Ludwig van Beethoven: the great visionary from the Rhine

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) has a reputation as the angry Titan of the Classical music period. But Bonn's most famous son, writer of the momentous Fifth Symphony, also composed the touching piano piece Für Elise. His Ode to Joy has been the European anthem since 1972.

Both Beethoven's father and grandfather were singers at the Elector of Cologne's court in Bonn, and it was that orchestra's members who gave Ludwig his musical education. He first performed as a pianist at the age of seven in Bonn. The court kapellmeister himself called the boy a 'second Mozart'.

In 1792 Beethoven left his home to study with Joseph Haydn in Vienna. The Austrian capital was where he composed all his famous works, for instance the nine symphonies, the five piano concertos, the 32 piano sonatas, the 16 string quartets and his opera Fidelio. Because Beethoven never held a post at a royal court, he was hailed as a civil society figurehead and visionary. His determined, often heroic music is still today interpreted as the expression of a revolutionary humanism. Not for nothing is his only opera about the liberation of a people's hero from a tyrant's control.

In Bonn, the city of his birth, Beethoven is everywhere. The Beethoven House, where he was born, is one of the city's main attractions. There's also the Beethoven statue on Münsterplatz, the 'Beethon' concrete sculpture, the annual Beethoven Festival and the Beethoven Orchestra, all celebrating the great composer. And, no surprises, Bonn's concert hall is called the Beethoven Hall. Koblenz also has a Beethoven museum in the house where his mother was born.

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Rheingau wineries

Must-Try Wineries in Germany’s Rhine and Mosel Valleys

Known the world over for its fine Riesling wines, the Rhine and Mosel regions of Germany are home to passionate wine-making families, traditional abbeys where monks and nuns have produced wine since the Middle Ages, and experimental new age wineries. Here are some must stop-and-taste cellars in the region: Schloss Johannisberg The oldest Riesling winery in the region was once a monastery where monks began producing wine over 900 years ago! It is here that late harvest wines were serendipitously discovered in 1775, and on a warm sunny afternoon, you can try their finest Rieslings in an ancient cellar or with a panoramic view of Johannisberg and its vineyards. St Hildegard Abbey The only nunnery in Germany that has been producing wine since the Middle Ages, St Hildegard Abbey, perched on a hill above the popular town of Rudesheim, is an experience. Stop by the majestic church on the premises, walk through the carefully pruned vineyards, chat with the traditionally attired nuns about their austere way of life, and sip some of their finest Rieslings. Kloster Eberbach A Cistercian monastery up until the 1800s, Kloster Eberbach, located near the village of Eltville, continues its wine traditions to this day, while also playing host to the famous Rheingau Musik Festival. Taste wines as you walk through time along the stunning Gothic and Romanesque architecture, and sneak a peek at the historic wine presses once used in wine production. Weingut Allendorf Have you ever considered the role of color on your taste buds? You’ll think about it when you sip the same glass of wine at Weingut Allendorf in different colored lights. You have to experience this family-run winery’s tastings to believe it, in the twin town of Oestrich-Winkel along the Rhine. Weingut Rossler If you’re looking for a hands-on wine growing and tasting experience, look no further than Weingut Rossler in the sleepy little village of Lorch. Follow the Rossler family to their vineyards to help with pruning or harvesting, taste their fine home-made Rieslings in their modern cellar, or sit back at their cozy outdoor restaurant with a glass of wine; everyone knows everyone else in this village and you won’t be a stranger for long! Flick Winery aka Queen Victoria vineyard You need a reason to take a detour to the small village of Hochheim along the Rhine, and I’ll give you a good one – this is Queen Victoria’s favorite Riesling vineyard and Queen Elizabeth was its most recent guest. Meet the Flick family and feel a little like royalty, as you taste their ‘royal’ wines! Need I say more? Berg’s Alte Bauernschanke The only village to grow Pinot Noir (red wine) grapes along the Rhine is the picturesque half-timbered village of Assmannshausen; homed in one such building is Berg’s – a horse stable in the 1400s! Konrad Berg, the third generation owner, is a hobbyist wine maker, with vineyards scattered across the Rheingau for different grape variety. Stop by for a glass of wine, indulge in a wine spa and peek into life in the bygone days. Weinsinnig The Mosel is home to the steepest vineyards of Germany, and you don’t have to stray far from the quirky city of Trier to realize that. Take in the majestic Roman ruins and the youthful vibe of the city, but don’t forget to show up for a wine tasting of the finest Mosel Rieslings at Weinsinning, a charming neighborhood restaurant and wine bar that handpicks and displays the region’s best wines on its wine wall. Traditional cider houses Back in the 1500s, the vineyards of Frankfurt were irrevocably attacked by parasites, leading locals to the realization that growing grapes in this soil was near impossible. They turned to apple orchards for wine, and the famous Apfelwein (apple wine) is served to this day in the traditional cider houses of Zum Gemalten Haus and Wagner in Frankfurt’s Sachsenhausen district.

