laws, trip planning

Firenze, Italy sends Bill New Year’s greetings…

Some of my regular travel blog readers might recall that Bill and I took a trip to Italy last spring. I blogged about the trip in sixteen parts, which also included stops in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. We visited Parma, Modena, Florence, Pisa, Viareggio, and several adorable towns in Tuscany, as we visited several Chianti Classico wineries. That was the most recent of our more epic European trips, and I’ve found myself looking back on it wistfully. I am REALLY in need of a trip somewhere. But other events are in the way, to include our dog Arran’s chemotherapy, which is still going surprisingly well.

I’ve even been giving some thought to visiting Italy again in 2023. I follow the Meet the Wengers YouTube channel, which is a family vlog run by an American woman named Katie, who married a German man. They have three adorable and apparently well-behaved children. Recently, she posted some videos about the family’s fall trip to Verona, a city I haven’t yet visited in Italy. Her videos make me want to go there and explore.

One of a few videos the Wengers have done about Verona… Now I want to go, too.

Well, yesterday, Bill got a reminder of our most recent trip to Italy. It came in the form of a traffic ticket. We drove to Florence, mainly because we wanted to bring some food and wines back to Germany, and because I didn’t want to deal with flying, due to the pandemic. Having a car makes travel in Europe a little bit more liberated, as it means not being dictated by timetables or established routes. However, car travel comes with its own hazards, which include traffic cameras that take photos of those who break the rules.

In our case, the infraction occurred on April 27, 2022, when Bill mistakenly drove our Volvo through a restricted area. It seems that many towns in certain Italian cities don’t allow non-residents to drive on certain streets. We had a bunch of bags, since we were on a long trip. The hotel we stayed in was on the third floor of a building and kind of hard to find. Bill was disoriented as to where we were supposed to go, although it turned out there was a very large parking garage near the hotel.

Long story short, the cameras caught Bill driving where he wasn’t supposed to go. Naturally, we were both completely oblivious to the infraction. Some Italian cities that have these rules against non-residents driving on restricted streets, will allow travelers to register their vehicles before their arrival. I think the city of Bologna is one of those places. Bologna is another city I haven’t yet seen. Maybe we’ll go there next time and avoid Florence! 😉

Yesterday, Bill had to sign for a letter at the post office on our local military installation. It was in a window envelope, and came from the city of Firenze. Inside the envelope was the notification of the driving infraction, written in both Italian and English, and a complete rundown of the law that was broken. There was also a schedule of the fines to be paid. It’s 68 euros if Bill pays within six days. If he delays payment between 6 and 60 days, it goes up to about 95 euros. If he doesn’t pay within 60 days, it goes up to 176 euros.

At first, Bill thought the ticket read that he would have had to have paid within six days of the infraction, but obviously he hadn’t been notified at that time. Upon closer examination, he read that he can still pay the reduced fine, since he just got notice. It’s done via bank transfer, as most things here are.

We’re just glad this didn’t happen in Switzerland, as the fines are probably a lot higher there… but they probably also come within a couple of weeks, rather than several months, routed through The Netherlands. I don’t know why the ticket went through The Netherlands. Maybe it’s because the ticketing agency is outsourced.

I just took down all the Christmas decorations. I’m glad to have that yearly chore done. It’s a lot easier to take the decorations down than put them up; and for that, I’m grateful. However, I always find it a little sad to see my living room in its normal state. I like the homey look created by the Christmas lights. On the other hand, it’s less to have to deal with, and I also look forward to more daylight and better weather. I’m definitely ready to have some fun! So now, on with making some travel plans for 2023! We’ll be more careful about where we drive and park, next time!

Edited to add: The day after I posted this, Bill got a second ticket from Firenze for the same offense. He drove through that historic area twice! I’m glad he moved to a different area after dropping me off. Both tickets, paid at the lowest rate, were about 60 euros each– so, 120 euros for driving in the wrong places in Italy. Expensive lesson learned.

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dental, France, Stuttgart, trip planning

A dental appointment means we finally have actual travel plans!

