Stories of this Canadian girl's adventures exploring Europe...join me!

Friday, May 25, 2012

5 bikinis and a down blanket

“The rocky peaks are etched motionless against the glittering sky, the palm tree leans out from the cliff without the breeze disturbing its stately foliage and even the stunted cactus beside the road, everything seems to pose with a kind of vanity to please your eye.” - George Sand

This is Mallorca.

Waking up early, my „roommate“ and I packed our beach bags and (I with a mug of steaming, instant coffee) headed towards water.

The 20 minute walk (or 8 minute jog) takes us past dry fields, decrepit stone walls, a well-taken-care-of finca or two, a dirt-y pasture, home to a large black, grunting sow and her 9 ultra-cute, black piglets (who in the heat of the day sleep in a black heap, piled on top of each other, under a large almond tree).  As we draw nearer we glimpse moments of turquoise and rock through the massive agave plants and olive trees.

We turn a corner and see the cove.  Standing at the top of a long, steep path of stone steps, we stop and stare and listen.  It is all incredible.  And, I think it’s the colour of the water which makes it so.  The intermittent dark and light, pure and clean, turquoise.  It looks almost unnatural.  The waves crash in white sprays against the smoothed out edges of the high cliffs.  The narrow, sandy beach at the head of the cove is empty, save for an ancient-looking spanish man standing on the rocks staring out to sea.  I have a feeling he comes here every morning.   It is still early and most holiday-ers are enjoying their sleep.  But not us.

After a few hours we return to our finca.  The other 4 mädels (women) are up, milling about, chattering about this and that, casually prepping the outdoor breakfast table.  And then after breakfast we all, casually, without plan, take our places around the blue, clear pool. We lie, sit, swim.  At one point, I look up from my Dick Francis novel (auf Deutsch) and notice that we are all bikini-clad, sun-screen-lathered, skin glistening in the heat, lying on our beach chair recliner things (what are those called?) with our feet pointing in to one common centre.  Except for one of us (who shall not be named) who is curled up under a massive, down blanket with her head nestled into a big pillow.  She is cold.

Here is a recipe for you to enjoy, as we did more than once:

500 g Pimientos de Padron (a more glamourous name than their English equivalent...small, green peppers)
                           2 EL Olivenöl (2 T olive oil)
                           Meersalz (coarse sea salt)
Baguettebrot und schwarze Kalamata-Oliven zum Servieren
(serve with baguette and black, Kalamata olives)

Zubereitung von Pimentos de Padron:
Paprika waschen und trocken tupfen. Öl in einer Pfanne erhitzen. Paprika darin unter Wenden 2–3 Minuten braten, bis sie Blasen werfen. Herausnehmen, mit Meersalz würzen. 

Preparation:
Wash the peppers and pat dry.  Heat oil in a frying pan.  Then fry the peppers, turning constantly for 2-3 minutes, until the peppers sweat and start blistering.  Remove from heat and sprinkle with sea salt.  Serve with baguette and olives.  Ola!


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Sunday, May 13, 2012

a king, some dwarves, and a beer or two.


As dad drove us from the Salzburg train station, back into Germany, towards his hometown of Oberau-Berchtesgaden, he pointed towards the mountain looming in front of us.  ‘That’s Unterberg’, he said, ‘King Barbarossa lives up there’.  I said, ‘Really? There is still a king here…and where exactly does he live? Is there a castle up there?’.  My dad turned to me, with a look that said, ‘Oh my’, and said, ‘No, of course not.  ‘They’ say he lives up there with a bunch of dwarves…and that he never died.’  Ahhh…dwarves.  Right.  

Well my dad got it wrong.  Legend has it, that on this mountain, Kaiser Karl, not Barbarossa, who was born in 742 and ruled Germany by encouraging the arts and education and science, now lives on Untersberg praying for peace and happiness for his folk.  There are also dwarves.  Apparently, as legends go, dwarves live on every mountain, but on Untersberg they run amok.  Lots and lots of dwarves, running about at night doing good deeds in the towns below. 

As great guy and I spent hours hiking the Almbachklam, a canyon cutting kilometers deep into Untersberg, we saw not a single dwarf or king.  We hiked for a couple of hours into the dark, narrow canyon, at times so narrow we were ducking under large overhanging slabs of rock, with raging water careening down beside us.  Incredible rock formations.  The power of water is unbelievable and so beautiful. 

We then hiked straight up the side of the canyon, taking a short cut, and popped out onto the most glorious alm wiese (mountain meadow), spectacularly green filled with tiny, yellow, meadowy flowers.  All around us were the higher mountains still firmly snow-covered.  The sun was blazing upon us, as we came upon a bergkirche (mountain church), large and serene…I thought what a trek to go to church every Sunday, even if it is incredibly beautiful up here…and then I saw the road.

At the bottom of the canyon is a marble mill, where the waterpower is captured to smooth out chunks of rock into marbles of all sizes.  Since 1683, marbles have been made here and shipped to small children around the world.  I bought a marble…great guy thought I needed some more.

In the evening, meeting up with dad, stepmum, my aunt and uncle, we relaxed in a biergarten (beer garden) under the cover of blooming cherry and linden trees.  We ate schnitzel and spätzle, knödel and schweinshaxen, and kaiserschmarn.  Yum.  And drank weizen beer and more weizen beer.  Yum yum.

Great guy is now obsessed with the ‘klam, as he now calls it, and honestly I’m a little obsessed with the dwarves.  We’ll be back in Bavaria soon, to hike, to drink a beer or two, and to do a little dwarf-hunting.
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