So there we were on a rainy Saturday in beautiful Kranjska Gora, Slovenia. We ate sandwiches and drank local beer as Meg updated us on her progress. She had left Kosovo at about 7:30am and promptly encountered an hour long wait at the Serbian border. I have never been to Kosovo or Serbia, but evidently, it is a very Muslim populated area and Muslims typically aren’t very fond of dogs. Noizy saw some street dogs at the border and barked at them. Next thing Meg knew, a whole bunch of street dogs were attacking her vehicle. Consequently, she decided to sedate Noizy.
Meg is a very well connected person in the former Yugoslavia. She lived and worked in Kosovo and Croatia and can speak some of the language. A vet kindly hooked her up with some squirtable medication. It looked like the type of container I had seen used for horse wormers. You squirt a little in the dog’s mouth and it’s nap time. Evidently, that’s what happened with Noizy. He was soon down for the count, which I’m sure was a blessing, given what came later.
As Meg crossed over into Croatia some hours later, her car began to run funny. She got warning lights indicating that the transmission may be failing. Meg was upset, because she had taken her car to a dealer to have it checked– an Urlaub exam– and it had passed with flying colors. Now, here she was with three dogs, about four hours from her final destination, and the car was acting up. She pulled off at a gas station just beyond a construction zone where the car had been running slowly, got some gas, took the dogs out for a pee, and decided it was time to call ADAC (German auto club). Unfortunately, Meg doesn’t have ADAC Plus, which offers service all over Europe, so they couldn’t help her.
Bill, who was fretting about having to drive all day Sunday to make it to the Monday morning court appearance that turned out to be for naught, said to me, “I think this is going to turn into a rescue mission”. Meanwhile, Anne and Kyle, who had also come down from Germany to get dogs, were asking Meg if she needed them to come get her.
At this point, I remembered how, back in December 2019, Bill and I were unexpectedly stuck in Beaune, France, because some asshole decided to puncture our brand new tire while we were at a rest stop. We also had to call ADAC. Fortunately, we have ADAC Plus. I am writing this to remind any Americans who are reading this and live (and drive) in Europe to make sure you have auto club coverage AND it covers you everywhere. We have had to use ADAC at least twice during our three tours in Germany and it definitely pays for itself when they bail you out of a vehicular mechanical nightmare in a strange town.
So, the hours stretched on, and it became clear that we wouldn’t be fetching Noizy on Saturday night, as planned. Bill asked Meg if he needed to come to her, but thankfully Anne and Kyle were able to spend another day, plus they’re a lot younger than we are. So they went to convoy with Meg… she followed them with the dogs and they finally arrived in Kranjska Gora at about 5:00am. Incidentally, that also reminds me of the time Bill and I, and his mom, got stuck in Italy and spent all night trying to come back to Germany, where our hotel room was. Yep… this kind of shit easily happens in Europe. We still talk about that situation, even though it happened in July 2009.
While I’m not glad that Meg’s car had problems, I am glad that we were able to get Noizy on Sunday morning instead of Saturday night. I didn’t know quite how large he is, nor did I know how Arran would react to him. He’s also still working on his leash training. It would have been a challenge having him in such close quarters with Arran the first night, especially in a place where walls are shared. However, he has been a gentleman since we brought him home. Arran keeps his distance, but I think he’ll eventually come around.
We spent Saturday night watching for news of Meg’s progress– she had a bunch of people offering advice. I am thoroughly impressed by her ability to make helpful connections!
At about 7:30am on Sunday, I sent Meg a message that we were on our way to her. She was staying at a little gasthaus outside of the town. It looked really nice. In fact, I think I would have preferred it to where we stayed. There was a nice field behind it where people were doing early morning yoga as we approached. I watched one guy do a headstand.
Meg was standing in the parking lot with Noizy, who was a striking sight. He’s a very tall dog… much taller than any of our others by far. And he has very bold coloring. It made for a very brilliant appearance with the mountain backdrop and fall colors. This was also the first time I had ever seen Meg, too. She turned out to be different than I was expecting.
When I was growing up, I had a neighbor from Pennsylvania who reminded me a lot of Meg and I had imagined her to look like my old neighbor. As it always happens when I form a mind’s eye, the picture I had in my head didn’t match my imagination.
We parked the car and I got Arran out. He went up to Noizy and gave him a sniff, then moved off to smell all of the other stuff. Bill took Noizy’s leash, but it appeared that Noizy was pretty scared of Bill. He backed up wildly. I was really glad he was in a harness. I heard the rush of water and was curious, so I took Arran to see where it was coming from. I also got a video of Arran and Noizy meeting. It wasn’t quite as magic as when Arran met Zane, but at least there wasn’t any bloodshed!
I could tell that Meg was very sad to give Noizy up. She has a very deep and special bond with him, having raised him from the time he was a tiny puppy. When I see Noizy now and compare him to pictures of him as a puppy, I’m reminded of a very cheesy cartoon from my childhood called Dinky Dog. This could be the story of Noizy’s life!
A local lady seemed keen to talk to us as we were getting to know Noizy. I’ve got to hand it to Meg, who rather firmly but kindly asked her to leave us alone as we got acquainted and worked to get Noizy loaded up and ready to go. I think some tears were shed by Meg and Noizy. He’s clearly very special to her and I am honored that she allowed us to add him to our family.
Because Noizy seemed really nervous, we gave him a little more sedative, enough to take the edge off for a couple of hours. Then we loaded him into the back of the Volvo. He fit perfectly and slept for most of the way back, even after the drug wore off. We didn’t hear a peep from him or even see him. He was very content to nap the whole way back. He’s a good traveler.
I have mentioned before that I think Austria is an extremely beautiful country. We haven’t spent enough time there, which is a shame, because it’s a small country that has huge things to offer. I love the scenery there. There are enormous mountains, babbling brooks, Dirndl clad ladies and men in Lederhosen, and lots of great food. I like Austrian food more than German food. Yes, there is a difference.
