Carson was gone for the weekend getting the keys to our new apartment and checking out Munster, so I went on an adventure with friends! It was Jaime's birthday, so we decided on a winery sort of in between Wiesbaden and Rudesheim (we visited those the weekend before), Kloster Eberbach.
We took the most crowded train ever. There was a soccer game AND a protest in Frankfurt, so the train was PACKED. Jenna, Jaime and I shared a seat, and Jordyn stood. After Frankfurt, we rushed to our next train and discovered that there was plenty of room. Whew!
We got off one stop too late, due to a misreading of directions. We got off in Eltville. Had we gotten off the one stop before, we would still have been in Eltville, only in a slightly busier place with more food options. We also wouldn't have needed to take a bus to the train station, only to take a bus to the winery. The directions actually had us getting on one bus and taking it to another, so it wasn't our fault, but we thought this was a little weird. Cute town though!
Jordyn and Jenna thought to bring a lunch, but Jaime and I were not so prepared, so we went to the only open restaurant (the other was closed for a birthday party) - this Italian restaurant. The man inside heard our American accents speaking German and immediately turned around and called for a younger man who spoke English. "You only speak to me, okay? I speak English." the man said, and then walked away, leaving us no choice but to order from the first gentleman. He seemed to understand us (the Italian menu options were, predictably, written in Italian anyway), and got to work on our food. We ordered zum Mitnehman (to go), and I chose poorly by getting spaghetii, aka the worst food in the world to eat on the go.
It was good, despite being decidedly not-travel friendly and getting on my (white - worst color choice ever) raincoat.
After taking the bus to the train station and waiting and eating our food (there was a dog obedience class that met there that we watched in amusement), we took a second bus to Kloster Eberbach. It was larger than we'd expected!
We had a first round of tastings from a knowledgeable bartender/salesperson/not sure because I know nothing about wine. I said I liked sweet things (in all honesty I probably like grape juice better than wine) and they gave me the sweetest wine they had. I didn't like it at all - too sweet and smelled exactly like a raisin. We looked at the price list for the wines we tasted later and discovered that the raisin wine was the most expensive at 98 Euro for less than one liter. If you go here, don't go for that one... not worth it! We decided to hold off on buying a bottle then, and instead we walked around.
The monastery was deconsecrated in the early 1800s, at which point it became more of a historic site and winery, although it appears that the monks also made wine there. It was founded in the early 12th century, so there were parts of it that were super old. It looked like they'd done some restoration, and there were parts that aren't pictured where there was a lot of reconstruction going on.
The big main chapel/cathedral area used to be decorated in a Baroque style, but after it was deconsecrated, all of that was taken down. It was very simple inside instead, and lining most of the walls inside are tombstones of monks. Because it's not used as a church, there was a big movie screen set up in there. They were having a showing (that night) of the movie that was filmed at the Abbey, The Name of the Rose. It's a 1986 movie starring Sean Connery. I hadn't heard of it before! (link to the movie here)
I would have loved to see this building in all its former glory (they had an old black and white picture from the 1800s), but all the remaining details were actually still quite impressive.
They had a little museum that we walked around. This is the oldest stained glass window in Germany. I can't remember its exact age, but it's up there. It's enclosed in plexiglass, which was a relief to me because I could just picture being the person who tripped and broke Germany's oldest piece of glass.
We got a little confused on the map, but I believe that this is where the monks lived. It functioned as a sort of very large dorm room. Today, it's used for events banquets for about 800 people. This panorama was going quite well until that man in the middle walked up and stood there very silently. He didn't move, so the picture worked, but I'd waited until there were no people so I was a little disappointed.
Here's an old well that was used for about 500 years.
Next we walked into a room with these very old wine presses. They didn't have a "do not touch" sign, so Jaime went for it. I mean, it was her birthday.
I have so many pictures of these flowers. I think they're so neat.
We got to walk in the wine cellar, that was really neat and lit up by candles (I'd meant to bring my big camera that could probably capture the low light, but I forgot and so you get a crummy picture).
We finished up with one more tasting. We settled on a Riesling (this area is Riesling central) that was "halbtrocken" (semi-dry) and a decent price point.
Then we went out to check out the vineyard while we waited for the bus (it comes once every hour). We tasted the grapes but they were not so good. The grapes in Rudesheim were sweet and tasty and these were sour and gross. I don't think they were ready.
This is stolen from Jenna's Facebook. She brought her nice camera and she took some really amazing pictures!
The train on the way back was a party. These people weren't at the winery with us but they came prepared for their journey nonetheless. Drinking in public in Germany is not illegal, so it's fine to bring beers or wine anywhere (no drinking and driving). This group (there were many more of them) brought their own wine glasses. They were singing up a storm too in German and English. Very lively.
We didn't have glasses, so we did the next-best thing and shared our bottle from the winery. When they started singing "Country roads, take me home", we may or may not have joined in.
We met up with Carson and Lloyd in Giessen, which is about a 20 minute train ride from Marburg. Carson had arrived first and found a really great little Thai restaurant for us to enjoy. We'd seen a lot of people get off the train in Giessen, so we sort of meant to get off and see what it was all about so this was our chance. It was rainy at that point, and dark, but we can say we went!
Once our train pulled into Marburg, we decided that it was necessary to celebrate Jaime's birthday with the question mark candle (Carson brought it from home). We found a piece of strawberry cake at McCafe inside McDonalds at the train station, plopped the candle inside, and sang. It was 10:30pm, but who cares!