Riquewihr Holiday in October

This is what Riquewihr looks like in the early morning at around 6:30. An hour later, a sprinkle of tourists are coming down the road to go to the bakery, with delivery trucks and repair trucks coming through. By 9am, it gets lively with tourists.

We had rented a studio apartment in the yellow house on the left.

Riquewihr 6am

Repair was done on this house (good restaurant inside!) at about 7:30.

Au Tire Bouchon

The town boasts to have 30 restaurants and this could very well be.

Riquewihr

The steep vineyards are a special sight to see.Steep vineyards

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Mainberg Castle near Schweinfurt

This guest post is written by Lance M. Goolsby, who originates from Seattle, Washington. However, he spent 15 years in the U.S. Army, serving in the city of Schweinfurt, Germany for four of them. He says he is married to the most wonderful woman, Antje (Pronounced: Auntie-A), a local Schweinfurter. After leaving the army, he decided to settle down in Schweinfurt and place his roots in this beautiful small city. This is what he has to share with us.

Mainberg Castle

Mainberg Castle

A couple days ago, I was searching the internet to get some source photos for a renovation project I am conducting and came across Maria’s blog.

I had heard of a local castle, but had never gone. Many times the unit would hold a party in the castle, but somehow I was either deployed to some foreign country, or on duty. So I was always otherwise occupied.

A few months ago I was invited to a birthday party being held in the castle, and I thought it would be my chance to see it first hand. Somehow I met the manager, and we started talking. He was in the works of finalizing the plans for the renovations of the castle with the owner. Hours passed with him telling me stories of the history of the building, from its major involvement in the German Peasants war of the 1500s, to the unsavory occupation of the castle during the second world war by generals Hermann Goering, and Heinrich Himmler.

One thing led to another, and I was hired as the groundskeeper of the castle. My dream job. Bringing the long unattended gardens back to their former glory, which had not been seen by visitors since the renovations of the castle in 1924.

The castle name is Schloss Mainberg, located around 3 kilometers, or about 2 miles outside Schweinfurt.

The tower of the castle was the first thing built, in around the year 980 to 1005. In the late 1300s and early 1400s, the local duke built the original castle. The castle was mostly destroyed in the Peasants War in the 1520s. Twenty years later, the castle that stands now, was built. The only thing original to the castle prior is the tower, which only lost around 30 feet from its top in the war.

After the Second World War, the entire contents of the castle were either carted off under orders of General Goering, or looted by the American soldiers or the local towns people. All statues with the exception of one, were used by various soldiers as target practice or targeted by vandals, and all heads are missing. Later the castle was shortly used as a factory for a hair care products company. After that, it passed through a few hands, but never was renovated or repaired.

In the last 60 years, the castle has slowly fallen into ruin. Cracks are allowing water to seep into the building, staining and ruining many murals painted on the walls and ceilings.  Vines, crawling up the walls, are undermining the concrete and pieces are falling to the ground. Eventually without the proper care, the castle would fall to the ground.

My job will be to bring the grounds to the quality they were in after the 1822 renovations. In one author’s writings, he described the gardens as an almost heavenly walk. Looking right, the view over the local Bavarian valley afforded him the possibility to see for miles on end. Three fountains adorned with mythological creatures gave the area an ethereal sound and the flowers planted gave the garden a scent that he couldn’t forget for several years before he wrote the book.

Further investigation into the grounds has recently produced a second garden from the same era, which it seems no visitors has ever seen. It’s a garden for the woman of the house at the time to retreat to with one of her favorite books, to relax and read. We now refer to this one as the secret garden. It was built in the rear of the castle, which is on the uphill side. It was made up of one main terrace, and three others, adorned with flowers, and rock walls. They had in effect carved 4 level areas out of the castle, adorned them with flowers,  benches, and tables, then fenced it off from the main castle garden for privacy. It must have been a vision in itself and to me was much more beautiful than the main garden.

I thought for the readers of Maria’s blog it would be cool to see some recent photos of the same castle, of which she shared photos taken by Russell Satterthwait in the 60s and to compare how the castle has slowly fallen into almost ruin.

With luck, in the next two years, the castle will be back to its regal status. I also invite all readers to come by and take a tour with me when it is completed. You will not be disappointed. We will be able to have some coffee in its café, or if you like, spend the night in the castle hotel.

Mainberg Castle is one of the regions most important and beautiful castles. Soon it will be open to the public again.

Thanks for reading my long winded article.

– Lance Goolsby

grounds keeper at Mainberg Castle

Photobucket by Lance Goolsby: http://s60.photobucket.com/user/mordfilm/slideshow/Schloss%20Mainberg

YouTube by Matthias Breitenbach: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIUlhAwT9NM

Schweinfurt Garrison Dining Out at Castle Mainberg 2009 (Photo courtesy of Schweinfurt PAO) on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/schweinfurtpao/13404333633/

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An October Afternoon in Eguisheim, Alsace

The market square is the town’s jewel. Everyone nearing the square either stops in his tracks or gets out his smart phone.

