Another chapter in the book of Fafa


Fafa in Strasbourg on the River Ill

The last week has been filled with adventures while my mother was in Germany. She made her annual European trip, which included a week in France, and then she and I met up in Strasbourg before our return to Munich

She loves Munich – as I’ve often mentioned here, we lived here in the early 70s – and at the end of her trip, I asked again if she’d seen enough of the Bavarian capital. Would she want to venture out & see more of the rest of Germany. Although she’s already seen so much of my adopted country and especially of this beautiful city, she insisted that there was plenty more she wants to experience. Not only other cities & regions she’s until now only read about but most importantly shed like to continue to venture out from Munich as a starting point. 

We both agreed that it’s not always easy living so far apart, but her regular travel thisaway makes it a bit more tolerable. Like so many other familes living on separate continents, technology also allows us to regularly communicate in real time. Unquestionably, it’s a second rate substitute, but it at least provides some alternative. 

So what exactly have we been up to? Well, the photo above is on a boat tour of Strasbourg. That’s the River Ill, so we were quite literally ‘illing’. We ate a lot of Bavarian food; it’s possible we even are the equivalent of our body weight in Schnitzel. 

I’ve written about her here: Happy Birthday Fafa, which also explains that’s a nickname she’s gone by since she was a child. 

Because she’s so regularly here, my mom has befriended quite a few people hereabouts. This means she arrives with a bit of an agenda to see and be seen. And because she’s so gregarious, there’s often a new crowd of admirers asking when she’ll be back. 

Ella and Louis pondering her return

A church door and a few thoughts about Prague


The door to the Church of Our Lady before Tyn

I’ve heard it said that when you get back from a trip & someone asks how it was, you’ve got a small window of opportunity to answer about your journey. Before long, their thoughts move on to what’s in front of you rather than where you’ve been.

So according to that logic, I’ve got to talk about Prague quickly before I’ve lost your interest.

My band Old Braunfels had a lot of fun while we were in the Czech capital. We played a lot and laughed even more. New songs were worked on and devious plans were hatched. Plenty of that will be covered here in future missives.

As beautiful as the city was, it seemed like the best parts of the trip were the conversations we had while we were walking around. Sometimes a change of scenery is just what you need for an infusion of creativity.

I’d hoped to learn a bit more Czech while I was there, but managing ‘excuse me‘ and ‘thank you‘ was about all I could master.

What else do I wish I could say in Czech?

Yeah, what’s up with all the 1 Krone coins? They’re like pennies in the US or Euro cents…no matter how hard I tried to spend them, they seemed to constantly be coming back at me. I might’ve even had a nightmare about the damned things.

We also saw a lot about Beer Spas…what on earth is that? Is it a spa where they serve beer? The photos made it look like the guests were bathing in beer. Is that a thing? Not that I bothered to find out. Was just rather curious.

This hopefully won’t be my only blogpost about Prague. More to come, I’m sure.



Tanz in den August

On the last night of April, there’s a tradition here that you stay up late & dance your way into the First of May. It’s something that apparently originated in medieval times or perhaps even farther back in history. What frivolity – all in the name of welcoming everybody to the month of May. Or May to everyone. 

So, I’ve been joking about dancing into August, hence the title of this post (Tanz in den August). Why the hell not?

We had a Blue Moon last night, and it was something special. What is that, anyway? When there are two full moons in a single month, the second is called the Blue Moon. A night of wonder, if you believe the hype. 

Onto a bit of news, since I’ve not been keeping things current here. 

This time last year, the band was in Berlin for a week. We had a different name, which shall go unmentioned, and fewer songs. This time we’re headed to Prague & hopefully I’ll be able to take the time to use this space to document our Czech shenanigans. 

Now we have a name everyone seems to like – we are Old Braunfels – and we’re getting into all sorts of trouble. If you see us in your town, you should really come check it out. A few dozen pleasantly surprised Bavarians can’t be all wrong in recommending us. 

Oh, we’ve also got a new member who sings quite beautifully & plays a mean violin. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. She’s called Violetta, and here she is with our favourite Jarrod:

Stay tuned. This is gonna be fun. 

