The Dusseldorf Altbier Brewery Tour

Altbier, or “old beer” as it translates to, is one of Dusseldorf’s greatest traditions.  Altbier has been around since the 17th Century and has its roots in the region of Westphalia.  Its top fermentation brewing process is what makes it unique.  In fact, I’ve written about this special beer once before here on the Capella Blog.

Well, I am excited to announce the new Breidenbacher Hof, A Capella Hotel, Dusseldorf Altbier Brewery Tour!  Exclusive to hotel guests, this experience introduces the participant to five of Dusseldorf’s oldest breweries with special behind-the-scenes tours and tastings, perfect for both the beer aficionado and the novice alike.

According to Breidenbacher Hof Personal Assistant, Malte, this activity is an absolute favorite among guests.  Intrigued, I decided to schedule my own Dusseldorf Altbier Brewery Tour, after all, this is a tradition I already love and wanted to learn more about.

The tour began before we even left the hotel, with a tasting of the hotel’s signature Breidenbach meatballs served with ABB mustard (the Dusseldorf mustard!) and, of course, an Altbier.  Delicious – and the perfect way to start things off!

Altstadt - Bolkerstr.Our first stop was Schumacher brewery, which opened its doors in 1838, making it the oldest Dusseldorf brewery still in operation.  From there we made our way to four other quintessential Altbier breweries, Schlüssel, Kürzer, Füchschen and Uerige breweries.  At each brewery I was able to meet the Brewmaster, who shared secrets of their individual brewing processes.  Of course the highlights were the delicious tastings of each location’s signature brew.

Things weren’t all technical!  I also got a taste for the history and culture of Altbier.  At Füchschen brewery I learned an Altbier Song (definitely best sung after a day of beer tasting!), which of course was the source of much laughter.  And at Uerige I learned the funny history of the brewery’s name.  It seems the original owner, Wilhelm Cürten, was known for his unhappy disposition.  As a result locals began referring to the brewery as uerig, which means grumpy.  Ironically, these days people flock to Uerige in the afternoon for the good beer and great cheer.

Uerige-600The tour was truly a fun experience and by the end I felt like a true Altbier expert.  Be sure to schedule your own Dusseldorf Altbier Brewery Tour experience with your Breidenbacher Hof Personal Assistant during your next visit and discover one of the city’s greatest institutions.

Düsseldorfer Altbier Brauerei Tour

Das Altbier ist eine der großen Traditionen Düsseldorfs. Es existiert seit dem 17. Jahrhundert und stammt ursprünglich aus der Region Westfalen.  Was dieses Bier so besonders macht ist die obergärige Braumethode.  Tatsächlich habe ich über dieses besondere Bier schon einmal hier auf dem Capella Blog geschrieben.

Heute freue ich mich, Euch die neue Düsseldorfer Altbier Brauerei Tour des Breidenbacher Hof, a Capella Hotel vorzustellen!  Diese Tour wird exklusiv für unsere Hotelgäste geplant und gibt Euch in wenigen Stunden Einblicke in fünf der ältesten Brauereien Düsseldorfs.  Mit Blicken hinter die Kulissen der Brauereien ist diese Tour sowohl für Altbier Liebhaber als auch für Neulinge ein perfektes Erlebnis.

Unserem Persönlichen Assistenten Malte zufolge ist diese Aktivität der absoluter Favorit unter unseren Gästen.  Ich war so fasziniert, dass ich direkt einen Termin für meine eigene Düsseldorfer Altbier Brauerei Tour vereinbarte. Ich mag die Altbier Tradition sehr und wollte unbedingt mehr darüber erfahren.

Die Tour startete bereits bevor wir überhaupt das Hotel verließen.  Als perfekten Einstieg genossen wir die köstliche Breidenbacher Frikadelle mit dem berühmten Düsseldorfer ABB Senf und dazu gab es natürlich – ein Altbier!

Altstadt - Bolkerstr.Unseren ersten Halt machten wir in der Brauerei Schumacher, die Ihre Pforten 1838 öffnete und damit die älteste noch betriebene Brauerei Düsseldorfs ist.  Von dort aus machten wir uns auf den Weg zu vier weiteren bedeutsamen Altbier Brauereien: Brauerei Schlüssel, Kürzer, Füchschen und Uerige.  In jeder einzelnen Brauerei wurde ich von den Braumeistern begrüßt, denen ich interessante Geheimnisse zu den individuellen Brauprozessen entlocken konnte.  Mein persönliches Highlight war jedoch, dass ich in jeder Brauerei das individuell hergestellte Altbier kosten und so vergleichen konnte.

