Nuremberg '15

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  1. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    UA1083 IAD SFO 1030 1328 739 2A

    I really don't like the F seats made to the Continental
    specification: it's hard to get quality sleep or even rest,
    and as I've said here before the merger, I preferred the
    physical product of United economy plus to Continental
    first. This plane of course was an ex-Con, and I was
    resigned to a sore butt and was not disappointed.

    The cabin crew were pretty good but quirky; the front cabin
    was served by a brunette woman with an intense, intense
    stare, which was a little disconcerting. She provided
    generally prompt and attentive service, though.

    Food choices were roast chicken, "salmon and quinoa salad,"
    and "vegetarian paneer." We all know about airplane chicken,
    and we all know about airplane fish, and who knows what evil
    lurks in the guise of paneer. I was tempted to say nothing,
    please, but the prospect of some hungry hours in SFO didn't
    appeal much either, so I said, I'll take anything. The
    intense FA seemed personally affronted by this answer, so I
    tried again: okay, the fish, please.

    But first a Courvoisier, decent, and warm nuts, mixed - I
    got the bottom of the barrel, so the base of my dish was
    covered in salt; the cashews, being delicate, were assorted
    shards that were made soggy by the warming, but the almonds,
    being more robust, were crispy and whole,

    Then a green salad, Kraft Creamy French on the side, a big
    ounce packet. The salad needed all the help it could get,
    and a big ounce wasn't enough to mask its faults. Some of
    the lettuce (at best rather old) was stuck to the side of
    the bowl, having turned to slime and then dehydrated in
    storage. Red and yellow pepper strips that I thought had
    been pickled but that turned out to be merely old. Yum.
    Yes, Kraft Creamy French at 140 Calories the serving was
    the best part of this course. Oh, yes, there was some
    roast barley hidden underneath. Because I have new glasses,
    this was the first time I had ever seen roast barley in its
    true glory. It looks like bugs and tastes not much better.
    Oh, yes, the salad had cheese on it, best described as like
    Seymour Britchky's experience of Mamma Leone's cheese.

    [Note a week or two later: US Air offers this same barley
    in a spinach salad with beef or shrimp on the side. I wonder
    whose idea this was.]

    I had supposed that perhaps the caterer had run out of
    quinoa and substituted barley and perhaps had run out of
    fish and substituted nothing, or else a plate of naked fish
    might arrive later, but at this stage we saw a small piece,
    maybe the canonic 100 g serving, of pink stuff sided with
    what looked like boiled hairy veg and baby snakes coming out
    of their eggs. The pink stuff tasted like cotton batting
    soaked in fish oil. The veg were, in fact, hairy with mold -
    green and yellow squash and carrots. The other stuff was the
    quinoa and in fact the best thing on the plate, though I
    didn't try to eat much of it.

    Chocolate chip cookies came late in the flight. Decent.

    We landed way, way early, but there was the usual dance of
    musical gate personnel and guess the gate. We ended up in
    the 60s gates, and it was quite a hoof to the 100s gates.

    UA 903 SFO FRA 1515 1050 744 15J
    was 1445 1015
    was 1400 0930
    was926 SFO FRA 1900 1455 744 6B

    lili was scheduled at FRA at 1155, and 903 was delayed 45,
    so I decided to go for the earlier flight and meet her
    there. The friendly guy at the desk gave me a boarding pass
    in Y and told me to come back in five. Apparently they still
    adhere to the old way, and when you want to move to the
    earlier flight, they first confirm you in Y and then put you
    on the list for an upgrade, even if you were confirmed in
    biz on the flight you were abandoning.

    I got called up eventually and was handed 15J as in jackpot.
    A year ago I went through hoops to book a flight to Asia
    with upstairs availability, reporting afterward here on my
    last 747 flight. The mills of United grind slowly, and since
    then I've been on maybe a half dozen of them. Still,
    upstairs here is a treat, unlike on the 380, which feels
    more like two regular planes one atop the other.
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  2. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    For those who might be interested in what BusinessFirst is
    offering for food these days, here's the menu; I can't
    report, as I was asleep for most of the meal. I did have
    breakfast, which was the usual.


    Chilled appetizer
    Prosciutto and melon with garnishes

    Fresh seasonal greens
    Tomatoes, Kalamata olives, Parmesan cheese and croutons
    with your choice of ranch dressing or Italian vinaigrette


    Tenderloin of beef
    Asiago broth, brown-butter gnocchi and green asparagus

    Cajun-style breast of chicken
    Cajun cream sauce, white beans with chicken sausage,
    collard greens and grilled onions

    Newburg-style seafood
    Filet of turbot and shrimp with a creamy lobster sauce,
    green lentils and mixed vegetables

    Vegetable-filled mezzaluna pasta
    Pomodoro sauce, zucchini and Parmesan cheese


    International cheese selection
    Grapes and crackers served with Port

    Ice cream with your choice of toppings


    Assorted sandwiches
    Sun-dried tomato basil tortilla wrap with
    turkey and cheddar

    Hummus and pepper Jack cheese


    Herbed scrambled eggs
    Potato gratin and turkey sausage

    Cereal and banana
    Served with milk.
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  3. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    Thanks for this report, violist (I think!). Did being ex-Con have anything to do with the poor food quality and service? :D

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  4. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Since I was last stuck in Frankfurt the lounge situation has
    changed, with numerous relocations and renovations and stuff
    like that. I ended up at the upstairs business lounge in
    lower A, as that was where our departure gate was going to
    be, and tried to track lili down.

    Eventually I got a note that AA 120 was delayed, but lili
    had scheduled herself to arrive in FRA at 1520, okay for
    our 1720 connection; but delay followed delay, and the domino
    effect happened, and she didn't appear on the 1520 (which was
    itself 15 min late) - some frantic e-mailing revealed that
    that she had missed the flight owing to a mishap at CDG and
    would be arriving on the 2200 flight. I asked the agent at
    the counter if I could reschedule, and he sensibly said that
    it was only a 20-minute flight, and the change fees would be
    high, so why bother.