At the Marienplatz in the wee hours


at the Marienplatz in the wee hours

Before even most locals are awake & certainly the tourists are still dozing, this might be the nicest time of day to be wandering through the streets of Munich.  

The light is certainly nice for photos, and there’s an expectancy in the air. What might this day in Bavaria’s capital hold in store for us? 

Why not start at the Marienplatz. There’s plenty of hidden Munich you can discover nearby, but here’s as good a place as any to begin your exploration. More soon on local things off the beaten track. 

Having cake and discussing which direction we’re all going


Box of pastries…carbohydrates a plenty

Although I’ve got writing assignments and plenty of other obligations, I realised recently that I hadn’t been keeping the horde of my readers up to date on what’s going on hereabouts. For one thing, Elaine came to visit and we continued our Cake Across Europe tour that we began last year in Palermo.

Oh, here’s a collection of what I wrote about all of that:

Palermo Posts

And here’s some of what Elaine made from that trip

Nobody’s Perfect. Even me

Alone and existential in Palermo – What to do?

It seems that while everyone else is cutting carbohydrates out of their diets, Elaine and I go the other direction when we’re together. Plenty of my friends and acquaintances are toying with variations of high protein/low carb eating. Listening to those who’re obsessed with the Paleo Diet, many of our modern health problems are directly related to the effect sugar has on us. The argument goes that because carbs turn to sugar, we’re better off decreasing them as much as we can.

While I’m not going to wade into that debate here, and it’s a tangent I’m not prepared to go onto at this point anyway, I will concede that Elaine and my cake consumption is not the ideal health choice we could make. If I thought anyone was mad enough to actually look to either of us for nutrition advice, I’d include some sort of ‘Don’t try this at home, kids’ warning. Luckily, that’s not a concern.

Instead, the thrust of our week together was brainstorming and planning for how we’re going forward with our online presence. Because at our age, we’re sandwiched between the generations of people who didn’t have any of this technology and the digital natives who have grown up with it all around them, we’re in a position to have watched the good and bad that can be created in an online community.

People get bent out of shape because of something that was said in response to a post on Feckbook, and things can so easily escalate into name calling and blocking and genuine bad blood. We see the power of curating content and believe that our wall or stream on various platforms is like our virtual neighbourhood. So an ongoing topic between us is what to do when people get unruly on your page.

When it’s a genuine exchange of ideas, both and Elaine and I can overlook a bit of invective. A bit. However, when it turns to personal attacks, there’s an advantage in editing out the more cruel voices. Is that suppression of ideas? Censorship?

Yep, it is. It’s my wall. Go pollute your own space with your poison.

I’ve watched carefully over the years how major media sources deal with readers comments. When users still have some ability to stay anonymous, it seems there’s more inappropriate behaviour, but even people using their real names can be schmucks.

So, I’m curious what experiences you’ve had with this. Have you altered the settings on your blog or social media platforms where comments have to be approved first? Do you even bother with such thoughts? What’s your position on this? Don’t be shy.

An adventure waiting to happen


Looking up at Burg Sooneck

It’s like a Renaissance Festival year-round. Ok, it’s only six months, but who wouldn’t want to live in a castle in the Middle Rhine Valley for as long as they could manage it? Back in the old days, if you found yourself set up in such style, you wouldn’t leave until some other knight came along and threw you out.

That’s far too much bodily injury for my taste. This is an entirely different scenario. Instead, the fine folks at the region’s Generaldirektion Kulturelles Erbe (GDKE), which in English translates as General Office for Cultural Heritage, have arranged it that one lucky blogger can live in their castle and wax philosophic about what it must really have been like to live in the Middle Ages. That is, if the Middle Ages had had wifi and modern lighting.

Even more importantly, please tell me they’ve got modern plumbing up there. I used to live in a cabin up in the mountains in Colorado, and there was only an outhouse – the thought of having to walk the hundreds of steps to get down to the valley just to use the toilet makes me wish I had a larger bladder.

