Yes, another butter-cake-related story... Yes, I know, I'm obsessed with butter cake.
This past weekend we got invited to a barbecue Friday evening as well as to a sushi-and-dumpling-making party Saturday afternoon. I wanted to bring something so I figured that I'd make one big butter cake, split it in half, and bring half each day. What I didn't know at the time was that the two days would be the butter cake journeys from helllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll! Let me explain...
But first, a little background. I've mentioned before about the Long Way Round and Long Way Down motorcycle-travel documentaries that were done by Ewan McGreggor (the guy from the new Star Wars movies) and Charley Boorman (famous, I think, because he's friends with a famous guy). Both are epic motorcycle adventures that basically go across the world. The trips are long, challenging, and, for the two guys, seeming like they'll never get to their destination. In the end of both, though, they overcome the challenges and recognize how great the journey was...and...
So, after school on Friday afternoon, I fired up the Electroherd (German for electric oven) and made an almost-perfect butter cake (or at least as best that I can do). I cut it in half as planned and came up with an ingenious, if I do say so myself, way to protect and carry each half to its respective event. It looked a bit like this as we went...
Friday evening's barbecue took place at the top of one of the wine-growing hills not too far from the center of Stuttgart called Kappelberg. We had to arrive at 5:30 pm and I didn't want to get there late so we left around 3:30 pm, which, at the time, seemed like a crazy amount of extra time. Being late for something in Germany is, like my dad says, akin to farting in church - you just don't do it - ever!
We arrived at the bottom of the wineries, which are lovely and loaded with grapes this time of year, via the metro and a bus. From there, we followed the signs towards the direction of Kappelberg, which is where the BBQ was happening.
Unfortunately, there were no sidewalks or even space for pedestrians to walk along the road so we followed another sign that took us through one of the vineyards. No problem - at least it's beautiful. Check out this view of the Mercedes Arena (left) and Volksfest (right) in the valley beyond the vineyards:
Along the way, we may have stopped and tried pretty much every wine grape variety grown in the area. It was very interesting to taste the difference between them. For some reason, I've always pictured wine grapes being less sweet than "table" grapes. Well, that was wrong. They're, umm, sweet and delicious just like what you buy in the store, and really, actually more tasty.
Some Späteburgunder grapes growing in the Kappelberg area of Stuttgart:
Well, lovely so far, right? Yes, it WAS. For the first hour! Remember that the sign at the bottom of the hill said 1km (about 1/2 mile). Even crawling along and eating every available grape, we should have arrived in less than 1/2 hour for sure. The problem was that it was getting late and I was starting to worry...and I was carrying a butter cake the whole way... It looked, again, like the photo below (the scenery was better, though):
We walked, and walked, and walked, and walked, and walked. Diana, who stayed calm and positive the whole time, called our hosts to let them know that we were "there" but that we couldn't find the picnic area. Finally, a couple on mountain bikes, yes, mountain bikes, led us in the right direction and we eventually found the party...a little less than TWO-AND-A-HALF HOURS after we had left home.
The picnic was very nice and we had lotsa' fun. Once again, I was amazed at the level of everyone's English and the fact that EVERY SINGLE PERSON at the BBQ spoke English the ENTIRE TIME because of the two of us! Crazy. Thanks Alfred for the invite and great time! (Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes, there was potato salad.)
Like I said, we also had an invite on Saturday afternoon to make (and eat) sushi at a friend from my German class' house. So, once again, we headed out with butter cake in hand...sort of like this...
Again, we left with plenty of time to get to where we needed to go. This trip involved taking the metro to the city center and switching to another metro line then taking a bus to our final destination. All was good until we got to the city center. We waited for the connecting metro but nothing was coming; actually, none of the metros going to the north of the city were coming. For about 30 minutes or so we waited, and waited, and waited. I checked the transit system's app on my phone but it just kept saying the metro was coming.
I ended up calling our roommate after about 40 minutes to ask him about alternatives to get to where we were going. He managed to figure out that there was a train derailment north of the city, which took half the metro system offline. He suggested an alternative routing (involving a tram, another metro, and a bus) and we followed it. Remember the butter cake??? Yeah, after about 2 1/2 hours of traveling, we finally arrived at our destination and got to help at the tail-end of the sushi-and-dumpling-making process:
Let's just say that the food was pretty damned good. Thanks to Ying and her husband for hosting us and for sharing some amazing food with us.
Let's recap. Two afternoons. A total of seven hours travel time, seven metro trips, one tram trip, a couple of bus trips, and LOTS AND LOTS of walking...with a butter cake! But, great endings for great journeys for sure. Ewan and Charlie'd be proud.