Practicalities

Doing life right, at home and away

Author: Sara (Page 1 of 3)

Of Himmeli-tradition coming to life in Leipzig

“You have reveled my joys and mourned my sorrows, and you have always been there quiet and delicate, when I have needed to contemplate.” 

– Jalmari Sauli / Himmeli: Tales about the nature and children of nature (1928)

I’ve held two of my Himmeli-workshops now and it’s been an absolute wonder. I’m so happy and grateful for the heaps of people interested in Himmelis and Finnish crafts tradition. I did not expect it to be so well received. Furthermore, I’m absolutely impressed by the craft skills my students have had: crafts are definitely not dead! 🙂

And to any new readers: oh, what am I even talking about – what is a Himmeli? Why, it’s a traditional Finnish hanging mobilé ornament and holiday decoration, of course!

Himmelis are tokens, symbols and charms to ensure happiness, riches and a good harvest for the follow year. They were often hung above the dining table before Christmas and stayed out on display until Midsummer and even throughout the year.

Though the name of the ornament is of Germanic origin – in both Swedish and German “himmel” means “sky” or “heaven” – the Himmeli is undoubtedly considered the quintessential traditional Finnish Christmas (Yule) & holiday decoration. However, Himmelis are not strictly tied to any specific event or celebration, and the ornaments were also popular at wedding celebrations (hung above the head of the bride, a ”bride’s crown”), housewarming gifts, as well as decorating many a Midsummer. Last, but by no means least, they also hung above cribs to bless and soothe small children.

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Of Laskiaispulla & Shrove Tuesday – or Fasching

Laskiainen / Fasching / Shrove Tuesday is here! That can only mean one thing: Laskiaispulla, a novelty Finnish pulla delicacy. What is a “pulla”, you may ask? Why, pulla is a Finnish culinary staple: a baked bun.

For Shrove Tuesday (or Fasching, if you’re German), we make a special variety where the bun is cut in half, filled with raspberry jam or almond paste and decorated with whipped cream. It’s a top notch pulla, I tell you.

Finnish Laskiainen is not as wild as in other countries (like Mardi Gras or Karneval), but we Finns celebrate it in our own way. It’s customary to go sliding with the whole family and friends – and eat these buns, of course.

As there’s no snow in Germany, let’s focus on the buns 🙂

The recipe has three parts: making the buns, making the almond paste and then putting the buns together.

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Of DIY Elbow Patches

I know we’re approaching the end of January… but still – Happy New Year, everyone!

Today I’m sharing you a little “craft tutorial” of sorts. Basically I just want to remind you that mending is easy, cheap and everyone can do it!

I’m going to kick-off this year by starting a series of posts about mending. This is the first part: we’re fixing up sweaters with holes on the elbows with some awesome DIY elbow patches.

The sweater in question is a classy marine cashmere sweater – it’s one of my favourites as the comfort and versatility is incomparable. However, it has unfortunately two huge holes on the elbows.

And here I am, wearing a completely different cardigan. But still with elbow patches.

Let’s get started.

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Of Himmeli Workshops in 2018!

Hey y’all! Hallo zusammen! Anybody there interested in crafts? ;

(unter auf Deutsch)

Are you famliar with Finnish Himmelis?

For the new readers in this blog, I’m a Finnish tradition blogger and I’m having two Himmeli-workshops beginning of the next year. I’m so excited!

I’ve teamed up with the awesome Villa Hasenholz and I’ll be doing a little demoing at their Christmas Market this weekend 09.-10.12.

A Himmeli is a traditional Finnish ornament, which incorporate many beliefs, magic and history in Finnish culture. For hundreds of years, Himmelis have decorated the Finnish homes, hoping to bring its’ owners happiness, riches and a good harvest for the next year. 

The modern Himmeli has many forms and styles, but a Himmeli casting it’s silent, moving shadow on the ceiling, is one of the most impressive examples of Finnish craft heritage. The delicate Himmeli in it’s silent dignity is unparalleled. 

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Of making a traditional German Rumtopf

This year, I am finally making a Rumtopf – or a Rumpot, in English. Rommiruukku, in Finnish.

It’s a traditional German fruit preserve/beverage and there are as many variations as there are makers of it. Because you can vary the recipe in so many ways, consider these just overall guidelines.

The Rumtopf has been a culinary classic in the past, but become unfortunately untrendy in the last 10-15 years, though I am hoping for it to make a comeback.

