Sundays

A little Sunday fest in Hofheim…

Our beautiful weather continued on Sunday, so Bill and I decided to take the Mini out again. We had several appealing options for places to go. The cute town of Ingelheim am Rhein was hosting the Hamburger Fischmarkt, which is an annual tour the Hamburg Fischmarkt does most years. It was canceled in 2020 and 2021, but it’s back again. Ingelheim was going to have it for the weekend, so I thought maybe we could go to that. But then I remembered going to that market in Stuttgart and recalling that it gets pretty crowded. Since I’m still getting over a cold, I’d rather not be around a bunch of people.

Then we thought maybe we’d go to Wiesbaden and find a restaurant for lunch. But as we were driving out of Breckenheim, I remembered that Hofheim was having a flea market. We decided to go there instead. I can’t tell you too much about the fest itself, since we got there a little late. They had live music, a fire engine display, food, and lots of performers on stilts walking around Hofheim. It was also a shopping Sunday, so a number of stores were open– a rare thing on Sundays in Germany. We enjoyed what we heard of the band, which was finishing up as we arrived. I managed to get a minute of footage, posted below.

After we walked around a bit and ran into a balloon animal making children’s performer with an organ grinder, we decided to have lunch at Cafe Tass, a place we’d never tried before. The food was pretty good, if the service was a little casual. Bill tried speaking German as he was telling the server which dressing he wanted for his salad. The server immediately switched to English! Sigh… such is life. That’s why I kind of gave up on trying to learn German.

We didn’t stay too long, because it was hot and sunny, and we’re very white people… Hofheim doesn’t have the lovely grove of oak tries Eltville has by the river. But it was nice to get out for awhile, and while we were eating lunch, the band came over and had rumpsteaks. A guy came over to them and asked in German where they were playing next. They said Bayern (Bavaria). They were a pretty decent band, singing songs in German and Italian.

I also observed a lot of people smoking and vaping, including a couple of young ladies sitting near us. They shared a vegetarian Flammkuechen (Alsatian pizza). I don’t mind vaping as much as cigarette smoke, which came from the people sitting behind Bill. But, other than the air pollution, it was a nice lunch. I had gyros, which came with t’zatziki, rice, and pommes. Bill had a summer shrimp salad with yogurt dressing. I couldn’t finish my lunch, so we brought half of it home with us. I’m glad “doggie bags” are more of a thing in Germany now. Lunch was less than 40 euros.

I actually got choked up with how happy people were during the fest, enjoying the music, dancing, and just being good to each other. What a sharp contrast to the image I get of the United States, as people continue to fight over basic human rights for women. I felt very grateful to be part of the celebration yesterday… and I have so much love for Germany, which is feeling more and more like home, even if it really isn’t. I’m grateful I get to live here.

Below is a cute children’s performer singing, playing his organ grinder, and entertaining everyone!

Below are some photos from yesterday’s outing. It was a beautiful day!

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chores, German culture, Germany, staying home, Sundays

Our busy week of upgrades leads to a boring weekend of downtime…

It’s German Unity Day (Tag der Deutschen Einheit), which means it’s a holiday. It’s also Sunday, and kind of rainy outside. Yesterday, it was also overcast and chilly. Bill and I decided to stay home and rest yesterday. We’ll probably do the same thing today.

I always feel a little bit guilty on the weekends when we can’t be bothered to do anything, particularly when we didn’t do anything the weekend before. A year ago, we went on an epic whirlwind journey to Slovenia to pick up Noyzi, our Kosovar rescue dog.

I would have liked to have done something exciting this weekend, too. Pretty soon, the weather will definitely be crappy more often than not. But we had a very busy week. For one thing, our upstairs bathroom got a huge upgrade, and that took a couple of days. For another, poor old Arran had to have another surgery to take off some crusty, itchy bumps that I’m afraid might be mast cell tumors. And again, there’s that pesky rainy weather, which in the age of COVID-19, doesn’t lend itself to going out and about. Bill has been hard at work on an exercise, which has kept him busy and preoccupied. I’m mostly over last week’s virus, but still a little tired.

