Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 27

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Thursday May 1, 2008 (diary, travel)

Dining room Hotel Rebstock I am working on some photos from the Rebstock Hotel dining room. It has great style and elegance. The walls contain panels covered with quite coarsely textured cream cloth, which is richly embroidered with fine gold threat patterns. For breakfast the tables are covered with flower patterned table cloths in lovely soft colours complemented by deep red napkins. At dinner time the table cloths are soft green, the table cloths slightly brighter with a delicate single flower printed on it. The window sills are full with plants and in each stands a lamp I know Babette would like to steel for her home. St. Goar and Castle

In the afternoon I finally do the right thing and get myself on one of these Cruise ships, the Lorelei Star. Apart from a few castles and St.Goar, a picturesque village about 15 km upstream of Boppard, the river views are rather monotonous, mainly due to the many boring houses along its banks. Just the standard whitish boxes with small windows and steep grey roofs.
Words from a tour guide last year back in Mumbay come to mind : "The people here spend all their money on making the inside nice, but don't care about the outside. Same situation here it appears.
The Lorelei too is a bit of a disappointment, having as a young school student spent so much time on learning the famous poem by Heine. A small bronze statue of her is sitting on a narrow tongue of land (rather like the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen). She is facing the cars on the road instead of the boats on the water !!
Well, that is enough tourism for me for a while.

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Friday May 2, 2008 (diary, travel)

Bar of Hotel Sankt Maximillian Early in the morning I work on some photos, pack up say goodbye to Connie and, after a brief visit to the Internet Cafe, am on my way to the Mosel.
The Blaupunkt GPS makes driving very relaxed, as I don't have to bother about where I are or where I am going, the reassuring pleasant lady's voice (I call her Heidi now) guides me along unerringly. At one point (on road 327) there is a major, apparently permanent, road diversion Heidi is not aware of. I turn against her instructions, but after a few kind requests to turn back, she resigns to her fate and immediately starts guiding me faultlessly along the rather complex diversion route.
What a woman, the absolute perfect partner. But ladies (before you start calling me a male chauvinist pig), rest assured that you can switch the Blaupunkt also to a rather pleasant male voice, who behaves exactly as sweet to women as Heidi does to men. This in the end is of course all our loss, for those two appreciate each other so well, no way they will ever come out of that Blaupunkt box.

In due course I arrive in Bernkastel-Kues and find my Hotel Sankt Maximillian. I am immediately welcomed by the family who runs this Hotel as well as their winery, with a glass of wine. In no time have I met the whole family : Father and Mutter who run the winery, daughter Sabine who is in charge of the Hotel and Restaurant, and Heike, her older sister (a school teacher), who helps out on busy days. There is also Timo the weekend bar man and Stephanie a waitress. The Hotel, built in 1894, is Heritage listed and absolutely charming. Tasteful and full of artistic style and elegance. My room too is fine with cable TV so I can watch the Eurosport channel here, UEFA Cup soccer and the snooker World championships which are in their semi-finals.
On the Menu they have Pangasius, the same fish I had back in Altenahr. Done slightly different, but oh so good. After a few white wines, which taste wonderful here, I am in bed and asleep as a log in no time.

They have no wireless here and the Internet outlet is too far away to bother. I will therefore upload my Blog texts and the odd illustration via my (rather expensive) Vodafone World Roaming service, and upload all other photos back at Wivica's in about a week time.

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Saturday May 3, 2008 (diary, travel)

What is common sense ?   It is the drug for the whole spectrum of middle classes against fear. It is the excuse not to dare, note to venture, not to be creative, not to take a chance. It is an excuse not to live, but merely to exist, to get through this life "without any trouble", just like the neighbours, and all those other sensible people. Is that really what life is supposed to be ??
OK, OK, I know I am going a bit over the top here. So let me step back just one pace or so. Common sense is not that bad, indeed it can have some benefit provided you do it in moderation. But don't overdo it, otherwise you are going to feel sorry for yourself the next day. Happy now ?

Wine cellar, Hotel Sankt Maximillian Where the hell do you think that came from ?   I wrote it last night and shows of course far too much clarity of mind for a sober soul. I blame Peter Nelius, the hotel owner and wine maker, and (after I purchased a few bottles of his finest) now a very good natured friend.
He invited me, together with other hotel guests, to a wine tasting of his this night. It lasted a good two happy hours, very interesting but the explanations contained far too many memes to remember for a poor meme retainer like me.
It started rather sedate with a range of nice gentle wines, but when towards the end we tasted a few bottles of the hard stuff (I am talking 45% alcohol here) we were all getting rather "exited". I bought a couple of bottles of Peter's Feine Weinhefe, a strong Grappa like spirit, and I can tell you it is doing the job. It is supposed to help with the digestion, but once you start drinking this stuff, who wants to eat ? Anyway, I bought a bottle for myself here to keep me warm and another one for Herr Heitzmann, Wivica's landlord, who I know will appreciate this stuff as well as I do.

Hotel Sankt Maximillian Bernkastel-Kues is a little gem of a town. A twin town actually. Bernkastel, the smaller one and very picturesque, is on the right bank of the Mosel (when facing downstream). This weekend it is busy, busy, busy, and full with tourists. Even so it is a sheer delight to be here. Upon my first venture into town I discover a few great men's clothes shops and immediately buy a new (blue of course) long sleeves shirt which I love.

