Year of Grace, Day 151. A Drive to Blankenberg

Last Sunday, Mother’s Day, was a perfect spring day – sunny and warm (hot even, under the sun), but with cooling breezes. We visited Blankenberg, about 20 minutes away from Bonn, over the Rhine in Hennef. If it weren’t for our recent househunting programme, I would never have known about it. It is a lovely little village, perfect for a short, pleasant drive outside Bonn. I had not expected a castle: Blankenberg is more noted for its half-timbered houses, and the castle tower and herb garden just below were a lovely surprise. There were idyllic views of the countryside from the castle mount. Aside from the tower and foundations of the castle walls, nothing else remains of the once extensive structure, once known as Burg Blankenberg, the seat of the Count and Countess von Sayn.

From the tower, we drove a bit further into the village centre, and strolled amidst the well-preserved traditional half-timbered houses surrounded by blooming azaleas, rhododendrons, horse chestnuts, and lilacs.  I saw a house fronting the village square for sale, and I was moderately tempted, but managed to curb my romantic tendencies.

There were cafés offering seasonal treats – asparagus and strawberries, and because of the celebratory day and the glorious weather, there were quite a number of weekend visitors like us walking about. We were glad to find seats indoors – all the outside seats in the sun had been taken – at a restaurant advertising homemade ice cream. Strawberries and cream with pistachio ice cream and strawberry sorbet for me, and a trio of pistachio, lemon sorbet and raspberry for M. My strawberry dream (Erdbeertraum) was, true to its name, dreamy — sliced local strawberries macerated in a flavourful but not overpowering honey-based syrup, sprinkled with roasted almond slivers, and topped with whipped cream. Under the fruits were scoops of natural pistachio ice cream and strawberry sorbet. I stress ‘natural’ because all too often, pistachio ice cream from the gelaterias in Bonn are artificially coloured and flavoured. It’s truly a delight to partake of something simple and honest, prepared with care, and in season. A glorious treat for a glorious day!

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