(Positive Pic Of the Day) PPOD #70: Ritter Sport Chocolate Factory in Waldenbuch

A quick trip to a famous chocolate factory is the perfect way to start the week. With a few hours to spare this morning, I decided to sweeten the day with a visit to the town of Waldenbuch. It’s only a 25 minute drive from Herrenberg.

Waldenbuch is a town in the Böblingen district of Baden Württemberg, Germany. It’s approximately 30 minutes by car from Stuttgart. This town is best known as the home base for the Ritter Sport Chocolate Factory.

History:

  • In 1912, Albert Eugene Ritter and his wife Clara Ritter made and sold the first Ritter chocolates in Stuttgart.
  • They moved their expanding business to Waldenbuch in 1930.
  • In 1932, Clara Ritter proposed the “Ritter Sport Chocolate.” Because chocolate bars kept breaking in people’s pockets, she introduced the square shaped bars that fit nicely into pockets of jackets. It weighs the same as a normal long bar of chocolate with the convenience of the square shape.
  • Ritter Sport mini (100 g square) chocolates were introduced in 1982.
  • In 2004, the smallest square, the chocolate cube was introduced.
  • Organic chocolate varieties were introduced in 2008.

Through the years, Ritter Sport has added an art museum, a chocolate museum, and a café.

The chocolate shop and museum are on the right side of the building as you walk towards the bright outdoor area of the café. The chocolate museum is free to visitors and is located on the second floor, above the chocolate shop.

The chocolate museum is not very big but has a lot of interesting information, images, and chocolate bars developed by the company over the years. It also features the different varieties of cacao used in their chocolates and where they come from.

The Center for Sustainable Corporate Leadership or Zentrum für Nachaltige Unternehmensführung (ZNU) developed standards to measure a company’s sustainability. Ritter Sport fulfilled the requirements of the ZNU.

For more info: https://www.ritter-sport.de/en/Family-business-values/sustainability/certification/

My favorite part is the Schoko Automat or Choco machine. All you have to do is press the flashing green button. The model factory shakes and releases a chocolate into a toy dump truck. The truck drives around the track and dumps the chocolate into the dispenser. It’s pretty entertaining to watch.

After visiting the chocolate museum, I walked down to the shop but unfortunately it was closed today due to the holiday. I’ve been to the chocolate shop a couple of times before. The store is filled with Ritter Sport chocolate bars of different flavors and sizes. There are also chocolates for different occasions such as Easter and Christmas, and special edition chocolates. Souvenirs of all kinds are also sold here such as shirts, bags, umbrellas, storage containers etc.

I walked to the art museum which is located on the left side of the building beside the cafè. It’s €6 for adults, and free for children. The artwork in this museum are simple but interesting. You can get an audio guide and choose the language you prefer. All you have to do is press the number that corresponds to your choice of artwork.

My favorite piece of art is the black and white diamond shaped object by Toni Costa (pic below). It’s titled Alternazione. The black and white patterns seem to change depending on where you stand. I swayed back and forth and I loved the way it moved with me. I stopped after a few curious glances from other visitors, but it was fun. Below is the picture of the artwork. It’s only one object taken from different positions.

I also had fun with the object below. I liked looking into the hole to view the object across the room and try to focus it in the center. I looked from both sides and picked this one.

I ended my visit by sitting outside the café and enjoying lunch under the bright blue skies. The Ritter-Sport Café is famous for its hot chocolate. Imagine your favorite chocolate in a cup mixed with creamy steamed milk. It makes my mouth water just thinking about it. I chose the panini with salad and the mousse au chocolat. The salad was light and the panini was delicious. And the best hot chocolate award goes to… drumroll please… Ritter Sport Café!

As I headed back to my car, I saw a lovely couple sitting on a bench underneath streams of different colored lights, reflecting down from the ceiling. What a nice image to end the visit!