It seems like Austrian food has a little dash of Italian to it… and it also seems like there’s more variety to it. It’s not just Schnitzel, sausages, Spatzle, potatoes and cabbage. And yes, I know I’m inviting criticism from my few German readers for writing this. But I also know that some of them are reading because they want to know what things look like from an American point of view. Well, I am American, and this is my point of view, even if it’s not entirely accurate. You know what they say about perspectives. I know Germany has a variety of different specialties throughout the land, but for some reason, Austrian food just seems slightly different to me. Not that we had much of a chance to eat it during this whirlwind trip.
I was expecting Bill to stop for lunch. He never did. I don’t know how he hasn’t learned in almost eighteen years of marriage that it’s good to take a break. On the other hand, there weren’t that many appealing stops on the way down to the Slovenian border. We did stop at one place so I could pee. It was pouring down rain, though. I also remember having to pay a toll of 12,50 euros before we could go through Katschburg Pass. Bill was freaking out because the toll was done by machine and it wouldn’t accept his Bar (cash). I told him he should just take his time. People would have to wait. It’s not like they don’t make us wait when they have business to attend to.
Anyway, as we approached the border, we ended up on a narrow mountain road behind some guy who didn’t seem to know which was was up. There were many wrong turn signals, a few weaves and bobs in the road, and slow speeds. The drive over the mountain was very beautiful. The leaves are turning, so the colors were dramatic against the stormy skies. There’s a bunker museum on the mountain road. We saw a lot of signs and had we not had Arran and it hadn’t been raining, it would have made for an interesting stop for Bill. It was built during the Cold War to make sure no one from former Yugoslavia would cross into Austria and raise a ruckus. Again… I would love to visit Kransjka Gora again, so maybe someday we’ll get a chance to visit.
Here are some photos from our drive down from Salzburg.
We rented an “apartment” for our night in Slovenia. I didn’t realize it was really more of a hotel apartment. We told the proprietor that we’d be there at 2:00pm, since they told us they needed an hour to get to Kranjska Gora. We actually arrived earlier than 2:00, but for some reason, it didn’t occur to me to message them through Booking.com. We just waited for a car. Well… first, Bill went to a tiny grocery store near the apartment and picked up a few essentials. Kranjska Gora is very close to both the Italian and Austrian borders. It must have been interesting to live there when Slovenia was still part of a closed society.
After we picked up a few items, we went back to the suite hotel and met the young lady who showed us our digs for the night. For about 86 euros, we got a little place with a bed, a sitting room, basic kitchen facilities, and a bathroom with a tiny shower. It was very clean and had what we needed, but it wasn’t quite as nice as our place in Salzburg. The floors were tile, which makes for easy cleaning, but chilly quarters. Still, it was just fine for a night and the price was right. Checking out was equally a breeze. All we had to do was dump the trash and leave the keys on the kitchen table. That was perfect for our purposes. The place we stayed was called G&F apartments on Booking.com, but it was in the Hotel Klass building, which is very close to the town center. I prepaid for the room and we had to pay four euros for the tourist tax. There wasn’t a pet fee and Arran was definitely not the only dog there.
Our original plan was to get Noizy at about 8:00pm, as that was when Meg was supposed to arrive with him and two other dogs who got new homes. Another American couple, based at Ramstein, I believe, were coming down to pick up a dog for themselves and transport another to a German family in Bavaria (I think). That other couple turned out to be a godsend. More on that in the next part.
When we take trips, I usually take a lot of photos, even from the car. Before a couple of weeks ago, I had never heard of Kransjka Gora, and had no idea of what we were in for. I did remember how beautiful Lake Bled was and had been wanting to visit Slovenia again. But Bill and I are getting older and it’s hard to drive for seven or eight hours straight, so that means it’s best if we can break up the trip. And, as most Americans know, there’s only so much leave a person can take. When Bill worked for his first company, the pay wasn’t as good, but they were very generous about letting him take time off. His current employer pays very well, but it’s not as easy to go away for longer trips. Not that we’re complaining. Six years ago, when we first came to Germany, I still owed $40,000 on my student loans. I managed to pay them off two years ago, nine years ahead of time!
While I usually like to take a lot of photos on our trips, I was more preoccupied this time. I didn’t think to take any pictures until we stopped for lunch at a KFC. German KFC is not like American KFC. And American KFC is not like the Kentucky Fried Chicken of my youth, which used to be a lot better than it is now. We decided to stop for chicken, even though it’s not as quick and convenient as other fast food is. I was kind of astonished by the rest stop where we pulled off. It had an amazing assortment of choices, especially for Germany. There was a McDonald’s, a Burger King, a KFC and a Subway!
And right next to the Subway was an enormous “adult” book store, complete with blow up dolls outside the entrance! I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of the erotic book store. I wish I had. In the United States, the adult book stores aren’t quite as prominent as they are in Germany, although I do remember repeatedly passing Club Risque in North Carolina many times as I drove back and forth from Virginia to South Carolina to and from graduate school.
I guess the erotic book stores are intended for the lonely truckers who traverse Germany from all over Europe, especially the East. I notice that they are well catered to in this country. Many rest stops have showers, as well as pay toilets that are clean. Where I come in the States, the rest stops are a little bit nicer than the free ones in Europe, which are really bare bones. But they don’t usually have restaurants (except in the Northeast). In Europe, the rest stops that aren’t just a place to pee have restaurants, fully stocked convenience stores, gas stations, and yes, something for the truckers who need a little distraction from the road.
Lunch was pretty filling. We ate it in the car, mainly due to having Arran with us and because of COVID-19. I watched people going in and out of the restaurant, ignoring the request to exit from the opposite side of the entrance. I also noticed in the ladies room, that someone had dumped pasta all over the bathroom floor. I couldn’t tell if it was cooked or not. It was an odd sight.
Once we got lunch sorted, we got back on A3 and headed south. I had forgotten how long the drive to Austria by way of Salzburg is. It seems to take forever to cross the border because you have to keep going east. I always enjoy driving over borders, but on this first day of our trip, we were about 90% in Germany before we arrived in Salzburg. We made another quick stop at an excellent rest stop not far from the border so Bill could buy an Austrian vignette (toll sticker). They are required for the Autobahn and you can buy them for ten days at just under 10 euros.