On March 2, 2022, Bill and I have an appointment to go to Stuttgart to see our dentist, the venerable Dr. Blair. It’s time for our cleanings, which we forewent for two years before we finally went to see him last August. Some readers may remember that we combined our last trip to Stuttgart with a visit to the Black Forest.

We went to the Black Forest for a few reasons. First, our usual go-to hotel in Stuttgart, the Wald Hotel, was fully booked when we needed a room. Second, it occurred to me that we’ve been to Stuttgart enough times that it’s no longer a very exciting place for us to be, even though we both love staying at the Wald Hotel. Third, we used to live at the edge of the Black Forest, and went there many times for day trips. We loved going there, and I thought it might be fun to stay a few days. And finally, it was a great opportunity to spend a long weekend in Baiersbronn, where there are several excellent Michelin starred restaurants. It beat hanging out in Stuttgart, where we’ve been many times.

Well, we did have fun in Baiersbronn last August. It was so much fun that I thought maybe we’d go back to the Black Forest and stay in another area we visited for a day and loved. I looked at visiting both Oppenau and Wolfach, both picturesque places that are in different parts of the Black Forest. But then I read about the strict COVID-19 requirements in Baden-Württemberg and decided that it wouldn’t be that much fun to hang out in a hotel, or even a guest house, dealing with those rules. Plus, I just want to get out of Germany for a few days, since we have that capability. When I searched for properties in Oppenau, I noticed that I was also getting results for Strasbourg, France. I didn’t want to go to Strasbourg, though. Our last trip to France was to Strasbourg, exactly two years ago this month. February is usually when Strasbourg hosts an annual wine expo. Last year, it was canceled. This year, it was postponed until late March.

Then it occurred to me that we’ve never been to Soufflenheim, which is a town near the German border, famous for its pottery. I went looking for a place to stay in Soufflenheim, and noticed that one of the choices was a small hotel in nearby Sessenheim, which is known for a museum dedicated to the German poet, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The hotel, Auberge au Boeuf, has a restaurant by the same name with a Michelin star. The place gets rave reviews, especially for the food, but also for the rooms. They had one room open for the time we were visiting. It would cost substantially less than the room I was thinking of booking at the Wald Hotel in Stuttgart, and, as it’s just inside the French border, does not impose the same onerous COVID rules and restrictions that Baden-Württemberg currently has.

It’s not so much that I’m an anti-vaxxer, or anything. I have been triple vaxxed, and I wear masks when I have to. But I HATE the FFP2 masks with a passion, and while they could be required in France, at least if we go there, it’ll be a change of scenery. At this writing, masks and vaccines are required in France, but they have done away with the rule requiring people to wear masks outside, and it’s my understanding that a simple medical mask will do. And we have MISSED France so much! Bill and I didn’t visit France much when we were here the first time, from 2007-09, but this time, we have gone a bunch of times. We have come to love it. It’s almost like a second home, since it’s not far from where we lived near Stuttgart, nor is it that far from Wiesbaden.

Yesterday, I made reservations at the hotel’s restaurant for dinner on Friday AND Saturday nights during our visit. It looks that special. Also, Bill and I have been to Alsace enough times to know that it pays to make reservations. Otherwise, you could end up having a really terrible time at a poorly rated restaurant where the waiter asks you if you’re pregnant. Of course, that happened to me in October 2014, when I still colored my hair and wasn’t as nearly close to menopause as I am today. It’s doubtful that would happen to me in 2022, even though my face is still pretty smooth and, in fact, still occasionally has zits. Thanks, hormones. On another note, damn, we have really been here a LONG time.

