South Palatine – spring impressions with almond blossom

Palatine (Pfalz) in Germany has an almost Mediterranean climate, as it is protected from the rainy west winds by the Pfälzerwald or Palatine forest. Wine has grown here since Roman times as well as sweet chestnut and almond trees. The almond trees are in blossom end of March/beginning of April. The Palatine celebrates that with their Mandelwochen (almond weeks).

End of March 2017, we visited Bad Bergzabern in South Palatine. We find the almond trees in full blossom – beautifully pink.

The plum trees are all white.

But now, end of March, the vines only show small light green leaves.

We stroll through the vineyards…

… and the forests above them. The leaves have not come out yet and the crowns of the trees point to the blue sky.

The sun plays with the shadows of the trees.

We climb the hill to the chapel St. Annaberg…

… and enjoy the view from here into the Rhine valley.

We walk back down again… a few shy clouds are above the trees.

With humor this snail leads us down to a winegrowers’ village called Burrweiler.

Spring can be felt in the winegrowers’ villages as well.

Many houses are half-timbered. This historical building stands in Geisweiler.

Even dogs are welcoming guests and visitors in the winegrowers’ villages. This friendly dog can be found at Pleisweiler.

But beware of this fighting cat – it watches a house in Burrweiler.

Winegrowers on the way offer to taste (and buy) their wines. One of them has this motto.

Well, I think happiness is both a way and a destination of life. Or even some ways of life with some destinations. We felt perfectly happy enjoying spring in the Palatine for two days – it is a great destination. We spent one night in Bad Bergzabern, walked in the hills behind Bergzabern, and the next day we hiked around Geisweiler and Burrweiler to enjoy the view from the chapel St. Anna located above these villages.

On the first day we had a coffee stop in Wissembourg in the Alsace. I love the church of Saints-Pierre-et-Paul with the glass pane of Christ from the 11th century (the original being in Strassbourg).

When driving home on our second day in the evening, we had dinner in Bergheim not far from Riquewihr. Spring can be felt here as well, now in the evening light.

Bergheim is a good place to round off two beautiful days looking for spring impressions.

Now we dream of the “way” to our next “destination” that will make us happy again – France with the Loire valley and Northern Spain.



Basler Fasnacht – impressions from the Ladärne-n-Usschtellig

Fasnacht 2017 at Basel (carnival) was celebrated in March, from Monday 6th/4 a.m. to Thursday 9th/4 a.m. Let me recall impressions from the Ladärne-n-Usschtellig or exhibition of lanterns.


The exhibition of lanterns (Ladärne-n-Usschtellig ) takes place on the Münsterplatz –  a great background

On carnival Tuesday, the lanterns (Ladärne) are presented on the Münsterplatz – the cathedral underlines the solemnity of the many pieces of art presented here. They are the centerpieces of the sujets (or themes) that the Cliquen (carnival groups) have selected for this year’s carnival. Here I am remembering some of the themes.


One theme: China – buying enterprises

China is buying enterprises, also in Switzerland. “Kyna duet do läädele” (China goes shopping here). Syngenta was on their buying list – may be La Roche (La Losch) is next and then also the “Fääle” (the Rhine ferry boat, it seems that the Chinese say “l” instead of “r”)…

… or they may intend to buy the Sutter Begg (a well-known bakery), the Basler Kantonalbank (bank of Basel), BVB (the public transportation of Basel) and more…

The Asian cat is greeting us.

Another theme: Angscht – fear – adds a black mood to this year’s carnival

Many lanterns are dark. “Angscht” or “fear” is omnipresent.

The Lälli Clique presents Atlas trying to prevent the world from falling apart.

Idefix, the small dog of Obelix, swears “bim Teutates” and underlines his anger with his paw: D’Wält spinnt” (the world is crazy –  but I love Basel),…

… they are are all cheating (alles trixt)… VW, Fifa and Bangge (the banks)… and they are paying no taxes (verstüürnix)… and Service publix? – Well, I watch Nexflix”

“Extrem rächts” or extremely right-wing – is a tendency that worries some of the carnival groups. Ghosts from the past?


Some more joyful themes: Heidi, holes in Switzerland, Pokemons and more

This patriotic Swiss scenery – an almost perfect world – is brightening up the mood: Heidi, Spyri’s novel about the girl from the mountains, has recently been filmed. Here she is acting in front of the camera with Gaissepeter (goatherd Peter).

The new Gotthard railway tunnel has been inaugurated shortening travel time between the Ticino and the rest of Switzerland. For the inauguration festîvities, our Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard wears a jacket with round holes – resembling our cheese from the Emmental. Her jacket is controversial – many like it and some do not. “GottArt” for the Gotthard is a punch and the marmots welcome the tunnel as well. I think, the jacket with holes is a great and courageous idea.

Pokemons are hidden all over Basel and around the cathedral. This hype became a wonderful topic full of fantasy, primarily for some “Jungi Garde” or kids in the carnival groups.

The City-Hupfer allows tourists to hop (hupfe) AROUND the Basel city center. AROUND the city center, because much of the center is car free: The tourists have to leave the bus and walk to reach the sights. The number plate is “BS or Basel 2017”.

The Swiss boxer Anton Gjergjaj is very successful. Here he is as batman with the black double eagle on his red coat. In the cortège (parade), the drummers and pipers were cobras.

This lantern is full of details commenting the world. I particulary like “the hundred days of Sankt Ischias” in the damp Verena canyon. The monk is suffering from sciatic pain (Ischias). “Das Kreuz als Kraftort” translates to “the cross as a place of power”. In German it is a punch, as “Kreuz” can be both the Christian “cross” and also the lower part of the back (where the sciatic pain hurts).


Yet another theme: Food

The Binggis (young kids) ask where the milk comes from, and they ask it in German, French and Italian. Well, we buy our milk in shops, and it comes in cardboard boxes – like the shape of the lantern. Kids from towns may not know the real source – cows, as the white color and black spots suggest.

“Fleisch isch geschter – mir grille, grille” (Meat is yesterday, we are barbecuing, barbecuing). “Grille” is Swiss German for “to barbecue” and “grille” is also the insect “cricket” that we may eat in future (instead of meat). “Grille” is a punch that only works in Swiss German.

The Queerschleger look for healthy “super food” such as carots, mais, cucumbers or fennel. “Güürkli” or “gherkins” are another option. In all… juice and organic vegetables are good for our heart, and also “gsund fir d’Katz und dr Hund” (healthy for the cat and the dog).

On this same lantern, the crab shows the white flag… and it may be successful, if we restrict our diet to nothing but vegetables.

May this white flag brighten the often dark mood of this year’s carnival and give hope that Atlas will hold the world together such that next year’s carnival will present more bright topics.

Yes, next year in 2018, Fasnacht will be on February 19th to 21st. As always it will start on Monday at 4 a.m. with the Morgestraich (“morning stroke”, see the video of radio Basilisk). It is celebrated with the Cortège (parade), Schnitzelbängg (carnival songs), Kinderfasnacht (children’s carnival), Guggekonzärt (“dissonant” brass music) and Schyssdräggzygli (small groups piping and drumming). It ends with the Endstreich (“final stroke”) on Thursday 4 a.m. The Fasnachtscomité explains it all and the internet is full of reviews and videos. I always enjoy the creative skill that the groups (called “Cliquen”) demonstrate year after year and look forward to 2018.