What to buy in Germany – Biersteins, Pewter Cups, Mezzo Mix, Fritz Cola

I’m not going to write about the hundreds, thousands of beer brands that one can find in Germany but there are two items which might make someone very interested in these drinking utensils which can enhance the drinking experience to optimum levels: biersteins (or beer steins) and pewter cups.

Beer steins or biersteins, as they are spelled in German, are known for their elaborate designs on these massive mugs that are supposed to contain the lifeblood waters of humankind: beer. If you go back in time, people could not simply drink water from the rivers and lakes as it would make them sick due to the lack of technology to purify the water. One way to cleanse water was let the alcohol making process taketh over and convert the water into beer. Hence, people were able to quench their thirst and chillax at the same time. But of course, they needed to have a good container to drink out of which why beer mugs were invented. As time went on, it was somehow decided that the royalty and rich people would have nicer, more elaborate, more expensive containers to drink out of which became the beer steins.

old ancient beer steins germany german beer

These are some old beer steins where someone had them painted, probably by hand. Some of these beer steins can be worth a lot of money. Don’t get them confused with modern ones where they were painted on by a machine and are not worth that much in monetary value.

gods and goddesses royalty beer mugs

And then there are those that are worth even more money than cars. Some of these are hand-carved with Greek Gods being the theme and I’m pretty sure that they were made for the kings and queens in Germany. They are obviously the far more valuable beer steins.

When the common folk and middle classes saw the more pricier versions of these beer steins, they too wanted something expensive even though it might be utilized for more formal and celebratory events. I think that’s how someone invented a cheaper but ingenious way to make them look good for those big events. Pewter, also known as poor man’s silver, is quite heavy and in a way, far more durable was the choice of metal for these beer steins and were far superior than than regular mugs and glass cups which were more likely to break upon falling and making contact with the ground. That’s why pewter saved the day and allowed everyone to have a very nice cup/mug to drink out of.

decorated pewter cup

This pewter cup depicts a group of fishermen. Each pewter cup might be completely decorated with its own special insignia and themes. The pewter cups of the modern day are very detailed and still pricey.

gold silver pewter beer stein cup mug

And then of course, there are those where someone decided to make a specialized pewter cup/beer stein version for a rich person or someone of royalty in order to show off.

For the drinking department, if one is looking to fill their biersteins and pewter cups, I’ll introduce Mezzo Mix and Fritz Cola. Mezzo Mix is basically like a regular cola soda but with an additional flavor of orange infused into the drink. It’s not quite like an overloaded orange soda like sunkist or fanta, but it’s more of an addition to a coke with the distinct orange flavor taste in it. There is another soda out there which is very similar to Mezzo Mix which is called Schwip Schwap. I can’t really figure out if there is a difference between Mezzo Mix and Schwip Schwap but it’s good as well.

german soda

Like a cola but with an orange flavor taste. Massively popular with the German populace who want something other than the big cola brands.

fritz german cola

Frtiz Cola is more of craft soda but people do buy them for their more natural cola taste.

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Legoland, Germany

Why not be a kid again at Legoland Deutschland? I say I do! And where is this place at in Germany? Well, it’s nestled somewhat of a car drive between the major cities of Stuttgart and Munich so I think it’s best to drive a rental car out there due to the lack of good public transportation to get there. Unlike the Legoland in San Diego that I went to, this Legoland is only open during spring, summer, and autumn due to the European cold weather shutting it down during the cold months. So it’s best to make plans to travel there during the sunnier days when it’s a lot warmer and you can wear just shorts and t-shirts to enjoy yourself being a kid again.

lego castle series big human sized

While waiting in line, there were a bunch of Lego figurines surrounding this castle.

lego pharaoh full sized legoland

I haven’t seen anything like this – an Egyptian Pharaoh full-scale sized made completely with Legos! This is definitely not Cairo, Egypt.

lego police man poster

I saw this funny Lego policeman poster which was funny to see.

Unfortunately, the summer time is when all the little kids show up and when I mean kids, I mean kids from all over Europe. Sure, there are two other Legolands in Europe which are in Denmark and in the United Kingdom, but this Legoland in Germany is much closer to most Europeans and it’s generally on the way to other tourist sites within continental Europe for most travelers, particularly those with kids. So this Lego destination probably gets the mass road rangers during high tourist season. And believe me, it’s just swarm after swarm of kids and tourists so it can get a bit hot as you’re standing next to a stranger/fellow tourist while under the scrunching, heavily-concentrated magnifying sun. So I recommend going in the spring or fall to avoid the summer hordes.

I liked Legoland Germany but the place lacked the quantity and quality of Legoland San Diego and its roller coasters as well as the Star Wars Lego Sets, particularly since California had the life-sized Darth Vader, life-sized Darth Maul, and a lot of famous Star Wars movie scenes reenacted by Lego toys. Legoland Germany has started to add some of these interesting exhibitions to their amusement park but I still think that it’s not as good as the ones that I saw in Legoland San Diego.

lego buildings custom made

There were some mini-size scaled buildings made completely of Legos as well.

lego replica buildings

I am not sure which replicas these Lego buildings were of but they look nice to look at.