Where did this all begin? Rum imports began in the 18th century. Close to the Danish border, Flensburg was where the West Indies fleet offloaded it’s boozy cargo and, from there, it was transported around Europe. The legend has it, that the rum importing sailors accidentally dropped some fruit into a barrel of rum which quickly developed into a way of transporting exotic fruit back to Europe – and a tradition was born.

Ye Olde way of making this starts in late spring when the first fresh fruit is in season and ends in autumn when the fruit season is ending – typically with pears, or apples or plums and such. However, these days you can probably make it all at once sometime in the middle of summer, when the fruit season is peaking and the ripe fruit times are overlapping. I’m making mine in two steps: I’m still going to add pears later in autumn.

To make a Rumtopf, you will need a large-ish container, depending on how many people you intend to feed with it. Mine is 4 liters and it’s definitely quite large. You can also use a couple of smaller jars, if you don’t want to opt for a big one.

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Of Népra, sports and life

Part 1: In the forest

A dear friend came for a visit a while ago. Her name is Ama. We are quite different, yet somehow the same. I guess that’s how a lot of friendships work – you see a bit of yourself in them, yet you learn so much from it. Ama is a curious lady in many ways – young and complex, gentle and determined. I admire those qualities in her.

She has dark hair and bright eyes and a whiff of seriousness about her: impeccable posture and a calm presence. But she’s also full of fun and laughter, with a curious and lively eyes.

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On top of all that, she has a brand new, shiny sportswear brand: Népra. Elaborately thought-through and beautifully simple, yet never boring. Sourced and manufactured in Europe. I’ve had Népra’s clothes for a few months now and I can say it without any hesitation: I’m a huge fan.

(TL;DR: There’s a discount code at the end.)

It’s full-on summer in Leipzig – everything is hot. I’ve been sweating a lot, hanging out in the garden, taking naps and struggling to finish any project. A break in routine is more than welcome. Ama has been planning to visit me for a long time and I’ve been eagerly awaiting new Népra pieces, putting together one-by-one my perfect exercise wardrobe. I want to hear the whole story from Ama.

Upon her arrival, we go out with Musti, breathing in the smell of wild garlic and the forest. It’s mid-day and quiet. “But why did you start a sportswear brand? Seems pretty random.”, I ask, picking some wild garlic shoots. It will be a pasta sauce later on. Ama thinks for a bit. I open a beer. I love beer drinking and dog walking.

“Hmm, I guess the disheartening experiences I had with my own gear. My life had been increasingly revolving around exercise and I loved it. But the clothes couldn’t keep up with me, they wouldn’t follow me where I wanted to go – they were rather obstacles than assistants to my performance.”, Ama says. “I’d say that’s where it stems from.”

Part 2: At the gym

We’re at my Crossfit box, Crossfit Deluxe. It has a familiar smell – rubber and sweat. Concrete parking lots and old Leipzig industrial buildings spread out into the distance outside, in bright sunlight. We’re ready for a good workout.

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Of making your own laundry boosters

I stopped buying laundry softener ages ago. But I do still want my whites to be white, colours to stay bright and most importantly – for all the laundry to have a wonderful, fresh smell.

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I’ve never been too fond of the smells available in laundry softeners: I’ve always found them too pungent and not my kind of scents anyway. I’m more into wood-y and forest-y smells – options that are rarely available.

If you are into making your own household products, you should also check my post about a DIY linen water.

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Making this laundry booster is so easy and you can make heaps of it in one sitting. One large pot of 5kg lasts for ages and since it’s pure bicarbonate of soda, you can use it around the house for whatever cleaning task at hand: from improving the cleaning power of your laundry detergent to sprinkling it in the toilet bowl or using it to clean your sink or mixing it in with your floor cleaning solution. It’s multi-purpose and still makes your laundry smell great.

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Of making your own linen water

I do remember my mother using an ironing spray when I was little – it was just regular Helsinki tap water in this bright orange, old and worn out spray bottle we kept next to the ironing board.

It wasn’t before I was 18, and a clueless little au-pair in Paris, when I learned that there are fancy people in this world with beautiful and specific linen waters which smell like Provence in a bottle: lavender, verveine, orange blossom, rose petals, cedar wood and cotton flower.

And oh how I wish I was one of those fancy people but alas – I am not.

You neither? Don’t worry! Let’s enter the world of DIY and make one ourselves!

