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no more keeping my feet on the ground

Brandenburg by Bike: Löwenberger-Land-Radweg

Sunday morning we were already in Hauptbahnhof Berlin, on platform 6, with our bikes good to go, and backpacks stuffed with nuts, carrots, sandwiches and cereal bars – all in all, prepared for a new adventure. The forecast announced unstable weather, some rain ahead, but why stop here? In the worst scenario we would have to pedal our way towards the first Gasthaus, restaurant or train station or at least a bus stop that could provide shelter.

Loewenberger Land Radweg, BrandenburgSo off we went, at 10:09 the train left us in Oranienburg, a small town in Brandenburg, located north-east of Berlin, on the cycle way to Copenhagen.  From here on our target was a 45 km route, known also as the Löwenberger-Land-Radweg. Our end destination: Lindow. The GPS was crucial in the beginning as there were no signs pointing to the cycling road. Our journey began with a tour around the train station in Oranienburg, and a turn towards Lehnitzsee. Right there it happened: for the first time our wheels made contact with a BIKE ROAD, not just stripes of paint, a slice of some pathway or a piece of asphalt, shared with all the cars.

We pedaled the 5-6 km along lakes and rivers, occasionally we had to cross a road, but that didn’t pose a problem. It was Sunday, aside from a few other groups of cyclists, the wilderness was all ours.  Lakes were followed by dense and dark pine forests, fields of rapeseed, creeks and bridges, castles, and lots of village households: with horses, cows, chickens, and all else. To sum it up: a quiet world the Berliner doesn’t get to see every day, a world he sometimes forgets even exists.

Löwenberger-Land-Radweg

Löwenberger-Land-Radweg

One hour and a half later we reached Liebenberg, a well kept estate with a castle, restaurant, tea house and a lovely park. A traditional fare was scheduled for the afternoon, so we decided to continue our way to Lindow, and return later on. Sadly we never made it back to the fare. After Liebenberg came Neulöwenberg, then Löwenberg, and then, as we were approaching Hoppenrade the first drops touched the ground. We stopped under a lime tree to get our ponchos on, in order to make it safe to the first restaurant, train station or any other thing with a roof and a welcome sign. Little did we know what was to come.

There was no restaurant, no Gasthaus in Hoppenrade, no train or bus stations, nothing that could provide shelter. Just the usual village households, with people lurking inside, enjoying their Sunday afternoons, and some curiously watching us, lunatics, getting soaked in the rain.

Soon the drops turned to streams, and with no shelter in sight, we kept pedaling for another 4-5km, towards Großmutz, and then Glambeck. All the ponchos in the world couldn’t save us from a full blast shower. At Glambeck all clothes were dampened in rain, right then, all we wished for was to get to Lindow as soon as possible, and take the first train back home. Right then nature/fate (or maybe just plain, old luck) decided to change our plans: first, we found shelter in a bus stop, where we managed to revive our optimism with carrots and nuts. Secondly, the clouds decided to go bug someone else, and within a few minutes the sun was shining brightly all over the village, as if nothing had ever happened.

We continued the trip, with our clothes drying in the sun, and made it to Lindow with a big grin.  After a short picnic next to the Wutzsee, the clouds were back in sight, seemingly ready to take us for another dance. Our feet were still cold and soaked in water, so we decided to end it there.

All in all, it was a nice trip. Hopefully, next time we can skip the shower episode. :)

Photos from the trip

The Fanta Battle

A widespread myth in Romania states the following: most brands sold in markets all across Europe (and many even worldwide) come in two different varieties: an improved, more healthy product for markets in Western Europe, and a product that is less healthy and lacks in quality, sold in Eastern European markets. Last winter I decided to put this myth to the test by seeing how Fanta ranks across borders. Just before Christmas, a 1,25L Fanta bottle was smuggled at the check in area of the Tegel Airport, and made its way safely to Eastern Europe. More precisely to the ancient plains of Romania, and further north, the Fanta bottle found itself standing on a table, in a warm wooden cabin, among snow covered peaks. That was all the Fanta was given to see, for the next minute it landed in a cold, dark refrigerator.

Few hours later we had a 1,25L German Fanta (purchased at Lidl in Berlin) and a 1,5L Romanian Fanta (purchased at Mega Image in Bușteni) side by side, and 6 Romanians eager to test them. Were they any different? Which one was better? Here are our impressions:

1. Romanian Fanta

Definitely sweeter, maybe a tiny bit more artificial. The difference was so subtle I even thought it might just be a mild placebo effect, shaped upon my own expectations: to find something less natural, less healthier in the Romanian Fanta. Another person from our group noticed the same artificial note. The greater part of the group enjoyed its sweetness without having any negative comments.

2. German Fanta

Maybe its the bias hitting again, but here goes nothing: in contrast to the first sample it really felt a bit more natural, as if there was some orange juice hiding around there. But that was just my impression. We all thought it was less sweet, and the greater part of the group liked the Romanian Fanta better.

_DSC1327Just as we were about to pick the winner, a surprise contestant came along, determined to win the race:

3. Fanta Klassik

Last month Fanta released a new variety of their drink, based on the original recipe developed in the 40s. Just as their publicity spot announced it, the drink was indeed less sweet than any Fantas we tasted before. The natural orange taste, present in the German Fanta, is covered by new flavors. It’s an enjoyable drink, resembling a lot the soda drink we have today.

