The Dusseldorf Altbier Brewery Tour

Altstadt - Bolkerstr.

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

Altstadt - Bolkerstr.

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 Pedregal’s Signature Todos Santos Day Tour

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There are so many wonderful towns in and around Los Cabos and visiting them is something both locals and tourists love to do.  One of the most popular day tours is a trip to the idyllic town Todos Santos, which translates to All Saints.  According to legend, the city takes its name from the saints hung outside local’s homes.  Marina, Capella Pedregal‘s Lead Personal Assistant, invited me to try the Signature Todos Santos Day Tour. I gladly accepted so I could experience it myself and tell you everything you need to know about this unique experience.

rsz_323Fabrizio, certified guide and driver, picked me up at 9:00 am from the hotel in a beautiful Escalade (not a bad way to travel!), and we began our journey.  The town is located about 45 miles north of Cabo San Lucas and is a peaceful and relaxing town that shines for its art community, surfing and unique natural beauties. This small town is an oasis located where the desert meets the ocean and Sierra la Laguna Mountain. The Mexican Tourism Secretary named Todos Santos a “Pueblo Magico” (Magical Town) in recognition of their efforts in keeping the cultural and historical wealth of Mexico.  The beauty of this special town has attracted a large number of Mexican and international artists who find inspiration in its surroundings. Todos Santos is now considered a destination for artists, musicians, poets, and surfers.

Our first stop on our way to Todos Santos was to a local blown glass factory, where the glassmakers showed me the process of making a glass heart.  This was especially interesting, because this glass heart is used as decor around Capella Pedregal!  We spent about 30 minutes at the factory, as  I wanted to try and blow glass myself. It was such an interesting process and admittedly, much more difficult than it looked.  Moving forward, I’ll leave it to the experts!

Artist Carlos Diaz Castro , Indigo Gallery

Artist Carlos Diaz Castro , Indigo Gallery

The drive to Todos Santos is complete with beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean on one side and the desert and cactus on the other.  Once we got there, our first stop was Hotel California, founded in 1950.  For several years, it was the only bar and hotel and therefore the house for surfers and people looking for a special place to relax and unwind.  The hotel is famous for the Eagles song “Hotel California,” although there are no records or proof that the musicians were actually there.  There is a photo of one of the band members that was taken during his visit to Todos Santos.  If you listen to the song carefully, you find a lot of similarities that make fans believe the hotel is the one.  Each day, tourists go there looking for souvenirs and to listen to the famous song that plays in the gift shop throughout the day.

Steps away, you will find the Mission of Todos Santos, from which the town adopted its name. The mission contains the statue Virgin of Pilar, which is the focus of Todos Santos’ main festival in October each year. A must see!

Sculpture Benito Ortega Vargaz showing us a mold

Sculpture Benito Ortega Vargaz showing us a mold

We continued our tour visiting Indigo Gallery and Galeria Logan were we found artist Jill Logan painting. We also met local sculptor Benito Ortega Vargaz and pottery artist, Ruben Gutierrez.  Every corner of this town has something interesting!  After exploring and enjoying art, we stopped at a traditional Mexican restaurant for lunch.  Fabrizio gave me the option of having some free time for shopping or visiting Cerritos Beach.  I decided to finish the tour with a little of both.  I did not want to miss a thing!

To learn more about this Magical Town, please check out my interview with Mr. Carlos Arnaus, resident of Todos Santos and successful businessman.  If you are interested in experiencing the local culture of Todos Santos, please be sure to talk to your Personal Assistant at pa.pedregal@capellahotels.com. They would love to help you!