    Back to the lounge, where I sampled the house red wine, a
    most undistinguished Dornfelder. I decided to go with Beck's,
    which vom Fass in Germany has much more punch than the
    bottled stuff has in the US. Soup of the day was some kind
    of chicken noodle: not bad.

    And so to the gate by myself.

    But not for long - a huge crush there, which sorted itself
    mostly out when they called for business class, HON, Senator,
    and Star Gold. Only one person was rejected at boarding and
    required to stand to the side.

    LH 148 FRA NUE 1720 1800 733 7A

    It was about a 25-minute trip, and so it was earlyish when
    we landed, and I made it to the hotel in full daylight, which
    given my eyes is a good thing. Piece of cake taking the
    subway to the main station and hoofing down Bahnhofstrasse.
    Though only 300 m from the station, part of the route is cut
    off by construction, so I had to cross the street
    coincidentally next to a Chinese restaurant called Fulihua,
    out of which some pretty good smells were coming. I resolved
    to give it a looksee when I got my room squared away.

    The Hampton Nuremberg is new and clean and fairly snazzy.
    Though I like the Hilton south of town a lot, I will probably
    stay here again.

    A pleasant fresh-faced girl checked me in. I asked if the
    Chinese place was any good, and she got this serious look
    and said "All restaurants in Nuremberg are good."

    When I came back down after putting up my bags, she had been
    replaced by a Chinese kid to whom I posed the same question.
    He said things were good, some not so good. Then he leaned
    over and sort of whispered, "Don't order the fish."

    Figuring I was going to have enough Franconian food over the
    next few days, I did go there and ordered the eight treasure
    duck (ba bao ya), which sounded promising, in my German-as-
    a-third-language, from the cute young new immigrant waitress
    for whom German was no doubt a third language, only hers was
    tons better than mine.

    The food took a while to come out: a battered, deep-fried
    boneless half bird minus the thigh meat (I figure this was
    the kitchen's tribute (I've encountered this many times in
    many restaurants, even the most eminent) in the style that
    in Cantonese-American eateries is called "hon sue," in
    a brown cornstarch gravy with soy and hoisin in it. Also
    cashews, red peppers, broccoli, bamboo shoots, pork, beef,
    and chicken. I can't figure what the eighth bao was, maybe
    the duck itself, or perhaps it referred to the pitcher of
    extra sauce on the side. Steamed rice was fresh and of
    good texture.

    Ambience: not much, though there were a number of dating
    couples there; weird muzak including messed-up versions of
    Beethoven and Tchaikovsky with a rhythm section, something
    that sounded like Azerbaijani mugam, and odd renditions of
    pop tunes that I sort of recognized from my youth.

    A Tucher Pils was exceedingly fruity and went well with
    the duck.

    By the time I left, the place was hopping, and a sizable
    part of the clientele were Chinese.

    After a couple beers at the lobby bar it was time to hit
    the sack. The sack did not resist.
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  5. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Its being in an airplane was a major contributing factor to
    the unattractiveness of the food. There are those who would
    liken being in an airplane to being in a prison.
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  6. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    Yes, definitely, while in coach seating. Finding faults with business/first seating is a luxury not all can afford.

    A reason I had asked about ex-Con is that my all-out absolute worst flight experience was in coach seating with UA ex-Con FAs on a TATL return flight to IAD. On such flights, the FAs have been labeled as "toxic", which is an apt description. The service was abysmal, the food was bad, and the FAs were arrogant. When I tried to obtain names of the FAs, I found that their name tags had been removed! :(
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2015
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  7. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    Thanks for this trip report - well done! There is a lack (among other things) of inter-European trip reports in this forum.
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  8. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    You can complain anyhow, with whatever information you have at hand. If your criticisms are
    well enough presented, they may be spurs to some kind of action.
  9. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Lilli finally showed up with tales of woe caused by American
    Airlines and the Aeroports de Paris; she bore a few scars
    and bandages from the experience.

    An untaxing morning wander (I missed breakfast), and she
    and I made the lengthy trek to the Meridien Nuremberg, where
    at noontime our junior suite was not ready: the friendly
    desk staff gave us (her, actually; she's platinum and I am
    nothing) a coupon for a free drink. This was interpreted by
    the friendly bar staff as a drink apiece. We got a Domina
    (local red grape variety that dominates in these parts)
    and a Beck's and then went on a haphazard walking tour
    pointed vaguely at Die Hutt'n, said to have some of the
    better Nuremberg Bratwursts in town. It's way up the hill
    by the Durerhaus, and by the time we got there we were both
    hungry and thirsty. She of course had the bratwurst, making
    a special request for French fries instead of whatever
    normally comes, potato salad and kraut I think. Used to
    tourists, the waitress did not seem surprised at all.

    I got the Krustenbraten plate, a good-size but not over the
    top serving of crunchy-skinned pork belly with a very salty
    smitane sauce that I'd never seen in Germany. On the side
    the usual gluey potato dumplings and a vinegar-dressed
    cabbage and dill salad. All were pretty good. Our drinks
    were a glass of Domina and a Lederer, this being one of
    the local brews. The Domina here was not so suave as at the

    More random walk, up to the Durerhaus, back downtown, over
    to the somewhat interesting, somewhat festive, and somewhat
    overpriced Sommer in der City festival, where we got to
    walk on sea sand trucked in from God knows where, watch
    beach volleyball, and in general experience things that
    one normally does not find in Franconia. We also had the
    opportunity to do things that one normally does here, such
    as drink beer. On the way we'd stopped at Hans-Sachs Platz,
    which commemorates that eminent shoemaker and musician,
    and St. Margaret's church, where the Meistersingers used
    to meet and which stood for something like 500 years until
    it was reduced to a shell by Allied bombing in 1945; it is
    kept in that condition as a reminder of the horrors of war
    and a rebuke to Anglophone tourists but is sometimes used
    as a concert venue.