I think we’ll have a great time in France. I suspect Noyzi will be delighted to visit the Hunde Pension again. Arran will be annoyed, but it’s only for four nights. Then, we’ll come home, and he’ll be pampered again. Poor guy used to love going to France with us, when we still had Zane, and it was easier to travel with the dogs. Noyzi is a good traveler, but he’s huge, and takes up the whole back compartment of the car. And hotels and rentals aren’t as keen to rent to people with big dogs… although I’ll bet Yannick in Ribeauville would be cool with it. We’ve stayed at his place many times; the latest was in January 2020. Alsace never gets old, but we do want to see other areas than Riquewihr and Ribeauville, and the like. Sessenheim is also a little closer to Nancy, where we visited in 2009. Maybe we can go there on this trip. Nancy is a beautiful city. It’s about a two hour drive from where we’ll be staying, but what the hell? We have no agenda, other than eating at the hotel twice. Based on what I’ve read, we could end up eating there even more times.

I’m looking forward to our trip. Hopefully, nothing will fuck it up for us. That includes anything that happens because of Putin.

Moving on…

We didn’t do anything special yesterday, except for use our new fondue/raclette grill. I got a few photos. It really is fun to use this grill, and it offers a nice change of pace at dinner. Bill is quite the gourmand.

And then, this morning, Bill decided to get doughnuts from our neighborhood bakery again, like he did last week. I think it’s because we finally have some Peet’s Major Dickason’s coffee to drink. We’re big fans.

The heart shaped Valentine’s doughnuts were especially yummy! Raspberry! And sweeter than usual. No, we didn’t eat them all. I look forward to a snack later, or maybe breakfast tomorrow.

So things are looking up. It’s nice to look forward to a dentist appointment. I think we’ll have a great time in France. Knock on wood, nothing will screw this up… I’m looking at you, Russian dictator wannabe Putin. I think the Georgians sang it best…

Hear us?
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coronavirus, Denmark, dogs, shopping, trip planning

Dreaming about Danish delights in Denmark…

Well friends, it’s been another boring winter week in the land of COVID-19 restrictions and crappy weather. Bill was TDY during the work week, so I spent my days alone, doing a lot of reading and thinking. The news came out that Denmark was going to be the first European to end COVID restrictions. Given that we haven’t spent a lot of time in Denmark, and both of us are sick to death of the endless and ridiculous rules in Germany, I proposed to Bill that maybe a trip to Denmark may be in order.

Of course, since I am not interested in taking public transportation, a trip to Denmark would be a haul. But it is doable, as we drove through Denmark in 2019 when we picked up our new Volvo in Sweden. I thought it was a pretty country, and I would like to spend more time there. The only other time we’ve been was when we took a Baltic cruise in 2009 and Copenhagen was one of our stops. Last time we were there, we just spent an overnight. I am itching to travel, and ready to ditch face masks… especially the fucking FFP2s. So we’ll see. I’ll do some research to see where we might like to go. Either way, we’ll probably have to break up the trip with a stop in Germany. I think it would take us at least 8 or 9 hours to get there from where we live. Maybe we’ll turn it into a grand trip, since Norway and Sweden are reportedly also going to do away with mandates.

Aside from dreaming about Denmark, I also bought Bill a couple of funny aprons. I decided to replace his old one, because one of the ties broke off during a wash. Bill had said he would get one for himself, but acquiesced when I asked him if he had an issue with my choices. He laughed and said “no”, then added that if he bought himself an apron, it would probably be black with knives on it, or something. So I went looking, and sure enough, I found the apron pictured below within five minutes…

Yes, he’s holding a knife. I bought that for him some time ago. The comment on the apron translates to “Leave the recipe behind, I am a cook, not a chemist.”

Just as I was about to click away from the page, I noticed another apron that I knew Bill needed…

Bill is a Star Wars fan… I am not a Star Wars fan, but I knew he’d love this apron.

Yesterday, Bill raised the idea of maybe going into town and trying out the new BrewDog restaurant in Wiesbaden. But the weather today is positively terrible. It’s cold, windy, and rainy. And Germany, unlike its northern neighbors, continues to persist with oppressive COVID-19 rules which require even vaccinated people to be boosted and/or tested. I am triple vaccinated, but it’s just too much of a hassle to deal with the restrictions, just so we can drink beer downtown. So we stayed home, and Bill went out and got doughnuts, because I told him I wanted some yesterday. He was going to go to the train station to get them from Dunkin’ Donuts, but I told him to just go to the neighborhood bakery…

Not bad at all! I love doughnuts, especially on a Sunday morning. As you can see, we have Berliners, and choco-Brotchens, as well as regular chocolate covered doughnuts.

