Monday, November 28, 2016

Visiting the Home Front: Schwabing, Munich

(NOTE: We're trying to see different things on this trip to Munich than we did on our last trip. You might want to check out our previous trip to Bavaria to see some of the big sites we won't be covering on this trip as well)

Previously on The World on Wheels...
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

We're getting ready to wrap up this latest edition of our Grand Tour. So far, we've seen many Cold War sites...such as the Bridge of Spies, remnants of the Berlin Wall, and former border checkpoints...along with World War II Hitler's bunker, his mountaintop hidewaway, and bomb damage in Berlin...along with some great food in Poland and the beautiful but crowded capitol of the Czech Republic (you can also click the link at the top to see other Bavarian landmarks we've visited in the past such as Neuschwanstein Castle, Dachau, the Munich Olympic Village and much more - Ed).

What we haven't done, yet, is to just chill out and enjoy our local neighborhood.

There's a great, accessible tram just a little over a block away from our hotel, the line ends at the Munchner Freihiet Station on Leopoldstrasse, the main thoroughfare for the Schwabing area.

A farmer's market is setting up at the station entrance, this trailer full of bread looks interesting.

Not quite ready to open yet, we head off down the street to see what we can find.

One note about Germany and...really, Europe in that ice seems to be a rare commodity. Letty want to hit the stores for some shopping while Tim and I would just like to have a Coke with some ice in it for a change.

Don't judge us but we couldn't resist going to McDonald's for a nice, big, reasonably priced Coke that actually came with a scoop of ice in it - plus a side a great fries.

After this, a few blocks away, we come across this vintage Porsche.

It's a pretty residential neighborhood off of the main drag with a few little boutiques, cafes, and even this pretty little florist.

Elizabethmarkt, the quiet alternative to Viktulienmarkt, comes next.

We browsed the stands, looking for some snacks for later.

It's also a nice place to just sit back and watch the kids in the playground.

One last biergarten, the Wintergarden, provides us with a meal of wurst and potatoes before working our way back to Leopoldstrasse.

We find a gelateria where the owner speaks decent Spanish so we can get our order just perfect and enjoy some very delicious ice cream.

Back in the hotel, we enjoy our goodies from the day before one more night of rest. In the morning, it's back on the plane for the very long flight home.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved

Photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved

Saturday, November 26, 2016

THE COCKTAIL HOUR: Ales for the Holidays

Pictured above are the two ales we're tasting today.

On the left is Trader Joe's 2010 Vintage Ale.  Each year the popular grocery store chain commissions a new ale for the holidays.  This year's version is a Belgian style brown ale produced by Unibroue in Canada.

To the right is Zoetzuur, a Flemish sour ale. You've really got to have a taste for this type of Belgian ale. Letty does. She loves them and wishes they were more widely available here in the states. I don't. I'm trying to develop a taste but so far the varieties I've tried are either cloyingly sweet (like Framboise) or tastes like vinegar.
Watch the Video!

Zoetzuur is brewed by De Proefbrouweri in Lochristi-Hijfte, Belgium.  It's a small town near the Dutch border, north of Gent.  The ale clocks in at 7% alcohol and is served in a cork top bottle.  It's head foams up about an inch and has a lighter golden brown color.

For taste, it's a little off.  True, I'm not a sour ale afficiandao, but Letty is and she agrees.  There's a quick taste of, what I think of as, grape soda.  Letty does not taste that but we both agree that there's an off-smell and taste.  Kind of like a skunky beer but different.  Something that we went back and forth on as to what exactly it was.  We ended up agreeing that it is the smell and taste of a horse farm. 

At $10.99 for a 750 ml bottle, it's just not worth the price.  Letty is still looking for a good, sour ale that she can get on a regular basis.  Rodenbach is one of her favorites but hard to find and the Bruery supposedly makes one of the finest sours around but they ran out and it will be over a year (!) till their next batch is ready.

The Trader Joe's Vintage Ale 2010, on the other hand, continues the strong tradition of great ales released each holiday season.  It's a dark, dark beer but not heavy.  Extremely foamy like the time I used regular granulated sugar to ferment some homemade beer, the head grows very fast so you need to do a careful pour.

The taste is smooth, the ingredients very harmonious.  The bitterness just hits the back of your throat on it's way down the way a nice, cold Coke Classic does.  I like this beer quite a bit and at 9% alcohol content, it's no lightweight.  It's also a very good bargain at only $4.99 for a 750 ml corked bottle.  I'll be going back to buy a few more.



The Cocktail Hour: Trader Joe's Holiday Ale Tasting - 2013

It's time for our annual taste of Trader Joe's holiday ale. This year, I missed grabbing the usual holiday ale and got the second ale, the Belgian blonde instead.

Brewed each year for TJ's by Unibroue, the ales are corked and ageable.

Watch the Video!

The blonde this year is like a Leffe with a little more heft and carmelization.

Check out the video above for the full tasting.