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Is a linen water unfamiliar to you? Why would you use a linen spray?

  • Better ironing result
  • Laundry smells great
  • Spray it gently on clothes between washes to remove creases and freshen them up
  • Ironing is less tedious when it feels a little luxurious and you’re surrounded by fabulous scents (also, you feel like a fancy person)

Now, if you are wondering why should you iron anything to begin with, that’s worthy of a whole other post. But as a quick note: I iron some of our bed linens and towels so the linen cabinet stays neat and organised – especially the heavier fabrics don’t really fold that well without ironing. Additionally, stains don’t stick so hard on pressed fibres and especially the pillow cases don’t shed textile dust so much.

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Of oven baked avocados

I rarely share just random recipes here, but today’s delicacy is such a quick and easy treat, and somehow a little unexpected, I thought it might be worth a share!

Bizarrely, I think this is originally some kind of a paleo recipe and there are as many variations on this theme as there are people in this world. You can try replacing coriander with parsley, basil or chive, throw some lardons on the top or cover the hot-from-the-oven avocados with some fresh tomato salsa. Regardless of how you make this, it’s gastronomic bliss!

I eat these for breakfast, as a part of brunch or as an afternoon snack. They are also a super quick but impressive starter if you’re serving a multiple course meal!

  • Avocados (BIG, perfect, ripe ones if available) 
  • Eggs
  • Coriander
  • Lemon or lime
  • Salt & pepper
  • Chilli sauce (I recommend sriracha or a tangy variety, such as tabasco)

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  1. Heat the oven to 250C.
  2. One avocado makes two servings and you need two eggs per avocado. Cut the avocado in half, take the stone out. Carve some extra space for the eggs with a spoon.
  3. Put the avocados in a small-ish baking dish where they can’t move too much. This is where I already sprinkle some salt and pepper and squeeze lemon/lime.
  4. Break eggs into the cavities – they’ll surely go a bit overboard but don’t mind it, it’s fine.
  5. Sprinkle a little more salt and pepper on top and give it a last squeeze of lemon/lime.
  6. Bake the avocados for approximately 6-8 minutes, depending on how cooked you want your eggs to be. I like them to be quite raw, but so that the egg white has already set.
  7. When ready, chop some fresh coriander (or other herb of your choice), throw some sriracha, tabasco or other salty/tangy chili sauce on top.

It’s the definition of tasty.

Even Nano – my assistant – was into them.

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Of training while traveling: CrossFit Amsterdam

Whoa, well look at this! I’m starting to cover a new topic!

As you guys know, I’m no stranger to travel. However, I’ve also started to take my training more seriously this year and quickly noticed that trying to keep up a workout routine while traveling a lot, is not a very good fit. (Only a few of you might know that my weapon of choice is CrossFit, ever since I was lured in to a box in Karlsruhe in May 2015)

This time I was in Amsterdam with the doglet for 10 days, working on a secret project. More about that later.

So hey – even if I’m traveling – why not just workout abroad, go for a run? And it’s a fair point! I’m one of those people, who time after time, kept packing their running shoes with them and never, nope, not once, ever did I ever use them. I stopped packing them with me already a long time ago. 

Though as said, I’m a crossfitter. And when you’re a crossfitter, you’re a crossfitter. Times are a changin’.

crossfit fightclub

Before my trip, I did a fair amount of research, finding eight boxes near-ish to the city centre of Amsterdam and a few more further out, near the airport. I also reached out to quite a few boxes before I left, to see what they could offer. 

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Of spring tymes & spring vybes

Spring has been taking giant leaps in the last weeks. It’s as if every morning a new flower, a new tree is in full blossom. That’s also the reason there’s been a bit quieter blog moment.

I’ve taken Musti out to the forest for longer and longer walks, breathing in the scents of the new life.

In my neighbourhood, the beautiful, nearby river gets a makeover with the spring: the bleak water is no longer so bleak with all trees along it getting all dressed up in leaves and blossoming flowers. Somehow even the colour of the light is different, there’s a clarity and brightness everywhere you go. With each blooming branch, the smaller canals have a slightly jungle-like feeling as the long, rope-like branches reach out to the water. The river and the canals start to smell like sea, even though there’s salty water nowhere to be found.  

People and cities in Finland tend to come to life in a very different way in spring. I’ve lived many springs in France and in Germany, however it doesn’t compare to the Finns.

