Martinshotel Near Mainberg Castle, Germany

This Christmas holiday, while visiting my four siblings in my hometown area of lower Franconia, we decided to stay in this newly renovated historic building, which was turned into a hotel in 2021.

The hotel itself is in the center of the village (Mainberg, a district of Schonungen), and the castle sits up on the hill overlooking the Main River and other villages.

The hotel entrance reflects where the old meets modern.

Martinshotel in Mainberg

We had a splendid time there. The rooms are spacious and arranged in a modern way. We had our breakfast in a beautiful ambiance (this room is a wine pub in the evenings).

From the parking lot, you can see part of the castle. It is a good 10-minute walk there, which we did on this overcast morning of New Year’s Eve.

I can highly recommend this hotel. The service is excellent. Mr. Martin, the owner, speaks English as well, and this made our stay more comfortable for our non-German speaking friend, who had come along from London.

If you want to know more about the hotel, then visit Martinshotel.

Maria’s Beer Balcony in Germany

In late October, I got an email from one of my friends in the States. Her son, who also happened to be our son’s former playmate at FIS (Frankfurt International School) many years ago, was coming to Oberursel on a business trip.

Of course, we managed a friendly get-together on the Beer Balcony. Can’t leave town without a pit stop here. It was fun having you here, Seth.

Seth in Oberursel

I’ve decided to let my Beer Balcony get taken over by vines. Time for a change. But our spirits remain the same.

What is There to See in Franconian Switzerland

On our three-day trip to the Fränkische Schweiz (Franconian Switzerland), we got to see and do quite a bit of everything.


Pottenstein is always worth a visit. There are many shops along the main road, but some were closed during this off-season.

Pottenstein main road

We also went to our first Christmas market of the season. This one was in Ebermannstadt (25km southeast of Bamberg). What a lovely small market it was. We bought many things such as mulled wine, Bratwurst, Christmas cookies, Gin&Tonic jam, and much more.

Prices are still lower in that part of Germany, so spending money is more fun.

Ebermannstadt (near Bamberg)

After the Christmas market, we entered one of the restaurants located at the market square. This one, Brauereigasthof Schwanenbräu Ebermannstadt, is one of the finest restaurants I’ve ever been to.

Our view reminded me a bit of looking out at Rockefeller Plaza in New York, also in November of one year.

Service was outstanding (very quick and with a smile each time), and my husband and I both had one of the local specialties. He had breaded carp, and I had a small order of Krenfleisch (boiled pork or beef) in a horseradish sauce with a dumpling.

In my hometown area of lower Franconia, this dish is also known as Fränkisches Hochzeitsessen (Franconian Wedding Meal), and is always served with Bandnudeln (ribbon noodles).

Once I posted a photo of this kind of meal with ribbon noodles on my Facebook page Fränkisch für Ausländer (Franconian Dialect for Foreigners), and this caused quite a stir. Some readers insisted this can only be served with potato dumplings, or boiled potatoes. In my 40+years of cooking and eating out, I had only seen this dish served with noodles.

Then there it was on the menu – with a dumpling! From now on, I will only eat this version. The small white strings you see on the outer part of the plate are radish strips.

This dish is always served with Preiselbeeren (lingonberries).

Krenfleisch with potato dumpling

And yes, we got a six-pack of dunkles Lager to take home.

Visiting Franconian Switzerland means eating and drinking well. At least, to me.

For a mini lesson in the upper Franconian dialect, learn how to say “Of course!”:

“No freili!” The literal translation would be: Ja, freilich = Yes, of course.

So if someone asks you whether you wanted another beer, “Möchten Sie noch ein Bier?”

“No freili!” is the perfect response.

Franconian Switzerland in the Heart of Germany

Franconian Switzerland, located in northern Bavaria, can be reached by car from Frankfurt in three hours. In the summer, I imagine, it is overrun by tour buses, but we went there in late November, which made it perfect for us: few people, quiet, and no lines anywhere.

When you first enter the small town of Gössweinstein, you see its castle on top of the hill. The same castle, Burg Gößweinstein, is said to have possibly been the inspiration for Richard Wagner’s opera, Parsifal.

Gößweinstein Castle

We were there in late November, and it was quite foggy at times.

November fog in Franconian Switzerland

But nature also displayed its colors.

November Nature

This shepherd and his herd were a rare sight to see.

A shepherd and his flock

We also visited the town of Pottenstein.


We spent most of our first day in Pottenstein, and the first sight next to the church was the Scharfrichter Museum (Executioner Museum). I was tempted to pay it a visit, but my husband didn’t want to. Instead, he dragged me to an antique shop across the road.

In Pottenstein, we also had lunch at a place we will never forget. I will not mention its name, though.

The restaurant floor was dirty, and the waitress immediately told us of her chore of sharpening the knives in the kitchen. She had just previously bought a Wetzstein (whetstone) on sale, and it was not working properly for her… She was going on and on about these dull knives, and how the owner could not dispose of them, because they had belonged to his dead wife. There were moments I thought either we are on Candid Camera, or next time the waitress comes out of the kitchen, she will appear as the witch from Hansel & Gretel.

Of course, I imagined another scenery too, from having read so many mystery and crime novels.

She was also the cook with black dirt under each fingernail. She talked to herself, or the knives, loudly in the kitchen. I really had doubts what kind of food we would get, but I did not mention this to my husband (he told me afterwards he had thought the same).

We promised each other not to leave one sitting alone at the table, not even for going to the loo. We ate very quickly, and agreed, that if that ever happened again, we would pay for our meal WITHOUT touching any of it. And we would leave immediately.

We finished our meal (decent actually, and we detected no other flavor…), and paid right away. The waitress kept talking and talking on our way out, and my husband just closed the door behind us in her mid-sentence.

We both took a deep breath when we stepped outside. This lunch-scare is starting to become a family joke, such as when the question comes up, where we should go for dinner next… 🙂

Frosty and Foggy November Day in Franconia, Germany

When I saw my friend’s frosty photos on Facebook earlier today, I was so enchanted by them, that I completely overlooked the initial posting date of 10 November 2021. Nevertheless, I immediately asked for her permission to post them here, and so… a big thanks goes to the photographer, Christine Seger.

I love frost, the fall season, and Franconia – which also happens to be my hometown area in northern Bavaria.

This was taken from the village of Stammheim towards the village of Wipfeld.

View onto Wipfeld in Lower Franconia

The Main River, the color of the vineyards, the wafts of wog, blue skies and quite a few contrails… where the latter is the only man-made phenomenon.

The Main River in November 2021

I wish I could be there right now with some typical mulled wine (German: der Glühwein).

Frog and Frost in Lower Franconia

Early frost covers the ground.

Soon, I will get to visit there again.

“The magic thing about home is that it feels good to leave, and it feels even better to come back.” – Wendy Wunder

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