We’ll get to BrewDog eventually. Even Germans are getting fed up with the COVID rules that never seem to end. Eventually, the government will want people to spend money.

Arran is fine with us staying at home with him, though…

He sure was glad when Bill got home. So was I.

We were supposed to be going to Switzerland in the middle of the month, as Bill has a few classes planned at the Jung Institute that he was going to do in person. But because of Omicron, he decided to do the courses virtually. We were also going to see James Taylor next weekend, but that show was postponed until November. Hopefully, it will go on. I’m still waiting on a Keb’ Mo’ show that was supposed to happen in November 2020 and has been postponed three times. At this writing, it’s supposed to go on in May 2022. I look forward to it… if it happens.

Noyzi is still his adorable self, too… Every day, he becomes more attached. It does my heart good to see how much he’s changed. And now, when he needs something, he doesn’t hesitate to bark at us to wake us up. But he’s usually polite enough to wait until about 6:00am, if we haven’t already gotten up to tend to him.

Good thing he’s so cute.

Well, that about does it for this week. I hope that very soon, I can get back to sharing some really fun stuff. But for now, it’s gloomy. Even if COVID weren’t an issue, I wouldn’t want to go out in the yucky weather. The featured photo today is one I took in Copenhagen, back in June 2009. Those were the good old days. Maybe we can revisit them soon. We really need a change of scenery. We want our lives back, too.

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Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, trip planning

Chasing lakes and waterfalls in Aus-cro-slo-aus… part one

So much natural beauty… almost all to ourselves…

I may live to regret titling this particular trip series as I have. At the moment, I’m having trouble coming up with a snappy name for my latest vacation blog series. It might be because my brain is still scrambled by the whirlwind of four countries Bill and I have traversed since October 26th. It could also be because the time has changed. Additionally, I’m still a bit peeved about today’s lunch, which I’ll probably bitch about on my other blog, since I like to keep the travel blog somewhat “PG-rated”.

People who regularly follow this blog may know that Bill and I finally took our 2021 vacation. It was not a small undertaking to plan this trip, or even decide where to go. Gone are the days when we could just choose a destination on a whim. These days, we have to pay attention to COVID-19 rules and regulations, which seem to change daily, as well as infection trends. I feel like I’m back at South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control, working for the Bureau of Epidemiology, where it was once my job to translate the results of chronic disease trend statistics into laymen’s terms. Thanks to my current career as an “overeducated housewife”, those days are long behind me… or, at least I don’t get paid to do them anymore.

As of about an hour ago, our vacation ended, as we walked into our house and I caught a whiff of the rotting avocado and mozzarella cheese in the refrigerator. At first, I was afraid someone forgot to flush the toilet before we left town! The dogs will be picked up in a couple of hours; hopefully, they are both fine. I sure have missed them… I really mean that, even though taking them with us on trips isn’t exactly easy to do, especially now that we have big Noyzi, and Arran has become a cranky old codger.

So how did I choose a trip to Austria, Croatia, and Slovenia, then back to Austria? At first, it wasn’t in the plans. Originally, I had been looking at going to The Netherlands. I kept getting enticing ads on Facebook, particularly for a very upscale looking property in Zeeland. I must admit that the prospect of enjoying some legal weed was also somewhat appealing. But then I started thinking about how much I’d like to go to France and Belgium, too. I started trying to design an itinerary that would allow us to get the most bang for our bucks and the time Bill got off from work. I kept getting bogged down in and frustrated by minutiae, as I realized that the places I wanted to go weren’t all that convenient to each other. Accommodations were also kind of pricey. And then, I had a sudden flashback to 2015, when our return to Europe was still new and exciting…

Several years ago, when COVID-19 was a mere nightmarish fantasy in the back of a mad scientist’s or Hollywood screenplay writer’s most warped mind, I saw an enticing video on YouTube made by a user who called herself heyannalise. She made entertaining clips about traveling in Europe. Back in May 2015, she made one about her visit to the Krka National Park in Croatia. I was enchanted by the scenery in her video, which I am sharing below…

No… this is not where we went. I tried to get us tickets to the Krka National Park, but was unsuccessful. You have to buy them at least a day in advance, and all of the tickets were sold out for when we were in Croatia and had time to go… We will try to come back for an experience like Annalise had.