I am really excited about our newly renovated bathroom. When we moved into our current home, it had been awhile since the shower and tub had been used. The water in Germany is famously hard, and the fixtures on the tub and shower were probably original to the house. Consequently, we could not turn on the cold tap on our shower at all. The faucet on the bathtub leaked all over the floor. Our first week in this house was hard, because we had to bathe in the tub, which would leak water from under the faucet when we ran the taps. The water leaked outside of the tub and got all over the floor.

Our landlord got the shower fixture changed out very soon after we moved in. It took much longer to get the tub fixed. Part of the reason for that was because Bill was reluctant to talk to him about the need. He was still a bit traumatized by our last renting experience. But he finally talked to the landlord over the summer, and sometime in late July, the landlord brought over his plumber to see what needed to be done. Much to our delight, he was fine with fixing the tub fixture and even decided to put in a new rainfall shower head for us.

We had to wait two months for the plumber and his assistant to have the time to fix up the bathroom. Apparently, there’s no shortage of work for plumbers in Germany. They came on Wednesday and worked most of the day. The landlord came over to see the progress and I got the bright idea to show him the lime covered fixtures in the downstairs hall bathroom. It wasn’t as bad as the tub was, but it was also leaky. He said “No problem,” told the plumber, and after they had lunch, they fixed the downstairs sink, too!

Below are a few photos of their handiwork:

As the plumber was working, he asked if I’d like for him to move the shower head to the corner of the stall. I was all about that, since the previous shower head, which dripped and had lots of lime on it, was situated to the middle of the wall. We would get water on the floor every time we showered. Now that the head is moved further back, there’s no more after shower mess. Plus, that new head and its matching sprayer are just really excellent! Hopefully, I can somehow keep it free of buildup, although it’s way too high for me to reach.

I don’t usually take a lot of baths, but I had a sachet of Molton Brown bath salts that I lifted from our stay at the Upper House in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2019. I decided last night was the time to use it, and try out the tub. It was so nice! I even got to shave my legs!

Needless to say, I thanked the landlord profusely. He also had a new garage door opener put in a few weeks ago, because the motor on the one we had was shot. When Bill pointed it out to him, the landlord said the opener was probably as old as the house was. He decided to get a new opener for his house, too. We were both remarking at how much quieter and nicer the new openers are.

Don’t get me wrong. These were repairs that desperately needed to happen, and they should have happened much sooner than they did. But it was just so nice to have them done to a good quality, and without being yelled at or blamed for anything. It’s nice to have a landlord who wants us to be happy and doesn’t just do cosmetic repairs, but fixes things that will make our living conditions better. And, given how much we pay to live here, it now feels more like we’re getting our money’s worth. In any case, the upgrade in the bathroom is a huge morale booster.

In other news… I have been looking for a place to spend a few days as 2021 starts winding down. I used to be so much more into trip planning and going on outings, but I’ve found myself less enthusiastic lately. I think I’ve got a case of the blahs, in part because COVID makes things more complicated and annoying. Even just going to a restaurant is an ordeal. And everything is encouraged to be done outside, which is less appealing as the weather changes.

Bill has been working so hard, and there’s so much that needs to be done. Last week, he had to get the windshield replaced on my MINI, because there was a crack in it that finally got too long to pass inspection. Before getting the windshield replaced, he had to deregister the car and get temporary plates put on, because our registration expired while the car was in the shop. It’s all fixed now, and ready for the the plates to be put back on, but first he has to go back to the inspector and get passed. So that’s something else that has to be done. Arran will be getting his latest stitches out on the 11th.

Anyway… there’s a chance we’ll do something this afternoon, but I kind of doubt it. It’s so dark and cloudy, and I doubt either of us will feel like putting on real clothes. So maybe we will, maybe we won’t. At least I can take a great shower, though, and not get water everywhere! Maybe I’ll read up about how 31 years ago today, Germany finally reunited with the East and became one country again. I’m sure it will inspire me more to read about that than the very divisive attitudes so many people have in the United States right now. Or maybe I’ll just play with Noyzi and marvel at just how far he’s come since he joined our family last year!

