What would be your place to forget of it all, if not the colorful streets of an old town? Wild mountain tops covered in the fresh perfume of evergreens? Icy blue cocktails enjoyed on white hot beaches? Or loud rhythms carrying the vibes through strummed nerves the whole night long? Well, I’m a simple city boy raised in a small medieval town so exploring narrow alleys, taking in all their looks and smells, lights and shadows under a hesitant April sun is a sure thing to bring me back to that relaxed and almost thoughtless state I needed, before even knowing I missed it.
Meersburg, on the shore of the lake Constance or Bodensee how Germans would call it, is just one of these places of wonder. And because it’s German a local pilsner belongs without any doubt to the picture: bitter and solid, crisp and dry with a hint of caramel somewhere, the Edel Pils from the house Leibinger lives up to the legend.
From a dull grey tower by the Aare river, our local dragon is throwing angry flames towards the cloudy winter sky. I can actually sympathize… that’s about all the excitement you can get until some snow finally starts to fall. But it’s Switzerland and snow is bound to come, any time soon! Until that happens, I’ll just sit right here in the not so cold evening breeze, wait for my folks to finish their shopping (like, forever) and remember this delicious oatmeal stout beer - a thick, ink dark coffee malts roast with just a hint of piney hops, coming from across the pond from the skilled 18th Street brewmasters.
Italians call those things “trulli” and you’ll find them all across Puglia. The trulli, I mean. But also the Italians. Weird pointy roofs with a signature-pinnacle on top made the fame of the small town of Alberobello, although every drive on the landside and each “agriturismo” (aka bed and breakfast in the sticks) of the region will be built according to the same design - transforming the whole area into a real-life land of Oblio… yeah, I’m that old to know who Oblio was, I mean that little guy with the pointy hat, heartwarming music and deep life lessons which as a kid I mostly missed (to my parents’ dismay). I loved Arrow though, the dog I never had… (ok that’s a lie - I had dogs) so remembering The Point only added a layer of nostalgia to the charm of Alberobello. Too much excitement calls usually for a beer, so the first terrace we met greeted us with a Peroni Puro Malto. Gran Riserva, they call it, it was smooth and with a pleasant malty taste, just on the weak side (to not say bleak). So, a fine beer in a special town.
One of the most amazing hotels of the world, many sites seem to agree. Not that much of a hotel though - bunk beds,
creaking wood planks, but the views… It was almost evening when we arrived and shadows were playing with my white balance, but the views… The trip from the Ebenalp cable car is very short, at most twenty minutes down on a narrow but well maintained path (it’s Switzerland, right?), through the limestone mountain on a sodium lit cave with soot darkened walls, then hundreds of meters above the green pastures along sturdy rails you will find first a hermit retreat, then a cavern chapel, then a hotel… yes, that’s it, the Äscher inn! And the views… and the delicious looking whisky sausage specialty, and the oven rösti baked with smelly cheese, and the Dunkel Lager Appenzeller beer, mellow and refreshing and discrete just right for the moment. In the chiming bells of the sheep herd, sitting there, enjoying the view…
The evening falls on the streets of Cisternino right from the darkened skies of the past storm. Passersby finally dare to come out of their hiding places and step carefully on the wet and slippery cobblestones, in awe of the colourful dusk light shining from under the cloud blanket. My hiding place was a tiny pub called Diaulicchie, with an inviting sign “Birre artigianale” - craft beers that is. Being offered only a few taps but lots of bottles, my choice fell on the bartender recommendation, an Italian and almost local (from Salento near Lecce) brew called Beggia. Advertised as red and in reality a cloudy rusty drink, with faint scents of dried fruits and a pleasant bitterness, it didn’t knock my socks off but remained in memory as a nice and refreshing drink. Not that after the cold rain I needed much refreshing…
What can you do on a cloudy October day in Chania, when the sea is the same grayish blue as the covered sky and the chill of the nearing winter starts to creep in? If you’re an ant like those small dark folks, you’ll go on gathering straws for your fungus culture (I just assume here ok?). But if you’re a tourist and don’t mind walking tens of kilometers a day, you’ll spend your day walking around the old Venetian town - all the time while keeping an eye on the sea, because that’s the reason you are here after all. Yep, even as the evening approaches the sea is still menacingly dark and the skies are still covered and bland… this dark Beaufort 7 of the house Nissos is then the one who should lighten up my day. Roasted malts with hints of figs and uh maybe even coffee, if anybody tells you Greece has only bad beers just ignore them - they truly have no clue.