That’s another interesting thing about Europe. Many countries over here either have systems where you either pay for a vignette to use the motorways or you pay tolls. In Switzerland, you buy a sticker for the year and it costs about $40 (40 Swiss Francs or 30 Euros). In other countries, they are for shorter time periods and cost less. Many of the countries that have vignettes also have tolls for when you go through a long mountain pass. Germany is the only country I’ve seen so far where the Autobahn is free. But we don’t know for how much longer it will be free. Of course, you still have to pay 70 cents to use the bathroom at the fancy rest stops. That’s why it’s not at all unusual to see people peeing on trees here. They’re pretty brazen about it, too.
The proprietors at the Haslachmühle B&B had requested that we check in by 6:00pm. We arrived there at about 5:30pm, having driven through Salzburg’s traffic and passed by a guy driving a carriage pulled by two white horses. The horses spooked Arran, who barked and startled us both. I wish I’d had my camera, though. Those horses were a lovely sight.
So… about that B&B. It’s a winner. Getting to it is a little bit tricky, since it’s located on a very narrow “goat trail” type of road. But it’s a very charming place, with six unique rooms and a small free parking lot for guests. The lady in charge, along with her very sweet female dachshund “Luezy” (pronounced as if you were rhyming it with “noisy”), met us as we pulled up. She was quick to check us in and show us to the beautiful room I rented for the night. We stayed in the Room City View, which was just awesome. It had a big bed, a huge balcony that offered a view of the city, and a gorgeous masonry heater. I especially loved how the walls had built in bookshelves loaded with books (in German, of course). It was really unique and lovely. I was sorry we could only stay one night.
We were tired from the drive and still full from lunch, so we had no need for dinner. However, the B&B has a fridge where guests can get wine, beer, or soft drinks, as well as snacks. You just write down what you took and pay on checkout. Our room came with two bottles of water (looked like they came from a Penguin), mini Ritter Sports on the pillows, and three apples. Adding in some crackers and wine, we were pretty much set for the night. I enjoyed watching the sun set over the mountain. We also watched some network TV, which we rarely have the chance to do.
If we had needed food, we could have ordered from Lieferando.at or, if we were feeling determined, driven into town. There aren’t any restaurants near the B&B that I could see.
Breakfast in the morning included the usual buffet spread, with cheeses, cold cuts, fruits, juices, and breads. The proprietor made us coffee and scrambled eggs. While we were eating, Arran started pitching a fit. We hadn’t brought him into the breakfast room. I was very pleased to see that the proprietor didn’t mind Arran’s howling and even said we could bring him into the breakfast room, which we ended up doing. Another couple also had a dog with them and Arran behaved like a perfect gentleman.
After a leisurely breakfast, we loaded up the car and checked out. I would definitely go back to Die Haslachmühle B&B, next time without any canines. However, I am happy to report that they are very welcome there, even if children aren’t (according to Booking.com, anyway). We weren’t even charged extra for Arran. I was expecting a pet fee, so that was a really nice surprise. Below are some more photos from our stop in Salzburg. It really is a beautiful city. I would love to go back and do another tour of it when we don’t have business to attend to.
By late morning, we were heading south to Slovenia, which isn’t that far from Salzburg. I think it was about a three hour drive. I managed to get a few pictures of castles from the side of the Autobahn… again impressive sights. We really should come down and actually visit sometime. We had a chance to tour Salzburg when we did our very first Space A hop from the USA back in 2012, but that was just a day trip that we took from Munich. We had a great time, but it wasn’t long enough. Time to look into visiting again. We’ve been to Salzburg three times and still haven’t done the Sound of Music tour. 😉
Since we’re stuck inside for the time being, Bill and I have been doing a lot of shopping. German businesses have predictably adapted to stay afloat during this challenging time. For some reason, Bill has been getting lots of ads on Facebook for meat. Pork, beef, and other butchered delights are being offered by local Metzgereien, complete with free delivery. He’s also getting ads for coffee. We’ve now fully stocked our liquor supply… which maybe we shouldn’t have done, but our mint plant has really taken off and maybe I’ll want to have a mojito or something.
I figured now was a good time to try new kitchen gadgets, so I decided to get us a pizza stone and an air fryer. The air fryer is an appliance I’d been wanting to purchase for a long time. I bought a Philips model, XXL, which is bigger than the basic, and one can also purchase baking and pizza attachments for it.
We tried it out last night. Bill cooked chicken leg quarters. They turned out deliciously, but after we ate dinner, we noticed a strange adverse effect on our dog, Arran. As Bill was clearing the table, I noticed that Arran didn’t seem to be feeling very well. He looked almost like he was about to have a seizure. He has had a couple of seizure like “spells” in the past, although they have been years apart. It looked like he was going to have another one last night.
Poor Arran had a frightened, confused, and sickened look on his face, like he might vomit. His tail was tucked between his legs, and he moved very slowly, as if he was off balance and on the verge of collapse. He started trembling, which automatically made me think of awful reasons why dogs suddenly start to shake. A friend of mine recently lost her dog to kidney failure, and trembling was her dog’s most prominent symptom. I worried that maybe Arran was trying to tell us something awful… He’s ten years old and seems very healthy, but I know all too well that dogs can have silent diseases that suddenly take them. Our dog, Zane, was diagnosed with lymphoma and died a week later.
Then I wondered if maybe the air fryer had something toxic in it that had poisoned Arran. I even looked up xylitol, which is a sweetener that is deadly to dogs. I wondered if he’d somehow gotten ahold of some. We even considered calling the emergency vet, then wondered if they’d be open during this cursed coronavirus crisis. I was very worried that we might experience another tragic canine loss.
But then I went Googling, and I came across this fascinating Reddit thread. About a year or two ago, many people posted about their dogs’ strange reactions to air fryers. The behavior they were describing was very much like what Bill and I witnessed in Arran last night.
Evidently, what Arran experienced after dinner is not uncommon in dogs when their humans start using new appliances. The air fryer was very quiet to us, but as a dog, Arran can hear things that we can’t. After reading the Reddit thread, it occurred to me that the high, whirring, fan sound of the fryer must have disturbed Arran’s inner ear, which would have affected his balance and probably made him feel sick. For him, it must have been like he was trapped at a super loud disco or something, and it just took awhile for his ears to quit ringing. That would explain his odd behavior last night. Thankfully, about an hour after we were finished eating and after lots of hugs and reassurance from Bill, Arran was back to his normal self. He’s just fine this morning.