Germans probably to get their Frülingsgefühle but it’s not quite as crazy as it gets in Finland. In France, I hardly noticed the difference in people’s mindset.

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Of sima and fermenting drinks

Yay! It’s May and it’s time to make some mead! This beautiful fermented nectar – sima (pronounced for English speakers like see-mah) – is traditional to the Finnish 1st of May bacchanals.

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One of the BIG FOUR Finnish celebrations in the calendar year, the 1st of May celebration – Vappu (pronounced kinda as vah-poo) – celebrates the spring, Saint Walburg (along the lines of Walburgsnacht) and whathaveyou. Labour movements as well as university students have all alike appropriated this beautiful spring party day.

In Finland, sima  – this often home-made, low-alcohol lemon mead – is one of the most prolific signs of Vappu. It is an important part of my favourite Vappu tradition: the big, even lavish picnics, especially popular in Helsinki.

Other typical things related to Vappu are: carnival-style festivities, all imaginable varieties of alcohol and drinking them aplenty.

While Vappu/Walburgsnacht is of religious origin – for centuries if not millenias have pagan prehistoric Finns been chucking down pints of sima and dancing the night away in the gleaming light of spring bonfires.

While a strong and potent alcoholic beverage in the past, sima of today is kind of a party drink for the whole family due to its low alcohol content. This is my mother’s recipe, that we have used for years and tweaked it a bit to our taste.

Here, I’m going to tell you how to make it – it’s super easy and so tasty!

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Of wild garlic and spring foraging

Ah, the spring, the greenery, the herbs, the foraging. 

Starting from some time in March, until May and even beginning of June, Leipzig is filled with the distinct aroma of wild garlic. (Maybe you call it ramsonsbuckrams, broad-leaved garlicwood garlicbear leek or bear’s garlic, or just Bärlauch, if you’re German…)

It is perhaps the easiest and the most versatile herb to forage and, perhaps most importantly, it grows in heaps throughout Central Europe. 

Kind of a chive, the name in many languages comes from the brown bear’s liking to it and the bear’s habit to dig up the ground to eat the bulbs. Brown bears have great taste.

How to find it and identify it?

Wild garlic is so common at least in Central Europe and the UK, you’ll unlikely struggle to find it. 

Go to the nearest (semi) deciduous forest. Smell the air. The dead giveaway of wild garlic is the scent. You’ll smell it miles before you see it – as mentioned previously, the whole city of Leipzig smells of wild garlic for weeks. 

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Wild garlic tends to grow in low, bushy foliage, with quite long, thin stems and long, gently tapering leaves. The individual little “bushes” have each long and thin stems in the middle with one single flower bud growing on each stem.

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However, the strong smell is such a clear way of identification that if ever in doubt, just rub a leaf between your fingers to break it and trust your nose – it will smell like a strong chive/spring onion and distinctly garlicky. There is no way to mistake wild garlic for anything else if your sense of smell has not been compromised!

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Of butter

I love butter.

I have always loved butter, but my love has deepened even further in recents months.

I like my butter nice and salty and, since moving to Germany, I’ve had trouble finding a good salted butter. Back in Karlsruhe, I’d pop over the border to France and grab several kilos of Normandy butter with flaky sea salt. But since coming to Leipzig, I’ve had extremely slim pickings. So, the inevitable result was hatching this plan: making my own perfect butter, to perfectly suit my needs.

So, I’ve slowly started, over a week or two, to build the habit of making butter. I’ve had some time to experiment a little with different recipes and styles. If you like a perfect, creamy and tangy butter on your bread, read on to find out how to make it yourself!

You’d think BUTTER would be a relatively simple and straightforward product, right? You could not be more wrong! When starting to write this post, I considered myself quite well butter-educated. I was proven profoundly wrong. And I paid the price – by staying up until the wee hours of the morning – reading more and more about this delicious spreadable fat.

First of all – butter is cultural, super complex and slightly confusing. There are large differences in butter making and taste between countries and continents. It does not stop there though: the differences can be seen in how the entire concept of butter in perceived! This is mostly due to history, but those nuances have, with time, become genuine cultural differences and expectations regarding how butter is: how it looks and how it should taste. To some, these may seem like minute and inconsequential details, but for a butter lover like myself, they are fundamental.

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Of my favourite winter fruit: the lychee

Lychees – “The Kings of Fruits” – are now in season.