Doch nicht alle Informationen waren nur von technischer Natur!  Ich erhielt einen einmaligen Einblick in die Geschichte und Kultur des Altbiers.  In der Brauerei Füchschen lernte ich außerdem das Altbier Lied kennen (das am besten nach einem Tag mit viel Altbier Genuß gesungen werden sollte!), welches mir natürlich großes Gelächter bescherte.  Und im Uerige erfuhr ich die  unterhaltsame Geschichte, wie die Brauerei Ihrem Namen erhielt:  Der ursprüngliche Besitzer Wilhelm Cürten war bekannt für seine schlechte Laune und so sagten die Stammgäste im besten Düsseldorfer Platt, er sei „uerig“, was übersetzt „schlecht gelaunt“ bedeutet.  Heutzutage besuchen allerdings alle Gäste das Uerige wegen des guten Biers und der guten Stimmung.

Uerige-600Die gesamte Tour war wirklich sehr unterhaltsam und danach fühlte ich mich wie ein richtiger Altbierexperte!  Bei Eurem nächsten Besuch im Breidenbacher Hof, a Capella Hotel in Düsseldorf solltet Ihr daher auf jeden Fall Eure eigene Düsseldorfer Altbier Brauerei Tour bei unseren Persönlichen Assistenten buchen und so eine von Düsseldorfs größten Traditionen kennenlernen.

Capella Singapore’s Insider’s Guide To Singapore

Singapore, often synonymous with its tall skyscrapers and giant shopping centres, also has a rich tapestry of culture and history that is sometimes overlooked.  However, to fully appreciate present day Singapore, it is essential that we look back to the past and appreciate the firm foundations on which our future has been laid.  It was an honour for me to help put together and attend a curated tour of Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Glam, called the Insider’s Guide to Singapore, especially designed for Capella Singapore’s guests.

The tour began with a visit to Singapore’s oldest temple, Thian Hock Keng temple. While at the temple, I learned how Taoists and Buddhists worship together, side-by-side.  Thian Hock Keng temple, built in 1841, is also significant because, prior to land reclamation, it sat right at the shoreline allowing Chinese sailors to pray to the gods the moment they came ashore.  As sea sojourns in the past were often perilous and fatal, sailors risked their lives to come to Singapore in search of a better life and were so overwhelmed with thanksgiving when they arrived that they donated money and goods to the temple, allowing it to continue operations until present day.

temple1s

The two gods of death, 黑白無常 (Heibai Wuchang) work together to bring people to the afterlife. Legend has it that they are easily distracted by cigarettes and alcohol which is why believers leave cigarettes by their altar!

After the temple visit, I had a personalised tour of Little India where I walked through the busy streets taking in the sights, sounds and scents.  The tour shares much about the importance of gold in Indian culture and includes a visit to several old family-run goldsmiths.  Gold, which signifies purity, prosperity and fortune, is still a form of dowry and savings among the Indian people.  But gold wasn’t the only thing that caught my eye in Little India!  I also had the opportunity to choose and wear our very own traditional Indian flower garland.

Lunch was the next stop.  I could choose between a Muslim Malay lunch and a Singaporean Chinese lunch.  The Muslim Malay food option allowed me to dine in an authentic Minang-style house.   Minangkabau, an ethnic group indigenous to Minangkabau Highlands of West Sumatra, Indonesia, has people scattered throughout the Indonesian and Malay peninsular cities and towns, including Singapore.  The Chinese option gave me the chance to eat my favourite, Bak-kuh-teh, a rich herbal soup brewed with pork bones.  This soup is popular with Chinese in Singapore and Malaysia.  I decided to go with the Muslim Malay lunch and dug into a plate filled with rich flavourful curries.

kampong_glam_s1

(Photo courtesy: Singapore Tourism Board)

After my belly was full, my walking tour through Kampong Glam and Arab Street began.   One of the most interesting experiences was being able to create my own perfume at Muslim perfumery Jamal Kazura AromaticsMinyak Attar is a natural oil based perfume derived from organic sources.  The owner, Jamal Kazura, gave me the opportunity blend scents, creating a one-of-a-kind perfume that is unique to me.   Jamal Kazura Aromatics traces its origins back to the early 1920s.

kampong_glam_s2

(Photo courtesy: Singapore Tourism Board)

After a culturally rich day, it was time to head back to Capella Singapore.  It was truly a unique experience being able to walk through history with my very own personal guide and one I would recommend to others.  

This tailor made Insider’s Guide to Singapore can be enjoyed by booking the Capella Experience package or directly through your Capella Singapore Personal Assistant.

Kunst Highlights in Düsseldorf

Letztes Wochenende habe ich mich dazu entschlossen, mir die Ausstellung NRW 2014 im Museum Kunstpalast anzuschauen.  Unsere Persönliche Assistentin Barbara im Breidenbacher Hof hatte mir die Ausstellung empfohlen und mich darauf aufmerksam gemacht.  Seit über 100 Jahren findet diese nun schon statt und ist die Größte ihrer Art in Deutschland.  Da die Ausstellung nur vom 15. Februar bis 9. März geöffnet ist, sagte ich mir selbst: “Jetzt aber schnell!”  Ich war von der Vielfalt an Kunst sehr beeindruckt.