People commenting on the Reddit thread wrote about their dogs not liking the Instant Pot, smoke detectors that beep, or other appliances that make a high pitched noises. We do have an Instant Pot, and Arran doesn’t seem to have a problem with it. In fact, he loves it when Bill gets it out, since he uses it to make homemade dog food. But clearly the air fryer is a problem. Fortunately, we have a fenced backyard Arran can hang out in, as well as a large house with distant rooms we can take put him in when we use the fryer. Or, I can just take him for an extended walk… which he loves and I desperately need to do more of for my health’s sake. According to the Reddit thread, just getting the pet away from the appliance when it’s operating is enough to prevent this odd attack.
For more reading about how our latest technology drives pets insane, click here.
As many readers know, several months ago, Bill and I lost our beloved beagle, Zane, to canine lymphoma. Zane was a wonderful dog, and of the five we’ve had so far, he was probably the one who was closest to me. I’ve really been missing him.
Usually, when we lose a dog to death, we waste no time in getting another one to help ease the pain. This time, it’s taken a bit longer for us to start the process of adopting a new dog. It’s mostly because we’ve heard a lot of horror stories about Germans not wanting Americans to adopt from Tierheims. Based on my research, I’ve learned that many Tierheims in areas where there is a strong military presence, are reluctant to adopt to Americans because so many have abandoned their dogs when they’ve had to move. Some people take their dogs to the shelter because moving them is an expensive, inconvenient, logistical hassle. Some do because they’re sent to a place where it’s difficult to move an animal. And some people just plain don’t care about their animals.
Of course, it’s not wise to paint an entire group of people with a broad brush. Many Americans are responsible pet owners who would never dream of abandoning a family member– their dog or cat– in Germany or anywhere else. There are extraordinary circumstances, of course. Sometimes rehoming an animal is the right thing to do. Bill and I are committed to adopting dogs from rescues, and once we take one in, we’re committed to keeping them and moving them when it’s necessary, even if it costs a lot of money. We don’t have children, so it’s easier for us.
My German friend, Susanne, has been eagerly waiting for us to choose a new dog to bring into our home. For months, she’s been sending me profiles for dogs in need of homes. Germany, like the United States, has many rescue organizations hoping to place dogs in happy homes. We finally found a dog who looks promising. He was a hunting dog in Sardinia and he’s been moved to Hamburg in a foster home.
This morning, we had a meeting with a lady who rehomes dogs from Romania. She’s in a network of people working with dog rescues who can do home visits with prospective adopters, although she doesn’t work with the rescue that has the dog we’re looking at taking in. She was asked to meet with us because she speaks English, although she kept apologizing for her language skills (which I thought were perfectly fine). We talked for about an hour, and she took a look at our backyard to make sure it’s secure and offered us some tips. She said she’s going to give us a good report… so, if all goes well, we may have a new dog in our midst soon.
Arran was totally charming and she said she could tell he’s in a happy home because he was so relaxed and friendly. I could tell that she’s a true dog lover, too, because she told us about her four dogs and cat, as she babytalked with Arran. Although I was a bit worried about the process of adopting a dog in Germany, I was put at ease today… it was much like it’s been for the three beagle rescues we’ve adopted from in the United States.
I still think about Zane every day. I still miss him. A new dog can’t replace his memory, but I think it’s time to give a new dog a home. So hopefully, if we’re still able to travel with this coronavirus mess in effect, we will be able to go get him soon. At the very least, we did enjoy meeting a German dog rescuer. I hope to update the blog soon with pictures of a new family member.
Today’s featured photo was taken of Zane when he was about a year old and brand new to our household. His “big brother”, the late MacGregor, is looking on.
Every once in awhile, I write about things I see when I walk my dogs. Bill and I happen to live right next to a large nature park. It’s a great area to live in if you have dogs. There are a lot of dog owners in our town and they’re pretty friendly and helpful. Case in point, about a month ago, my dog Arran escaped from our house and several locals were instrumental in helping us bring him back to safety.
Lately, I’ve noticed a woman parking a car advertising holistic medicine for pets. I don’t know her and have never talked to her, but I see her and her son walking their Maltese dogs several times a week. She drives a SUV with decals on it advertising her services as a naturopath. I’m actually kind of interested in what she does, since I have been exploring natural approaches to veterinary care with my dogs, Zane and Arran. Both of my dogs have had mast cell tumors since we’ve been in Germany.
I already belong to a great Facebook group that offers advice for natural approaches toward caring for dogs with mast cell tumors. In that group, there’s information about how to feed dogs with mast cell cancer, hot to use CBD oil and other essential oils for healing tumors and lesions caused by the cancer, and nutritional advice for overall wellness.
To be honest, I’m not as much into “woo” as some people are. I do think natural approaches can be helpful and are often not harmful. I can personally attest to how much CBD oil has helped Zane and Arran, but I also give them Benadryl to discourage the histamine release that can cause tumors to develop. I give Zane Tagamet or Pepcid to help him with the upset stomach he gets sometimes and also to help discourage new tumor growth. It’s been over a year now and this approach seems to be working well for both of them.
Still, I wonder if there’s more I could be doing. That’s why I took notice of the SUV advertising holistic services for pets. The other day, I looked up the woman on Facebook. Her name is Sylvia Fiedler, and according to her official Web site, we were born at around the same time in 1972. She charges 60 euros an hour in cash for her services. It appears that she comes to your home, although I see she’s located in Oberjettingen, which is just up the road from where Bill and I live.
It appears that most of Fiedler’s training is very recent, although she started in the field in the late 80s. I can relate, since my very first job was working for a veterinarian, too. I quickly determined that as much as I like animals, I didn’t want to work in the veterinary field. However, my dogs have pretty much demanded that I learn more about how to take care of them. Our local vets have been surprised by what I know. One of them thought I was a nurse, but actually, I have a master’s degree in public health and used to work as a technical writer for a public health agency. I think that’s why I know more than the average person about some of this stuff.
Anyway, it looks like Fielder’s practice centers around feeding a raw diet, laser therapy, acupuncture and acupressure, Bach flowers, and even leeches. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be calling her… although it may get to a point at which I might decide to give homeopathy a whirl. Some people do swear by it and it’s kind of cool to know that it’s available in my current “hometown”. It’s also kind of cool to know that the lady who offers it walks the same routes I do with Zane and Arran.
