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Posts Tagged ‘wachenheim’

Update

Internet in the tunnel has been shut off, so expect even less posting. Sorry, it hurts me more than it hurts you. I went to the black forest this weekend!

Here is a picture of wine and cheese from Wachenheim:

And here is a picture from the Black Forest (at the SOURCE of the Danube!):

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I wrote this in “travel essay contest entry” format. One guess why. (p.s. I didn’t edit it at all, wah wah.) Anyway, I had a great time in Wachenheim, and the whole time I was wishing I had remembered my notebook because I was coming up with all these descriptive words and great imagery. Then I got drunk and forgot everything. Typical. I go to Germany- I learn to love beer. I go back to Germany- Wine and I can finally be friends. I forgot to add at the end how I climbed up the castle tower and it was awesome and I tried to take some MySpace photos of myself, and they all came out looking dumb. Surprise. The following is a picture of me looking exactly like my brother. The DNA is strong in ze Mutterland. Okay, auf geht’s:

“Well, what’s that big green area?” asked my father, initiating yet another trans-continental GoogleMaps adventure.

“Oh, that’s the Pfälzer Wald,” I answered, “or Palatine Forest in English, I guess.”

“You know your German ancestors were Palatines, don’t you?” he asked.

And that’s how it began. Yes, my ancestors came to the United States in 1731 on a ship called the  Pennsylvania Merchant from the Rhine River valley, via Rotterdam. The next day my father sent me an email more or less copied from the family history binder, naming three German towns and one French one, all possible homelands to the Fuss family, now of Ohio. After a quick internet inquiry, it appeared that Wachenheim, though not the closest of the four, might be the best bet for an adventure.

Four days later I was on the train toward Wachenheim, a smallish outpost on what is known as the German “Weinstrasse”, or Wine Road. Chugging across the countryside, my train approached a quaint little town surrounded by vineyards and shadowed by a line of green hills, and I thought to myself, “Please, let this be it.” A few minutes later, the next stop was announced, and it was not Wachenheim, but Deidesheim. Despite this initial gun-jumping, I was thrilled when Wachenheim turned out to be an equally charming village, but with the added bonus of a castle sitting in the hills just above the town’s red roofs.

Just climbing the gentle slope up to the town center was impressive- traditional German stucco houses with colorful, quirky gardens and a constant, ever-enlarging view of the castle ruins. By the time I reached the disparate downtown, I had seen three or four different vineyards. I mean vineyards in the “name on the bottle” sense; I had seen quite a few more fields of grapevines. My goal for the day had initially been to find information about the family history, but I didn’t have any expectation of success: I figured I’d look for telltale tombstones and then give up. Of course, when I arrived I told myself that cemeteries are open later than other attractions, and after taking a few photos “downtown”, the draw of the castle pulled me uphill. All good German sightseeing starts with climbing a hill (and ideally ends with ever so slightly blurred vision.)

Once I was most of the way up to the castle, the buzz of voices gave away the presence of what turned out to be a little self-serve wine café. Though I have always disliked wine, I was willing to risk a few Euros in the hopes of maybe, just maybe, enjoying a glass of local wine at a picnic table perched on a castle wall high above my ancestral homeland. Being an odd sort of person, panic struck swiftly. Though I planned on getting a bite to eat there, I really could not know less about wine pairings. The thought of thirty Germans staring me down for a completely obvious wine mismatch unnerved me. In an attempt to “play it safe” (which is hard when you are woefully clueless) I ordered a 2007 Wachenheim Gewürztraminer and a camembert platter. It would be an understatement to describe this spread as utterly sublime. Because it was more or less the first glass of wine I have ever consumed in its entirety, I don’t think any description would be the least bit useful to anyone else, but I liked it. The cheese was also stunning, it was a full wedge comparable in size to the wedges in which Brie is often sold. Accompanying it were but two slices of bread. Those who know me know that there is no such thing as too much cheese, but even after covering each slice a half-inch deep in cheese, I had perhaps a third of the wedge left. So I made a daring move, I ordered another glass of wine (a 2006 half-dry Riesling, I think) and another slice of bread. Friends will also not be surprised that I will risk looking like an American if it means I get to eat more cheese.

I think I may have sat there for nearly two hours, sipping cool white wine and munching on enormous slices of camembert bread, while looking out across the many vineyards, and, of course, acquiring a sunburn. (I have Irish ancestors, too.) It was sunny and breezy and the libations and victuals were delicious, and it was without a doubt an unparalleled experience. How often does one sit alone in a restaurant for two hours and enjoy it?

Sweet photo from the tower of the castle:

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