A few tips:

  • Bring cash. The café doesn’t take credit cards.
  • The chocolate shop is closed during holidays but the art museum, café, and chocolate museum are open for business.
  • The art museum charges €6 for adults. They give a discount for students and groups of 10 or more. Kids are free.
  • Bring a bag for the chocolates you plan on buying. You can purchase a plastic bag at the checkout counter for €1 or more.
  • The chocolates are reasonably priced but the souvenirs are a little expensive.
  • There are chocolates sold in bulk located in the back of the store if you want to save a few euros.
  • They have parking available for visitors.
  • It’s worth the visit if you have a few hours to spare.

The more I walked around the grounds of Ritter Sport, the more I liked the company and their chocolates. The chocolate museum provided a lot of good information on the history, business practice and quality of their products. The café served the best hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted. The art museum made me feel like a kid full of wonder with its simple but fun and interesting works of art.

For more info: https://www.ritter-sport.de/en/Visit-RITTER-SPORT/

(Positive Pic Of the Day) PPOD #69: Reutlingen

Reutlingen, a city worth exploring in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. We spent the afternoon walking around its streets to get an initial feel for the city. Today is a Sunday and a holiday so we’ll probably have to visit again on a nicer, sunnier day when most of the stores and restaurants are open.

For more info: (copy and paste to google chrome for translation) https://www.reutlingen.de/willkommen

We parked in the parking structure closest to the Marienkirche or St. Mary’s church. It’s a Gothic style church built in 1247-1343.

The Marienkirche is known to be one of the most distinct Gothic architecture in Schwaben or Swabia. This is one of the times I wish I had a good camera to capture the size and details of this church. Marienkirche was so damaged during a fire in 1726 that it was rebuilt in the Neo-Gothic style in 1893.

Next to this church stands a fountain with the statue in the center. It’s a statue of Emperor Frederick II, king of Germany in 1212 who gave the city its charter.

Around the corner from this church is the Zunftbrunnen (translates to guild fountain) which reflects the 12 guilds or trades that have supported this city.

We walked around the town and discovered more interesting buildings and fountains.

This market fountain or Marktbrunnen was built in the 16th century. The statue is of Emperor Maximilian II. He played an important part in bringing back the independence of this city.

The building next to the fountain of Emperor Maximilian II is the the Spitalhof (pic above). The word Spital translates to hospital. This building was built as a hospital in the 14th century and rebuilt in the 18th century.

As we continued our walk, we came upon another fountain.

The Gerber und Farberbrunnen (Tanners’ and Dyers’ fountain) built in the 1920’s reflects two of the trades in this city. It sits next to a small chapel which is now Café Nikolai. Reutlingen currently has a textile and leather goods industry.

We continued to explore some of the big and narrow streets lined with stores and beautiful foliage.

The Spreuerhofstraße is also in this town. It’s one of the world’s narrowest street. Unfortunately, it’s so narrow we missed it. From reviews we’ve read, we’re not missing out on much. It will just be another reason to come back😉.

We ended our day with an early dinner at the Pancake House. We love having breakfast for dinner.

We had to try this place. It serves pancakes unlike the ones we’ve had before. Check out the menu.

Yes, you read it right. Pancakes with everything from Nutella, fruits, turkey, olives, cheese… all the way to tuna fish! My husband had the pancake with ham, olives, mushrooms, and cheese. I had the one with hot raspberries and a scoop of ice cream, and my daughter had Nutella and banana.

The pancakes were thick and soft. My daughter and I had regular tasting pancakes but a little on the bland side. My husband’s pancake smelled like pizza. It also tasted like pizza but with the consistency of a pancake. The flavor was good except it wasn’t on a pizza crust. The bill came to €31 for three pancakes and three drinks. I don’t think it’s worth it. We’ll stick to our homemade buttermilk pancakes.

Overall, we had a pleasant experience in Reutlingen even on a cloudy day. It’s definitely worth a half-day visit.

(Positive Pic Of the Day) PPOD #68: Saturday in Sindelfingen

Sindelfingen is a small town in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It is better known for the Mercedes-Benz assembly plant. It’s approximately a 20 minute drive from Stuttgart. Sindelfingen is only a few train stops and a switch away from Herrenberg so we decided to visit the town today.

