Saturday, June 2, 2018

Charming Herrenberg: Lunch at Hanoi Pho and a hike to the Schloss!

Sometimes I'm really glad I feel compelled to blog.  If I didn't blog, it would be too easy to sit on my can and waste a beautiful Saturday like today.  Thanks to my Puritan work ethic and the sad memories I have of the time we wasted during our first Germany tour, I convinced myself to venture out today.  However, I didn't feel like venturing far.  It looked like it might rain and I was feeling like I might enjoy a nap.  I remembered that even after all of our years living near Herrenberg, before today, we had never visited the ruins of Schlossberg, Herrenberg's castle.  Bill and I resolved to have lunch and make our way up the path leading to the ruins.


One of many lovely views I enjoyed today.  I hate climbing hills, but I'm always glad I did it when I get to the top.

Lunch was very successful.  We stopped by Hanoi Pho, a place where Bill had only previously gotten takeout.  Hanoi Pho serves German style Chinese food, but it's really more of a Vietnamese restaurant.  They had their outdoor seating ready, but we decided to sit inside, where I enjoyed crispy sweet and sour duck and Bill had a Vietnamese dish called Bun cha gio Vietnam.  We both had hefeweizens.

I was kind of tempted by the Pho.  So was Bill.  We have only had it once before, when we lived at Fort Belvoir in Virginia and visited one of the many awesome Asian restaurants outside the Telegraph Road gate.  But since it's kind of warm right now, we decided not to try it this time.  The quality of today's lunch was good enough that I think we'll be back.


Bill studies the menu, wondering if he should ask "What the pho?"


Nice wheat beer...


And entertaining placemats.  Apparently, Bill was born in the Year of the Dragon, while I was born in the Year of the Rat.  That makes us compatible.  No wonder we get along so well.


Bill's Vietnamese dish... basically fried dough stuffed with ground meat, cucumbers, coriander, cilantro, and mint, among other things.  It was served with rice noodles, fresh vegetables, and a sprinkling of peanuts on top.  Since it's mushroom free, I will probably order it next time we visit.  I've had my fill of sweet and sour crispy duck.


Although this was very good...  For some reason, the waiter gave me a fork and Bill got chopsticks.  The sweet and sour duck was served with sliced pineapple, carrots, and red peppers.  It was very satisfying.


Total bill was just 22 euros, served with fortune cookies!  Mine said I would be getting a big gift soon.  I do have a birthday in 18 days...  Bill said he would soon get a lot of money.  If he knows what's good for him, he'll use some of it on my big gift.  (Kidding, of course...  I'd be happy just to spend the day with him.)



The square was looking fine today!

With lunch sorted, we decided to head up to the Stiftskirche, which is the iconic church that sits on a hillside over the city.  We've visited it a few times.  We walked around the church so I could take some pictures and catch my breath.  The walk to the church is a little steep.  Below are a few photos I took as I slowed down my heartbeat.  We didn't climb the church tower today, although there are days when that's permissible.






No dogs.  No booze.  After 10pm, no loud noises.  Seems reasonable to me.  And they thank you for your understanding, too.


Lovely red roses.  Unfortunately, these weren't the only thorns we would encounter today.

 Behind the Stiftskirche is the trail to the ruins.  Instead of heading straight up what appeared to be a curvy and steep but well maintained trail, we decided to go left.




The trail was also good beyond this gate.  But then we passed a young woman who had suddenly  popped out of the woods. 

As we approached where she had come from, Bill said, "I thought maybe there'd be a trail here, but maybe she just ducked in there to take a piss."  

Then I noticed there was actually a trail.  It was just kind of narrow and steep.  I pointed it out to Bill, who said, "Oh yes... this takes you right to the Schloss!"  

Against my better judgment, I followed my husband up the slightly slippery hill.  There was a lot of pollution on the trail... bottle caps, broken glass, and cigarette butts.  But the trail was functional until it stopped right before the ruins.  I could then see why the young woman had decided not to go that way.  Bill had already plunged ahead, where there were tons of sticker bushes.  They were viciously sharp, but hell, I grew up in Virginia.  I've crossed my share of wild terrain.