I’m mainly just writing this post because I know I have some local dog lovers/owners who read my blog. Perhaps some of them are looking for a naturopath/holistic practitioner for their dogs. Hopefully, this information might be helpful.
Jettingen is a great place for dog owners… not just because there are so many trails, but also because we have a resident naturopath.
Sometimes I get inspiration for blog posts from people in local Facebook groups who have a need. I think the many travel bloggers in the Stuttgart area each offer different things to our readers. I don’t have children, so generally speaking, I’m not the one to come to for advice on where to take your kids. However, I do love good food, wine and beer, unique places that are off the beaten track, and, most importantly, pet friendly lodging.
We didn’t used to take our dogs on our trips. When we lived in Germany the first time, we had Flea and MacGregor, two high maintenance beagles that didn’t travel well. Flea would get car sick. MacGregor was deathly afraid of people he didn’t know. Both of them barked incessantly. MacGregor would also howl when we left them alone. In those days, we’d take them to Hunde Hotel Haase, which was at the time being run by a woman named Kirsten. Kirsten was awesome, and she took great care of our dogs. Unfortunately, sometime in the five years between our Germany tours, Kirsten left, and took the Hunde Hotel’s good reputation with her. I started hearing some very disturbing stories about dogs who were left there.
We started using Dog Holiday for our current dogs, Zane and Arran. Dog Holiday is great, but it’s frequently booked, especially on holiday weekends. When we want to take a dog free break, we book Zane and Arran at Dog Holiday months or even as far as a year in advance. Since we don’t know how long we’ll be in Germany, that can be problematic as well.
In 2016, we decided to start taking the dogs with us on our trips. We started with a one night experiment in Riquewihr, which is a lovely French town in Alsace, not too far from Stuttgart. Although Zane and Arran had stayed in hotels before, we decided it was time we trained them to be good in hotels. I booked us a deluxe room at Best Western Le Schoenenbourg. Although the dogs weren’t on their absolute best behavior, the trip was a success. We even managed to enjoy a delicious gourmet meal in Riquewihr with our dogs in tow! After that victory, I started looking for other pet friendly accommodations. I’ve found some good ones, which I am sharing in this post.
Before I get started, I want to list my criteria for booking pet friendly accommodations. First, I look for parking– particularly free parking. That’s because we don’t take our dogs on trains, at least not yet. We have to have a place to park our SUV. Next, I look for free WiFi because I’m addicted to the Internet, but also because you never know when you’ll need to find an emergency vet or something. And finally, I try to book places that don’t charge pet fees. It’s not that I don’t want to pay pet fees or that I don’t think property owners are right to be concerned about pets staying in their rentals. It’s more because I’ve found that people who don’t charge for pets tend to be less nervous and/or anal retentive about having them in their rentals. I prefer to rent from people who like my dogs rather than just tolerate them.
So here goes with my list of nine pet friendly properties we’ve enjoyed so far. They are not ranked in any particular order.
This will be the only hotel listed in this post. I am mentioning Hotel Le Schoenenberg because they were exceptionally pet friendly. When we checked into our deluxe room (the only one they had left), we found it outfitted for our dogs’ arrival. They had included pet bowls and treats for Zane and Arran and they were super understanding when my dogs started baying on the way downstairs. My one concern about this hotel is that it’s pretty pricey. We paid just under 200 euros for one night with breakfast. However, we were also in a suite and it was during the high season. Also, I don’t think you need more than a couple of days to see all of Riquewihr, although there is much to see in the surrounding areas.
Hotel Le Schoenenberg was very welcoming to our dogs!
We booked Chalet Montana in Barvaux, Belgium for Labor Day weekend 2016. I found this house on Booking.com. It was larger than what we needed and kind of pricey, but it has the distinction of being our very first experience renting a vacation home. I see on Booking.com that Chalet Montana *may* charge for pets, but I don’t think they charged us when we stayed there. There are two master bedrooms with two trundle beds. Bring your own linens.
This property is near the charming town of Durbuy and within range of towns like Rochefort, Bastogne, and Dinant. We visited each of those towns while we were in Barvaux. I was particularly enchanted by Dinant, which is where Adolphe Sax, inventor of the saxophone, was born. We found the area very dog friendly and the house itself is very nice and extremely kid friendly. Additionally, it boasts a still water hot tub (fueled by a fire that you have to build) and a sauna. There’s an adventure park in the area, as well as golfing. We also found great beer and good restaurants nearby.
Apparently, Durbuy has a problem with human stealth shitters. However, we never encountered human poop and, in fact, thought the area was lovely! It smelled good, too.
3. Villa Moretta in Domaso, Italy (ETA: This property no longer accepts pets as of 2020)
You’d rather head south for a trip to Italy? I can’t blame you for that. We found Villa Moretta in Domaso, Italy on Booking.com and stayed there for Memorial Day weekend. I notice that the name has changed since our stay. In May of last year, it was called Casa Oliva di Domaso. I don’t know if that means the place has new owners, although I note that when we stayed there, there were no pet charges and now it looks like they *may* charge for pets.
The owner was doing work on an apartment on the first floor during our stay. It looks like he’s now offering two apartments, one of which is one bedroom and the other is two bedrooms. In any case, the two room apartment was pet friendly when we stayed there and offered stunning views of Lake Como, as well as access to some great Italian food. I will warn that this apartment requires walking up steps for access because it’s situated on a hillside. Also, there is one tiny parking space that was a challenge for Bill to fit our small SUV. However, I have very fond memories of Domaso and would love to go back! It’s a very chilled out town, perfect for relaxing and dog walking.
We stayed at Vila Verunka in Senec, Czech Republic just last weekend. It’s a little two room house on the edge of a forest, located in a residential suburb of Plzen. This house features pet friendly floors and a large, fenced in yard. The owners are very nice and did not charge us extra for Zane and Arran. Also, this accommodation was extremely inexpensive. For three nights, we paid 288 euros. The one caveat is that the tap water is not potable. It’s fine for washing and watering your dogs, but not for human consumption. The owners didn’t explain why, except to say that the house isn’t hooked up to city water. My guess is that they use a cistern to supply water to the house. Drinking bottled water is no big deal for us, but I thought it best to mention it. There’s a swing set in the yard for your kids and the house is set far enough away from other properties that noise from dogs is less of a problem.