I’m squeezing my entire face together, trying to remember. As if somehow bringing your eyes, nose and lips closer together would help your memory.

I’m trying to remember: when was the first time I ate a lychee.

I’m almost certain it was in Vietnam. Let’s say 2008. It had to be. I remember the feeling, the taste, the novelty, the dripping messy juiciness running down my chin and my fingers, the crisp sweetness with a sudden perfumed tang. The skin of the fruit – red and rough textured, like a dragon’s scales. But I can’t grasp the details, the surroundings, the people. They remain fuzzy and deliciously formless.

I’m tempted to say lychees are my favourite fruit altogether.

In Paris, lychees were my wintery delicacy, something I’d indulge in after long, tiring days at work. I’d buy them in huge heaps from the fruit & vegetable market on my street, where the Moroccan sales men knew me almost by name. (“Bonsoir, mademoiselle Finlande! Ca va aujourd’hui?” – For clarification: my “name” abroad rarely is Sara, it’s “the Finnish girl”, la finlandaise, die Finne. True to form.)

I prefer lychees to rambutans and longans. You know rambutans? They’re like lychees who need a haircut. And longans, they’re like the lychee’s bald old uncle with liver spots.

Usually, I just eat all the lychees I have. Fresh and right away. I have no patience or self-control and, quite genuinely, they really taste best just the way they are. However, if you’re new to lychees, I do recommend experimenting with them a little. Frozen lychees are wonderful – if you’ve ever eaten frozen grapes, lychees have a similar, fine and tender sorbet-like texture without any loss of flavour and fragrance. You can also mix some mean drinks: lychee martinis are usually made with syrup, but a lychee margarita put through the blender will hit the winter drink jackpot. You can even make a salsa with them, or chuck some in a stir-fry.

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Of having yourself a very merry Christmas time

I love Christmas – and yes, what a wonderful time it is. I’m not in my core this positive, optimistic person but, during Christmas, for a brief moment, I become one.

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Our house was full for the whole holidays – of both people and joy, but also Christmas music, singing, chatter, several languages, laughter and animals running around in circles, like crazy.

I don’t get to see my family all that often and, of course, the same goes for W. We’ve been alternating holidays every year: last year, in the UK with his family and, this year, my family came to Leipzig.

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Our Christmas menu was faithful to the Finnish traditions. I had prepared the pickled herrings almost a week earlier and my family brought the gravlax with them from Finland. Heaps of waxy potatoes were boiled. Spirits were bright CLEAR. (That’s the tradition – vodkas or equivalent with the fish starters.)

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Of autumn hobbies and picking mushrooms

All mushrooms are edible. But some, you can only eat once.

– Old Finnish proverb

I’ve been holding on to this post for quite a while but somehow struggled to get it finished. Today I went out with Musti and found such a nice mushroom harvest, I knew I had found the last pieces to this puzzle. I had to finish it.

So, I go to the forest quite often.

Some nice green forest in Leipzig

I don’t actually consider going to the forest exceptionally calming per se – I just like it that there are no other people there. I like the feeling of temporary, fleeting isolation. If you go deep enough, you can almost not hear the motorways.

I go all year round, but autumn is my favourite time – there are no longer so many mosquitos, it’s not that hot – the air has that crisp autumn smell – and, if you are lucky, you can find mushrooms.

Sara in the forest with Musti dog

Top Samuji (2015) // Jeans H&M (2015)

Picking mushrooms is in Finland like a national hobby: when autumn arrives, every social media channel fills with pictures of mushrooms, foods made with mushrooms and a lot – I mean A LOT – of the conversation with people revolves around these special fruits of the forest!

Chanterelles on a wooden chopping board

Plus, mushroom hunting is incredibly fun! The joy of the discovery, the warm satisfaction of feeling so capable and self-reliant is almost intoxicating. Here we are back in Finland, a few years ago, when we found so many black trumpets, we still eat them to this day! The smiles tell it all.

Apparently mushroom hunting is not as common elsewhere as it is in Finland. Ever since I moved abroad, I have not found a single mushroom hunting buddy! I’ve found that a lot of people are, first of all, confused about identifying mushrooms but also not sure what to make of them and how to really get started. So, I’ll gently take your hand and hold it through the basics of mushroom picking: presenting 3 + 1 of the easiest mushrooms to pick in central Europe and a couple of nice easy recipes to complete your first foraging adventure!

