Friday, June 8, 2012

Bad Birnbach, Germany

Heidy and I make a yearly trek to Pfarrkirchen, Germany visiting Heidy's aunt. Pfarrkirchen (population 11,000) is primarily a farming community and lies about 90 miles east of Munich. We usually stay for a week in nearby Bad Birmbach, spa town of about 5,000 inhabitants. Over the years I've posted many photos of the area so I'm not going to bore you with more pictures of this absolutely picturesque area of rolling hills and farmland. However, I want to show pictures of the golf course. Built only five years ago on hilly farmland, it features an 18 hole course, a beginners 9-hole course as well as a miniature putting course
There're miles and miles of walking and hiking trails in Bad Birnbach. Matter of fact, walking trails line the perimeter of the golf course with forests marking the boundaries.
In the early morning I get up and do a perimeter walk of the course. I hate having to carry anything when I walk and this includes a camera.
Of course you have all probably seen cuckoo clocks and the noise the bird makes when the clock strikes the hour (cuckoo, cuckoo). You do know cuckoo birds actually exist? I mention this because every morning on my walk I hear at least three cuckoo birds in the woods making the cuckoo noise. Unfortunately I never can spot them as they do the cuckooing in the thick woods.
Besides a half dozen lakes on the course there're quite a few ponds like the one pictured here. So, in addition to the cuckooing from the woods, one also hears incredibly loud noises coming from frogs in  these ponds. Of course I can never see the frogs as they sense when someone is getting close and clam up.  
 So, I have cuckoo birds doing nonstop cuckooing, frogs croaking loudly AND pheasants screeching at the top of their lungs. These colorful pheasants are about the size of a duck and are extremely skittish. They live in the forest or tall grass but come out in the open to feed on the golf course. So of course, the pheasants make an appearance when I'm without my camera and when I do lug the camera around I never see 'em to snap them!
 On one edge of the golf course is a deer farm. It's a family-owned business and they rent out rooms.
This is a sign the deer farm posts on a fence surrounding the property. There's a butcher shop on the property and you can guess what kind of meat is their speciality. I've had deer quite a few times and find it too tough.
 This is the kind of grass the pheasants love to hide in.
Food around here is very good. My favorite lunch spot is the Stadhotel on Pfarrkirchen's main street.
 This is the salad.
My lunch plate along with the obligatory beer.

I have steak (cooked medium) in a pepper sauce along with crispy potato pancakes and thinly sliced onions rings. Unbelievably good! 

 Flower arrangement in downtown Pfarrkirchen.

Tree stumps in someone's front yard with smiles on their faces.
 Ants in someone's front yard on a see-saw
 Miniature Laurel & Hardy socializing in someone's front yard.
 Bees manufacturing honey in someone's front yard.
 Bad Birnbach's Graf Arco brewery (right smack in downtown) has closed down.
Bavaria is very Catholic. Here someone has a mini chapel in the backyard.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Straubing, Germany

Straubing, with a population of 45,000, is the size of place I like---not too big--not too small. This preserved medieval gate still stands guard.
 This eight-story fire and watchtower in the city center dates from 1316.
Atop there's a dwelling for the guy who was responsible for watching for approaching bad guys and fires in the forest.
 This medieval fortification guarded the approach to one part of town.
I spotted this stork nest atop a building. Initially I saw two storks in the nest but saw one get booted out. I think the female yelled at the male and said, "Harry, don't come back until you bring us back some food---and I don't mean anymore of those tasteless worms!"
On some buildings you gotta get close-up to see the fantastic detail on the gargoyles.
 As you know, I'm a little strange. I love checking out cemeteries. This walled-in complex contains a church, caretaker's home and lots of tombstones.
 This is inside the church.
 I have a marvelous time walking around trying to read the tombstones.
 Many date from the 1700's.
 The grass not being cut means the caretaker is slacking off or it's the natural look.
 Candles are lit.
So, I'm walking around the outskirts of the town center and come across this huge, massive, gigantic, monster-size parking lot. What the heck?
I make my inquiries and guess what? It turns out Straubing is home to Gaubodenvolkfest. So? After Munich's Oktoberfest this is the second largest festival in Bavaria. This big whoop-de-doo was founded by Maximilian 1 Joseph, King of Bavaria in 1812 and takes place every August for 10 days, Last year 1.35 MILLION people showed up to drink beer and enjoy the festival! They erect six very, very, very large tents (seating capacity 25,000).

Don't worry about showing up during the festival and having to drink Budweiser. Beers only from Straubing area breweries are allowed. 
No wonder I saw so many beer ads around the parking lot.

 This is a nearby water tower.
So, it's no wonder Germany has such a high rate of smokers. You think kids buying candy from the two lower machines don't associate the cigarette vending machine atop with candy? 
Walking through a neighborhood I came across this miniature version of Straubing in someone's backyard.

I happen to catch a neighbor who spoke English and she explained her neighbor wanted to build something to show his love for his hometown. If you look in the window to the right you can see the face of an elderly gentleman peering out. I gave him the two thumbs up and he waved back at me.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Landshut, Germany

Landshut (population 60,000) lies 40 miles north of Munich. The Isar river flows through the city.
This is the main street through Landshut. Note the church on the left side of the street. It's special. 
What's so special about St. Martin's Church, a Gothic medieval church dating back to 1389? Notice it's made of brick. Matter of fact, at 426 feet tall it's the tallest brick building and church in the world! For you trivia fans, the church is the second tallest brick structure in the world after the Anaconda Smelter Stack in Anaconda, Montana.
Inside the church this plaque--part of it in English--tells visitors the low down. 
With this grandma statue out front, how could you not go inside for a bite?
I'm always seeing street performers doing their thing but, this guy is one of the oldest I've seen doing this.
I love to check out the butcher shops--especially to see the cooked goodies.
On the left is grilled chicken thighs and next to it are hamburgers correct? No. They are cheeseburgers--not hamburgers with cheese but--cheese burgers with no meat---as in veggie burgers--ughhhhh.
Now this is just about my favorite thing to eat in Germany. It's pork. Pork roasts are cooked with loads of fat on top (makes the meat juicy). That my friends is crispy fat atop slices of pork and boy is it good! They get you a roll, slice it in half, squirt a little mustard on the roll and plop a big slice of juicy pork on top. 
This photo was snapped at 10 PM. That's a full moon in the sky.
So, that's St. Martin's church to the left and in the back on the hill stands Trausnitz Castle.
Built in 1204, Trausnitz Castle is quite impressive.
A moat surrounds the castle.
Ramparts still guard the perimeter and this is a section of wall still proctecting the city.
Some of the buildings in the old town area are absolutely beautiful.
It's 7AM, raining and I'm walking into the city center to fetch a pork sandwich for breakfast. The guy on the bike looks familar.
Yep, it's the gold man from the day before. Today he's silver man.