Plzen is a great place for beer lovers, as well as aviation lovers. There is a huge, unique Air Park near the house that offers a rare chance to look at Cold War era airplanes, tanks, helicopters, and missiles. Also, Plzen has a zoo and several museums for Cold War history buffs. It’s a city that has a special fondness for America, which is evident in its street names.
This property is probably my favorite dog friendly property on this list. In 2017, Bill and I stayed at Yannick’s “wine house” three times! The three links in the description lead to my series about each stay, all of which have been fun for us and the dogs. Yannick names his apartments after different wine grapes. So far we’ve stayed in Pinot Noir (one bedroom) once and Riesling (three bedrooms) twice. Four apartments are in his wine house and the other two are located in a building on the main drag through town. I have actually seen all but two of the apartments. I have a feeling Yannick is counting on me to pitch them to my American friends in Germany.
I can vouch for how dog friendly Yannick’s apartments are. He doesn’t charge extra for pets and welcomes ours whole-heartedly, even bringing them treats. While we did encounter a cranky neighbor on our last visit, by and large, the people in Ribeauville are very dog friendly. It’s a super cute town with several great restaurants and shopping opportunities, as well as free parking. It’s also a great place to go wine tasting and visit other cute little towns in the vicinity. We like Ribeauville more than Colmar and Riquewihr because it offers a nice balance between touristy and homey. Also, it’s a relatively short and pretty drive from Stuttgart. I don’t know when we’ll be back to Ribeauville, but I’m happy to share the wealth with those who want to go.
Are you interested in being close to a beach? Like good Belgian beer? Have a big group? You might want to consider Holiday Home Bonjour Clara in Alveringem. This large old house is located in a rural area about a half an hour from the North Sea. It takes about nine hours to get to Alveringem from Stuttgart, but you pass through a few beer towns to get to it. Bonjour Clara has four bedrooms and is usually rented to crowds. We paid 760 euros in cash for four nights, which we thought was very reasonable given how many people can stay there. Besides being close to the beach, this house is within driving distance of Ghent and Bruges. There’s a dairy farm next door, where you can buy fresh milk, and the hostess, Marianne, has chickens that provide fresh eggs. We really enjoyed this property in Belgium with its huge kitchen and swimming pond. I wouldn’t mind a return trip.
I’m adding the Hexagonal Tower for Two, although this property is probably the least pet friendly on my list. First of all, the owner did charge us for Zane and Arran. I think it was 20 euros or so, but I’m not absolutely certain of the exact amount. Secondly, this house is strictly for two people. Although it’s pet friendly, it would be best if your pet was on the small side. Why? Because it’s a tiny house. However, it’s also a very cool place to stay. The owners are a British woman and her French husband, who is a master stone mason. They built this cool tower a few years ago so they could host guests. For two people, it’s probably the perfect size. For more than two people, it’s a squeeze. However, the town of Semur-en-Auxois, situated in Burgundy, is a very quaint, French town surrounded by more quaint French towns. The area is absolutely beautiful! If you need a break from Germany, it’s a great place to be.
Look how cute the town is!
This is about the size of the downstairs room. Note no handrail on the steps, which could be a problem if you have small kids. My dogs were leery of it.
This is another one of my favorite pet friendly spots so far. Located in Burgundy, a bit further south of Semur-en-Auxois, is Gite de la Maison Bleue, a beautiful old farmhouse in Saint Marcelin de Cray. The owners of this property run a snail and rabbit farm and they have lots of friendly animals, including a spunky donkey named Antoine. When Zane and Arran barked at Antoine and his friend, the Friesian horse, Antoine brayed right back at them. It was hilarious! Not only is this property beautiful, the owners are also very nice and accommodating, especially to our dogs, who were made very welcome. It was no problem at all if the dogs pooped in the yard since there were pigs, llamas, alpacas, sheep, rabbits, geese, snails, and other dogs there. I am dying to go back to this area, too, since it’s in the heart of wine country and, quite honestly, offers a look at “the real France”. Cluny is a nearby town where you can shop, eat good food, and mingle with the locals. There’s also an interesting abbey open for tours.
This tower is part of the rental property and offers a great view from the top.
Of all the pet friendly rentals we’ve tried so far, I think Anno 1499 in Rothenburg ob der Tauber may have impressed me the most. This house was not only dirt cheap to rent, it had every comfort you could want. Located on the main street into the walled city, this house had two full bathrooms, two bedrooms with double beds as well as a crib and daybed, and a full kitchen. The owner works across the street and was super friendly and welcoming to Zane and Arran. There were no extra charges for them. She also showed us where we could park for free. We had an absolutely trouble free stay at this house. I’m probably going to be sorry I shared it!
Tower in a walled city.
So there you have it… nine places Bill and I have taken the dogs and had a good enough time that we’d book again. Actually, I’m not sure I’d book the Hexagonal Tower again with the dogs, but I would for just Bill and me. If your dog doesn’t have to sleep with you and is pretty small, it would be okay. For us, it wasn’t quite enough space. However, we loved the town and enjoyed our hosts.
I hope this list is helpful for those of you who are seeking pet friendly digs while you’re in Europe. I will keep searching for new places and will probably write a sequel when I have another good sized list of pet friendly accommodations. Happy traveling!
I’m going to combine the last two days of our trip into one final post. The reason for that is because our Sunday plans got unexpectedly cancelled by driving rains! Originally, we planned to either visit a French border town called Givet, or walk around Bastogne, which was another city that had been in the running for our Labor Day trip.
We tried Bastogne first, even though the skies were grey and looked like they might open up at any second. Bastogne is well known among World War II historians. Had we not had the dogs with us, I am pretty sure we could have seen some interesting museums. It is where Liberty Road ends.
Unfortunately, Bastogne was not as inviting or dog friendly as Dinant was. Since the weather was threatening, we decided not to stop and look around there. So then we started heading toward Givet, which appeared to be a little more promising. But as we were heading down the highway, the skies opened up and unloaded buckets of rain on us. It showed no signs of letting up. I told Bill that I thought it might be best to just go back to the chalet and have a quiet afternoon in. He agreed and we headed back toward Barvaux.