Friday, November 25, 2016

A Day in the Garten - Navigating Munich's Englischer Garten from End to End

(NOTE: We're trying to see different things on this trip to Munich than we did on our last trip. You might want to check out our previous trip to Bavaria to see some of the big sites we won't be covering on this trip as well)

Previously on The World on Wheels...
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

New York has Central Park; London has Hyde Park; Vancouver has Stanley Park; Berlin has the Tiergarten.  It seems that every big city has a grand park in it for the residents to enjoy and escape the urban life for awhile. In Munich, this would be the Englisher Garten...a huge city park that stretches over five miles along the Isar River.

It is our destination for today.

Watch the Video!

One or two stops on the U-Bahn from our Schwabing district hotel puts us within walking distance of the park's northern boundary. We make our way along the Frankfurter Ring until we get to the parking lot of Munich Tennis club which allows us to get off of the busy highway and enter the park through a quiet entrance in the back of the lot.

For a few minutes, I'm lost in the woods until I see a sign in the bushes for our first destination, the Aumeister Biergarten.

A left up the path and eventually the garden's large seating area opens up in front of us.  We're here to fortify ourselves with some dessert...including a very good auzignone...and some beer before tackling the rest of the park.

This end of the park is much more forested and quiet than the lower half. You can easily get lost in the woods.

The meadows are not mowed, in fact, shepherds still use the area to graze their flocks.

Streams gurgle under low pedestrian bridges.

As we make our way through, we encounter many bikers, hikers, dog walkers, parents with kids...all just out to enjoy the natural surroundings of the area.

A dam looms up ahead. There's a bumpy, rocky, but somewhat accessible path up to the top of the dam that allows us to cross the river. One side is a lake, the other a stream.

Swans glide across the water in the deeper areas.

Tim's chair is starting to give us problems, so we exit the park here to search for a tram to take us to the middle of the park. 

After strolling through a residential area, we come across another park where dogs cool off in the clear stream.  One of the dogs owners strikes up a little conversation with us and tells us which direction to go in to catch a tram.

Much walking later, we finally find a tram that takes us to the middle of the park.

Here, we come across the massive Chinischer Turm biergarten. In Munich, biergartens are situated at strategic points, in the Englischer Garten, there are a few to help you rejuvinate after a long walk.

This one, with it's large Chinese Pagoda, is a very popular stop.

A brass band plays in the tower while we get a little food and beer before continuing on. I do need to remember before moving on that the price of beer at this particular spot includes a deposit on the stein. I'll turn it in to get it back before I leave.

There's a handy map at the exit of the biergarten where we can figure out a) where we are and b) how to get were we want to go.

We decide to walk along the Eisbach Canal for the rest of our park adventure.
It's a hot, summer day in Munich and the canal is almost irresistible. In fact, it is too irresistible for some as park frolickers jump in and float in the cool, clear water.

Families play, dogs yap, and a few naturists tan.

It's a beautiful day in the park.

Finally, we come to the south end of the park where the rushing Eisbach enters into it's course. This spot with it's permanent wave has become one of the city's biggest, modern tourist attractions where a line of surfers patiently wait their turn on each side to have a minute to ride it.

A block away is another park in this city filled with them, the Hofgarten where we end our day listening to a lone violinist under the park's kiosk dome.

This was originally supposed to be a laid back, easy going day but a final check on Letty's fitness app shows that we walked 26,341 steps or just under 12 miles.

We'll rest up and hit the streets again tomorrow.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved

Photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

ROUTE 66 - Southern California Roadhouses

There are great landmark restaurants along this stretch of highway that runs from San Bernardino County into Los Angeles.  Here are some of our favorites, going from East to West...

Photo courtesy of the Sycamore Inn

The Sycamore Inn, Rancho Cucamonga - Delicious and expensive steaks served in the classic style.  This place has been here since 1848.  I love the location, on a few wooded acres in the middle of suburban sprawl.  An inexpensive ($10-$15) menu is served on the veranda and in the bar if you don't want to go with the expensive, fancy dining room.

Photo courtesy of Flickr
Chuck "Cavman" Coker under CC BY-ND 3.0 license

The Magic Lamp, Rancho Cucamonga - Across the street, this rambling and quirky tile roofed building is stuck in the a good way.  The sign is a kitsch classic with the Aladdin lamp belching flames into the night sky.  Red leather and steaks are the order of the day but save some room for the delicious crab cake appetizer.  A lower priced pub menu is served in their bar, with couches arranged around a circular fireplace.

La Paloma, La Verne - Decent but uninspiring Mexican food in this adobe building.  Come instead for their lively and fun happy hour in the dark and cave-like bar...every day of the week!

Photo courtesy of Flickr
savemejebus under CC BY-SA 3.0 license

Pinnacle Peak, San Dimas - Cowboy steak house in Bill and Ted's hometown.  Suprisingly good, inexpensive, and very casual...most excellent, dude!  Be prepared to wait on busy weekend evenings and don't wear a tie!

Clubhouse 66, Glendora - A new roadhouse has opened up along the stretch of Route 66 in Glendora.  Very good, nice drinks and the best outdoor patio of the bunch.  While they've got great steaks, fish, and chicken, I really like their Tijuana Tacos appetizer.