The Marktplatz or Market place is only a few minutes walk from the train station. This town has a lot more stores and restaurants than Herrenberg.

As we crossed the street and walked further, we came across a Greek festival. There were tents serving Greek food, people walked about the place while music played in the background. Kids played tag while adults sat down around fest tables and enjoyed their meals.

After walking around the festival, we walked back to one of the restaurants for schnitzel and beer. Schnitzel is a popular German meal. It’s made of pork, beef, chicken, or veal. It’s a thin cut of meat, breaded and fried. It’s absolutely delicious and filling. This is our first time at this restaurant. It’s called Aura. It has an outdoor seating area and a terrace for customers who want to enjoy the view and weather.

The picture you see below is called a Maypole or Maibaum. It is a tall wooden pole built as part of folk festivals. A Maypole dance often takes place around it. My daughter said she studied about it in school. According to her, this pole is usually erected on the 1st day of May to welcome Spring. It is sometimes left plain or decorated and painted, and a small part of the tree is usually left on the top. Maypoles are in danger of getting stolen by other rival towns in the region. It’s embarrassing to get your town’s Maibaum stolen. It can be traded back through a hefty ransom of food and beer. I found this story interesting and sort of fun.

Dunkelweizen is one our favorite beers. Dunkel means dark. It’s a darker version of Hefeweizen. It’s a wheat beer common in Southern Germany. It may look intimidating with its dark color but it has a complex taste and flavor. It also has a balanced bitterness. I was hesitant to try it at first but I’m glad I did because it’s now number one on my list of great tasting beers.

We ordered two schnitzels with fries on the side. My daughter and I planned on sharing one. We were surprised when our food came. It was much, much bigger than we expected. My daughter and I were only able to eat a third of the schnitzel. My husband only ate half of his.

It was a hearty meal. It was perfectly breaded and crispy on the outside and tender and moist, on the inside. It was also full of flavor. We’ve had our fair share of schnitzels in the past couple years living here but this tops everything. We took the rest home and plan on eating the leftovers for breakfast tomorrow (it’s so big it might even cover lunch too). We’ve found our new schnitzel spot.

The weather was cloudy and a bit chilly this morning. My family and I almost stayed home. We spent the morning relaxing and spending quality time watching movies. I’m glad the growling of our stomachs got us off the couch and sent us on a hunt for new food places.

It is our willingness to try new things that allows us to live more colorful and exciting lives. We need to be willing to try new experiences (as long as it doesn’t do us or anyone harm in anyway). We’ll never know what we’re missing until we try.

Time to head home. Have you tried something new today?

(Positive Pic Of the Day) PPOD #67: Rediscovering Rottenburg

Can you see the beginning of a beautiful day? The sun’s rays are peering through the early morning light. I just knew it was going to be a nice day. I kept stopping to take pictures on our way to the bus stop. I knew I was slowing down my daughter this morning. No matter, I can always drive her to school.

We made it to the bus stop and off she went. As I walked to the parking lot, the sweet smell of the white flowers growing on the trees filled the air up and down this little street. I’m walking at a fast pace to get to my car as if the sunshine would disappear. I plan on going to Horb am Neckar.

I was five minutes on the autobahn when the sky turned gray. Okay, minor setback. For some reason, I decided to move towards the Rottenburg exit. I believe that things happen for a reason so I just went with it and changed my GPS settings for Rottenburg.

As I got closer to the town of Rottenburg, the fog got thicker. This wasn’t enough to dampen my spirit. I continued on and found a public parking garage right off the main roundabout. I took the staircase down to the street and found a sign for a museum and some Roman ruins. Cool!

I didn’t find any museum and figured it’s in the main square. I asked a lady for directions and she was nice enough to walk with me towards the street that will take me to the center of town. She works for the bishop of the town. They organized projects for all the churches in the area. She works at this building. I thought it was a museum or a church but it’s neither. It’s basically a workplace for all 30 staff members that worked for the bishop.

