Part of what I’d like to do in this blog is talk about things that are common in Germany or Europe but not in the United States.  So, here goes.

Even though my house here doesn’t have air conditioning, which can be pretty uncomfortable when the temperature reaches 100 degrees Fahrenheit like it did last summer, we can always get some temporary relief at an Eiscafe. 

Eis is the German word for ice cream, so while an Eiscafe is basically an ice cream parlor, it is also so much more.  Germans seem to really love their ice cream.  We see lines at Eiscafes and people walking around licking their ice cream cones even in winter.  A lot of Eiscafes are open only seasonally, though, like this one in my town.

My town is what is considered a Kleinstadt or small town, but despite that this is one of 3 Eiscafes within walking distance of each other.  This is not your Baskin Robbins, though.  Eiscafes here have menus and table service.

Eiscafes normally also serve more than ice cream.  At most of them you can get sandwiches or other non-ice cream things to eat.  This Eiscafe, for example, has a whole laminated pull-out page in their menu for waffles.

One of the best things about Eiscafes, though, is you can also have an adult beverage there if you so choose. 

We so chose on this evening and we both had a glass of Prosecco, which is a sparkling wine from Italy made from Prosecco grapes.  (You technically can’t call it champagne unless it comes from the Champagne region of France; if it comes from anywhere else it’s supposed to be called sparkling wine.)  In German, sparkling wine is called Sekt, but this particular menu had only Prosecco so that’s what we had. If you haven’t ever had sparkling wine as an accompaniment to ice cream, you should give it a try.

We both had Spaghettieis, which is ice cream that’s made to look like a plate of spaghetti.  I didn’t know this until the other day, but Spaghettieis is actually a German invention.  It was created in Mannheim, Germany – which is about an hour’s drive from us – in the late 1960s.  My ice cream would have looked more like spaghetti if I’d gotten strawberry sauce, but I prefer chocolate.

Not that this has anything to do with ice cream, but thought I’d throw this in as another little educational item. 

Germans are very big on recycling.  We have to recycle everything.  We have separate containers at our house for cardboard/paper, plastic/aluminum, bio (food waste, garden clippings, cat litter etc.) and then everything else unless it’s glass or some kind of hazardous material like batteries. 

If it’s glass and we’re not returning it to the store to get a deposit back, we have to take the glass to an area that has glass recycling bins and then we have to further sort out the white, brown and green glass. But you have to remember not to take your glass recycling to the bins during quiet hours, which includes all day on Sunday.  This is because the bottles make quite a racket when you drop them in the bins and you can’t disturb the neighbors during quiet hours (you also can’t do things like mow your lawn during quiet hours). 

If it’s hazardous, we have to take the  material somewhere else.  Luckily in the case of batteries you will see these helpful bins around town where you can just dispose of them.  (This one is right around the corner from the Eiscafe so I took a photo.)

Needless to say, until you get used to this, how to separate and where to put all this recycling seems like a full-time job.  Not to mention figuring out when to put out all the different bins for collection.  Normally we just follow the lead of the neighbors but sometimes the bins still don’t get picked up when you think they will. 

This whole process caused me a LOT of stress when I first moved here because I was truly terrified that the German Garbage Police were going to get me.  Seriously. We were told horror stories when we moved here about people having their trash inspected and getting fined.  It may be an urban legend.  I don’t know.  It still scared the crap outta me.

Moving on to a brighter subject, we visited a couple of towns along the Deutsche Weinstrasse (German Wine Road) this weekend. 

The Germans have more tourist routes than you can shake a stick at.  There are routes for castles, toys, fairy tales (based on Grimm Brothers stories), spas, windmills, asparagus, monasteries….you name it.  You could spend years just driving along these routes and visiting things and never seeing all Germany has to offer.  Keep in mind that size-wise, Germany falls somewhere between New Mexico and Montana.  They pack a lot of punch into that square mileage. 

We had passed a sign for this town along the Deutsche Weinstrasse a few weeks ago and knew we had to go back and visit because as we passed the sign, we both thought “Ah, a Weisenheimer, eh?”  I had a sudden urge to poke someone in the eyes as I thought that.

If you saw the post about our visit to Kirchheimbolanden, then you saw a photo of Sean trying out a water pump there.  Here he is doing the same in Weisenheim.

In Germany it is quite a big deal to be a Wine Princess.  It is something to which I now aspire, but I suspect you probably have to do more than just drink a lot of wine. 

We passed this house that had a sign indicating it was the home of a previous Weisenheim Wine Princess.


We also passed the home of the current Weisenheim Wine Princess.  Last year we got to see the crowning of the Wine Princess in our town.  Eventually the princesses get to compete for the title of Wine Queen. One can only dream.

