Um Ulm Herum

Here is another “catch-up” post.  Last summer I spent a bit of time in Ulm, Germany and decided I could offer a few tips to anyone who has a few hours or days to burn there. There are a couple places I have grown quite fond of.

There’s the Barfüßer is mirco-brewery and restaurant where one can enjoy eats from a traditional German kitchen and some tasty beer.  It can be found pretty much straight across from the Ulmer Munster, which is (or was at one time)  the highest church tower in the world.  If you’re feeling up to it, one can also walk up the tower stairs to the top. Around another corner one can find the Brotkultur (Bread Culture) Museum and thought I haven’t been in there yet (waiting for an adventurous friend to accompany me), I am sure it would exceed any tourists wildest expectations. Perhaps a “I survived…” T-shirt or a over-sized novelty bread hat can be found in the gift shop.

In the evening, I would suggest Hemperium where theres hemp-burgers and other good grub to be had (and surprise good hemp beer). There are multiple stories to this place and there is even a roof terrace to enjoy when the weather is nice. Its a reggae club/restaurant thats a couple minute walk away from the main trainstation (in case you just have an hour to kill in lay over). During the day if you walk a bit farther you will come to a park (near the Ehinger Gate by the Bismarkring and Furttenbachstraße) where there’s a big ol’ chess board and big ol’ pieces, to play your friend or stranger in a giant game of chess.

Ulm also has a great location if you want to do some bike riding out into the country or other cool little towns out around the region. One of my favorite rides is out to Blaubeuren (its only about 20 km). It is incredibly scenic and the the town is very picturesque. While there, you cannot miss the Blautopf.  If you want to get out, but not take on such a trip, you can take the Tram number 1 out to Söflingen where you can take scenic walk along the Blaue river out of town and back and then just take the tram back into town (or walk; its not that far.)

That is all I have on Ulm at the moment. I’ll try and update the post, once I think of more activities.

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Day at the Beach

Warm sun, comfortable lawn chair, cold beer, chill tunes, sand between your toes… believe it or not you can find this in Munich in the summer.

I was recently out and about and came across a cool beach bar out on the Isar river. Down on the south end of Museuminsel on the Corneliusbrücke (Cornelius bridge) the urbannauts project erect a beach bar on the bridge every summer, over-looking the river and the Maximilian church. There are no surfers, like in the English Gardens, but it is a nice escape – day or night.

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I’ll have a Coffee. – Beer? – No, C-O… – B-E…

Ok, its a lot harder to convey a Simpson’s reference into the header than I anticipated. ANYWAYS…

It’s that time of year, the sun is beginning to shine, bird’s are chirping – the bees are trying to have sex with them, is my understanding – and above all hops are in bloom! Now if you’re in Bavaria and don’t like pork and beer, well you best leave as soon as possible.

So I have been doing my best at making my rounds of beer gardens, indulging in as much Maß as I can afford. So here are my top Munich beer gardens at the beginning of my rounds of 2008. We’ll see what the opinion is by the time fall comes.

Hofbräukeller

This beer garden is very close to Max-Weber Platz in east Munich (tram and subway accessible). Like pretty much any other beer garden in Munich, this one is equipped with lots of shade from chestnut trees, good grub and lights in the evening. The beer here is, as you might guess, Hofbräu. This isn’t my favorite, but there is a Sausalitos (Mexican food and bar chain) adjacent sharing the courtyard, so the atmosphere can accommodate different tastes. The food was on par for your average beer garden, not great, not bad, just moderately satisfactory.

Taxisgarten

This beer garden is sort of in north west Munich by the Gern stop along the U1 subway line. The beer here is Spaten. Though beer gardens in general are quite family friendly, this one seemed particularly quaint and friendly for the family atmosphere. When it comes to Spaten beer, I prefer the Weißbier (Franziskaner). This garden is relatively near the biggest mall in Munich (the OEZ) if you have any shopping to take care of. One culinary specialty I would order would be the the pretzel with dipp; the dipp is obazda – a cheese dipp similar to cream cheese with bits of brie in it. They are also famous for their ribs and though good, I didn’t think they were anything amazing.