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Rudesheim Wine Festival

Germany’s Wine and Rhine Traditions at the Rudesheim Wine Festival

For years, my trips to Germany were synonymous with beer. From Munich to Hamburg to Berlin, whichever part of the country I found myself in, I would seek out the sunniest beer gardens and find myself chugging a pint of home-brewed Weissbier or Radler, cheering prost as our glasses clinked, and dreaming, perhaps like any other beer lover, of reveling in the Oktoberfest of Bavaria. Then one day, in a casual chat with a German friend, I was let into a world I didn’t know existed in Germany – the world of German wine-makers in the Rheingau region, only an hour from Frankfurt. The next thing I knew, it was mid-August and I was boarding a train to Rudesheim Am Rhein, a town that sits prettily by the River Rhine and is best known for cruise ship day-trippers, to attend the Rudesheim Wine Festival, one of the oldest wine festivals in the region dating back 80+ years! The warm summer breeze of Rudesheim welcomed me as the sun set above the lush vineyards dotting the surrounding hills. The River Rhine flowed along gently, echoing the festivities in the cobbled town square. The wine queens – traditionally the daughters of wine merchants and now ambassadors of wineries in each Rheingau village – had just been crowned and were being welcomed with music and dancing on the stage. Stalls of local wineries, including the 12th century Eberbach monastery and the incidental home of late harvest wines – Schloss Johannisberg – lined the square, bringing their traditions and stories to the visitors. Cheers of zumwohl replaced prost, cozy wine gardens decked with grape vines replaced beer gardens, and old wine cellars replaced microbreweries. My discovery of Germany’s lesser-known wine culture was just getting started! The four days of Rudesheim Wine Festival felt like the gentle unwrapping of a precious present. One afternoon, I found myself hiking with the locals in the vineyards of Rudesheim, greeted every now and then by local wine makers for a taste of their finest Rieslings. On another, a wine merchant invited me to a special parade of wine queens and wine makers across the town and its vineyards. Nights were spent sampling Rieslings and tales of bygone days with the local wine growers, as the church bells tolled to compliment German music and the aroma of freshly baked flamkuchens. But the highlight of the festival came unexpectedly on the last night, when most visitors had retired home, leaving only the residents of Rudesheim to celebrate centuries of a close-knit wine culture. Three generations of each family descended upon the town square, held hands and sang songs about Rudesheim and the Rhine, cheered the wine queens and wine makers on stage, and danced unreservedly into the night. I felt far from Bavaria and yet in the heart of Germany!

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DAS RUHRGEBIET: VAN INDUSTRIEEL BRAAKLAND TOT KUNSTLANDSCHAP. Elk jaar midden augustus tot midden oktober palmt het prestigieuze kunstenfestival Ruhrtriennale weer het halve Ruhrgebied in. Wij gingen tijdens de vorige editie eens kijken en werden zowat letterlijk van onze sokken geblazen. Vooral het post-industirële Ruhrlandschap wist ons te overdonderen met z'n unieke atmosfeer.

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Blutenfest des Rotes Moselweinbergpfirsich


We hebben éven moeten oefenen, maar na een tijdje rolde Rote Moselweinbergpfirsich vanzelf uit onze mond. Toch kan je in Cochem ook gewoon Rud Peesche zeggen, het plaatselijke dialect voor deze kleine perzik met haar robijnrode vruchtvlees die overal in de Moezelvallei groeit. Terwijl de wijngaarden er nog kaal bijliggen, zijn de roze bloemen van de Moezel-Wijnbergperzik al een fleurige voorbode van de lente. Goed nieuws voor de plaatselijke wijnboeren dus, maar ook voor al wie dol is op perziken, want dan wordt er in Cochem smakelijk gefeest.

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Voor de ene is het een stukje Frankrijk in Duitsland, voor de andere is het een stukje Duitsland dat ook in Frankrijk niet zou misstaan. Wij houden het bij typisch Duits met een stevige Franse twist: Saarland. De kleinste Duitse deelstaat ging een paar keer over en weer tussen beide landen, was tweemaal op zichzelf en werd in 1957 definitief bij Duitsland ingelijfd. Het resultaat is een grensoverschrijdende kruisbestuiving van savoir-vivre en savoir-faire die zich vooral in de lokale gastronomie laat gelden. Wij trokken in Saarland letterlijk van de ene rijk gedekte tafel naar de andere, gingen er tafeltoeren en lieten ons galant overtuigen van het feit dat je van 'een schone tafel' wél kan eten.

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Crazy SB Waschsalon

Crazy SB Waschsalon

Quando estamos viajando, nada como ter uma lavanderia perto para as horas de aperto. Não tem como não notar essa lavanderia toda "modernosa". Crazy SB Waschsalon chama a atenção por suas centenas de meias penduradas. Uma decoração perfeita para o ambiente. Eu não cheguei a lavar nenhuma roupa na minha estádia em Dresden, mas se ficasse mais uns dias, teria voltado lá de certeza. Fica na Louisenstraße 6, aberto todos os dias das 06h - 23h.

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Travel Bookshop

Travel Bookshop - para os apaixonados por viagem

As coisas mais legais, sem dúvidas eu encontrei em Neustadt. É a região mais alternativa e legal de Dresden. Foi lá que eu vi uma das Lojas de Livros de Viagem mais legais. É aquela loja/livraria/papelaria que você vai querer comprar tudo. Passei uma boa hora lá dentro, folheando (porque ler em alemão, nem em sonho!) todos os guias, livros. Comprei uns postais lindos. Bobeei por não ter comprado uns mapas antigos, eram lindos.

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Para ter uma vista incrível de Dresden, vale muito a pena pegar o monorail em Loschwitz. Além de ver a cidade, você ainda terá uma vista privilegiada da Ponte Azul - Blaueswunder.

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