She recommended the restaurant across the street for lunch. She said it gets packed because the food is good and affordable. I thanked her for the info and went on my way.

It’s still foggy but I thought I’d try to get some pictures. It didn’t turn out as clear as I wanted.

I walked back and decided to grab some breakfast. I hoped the sky would clear up while I enjoyed some grub. I saw a bakery that looked interesting. It had American license plates hanging on the wall.

I ordered a cappuccino and a pretzel bread with cheese and sausage. Who doesn’t like sausage at 8 in the morning? After eating, I asked the guy behind the counter if the owner traveled to all the places named on the license plates. He said No, and that he was the owner. He said he collects them and some were given by customers and friends. While I bothered the man for info, the sky cleared up a bit and the day just got brighter. I decided to go back to the main square and re-take some photos.

The Marktbrunnen or Market Fountain is said to be the most beautiful gothic fountain column in Southwest Germany. As I passed the small farmer’s market, I heard a familiar sound so I followed it. I was surprised to find some familiar faces. It’s the musicians I took a picture of last month in Herrenberg. I sat with them for a few minutes and showed them their picture.

I kept walking down the street with no clue to where I was heading. I saw a tower sticking out on the street to my right so I decided to head towards it. I loved what I saw when I reached the tower. The view going back through it was even better.

I went back down the street and saw a bridge across a small roundabout. This peaked my interest so I decided to find out what was on the other side.

I followed the path alongside the river. I loved seeing the reflection of the buildings on the water to my left and the churches that sat side by side each other to my right.

I took my time walking to the other bridge that led back to the main square. The air is warming up, the sun is shining bright and the sights around me are wonderful. I’m savoring everything just like a delicious dish I never want to finish eating.

I’m almost done with my tour of the town. Or so I thought.

I’ve always liked the walk going back. Even the pictures turn our better. Catching the same image from a different perspective makes me feel like I didn’t miss anything. I couldn’t help checking out the library.

I was drawn this place. I loved the quietness and the feeling of being surrounded by books. So much knowledge just an arm’s reach away. I also liked that this library had a cafe. This is the second library I’ve been to with a cafe. I have to check out other town’s libraries to see if this is a common feature here in Germany.

Each floor had a nice seating area and there were oversized windows that showcased the view of the town outside. I started with the 4th floor and worked my way down. I sat at one of the comfy chairs on each floor and enjoyed the image on the windows. I could’ve sat here all day.

I had been sightseeing for over three hours. Time went by too fast. I had to head back soon to pick up my daughter. As I walked back to the parking lot, I noticed an open door below the deck I parked at. I found the museum. I parked right above it! I guess I didn’t notice it this morning because I was too focused on the ruins on the other side. Icing on the cake. I went in to scope it out.

The Sumolocenna Museum presented the city’s Roman past. It included a collection of Roman sculpture and monuments. The place wasn’t very big, but it had a lot of interesting artifacts. The atmosphere was peaceful. There were reconstructed objects, pictures, models, and diagrams.

After signing the guest book I walked out feeling good. For under €16 (€5.80 for breakfast, €2.50 for museum visit, €5 for parking, and €2 for the musicians) I feel like I just accomplished something worthwhile. I walked for over 3 hours, ate some good food, and got some fab pics. Who says you have to pay a lot to have fun?

I just rediscovered a town I didn’t like the first time I visited. My family and I just drove through the town the first time and we didn’t see half of the places I saw today. I’m glad I came back. This visit left me with different images and a more pleasurable experience. I guess places deserve second chances just like people. I would’ve missed out on something special had I denied this place a second try.

I hope you have a great weekend!

(Positive Pic Of the Day) PPOD #66: Finding Beauty On A Cloudy Day

It’s going to be cloudy all week. Finding inspiration might be a little bit harder. The weather is gloomy, the air is chilly. On days like this, most of us just want to curl up on the couch and read a good book or stay in bed a little longer. At least this is what I wanted to do. I’m glad I made plans to meet my friend for breakfast. This will get me out of the house after dropping off my daughter at the bus stop.