    Back to the hotel, where it turns out we got not the corner
    suite that we had coveted but an almost equal-sized one
    overlooking a quiet side street; its most notable feature
    was an enormous bathroom that could sleep four easily.

    In the room along with our luggage we found another bar
    coupon, which we happily used downstairs and used on a
    Domina and a Lederer this time. We chatted happily with the
    staff, and the coupon was well offered, as it primed the
    pump for a pleasant evening of drinking. No food but some
    peanuts, as we had eaten enough at Die Hutt'n to last all
    day and then some.

    Early to bed (very firm but comfy) because we wanted to go
    to Bayreuth next day.
  10. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    The breakfast that lili chose for her elite gift was
    abundant but ordinary. I sampled all the animal protein
    offerings, which were unexceptional and unexceptionable.
    No chocolate croissants, so I had maybe six glasses of
    juice of various sorts. The grapefruit is pretty good;
    the orange doesn't taste like anything I know but is
    very sweet; and the strawberry was the unsweetened fruit
    puree, very healthy-tasting. Mango had run out by the time
    I was ready for it.

    We checked out, promising to return in a couple days.

    The R3 train runs pretty frequently, and an hour and change
    after embarking, we were in Bayreuth.

    I'd booked the CPH Bayerischer Hof, because there was no way
    to get lost - it's next door to the train station. Our room
    wasn't ready (it was still quite early), so we stored our
    traps in the closet behind the desk there and started on our
    tour of the city, beginning with the famed Festspielhaus. It
    was closed, partially shrouded in construction wrap, until
    festival time in July. The grounds are very nice, though,
    and there was a cooling breeze, and lots of historical
    displays, mostly about the Jewish question, and we took our
    time. A very thoughtful treatment, pretty detailed, in
    German (for what German I can read, slowly and imperfectly),
    with a somewhat thoughtful and not very detailed precis in
    English. Commemorative monuments for those artists who fled
    or were imprisoned or died during the Reich. Powerful stuff.

    When we went back downhill, our room was ready, so we put
    up our traps and went downtown, to find that the Richard
    Wagner Museum and the Margrave's opera house were also
    closed for renovations. The Hermitage is way off down the
    way, and I didn't know which bus to take, so we merely
    wandered around town, ending at the Hofgarten, which is
    worth a visit. It being almost dinnertime, we went back
    into the pedestrian district and resolved to park at the
    first likely-looking place for drinks.

    This turned out to be the Cafe Louis, which serves a mixed
    menu of local specialties and Italianate dishes. We were
    only going to stop for a glass or two, but the waitress
    cunningly put menus in front of us, and lili discovered that
    she had a sudden yen for pepperoni pizza. I said, they don't
    have pepperoni pizza. Here it is - she pointed to an entry
    that said pizza con mozzarella e peperoni. I broke it to her
    gently enough, I think: peperoni of course aren't pepperoni,
    they're peppers. Further perusal of the carte allowed us to
    discover that salami pizza was on offer, so that's what she
    got. Being caught up in the mood, I ordered lasagne. The
    pizza was quite good, the salami tasting just like American
    pepperoni but with no hot pepper. The lasagne were hugely
    abundant and very good-tasting, the only issue being that
    there weren't enough layers, and each component was blobbed
    all together - white sauce, then three noodles in one layer,
    then red sauce (with meat), then mozzarella, then grana,
    instead of an artful arrangement such as I would do myself.
    But then I do it as a labor of love, and the poor apprentice
    in the back room here does it as a labor of labor.

    Our drinks: a couple iterations of Aktien Landbier, which I
    liked, and some Argentine no-name Malbec, which lili thought
    merely okay.

    It was still light when we walked back to the hotel, as
    some of our destinations had been unavailable. The hotel
    is a kind of eccentricly-designed place. Each floor has a
    sort of planned identity - the one above ours sort of urban
    grunge; ours antique '50s America. There's a sunning roof,
    unfinished and so far uninviting, and a little ground-floor
    garden. The place is a warren of nonrectilinear passages,
    not what I'd expect from the name or the location, Kind of
    fun all in all. The renovations are not complete, and there
    is a pervasive smell of paint and new construction, and one
    might turn a corner and discover an unfinished passage with
    painters' tarpaulins or construction detritus. This goes
    only so far, so it was early to bed and early to rise.
  11. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Breakfast was not included in our rate, so we took an early
    train back to Nuremburg so as to catch the Bierfest in the
    moat, one of my favorite things to do. We'd forgotten that
    it was a holiday, and the train was chockablock, but we got
    there eventually, storing our bags in a locker in the train
    station and moseying to the festival, which seemed smaller
    than it had been when we've visited before. Maybe that was
    because it was a weekday, holiday or not.

    Much to our disappointment, the Sau im Weckla guy wasn't
    there any more. lili made up a happy story about him sitting
    retired in his chalet someplace and putting up his feet and
    saying, ah, I don't have to work the Bierfest any more. It's
    just as well, as dinner was to follow. Oh, lili got a
    Thuringer Bratwurst, as she hadn't had much to eat - it was
    enormous, and I got a taste. Good. Grillteufel - remember
    the name for next time. Also remember that the Pyraser stand
    has more kinds of beer (10 or so) than most of them, and it
    is 50c cheaper a mug. As I like Pyraser products, and as the
    smaller breweries seem these days to be enamored of the
    fruity (but to me cloying in an almost Belgian style) wild
    yeasts, I was perfectly happy with this situation, as the
    Pyraser red beer is dear to my heart.