This is a sign spotted in Weisenheim.  This little piggy wouldn’t be looking so happy if he knew what was in store for him, because a Metzgerei is a butcher.  A Weinstube, though, is basically a wine pub type of place.  An odd little combination on one sign.

We stopped at one of the wineries in town, the Weinhaus am Sonnenberg, to sample some of their wares. 

You can see the words “Probe” and “Verkauf” on the sign, which indicate that you can taste the wine and also that they sell wine.  You can also see the words “Wein” (wine) as well as “Sekt” and “Secco”, which you saw explained above.  Finally, you will see the words “Kleine Speisen” which means they have a small food menu as well. 

Here is the wine we tasted. 

Sean had a glass of rosé, which you see on the left.  I had my first-ever glass of Weißweinschorle, which is just white wine with carbonated water or basically a spritzer.  It was a fairly warm day and I wanted something a little more refreshing than a glass of straight wine.  It definitely hit the spot. I could see how those things could be dangerous because it was pretty easy to drink.

Sean also decided to try something from the Kleine Speisen because he hadn’t eaten anything before we left the house.  (Perhaps I will write a later blog about 50-something year-old men who don’t know enough to eat something before leaving the house when they’re going out sightseeing for the day.)

He chose the Schinkenteller, which is a ham plate.  It came with a basket of delicious German bread (saying “delicious” before “German bread” is actually sort of redundant) and butter so I sampled some of that.

We saw several horse-drawn wagons like this during the short time we were in Weisenheim.  They didn’t appear to be touristy-type things; they appeared to be actual transport vehicles.  As I snapped this photo, the little boy was just jumping off the wagon.

After we left Weisenheim, we went to the town of Bad Dürkheim, less than a 15-minute drive away. 

Bad Dürkheim is a spa town and is well-known for its annual Wurstmarkt.  While the word Wurstmarkt means “sausage market”, it is actually the world’s biggest wine festival.  It takes place every September and I have yet to make it but hope to do so before I leave Germany.  This is the Bad Dürkheimer Riesenfass (Giant Barrel) and as you can see, it holds 1,700,000 litres of wine.

Falco (singer of Rock Me Amadeus and Der Kommissar) may have died over 15 years ago, but his name lives on in Germany.  I’m assuming this is an ad for a Falco tribute act.

As you read above, Bad Dürkheim is a spa town and they have a beautiful Kurpark, which is a spa park.  It was very peaceful (except for the accordion player we ran across) and relaxing.

This is a statue of a winemaker carrying grapes.  The statue is in front of the church of Saint Ludwig.  Bad Dürkheim is a serious wine-making town with 115 wineries.

And this statue is called Der Wächter an der Mauer or “the watchman at the wall”.  What wall, you may ask?  Well, if you look at the ground behind the statue, you should be able to make out a horizontal row of stones that are a different color from the rest of the pavement.  This marks the spot where the city wall formerly stood.

Believe me, I’ve seen a LOT of fountains in my travels and I think this is the best one I’ve ever seen.  It’s called the Wurstmarktbrunnen (Brunnen means fountain, and remember the Wurstmarkt aka huge wine festival from earlier?) and it depicts the past and present of the wine festival.  The fountain had numerous little scenes going on, and this tiny section shows a family leaving the festival.  You may be able to see that the dad is being carted home in a baby carriage.

You know how sometimes you have a hard time figuring out which is the mens’ restroom and which is the ladies’ restroom in a public place?  Yeah, this was one of those times.  It may be obvious to you, but this is an enlarged photo and it’s not much different from what was on the other door.  I finally realized that the figure in this photo had facial hair so I assumed it indicated the mens’ room, but really you never know.

The house with the thatched roof is the oldest house in Bad Dürkheim.  It was built in 1559.  That kind of stuff never ceases to amaze me.

This is the Schlosskirche (castle church) in Bad Dürkheim.  It was first mentioned in 946 and was renovated in 1983.  I need to interject here and just say how disappointed I am in human behavior sometimes.  Firstly, as we were walking into the church, a couple was walking out licking their ice cream cones.  Really?  They couldn’t have finished their cones and then gone inside the church?  It seemed so disrespectful to me and I was just shaking my head.  Secondly, once inside the church we visited a little funerary chapel from 1504 where the Counts of Leiningen are buried.  There were a few steps going up to the chapel and someone had thrown their empty bakery bag on the steps.  What are these people thinking?  Makes me so sad.  But the church was beautiful.

Ending our visit to Bad Durkheim, we walked back through the kurpark and past the church of Saint Ludwig.  The people you see in the photo are playing bocce ball, which I’m not sure I’ve seen anyone play since I moved out of New York City over 15 years ago. 

We thoroughly enjoyed our ice cream and our little visit to the Deutsche Weinstrasse towns and hope to visit Bad Dürkheim again, next time for the world’s biggest wine festival. (Update: We did go to that wine festival just a few months later, which you can read about here!)



About the author: Trish