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Of autumn dusk in Plagwitz (and football)

Back in June, I remember literally asking my friends what a “Juventus” was. Now, weirdly enough, I go to a football match every now and then. I have a small team pin on my coat. It’s slow but sure development. Funny, hah?

W says he finds it strange. In all honesty, I feel that way too. But, as my football-introducing-friend J says, “you don’t pick a team, a team picks you”.

For most of my life, I have had absolutely zero connection to any sport. I have actually never even understood the appeal. Like, what’s the actual point? But the more I’m involved and the more I go to the games – the more I understand, slowly. (I’m still too empathetic though – I always hope everyone gets at least one goal! It must be so sad for them, if they have none…J has told me that this is a completely wrong approach to the whole issue at hand, hah!)

So BSG Chemie Leipzig played against Reichenbacher FC. 4:0. Well done, Chemie.

Sara, your Practicalities blogger

This is me, saying hello!

The home games are in played at Alfred-Kunze-Sportpark, in Northwest-Leipzig, in the neighbourhood of Leutzsch. I tend to go home through Plagwitz, in all calm and serenity on the train, get a beer to-go from the Plagwitz train station and walk back home along the canal. It’s one of my favourite walks through Leipzig.

Plagwitz is an old industrial neighbourhood in the west of Leipzig. It still has something of that vibe to it – even after all the gentrification and development. Though from seeing some pictures, the “old Plagwitz” of less than thirty years ago seems like a completely different world.

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Of housewarming garden parties

We had a housewarming party. Ten things I learned:

  1. The best grills are cast iron.
  2. Try not to let the fire go out if you have hungry guests.
  3. Making your friends perform engineering tasks before the party officially starts is a great way of making everybody mix & mingle. In our case, a sun/rain cover needed to be assembled.
  4. If you want the best taboulé & hummus of your life, ask if your Syrian friend is up for the task.
  5. Avalon also makes a great punch that will gather dozens of compliments.
  6. There can’t be too many light garlands and twinkly lights.
  7. The steak recipe my high-school boyfriend taught me still works.
  8. A little rain won’t ruin a good party! Just be prepared. See number 3.
  9. In the end, you might be so busy hustling with everything that you might not really have time to eat yourself.
  10. And if you are so positively busy with your party – eating, drinking, socialising, laughing – that you have don’t even have time to even put on make-up or comb your hair, it’s a great party!

Food

I’m planning on writing a whole post about BBQ and grills and equipment and such, as the art of BBQing deserves some special attention. So here I’m just gonna share our recipes for the salads and side dishes – which go together with EVERYTHING grilled.

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Of Strasbourg, the city

I actually wanted to some more share photos and write some more about Strasbourg – and Alsace – months ago, but the post kind of kept trailing and trailing. So I grunted and finally decided to take it off the back burner. If you are interested in Strasbourg and are looking for all kinds of travel tips, you should also check out my other posts:

Of eating in Strasbourg – restaurant tips, bars and such!

Of my favourite shop in Strasbourg – name says it all, for buying Alsatian artisanal pottery!

Well, it just so happened that Finland had its governmental elections and, instead of heading to my regular voting spot in Stuttgart, we opted for Strasbourg. The bus ride with ADAC Postbus from Karlsruhe is so cheap it’s almost impossible (10€ return) and only takes one hour. So, you will get a sexy mix of wintery photos and more recent, spring flavoured examples. You should also check my previous post about some eating in Strasbourg for more.

Anyway, to set the mood, here I am enjoying a demi of Bière Juliette from the local Brasserie Uberach on the terrace of Café Atlantico (bistrot-resto-dodo):

Drinking an Alsatian beer in Strasbourg

The author, drinking a beer.

It was one of the warmest days of spring so far and the spring was a bit further along in France than in Germany. The weather was verging on blazing hot and the air was filled with the sweet aroma of Magnolias, which were in full blossom along the riverside and on the backyard of seemingly every house and building.

I really like the city and the region. Alsace is generally a wonderfully curious place. It has such a bizarre history and I reckon its having been ping-ponged between different rulers and empires so many times has left a significant mark. Most visible and recent, though, is the modern German cultural and governmental impact. Due to the whole ping-ponging – especially between Germany and France – Alsace still applies “the local law”, which is quite an interesting arrangement. It lets the region have some of its entirely own, local legislation, operating alongside the rest of the French legal system.

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