Saturday, August 29, 2015

Burgruine Wolfstein & Bratwurst Röslein

For the foreseeable future, I think every weekend we'll be going to see a castle or castle ruins in Germany. Bavaria is castle central! I Google mapped out Burg/Burgruines (Castle ruins) and a lot of the castles and castle ruins in Bavaria popped up!  Today, we decided to check out Burgruine Wolfstein. I had heard about this castle ruin from one of the Wives pages, and after showing Drew pictures, he instantly wanted to go. He laughed at the name, it reminded him of something from his childhood? I don't really get the reference.

The castle ruin is about an hour away from us. Some friends of ours came with us, they have a dog who Rylie gets along with, it's always nice to explore with friends. 
Finding the castle was pretty easy. We decided to take the route through towns since it was only a   94 km drive, as opposed to going on the autobahn, which would be a 124 km drive. We plugged the address into our GPS, Wolfenstein 1, 92318 Neumarkt in der Oberpfalz, and it brought us to the Castle ruins! Usually we have to hike a bit before we can see the actual ruins. This was a pleasant surprise.

There was free parking, and it was a short 5 minute walk to the ruins. 
The ruins of the hilltop castle is located in the central part of the Franconian Alb on the highest point of the Wolf Steinberg. Today, the ruins of Wolfenstein are in good condition. Since the mid-1990s, the association leads Wolfenstein visitors through extensive excavations and renovations in the main castle. Among other things, the ground floor has been exposed. The dense tree and vegetation in the ruins has been removed, so that the walls will get more light and will prevent damage due to moisture.

Sidles Family @ Burgruine Wolfstein

The castle is open all year round. However, due to excavation and renovation work, there may be restrictions on where visitors can go. During the summer months guided tours of Wolfenstein are offered on Sundays, During the tour, the 22 m high donjon (tower) can be entered, from which you can enjoy a panoramic view over Neumarkt and the surrounding area. Unfortunatley when we went the tower was locked! So we were unable to climb up and see the views from the top. I guess we should've saved the trip until Sunday.

The view from the Castle ruins!

Rylie was super happy to get out of the house!



We spent about 40 minutes there. It was a great day, Wolfstein castle ruins are perfect for a cooler day. It was about 85 degrees out, thankfully there were lots of shaded areas. This place is perfect for anyone with a man-child who likes to explore and climb on things (even though climbing on things is technically not allowed)

After leaving the castle we headed down to Nuremberg to a restaurant called  Bratwurst Röslein. The Bratwurst Röslein - largest Bratwurst restaurant in the world! It was pretty amazing! Our friends used to live in Nuremberg and kept telling us about this restaurant. Since we were so close we decided to head to the restaurant for an early dinner. This place did not disappoint!

  Everyone got the "hausmenu", which included Soup, Main course of Roasted pork knuckle with beer sauce, Nuremberger bratwurst with fresh sauerkraut, red cabbage, and a potato dumpling, and desert of apple fritters and ice cream. 

I got the Schweineschäufele, which was a roasted pork shoulder with a potato dumpling in beer sauce. TOTALLY AMAZING and the prices were very reasonable!

After stuffing our faces full with amazing German food we were ready to head home. It was a great day with good friends and we even got to include our fur babies! That's the best kind of day in my opinion!

Burgruine Wolfstein:
Address: Wolfstein 1
92318 Neumarkt in der Oberpfalz
Cost: Free

Friday, August 28, 2015

Bergen, Norway

On our third day in Norway, after a night at a great little mom and pop mountain resort, The Helgatun, (great hotel, it accepted cards and the lady that checked us in made us sandwiches for the morning) We were off to Flam. I enjoyed our hotel, mostly of the hospitality, when we checked in and when we were told what time breakfast was, we said we had to leave before then (who only has breakfast from 8:30-9:30?), she said she would make us sandwiches to go, she also gave us a carton of juice to take with us.

We left early the next morning for Flam. Since there weren't any hotels available in Flam, we stayed near Voss, which is about an hour away from Flam. The drive up to Flam was a quick and easy one. It was raining and the clouds were really low, but we were still able to take full advantage of how beautiful Norway is. I love how many waterfalls there are!