Augustiner-Keller

This beer garden is very central – near the main train station. Probably my most visited beer garden, Augustiner Keller carries my favorite Munich beer: Augustiner. The currywurst und pommes frites are to die for if you’re there around meal time. They also have a big fish stand there, though I have never tried it. In fact, I try to sit as far away as possible, because everything within 10 meters stinks to high hell of fish. I heard from a tour guide that the property of this garden was where Hitler held public beheadings. Around Oktoberfest time if you find you can’t get into a tent, this beer garden is a great alternative and within walking distance (up to debate by some of my associates).

Biergarten am chinesischen Turm

This beer garden is in the middle of the Englischer Garten if you’re up for going for a walk in one of the biggest and nicest public parks in the world. You can enjoy some beer next to Munich’s famous Chinese tower as a break from napping in the shade, playing soccer/football, throwing the Frisbee, riding bikes, tanning, or any number of things. If its a nice day see if you try and find the surfers who actually surf the river that flows through the gardens. The spot is at the beginning of the park next to Haus der Kunst. As a forewarning, you just may happen to wander through the nudist section of the park along the way.

So, for my visiting American friends, here are some quick travelers tipps for

visiting Munich beer gardens…

DO NOT CALL THE BEER GLASS A BIERSTEIN. It called a Maß (pronounced ma – ss). You can hold it by the handle, but only a the risk of an evil eye and a punch to a kidney. You pick.

PLEASE DO NOT HOLD YOUR MAß BY THE HANDLE. Rather hold it around the actual glass. Don’t worry about the beer getting warm. That is the very last of your worries.

FINDING A PLACE TO SIT is good weather may be difficult, so the chances of you finding your own table can be slim. It is not uncommon to share a table with strangers. Just sit down anywhere you can find. If the people are cool, you may have some new drinking buddies or if they’re jerks ignoring them usually does the trick – unless they’re loud, obnoxious foreigners of course. Also, as long as the table is not clearly marked as belonging to a restaurant then you are free to bring your own food and save some money. Just think of it as a picnic with an endless supply of bier and hundreds of other people with the same idea.

Prost ihr Säcke!

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Spare Ribs and Steak at the Rusticana

I was really blown away by my experience at the Rusticana. Here in the middle of Europe, thousands of miles from Texas, I had the best spare ribs I’ve ever had, done truly in a Texas style, delicious BBQ sauce, crisp salad, baked potato, and world-class beer.  Rusticana has a great cozy atmosphere, though at a price. Just so you know it’ll cost you around 25 Euro\person. Though the price may be a bit steep for someone like me, its definitely worth it, especially if you want to do things right.

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The food at Rusticana wasn’t made by these folks, but it sure tastes like it.

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Best damn Sushi…

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One of my favorite meals has got to be sushi. Being here in Germany has definitely afforded me the opportunity to indulge in many delicious specialties, however lately I have been feeling the sushi-itch as a pregnant woman might fiend. Dank sushi is rare find in a mostly landlocked country like Germany and if found is notably expensive. Thus, as of late, I’ve been missing the unbelievably delicious hole-in-the-wall restaurant scene of Portland, Oregon. This post is a dedication to my well-missed sushi restaurant Saburo’s.
For the sheer quantity, quality, and good prices I have yet to find an equal. There is most always a wait, but is definitely worth it. Just go grab a coffee or a beer should you get a case of wanderlust; there is a lot in the area.

For me the Maguro is a must, but most things you will find here will rock your proverbial socks off. Also don’t forget to finish off with some green tea ice cream and maybe a bottle of Saki.  Here are a couple helpful phrases to help you blend in with the Japanese folk there-

natach-tachi-wa  ni-hon-jin   =   we are japanese

sushi tabi-tie  =   I want to eat sushi

moto tabi-tie  =   I want to eat more

saki nomai-tie   =   I want to drink saki

moto nomi-tie  =   I want to drink more

You’ll impress your friends\or date. At least until the waiter laughs in your face and spits in your food.

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Appenzeller Vollmond Bier

This really has to be one of my new favorite beers. Vollmond beer is an organic brew, brewed apparently on a full moon and is indeed a pearl of Switzerland. If you ever get your hands on a bottle, take some time and enjoy.

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Swiss Cheese

I was recently in Switzerland and was able to overindulge in some of my favorite things: wine and cheese. A trip to Switzerland would never be complete without a trip to the Appenzeller Schaukäserei. If it were possible to eat this much cheese, Lord knows that I would.

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