Now… the next part of this story will not appeal to those with weak stomachs. But, it was a memorable part of our trip, so I feel compelled to share it. If you don’t like stories about body functions, now might be a good time to move on to your next Internet station.
Still with me? Alright then…
As we were heading back to Barvaux, I started feeling an urgent call of nature. The coffee, water, and orange juice I had at breakfast were ready to be expelled. Of course, because I had been having an ongoing Facebook discussion with Europeans and Americans about public urination in Germany, Bill and I were sort of talking about that as we started hunting for a place for me to take care of business. I spotted a sign for a rest stop with a WC, so we pulled off the road. I noticed a man brazenly peeing right by the road, completely unashamed. I must admit to having a brief moment of penis envy.
Anyway, I noticed that there were three port-a-potties in front of the dilapidated building. I had a sense of doom, since I figured there had to be a reason those were sitting there in front of a rest stop. Port-a-potties are usually not very pleasant places themselves, so I figured the rest stop must be especially bad.
I got out of the car and inspected… and was absolutely shocked by what I found. The toilets in the Belgian rest stop were overflowing with shit, dirty paper, and assorted other filth. There were vile epithets spray painted on the walls. Of the four “rooms”, two had actual piles of excrement on the floor. There were also piles of human shit outside of the rest stop, as if people had just gone behind the building once they saw how truly nasty it was.
I honestly couldn’t see how this rest stop could be rehabilitated. I think they’d have to demolish the building. It was that bad. I briefly considered taking a photo for my Facebook friends who had been arguing about how gross German rest stops are. Let me tell you, as a former Peace Corps Volunteer, I have seen and smelled some truly repulsive public restrooms. This one in Belgium ranks right up there among the very worst. It was the stuff of nightmares.
I should have thought about this as we visited the nasty rest stop.
I quickly took care of my needs and got back in the car to tell Bill about what I saw. Ugh… As an aside, as we were coming back the opposite way yesterday, I noticed that the rest stop on the other side of the road appeared to be very clean and functional.
We got back to the chalet in time for lunch and I slipped into my nightie and parked myself on the very comfortable sofa in the living room. I wrapped myself in one of the very fluffy duvets and turned on the TV. And then Bill and I spent the whole day watching a ridiculous show on MTV called Catfish. I actually had to explain to Bill what catfishing is. Given that we met online in the late 1990s, he probably feels like he dodged a bullet.
We had a nice lunch of rotisserie chicken and frites, which Bill managed to score fresh from a local snack bar. We spent the day enjoying Belgian beer and chocolate. It was restful and peaceful. I think Bill especially enjoyed having the downtime. The sun eventually did come out, but by the time it was out, we’d had a few beers and were neither in the mood nor condition to drive anywhere. For dinner, we had what was left of the steaks Bill cooked on the barbecue the night before, along with more of the chicken from lunch.
Yesterday morning, we got up early and packed up our stuff. The handyman showed up right on time to check us out. He gave us back our 250 euros deposit and sent us on our way. Bill stopped at the local chocolatier to get me a box of bon bons and some macaroons.
We decided to go back to Germany via France. As it turned out, that was a pretty good idea. I’m not sure if it was because of the time of day we were traveling or just that there’s less traffic on that route, but getting home was a lot easier and less stressful than getting to Belgium through Germany was. We completely avoided Stuttgart traffic.
One thing I saw on our drive that sticks in my mind were highway safety signs in Luxembourg. I saw two of them and they were obviously intended to shock. Unfortunately, I wasn’t prepared to get photos of them, but if you click this link, you can see what I write of… Basically, it’s a picture of a young, attractive woman driving a convertible. The front of her face is a bloody skull.
Another thing that sticks in my mind is seeing how the landscape changed as we drove back into Germany on B28. That drive from France is absolutely beautiful and I was thinking we need to book a vacation in that “spa” area in Bad Peterstal and Griesbach at some point. It’s not that far from where we live, yet fairytale like.
Our biggest challenge of the ride back to Unterjettingen was in the last minutes of our trip. We were stuck behind trucks for most of the drive back. We’d lose one truck only to have another one get in front of us. Compounding our issues is the fact that there’s a lot of major road construction going on near where we live. So, at one point, Bill got distracted by the GPS and almost rear ended the truck in front of us, which had stopped suddenly to turn into a small rest area. Then, as we were passing the truck, it started backing up and almost broad sided us.
Then, when we were maybe four kilometers from our home, we had to take a detour. The GPS sent us through Moetzingen, but that area also has closed roads. It took some time to figure out a way to get around the construction and back to our neighborhood. But… we are back, healthy and sound, and ready to plan the next adventure. I will write one more trip to sum up what we learned on our trip to Belgium!
We took another stroll around the village last night, after we enjoyed drinks at the hotel. I got more photos of the picturesque environs and the dogs enjoyed another long stroll. I think Zane got a little more than he bargained for with this trip. He seemed a little sore this morning when we got up.
After we took our walk, we had dinner at a very touristy but pet friendly restaurant with an extensive outdoor seating area. Restaurant Au Relais de Riquewihr is a large place that seems to cater to tourists. We opted to eat there because of the dogs. Our friends the super blond Dutch kids were also there with their parents, as well as a couple of American women who had a little boy with them. The Americans were obviously familiar with the staff.
Bill posing for a photo again.
The waiter, a man with a wonderfully engaging personality, was chatting with the Americans as if they were friends. We later discovered the Americans had come from Ramstein. One of them was in charge of outdoor recreation at Ramstein and really looked the part. She was super fit. She came over to talk to us and let her little boy pet Zane, who was begging for pieces of my chicken and Bill’s white pizza.
The dogs were doing great at dinner until a lady with a dog came over to a nearby crepe stand. Arran saw the dog’s feet and it was all over, even though he’d been around other dogs all day. He let loose with a loud bark. Zane joined in and for a couple of long minutes, the two of them proceeded to draw a lot of attention to us. It was kind of embarrassing.
