(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.

Budapest

Budapest, the capital of Hungary. One of the largest cities in the European Union. It’s a city with a rich and complex history. Once you visit, you’ll never forget it.

Budapest will easily be on your on top five favorite destinations. It has an atmosphere different from other cities I’ve visited. It’s like a mixture of Prague, Romania, Frankfurt, Bremen and Würzburg. That’s the only way I can describe the vibe in Budapest.

For more information info on the history of Budapest: http://visitbudapest.travel/guide/budapest-history/

We stayed at the Hotel Intercontinental in Pest. It offers a picturesque view of the Danube river and Buda Castle.

(Hotel Intercontinental Budapest)

The image of the Danube and Buda Castle were a welcomed sight to see first thing in the morning and before retiring for the day. Our daughter stayed in front of the window admiring the view the whole time we were in the room. She preferred the view over watching television. She vividly remembers the image below when we talk about Budapest.

(View from our room)

Intercontinental Hotel is within walking distance to most of the tourist spots in Pest. It’s also near restaurants, shopping centers, the SzéchenyiChain Bridge, and the Shoes on the Danube Promenade. The staff were professional and friendly. The room and bathroom were clean. I’m not a foodie but this is one of the places I remember for their breakfast. I had no complaints with this hotel.

Let’s take a stroll on the Pest side first:

We went to Budapest in mid-February so it was still cold. Most days were foggy but it didn’t matter. The fog couldn’t hide the beauty of this city.

We stopped to eat at a Brazilian place near the hotel called Fire Churrascaira Steakhouse. It’s a meat lover’s restaurant. This restaurant offers a Rodizio-style service. Meats are brought to the table for the customers choosing. They have what looked like coasters on the table. One green and one red. Place the green for the waiters to see and different types of meats on skewers will continuously be offered at your table until you place the red coaster to signal them to stop. This restaurant also offers a cold gourmet salad bar and appetizers. The best part was dessert. They have desserts they light on fire in front of the customers. A lot of fun for both kids and adults to watch.

For more info: http://www.itshungarian.com/special-attractions/restaurant-budapest/

There’s an Ice Bar if you want to experience being in a room surrounded by ice from wall to ceiling. Get ready for some cold fun. A few customers are allowed at a time and given a shawl-like hoodie before going in. Once inside, they are served cocktails in a glass made of ice.

For more info: https://www.icebar.hu/index.php?waction=home2&lang=gb

The Hop-On Hop-Off is a good way to check out the sights in the city. They also offer a boat tour if you want to see the sights from the road and the river. We took the bus tour first. Although the air was still chilly, my family enjoyed seeing the sights from the top of the bus.

Heroes’ square and Millennium Monument (pic below)

Our family took the boat tour in the afternoon. We preferred this tour. We were able to get better pictures because it wasn’t going as fast as the bus.

On our second day, we decided to finish the rest of our sightseeing in Pest. We walked around town trying different foods. Try the Lángos (upper corner above what looks like bratwurst, pic below). Lángos is a savory, deep fried Hungarian pastry you can top with your choice of grated cheese, sour cream, Nutella and spices. You can get it sweet or salty. Both are delicious.

We also enjoyed walking inside the large indoor market. The famous Central Market Hall is the largest indoor market in Budapest.

We walked towards the river to see the Shoes on the Danube Promenade. This was a really moving experience. At the end of Szechenyi Street, you’ll find a row of iron made shoes set on concrete. This memorial commemorates the lives lost during World War II. The Arrow Cross party publicly murdered thousands of Jews all over Budapest. Shoes were a valuable commodity back then. After lining up the Jews on the embankment, they made them take off their shoes before shooting them.

For more info: http://yadvashem.org/yv/en/education/newsletter/31/shoes.asp

We ended the day by continuing our walk along the river and enjoyed the view.

We spent the next day exploring Buda on the other side of the bridge.

Buda has more to offer if you’re looking for good places to take pictures of historical sites. We decided to explore the town before heading to Buda Castle.

Matthias Church (pic below) also known as Church Of Our Lady reflects a Baroque style of architecture. It was built in 1269.

A great place to eat:

Jamie’s Italian restaurant offers fresh, rustic Italian dishes. They had antipasti, pastas, pizzas, and desserts.

For more info: https://www.jamieoliver.com/italian/hungary/restaurants/buda-castle/

Buda Castle is a “must-see” on your visit to Budapest. expect to spend a few hours to half a day just walking the grounds, taking pictures, and admiring the artwork in the museum.

For more info: http://budacastlebudapest.com/

Inside the museum:

After touring the museum, we were heading back to our hotel when we happened to pass by a sign that led to this street. The Labirintus or Labyrinth held a very famous prisoner. Vlad Tepes better known as Count Dracula was imprisoned here.

This is not for someone with a weak heart. I’m a big horror fan but this place gave me the shivers. It’s a long, dark, smoky passageway with many interesting (spooky) images along the way. They only give you a small lamp to light your path.

For more info: http://labirintus.eu/en/

Budapest is a great place to visit. The picture perfect Buda provides panoramic views of the city while fabulous Pest caters to the visitors’ love of shopping and great food. A mixture of old and new. It will surely be one of the most unforgettable places you’ll ever visit.

A Few Tips:

  • Best time to visit is Spring and Autumn.
  • The currency is the Hungarian Forint (HUF)
  • Plan to stay at least 3 days to enjoy all the sites in Budapest
  • Don’t skip out on the boat tours of the Danube river.
  • They don’t take credit cards at the Labyrinth. Cash only.
  • The Budapest History Museum inside Buda Castle is worth a visit.
  • The Hop-on Hop-Off is a great way to check out the sites and save taxi fare.
  • Be wary of unreliable and dishonest taxi companies. When in doubt, ask the hotel staff to call one for you.
  • Carry backpacks in front when walking through crowded areas of the city. This will allow you to keep track of your valuables and take pictures at the same time.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and watch out for pickpockets.
  • Important numbers to have handy: Police 107, Ambulance 104, Emergency 112.
  • For more great tips check out this link: https://www.budapestbylocals.com/

Athens, Greece

Athens, the capital of Greece. The birthplace of civilization and democracy.

For more info:

http://www.greece-athens.com

GREECE One of the world’s top tourist destinations rich in history and culture.

First view of Athens as the plane descended.

Where we stayed:

Hotel Intercontinental Athenaeum

http://athenaeumintercontinentalathens.com/en/

A nice place to stay. Service is great from the moment we stepped out of the cab. Rooms and bathrooms are clean. There are rooms available with a view of Acropolis for a higher rate. There’s also a shuttle that leaves every 30 minutes to take guests to and from the Parliament building and Plaka area. See the concierge if you want to take day tours of places around the area or other islands.


ACROPOLIS

Derived from the Greek word ‘Akro’ meaning high, extreme, or edge and ‘Polis’ meaning city. The city on high hill.

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/404


The Parthenon, the focus of the Acropolis complex built between 447-432 BCE.

http://ancient-greece.org/architecture/parthenon.html


The Coastline

Take the Hop-On/Hop-Off tour along the coastline. It costs 29 euros per person but it’s good for two days around the city including the beach route. Take the beach tour to the end of the line then stop at B7 (stops are numbered on a map) on the way back. Walk along the coastline for breath taking panoramic views. You can also get drinks or eat fresh seafood from one of the many restaurants. Get back on the bus when you get close to B11 or B12. https://www.citysightseeing.gr/

This is what you can expect to see:


The Greek Parliament House

https://www.greeka.com/attica/athens/athens-excursions/athens-parliament.htm


The Plaka (stores, restaurants, souvenirs and more). The most beautiful place of Athens under the Acropolis.

For more info:

https://www.athensguide.org/athens-plaka.html

Places to eat:

Makriyanni 3, a cafe right outside the exit of Acropolis. Good place to have breakfast or brunch. Don’t forget to try the Greek coffee.


Ciao, an Italian restaurant walking distance from the Hotel Intercontinental. Delicious food and great coffee. Try the espresso Freddo.


A few helpful information for your visit:

  • 2-3 days is a good amount of time to spend in Athens. The Acropolis and Plaka can be seen in one day. Book some day tours (Delphi and Hydra are excellent places to visit).
  • Save the other days of your visit for places like Santorini or Crete which will require more days than Athens.
  • Get to Acropolis early if you want to get good pictures without the crowd. It opens at 0800 (summer) and 0830 (winter). More info: http://www.athensinfoguide.com/open.htm
  • Eat breakfast before going to Acropolis early. The store near the entrance to Acropolis sells food and drinks but it’s a bit expensive. An alternative would be to eat brunch at one of the cafes after exiting Acropolis.

  • You cannot bring food and drinks (except) water inside the Acropolis.
  • The Hop-on/Hop-off bus tour is an excellent way to see the city. Take the whole tour and then go back to the places you want to spend more time in. It also saves you from spending money on costly cab fares. For more info: https://www.citysightseeing.gr/

  • For less expensive plane fares and hotel accommodations try to visit before May and the summer months.

  • A flat rate of 38 euros will get you from the airport to your hotel.

  • Things you’ll need for your stay: light jacket, hat, backpack (for souvenirs and your things), portable phone charger, sunscreen.
  • Buy bottled water and snacks for your hotel room so you don’t have to order room service.
  • Compare prices at the Plaka stores. Some have cheaper prices than others. You can even barter in some places if you pay cash.


Related Articles:

Glockenmuseum Stiftskirche

The Glockenmuseum Stiftskirche Herrenberg is a must see (and hear) if you’re around the Stuttgart area in Germany. Translated in English, it means The Bell Museum in the Collegiate Church of Herrenberg. A collection of over 30 bells spanning over 12 centuries. They are located in the bell tower inside the main church of the old town. You will also find a few gigantic bells outside the church.

For more info: (copy and paste to google chrome for translation) http://www.glockenmuseum-stiftskirche-herrenberg.de/
(A view of the bell tower of the Stiftskirche from the Marktplatz.)

It’s only a few steps and a short climb away from the Marktplatz or market place. Head towards the steps where the flags are located.

Enter the church and climb up the stairs. Once you get to the second floor, there’s a narrow door to the side that will lead you to a concrete spiral staircase, then a wooden staircase before you get to the top.

Some of the bells are over a thousand years old and are still in use today.

If you happen to be at the bell tower at noon in the summer months, get ready for a very loud show. The bells can be heard through the old town.

Exit the door that leads to the outside of the bell tower. It has a 360 degree view of the town.

(The view of the Marktplatz and Rathaus (City Hall) from the bell tower.)
(A view of the top of the castle ruins and parts of the old wall that used to surround the town.)

A few useful info:

  • Opening hours: April to October (Wednesday 1430-1700, Saturday 1430-1830, Sunday and Public Holidays 1130-1700)

  • Opening hours: November to March (Wednesday 1430-1600, Saturday 1700-1830. Sunday and Public Holidays 1430-1600)

  • Admission fee (Adults: €3, Discounted rate for groups and students €1.50, Children are free)

  • Take a stroll through the castle ruins and Schönbuch forest. It’s only a short walk from here.

Stuttgart Spring Festival

Stuttgart, the capital of the state of Baden Württemberg. It’s one of the largest cities in Germany. It holds two yearly festivals that attracts people from all over the world. This festival is one of them. It takes place at Stuttgart’s traditional fairground called Cannstatter Wasen.

For more info: http://www.stuttgarter-fruehlingsfest.de/en/home/

Wasen” is what most locals call this festival. It’s also called Cannstatter Wasen, Stuttgarter Frühlingsfest or Stuttgart Spring Festival. It’s comparable to a mini Oktoberfest. This fest is held between mid April and early May. The bigger and more famous version of this festival is the Cannstatter Volksfest or Stuttgart Beer festival which is held from late September to early October.

There are a variety of food stands to choose from and several small beer gardens all over the festival grounds. There’s even a carousel-like bar in one of them.

Kids love the different rides. They spend their coins on toy machines and try to win prizes at the carnival like stands. The sweet delights sold at the food stands are also a hit with children.

Adults gravitate towards the big tents where hearty food is served and beer overflows in oversized mugs.

You’ll see waiters and waitresses carrying several extra large mugs of beer in each hand. It’s quite a sight. You’ll also see men and women sing and dance on top of benches to live entertainment. The atmosphere is lively, loud, and a lot of fun!

The Lederhosen (meaning breeches or pants made of leather) for men and Dirndle (a dress with close-fitting bodice and an A-line or full skirt) for women are usually worn during the Spring and Autumn fests. Don’t worry about standing out in these clothes. Everybody’s wearing them. You’ll see people wearing them on the streets and trains.

For more info on Lederhosen & Dirndle: http://www.bavarianspecialty.com/pages/History.html

A Few Tips:

  • Go early in the day when traveling with kids. It’s more of an adult atmosphere in the evenings.
  • Take the train to Bad Cannstatt instead of driving. It’s more convenient than trying to find parking and less expensive than taking a taxi. It’s also a good way to get home safely if you plan on enjoying the alcoholic beverages.

  • The location of the bow is important to know when wearing a dirndle. (Left means single, Right means married, Back means widow, and Middle is usually for kids or a virgin)
  • Don’t carry a large purse or hand bag. Bring a small shoulder bag instead.
  • Backpacks are not allowed in the big tents. There is a place near the entrance where you can check it in for a fee of €3.
  • Children are allowed in the tents during the day but not in the evening.
  • Beer tends to spill everywhere in the tents. I don’t recommend wearing your best shoes or coat.
  • Entrance is free to the big tents but you will need to make reservations in advance, especially in the evening.
  • You might not be allowed inside once they reach full capacity unless you have a reservation.
  • Wear comfortable shoes for walking around the fest grounds.
  • Carry coins for the WC (Water Closet) or toilet. It costs ¢50 per person, per use.
  • Foods/drinks to try: Langos (Hungarian fried bread with different toppings like cheese or Nutella), fresh roasted nuts of all types and flavors, bratwurst, and last but not least, the BEER!

Cheers! Or as they say in Germany, “Prost!”

(Click on the link below to see a clip of “Fun in the Tent”)
https://videos.files.wordpress.com/piIeIpku/img_3377.mov

Cochem, Germany

Cochem, one of the most charming towns in the country. It is a small town situated on the Moselle. With its old town, sloping vineyards, and medieval castle, it’s a town worthy of being on your must-see places list in Germany.

For more info on Cochem’s history (copy and paste link to google chrome for translation): http://www.cochem.de/tourismus/historisches

You can walk the cobblestone streets or take a leisurely bike ride. Go ahead and rent a bike. It’s a great way to see the whole town and get some exercise at the same time.

For more info on biking/cycling: http://www.ferienland-cochem.de/nextshopcms/show.asp?lang=en&e1=59
Renting a bike? http://www.mosel-inside.de/en/mosel-villages/lower-mosel/cochem/320-bicycle-hire-in-cochem.html

There are events happening all year long in this little town. Take the night watchman tour, a wagon ride, or a guided hike through the wineries.

For more info on upcoming events in Cochem: http://www.cochem.de/tourismus/veranstaltungen

Cochem is surrounded by many vineyards. Moselle is known for its Riesling. Pair some wine with your meals or just hike to the steep, sloped vineyards.

For more info on wines: http://www.cochem.de/tourismus/wein-allgemeine-infos
For more info on upcoming events: http://www.cochem.de/tourismus/cochemer-highlights

While on your stroll of the town, you may want to visit the Imperial Castle in Cochem.

A yearly medieval festival is held during the first week of August. Experience being taken back in time when artisans sold handmade goods in the market place. When knights, fair ladies, and jesters abound. And when troubadours and minstrels showcased their talents in front of crowds (see link above for scheduled events).

A look inside the castle

A view from the castle balcony

A view from outside the castle

The Witches Tower or Hexenturm (light colored brick structure that looks like a small tower on the picture below) survived renovations in 1868.

For more info on Cochem Castle: https://www.german-way.com/travel-and-tourism/germany-for-tourists/castles-and-palaces/cochem-castle/