Museum Kunst Palast

Dieses Jahr wurden 140 regionale Künstler von der Jury ausgewählt, die ihre Werke anderen Künstlern und Besuchern präsentieren durften.  Ein wirklich einmaliger Einblick in die Düsseldorfer Kunstszene.  Zu sehen gab es beeindruckende Skulpturen, atemberaubende Fotografien, wunderschöne Gemälde und unzählige grafische Arbeiten.  Was mir am besten an der Ausstellung gefallen hat?  Kein Werk ähnelt dem anderen, weil jeder Künstler einen anderen Blickwinkel und Stil vertritt.  Es hat die Besichtigung in ein Abenteuer verwandelt, weil man nicht einschätzen konnte, was einen als nächstes erwartet!

Als besonderes Bonbon kann man sich von den Künstlern selbst durch die Ausstellung führen lassen, um einen noch intensiveren Einblick in ihre Arbeiten zu erhalten.  Zudem werden donnerstags und sonntags Vorführungen geboten. Wenn ihr in den nächsten Tagen bei uns im Breidenbacher Hof, a Capella Hotel sein solltet, dürft ihr euch diese Ausstellung auf keinen Fall entgehen lassen.  Unsere lieben Persönlichen Assistenten unterstützen euch gerne und empfehlen euch weitere spannende Aktivitäten in Düsseldorf.  Ich bin mir sicher, das ihr diese Erlebnisse nicht vergessen werdet!

 

 

Nachtaufnahme Museum Kunstpalast, Foto: Stefan Arendt, Medienzentrum Rheinland  

Finding Romance In Chinese Astrology

On 31 January, Singapore celebrated the Lunar New Year – this is one of the most important holidays in the Chinese calendar as it symbolizes the coming of spring.  I personally love the Lunar New Year celebrations because it is a wonderful opportunity to get together and celebrate with the family.

chinese astrology

The Chinese culture has its own zodiac or astrological signs, which rotate each Lunar New Year.   The different signs are named after 12 different animals, (see my post HERE for more information on the animals and the story behind them). This year marks the year of the horse.

Like the western astrological signs, each character in the Chinese zodiac has unique characteristics and personality traits.   As a result, different signs are more compatible as friends, companions and lovers than other.  Because we are approaching western culture’s Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be fun to share a chart outlining compatibility.  You may be surprised to learn that many people still rely on these charts when determining if a mate is suitable for them!

Chinese Astrology

If you are in Singapore and would like to know more about your zodiac sign, you can always approach a Capella Singapore Personal Assistant who can arrange you meeting with a Chinese Astrology expert to teach you more about your sign and the significance of the Chinese zodiac.

Romantic Mexican Traditions

Valentine’s day is around the corner, and it perfectly fits the loving and festive nature that defines Mexicans.  We use this sweet excuse to pamper our loved ones, friends and family.  Throughout history, love has always been very important to Mexicans and as a result, we have many romantic Mexican traditions.

Our ancient civilization Mexica had two gods, that personified Love: Xochipilli and Xochiquetzal.  Xochipilli was like the Apollo of the Mexica.  He was the god of Love, games, beauty, dance, flowers, corn and songs.  His name means “the prince of the flowers” and he had a twin sister, the goddess of love, Xochiquetzal, meaning “precious flower or ornate bird.”  In honor of this pair of gods and their representation of love, Mexica used to celebrate with a four day festival.  During this time the people would make offerings of bread and corn, pierce their tongues with maguey thorns and dance to the beat of drums called teponaztli.

Mariachi-LA76-Photography (1)

Today, Mexico’s Valentine’s Day celebrations are similar to celebrations around the world.  Red roses are given, romantic cards written and chocolates enjoyed.  But we do have some traditions that remain our own.

In smaller towns, young people often meet in town squares; the girls stand on one side, the boys on the other.  Then, they walk around the perimeter in opposite directions, so they can face and look at each other.  On the second round the boys offer a flower to the girl that they like.  On the third round, if the girl has retained the flower, it means that she has agreed to go out with her suitor.  If she doesn’t keep the flower, it means she has rejected him and the boy must pick another girl.

My absolute favorite way of expressing the love in Mexico are “las serenatas” (serenades).  They are just so romantic!  You have probably seen the act of playing a serenade in some movie.  Usually, the boyfriend gathers a group of mariachi, or a trio, and visits the girlfriend’s house after the sunset.  On the street, under his loved one’s window, they all start to sing the most romantic and heartfelt songs.  The intention is to wake her up with songs that will touch the heart.  When the girl appears at her window, it means that she is pleased and approves of the serenade (I can’t imagine a girl could resist such a sweet and romantic gesture from her loved one!).  However the family may be a different story- if they approve of the suitor he may be invited in to visit, but if the family does not they may toss the water on him!

At Capella Ixtapa we have prepared a special Valentine’s Day package and are organizing many romantic activities and sweet attentions during this most romantic month.  Who knows, we might even get to play a serenade for some of our lucky guests!

 

 

Photo: LA76 Photography