Somehow, even though I was enthralled by Annalise’s video, Bill and I never got around to visiting Croatia, even though we’ve now been in Europe for ages… I kept meaning to go, and we did once take a “joyride” to Pula, Croatia while we were visiting Trieste, Italy in May 2016. But we never managed to actually book a real trip there that involved staying overnight. Time moved on from 2015, and I pushed thoughts of Croatia to the back burner, even though my Croatian friend, Boris, who organizes trips to Croatia, kept wanting me to go and blog about the experience. The timing just never seemed to work out for us, or there was somewhere else I wanted to see that was more pressing or convenient.

As I was planning our most recent trip, thinking about France, Belgium, and The Netherlands, I couldn’t help noticing a nagging thought in the back of my head, reminding me how much I had been wanting to visit Croatia to see waterfalls and lakes. Since I managed to nag Bill into taking a lot of days off work, I realized that we finally had enough time to really enjoy ourselves and see a lot, and that meant it made sense to finally take the plunge and go to Croatia. I also knew I could break up the trip into manageable and affordable blocks, and that was a real plus. My days of wanting to drive eight hours straight to cram in life experiences are long done, and I don’t need much encouragement to overspend on fancy hotels. I also have no desire to fly during the age of COVID-19 unless it’s absolutely unavoidable.

By the time I was ready to go to Croatia, I had forgotten where Annalise had actually gone. I went on Google and started searching… and somehow, instead of Krka National Park, I wound up finding the Plitvice Lakes. Now… there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with going to Croatia just to see the Plitvice Lakes. They are stunning and mesmerizing, and you will definitely get plenty of exercise and fill your camera with exquisite photos of magical scenery. But we were down there for four nights, and Krka National Park is only about a 90 minute drive from where we stayed. It would have been nice to combine the two experiences, although now we have a good reason to visit Croatia again and do a LOT more exploring. It really is a beautiful and easy to travel country, especially for English speakers. And… we haven’t been to the coast yet, to see all the towns that tourists flock to during the summer months. We have a good reason to go back to Croatia, now.

Anyway, once I’d decided on Croatia, it was time to plan for a visit somewhere else within proximity. I recalled that while we were visiting Trieste in 2016, we also visited Lake Bled in Slovenia. I remember being totally enchanted by beautiful Lake Bled and the other areas in Slovenia we visited on that trip. I also specifically remembered Slovenians telling Bill and me that we should visit Lake Bohinj, as it was even better than Bled is, and less touristy. Realizing that Bohinj was maybe 4 or 5 hours from the Plitvice Lakes area, I determined that it would be a great second stop on our trip. We could spend another four nights there.

The cities where we chose our visits in Austria were mostly down to being practical. We decided to stop in Wels, Austria on the way down to Croatia because it was about halfway to where our final destination would be, and Bill and I didn’t want to stay in Linz or Passau, which are cities we’ve both already visited. Ditto to our stop in Salzburg. Every time we’ve gone to Slovenia– we also went to Kranjska Gora, Slovenia last year to pick up Noyzi— we’ve stopped in Salzburg, because it’s convenient. It’s also a great town to visit, although on our other two trips, we’ve only spent a night there and neglected to properly enjoy the city.

