Blog

Day Trip to Bamberg - Schlenkerla Brewery Restaurant

Winter isn't exactly the best time of year for sightseeing. But it's a great time of year for sitting in a cosy Gasthaus with some great Franconian food and beer. One of my favorite cities to visit near Zeilitzheim is Bamberg with its picturesque old town, the cathedral and of course its restaurants. My personal favorite is the Schlenkerla (though there are many more good ones to recommend).

The three of us wine makers of the "Wein von 3" winery recently visited Bamberg (we were sponsoring the New Year's Brunch of the international Sculpture Network at a friend's gallery). A visit to the Schlenkerla after the event was wrapped up was an obvious choice to grab a bite to eat and - of course - a half-litre glass of Schlenkerla Rauchbier (made from smoked malt, an acquired taste but once you're hooked... Kind of like our Baron wine that we ferment in American oak Barrique barrels: Most people either love it or hate it. Thankfully the critics mostly love it).

Each of us had one of the Franconian specialties served with wonderful dumplings (Klöße) and a side dish of either steamed red cabbage (Blaukraut) or a salad: Rinderbrust mit Meerrettichsoße (boiled beef with a tangy horseradish sauce), Sauerbraten (see link below) and Kalbshaxen (wonderfully delicate meat pulled from a roasted leg of veal). Sound vulgur? Perhaps. But it tastes wonderful. Service is efficient if boisterous in that typical and authentic Schlenkerla kind of way. Don't try ordering a Coke, or you'll get a simple "hammer net!" as a response which is slang for "haben wir nicht" (we don't have that). You're expected to drink a beer which is - unless otherwise stated - always going to be served in the smoked version. In short: I love that place!

Links:

Schlenkerla (Wikipedia)

Sauerbraten (Wikipedia)

Schlenkerla Brewery Restaurant

Schlenkerla Brewery Restaurant

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier

Triad: Beer, Blaukraut, Klöße (dumplings)

Triad: Beer, Blaukraut, Klöße (dumplings)


The Bells of Bavaria

Certainly one of the things about Europe and Germany most treasured by travelers from the "New World" is the heritage that is obvious at just about every turn of the road. Not only the sights of Bavaria are special: There are typical sounds, too.

One of my personal favorites is the sound of church bells. Each church has its own unique sound, each village has different times when these bells are rung. I have begun collecting the sound of church bells with an iPhone application called audioboo.fm:

The first church I am featuring in what will hopefully become a series of related articles is Zeilitzheim's own Lutheran church. Here is what its bells sound like on Friday mornings:

Listen!

On Sunday morning it sounds like this:

Listen!

There is one lone bell in Zeilitzheim that is only heard once a year on the 31st of December at 2 p.m.:

Listen!

A must-visit church on any trip to Bavaria has to be the "Bamberger Dom", Bamberg's cathedral. This is what its bells sounded like on a Saturday morning recently:

Listen!

Another Bamberg church with great sound is the Stephanskirche:

Listen!

Photo: The Lutheran church in Zeilitzheim

#alttext#

The Three Missionaries

The Lonely Planet site for Bavaria (specifically the entry on Würzburg) has a way with words:

"Würzburg was a Franconia duchy when, in 686, three Irish missionaries tried to persuade Duke Gosbert to convert, and ditch his wife. Gosbert was mulling it over when his wife had the three bumped off. When the murders were discovered decades later, the martyrs became saints and Würzburg was made a pilgrimage city, and, in 742, a bishopric."

The three missionaries who were "bumped off" were Kilian, Totnan and Kolonat. They died as martyrs in 689. St. Kilian became the apostle of Franconia. The relics of the three missionaries are kept in the Würzburg Cathedral. It's quite a show when on St. Kilian's Day (July 8th), the glass case containing the three skulls is removed from a crypt under the cathedral and paraded through the streets of Würzburg.

The region's Irish heritage based on the one-time missionaries still shines through here and there. The Irish name Kilian is quite popular in this part of Franconia and the annual fair (Volksfest) in Würzburg is called Kiliani.

Kiliani is like a (much) smaller version of Munich's Oktoberfest which makes it a lot cosier. The fact that people in and around Würzburg tend to be wine drinkers more so than beer drinkers, like in Munich, also makes for a different, perhaps more refined culture of partying. If you visit Germany during the first two weeks of July be sure to visit Kiliani-Volksfest in Würzburg! Peace

Photo: St. Kilian on the bridge bearing his name across the river Main beneath the fortress "Marienberg" in Würzburg.