    Back to the Meridien for drinks, where the bartenders
    welcomed us back and asked about our previous day's
    adventure, and we had the usual.

    At cocktail hour our host f0zzyNUE joined us, soon followed
    by a couple dozen of our nearest and dearest, upon which was
    lots of talk about miles and points with friends new and old
    (mostly the latter), and then it was off for a traditional
    Franconian dinner at Barfuesser, a venue we have come to
    know well. We ended up with two longish tables next to each
    other; I arrogated the responsibility for ordering for our
    table. one Krustenbraten, a couple of Haxen, a couple of
    Schaufele, and a plate of sausages. All were good, and there
    was plenty to eat but not an enormous overplus. I think we
    saved a bit over getting a set meal scaled for 8 (we were
    10, I think), so there was more dough for beer. Yeah!

    lili and I said our mananas, as we had a long trek to the
    Hilton. But we'd missed our bus! and the next one wasn't
    due for quite a while, as this was a holiday, and it was
    pretty late. So I said, we'll just take the S-Bahn, but the
    monitor at the track said the train was 5 minutes late. And
    then 10. And then 20. It was close to time for the bus to
    go, so we slogged back there ... only to find that the bus
    was broken down. So grumblingly back to the train tracks
    for our now 40-minute past time chariot. I think that they
    just took the delayed one out of service, and this was the
    next one, more or less on time.

    At Frankenstadion we dragged our luggage through a rock
    festival (?!) and to the hotel, which received us with
    open arms and free drinks.
  12. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Breakfast was as remembered, pretty much the standard,
    except that the breakfast links had savory and nutmeg or
    somesuch in them to keep them in line with the Bratwursts
    of local renown. I had assorted proteins and fruit products
    as usual, plus an extra banana for potassium.

    There was some guy up front who raised a ruckus because
    breakfast wasn't included in his rate, and he pushed and
    pushed and got a concession for half price provided he and
    his family ate only the breads and cold foods (I guess
    that's the "continental" option). He complained loudly
    throughout the meal; we could hear him well despite his
    table being nowhere near ours. There were a lot of well-
    tattooed young folks from the rock festival who quietly
    ate and occasionally rolled their eyes at the guy.

    Time to check out and get lili some more Starwood credit.
    We took the bus downtown, deposited our stuff at the desk
    at the Meridien, and wandered around town again, then had
    a light lunch - sausages with bread and beer - at Bratwurst
    Roslein, and I mused on how funny it would be if this
    ended up being a stop on the tour to come. After which we
    met all the FTMMers for the afternoon guided walking tour,
    whose theme was the local foods of Franconia, with samples.
    First stop of course: Bratwurst Roslein.

    Followed by the (sites of the mediaeval) goose market,
    granary, meat butchery, wine storage, the oldest church in
    town, the town brewery, punctuated with snack stops with
    more or less appropriate goodies - the hard but savory brown
    bread, gingerbread, sausages, and so on; the sillily amusing
    one was gummy candies to illustrate the wine place. Our
    guide was an earnest, cute, and very nervous young student.
    We tried not to be too disruptive and distracting and goofy.

    The tour ended at the Altstadthof brewery, where we were
    treated to a sample of the local red beer. The rest of the
    crew went off to do the Bierfest thing, which we'd already
    done, so we stayed here for a round: I had a rather nice

    Back to the hotel for a supposedly better junior suite,
    which had its oddities. For one thing, to make the extra
    space, it had been built out into the corridor, creating a
    stenosis that must have annoyed people trying to get past
    with their luggage. For another, the floors weren't flat,
    with the passage into each area an open invitation for one
    to stub one's toe. And most oddly, the sleeping and living
    areas were separated by a TV and its mounting only. There
    might have been a little more room than the other had had,
    but the extra space was not apparent, and the bathroom was
    about 2/3 the size (still perfectly adequate).

    It was soon time to go to the cellar at the Alte Kuch'n,
    where we were feasted as befits a group of rowdy mediaeval
    knights and their molls (or whatever they were called),
    with bardic musical entertainment. We learned a traditional
    song, To Drunkenness, whose words any tippler can remember
    even after several rounds:

    Zum Rausche, Zum Rausche, tra lalala lalala lalala la,
    Zum Rausche, Zum Rausche, tra lalala lalala la.

    The food was served in big platters. To tell the truth, I
    remember it in not so much detail, more because it was
    (though perfectly fine) not memorable than because of any
    condition of inebriation.

    Here's the menu as presented by the Website:

    Mead served in a bullock's horn

    Wow, this was sweet. Not too alcoholic, but as I found later
    in the trip, sugariness multiplies the effect of ethanol on
    me. Not much honey flavor, either.

    Flat cake with lard, herbal curd and radish

    This was a scantily leavened bread served with
    Griebenschmalz, which is so much more than lard - it's pig
    fat mixed with ground-up cracklings; Krauterquark - dairy
    product with vegetables; and Rettisch and Radieschen - both
    big white and little red radishes, the white one cut up
    with a spiral slicer that I doubt had been available in
    mediaeval times.

    Home made jellied meat

    Head cheese. This didn't seem to go over too well with my
    tablemates, so I got plenty. It was kind of sour but very
    porky, and the texture was appropriate, which means not

    Rich beef soup with small dumplings

    The small dumplings were !matzoh balls!.

    Stuffed quail wrapped in bacon fresh from the stove

    I was a little disappointed, as the quail were rather
    overdone and whatever flavor quail have was overwhelmed by
    the bacon. I like bacon, but a nice poultry flavor shouldn't
    be submerged like this.

    Roasted spareribs with cabbage salad and lambs lettuce

    I had one. It was fine. There were also some nonrib bits
    on the platter, including a pretty Schweinshaxe. For some
    reason, the meat was covered with pickled peperoncini.

