• Day Trips

    Riquewihr

    The Most Beautiful Village in all of France Well, at least one of them. It was named one of the most beautiful villages in France by the association Le Plus Beaux Villages de France. And it’s not hard to see why. Riquewihr (pronounced Ricky-uh-vee-yuh) dates back to the 8th century when it was founded by a Frenchman named Roche.  The original name was Roche Villa, hence the pronunciation.  And as this area flip flopped throughout history between Germany and France, the spelling is actually German, as is the main language for most of today’s residents. This is one of the most well preserved medieval towns you will ever see despite…

  • Life Abroad

    Things Americans Do That Drive Germans Crazy: Eifel Edition

    Five Things We Do That Irritate Germans There are a bunch of lists like these floating around on the internet, but since marrying a German and being taken in as one of their own, I’ve learned that there are quite a few things that these lists fail to mention.  So, here are some things I’ve discovered over the past year that we, as Americans, often do without realizing that we’re actually making the Germans around us want to scream. And, yes, I learned all of these things the hard way. Throwing Coins into Fountains   In the States, it’s totally normal to see tons of coins at the bottom of…

  • Life Abroad

    Schmand vs Sour Cream

    It’s all the same, right? One question that I hear from Americans all the time is, “What is sour cream called in Germany?”  If you plug “Sour Cream” into sites like Google Translate, you’ll get “Sauerrahm.”  If you ask a German, they might also say Sauerrahm, but most likely they will say Schmand. Both are wrong. First of all, Sauerrahm is a literal translation of Sour Cream.  Sauer = sour.  Rahm = cream.  Which is all translate sites can do, right?  But just because they share a literal translation doesn’t mean they are actually the same thing.  Sauerrahm is also not one specific thing.  It’s an umbrella name for various…

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    Life Abroad

    Maggi: Germany’s Secret Cooking Weapon

    Getting to Know Maggi If you want to cook really authentic German dishes, then you need to have a bottle of Maggi on-hand. Maggi Würze is used in almost everything, and it gives recipes that German kick.  It’s like cinammon or brown sugar or butter for most of us.  I mean, it is THE German seasoning. If you’re in Germany, you can buy it at just about any grocery store (except Aldi, for some reason).  It’s usually mixed in with the Maggi and Knorr sauce and soup packets.  Sometimes it’s on the baking aisle. If you’re in the States, you can order it on Amazon.  Just make sure that the…

  • Life Abroad

    How to Sauna Like a German

    While Maintaining Your American Modesty If there is one German activity worth stepping out of your comfort zone for, it’s the public sauna.  You won’t find anything like their sauna experience back in the States, and if you don’t try it at least once, you’ll never know what a good thing you’re missing out on. The first time I went, I was terrified.  All I could think was, “Oh my gosh.  Naked people.  Naked people everywhere.  I can’t do this!”  I imagined this immorally reprehensible Roman scene playing out.  Or walking into a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah.  What I found was that it was neither of these things.  And,…

  • Life Abroad

    The Local Legends of Dudeldorf

    The Black Plague and a Restless Ghost Das Pestflämmchen (The Plague Flame) When the Bubonic Plague (or, as it’s also called, the Black Death or Black Plague) ravished Europe in the 14th century, it wiped out almost a third of the population.  And although it had peaked by the year 1352, there were second and even third waves of the plague all the way through to the late 1800s.  Historians think that up to 200 million people may have died during the pandemic.  Of course, back then, people didn’t understand the disease.  They didn’t know where it came from, what caused it, and so these legends started to circulate.  One…

  • Castles,  Day Trips

    Burg Sooneck and the Märchenhain

    Castles and Fairytales of Niederheimbach It’s not often that we make it out to the Rhein area because it can be a bit of a drive from the Eifel.  However, we decided to drive to Niederheimbach to see Burg Sooneck and the Märchenhain because I’d read a lot about both of them and just had to see it all in person. Let me tell you – I was not disappointed.   Burg Sooneck Burg Sooneck (pronounced zoe-neck) dates back to the late 1200s.  It sits on top of a hill, just above the village of Niederheimbach, overlooking the Rhein River. Once you get to the top of the drive, there…

  • Day Trips

    Piesport

    For a Low-Key Day on the Mosel River The Mosel area is undoubtedly one of the prettiest areas in Germany.  Fairytale castles, postcard worthy villages, vineyards as far as the eye can see…it’s beautiful.  But, with that beauty often comes stress.  One of my favorite spots on the Mosel is Cochem.  Unfortunately, it’s also a million other people’s favorite spot.  Going there stresses me out.  There’s nowhere to park, the restaurants are full, the streets are crowded.  I mean, it’s a must-see for anyone visiting the Eifel or Mosel region for the first time.  Absolutely.  But, for me at least, it’s one of those places that I keep for special…

  • Castles

    Schloss Bürresheim

    The Prettiest Castle You’ve Never Heard Of If you love visiting German castles, chances are you’ve probably already been to most of the big name places like Cochem, Burg Eltz, or even Neuschwanstein down in Bavaria.  While these are, without question, beautiful places, there are some lesser known castles that, in a lot of ways, are just as impressive. One such castle is Schloss Bürresheim – and, I have to say, this is one of my favorite castles.  It’s in the northern part of the Eifel, just outside of Mayen.  To put it into perspective… You’ll most likely have to drive through Mayen to get to Schloss Bürresheim, which is…

  • Life Abroad

    WWII Memorial: Speicher Cemetery

    Gravesite for the Innocent “That was the war.  In memory and remembrance of the days of horror –  August 9, 1944, October 19, 1944, and January 8, 1945 – on which 125 children, women, and men lost their lives to bombings.” The town of Speicher was bombed three times by the Allied Forces during WWII.  The target was a factory, which they believed was being used to build and manufacture weapons for the German army.  In their attempts to destroy the weapons, they dropped bombs on the areas which they thought were the most critical.  As it turned out, though, the factory was being used for no such purpose and…