The food at Restaurant Au Relais Riquewihr was decent and, I think, very suitable to people with kids and, of course, obnoxious dogs. However, when I used their bathroom, I couldn’t help but notice the strong smell of stale urine. In a restaurant, that’s definitely a turn off.
The funny thing is, that smell took me back to 1980, when my parents moved us to Gloucester, Virginia, a then very rural county in southeastern Virginia. I was then eight years old. I made friends with a couple of girls who lived on the same dirt lane I did. They were from Oregon and their mom was divorced from their dad. They lived in a trailer that always reeked of stale human piss. They moved maybe a year later and I never saw them again. I had pretty much forgotten about them, but that smell of pee just brought it all back. It’s crazy how smells can spark vivid memories.
Anyway, our dinner came to about 52 euros including a carafe of wine and sparkling water. Bill tipped the friendly waiter handsomely for tolerating our loud dogs, even though he originally brought me the wrong order (beef and fries). It looked really good, though. Also, it may be worth mentioning that this restaurant has a mister for those steamy summer days. They turned it on to amuse the little American boy who was visiting. Later, we watched his mom kiss the waiter on both cheeks and say she’d see him in September. Oooh la la!
White pizza for Bill…with mushrooms, blecch! They also had flammkuchen. We shared a 50ml carafe of a local pinot noir. It was a decent wine, though maybe a bit overpriced.
Chicken skewers for me. These were a daily special prepared with lots of lemon… maybe a hair too much for my taste. But the frites were fabulous. They reminded me of frites from Belgium. This dish also came with a salad and bread, neither of which I had room to eat.
This fountain had lots of goldfish in it.
I was curious about this little stand. I think they were selling homemade apple juice.
We went to bed early last night and left lovely Riquewihr right after breakfast. It was stormy and rainy this morning and our dogs were a bit tired. Zane, in particular, seemed kind of sore from the walking. Our drive back to Stuttgart was totally uneventful and took a little over two hours. It’s hard to believe that a place with such a different vibe is so close.
We’d call this trip a success and I’m already starting to think about making these one night trips more of a regular thing. I need to get out more; the dogs could use the practice in being out in public; and who knows if and when we’ll live in Europe again? We made the mistake of not seeing enough when we lived here the first time and I don’t want to do that again.
In any case, I highly recommend Riquewihr and I hope we can go back, stay a little longer, and see more of the area. It really is beautiful there, very tourist and pet friendly, and so close to Stuttgart. I’m so happy we ran off to France this past weekend and I hope we can do it again very soon!
After we ate lunch at L’Originel, we headed over to the hotel and checked in. As I mentioned in the first post, I got one of the last available rooms at Best Western Hotel Le Schoenenbourg, which turned out to be a suite. It was humongous! There was a large sitting room, a bedroom with two TVs, and a huge bathroom with a separate toilet. The bathroom had a deep soaking tub and a large shower stall. Our beds were originally twins, but they kindly pushed them together for us, although the beds were still dressed as twins underneath the bedspread.
Have a look at the photos!
I had my first bath in awhile thanks to this awesome deep tub. I brought my own toiletries. I didn’t try the ones offered by the hotel.
Twin beds pushed together. The bed was comfortable enough, though I was kind of glad I brought my own pillow. It would have been okay if I hadn’t, though. These pillows were more generous than some I’ve found in other hotels in these parts.
A little couch in the sitting room.
A water bowl and treats for the boys!
This was a nice surprise.
They also left us a complimentary bottle of water.
The minibar. I didn’t check the price list, but Bill said it wasn’t that expensive. There is also a bar in the lobby that serves drinks and hot snacks like quiche.
As you can see, the boys were very comfortable.
While I took a leisurely bath, Bill went shopping for stuff to bring home with us. He tasted several wines at a couple of wine shops in town. He also ran into a very aggressive cheese vendor who ended up selling him four different types of cheese and sausage! I don’t eat a lot of cheese, so I hope his work friends don’t mind if some of it’s stinky. He bought macaroons and cookies, but no chocolate. 🙁 Darn. For this excursion, Bill bought a cooler that plugs into the car and keeps things cool without the need for ice. It also provided a handy platform for Zane to stand on during the drive.
Best Western Hotel Le Schoenenbourg has a pool that was being used extensively yesterday. They also have bikes available for rent. I brought a bathing suit, but didn’t end up going for a swim. Later, while Bill and I were enjoying drinks at the bar, I started wondering if the pool at the hotel had a rule about men wearing Speedos. Apparently, many pools in France require women to wear bathing caps and men to wear skimpy bikinis. I blogged about that last year and it’s one of my most popular travel posts.
The dogs were welcome at the bar, though that Astro Turf did a number on Zane’s paw.
Alsatian beer. It was a surprisingly good wheat beer.
And a local Jupiler on draft.
While we were drinking and enjoying the sunshine, we were charmed by an adorable little boy and girl who were siblings and appeared to be two and four years old. The boy was older and clearly looking after his sister. They spoke a language we didn’t recognize. It turned out they were Dutch and they both had stunning platinum blond hair, giving them an angelic appearance. Their parents were very fit and spoke perfect English, asking us if it was okay that their kids were hanging out near us. I could tell the kids were enchanted by Zane and Arran and probably wanted to pet them, but were too shy to ask and didn’t speak our language anyway. We ran into them at least three times, including when we had dinner. They were so cute and kind of made me lament that I never had children.
A map of Riquewihr.
Breakfast tray. The coffee was very disappointing.
My only complaint about the hotel was the breakfast. They have a buffet that costs 13 euros a person. I’d read that it was a ripoff. We opted to have breakfast delivered to our room for 9 euros a person. For that, you get a basket of breads, butter, jam, honey, Nutella, coffee and juice. The breads were excellent and very fresh. There were croissants, baguettes, and chocolate chip brioches. The juice was adequate. But the coffee, I’m afraid, SUCKED. It was barely drinkable and much too weak. Consequently, when we drove home this morning, Bill and I were both still very sleepy.
Other than the breakfast, I had no real complaints about the hotel. It was super convenient and pet friendly, even when Zane and Arran got on a scent on the way downstairs this morning and started baying. For our one night with drinks at the bar and breakfast in our room, we paid just under 200 euros. Parking outside and WiFi are free. If you want secure parking, you can use the parking garage, which costs 10 euros a day.