We did take a day trip to Salzburg in May 2012, when we did our very first military hop, and we got to see the city on that trip. But we visited Salzburg from Munich instead of staying there overnight, and that sharply limited our ability to see a lot. I also remember getting caught in a sudden late spring thunderstorm that day, so we ended up ducking back into the restaurant where we had lunch (ham and asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce), and drinking lots of beer and Schnapps! I remember the proprietor was quite pleased with us giving him more business. I think that restaurant has since closed down, which is a pity. We sure enjoyed going there.

Ever since that day trip in 2012, I had been wanting to go back to Salzburg. Russian buskers had made me cry there, and I saw some beautiful Friesian horses… But every time we’ve stayed in Salzburg overnight, we’ve been rushing to or from somewhere else, so this time, I decided we’d spend two nights.

With all of the cities chosen, I went looking for places to stay. Wels, Austria, it turns out, is a very pleasant and attractive city, but it’s not particularly exciting or noteworthy. I noticed they had catfish there. There are museums to see, and the downtown area is nice. But I didn’t find any cute places to rent. Consequently, we ended up booking Hotel Ploberger for two nights, which is supposedly the best hotel in town. I was amused by their very aggressive sales tactics, right on their own Web site. For the other three stops, I booked homes privately managed by hosts I found on Booking.com. Not only was that safer in terms of COVID-19, it was also more convenient. Lake Bohinj and the Plitvice Lakes areas are both chock full of apartments and homes to rent. I would say there are more private residences for renting than hotel rooms, although they do exist. And in Salzburg, I chose to rent a place owned by a musician/music producer. That was mainly because I am myself a musician. I will write a lot more about all of the properties as the series gets underway… and as we were gone for twelve nights, it’s bound to be a long one.

We had a fantastic time on our trip, and I look forward to detailing the blow by blow, even if Bill and I are the only ones who read it. So, now that the introduction is done, on with my blog series on the trip down to Aus-Cro-Slo-Aus. Hope you enjoy the ride.

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blog news, trip planning

Ready, set…

It’s early Sunday morning. We are still in Salzburg, Austria, but we’re already packed up and will probably be on the road to Germany in an hour or so. We have had a marvelous trip, and I am ready to write all about it. I don’t know what time we’ll get home today, since Germany has experienced a large surge in COVID-19 infections since we’ve been gone. I expect we could experience a delay at the border, even though Bill uploaded our vaccine documents to the Robert Bosch Institute (or whatever), proving that we’ve had the shots.

I look forward to having clean laundry and seeing my dogs. I’ve been worried about them while we’ve been gone, but I also know that we would have heard something if they weren’t okay. I look forward to taking a nap with Arran and being goosed in the butt by Noyzi. I do like to take trips, but I also like being at home, where everything is familiar. I suppose my car battery is probably dead, since the Mini hasn’t been started in ages. And hopefully, no one broke in during our absence, but our landlord lives next door and is always home, so I doubt that happened.

So this blog will be waking up very soon…. I look forward to sharing the many photos and stories, hopefully starting today, but definitely starting tomorrow… unless we get wiped out on the Autobahn, or I get arrested for punching out bikers who flip me off (more on that in an upcoming blog post).

Stay tuned!

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Germany, money, restaurant reviews, trip planning

Trip planning and “lunner” at La Fonte…

Well, it’s finally all settled. Bill and I are going on vacation in about ten days. I wasted most of today planning our upcoming adventure to Austria, Slovenia, and Croatia. But it wasn’t without significant ass pain. Sorry, I know this is a first world problem. It’s just that sometimes it’s a pain in the butt to have American credit cards when you live in Europe.

The ass pain started when Bill let me know that the dogs are confirmed at the dog pension. In the past, we have taken our dogs with us on longer trips, but that was when we had Zane, who was a beagle. Noyzi is a big guy and needs a lot of room. Also, it’s just a lot easier traveling with one species. So, once we got the boys’ lodging confirmed, I went to work.

