Today started off a bit rough. The clouds blanketed the sky in that way they do when they let you know that summer is over, and I could have slept another hour, but my body had other plans. Even after my favorite cup of coffee I couldn’t naturally put a smile on my face.
Weeks ago we had planned on taking a day of our vacation to follow a dream of my husband’s and visit his favorite spice producer. Years ago he fell in love with the herbs and spices of Ingo Holland, and always dreamed of visiting the small town and shop that gives life to so many of our dishes. And, as luck would have it, today was the day. I wanted to go in a better mood, but I just couldn’t wing it. My husband even asked me if I was sure we should go today, but, as this is not the first time in my life that I have woken up on the wrong side of the bed, I told him that the trip would do me good and that sitting at home on our couch definitely wouldn’t make it better. With that, we were off.
We decided to go by train since the trip to Klingenberg, where the Altes Gewürzamt calls home, is over 3 hours away from us on the Bavarian boarder with Hessen and Baden-Würtemburg. This way we could have a “mobile couch day” on the train and sink into the books we are reading.
We exited our last train, stopped at a small bakery for a snack, and where directed by a friendly lady to find our destination. Not that Klingenberg is large – not at all – it is just a maze of many old houses.
Because we arrived during the Altes Gewürzamt‘s lunch break, we walked around the town before heading to the store. We walked through one alley after another of 400+ year-old houses, and even found ourselves on a bridge hovering over a small canyon running through this really small and inconspicuous place. We found a path leading into the canyon, and walked through it. What a surprise and a hidden treasure.
We made our way back to the heart of town – passing by a few wine cellars built into the hill that the town sat at the foot of. Finally it was time.
We opened the door to the Altes Gewürzamt and were quickly encompassed by the warm smells of wood and spices. By the time the door closed behind me, I had a smile on my face.
For a moment, I stood in the first room and just looked around. We were greeted by two very friendly employees, and I tried to decide where to start. I decided to walk around the store, and then walk around it a second time to gain focus. Finally, I was in my element. Food is just my world.
After I mentioned to my husband that I was going to smell every spice in the shop before we left (they have one open container per spice), one of the lady’s who worked there turned to me with a lovely smile and asked if I would like to set my backpack down by the register because it would take a while to discover them all and I would be more comfortable that way. I took her offer, and started traveling the world through my nose.
Some smells were new, some were invigorating, others nose tickling, and yet others brought back fond childhood memories. I smelled in the container with chives at least three times – they smelled so buttery. Since when do chives smell buttery? I smelled into a container of Timut pepper that smelled like spicy grapefruit. I tasted Danish Jozo Salt that grows in exquisitely thin little square flakes and crunches like chips. I smelled the mind-blowing floral explosion of Iranian Safran. I smelled a spiced-wine spice mix laced with roses and lemon grass. I could go on and on. What an experience. Oh, and did I mention that they also have different types of vegan gummy bears?? I am moving in.
Two hours later, we were at the register and ready to take our bounty home. It doesn’t look like a lot, but we already own quite a few that we order through their online shop.
We walked out the door, and as I closed the old wooden door behind me I felt like I had spent the whole day in a spa. Aroma therapy does wonders. I had such a great time, and had such a huge smile on my face as we walked back to the train station that my husband said that he thinks I had more fun than he did, and it was his dream we were full filling. And that, lady’s and gentlemen, is why even when you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, you should always decide to get up and go do something great rather than hang out on your couch all day.
Besides, I had enough “mobile couch” time today. We spent a total of 6 and a half hours on different trains going back and forth for a less than 3 hour visit. It was totally worth it. What a great memory this place has made.