Monday, May 28, 2007

Karyn's Picks and Pans: Cologne and Vianden

We spent a few hours in Düsseldorf on the way home from Berlin, but there is nothing particularly noteworthy about it. We ate at a fine doner kebap joint in the Altstadt that was basically like any other, and we had a rather pricey spaghetti ice at an Italian Eis Café on the Rhine Promenade…that spaghetti ice, while tasty, was certainly not the best I've had. As far as museums go, we visited the K20, which is a museum of 20th century art. I've been there before. Contemporary art is so not my thing…the Pre-Raphaelites are about as recent as I like. But they had a Picasso exhibit going on, and I do enjoy some of his works, so I paid the 10 euros admission charge to go in again (highway robbery, I tell you!). Sue and Lindsey seemed to like this art museum in particular…Lindsey was particularly excited about all the Paul Klee works.

Okay, so moving on to Cologne…

* Café Scholl Am Dom - Whilst Lance and I waited for Sue, Lindsey, and Lori to climb the 509 steps to the top of the cathedral tower (I was NOT doing that again with my bad knees!), we sought out a place to do lunch. This fit the bill. It's near the cathedral, although you can't see the cathedral from there (we could, however, hear loud and clear when the church bells rang). They have a nice variety of things on their menu to suit all tastes. And they have great looking cakes, although we didn't eat any of them. Lance and Sue had omelets, and found them more than satisfactory. Lori and Lindsey had "toast Da Vinci" (Da Vinci is a theme in the café, which is odd since the café is not Italian, nor were we in Italy), which is a salami, tomato, and toasted cheese sandwich. I had the ham rolls with potato salad, and what the menu failed to mention, which was a delightful surprise, is that the ham is rolled around tender stalks of white asparagus laced with some kind of cream. Delicious. We were serenaded by a canary in a cage right behind our table. This place is also not too touristy…there was a mix of locals and tourists. If you get the Cologne Welcome Card, there is a coupon for this place…for a free espresso, I think, if you order a meal.

We did stop at another place similar to Café Scholl for cake later in the day…I wish I could remember the name of it, or what street it was on. They also sold chocolates and homemade jams. I know it's in the vicinity of Groß St. Martin. Lance and I ordered the same thing…it was some kind of chocolate cake with a white chocolate coating and some marzipan layers. It was pretty good. I know that doesn't help you. Sorry.

Vianden, Luxembourg

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Damn, now why can't I remember the name of the café where we ate lunch? A little voice keeps saying over and over "Café des Arts" (does that make me sound Schizophrenic?), but I tried to look it up and only see one in Luxembourg City. So that can't be right. I think I'm getting mixed up because we ate at so many different places and because I've been writing so many travel guides…everything is swirled up in my brain. I really should've written all this stuff down in my notebook that I always carry, but Sue was recording everything, so I suppose I can just ask her. I'm afraid I was a terrible journalist on this trip. I had too many other things to think about (being housekeeper, personal chef, tour guide, translator, chauffeur, etc.).

Anyway, if you're ever in Vianden, it's right off the end of the street that runs along the river. There are a few cafes there, but this one caught our attention because it served crepes (it was the first one we encountered that did so). And crepes were exactly what we hungered for, we just didn't know it until that moment. The service was laidback, to say the least. Don't expect quickness. But it was not unreasonable. My only real complaint is that they gave everyone else a little bowl of peanuts to munch on while they waited for their food, and our table didn't get one. But the huge crepes were more than filling, so the little peanut starter wasn't necessary anyway. I highly recommend what I had, which was a bacon and egg crepe (lard appears prominently on the menu with this choice, and there is something to that, actually…this was super fatty bacon). The crepe was stuffed with bacon and served with a fried egg on top. Lori ordered the same thing and picked out a lot of the bacon. Lindsey ordered a dessert crepe, which looked like a work of art. Lance got a cheese crepe. Sue got the vegetarian, which she said was spicy. I had a nice Moselle Riesling with mine. Lance drank Leffe Blonde, a Belgian beer. I think Sue and Lori got the Diekirch. You should know some French if you come here. We had an English speaking waitress who took our order, but the lady that served us our food and brought us the bill only spoke French (and perhaps a smidge of German, because I seemed to communicate with her better when I switched from French to German). We managed. I had 5 years of French in high school and college and Sue knew it well enough from all the time she spent in France.

Also, have ice cream at the café next to the chairlift. It's nothing fancy, but they have soft serve, which is a nice treat. We got a kick out of their soft serve machine. You choose a small container filled with ice cream…whatever flavor pleases your fancy. They insert the container into the machine and swirl the ice cream into the cone. I've never seen anything like it. The kids will love it. Either that, or we're just easily impressed.

A note about the chairlift: it does NOT take you directly to the castle. It's a fun ride, but then you must hike down the hill a bit to the castle, which is already on a craggy cliff overlooking the town. This hike was steep, and really hurt my knees. And if you get the return trip, of course you must hike back up.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
View of Vianden from the chairlift

We did pay for a round trip, but opted instead to hike down from the castle through the street that leads into the center of town. This was a better option, because we got to see more of the town that way. And if any place in Europe oozes charm, it's Vianden.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
walking through town

This place is like a fairy tale (if you could overlook the insane amounts of motorcyclists everywhere). So do the chairlift, but just do it one way (and be sure to smile at the top…they take your picture!).

No comments: