(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.

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/

Kinderzeche in Dinkelsbühl, Germany

Dinkelsbühl is one of Germany’s best preserved historical towns.

It’s a charming town in the state of Bavaria, in southern Germany. It’s also one of the many towns on the Romantische Straße or Romantic Road.

For more info: copy and paste link to google chrome for translation
https://www.dinkelsbuehl.de/deutsch/alle/startseite/

Dinkelsbühl holds a yearly event in July. It usually lasts a week and a half and involves many of its residents. This event is a celebration called “Kinderzeche.”

Kinderzeche is a re-enactment of how the children softened the hearts of the Swedish leaders which spared the city from destruction during the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). This event has been celebrated for over a hundred years.

For more info:https://www.dinkelsbuehl.de/deutsch/alle/kultur-freizeit/kinderzeche/

It seems like the whole town gets into character. You’ll see families dressed in historical garb.

There’s a camp built right outside the walls of the town. Men, women, and children are all dressed in medieval costumes. You can see the young men and women dancing, men gathering, and some roasting meat on an open flame. It’s like stepping back in time!

Tips:

  • Dinkelsbühl is only a 35 minute drive from the famous town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
  • Book your hotel rooms early (beginning of the year to a few months before it starts).
  • The best view is from the upper rooms of hotels across or near this mustard colored building (pic below). You can view the events from the comfort of your room if the window faces the main street.

  • If you have more than one luggage and are staying at one of the hotels within the walls, drive your car to the hotel and drop off your luggage before parking. Parking areas are usually outside of the walls and some can be pretty far.
  • There’s a fee to enter the town. This is a common practice during town festivals (usually €5). You’ll get a pin or a trinket that you can display on your hat, clothing, or bag to prove that you’re allowed to be there.

  • If you’re staying in one of the hotels within the walls of the town, your fee may be waved. Inquire at the hotel of your choice.
  • You can sit on the bleachers until it’s time for the scheduled events to take place. Someone who’ve purchased a ticket won’t hesitate to tell you when you’ve taken their seat.

  • Purchase tickets for the events ahead of time (they have programs and a schedule).
For ticket info: http://www.kinderzeche.de/online-karten/

  • The locals are friendly and they won’t mind taking a picture with you. Just ask!

  • A few things to bring: water bottle, sunscreen, camera, and a wide brimmed hat (bleachers are not in a covered area).
  • Enjoy the good food sold at the little stands (Bratwurst and Pommes Frites).

Herrenberg, Germany

One of Germany’s prettiest towns. Herrenberg is a small and charming town about 30 km from Stuttgart. The half-timbered houses, cobble-stoned streets, picturesque market square (Marktplatz) and the magnificent view from the top of the castle ruins will make you feel like you’re part of a fairy tale. Herrenberg is a hidden gem that not many people have discovered yet.

Plan to spend at least half a day in Herrenberg. Most stores open at 10 a.m. Bakeries open earlier around 7 a.m. You can have brunch, lunch, or dinner at the restaurants and cafes. You can take a nice walk around town, go up to the castle ruins or see the bell museum (Glockenmuseum) inside the Stiftskirche. The Marktplatz is a lovely area to relax and have an Eis kaffee (iced coffee with a scoop of ice cream) or Spaghetti Eis from one of the Eis cafes or gelaterias.

Best time to visit is Monday – Saturday when most places are open. Wear some comfortable walking or hiking shoes and don’t forget to bring your camera.

For more info:

https://herrenberg.de/startseite.html
(Copy and paste link to Google Chrome for translation)

Continue reading “Herrenberg, Germany”