I drove to my friend’s house and joined her in the kitchen. She had fruits, croissants, and Müesli (it’s a mixture of cereal/granola, fruits, nuts, and yogurt eaten for breakfast). She made us latte macchiatos and baked some pastry with cream, basil, and tomato. We caught up on life events while waiting for the pastry to bake.

My friend Diana is also my landlord. We met when my family looked at the house she and her husband were renting. We immediately clicked and we’ve been friends for a couple of years now. I call her my first German friend. She knows some English and I know some Deutsch. Together, we learn from each other (with the help of google translate and hand gestures). I type the words I learn on my phone and she writes the words she learns in her little notebook.

I like visiting her. She teaches me about products I have no clue about when I go to the grocery stores. We continued our conversation during breakfast and agreed that our meeting was a much needed girl time. After breakfast, we looked at her travel albums and she told me some of the history of places she’s visited. She gave me ideas on where I want to travel next. Thanks Diana!

She taught me how to make a picture book and order it from one of the local stores near our town. This is perfect so I can look at our family’s travel pictures in a book and not have to pull it up on the computer. I guess I’m old-fashioned like that. I like the smell and feel of books. I prefer them over iPads.

I asked her to show me some of the common products she buys in the grocery store. I’m sure I’ve passed by them but didn’t know what they were. This is great! Another learning opportunity.

Schlagsahne = whipped cream

Schmand = sour cream

Milch Schnitte =milk cuts (not sure if this is a brand but it’s like cake with sweet cream in the middle).

I’ve been in Germany over two years and didn’t know that American brand laundry detergent are too concentrated for the small German washing machines. The only reason I found out is because the repairman came to check my washer. He said I was putting too much soap. He recommended I use the German brands for laundry detergent. Again, I asked Diana to show me what she uses so I can buy the same brands at the local grocery store.

I also asked if I can take a picture of some parts of her house. I love her ideas on making use of small spaces. I like the way she used old wine crates for storage and display. The white wooden picture frame on the top right were the old windows from the house we’re renting now which was built in the 1700’s.

After we said goodbye. I drove to the town of Kayh, about 10 minutes from our town. I stopped to take a picture of a church that stood out as I was passing the small street going back to Herrenberg.

After picking up my daughter from the bus stop, we stopped at the bakery near our house to enjoy some mother-daughter time. We stuffed ourselves with Schoko croissants while she told me about her day. After we left, we decided to walk around to see if we could find beautiful things on a cloudy day like today. We walked into a clothing store that she liked and found this.

“La vie est belle” translates to “Life is beautiful.” The perfect start for the hunt for positive and beautiful things. After walking three blocks, we found a sign outside a restaurant a few blocks from our house.

“Gesundheit isn’t nicht alles aber ohne Gesundheit ist alles nichts!!” This translates to “Health is not everything but without health, everything is nothing.” That makes sense. It’s a sign for me to eat healthy. I also love the wine rack and the different colored bottles on the top row. Next, we walked to a store I often visit.

A Smile is the most important accessory to any outfit. It compliments everything. I like that the store posted this on the wall across the dressing rooms. It’s the little encouragement customers need especially after trying clothes that don’t flatter or fit. After buying a sweater I’ve been waiting to go on sale (70% off Yaaaas!), we headed home. I noticed some beautiful purple flowers in front of my neighbor’s house. My daughter spotted a bee on one of the flowers and pointed it out to me. Perfect! This is exactly what we needed to end the day.

Finding beauty on a cloudy day is not that hard if we look a little harder. I hope your day is much brighter than ours and I hope you enjoy the rest of your day!

(Positive Pic Of the Day) PPOD#65: A Mother’s Words

Being a mother is a blessing. I wouldn’t change anything if I had the chance to do it over again. My children are the best part of me. The part of me I will never regret. The part of me I will always love. There’s nothing I wish more than to see my children happy, safe, and educated.

