alsace 

Villages in Alsace, France

The village of Barr, the wine capital of Alsace, also runs the longest Alsatian wine fair (for more than 100 years). But this festival is not until autumn, when the harvest is completed.

Driving between villages, vineyards are what you get to see, wherever you look.

Vosges Mountains, France

On our way, while looking for a Winstub for our second evening, we visited the nearby village of Andlau where we had stayed previously (autumn 2022). In the center are three restaurants, but none of them was open! One was permanently closed, the other one had a big banner advertising staff hire, and the third one was undergoing a major renovation.

Well, at least, we walked to our favorite picnic spot in Andlau and enjoyed this peaceful view.

Andlau, Alsace

My travel partner likes to visit churches. I come along, but only to light candles for our loved ones.

Looking up, I happened to see this unusual contrail. With a glass of wine in hand, I wondered about its purpose. 🙂

The sky is the daily bread of the eyes. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Barr, Alsace in Springtime

As we do most spring or fall breaks, we travel to Alsace in France. It is only a short three-hour drive from here (Frankfurt area) and an Alsatian village in the Vosges Mountains provides the perfect get-away.

This time, we chose Barr, a fairly quiet village to the south of Obernai, in the Bas-Rhin department. It gets rather overlooked by the usual tourists. We like it this way.

Only this time around in Barr, we found most Winestub (Alsatian-style pub/restaurant) to be closed. Some looked permanently closed, some were maybe shut down permanently. Others were listed as open, based on the website, but we found them closed as well. Of the dozen or so Winestub or restaurants in Barr, we found only one open on our arrival day:

Restaurant Caveau Folie Marco

We enjoyed a very good dinner ( I had La Munstiflette), and the ambiance and service were excellent.

La Munstiflette at Folie Marco

Friends like to ask what we do on these quiet days in Alsace. Well, we walk a lot, eat well, take afternoon naps, enjoy wine in the evenings, walk some more, and have time to reflect. We like to visit ourselves.

We had rented a half-timbered vacation home close to the village center, and everything was in walking distance – as it should be.

The Story Behind Opa’s Home-Distilled Schnapps

For the past 18 years, I have been trying to pass on this homemade Schnaps to my friends. Whenever they come for a visit, they have to have a little shot of schnapps to help me get rid of it. It is from the 1960s, and its alcohol content is around 60-65%.

When my father passed away in 2005, I was given this demijohn wrapped in packing straw and a metal basket. I guess it holds about 50 liters. When we first got it, I did not check to see how much schnapps was left. Instead we filled some into a jam jar, and stored the demijohn in the basement.

Since then, my husband has taken frequent trips to the basement, where he needed a second pair of hands to pour it into the same jam jar. Every time he came back up, I asked him, if it were empty yet. He always replied, “Not yet.”

Demijohn of German Schnapps

18 years later… we still have some, and I have stopped asking. Instead, we brought it upstairs, so it can spend its final years in good company and daylight.

Back then, when I took it off my brother’s hand, I imagined to use this little artifact sometime soon for an up-cycling project. Well, I use it now for decoration. As is. 🙂

When I was a young girl, I had to help with collecting the fallen plums. We did not have protective gloves either, when we reached into the nettles to retrieve most of them.

Then the plums were taken to a neighbor, who was the only one with a distillery in the village.

In the 1960s, we had no dentist in the village. When we kids had a toothache, we were told to rinse our pain away with schnapps. When our live-in aunt had a fever, her room smelled like schnapps because of the leg compresses she made from soaking them in it.

Growing up, I had never actually seen anybody drinking this stuff. I only thought of it as a pain reliever.

Now it has become a family joke. “You want to come for a visit? You know you have to have some of Opa’s schnapps!” Once, we actually used it as a pain reliever. One of our American friends arrived from Amsterdam with a bad toothache in tow. While he was here, he used schnapps to tie him over before he could see his dentist in Croatia a couple of days later.

Another time it became a study object of a former student of mine, who, at the time of his visit, studied history at university in Korea.

This schnapps has provided us with so many funny moments to share and remember. For that, I’m forever grateful.

Touring the Mainberg Castle Grounds, Germany

On New Year’s Eve, after a very pleasant stay at the Martinshotel in close proximity, we decided to give our London visitor a little taste of one of Germany’s more 20.000 – 25.000 castles. No one knows exactly how many castles there really are in Germany. The estimate for Bavaria, my home state, is 5.000 castles alone.

We arrived at a locked gate, which had to be expected at this time of year. We were still able though to tour the grounds a bit.

Gunter Sachs, a German photographer, author, art collector and industrialist, was born in this castle. Gunter, also known as Gunter Sachs von Opel in his earlier days, was one of Germany’s most famous playboys in his days. He was also married to Brigitte Bardot in the 1960s.

Mainberg Castle, Germany

The castle park used to be a place of fun for some U.S. army soldiers in post-war Germany.

Mainberg Castle grounds

We enjoyed our view overlooking the Main River valley on this overcast morning.

The Main River in Lower Franconia

Last, but not least, for all of you, who remember the nuclear power plant… Luke & Duke are still standing. The plant was in operation from 1982 – 2015, and then it was taken offline as part of the phase out policy for nuclear power in Germany.

This photo was taken from the castle on the hill.

Luke & Duke, the Nukes

Die Franken sind die Sanguiniker unter den Deutschen. – Theodor Heuss

(The Franconians are the sanguine among the Germans)

We will come back again.

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