Between Bingen and Bacharach, high above the River Rhine, is the Burg Sooneck. I’m sure that once I’ve moved into my future digs, there’ll be much more for me to tell you about this place and its surroundings. However, in the meantime, here are some fantastic photos of the place, as well as views from up above:


Can’t you already see me there?


A panorama shot of the Rhine

Here's a view looking down from above

Here’s a view looking down from above


Bragging up my bonafides

Why am I ideal for this opportunity? It’s not very Teutonic for one to brag, but that’s where having a Yankee like myself become the castle blogger becomes advantageous.

For example, I’ve written for all sorts of blogs over the years. Travel blogs are the most obvious. I’ve certainly written about Bavaria, as well as trips to Hamburg, Berlin or even the former West German capital Bonn, which is right down river from the Middle Rhine Valley.

Additionally, the main focus of my blog lahikmajoe is what it’s like being an outsider living in Germany. Over the years, I’ve written about such diverse topics as German history (both before and more importantly after the Second World War), cultural differences between English-speaking people and the modern day Germans, as well as funny misunderstandings that occur when an outsider doesn’t comprehend those cultural differences.

There’s nothing I like more when I arrive in a new German city or town than to map out the most interesting highlights of the area. Of course, I’m always on the lookout for some undiscovered gem of a story – some curiosity that the guidebooks simply don’t have the time or inclination to include.

Another one of my strengths? Not only do I speak German well, but I love interacting with people and discovering their stories. What more could you want from a castle blogger than someone who gets the essence of the regular folk, as well as their surroundings?

Last of all, there’s one more thing I bring to the table. Despite my rather simple camera, I enjoy taking photos. If you look through my blog, I take great care to find the ideal image that goes with a text. Look back at the photos above. You can almost imagine being there, can’t you?

Most importantly, I love a good adventure. My friend Patsy used to say, ‘Anytime you go out the door and you have no idea what’s going to happen that day, that’s an adventure.’ Can you imagine me waking up every morning in Burg Sooneck? That’s an adventure waiting to happen.



loud, dirty and grey…just the way we like it

a bit of green in the courtyard

a bit of green in the courtyard

“Die Berliner sind unfreundlich und rücksichtslos, ruppig und rechthaberisch, Berlin ist abstoßend, laut, dreckig und grau, Baustellen und verstopfte Straßen, wo man geht und steht – aber mir tun alle Menschen leid, die nicht hier leben können!” (“The Berliners are unfriendly and inconsiderate, gruff and self-opinionated, Berlin is repulsive, loud, dirty and grey, construction works and blocked streets where you stop and go. But I feel sorry for those people who can not live here!”)
(Anneliese Bödecker, Berlin philanthropist and social worker, born in 1932)

There were people that were gruff and there was plenty that was loud, dirty and grey in Berlin last week, but this was the view that greeted us as we left the flat every morning. Gorgeous, eh?

The dogs had the time of their lives. There’s plenty to sniff on that stinky pavement. Unlike in Munich, where there are plenty of places for a dog to run free, there’s a leash law in Berlin. This means if you’re in the city proper, you’ve got to go to a Hundeauslaufgebiet (Dog Going Out Area) if your hounds are going to get any room to roam.

There are plenty of beautiful places in the German capital, but dog parks there are definitely not a tourist destination. Oo-whee. Talk about dystopian. If you want a set location for that apocalyptic film you’ve been working on, you should really consider the desolation row that is the Hundewiese (Dog Field) at the Mauerpark in the Prenzlauerberg district of what was formerly East Berlin.

Here’s a photo I found:


your local dystopian dog park

That almost looks nice. Looks are deceiving.

Not that Ella and Louis were complaining. How many Bavarian dogs get to go holidaying in big, bad Berlin for a whole week? Not many, I can assure you.

blurry photo of two Bavarian dogs in Berlin

blurry photo of two Bavarian dogs in Berlin

Here they are waiting outside the Döner Kebab shop. Did they get a few scraps of that sweet succulent meat that comes from the Dönertier? Indeed, they did.

I should probably explain what a Dönertier is, but that’ll have to wait for another time.