    House made Apple-pancakes grandmas style

    I was hoping for Kaiserschmarrn with apples, but this
    was plainer and not moreish at all. The good thing about it
    was that it wasn't too sweet.

    The alpine dairyman's cheese and fruits

    The cheeses looked pretty modern. The fruits were Red Globe

    So ... not particularly mediaeval. But I admit a lot of fun.

    Especially with lots of Ritter Sankt Georg, a Franconian
    beer, which was reasonably reasonable in price and quality.

    As we had a big day coming up, afterbar barhopping was
    deemed not to be a great idea, and we staggered to our
    respective lodgings; most of us wisely had chosen places
    near the train station, either the Meridien or the Hampton.
  13. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Early morning train to Wurzburg. We all met at 0830 at the
    tram stop and trooped to the track. All were accounted for,
    and we assorted ourselves into groups for our Good Weekend
    tickets, which gave us enormous discounts on the train fare.

    It was a short, chatty trip, and we all gathered at our
    meeting point with our guide for the city tour, a woman in
    young middle age with an interest bordering on obsession
    with church buildings.

    We stopped at the imposing grounds of the Juliusspital, a
    multipurpose social welfare organization founded by one of
    the more progressive prince-bishops of the 16th century: it
    encompasses a hospital, hospice, and rest home, but it's
    most known for its winemaking - it owns the largest single
    vineyard (over 400 acres) in Germany.

    Then, in a shaded little courtyard near the cathedral, the
    tomb of the mediaeval poet-musician Walther von der
    Vogelweide, author of such top-sellers as Ah Where Are Hours
    Departed Fled and and Closed to Me now Is Fortune's Gate.
    In his day, these actually were top-sellers.

    We were encouraged to spend a fair amount of time admiring
    the many beautiful churches in the old city, reserving most
    of our attention to the Cathedral of St. Killian (inside and
    out) and the church of St. Mary (outside only).

    Walked through the throngs at the Weinfest, and our tour
    concluded at a Biergarten in the old town hall, a fitting
    end point, but for lili and me, a bench at the Weinfest
    beckoned, and at the Juliusspital booth we ordered a crisp
    Schweinshaxe and a bottle of Julius Rotwein cuvee 14, which
    was fruity and agreeable and went well with the big but not
    too big serving of meat and the smallish but too big serving
    of Kartoffelkloess.

    At about half-past one we joined some of our group at an
    ice-cream parlor on the way to the Residenz. I didn't have
    anything. It was getting hot, and most of us scattered to
    look for bottled water: some found little bottles for a
    couple Euro at the tourist stands; other more enterprising
    among us got bottles three times that size at a local
    grocery store for 85c. Perhaps they could have been truly
    enterprising and started a water concession.

    2:05, and it was time for another encounter with an earnest
    and scholarly historian for the tour of the castle's public
    spaces. I prefer tours that include kitchens and dining
    areas, because that's the way I am, in addition to the
    uniformly ornate receiving rooms, which begin to bore me
    after a while. I admit that the grandeur of the Tiepolo
    frescoes of the four continents take your breath away, but
    after a while one wants to breathe. All in all, this took
    maybe an hour and half, and there was plenty of time for
    another ice-cream parlor visit or (for me) a lie-down on
    the steps by the fountain.

    Our final visit was to the huge wine celler, the Staatliche
    Hofkeller underneath the castle, with its impressive tuns
    holding upwards of 600 gallons each. This was also designed
    by Balthasar Neumann, who had been the architect of the
    castle itself. Bunches of the usual propaganda about the
    wonderful terroir and the history and expertise behind every
    glass of elixir, that kind of thing. At the conclusion of
    this, our reward was a taster glass of a young Riesling,
    fresh and fruity, typical in style but with a more
    pronounced peachy apricotty aroma than usual.

    We had been an obedient little group, so our day concluded
    a bit early; some of us decided to make good use of our
    remaining hour and so had a drink at the Weinstube near the
    train station belonging to this selfsame Juliusspital, where
    I ordered a bottle of Domina 14 for the renegade red wine
    tipplers. At a tad over $5 a glass, not too bad. I'm not
    certain what the white people had - there were so many
    choices by the glass, with even more interesting options in
    bottle. I do remember someone giving me a taste of a
    somewhat delicious Black Riesling, which looked and felt
    like a red wine but tasted more like a white - an uneasy
    combination. Turns out this isn't a Riesling at all but
    another name for the Pinot Meunier.
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  14. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    Return by train to NUE

    By some miracle we all made it to the platform on time
    and got 18 seats together. Plus beer, which some of us had
    picked up a case of and the swilling of which in public is
    not frowned on in this country, which is enlightened in
    this regard.

    Some cute young girls came down the aisle selling what I
    thought was schnapps but turned out to be weird fruit
    liqueur - I didn't have any singles so bought a bunch,
    of which I had a plum and a something else and gave the
    rest to whoever wanted. I think this contributed to my
    being under the weather later. Anyhow, I recall little
    after that. As the hotel was so close, lili and I went
    back for a wash-up; after a bit of recuperating time, we
    joined the group for dinner at Marientorzwinger, which,
    thank the gods, is right close by. The weather was fine
    enough, so we found the group in the outside Biergarten.

    I was oddly tired of roast pig parts by now, so I ordered
    a Schnitzel (of course pork) au naturel; the waitress was
    surprised that I didn't want any side dish with that. lili
    had a burger, I believe her first on the trip. To go with,
    beers. They tasted like Lederer I think, but in this
    condition I was unqualified to judge. The Schnitzel was not
    overwhelmingly large, which disappointed me at first, but it
    turned out to be just the right size. It was properly
    pounded thin, breaded, and fried just so. Quite good.