Exclusivo Tour de Capella Pedregal a Todos Santos

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Hay tantos maravillosos pueblitos  alrededor de Los Cabos,  y visitarlos es algo que tanto a locales como turistas les encanta hacer. Una de las excursiones por el día más populares, es un viaje al idílico pueblo de Todos Santos. Según la leyenda, la ciudad toma su nombre de los santos colgado fuera de las casas locales. Marina, Líder de los  Asistentes Personales en Capella Pedregal, me invitó a probar Exclusivo Tour  de Capella Pedregal a Todos Santos. Acepté con gusto para poder experimentarlo en persona así contarles todo lo que se necesita saber acerca de esta experiencia única.

rsz_323Fabricio, guía y conductor certificado, me recogió a las 9:00 am desde el hotel en una hermosa Escalade (¡no es una mala manera de viajar!), e iniciamos nuestro viaje. El pueblo está situado a unos 45 kilómetros al norte de Cabo San Lucas y es un pueblo tranquilo y relajado que brilla por su comunidad artística, el surf y bellezas naturales únicas. Esta pequeña ciudad, es un oasis ubicado donde el desierto se une con el mar y la montaña de la Sierra de la Laguna. El Secretario de Turismo, nombró a Todos Santos un “Pueblo Mágico”, en reconocimiento a sus esfuerzos en mantener la riqueza cultural e histórica de México. La belleza de este pueblo tan especial ha atraído a un gran número de artistas mexicanos e internacionales que encuentran inspiración en su entorno. Todos Santos es ahora considerado un destino para artistas, músicos, poetas y surfistas.

Nuestra primera parada en nuestro camino a Todos Santos fue a una fábrica de vidrio soplado local, donde los fabricantes de vidrio me mostraron el proceso de hacer un corazón de cristal. Esto fue especialmente interesante, porque este corazón de cristal se utiliza como decoración en torno a Capella Pedregal! Pasamos unos 30 minutos en la fábrica, ya que quería tratar de soplar vidrio yo misma. Fue un proceso muy interesante y sin duda, mucho más difícil de lo que parecía. ¡En el futuro, simplemente se lo dejaré a los expertos!

Artist Carlos Diaz Castro , Indigo Gallery

Artist Carlos Diaz Castro , Indigo Gallery

El viaje hasta Todos Santos se completa con hermosas vistas del Océano Pacífico por un lado y del desierto y cactus en el otro. Una vez que llegamos allí, nuestra primera parada fue en el Hotel California, fundado en 1950. Durante varios años, fue el único bar y hotel, por lo tanto el hogar para los surfistas y gente que busca un lugar especial para relajarse y descansar. El hotel es famoso por la canción de los Eagles “Hotel California”, aunque no existen registros o pruebas de que los músicos estuvieron realmente allí. Hay una foto de uno de los miembros de la banda que fue tomada durante su visita a Todos Santos. Si escuchas la canción con cuidado, encontrarás una gran cantidad de similitudes que hacen que los aficionados crean que este es EL hotel. Cada día, los turistas van allí en busca de souvenirs y para escuchar la famosa canción que suena en la tienda de regalos.

A pocos pasos, se encuentra la Misión de Todos Santos, por la cual ciudad adoptó su nombre. La misión contiene la estatua de la Virgen del Pilar, que es el centro de fiesta principal de Todos Santos  en octubre de cada año. ¡Una visita obligada!

Sculpture Benito Ortega Vargaz showing us a mold

Sculpture Benito Ortega Vargaz showing us a mold

Continuamos nuestro recorrido visitando la  Galería Indigo  y Galería Logan, donde nos  encontramos con  la artista Jill Logan pintando en vivo. También conocimos al escultor local, Benito Ortega Vargaz, y artista de cerámica, Rubén Gutiérrez. ¡Cada rincón de esta ciudad tiene algo interesante! Después de explorar y disfrutar del arte, nos detuvimos en un tradicional restaurante mexicano para comer. Fabricio me dio la opción de tener algo de tiempo libre para ir de compras o visitar la playa de Cerritos. Decidí terminar el recorrido con un poco de ambos. ¡No me quería perderme nada!

Si estás interesado en experimentar la cultura local de Todos Santos, por favor, asegúrate de hablar con tu asistente personal, los puedes contactar por correo a pa.pedregal@ capellahotels.com . Les encantará ayudarte!

Capella Singapore’s Insider’s Guide To Singapore

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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.

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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.

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(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.

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(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.