Still, I won’t complain as I was a big fan of Legos as a kid and I still am. To me, being in Legoland was like being a kid all over again except that I am older and have a lot more money to spend even thought I didn’t spend it on Lego toys. I like spending more into experiences to where going to Legoland was like a jump back in the past.

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FC Barcelona winning the La Liga trophy! – FC Barcelona vs Levante

I looked at both the schedule and the standings in order to time it correctly as I was hoping to be there in person in Camp Nou when the grand FC Barcelona team raises the La Liga (League) trophy to celebrate another victory, another major trophy to be put in and proudly displayed in the FC Barcelona museum. To go to a trophy celebration is a great thing to be because I still remember it from last year when they played against their eternal enemies, Real Madrid, in the El Clásico. However, at that time second place Atletico Madrid lost their game which meant that Barcelona already won the trophy just based on mathematics of points so the celebrations were already in place at the end of the game regardless of the outcome so the team went ahead and celebrated the La Liga trophy victory. It was an amazing feeling to be there in person for the festivities and I wanted to do the same for this season – make it to the La Liga trophy celebration and be witness to their 26th La Liga trophy lifting.

kickoff about to start soccer football game match barca

Here, the game was about to be underway – FC Barcelona against Levante in Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain.

However, the opposing team, Levante, wanted to spoil the fun and tried hard to put a dent into the team’s supporters and fans. They were really persistent in not letting Barca score one that I almost felt like this team was on a 5-4-1 formation to deny and counterattack. Barcelona did have some good runs and some great shots on goal but unfortunately they did not hit their marks.

fc barcelona ultras fans hardcore

The ultra hardcore fans of FCB cheering the team on with their chants, flags, and colors.

coutinho free kick outside the penalty box fcb

Usually Lionel Messi takes the free kicks but since he was not a starter in this game to give him some rest, Coutinho ended up taking it and almost scored if it weren’t for Levante’s goalie.

But it did not matter as FC Barcelona has the best player in the world in Lionel Messi who has had a great season scoring and assisting and dribbling that he has shown no decline in his game despite being 31 years old when others might show some kind of slowing down. That’s when everything changed despite not being a starter in this game, Messi was a substitute and came onto the field after half-time. He changed the dynamic of the game and also produced another save-the-day heroics by scoring the game’s only goal!

messi saves the day game victory

Messi came onto the field and completely changed the game. Levante had to go up against someone from another planet.

goal celebration by messi fcb barca

It’s hard to see but Messi ran to the right of the goal where his teammates followed and mobbed him to celebrate his goal.

And despite Levante producing some scares and 2 minutes were added into extra time, the final whistle blew and the FC Barcelona team was crowned La Liga Champions! Just like last year, there was a big celebration with singing, a mini-concert, a light show, parading around, dancing, but with one big difference – there was the trophy presentation which the FC Barcelona Captain, Lionel Messi, received on behalf of the team!

after the final whistle at camp nou

The entire stadium was cheering after the final whistle blew meaning that FC Barcelona won the League! Levante showed some sportsmanship by staying on the pitch to congratulate Barcelona.

FCB surround each other for 18-19 la liga trofeo

After getting congratulations from Levante, all the players got in the middle of the field to celebrate the victory. It looked like a much more calmer heavy rock concert mosh pit.

football players dancing

The players started dancing in this weird way, a football way I guess.

Messi raises another trophy to add to the collection FCB musuem

Unlike last year, where there was no trophy presentation since the team won while on the road (more like the closest team losing so Barcelona won by default), Barcelona was presented the trophy on its home turf for the first time in a long time. The fans were treated to something extra special on this game day.

The festivities continued on and on, making this game one of the more memorable football games that I’ve ever gone to.

lights colors celebration festival camp nou la liga 2017-18 champions

It was a complete spectacle to be in the stadium to watch the team win La Liga, which is a major trophy and a major accomplishment. 26 times that this team has won La Liga! Now it was time to celebrate it with music, lights, fireworks, and a lot of excitement.

celebration walking around the stadium pitch

The players walked around on the field to give thanks to the fans who watched them win the trophy.

With this La Liga trophy in hand, the team has two more to go for this season! La Copa del Rey (King’s Cup, equivalent to a country’s cup) and Champions League. After dismantling FC Lyon in Camp Nou and then Manchester United earlier in the season during Champions League, I’m hoping that this season will reveal FC Barcelona to be victorious in being a treble winner again. That means three major trophies in one year. And being in attendance at the stadium is a great feeling to be celebratory – it’s such a different feeling when you watch your favorite team win a major trophy compared to going to Rome, Italy to see another world wonder, the Colosseum. They are both great, amazing sights/feelings but very different. Of course, I could say the same while watching Messi, the world’s best football player in the world, is just magical when he has the ball or shoots the ball so even if you’re not a Barca fan, it’s still a wonder to go watch him play. Every FC Barca game that I’ve attended, Messi has scored 1 or 2 goals every match and has never lost a game – just 2 draws and all wins! That’s how good he is!

