Thursday, June 11, 2015

For the person that has everything...

except a Meat Man!

Meet the Meat Man

Don't you just want to eat his smug little sausagey face?  "Look at me in all of my beefiness?" he quips.  The perfect gift for that weird friend that casually throws into conversations the questions, "What do you think people taste like?", "If we were the Donner Party, who's leg would you like to munch on?" or "Have you ever seen that movie, 'Alive'?"

Swabian Gate
Swabian Gate
Open markets are easily my favorite part of European cities.  You never know what you are going to find and the excitement of being in a new place and hearing locals chat about the day-to-day business just brings the whole experience of being so far away from my own hometown back down to earth.

Canals through FreiburgThis little gem, der Wanderkamerad, was found at the Freiburg, Germany Saturday market (the have an enormous market on Wednesdays as well).  Freiburg is a great place to soak up some Black Forest goodness and is a perfect day trip from Baden; only about 2 hours by train from Zürich.  Plus, it's cheeeeeaaaap.  Shopping across the border is an expat hobby in Switzerland, but the border towns can be uninviting and usually just consist of a few grocery stores (I'm wagging my finger at you Waldshut).

Other interesting bits I picked up in Freiburg:

Bächli, or little streams, run through the entire city and have helped prevent devastating fires since the 13th century.  People watching is great around these is fantastic because, soon or later, someone staring at their phone is bound to step in one.  Locals say that stepping in one by accident means that you are destined to marry a Freiburger.

Goitre gargoyle on Whale House

Goitres were a common malady in the Middle Ages and it shows in one of the gargoyles on the House of the Whale near Kaiser-Joseph-Strasse.  Don't believe me?  Check out this article from the British Medical Journal on an analysis of portraits during the era.  It is speculated that nearly 80% of folks in the Bernese area alone suffered from goitres.  Did the Middle Ages ever sound so romantic?:

Als, C., Stüssi, Y., Boshung, U., Tröhler, U., & Wäber, J.H. (2002). Visible signs of illness from the 14th to the 20th century: systematic review of portraits. BMJ: British Medical Journal, 325(7378), 1499.

Vineyard near Freiburg MuseumGrafting of grapesAlong the Rhein River is big-time wine country; nowadays with a little help from American grapes. During the mid-19th century, the Great Wine Blight was caused by aphids from North America and laid waste to many vineyards in France and Germany.  Thanks to the suggestions of two French viticulturists, Leo Laliman and Gaston Bazille, to graft European grapes onto less susceptible American grape rootstock, the European wine industry was saved.  You can see evidence of this in the small vineyard next to the Freiburg history museum. If you are interested in plants and or booze through the ages, be sure to check out the book "The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World's Great Drinks" by Amy N. Stewart.

Tschüss mitenand und bis bald!

Nick makes friends
Nick makes friends wherever he goes.

We're on the road once more in Istanbul, so see you soon with more exciting stories.