Month: July 2015

Dubrovnik

If you want to see Heaven on Earth, come to Dubrovnik. – George Bernard Shaw

We recently got back from a week in Dubrovink, Croatia. We decided to go to Dubrovnik because a friend of ours is a dean at Yale and leads a summer session in the city each year. In fact, I went to college with both her, Jasmina and her now husband Matt. Matt introduced Amanda and me and he and I were roommates for about a year.

Anyway, Matt and Jas and their two lovely daughters have been coming to Dubrovnik each summer since 2006 and we have no problem seeing why. We fell in love with every aspect of this corner of Croatia. We rented an apartment just up the hill from the walled-in old city and the host made us feel right at home (“just up the hill” in this case means about 450-500 steps up from the old city).

Ivo, our host, has lived here all his life and knows all the locals and all the best places to to go. When we arrived for check-in, it took about an hour. We had several beers and chatted about where we were from and what we wanted to do in Dubrovnik. Ivo gave us a run-down of how to get around and all the sites to visit; we couldn’t have asked for a better host. He even arranged for a day-long boat trip for us to a couple of the area’s islands and a wonderful Saturday night dinner.

Tourism is the main industry in Dubrovnik but, much to our surprise, the area is not densely built up. There are no fast-food chains and the mega-hotels are kept to a reasonable minimum. Beaches are all publicly accessible, clean, and safe. It also seems that most people who visit stay in guest rooms/apartments that are run by individuals or families.

Finally, the food in and around Dubrovnik is fantastic. There’s a definite Italian influence with many restaurants serving pizza, pasta, and risotto. However, the seafood here is the real star; octopus, oysters, and mussels are all world class.

Below is a short video taken from the aforementioned boat tour (NB: there is no sound); and below the video are some other pictures. You can also go here for more photos from my Instagram feed. Instagram’s search and organization is singularly awful so you may need to scroll down a bit to find them.

Currywurst: Die esS-Bahn (Tegel Airport)

Location

Die esS-Bahn is located at Berlin’s Tegel airport. It is outside between the main terminal building and terminal D. They also have outlets at Berlin’s Schonefeld airport as well as Cologne and Stuttgart. We had some time to kill before a recent flight so we decided to check it out.

I believe the name is a play on the German verb essen (to eat) and S-Bahn, the name for the common German urban rail system. The location itself is an old Berlin S-Bahn car.

As far as food at the airport is concerned, this is by far the best deal.

What Did We Have?

We shared a currywurst with casing and fries with mayo. I don’t remember how much it cost but it was cheap for airport standards.

Our Review

We both liked Die esS-Bahn. If you like “lit’l smokies” in barbecue sauce, this is the currywurst for you. We both like “lit’l smokies” so this was a win for us. The sausage was mildly spiced and the sauce was sweet with a smokier taste than other currywursts we’ve tried. The only negative is that the casing was a bit tough.

The fries were run of the mill, nothing bad but not great.

We will definitely skip the high priced fare in the terminal building and head for die esS-Bahn if we’re ever hungry at the airport again.

Overall rating: Currywurst: 4 out of 5 | Fries: 3 out of 5

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Otto Lilienthal

Lilienthalpark is in the southern Berlin suburb of Lichterfelde and is dedicated to the glider pioneer Otto Lilienthal.

In the late 1800’s Otto and his brother Gustav worked together to develop the precursor to the hang-glider. Their designs were based mainly on the anatomy and mechanics of various large birds. By most accounts, Otto was the first person to ever make repeated and sustained flights with gliders. He was known to jump off various high spots in an around Berlin including the tops of buildings and barns.

Much of Otto’s design inspiration came from another Berliner:  Ottomar Anschutz. In 1887, Anschutz invented a fast shutter camera and began taking pictures of storks in flight. Eventually Lilienthal and Anschutz met and Anschutz’s photos of Lilienthal are some of the first ever of a man in flight.

In order to make jumps from a consistent height in any direction, Otto and Gustav eventually built their own 15 meter-high hill in Lichterfelde next to an old clay pit. This hill, which Otto dubbed Fliegeberg (fly hill),  is now topped with a memorial to Otto and is the centerpiece of Lilienthalpark.

Otto Lilienthal died as a result of a glider crash in August of 1896. His name lives on not only in Lilienthalpark, but also Berlin’s current main airport Tegel “Otto Lilienthal” Airport. There is also a street named after him near Berlin’s former Tempelhof Airport.

Lilienthal’s work would later become an inspiration for the Wright Brothers and other aviation pioneers.

Otto Lilienthal Park. #lilienthalpark #lichterfelde

A post shared by @henchcliffe on

 

Order Fries Like a Local

French fries are popular throughout the many snack stands in Berlin and I got into a short conversation with our German language teacher about the proper way to order fries in Germany. One way to sound like a local is to ask for pommes schranke (roughly pronounced pum-es / schrank-uh).

Pommes derives from the French word for potato (pomme de terre) and scranke is the German word for a swinging barrier or gate like the kind you’d find at a parking garage or level railroad crossings. Many of these gates are painted in red and white stripes, thus, ketchup and mayo.

I then tried to explain to our instructor what patat oorlog was in Holland but she thought that sounded disgusting.

Currywurst: Curry 36

Location

Curry 36  is an extremely popular currywurst stand located on Mehringdamm in the Kreuzberg neighborhood of Berlin.

This was one of the busiest stands we’ve visited so far and, frankly, we were hard pressed to figure out why. Everything was just a half a notch below what we have had at other places. We both agreed that Curry 36’s popularity is probably more a function of savvy marketing than anything food related.

In addition to currywurst, Curry 36 also has a wide variety of other snacks, such as chicken nuggets, bockwurst, krakauers, and salads.

What Did We Have?

We each had the special: 2 currywursts (one with casing and one without) and fries with mayo. The special cost 4.60 Euro.

Chris’s Review

I suppose I would eat at Curry 36 again if the line at the very excellent Mustafa’s was too long. Mustafa’s is one of my favorite kebab places but it is always busy and it can take a while to get through the line. In fact, we ate at Curry 36 because the line was too long at Mustafa’s last week and we didn’t want to wait 30+ minutes. Anyway, this isn’t a review of Mustafa’s so on to Curry 36.

This was nothing special. It wasn’t bad but just about every other currywurst we’ve had has been better. The sauce seemed both too salty and too sweet at the same time with no heat or spicy subtlety. The sausages, while good quality were just slightly tough and bland.

The fries were tough on the outside and a bit dry on the inside. Overall, the experience was no more than mediocre.

Overall rating: Currywurst: 2.5 out of 5 | Fries: 2 out of 5

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