Across the river and connected by a lovely stone bridge is the more sedate and much larger Kues. This is where my Hotel Sankt Maximillian is located. I am in Room 12 with view onto a lovely courtyard which is shaded by three huge square red umbrellas. I like it here, as it is very quiet and only 50 meters from the Mosel left bank with many benches from which I can watch the ships go by as well as a dozen or more proud white swans which float stately up and down. From here one has also a great view of Bernkastel (with of course a medieval castle above it) on the other side, while staying away from the hustle and bustle there.

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Sunday May 4, 2008 (diary, travel)

Bernkastel on the Mosel In the morning the sun shines again from a bright blue sky. I sit on the river front when the Kues church bell starts calling customers for morning Mass. Just a single bell with a beautiful pure tone. It is cast expertly so that only the 5th partial (overtone) is generated from it, floating as clear as a flute tone an octave plus minor 3rd eerily above its fundamental. It is beautifully expressive.
Most church calls I have heard so far in Altenahr, Boppard, and also later here in Bernkastel and in Kues use two bells simultaneously, pitched in all cases a minor 3rd apart. Is this done for some religious purpose or an attempt to simulate a 5th and 6th overtone in order to create their shared fundamental undertone ? This latter acoustic effect can work very well provided the two pitches are just right, but I have not been able to hear the undertone at all so far.

The Mosel river is perhaps putting a dent in my thesis about river flow speeds in Australia and in Europe. The Mosel here at Bernkastel flows rather gently, perhaps comparable to the similar sized Murray river (during normal conditions) near Mannum for example. Something to check out further, but I am not giving up on the idea as yet.

The three rivers I have watched these last few weeks have on the susceptible observer quite distinct and different emotional effects. The difference is somewhat comparable to driving on a freeway (Rhine), on a two lane country road (Mosel), or on a dirt track wide enough for a car (Ahr). The narrow walking tracks through the bush (mountain creeks) I will of course encounter in the Black Forest next week.
On the Rhine "freeway" I have watched the traffic of the sleek barges with great fascination. Here on the Mosel the pace is much more pedestrian and I look with pleasure at the swans, cruise boats and the occasional barge, as well as the town and vineyards not far away on the other side. On the Ahr bank I have emotionally been totally emerged in nature with nothing or no one else there (except perhaps one).

It is Wivica's birthday today and I give her a ring on the handy (mobile phone). The weather is warm and sunny there too, but the snow is still present on the highest mountain tops.
For lunch I walk across the bridge into Bernkastel and check out another Imbiss. I try the one in a narrow street attached to a butcher shop, so can't be bad. On the wall is a sticker which I read out aloud : "Wurstesser sind bessere Liebhaber." The owner (in his 60s) shakes his head at me : "Es war einmal . . . . " he says. I acknowledge the feeling, after which we have a pleasant chat. The Currywurst is not bad either, but Peter (Hotel owner) later advises me to try the Imbiss on the river front. I shall do that tomorrow.

Don't tell me the Germans have no sense of humour. They have, and they can laugh at themselves too. Certainly according to this souvenir sticker I saw hanging on a shop display :

Sometimes one loses . . . .

and sometimes the others win . . . .

It is Israel Tag today. There are Israeli food and wine stalls and also music in the market square. They are celebrating 60 years of official (American and Russian) recognition of their own country today in 60 different towns and cities right across Germany. Deep wounds are healing it appears, which is good.
In the evening I have another Pangasius for dinner. What is the English name for this fish I wonder.

Please note : The thumb nail illustrations have as yet no target full size pictures. I will upload them coming weekend.

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Monday May 5, 2008 (diary, travel)

Cast iron Ofen Tafel It is once again sunny this morning with now and then a cool gust of wind. I walk upstream along the river to the small Kues Boat Harbour. A swan is sitting on her nest with eggs right alongside the walking track, unperturbed by passers by and the odd on watcher. Back at the hotel I write and upload my Blog, then pick up my emails and orders.
With over 20,000 students every week I have numerous fans and receive mail from all around the world. Some require help, which I gladly provide, others send messages of gratitude for the insight and skills I pass on to amateurs, teachers and professionals alike. My hundred odd free lessons online are also greatly appreciated, restoring for some (as they tell me) their "faith in the human race".

Also, after a week of silence, her voice again ("She"). With words now in a more relaxed rhythm she relates thoughts and ordinary activities of her day. The first tentative brush strokes, commencing an outline of who she really is.   Immediately the tranquil pond of my emotions is stirred by waves oscillating all day until late into the night.

For lunch I try out the Imbiss on the river bank. It is indeed good. Two ducks remain unperturbed underneath my table while I consume my Currywurst.
In the afternoon I work on a dozen photos I made of so called Ofen Tafeln which hang on the walls of the narrow corridor and staircase on the first floor of the Hotel. They are cast iron relief plates which decorated the doors of 17th and 18th Century wood stoves. The Hotel's collection mainly depicts activities related to wine making. All are gorgeous. Peter Nelius assures me that these are all true originals. I see quite of few of these around town, in other Restaurants, even on outside walls in central Bernkastel.

Restaurant Sankt Maximillian has a "Ruhetag" today so I have a Grillteller at Hofmann's Weinstube just around the corner, run by Ute Arenz, a friend of Sabine. The Grillteller is a German mixed grill with a nice sauce, garlic butter, great pommes frites and salatteller with subtle dressing.   Later back in my room I watch Ronnie O'Sullivan win the World Snooker Championships final in Sheffield. A convincing win.

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