Well the drive was great, until we got to the last leg of the trip, a tunnel that was closed. Not only was it closed, (a tour bus caught on fire the Monday before we got there, closing the tunnel) .There was service worker, next to the barrier telling people that they couldn't go through the tunnel. He told us there were two other ways to Flam, only the detour would take us 4 hours! We were 12km away from Flam!!

So we were pretty upset. Drew had booked a Fjords excursion, and a kayaking tour, and if we took the 4 hour detour we would end up missing both excursions. So we headed back to Voss, I thought I had found a kayaking place, only we couldn't find where it was located! We ended up finding a hotel that we could use their WiFi and started looking up kayaking places. Drew had his heart set on kayaking through the Fjords. Only problem was that everything was booked. They could get us on a tour group for the next day, but we would be on our way back to Germany then.

After huffing and puffing, we decided to head to Bergen. On Friday we had decided not to go to Bergen because it was supposed to be raining like crazy and it was going to add more driving time, but since our plans had been canceled we had to change our plans and since Bergen was only 2 hours away we decided to head there.

Since it was raining most of the day, we left the DSLR in the car and just used our cellphones to take pictures.
The one place Drew wanted to see in Bergen, was a famous Viking church, called Fantoft Stave Church (Drew loves vikings and anything that has to do with them) The church was originally built in Fortun in Sogn, a village near inner or eastern end of Sognefjord around the year 1150. In the 19th century the church was threatened by demolition, as were hundreds of other stave churches in Norway. The church was bought by consul Fredrik Georg Gade and saved by moving it in pieces to Fantoft near (now in) Bergen in 1883. Outside the church stands a stone cross from Tjora in Sola. The church is famous for the Dragon statues. We followed the GPS directions to the top, but you still have to park a little bit away, then take a short hike to the actual grounds.

To be honest, I wasn't impressed with it. Maybe because it started raining, or maybe because there was a fence and it was 9 euros a person to get in and we just didn't want to spend the money on it. We did get some selfies in the rain though.

From the Fantoft Stave Church, we headed off into the city of Bergen. We found the city square, then found parking. We were starving when we got to Bergen. From the parking garage, we found sushi! Drew and I love sushi. We figured since Bergen is a coastal town, the fish would be fresh. The food was incredible! Fresh Tuna, Salmon, and some kind of fish native to Norway.

After stopping for some food we headed off in to town. We found some little statues in the main square, also fountains, Drew loves fountains! We also found a T.G.I. Friday's. This was hilarious to us, Drew more than me. (Side Note: When I was in High School and College I worked at the T.G.I. Friday's in our home town. The fact that their was one located in Bergen, Norway made for a good laugh.)


We explored Bergen for a bit, before we found the Bergen Fish Market, where there was amazing Fresh Fish. Since we had just ate, all we could do was drool over it! We did make it a point to come back after we explored Bergen and have an early dinner there. The food was amazing. Fresh fish that they cook right in front of you. For the food alone I would suggest going here!!

I love fish, I grew up in Hawaii, where the fish was extremely fresh and for that reason I've been telling Drew that we need to go the West Coast next!

The most famous part of Bergen is Bryggen, is a series of Hanseatic commercial buildings lining the eastern side of the fjord coming into Bergen, Norway. Bryggen has been on the UNESCO list for World Cultural Heritage sites 1979.

I wasn't impressed with Bryggen, but it was really cute, plus all the shops were open. The only problem was that their were 2 cruise ships in port, so there was a lot of people. For the most part the buildings were adorable. Throughout history, Bergen has experienced many fires, since, traditionally, most houses were made from wood. This was also the case for Bryggen, and as of today, around a quarter dates back to the time after 1702, when the older wharfside warehouses and administrative buildings burned down. The rest predominantly consists of younger structures, although there are some stone cellars that date back to the 15th century.

Bergen was such an adorable city. We picked up some souvenirs, Drew got his Norway Stein, and I got a Norway Christmas Ornament since I picked up magnets and a shot glass the day before. 

I really enjoyed Bergen. Even though our plans fell through with the kayaking and the crazy tunnel closing and 4 hour detour, we had a great day and the drive back to Stavanger wasn't as bad as we thought it would be. A short 5 hour drive, and 2 ferries later we were back in Stavanger, ready to relax from a great weekend.