    I forgot that I'd paid. lili reports that I tried to pay
    twice. It's lucky the hotel was just a couple blocks away.

    Many thanks to f0zzyNUE for arranging everything and
    shepherding a bunch of FTMMers around Franconia.
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  15. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    LH 147 NUE FRA 1115 1205 733 24E, 25F
    LH 236 FRA FCO 1540 1725 321 10F
    LH2157 NUE MUC 0945 1025 CR9
    LH1846 MUC FCO 1600 1730 321

    United is prone to messing up things, as you may know. And
    booking tickets on partner airlines is not its forte. I had
    reservations out on a particular set of LH flights and back
    on a set of LX flights. The itinerary failed to ticket
    properly not once, not twice, but three times, and I was
    eventually forced to make an all-LH reservation for about a
    hundred smackers more. Isn't LX part of LH or something?

    The good part is that I got to fly out on the first leg with

    We left the hotel at 9 something and were inside security by
    10, even with an eventually successful attempt to get my *G
    number in the reservation and a futile one to get seats
    together (I'd been too under the weather to figure this out
    the night before).

    We ended up with a middle seat in the third to last row and
    a window seat in the second to last row. I tried to reassure
    myself "it's only a dream ... only a dream ...," but when
    that didn't work, "it's only a 25-minute flight ...".

    The Senator lounge was far away, the Business one close to
    where she was leaving from, so we chose ease and convenience
    over deliciousness. She was leaving before I, but we had
    just an hour or so to make future plans and to nosh on the
    abundant but not particularly tasty food offerings: the
    Wiener sausages were actually quite okay; the bean soup
    (contains chicken and pork products) shall we say not
    Senate bean soup. A Sicilian red ink was better than the
    local stuff - I let lili sample and choose which one she
    wanted; she made the right choice; the other was almost but
    not quite throwawayable, so I drank it down. Had an hour
    after we said goodbye to repent my foolishness and cleanse
    my palate with other potables.

    My next flight, way up the way, was uneventful, except
    that FCO is in a certain state of turmoil because of the
    fire that had ravaged Terminal 3 some weeks before.

    The train to Fara Sabina, where my friend Jim picked me up,
    is the end of the line, how convenient is that.

    And upon these heels follows a few days of down time during
    which my friends and I ate stray rabbits and chickens and
    drank copiously of cheap red wine and reminisced about
    decades-old triumphs and failures in musical life, whose
    description would interest nobody, myself included.
  16. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    LH1845 FCO FRA 1520 1655 320 12A
    LH2162 FRA NUE 1845 1920 CR9 7D
    LX1737 FCO ZRH 1455 1635 320
    LX1192 ZRH NUE 1725 1820 ARJ

    Back to the real world. Having checked in ahead of time, I
    got considerably better seats. There is no longer a Star
    lounge at the airport, owing to that fire, so I was issued
    an E10 voucher for "refreshments." Strangely, I was hungry
    for pig parts again after a few days away from such and was
    happy to find Porchetta Colosseum in Terminal 1 (you check
    in at Terminal 3, and nobody tells you you have to go to
    Terminal 1 to find the planes). When I ordered the set meal
    #2 (E10 even) mit viel Fett a less jolly and less German
    version of the Sau im Weckla guy behind the counter took
    one of the premade panini, opened it up, and tossed in a
    few extra bits of fat and crackling, most satisfactory. The
    sandwich was actually pretty good, though salty; to go with,
    a cup of vino molto ordinario and one of "tiramisu" made
    with an abundance of artificial rum flavoring (I should have
    gotten the chocolate mousse instead). So I was fed better
    than I would have been at Sala Mosaici, though the booze
    was, er, even more dubious.

    The flight from Rome was delayed an hour, so I tried to sit
    in the handicapped seats, to which some officious guy tried
    to evict me, whereupon he got an earful in a mixture of
    bad Italian, bad German, and okay English to the effect that
    I'm a senior citizen who's had a heart attack, and he could
    stuff that in his pipe and smoke it. He gave the classic
    shrug and gave up.

    We didn't make up any time on the flight, so there was no
    chance to revisit the lounge or get anything to eat or drink.
    Luckily, we pulled in to A9 I think it was, and I was
    scheduled out of A8 - which turns out to be a bus gate. We
    loaded up a little early (there was a second bus) and took
    off expeditiously. Landed at a bus gate as well at NUE, but
    at least we were reasonably on time, and I was back at the
    Hilton by 2100 via the U2 and S2, which worked perfectly.

    Even though I was on an Expedia or similar rate and not
    technically entitled to anything, I was offered late
    checkout and breakfast (both refused with thanks) and
    drink coupons (accepted with thanks).

    The room was almost exactly the same as I'd received before
    under my Diamond credentials.

    LH 147 NUE FRA 1115 1205 733 5F

    Used my cleverly saved last strip of my 4-Streifenticket
    to get back to the airport, where I was greeted with the
    news that my upgrades hadn't and probably wouldn't clear,
    despite my having paid almost twice the cheapest fare for
    a higher spot on the upgrade ladder, so I drowned my
    sorrows in Dici Otto Lune, part of a carefully orchestrated
    plan to minimize my level of consciousness during what were
    to be my sixth and seventh consecutive flights in coach.

    I slept through this flight, which came in a bit early, so
    there was time to hit the Senator lounge for a few pops of
    various Bartelshof fruit schnappses and a final Dici Otto
    and a banana, to ensure adequate slumber across the water.
    Oh, yes, some kind of vegetarian pasta in tomato sauce,
    which went well with the Wiener frankfurters or Frankfurter
    wieners; a sour, seedy Rote Gruetze for dessert.

    UA 902 FRA SFO 1355 1615 744 20D

    I was 7 on the waitlist, so my sharp ears noting, via
    indiscreet conversation with the cabin staff, that the
    person in 10A being a United employee was less painful than
    if I had been number 1 or 2.