Besides, I was able to get some interesting photos.


Sadly, the trail became more thick with vegetation.  I was sorry I'd left my machete at home.


We were so close, though!


So I said, "Screw it... let's keep going."  That was not the best decision.

Bill told me to go ahead of him.  I did, and things were okay until I got to just before the powder tower.  Suddenly, I started feeling the sting of thousands of tiny needles.  It turned out the vegetation in front of the ruins was riddled with stinging nettle roots.  As I type this, I still have patches of stinging flesh on my lower legs and lower left arm.  Thank God I wore capris and a shirt with three quarter length sleeves.  If I had worn shorts, I would definitely be in Hell right now.  The initial stings were pretty painful-- hot and intense.  Bill suggested we turn around.  But again, I looked at how close we were and said, "The hell with it.  Let's just go."  Because if we'd turned around, we'd just have to walk through the nettles again and we wouldn't have satisfied our curiosity.  Besides, it appeared there was an escape...


This is on the other side of the wall, beyond the thick cover of nettles and thorny prickers.  There, I could see a very well established trail, sans any dangerous weeds...

I looked at my rapidly reddening skin and the welts that were starting to rise and said, "Let's just take a quick look."  Bill agreed.  Then we were rewarded.


A lovely green lawn, where one can sit and ponder the meaning of life or have a picnic...




And you can climb to the top of the tower and look down over Herrenberg.  We spotted the lady who had popped out of the woods up there.  She was sitting on the edge of the tower and probably laughed at us as we were making our way through the punishing field of nettles.

We walked to the right of the plateau and looked down.  I got a big smile on my face.  One of the best things about Germany is that you're always rewarded when you climb a big hill.  Below is the Schlosskeller Biergarten.  Not only does it serve food and beer, it also has restrooms where one can start to wash off stinging nettles.


A sight for sore, itchy, stinging skin.




And more enchanting views of Herrenberg and its environs.  In the distance, I could see Wurmlinger Kapelle to the south.  When we lived in Germany the first time, that chapel on a hill was almost in our backyard.  We visited there a few years ago.  Our visit to the chapel in 2015 was another case of us taking advantage of having the chance to live here again.  Because during our first tour, we gazed at the hilltop church daily, but never took the time to hike up the hill to see it.


We chose a table under a tent and ordered Germany's national drink.





But if we'd wanted food, that could have been arranged.  This Biergarten is also very dog and kid friendly.  Several people brought their dogs, who were all given bowls of water to drink.

As we were finishing our beers, a large group of elderly German hikers showed up and took the large table in front of ours.  They good naturedly apologized for spoiling our view.  But I said in German, "Kein Problem!  Prost!"  This was more successful than my attempt at ordering food in German last night, which started off German and slipped into Armenian.  Some habits die very hard.  I haven't been in Armenia since 1997, but I still have a few language skills.

Below are a few photos of the view from the Biergarten before we hiked back down the hill.






I used the zoom lens to focus on Wurmlinger Chapel, which is probably about ten miles away.  We used to live in a neighborhood very close to this chapel.


I had to explore this before we headed down...




It was a beautiful day for a hike!


The park near the Schloss has many sculptures in it.






But none of the art could match the beauty of Herrenberg itself.




There was probably a lot more to the Schloss ruins than we saw today, but I really needed to get home and into a hot shower.




Overall, I'm really glad I wasn't lazy today.  We really enjoyed our afternoon in Herrenberg, even if I do have a painful stinging nettle rash now.  As for that trail, I would not recommend taking it unless you're well protected with long pants, closed shoes, and long sleeves... and maybe a machete.  However, I will admit that the trail was a handy shortcut.  I won't be cheating again, though.  Next time we visit, I'm sticking to the professionally made trails!


I enhanced my photo of Wurmlinger Chapel and it looks like a painting!

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