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Last night, Bill and I took his mother, Parker, out to Villa Im Tal, a fine dining Austrian restaurant on the outskirts of Wiesbaden. It was Bill’s and my third time dining there, and we were sure Parker would enjoy it as much as we have. It’s set in the woods in a beautiful timbered building surrounded by a spring and lots of trees. Even at night, it’s gorgeous. Best of all, parking is a breeze and costs nothing! This restaurant is also easily booked on OpenTable.de.

We had a 7:30 reservation, but arrived a little bit early. We were seated at a corner table for four. At first, I was a little perturbed by where we were sitting, mainly because the lighting was so dim and it was hard to see the menu (they kindly provided English versions for us). But then, maybe twenty minutes after we sat down, a couple came in with an adorable beagle. They sat near us.

Ordering dinner was easy. The waiter spoke perfect English. Parker and I started with champagne. I had a rose and she had a brut. Bill had Campari and soda, then ordered a lovely local white wine that tasted of honey, yet was dry on the palate. We each had the special seafood menu, which consisted of five courses. Below are some photos of the grand culinary event that was last night’s dinner.

I enjoyed all of the courses, although my favorites were the scallops, which were perfectly grilled and very tender and went beautifully with the gnocchi, and the lobster cappuccino. Honestly, I was worried that the flavor would be too earthy for me, as the initial aroma smelled slightly of truffles, which is a turn off for me. What can I say? I am one of those weird people who thinks truffles are gross.

But when I tasted it, I was amazed by how delicious it was. The soup had the very essence of lobster finished with a little sherry. The single ravioli was just enough. And we paced the meal so that it wasn’t too much. All three of us loved the seafood menu and would order it again. It was priced at about 68 euros each.

So… about Tony, the adorable beagle…

We noticed that his people, who both also enjoyed the seafood menu, were very friendly with the waiter. He had brought out a bowl of water for Tony, and they spent several minutes talking and laughing. I got the sense that they were regulars. Eventually, I told the couple that we have beagles, too… Right now we just have Arran since we lost Zane to lymphoma a few months ago, but we usually have two beagles at a time. We hope to find Arran a playmate soon, whether or not he wants one.

I got up to use the ladies room, and when I came back, Tony came over to say hello. He was so sweet and friendly. His owners told me that he was born in a lab and participated in experiments until he was about sixteen weeks old. They adopted him when he was still a puppy, and he’s now 12.

I was very surprised Tony was that old. He didn’t look or act like he was twelve years old. In fact, at one point, he got on his hind legs and put his paws on me. Then, when my voice went into “baby mode”, (as it always does with dogs), he pricked his ears up and gave me a look of pure delight. I wished I’d had my camera so I could capture it for this post. It reminded me of our late dog, MacGregor, who was very shy around people he didn’t know, but loved to be on camera.

Tony’s people were very friendly and spoke English beautifully. I told them about how we’d had five beagle rescues so far and showed them a picture with Arran, living the high life snuggled up next to my mother-in-law. They laughed in recognition, because apparently Tony is a couch snuggler too. And we shared a laugh about how much beagles love to eat, don’t obey commands very well, and sniff everything while they bay. I told them about how the first time we lived in Germany, we had a couple of different beagles and they would bay in our quiet neighborhood, prompting many dirty looks from the locals. Back then, the dogs were referred to as “Jagdhunden” (hunting dogs). Now, it seems that beagles have become a lot more popular. We’ve seen many more of them during this stint.

The couple seemed surprised when I told them I hoped to get another dog. They cited their love for travel as to why they just have Tony. I didn’t want to tell them that sometimes our dogs go to the Hundepension… in fact, Arran is going to the Tierpension Birkenhof today, because we’re taking Bill’s mom to Ribeauville, and hoping to visit some places we missed on previous trips. It’s easier to visit places when we don’t have to worry about taking care of the dog, and we have found excellent caregivers in Stuttgart and Darmstadt. But Arran has been to Ribeauville a few times… we have a very pet friendly source of lodging in that town. That’s one of the many things I love about living in Europe. Dogs are allowed in a lot of places here, especially when they are as well mannered as Tony was.

I think having dogs has really helped us break the ice in so many situations in Germany. We’ve met some cool folks that way, because everyone loves to talk about their dogs. Up here in Wiesbaden, people are a lot friendlier, too. When I told the couple that we’d lived in Stuttgart, they kind of laughed and said Stuttgart is a “very special part of Germany”. Yeah… I’d have to agree… although it will always have a special place in my heart. I figure if we can make it there, we can make it anywhere in Germany. And it has the distinction of being the place Bill and I have spent the most time living since we were married.

Villa in Tal has become a favorite!

Anyway, dinner was a success, if not rather pricey. I think Bill paid about 380 euros for the three seafood menu meals, two bottles of San Pellegrino, our round of aperitifs, and a bottle of wine. It was well worth the cost, though, because I have a feeling we’ll be talking about last night’s dinner for years to come… and today, we’ll start making even more memories in France!

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