    To give United credit, the E+ section was pretty open, with
    many of us getting an empty next to us, whereas E- was full
    to bursting.

    I thought I recognized two of the SFO-based FAs. I greeted
    one of them, a guy with a salt-and-pepper beard, who turned
    out not to be the person I thought he was, but he did know
    that person, oddly enough.

    There were choices for dinner; I said I didn't care and was
    issued the vegetarian. I forget what the other(s) was or
    were. On my plate - some more barley stuff in the guise of a
    salad, slightly sour and mildly unpleasant, and an adequate
    dish of three-cheese pasta (ricotta-filled manicotti with
    a bit of mozz and parm on top); this was okay except that
    the red sauce had a couple of pieces of zucchini in among
    the onions and things. Wine, from a tetrapak, was about as
    good as what business class was getting out of a bottle.

    Loseley ice cream for dessert; it was okay.

    I took a Benadryl and got maybe 5 hours of sleep total, not
    much less than I would have gotten in a lie-flat, though I
    ended up more sore than I would have been in biz.

    There was a ton of time between flights; I tried to get on
    another, either earlier or later-in-F, but everything to the
    NYC airports was zeroed out, including the connectings,
    except for one that had one seat in F, but they wouldn't
    give me it. So three hours and change of aimless wandering
    punctuated with an occasional swill of that newfound elixir
    McCormick's American whiskey.

    UA704 SFO JFK 2100 0532 752 21C

    I ended up 3 on the waitlist.

    This may be the worst E+ there is. Despite being in the
    aisle of the second wing exit row, I felt cramped, and the
    air was dank and unpleasant for the whole flight.

    The FAs didn't care that the two guys next to me didn't
    understand English (proof: when asked to open the window
    shades they tried to do something else that plausibly
    might be associated with the exit row, such as put their
    already up seat into the full upright and locked position);
    they did however care about the three girls in front who
    didn't want to put their handbags away - after some
    protestations, the girls parted with the bags but only if
    they could see where they were put.

    I slept a bit, though fitfully, during the flight despite
    having got a bunch on the previous. McCormick has its uses
    after all. There were several water services, about hourly
    at a guess.

    We landed a tad early.
    Newscience likes this.
  17. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    The Lexington Hotel is a former Radisson, they tell me, now
    renovated and rebranded as an Autograph Collection property.

    It's a classic in that old musty way and reminds me of the
    places we stayed in (not very frequently) when I was a kid,
    this being neither a good nor a bad thing.

    Being a Gold, I got a decent-size corner room on 16 whose
    downside was that the bathroom was tiny and unventilated and
    thus a bit mildewy; also it was of a peculiar setup so if
    you sat on the throne you'd hit your elbow on the wall. Plus
    if you didn't shut the lid when you flushed there was
    backsplash onto the towel rack, which was kind of gross. Oh,
    the autoflush mechanism was disabled so you had to push the
    side button every time - I guess they repented the idiotic
    idea but were too cheap to replace the toilets or even just
    the flushers. More than you wanted to know, but just to
    emphasize that the plumbing designer did a very poor job.

    At checkin I had asked the clerk whether the Chinese place
    in the hotel was any good. She I believe was obligated to
    give the affirmative, but it was lunchtime, and hunger took
    precedence over any rational decisionmaking. I poked my
    nose in and found a room full of Asians, which seemed to be
    a good sign. The place is called, depending on whom you
    read, Dynasty or S. Dynasty.

    The usual taciturn mainland Chinese staff who, though slow
    and surly-looking, did their job quite okay.

    They gave me a complimentary little dish of wilted (I think
    intentionally) bean sprouts in a light soy-sesame dressing,
    pretty good.

    Szechuan dumplings were not what I expected at all. These
    were really quite ordinary wontons in the historical scheme
    of things, but what used to be okay in the past is a shining
    paragon these days. The filling was your unnotable scallion
    pork thing such as I make, but the wrappers were thin, silky,
    and perfectly cooked. Instead of a thin soy and hot oil
    dressing, these were served in a slightly spicy peanut butter
    based soup that actually tasted very good but was a bit thick
    and rich for the weather, which was pretty hot. I thought of
    asking for some hot oil to jazz things up, but in view of the
    fact that I was going to go eat a large meal later, I wanted
    my digestion to be relatively unencumbered.

    A main course of twice-cooked pork didn't deserve the name:
    it was hardly once-cooked, pink in the middle; also, this
    dish, whose meat should be blanched, drained, and stir-fried,
    ought to be pork belly; in this case it was pork shoulder,
    but almost appropriately fatty. Completing the mix were
    bamboo shoots (from frozen, not canned, very nice), black
    mushrooms, green peppers, and head cabbage all in irregular
    chunks, and a couple of tongues of pressed bean curd. The
    sauce was your usual brownish southern Chinese sauce; its
    heat was provided by a teaspoonful maybe of la dou ban,
    which meant that it was 1. too salty and 2. not hot enough.

    The lunch portion came with decent rice sprinkled with black
    sesame seeds and a cup of vegetable broth with carrots in
    irregular dice and nappa cabbage.

    The service was brusque but not mean; I note that the staff
    became positively nice when regulars came in. I'd give the
    meal a B- or so; if I'd het it up with goodness it might have
    made it to a full B.
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  18. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    Soup Do

    For some reason, I imagined La Bonne Soupe was on 53rd
    between 5 and 6, not that I hadn't been there before, and
    not that I didn't know that was where MOMA is (I really
    really preferred the pre-renovation museum, but then I am
    a senior citizen). Eventually I got there, finding most of
    the guests already in place at their long tables. So I was
    deprived of the monitor wine expertise (but didn't have to
    experience the monitor wine spend); instead I sat at a
    little adjacent table with CDKing and his lovely Pat, who
    atypically for this group is vegan.