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churches, Sundays

Mainzer Dom and lunch at Caleo…

Bill and I never made it out yesterday, mainly because the weather is starting to change. It was rainy off and on yesterday, and we just didn’t feel like going out anywhere. So we stayed home, ate takeout, listened to music, and enjoyed some libations on the patio.

Today, we had nicer weather. Bill wanted to go out. I was still kind of inclined to stay in, because I have become a slovenly old battleaxe over the course of the past 18 months or so. However, it’s really not good for my mental health to stay home, nor is it particularly good for my physical health, since I tend to sit around and drink. So I let myself be convinced to go out. We could have gone to the Frankfurt Dippemess, which is going on until next weekend. But there’s no parking at the fairgrounds, and Bill and I don’t ride the rides or anything. I mean, I probably would, but Bill doesn’t like to.

I had mentioned yesterday that I wanted to go inside the Mainzer Dom (Mainz Cathedral). Somehow, despite living in Wiesbaden for almost three years, we never bothered to go inside the cathedral, which is massive and gorgeous. So today, we decided we’d go. Below are some photos from today’s visit. The Mainz Cathedral dates from 975, and has been renovated many times during its long history. I was very moved by how massive and beautiful the cathedral is. There are so many gothic accents and beautiful windows. There are also new stained glass windows, which were made by the glass artist Johannes Schreiter and installed in 2004.

The Dom costs nothing to visit, although donations are gratefully accepted. It’s open to visitors outside of service times Monday through Saturday from 11:00am until 4:00pm. On Sundays, it’s open to visitors from 1:00pm until 4:00pm (although Google says it’s open until 6:30pm).

As is his habit, Bill bought a candle for his father, who died in November 2020. He wasn’t able to go to his dad’s funeral, thanks to COVID-19. So, now when we enter cathedrals, Bill usually lights a candle and says a prayer. I have been to a lot of cathedrals since we’ve been over here. I think Mainz might have one of the most architecturally impressive ones I’ve seen yet. It’s really beautiful. I would love to hear the organ.

After we took a quick tour of the Mainzer Dom, we walked around the area so I could get more photos. I actually have a bunch of pictures from around Mainz, but the flower gardens are always changing. Plus, Mainz is just one of those cities that seems to pulsate with life and energy.

We were feeling a little hungry and needed to visit the restroom, so we went searching for food. I found Caleo on my trusty iPhone, indicating the restaurant was open all day with no pause. So we headed for there, first taking a detour to the river, so I could get a few photos.

We were kind of impressed by Caleo, which boasts an innovative menu with some interesting menu choices. There were some exotic items on the menu. Bill ended up ordering a crocodile steak, for instance. I went with a Spicy Wagyu Burger, which came with cheddar cheese, tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, onions, chili mayo, and lettuce. I have a feeling Bill would have liked the spicy burger more than I did. But it was definitely better than last week’s burger in Wiesbaden.

Service at Caleo was professional and friendly. Our server mostly spoke German to us, but did know English pretty well. I was flattered that she didn’t immediately peg us for Yanks. I guess all of these years in Europe have rubbed off on us. I was impressed by the food and the menu, which definitely offers some exciting choices. They had bison, for instance, and their vegetarian burger has a bun made from jackfruit. They also had a burger called “zebra”, made of zebra meat. I wasn’t about to try it. I think zebras are gorgeous. Sigh… I probably should be a vegetarian.

The weather today has been fabulous— sunny, and about 75 degrees during the afternoon. It was nice to get outside and walk around. And I was delighted to finally visit the Mainzer Dom, which is as stunning on the inside as it is on the outside. It made for a nice Sunday afternoon activity. I’m glad we went. Hope we continue to have such great weather.