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Another extensive car museum in Southeastern France: Cite d’Automobile

Close to Basel, Switzerland there is a lesser known car museum in Mulhouse, France – Cité d’Automobile. If you want to go to someplace off the beaten path and you like cars, I recommend going to Mulhouse where the Cité d’Automobile is located at. It’s not far from Basel and I thought that it was worth going to due to its proximity.

Also known as the Schlumpf Collection, which was named after the two Schlumpf brothers who started their car collection, this car museum specializes in Bugatti motor vehicles which were often used in car races. The museum does have a lot of other car brands since the collection was seized by the government when the two brothers went into debt so many other priceless antiques have been added or switched out over time.

bugatti racing museum pieces

There are a lot of Bugatti racing cars in here. A lot of them I was not familiar with.

car museum france

I felt like this place was more like a warehouse than a museum and yup, sure enough that was the case. The Franz brothers had pretty much stored their original collection on warehouse sheds so I guess the spirit continues in this case with just rows and rows of cars being presented.

So if you have time, then try to make it a 5 site car museum visit quest since they are close to each other:

Audi Museum in Ingolstadt, Germany
BMW Museum in Munich, Germany
Porsche Museum and Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany
Cite d’Automobile in Mulhouse, France

I could add in Brussels’s car museum, Autoworld, as well, but it’s not as well-known and it’s not as exclusive or famous as the other ones mentioned above. I would have to say that the four German auto museums take the advantage since they are the automakers themselves. Autoworld and Cité d’Automobile are more of a mass collection put together by some passionate people.

Tip: Despite being in southeast France and literally on the border next to Germany (and also close to Switzerland), Basel is still far from the famous battle site of Verdun. So trying to do both in one day might be quite difficult. Best to make this a Switzerland-oriented trip with a side-trip to this car museum.

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The Swiss city of Basel – The gateway to France, Germany, and Switzerland

This Swiss urban location is very underrated and in my opinion, better than Zurich due to its slightly cheaper cost and less volume of tourist floods and people in general. Like Zurich, Basel is on the Rhine River so there are plenty of neat houses and buildings to look at but unfortunately, it’s still Switzerland, meaning still expensive as hell and this cold hell freezes over during the winter.

Despite its location of literally being at the crossroads of Switzerland, France, and Germany along with the Rhine River flowing through the city, Basel is one of those cities that get overlooked by many tourists but I can vouch for visiting it. Unlike Zurich which is filled with tourists, Basel seems to be more neglected by the tourist hordes unless a tour agency happens to put it on their road map itinerary. So if you’re looking for something more Swiss and not so overcrowded with tourists, then Basel might be a good stop although I can still see it at times getting overloaded with the tourist crowds in the summer like Salzburg sees its annual tidal waves of people starting in May. The city of Basel to me is basically Zurich but without Lake Zurich. It focuses around the Rhine River as a tri-border location between Switzerland, France, and Germany.

pricey expensive tourism north switzerland swiss people tourists plaza platz

Zurich also has these plazas but Basel has far less tourists in this part of Switzerland.

architecture swiss made

If you walk around enough, you’ll see the architecture of this place.

church red building basel european alps

The Swiss have definitely come up with some interesting buildings such as this red building with a clock and tower on it.

rhine river city swiss switzerland border town ciudad de fronteras france germany

If you go northwest from Basel, there is an actual area in the water where the borders of Switzerland, France, and Germany meet at the same place. I don’t think that it’s that amazing but it’s there for tourists who are interested in seeing it. To me, just walking around the city to take in the sights and sounds was good enough.

One funny is that if you can spit in the Rhine River while in Basel, the same water content of your saliva might float all the way down to pass through some of the major cities along the Rhine such as ones that I’ve visited myself: Mainz, Wiesbaden, Cologne/Leverkusen, and then finally towards the North Sea via the Netherlands. The Rhine River is that long and important that it’s been a symbol of German nationalism for quite some time as it goes pretty far back in history as being a frontier border for the Roman Empire at certain times and also other rivers such as the Main River fed into the Rhine. All these rivers helped in giving the Germanic tribes and eventually German civilization to settle the area as well as help defend against being invaded and ruled over by the Romans.

Tip: Basel is in Switzerland which means that it’s expensive! Note that you must have a vignette on your vehicle in order to enter Switzerland particularly around Basel. There are actually Swiss border guards who looking for the sticker before they allow you in the country. I guess they don’t want to hunt vehicles down to give them a fine but rather just tell people upfront about it and make them pay for the sticker and have them apply it.

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