I knew I wanted to go to Plitvice Lakes in Croatia. That’s about eleven hours’ drive from Wiesbaden. I’ve been wanting to go there for ages, and it’s about the end of the vacation season. After November 1, things kind of go to sleep. I knew it would be a stretch to try to go to Plitvice without breaking up the trip. Bill had noticed Austria’s fair city of Graz, which does look really appealing. But that’s at least eight hours away without any traffic or stops, and we have to drop off the dogs before we set off, which we can’t do until about 9:00am. I knew we would get in super late, and Bill would be weird and tired if we tried to make Graz in one day.

So, I ended up booking up at a hotel in Wels, Austria. Or, at least I tried. I found a well regarded and highly rated place in Wels. I tried to book directly from the hotel’s Web site. It had a rather aggressive pop up system. But, as I was booking, I got sent to a site called Saferpay, which was supposed to make my card transaction “safer” somehow. It timed out or something. My reservation didn’t go through properly, and Bill had to book with his card.

Then, I went on Booking.com and booked a beautiful house in a village near Plitvice Lakes. I tried to use my USAA card for that booking and was immediately declined. PenFed let me book that place, and the next place, near Lake Bohinj in Slovenia. But when I tried to book our last place, in Salzburg, Austria, PenFed declined my charges, too.

In fairness, I don’t use my credit cards much. I once had a lot of credit card debt and paid it all off. I don’t want to get back into credit card debt again, so I usually use my debit card for everything. I use my credit cards mostly for big purchases and trips. Consequently, I often get these problems when I actually use credit, but USAA usually sends an alert to my phone, which allows me to accept or decline charges. This time, I got an email letting me know I had to call USAA… and it came about an hour after everything was settled. Bill and I were having a very late lunch, which I badly needed, because I was hungry and in a FOUL mood.

La Fonte is our neighborhood Italian restaurant, affiliated with the Sportsplatz. We’ve only eaten there a few times, mainly due to COVID. Today, we dined in, and we had to prove we were vaccinated. I still got a dirty look from another patron. He probably wondered why Americans were there, even though there are a number of Americans living in Breckenheim.

I ordered Montepulciano and Tortellini al Forno, which is with cream sauce, ham, and cheese. Bill ordered fettuccini with cream sauce and shrimp. The dish brought out to me was baked rigatoni with Bolognese sauce. We told the waitress, who apologized and brought out my correct order after about twenty minutes. I did taste Bill’s dish. Next time, I’m having what he had… not because mine wasn’t good, but because I liked what he had better.

I might have enjoyed dessert, but we were sitting in the outdoor area, which is next to the smoking section. They left the door to the smoking section open, so the smoke wafted into where we were sitting and clogged up my nose. Plus, as we were eating, I got that email from USAA, which really annoyed me. We paid about 43 euros for lunch, and I think we should come back to La Fonte more often. It really is a nice place, and they were doing a brisk business today. They don’t take a pause, either. We need to enjoy lunch there when I’m not preoccupied with my credit cards. Next time, we’ll sit inside the restaurant, away from the smokers.

When we got home, I took a quick shower and then Skyped USAA. I spent 40 worthless minutes waiting until the representative said I needed to call back on my cell phone. The whole time, I kept hearing the same insanity inducing hold “song”, which if you’re a musical person, like I am, is MADDENING.

After the woman told me she couldn’t help, I hung up with her and called on my cell phone. Supposedly, you can call collect if you’re overseas, but only if you’re on a landline. We don’t have a landline.

So I called… and this time, after about 8 minutes of waiting, I got someone much more competent. I explained what happened, and she removed the block. We don’t know why USAA reacted the way it did, and why they didn’t send me a text to allow me to confirm or deny the charges. But now that card, at least, is unblocked. As for PenFed, I’m not sure if that card is blocked. But it did allow me to book the bulk of our stay in the Balkans, so I’m happy enough with that.

I’m not calling them today, though. Now, I need a drink and some good music… And it’s time to plan all of the things we’re going to do, because I have a feeling we’re going to have a blast.

Lake Bohinj was suggested to us in May 2016 by several Slovenians, when we visited Lake Bled. I was overwhelmed by how many vacation homes there are there. It took forever to choose one, but I think I chose one that will make us happy for four nights.

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