Thu 19 Dec - Meckenheim, Germany

Leaving Heidelberg and getting into the Christmas celebration mode with family.

Lazy morning, starting with a Skype to Jeremy back at our place in Manly, Australia. Merry Christmas, young man.

We were so impressed with Jeremy. He had put up most of our Christmas decorations in our home including the Christmas tree. Great stuff. And no visible scars could be seen after him hosting a Christmas party for some of his friends last Saturday.

A relaxing morning as we were due to meet Di's dad's cousin Roland and his girlfriend Christa at 2pm at the Hauptbahnhof so we had plenty of spare time in the morning, hence after a late breakfast we negotiated a late check out and returned to our room.

We eventually checked out around noon, rolled our bags up to the bus stop and took the bus to Hauptbahnhof, where we had a light Thai meal at one of their fast food joints.

This chubby bloke meets the visitor outside the station (to the right in the picture). He was a local rail identity and also a keen photographer. Of course, we have forgotten his name)

To kill further time, we had a cuppa at the McDonalds adjacent to the Ibis hotel where we were going to meet Roland and Christa. Clever little cookie spiel they had, see the wrapping below.

Well, Roland and Christa arrvived some 10 minutes ahead of time and here again we fast forward to a later time during the night so you, the reader, know how they look.

Roland seemed to have the plenty of plans for what we were going to do and see and it seemed that we just had to go with the flow. Again very easy for us.

First stop was Christa's home in Meckenheim where we were going to spend the first 2 nights out of the 8 nights that we had together.

The home was huge and seemed almost set up for having guests downstairs in the basement. We had a large room, with a washing basin inside the room, and with separate toilet and shower as well, next to a sauna. The decor is all new, lots of light and space and the garden is georgeously landscaped providing a lovely outlook from both the dining and lounge rooms. We liked it a lot.

After coffee and home baked cakes, we went for a drive in the local wine area, known as the Weinstraße, and there were vines, vines, vines everywhere.

Of course, this being December the vines are bare, but one can imagine how green and beautiful the area would be during summer (as well as a lot more crowded as there were few cars around outside rush hour traffic and few punters on the streets of the small towns and villages).

We stopped in a place called St Martin and wandered around for a little while. Here are a few pics from St Martin in the dusk.

Lots of local wines on display and grape varieties that are old and local only, types that we had not heard about and likely not available in Australia. We will be trying a few out in the next week.

Loved the name of this place.

Everywhere you looked you could buy wine.

Unfortunately, rain arrived as we wandered some of the streets of St Martin and we decided to return to the car and continue driving...

...for dinner at a restaurant, or rather Weinstube, owned by friends of Christa, called Günther and his wife Irena. A location shot with Günther in the far right corner setting our table.

Yes, we were very comfortably getting into the German hospitality. Let's drink to that. A local good quality Riesling was delicious.

This was what Roland and Christa suggested and ordered for us for dinner... Apart from a massive amount of food that we had no chance of finishing, it was very good.

A trifecta of local German delicacies being Bratwurst, Sauermagen (sort of like a slice of pork meatloaf, made by being encased in a pig's stomach) and Leberknödel. Despite Sauermagen sounding a bit unusual to us to say the least, it was delicious and our favourite of the night.

Of course a pile of Bratkartoffeln and sauerkraut goes with this type of meal. Whew.

Dear reader, did you know that Di likely has a tiny little bit of Swedish ancestry? Well, neither did we, but then Roland told us a bit about the family tree (remember, Roland is Di's dad's cousin).

Roland's surname is Suedes, but it was once Schwedes, and we all know what that means in French and German respectively. The frenchification came from a French ancestry, but the original name could be traced back to year 1648, the end of the 30 year war, when Sweden was a "world power", well in the known world anyway.

Sweden had several small colonies within current day Germany and it wouldn't be too farfetched to believe that many Swedish people remained in the area. Speculation by Hans of course, but hey it would be a good story nevertheless.

Leaving the weinstaube in the dark...

Back to the farm for a drink, a local Christmas beer for Hans.

We shared a bottle of red wine, chatted and drank a bit more and chatted a bit more, showing some iPad pictures from home, Jeremy and our trip.

Di was in her element with Christa on one side, Roland the other and doing her best "auf deutsch" and more drinks helped. Yep, Hans stood no chance...

At perhaps 10pm, we were exhausted (and perhaps a little tipsy) so we excused ourselves and went to bed. Ein wunderbar abend. Gute Nacht.


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