Golden Spur, Glendora - Another good red leather steakhouse.  Not quite as good as the Sycamore Inn or Magic Lamp but they do have some great early bird specials.

The Hat, Glendora and Upland - Though, not technically roadhouses, historic locations or even fancy restaurants, The Hat is a southern California food landmark, starting from a still-standing greasy spoon stand in Alhambra in 1951, it has expanded in the last couple of decades into a mini-chain in the area.  Not to be missed are their juicy and messy pastrami dip sandwiches.  Be aware that a "small" order of fries here will feed a small family.  The burgers and chili here are also top-notch and a very good deal.

The Derby, Arcadia - Another installment of Route 66's high-end, expensive steak houses.  It is really good.  It was opened by Seabiscuit's jockey and contains a wealth of horse racing memorabilia due to it's location just down the street from Santa Anita racetrack. For The Derby on a budget, come in for their happy hour in the bar or for lunch.

Tops Burger, Pasadena - A year younger than The Hat, nevertheless Tops their web site says...a bit of an institution here.  Your basic Greek burger joint, the food here is good and inexpensive.  Worth a stop by itself is the incredibly delicious Kobe bistro burger.

Don't go hungry along the Mother Road...stop in at any of the places above and have a delicious bite of history.

Copyright 2010

Monday, November 21, 2016

A Palatial Adventure in Munich

(NOTE: We're trying to see different things on this trip to Munich than we did on our last trip. You might want to check out our previous trip to Bavaria to see some of the big sites we won't be covering on this trip as well)

Previously on The World on Wheels...

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

My wife said she had two requirements on this year's European adventure, neither of which I have met yet. First, she wants to go to a German yarn shop. Second, she wants to see a palace.

We were able to meet the first goal when I found a few yarn shops near Marienplatz in Munich. The second goal requires that we go to a different platz...this time Odeonplatz, just a few blocks away from Mary's Plaza.

The trains of the Munich U-Bahn are a bit lusher than Berlin's. The newer trains even have sexy, curved, blond wood seats to stretch out on. Seems a shame to only take it a couple of stops away from our hotel to the Odeonplatz station.

Watch the Video!

A big memorial to King Ludwig dominates the plaza when we exit. Before World War II but after the Nazi's rise to power, a memorial to fallen Nazi soldiers was here and guards were there to enforce everybody walking by would have to give the Nazi salute.

Not everybody was inclined to do this.

Behind the memorial is an alley where those who found it repugnant would walk through to avoid the guards in Odeonplatz. A strip of gold cobblestones down the middle of the pavement pays tribute to those avoiders.

One more block and around the corner we arrive at the wheelchair accessible entrance to the Residenz Munich, the city palace of the royal family. There is a lot of construction going on here. In fact, we'd see a lot of construction work taking place in this area during this trip.

While we can get into the palace courtyard, there is about a half dozen steps into the gift shop that also serves as the ticket counter for tours.  Tim and Letty wait outside while I go in.

We're told that a guide will meet us outside to escort us in. Soon, a gentleman appears and takes us inside. He asks me something in German that I don't understand. I ask in German is he speaks English and get a negative answer but through some back and forth with my limited German skills and his non-existent English skills, I get that he's asking if Tim can walk a little bit.

"Nein," I answer.

I can see why he asks when we have to shoehorn Tim and his chair into a very tiny elevator. It was quite a feat to get him in and I was concerned we'd never get him back out. We managed, though.

We follow our leader through several halls where we finally find ourselves in a large room that holds part of the royal silverware collection.

A lady meets us and starts to tell us what to do in German. I explain that, while I can speak a little German, I can't follow everything she's telling us.

"In Germany, we speak German," she tells me in perfect but a bit arrogant English.

"Guten morgen dann. Ist das deustch genung für dich?" I reply, a bit annoyed (translation: "Good morning then. Is that German enough for you?"


I explain to her I'm trying to learn German as much as I can but as a non-native, English speaker I'm not up to her level yet. Finally, she relents a little bit and tells us which way we can go to navigate the palace.

On our own, now, we wander through, finding the king's outstanding collection of clocks.

Room after room, filled with priceless antiques and artworks open up to us as we go along.

Some of the artworks, especially in the ceilings, were destroyed in the war with only a blank spot to replace them.

We see several rooms where the kings, queens, and other royals would meet with subjects.

There are a few music rooms.

Bedrooms for every occasion, royal, or visitor abound.

Finally, we see the giant ballroom where the king would sit on his own balcony to survey the proceedings.

Tim sits up there today as stairs prevent him from going onto the ballroom floor itself.

Dozens of busts and statues from ancient Rome and Greece line the walls.  The king was a bit of a collector.

Tour done, we go to exit the way we came in but it is now blocked by construction work. The man working the ticket counter is not empathetic to our plight.

"Go that way."

"There's loose gravel and two steps at the end."

"You will manage it. That is your only way out," he says and walks away.

Yeah, I'm not loving the attitude of some of these palace workers.

We do get out and manage to work our way over to the Augustiner Keller biergarten where the friendly faces, giant beers, and great food do wonders to put us back in the mood again.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved

Photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved