We've been in Europe for a couple of years now and we've seen a lot of this area, so we are just quickly passing through Germany as we head northwest on the continent. Günter, one of our new motorcycle friends that we met recently while touring the Adriatic coast in Croatia has graciously invited us to stay with him for a few days to rest up.
Our bikes have a roof over their heads tonight. First time in... months, I think.
To welcome us to his home, Günter prepares a barbeque! OMG, German bratwurst in Germany!!! Life does not get better than this!
This is no ordinary BBQ. This is a very local contraption called a Schwenker
A Schwenker is not something you yell out of your car window when someone cuts you off. It's a bbq grill that swings on a tripod and it's very local to the state of Saarland in Germany. Nearly everyone in Günter's neighbourhood has one in their backyard.
Günter asks Neda to cut some wood for the bbq. Neda... quit messing around, you're a guest!
Günter's son is really into LARP (Live-Action RolePlay), so Neda borrowed his sword. The thing about Schwenkbraten is that it needs to be cooked over a beechwood flame. No other wood will do. Schwenkers have a very narrow definition, otherwise you can't call it a Schwenker. Also, the beechwood needs to be chopped with a sword. That sword has to be named after a mythical, medieval German warrior and has to do at least a +5 in mystical damage.
This sword is named "Ah-nold". Ah-nold Schwarzeneda.
Get to the choppa, Neda...
After Neda choppa-d more wood, the Schwenker is set a-swinging and we stand around and socialize
Cooking over a Schwenker is a very social occasion. People are supposed to gather around the fire, talk and tend to the swing to keep it moving. I asked Günter if the intermittent swinging cooks the meat in a special way? He said, "Not really, keeping it swinging is just something to do while we stand around and talk." LOL!
The meat that cooks on a Schwenker is also pretty specific. It's a marinated pork neck steak and it's called Schwenkbraten. The bratwurst around it is just decoration. A yummy, yummy decoration.
I don't know why, but I loved the Schwenker. It was so local and so specific to this neighbourhood. If we hadn't had come to visit Günter, we never would have Schwenked with him!
The next morning, we set up our tent in the backyard so we can dry it out from all the rain in the Austrian Alps
Günter has to go to work today, so he leaves us in the care of his daughter, Carolyn for the day. Carolyn went to high school in Texas so her English is fluent. In fact, she's got more of a Texan accent than German when she speaks English to us!
She talks about the US a lot and she really misses her friends from back there. I think speaking English to us kinda reminds her of being back in Texas.
So despite the meatfest we had last night, we find out Carolyn is a vegetarian. Whut? Are you sure you lived in *Texas*?!? (and not Seattle..)
So we make her our favorite vegetarian dish. It's a pasta with avocado sauce which tastes exactly like pesto, but without all the dairy and cholesterol. Just a little basil and lemon blended in with the avocado. Deliciousness!
Günter knows I like to take pictures, so he tells Carolyn to take us to the Erlebnisort Reden
The Erlebnisory Reden is an old abandoned mine and factory that's been repurposed into an urban playground. The mine was the biggest employer in the city before it shut down. One of Günter's friends who came over for dinner last night used to work at this factory.
This place is great for Urbexing (Urban Exploration for those in the know)
This is an interesting sculpture. it's called the GegenOrt and it's made of untreated wood. It is supposed to naturally decay over time.
Haha, Carolyn you ham it up pretty good for a vegetarian!
Visitors place locks on this fence for love, hopes and dreams
And then the pièce de résistance - a TARDIS?!?
This isn't actually part of any art on the premises. We did a bit of exploring and tucked away in one of the abandoned buildings was this TARDIS. I had to to snake my camera in through a small peephole to get this shot, so it's not on purpose that this is here. I think Doctor Who must have filmed at this location at some point and the crew just left the prop instead of taking it with them back to England.
So cool... I hope to see a lot more TARDISes in our near future...
Günter gets back from work and we spend some time fixing Neda's electricals
Günter's an airplane mechanic so I think he's qualified to work on a motorcycle... We spent another evening with Günter and Carolyn and then next morning, we sadly said our goodbyes.
All fixed, ready to head out!
Günter suggested we ride into Luxembourg since it was so close by. It so happens to be on our way, so we swing by. We gas up right before we hit the border because Günter told us that gas is a lot more expensive in Luxembourg than Germany. Hmmm....
We park our bikes and a few luxury cars roll by us... Hmmm....
Walking around the Luxembourg City's town square, we poke around the restaurant's looking for lunch. Hmmmm....
I'm not sure if you can read the menu, average price of a dish is €20... Buncha thieving Schwenkers!
Just as we suspected, Luxembourg City is the capital of RichLandia. Holy crap, the prices here are on par with Switzerland and Norway...
This statue is not a penis
The city is well known for it's banking industry and being the base of operations for several European Union institutions, but we discovered that Luxembourg is an architect's Disneyland. Every building is meticulous in it's design and construction. A very beautiful place to wander around in. I can see why Günter suggested we take a look.
But like Disneyland, it feels very sterile and very manicured. The medieval-style buildings don't seem like they were built 600 years ago, they look like they were built 20 years ago, and then cleaned and reconstructed every 5 years on a schedule.
What a beautiful city, though!
Castle du Bock
Looking down into the River Alzette. Very pretty here.
People ask us all the time which are the places that we've visited that stick out in our mind. We've seen some amazing sights and beautiful cities on this trip. But the things that really stand out in all of our memories are the people that we meet and befriend along the way. I like getting to know their stories, but also I love how we get to become part of their story and vice versa.
Luxembourg's a lovely place, but it doesn't compare to Schwenking with Günter and Carolyn in their tiny German suburb just across the border. Danke schön, G&C!