Life is short. We only have so much time to pass the lessons we’ve learned to our children, especially the ones we learned the hard way. Parents want to see their children succeed. We would do anything to spare our children from pain and harm.

Death is part of the cycle of life. It’s best to be prepared for the inevitable. If I were to die, what would I want to tell my children? What would I like them to know?

Things I want my children to remember:

  • Family before friends.
  • Everything you own can be taken away except your education.
  • Be street smart as well as book smart.
  • Knowledge lasts longer than beauty.
  • Respect is harder to earn than money.
  • Live simply but don’t simply live.
  • Know how to say “No.”
  • Know when to speak up and when to keep quiet.
  • Learn to listen.
  • Pay attention to the little things because they are the beginning of something bigger.
  • A relationship is always a work in progress.
  • Do right, sleep tight.
  • Kindness is free, give it generously.
  • Learn from your mistakes. Don’t let them define you.
  • Mistakes are character builders.
  • Passion is the spice of life. Season your life as much as you can.
  • If you fall, Get Up. If you fail, Try again.
  • If it were easy. We would all be doctors and millionaires. Don’t give up.
  • Life is like a wheel. You will not always be on the bottom or top. Be humble when you’re on top, be strong when you’re on the bottom.
  • You don’t have to be the smartest just be the most persistent and consistent.
  • I believe in you, but what’s more important is that YOU believe in yourself.
  • You are worthy of love, happiness, and success. Don’t let anyone tell you different.
  • Your word and actions mean nothing without Integrity.
  • Have faith but be prepared to work.
  • Success comes with hard work.
  • You can choose to be drama free.
  • Happiness is a choice.
  • when Life becomes overwhelming, just have to take it one step at a time, one day at a time.
  • I got your six. I will always have your back.
  • I will always love you.

(Positive Pic Of the Day) PPOD #64: Market Day in Herrenberg

The smell of something sweet filled the air inside my house this morning. It smelled like cotton candy and cookies. I had to go find the source. I stepped outside my house and the smell intensified. I followed the scent around the corner, and then another, until I found the source. It came from a stand that sells cotton candy and freshly roasted nuts of all kinds. Most were covered in sugar or honey.

Tuesdays and Saturdays are Market days in Herrenberg. The Marktplatz or Market Place is full of sellers and buyers exchanging money and goods. There are different stands selling organic produce, aged cheese, freshly baked bread, and vibrant flowers. Today is a special market day since the market isn’t confined to the Marktplatz. Main streets of old town Herrenberg are lined with different stands selling food, household goods, and clothing.

I kept walking down the street until I recognized a familiar food. Long live Langos! Langos is a deep fried dough (the size of a platter) topped with your choice of sweet or salty ingredients. Customers can choose from: grated cheese, salt, garlic, sour cream, chili flakes, Nutella, and applesauce.

I met Manuela and Elke. They own the Langos stand that has been a stable part of the Herrenberg special market days. They have been in business for seven years. Elke gave me some quick info about their business. Her In-laws are Hungarian. The recipe was passed down to her by her mother-in-law. She partnered with Manuela and started the Langos business. They visit different towns to sell their product. They come to Herrenberg about once a month.

From the Langos stand to my table. I tried the salty & spicy and the sweet & nutty. I prefer the salty and spicy but both were delicious.

After my “not so light snack,” I decided go back to the market to buy some produce and walk off the extra calories. I love buying local and organically grown fruits and vegetables. It keeps my family healthy and helps support the community.

The weather is getting warmer and people in town have started planting flowers outside their houses. I’m adding this task to my “to-do” list for the month. This year, I’m saving a planter on my window sill strictly for herbs. Summer is going to be awesome with all the different colored foliage in front of the houses and windows.

I’m glad the sun came out to help brighten the mood in the market place. It started as a cold rainy day but it turned out nice and sunny.

Fresh fruits and vegetables will go well with dinner tonight. I hope you enjoy your day as much as I did. Have a great day!