    We figured a bottle for three, so I asked for one of the
    house Cotes du Rhone; what came was the slightly better one
    from the wine list (not better enough to remember its name)
    for $2 more. I remember this same charade from last time.
    It was $2 okayly spent.

    Pat ordered the creme andalouse, and I wondered how they
    made a vegan cream soup, but whatever; CDKing got a burger
    with peppercorn cream, medium, which came medium.

    My burger maison ordered rare came medium as well, which
    was okay, because it was of good meat; the sort of
    bordelaise sauce generously ladled over was very salty.

    With these came an abundance of fries - it turns out that
    Pat had ordered one for herself, so we got three big cones
    and managed to finish about one and a half.

    This is a particularly congenial gathering, and Catman is
    a fine host, and we talked and talked and ate and ate, and
    time veritably flew.

    It was 2230ish when the gathering broke up. Insofar as I was
    a bit between time zones and there was an early day coming
    up, I passed on a couple afterparty/boozing offers, being
    confident that if I drank more I'd oversleep all alarms.

    Bed enveloped me in its arms, and I got a welcome seven
    hours before the morning light (curtains left open for this
    purpose) woke me, minutes before the first of my set alarms.
  19. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    BRT and end of adventure

    This year the bus was a manageable 20-something passenger
    one - an ideal number, as we all got to intermingle and
    get to know one another (not that we needed to - the vast
    majority of us are recidivists). There was some planned
    divergence from previous itineraries as well as a couple
    improvisations, owing to obstacles not of our own making.
    We started off with a whimper - our planned exit from
    Manhattan was blocked by a street fair or ten, and it
    wasn't for a while that we managed to get out of town.
    The lunch stop was early and lengthened: the Smorgasburg
    collection of food stalls in Williamsburg, of which I
    made full use. It's not that huge of an area, but there's
    plenty of variety, and the quality is good.

    I made a quick tour of the area, making note of promising
    spots for later, but even at 11-something on the first
    round, Mighty Quinn's aroma was mighty enticing, and I got
    there just as the guy in back was slicing up the first of
    the briskets, so I asked for a fatty brisket sandwich hold
    the bread, with a garnish of pickled jalapenos. It was good,
    especially if as I do you appreciate that slick glistening
    translucent pinguitudinity ... encountering a few of our
    number, I offered tastes (it was a generous enough portion),
    and some chose to head down there for more.

    My next stop was Bite Size Kitchen, whose offerings included
    buns filled with duck, chicken, or pork belly. Again I asked
    for a pork belly one without the bun, and it was good - not
    the tenderest, but the Chinese-style braising sauce was good
    - soy salty and just a bit sweet, with aromatics peeking out
    here and there. I liked it so much that I asked if I could
    get two more at a buck off (one was $5, but if you get two
    or more, the subsequent ones are a buck off). I got another
    pork belly and a duck, again without the bun. The duck was
    good but not as good and came with cucumber and assorted
    distractions. Again I gave away a couple tastes, and my
    friends immediately got in line to buy their own.

    Hurray, the beer area was open! I'm glad I had my GE card,
    because they were checking ID, no exceptions. I tried two
    offerings, both from Brooklyn makers - the Other Half IPA was
    a citrusy but somewhat less hoppy than usual version; Kelso
    Brewing's Smorgasbeer was a hoppier than usual lager. Both
    were good but not worth the $7 per glass.

    At some point jswong went over to Brooklyn Oyster Party and
    bought a dozen on the half shell, which he shared with all
    comers (I was the only acceptor). Fresh, briny, good.

    A stop new to me - a close view of the Verrazano Narrows and
    its bridge (which when I was a kid was one of the new wonders
    of the world and the longest single span in the US).

    Green-Wood Cemetery is the highest point in Brooklyn and
    offers panoramic views; in addition it is the resting place
    of numerous heroes and antiheroes of New York lore, from
    Boss Tweed to Leonard Bernstein (pronounced "steen"). Sadly,
    we were turned back by a security guard who deemed us to be
    too rowdy or something, so we didn't get to see anything but
    the elaborate front gate. Later, I read the cemetery's
    official brochure, and there's nothing about tours not being

    We went to the familiar haunts, the oldest house in town,
    the historic old Dutch church, the dhammer53 ancestral home,
    and so on; then to Coney Island, where we had a rest and
    refreshment stop - I went to Nathan's and instead of a dog I
    got some fairly costly cherrystones on the half shell, which
    price was partially made up for by the fact that a quart of
    Sam went for only $8 something.

    I was a little anxious because all that beer might tend to
    cause problems later on, as our bus didn't have a restroom,
    but the sweat-inducing weather made that a nonissue, and
    further, during the Starbuck's break in the later afternoon,
    a bar-restaurant called Tutta Pasta lured several of us in.
    We had more beers, which CMK10 paid for when we weren't

    L&B Spumoni Gardens is an annual stop, and though I far
    prefer the thin-crust style (earning raised eyebrows from
    the Brooklynites), I bought a slice from the enterprising
    CMK10, who had bought a flat. A Budweiser helped me choke
    that down; after which I picked up a large spumoni for
    people to taste; some did. It wasn't the most popular thing
    on the tour.

    Dessert at Cuccio's Bakery (Teena's having gone out of
    business) - I got a few mini-cannoli and offered them to my
    friends. Again, my taste in sweets seems to go against the

    And on to a spectacular sunset on the promenade, after
    which our esteemed colleague jackal, who had not been on
    the bus, caught up with us bearing gifts of Di Fara's pies.
    I had a slice of sausage and pepper. It was good, more to
    my taste than the thick Sicilian of L&B. Then back into
    Manhattan and home.

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