Now that we’re done with the subjective part of the comparison, let’s see what the ingredient list on each bottle says:

German Fanta Romanian Fanta Fanta Klassik
Ingredients water, sugar, orange juice made from orange juice concentrate, carbon dioxide, citric acid, citrus extract, natural orange flavor and other natural flavors, antioxidant ascorbic acid, coloring agent carotene, stabilizer guar gum. water, sugar, glucose-fructose syrup, orange juice concentrate (min. 5%), carbon dioxide, citric acid, natural orange flavor and other natural flavors, antioxidant ascorbic acid, coloring agent beta-carotene, stabilizer guar gum. water, sugar, whey solid (30%) (contains milk), orange juice made from orange juice concentrate, lemon juice made from lemon juice concentrate, carbon dioxide, apple extract, citric acid, natural flavor, antioxidant ascorbic acid, stabilizer guar gum.

*recipe variances are marked with red.

As we notice, all recipes are based on pretty much the same ingredients: water, sugar, orange juice concentrate, flavors, carotene, guar gum a.o. But there are a few variances:

  • glucose-fructose syrup  – a sugar replacement syrup, found only in the Romanian Fanta.
  • citrus extract / lemon juice – Fanta Klassik contains lemon juice made from lemon juice concentrate. Today’s German Fanta contains citrus extract. Either way,  maybe this shows that the Germans are more into sourness.
  • whey solid 30%– used in the original recipe from the 40s, this was probably due to lacking raw materials during the war. Honestly, I expected the whey to have a strong, negative impact on the taste! Surprisingly, I wasn’t able to detect the whey, or anything milky for that matter.
  • apple extract – an ingredient no longer contained in today’s Fanta.

As for the nutritional values

Nutritional values for 100ml German Fanta Romanian Fanta Fanta Klassik
Energy 38 kcal / 160 kJ 43kcal, 183 kJ 33 kcal / 139 kJ
Proteins 0 0 0
Carbs 9.2 10.5 8
Out of these sugar 9.1 10.5 7.3
Fat 0 0 0
Sat fat 0 0 0
Fibre no information 0 no information
Sodium 0.01 0 0.02

Proof images:

Summary: All three drinks are loaded  with sugar, but there’s less of it in the German Fanta, and even less in the classic Fanta drink. In addition to that, the Romanian Fanta is the only one containing no salt at all.

From here on, the conclusions are yours to draw. Is one Fanta healthier that the other or are all pretty much the same? Have you tasted Fanta from other countries? Did you notice any differences?

Passing through the Carpaths: Predeal

by car in predeal, romania

It takes a 90 minute drive to get from Bucharest to this place. That is, if the road isn’t full. If you’re not that much into cars, there’s also a train leaving every 1-2 hours, the fare is about 20 lei (4,5 Euros) and it will take you to Predeal in about two hours. If you’re planning a trip here during the cold months of the year, here are some of the sights you’ll get.

predeal, romania
predeal, romania
predeal, romania
predeal, romania

And whenever your stomach starts growling, you can stop by at Cabana Vanatorilor and try a traditional beef soup. It’s always on the menu, and always tasty. :-)

Romanian beef soup at Cabana Vanatorilor

Autumn in Plänterwald

The best time for mushroom hunting!

Plänterwald, Berlin Plänterwald, Berlin Plänterwald, Berlin

Quotes and Jokes from Dr. Katz Professional Therapist

Dr Katz Professional TherapistJust as I was about to finish going through my must-see list, I discovered yet another obscure TV production. Below are a few quotes from it. All episodes are available on Youtube, you can start right here with the first one.

“Judy, I have a little girl just like you at home.” – “Come on, my father couldn’t have been that drunk!”

“Do you feel like your thoughts are controlled by a computer?” – “Yes.” – “Windows or Mac?”

“I used to think the human brain was the most fascinating part of the body. Then I realized, well, look what’s telling me that.”

“I got this friend, he’s constantly bothering me. I mean, I have a computer, but I just use it to write. This guy’s constantly bothering me: ‘You gotta get on the net, you gotta get on the internet, you gotta get… get into the future! get on the net!’ This guy spends 8 hours a day playing computer games with a guy in France. You know, and he always tells me ‘the computer is a tool’ and I’m like ‘no, it’s not, it’s a toy. You’re a tool using you to get to me’, you know? So finally I said: ‘let’s go, I wanna get on the net. I wanna get on a global chat board. I wanna talk to people all over the world’. And we boot into his computer, we’re on the screen, I’m sitting there, prepared, I’m ready to be engaged, and I’m watching the screen, waiting for a transmission, and here it comes: ‘Do you like dogs?’

“I think I’m turning into a hypochondriac. I hope so, otherwise I’m just about to die.”

Bucharest – among the most polluted cities in Europe

Few days ago I read an article that revealed Bucharest ranking as the second most polluted city in Europe. This brought me back to what I saw earlier this month, in a village not far away from the capital. Below are photos of apple trees growing in Adunații Copăceni (Giurgiu), a commune located at about 15km south from Bucharest. Strolling through the orchards, I noticed the bad shape the apple trees were in. According to the villagers, this is what’s left of their harvest, after the last waves of hail and acid rains in Mai-June.

Apples Ilfov
_DSC9809

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