In the photo (right side) you see a pizzeria. Next to it is a meat shop and I had the most wonderful lunch from there: turkey with mushrooms and noodles in a delicious gravy. They packed it to go, and I had it right outside the shop, where they have tables to stand and eat. Tip: Try the meat shop for their lunch special!

Eguisheim market square

Eguisheim market square

Bus loads of tourists usually walk this way around the periphery of Eguisheim. In early October, they still had a few outdoor vendors along that walk for this kind of tourism.

Eguisheim

No. 77 got a complete makeover and No. 79 is still waiting.

Eguisheim old and new

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Review on Les Remparts de Riquewihr Apartment, France

We had booked this self-catering studio apartment for three days in Riquewihr. With 35 qm and two adults, this was a perfect choice. Although it is located in the middle of the town, on main street, Rue du Général de Gaulle, the apartment is beautifully insulated against any noise from the street.

I’m a kitchen person, so this is usually the first place of interest to me. It had all the amenities we needed – toaster, coffeemaker, and more.

We actually had brought some wine from Germany, because we arrived on late Sunday afternoon and we were not sure about any shops being opened nearby. We learned most shops are open seven days a week and we had our grocer right across the street. This apartment is in a very convenient location.

kitchen

The sleeping area is very comfortable and leaves enough room on either side. The window also offers an interesting view onto a backyard (see below).

bed corner

sitting corner

The bathroom had one feature I disliked. More than half of the tub’s length is lined with a shower-glass protection (see the end where the towel is placed). Unfortunately, the room to climb in is quite narrow and could make for easy slips. I had to be extra careful when stepping in (I’m in my mid-fifties), but I would not advise this for much older folks, with unsteady feet.

bathroom

This apartment is on the second floor and if you don’t mind climbing two flights of creaking stairs, then this is good. Most times I tried to tiptoe up and down the stairs, to no avail. We hardly heard anyone going up and down from within the apartment, so again, it is adequately equipped even against noisy old stairs.

Room with a backyard view

Hinterhof

I can definitely recommend this apartment for a short stay in Riquewihr. There is a lot to see and do, but three days there were just right for us. Eating out is still fairly reasonably priced and if you like wine and picnics, I’m sure you will find some quiet spots in walking distance.

Links of interest:

Riquewihr Alsace Vacation Rentals: http://i-love-riquewihr.com/ (ours was the Sylvaner-Studio)

Jean-Paul Krebs (landlord and general manager) has this blog: http://best-of-upper-rhine.com/new-luxury-holiday-apartments-in-riquewihr/

Visit them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/i-love-riquewihrcom-Vacation-rentals-in-Alsace/304039933586

I do not obtain any free services or products in exchange for promoting anything here. This is just to let you know about things I’ve learned that has made travel better, more comfortable, and more fun.

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Three Days in Riquewihr, Alsace

Again, here are a few more impressions of our visit to Riquewihr.

The last time, we had been here was in 1996. Back then we could only stay for one day, because suddenly we had a baby with a high fever on our hands. Being new parents, having just moved to Europe from Japan, with only mediocre French skills, we decided to head back to Germany to see a doctor.

This time around, we were on our own. That little boy is now a college student in England and our daughter was in Poland on a school trip. The only rise in temperature we expected to get was from having red wine. :-)

The whole town is so neat and clean. There is something interesting to see around every little corner. While we were there though, there was often a sour smell wafting out of courtyards (wine making in process).

Store front Riquewihr

This is either a vegetable storage bin or the recycling of one’s no-longer-edible vegetables, serving as decor.

vegetable box

 

 

corn in window

Main street,  rue du Général-de-Gaulle, is very inviting with its many restaurants (30 of them, I’ve been told).

Rue du Général-de-Gaulle à Riquewihr

At the restaurant La Grappe d’Or , we were seated upstairs. That’s nothing unusual in itself, only the fact that the ceiling is extremely low. We had to walk in bent over, so did the waitress serving the food. With the help of some good red wine, we made it out of there OK. Slightly more bent over.

Nevertheless, I had the best salad ever there. Look for “Salade Automne” with figs, chestnusts, strips of zucchini, mint leaves, on a bed of lettuce, with a bread basked. My husband had the “Escargots Baeckaoffa” (some potato casserole specialty with snails). He was not raving about the food as much as I was, but he liked it.

La Grappe d'Or à Riquewihr

La Grappe d’Or à Riquewihr

We had a very pleasant time in Riquewihr.

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