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churches, cute towns, day trips, Germany, Mainz, restaurant reviews, Rhein, Sundays

Heavenly windows by Marc Chagall and heavenly eating at Heiliggeist…

Last month, when Bill and I went to Zürich, we visited the Fraumünster church. That church is famous for having beautiful stained glass windows created by the Jewish French-Russian artist, Marc Chagall. I wasn’t familiar with Marc Chagall before we saw his windows in Switzerland last month. After I posted some photos on social media, a German friend told me that I could also see Chagall’s work in Mainz, at The Collegiate Church of St. Stephan. We live close to Mainz, but before yesterday, we hadn’t been there in a long time. Not only did COVID-19 keep us away, but there was also some construction being done on the bridge over the Rhein River which made crossing over there problematic. The bridge connects our home state of Hesse with Rheinland-Pfalz. I had actually forgotten that going to Mainz means leaving the state!

I think the last time Bill and I went to Mainz, it was to see my old friend, C.W., who is an American learning about German wines. I worked with C.W. in Colonial Williamsburg, back in the late 1990s. C.W. moved to Washington, DC and worked in a succession of fancy restaurants. He later decided he wanted to work in the wine industry, so he’s been getting educated. In the fall of 2019, he came to Germany to work at a winery as part of his education. He came back in the spring of 2020, just before COVID shut everything down. We weren’t able to see him on that visit, and we didn’t visit Mainz again last year or this year. That means that yesterday’s visit occurred almost two years after our last one! We had a good time yesterday. We’ll have to visit Mainz more often, now that we’re vaccinated. It really is a neat town with much to discover.

After looking at the location of St. Stephan’s Church, Bill decided he’d like to go out to eat. He found Heiliggeist Restaurant (Holy Spirit) on Open Table and decided that its status as the oldest citizen hospital in Germany fit nicely with our church theme. He made reservations for 3:30pm because, apparently, there weren’t any earlier ones available. I’m not sure why that is, since there were plenty of tables available when we were there yesterday. But anyway, the church was open for visitation from 12pm until 4pm, so the late lunch/early dinner time slot worked out fine. We took my neglected Mini Cooper, since the weather was fine and I could put the top down. I had forgotten how different the atmosphere is in Mainz, compared to Wiesbaden. It’s a refreshing change of pace.

After parking at the theater garage, we trudged uphill to the church. It was about a ten minute walk from where we parked. I hadn’t realized the church wasn’t in the old part of the city and was kind of unimpressed with the neighborhood that surrounded it. From the outside, St. Stephan looks like so many of the other churches in Germany. That’s not to say it isn’t a beautiful or impressive structure. It is a very lovely church, especially compared to many American churches. I’m just saying that compared to a lot of churches in Europe, from the outside, it didn’t look any more or less spectacular.

But then we went inside, and my mind immediately changed about the beauty of St. Stephan… I was overcome by the cool, soothing, incredibly beautiful, and peaceful mood cast by the extraordinary blue windows… The entire inside of the church is bathed in a blue glow made by Chagall’s windows, the first of which was installed in 1978. Chagall was 91 years old in 1978, and he lived until 1985, which only goes to show you that when it comes to great accomplishments, age really is just a number.

As I took in the azure splendor of the great artist’s work, I realized that I much preferred Chagall’s windows in Mainz to Chagall’s windows in Switzerland. A bonus is, it costs nothing to visit this church. In Zürich, we had to pay five Swiss Francs each admission to see a few of Chagall’s windows.

Of course, I might have loved these windows more because my favorite color is blue. I also just loved the way they all worked in concert to give the church an overall mood. I donated some change to the church while Bill lit a candle for his father, then he purchased a CD of the organ and some postcards at the gift shop. He says he’s going to try his hand at picture framing. Since my dad made his post Air Force living framing pictures, it’s a shame he’s no longer around to show Bill the ropes. The CD is, of course, for me. I am more moved by music than visual artistic endeavors. My mom was a church organist for over 50 years, so I probably have more of an appreciation for organ music than a lot of people do. However, as I listen to the music now as I compose this post, it occurs to me that if I could have been listening to it while touring the church, I probably would have been overwhelmed. I definitely am glad we took the time to visit St. Stephan and see these gorgeous windows! The church itself has an incredibly long history, having been established in 990. It is the only church in Germany that has windows by Marc Chagall, and I must say, the windows dazzled me! What an inspiration!