Our pandemic dog rescue story… part three

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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. 😉

More on the drive to Slovenia in the next post.

Sud Tyrol and beyond… part seven

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Close encounter with an Italian bee!

The second toe on my left foot itches a lot. A few days ago, it was quite painful. Why? Because a bee flew into my sandal after we ate lunch in a tiny little town. It got stuck there and stung me.

Prior to the bee sting, Wednesday was a fine day. We decided to drive around some more, in an effort to stay away from other people and see the different areas around the Sud Tyrol. This is also a great opportunity for us to talk about deep subjects and listen to music, not that we don’t do that anyway.

I was thinking we’d go to Bolzano on Wednesday, but instead, we did a big loop in wine country. Unfortunately, we didn’t stop to buy any wine. What were we thinking? We even brought the wine suitcase with us, but we neglected to fill it. Oh well… here are some photos.

As it got closer and closer to lunchtime, we started looking for places to eat. We found a little roadside restaurant called Ristorante Al Molin in a tiny town called Cloz in Trentino. They had an unusual way of luring in guests. Besides the usual signs, there was a table set up on the other side of the road with several bottles of wine and some fruit laid out. Bill saw it and immediately decided to pull over. It was a good place to stop. The food turned out to be excellent. I did have to use Google Translate a bit. What did I ever do without it?

I would have been easily talked into having dessert at this place. The lady who waited on us seemed extremely nice, although she apologized for not speaking much German (that’s okay, we don’t speak much either). A large Italian family showed up as we were finishing, along with four male German bikers (as in bicycles). The German guys were funny. They appeared to be good friends and they were joking around. At one point, the little dog in the pictures above sneezed. One of them said “Gesundheit!” We shared a laugh… and then the bee met its fate with my foot!

I’m pretty sure it was a bee that got me. When I pulled the sandal off of my foot, the stinger was still deeply stuck in my skin. Bill managed to swipe the bee off of me, but the stinger took some doing to remove. It really hurt! And it was also itchy and made me swell up. The little fucker. For some reason, the bees and wasps have been murder this year… although I have not yet encountered any murder hornets.

The bee sting kind of took the wind out of our sails, so we headed back to the hotel and had a couple of drinks at the bar. Then it was time for dinner, which was better than the mushroom fiasco, but not as good as Monday night.

By this point, I was starting to look forward to going home… although I can’t deny that Sud Tyrol is stunningly gorgeous. There was a lot of partying going on Wednesday night, too.

Sud Tyrol and beyond… part four

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Chasing a waterfall in Mittenwald, gazing at the Eibsee, and views from Germany’s highest mountain!

Saturday was a full day for us. It was definitely fuller than what I’ve been used to lately. We walked several miles in warm weather and the pedometer on my iPhone was giving me bursts of celebratory praise in the form of virtual fireworks. Still, even with all of the walking we did on Saturday, we missed the majestic waterfall at Leutaschklamm, which is most easily accessed from Mittenwald, Germany. So, on Sunday morning, we decided to visit the German side of the gorge.

We were a little bit confused about this part of the walk. When we read up on visiting the gorge, people mentioned a three euro fee to “see the waterfall”. I was under the impression that it was on the gorge trail itself. It’s not. If you go to the German side of the gorge with your car, you have to park at a lot in the town, walk down a pleasant country road alongside the rushing brook, and then you will encounter the German entrance to the gorge trail. However, you won’t find the waterfall on that trail, which looked pretty steep and obviously leads to the panorama bridge. I shared pictures of the bridge in part three of this series– one post previously.

Instead, you have to go to the nearby snack bar– which you can’t miss– pay three euros, go through a turnstile, don a mask, and then walk through a misty crevice on a wooden planked trail. Your three euros also gets you access to the toilet, which is pretty handy. I didn’t take a picture of it, but the sign on the men’s room reads that that toilet is for men only. The ladies room is for both men and women. I guess the men’s room only has a urinal. Unlike the gorge trail, the waterfall path is narrow and it’s impossible to “socially distance”, hence the mask requirement. If you don’t have one, you can buy one at the snack bar.

I took video of our walk to the waterfall. At the end of the video, there are a few clips from Saturday’s walk on the Austrian side. Here it is!

It was worth the three euros!

I also got a lot of nice pictures of this excursion. The walk took about twenty minutes or so, and only because we stopped to enjoy the waterfall and the cool mist it created. I would say this experience was easily one of the highlights of our trip! I’m so glad we didn’t miss it.

It was late morning by the time we were finished seeing the waterfall. Once again, I was glad we arrived early. Parking spots were filling up fast, and just as they were on Saturday, people were lurking for a place to park. We noticed that the lot on the Austrian side was completely full when we passed it on the way to Mittenwald. And as Bill was trying to vacate our spot, two dumbass guys parked their car directly behind us temporarily so they could get a Parkschein (parking ticket). They were completely oblivious to the fact that they were blocking us, too. But even once they noticed Bill’s annoyed face, they still didn’t move, and they almost caused an accident. Unfortunately, they weren’t the only dumbasses we ran into on this trip. But, in fairness, I’m sure some drivers thought Bill was a dumbass, too.

After the thrill of the waterfall, we decided to visit Eibsee, which is a huge, beautiful lake at the base of the Zugspitze. First, we’d have lunch in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which we hadn’t visited since 2009. It was a bit of a ghost town, probably due to COVID-19. I noticed a favorite Konditorei that we visited a few times back in the day was closed. I was sad to see it. Last time we were there, we parked next to a car that had been keyed… looked like maybe the owner’s ex girlfriend was a bit of a psycho. S/he had scrawled “Fucking bastard” on the side of the car, or something like that. I remember feeling sorry for the guy, having to drive around with that on his car. He might have been a bastard, but it was still not a great look. Plus, the thought of the sound the key must have made on the metal set my teeth on edge. That was at least twelve years ago and I could see that the Konditorei, which had served such delightful pastries, coffee drinks, and beer was closed up tightly. What a pity. Edited to add: my German friend says the person who ran the Konditorei when we visited had a bad reputation. Maybe he was the owner of the “Fucking bastard” car. He disappeared sometime in 2009 (same year we left) and a much better tenant took over. She closed the business last fall.

We had lunch at an Italian restaurant called Pizzeria Renzo, although I would have loved to have stopped in at El Greco, which was a favorite Greek spot we used to visit back in the day. We thought El Greco had closed, but as we passed it on the way back to the car, it was obviously open. I guess they took down their outside menu because of COVID-19. A lot of restaurants are offering abbreviated menus right now, since a lot of them are printing them on single sheets of disposable paper instead of handing out thick books of pre-COVID days.

After lunch, we made our way to the Eibsee in Grainau. We knew it would be crowded. I wasn’t expecting it to be the way it was. I thought the lake would be like a lot of the other lakes I’ve seen in Germany… kind of low key. Well– the Eibsee, which is right next to the huge tourist attraction of the Zugspitze and either the Seilbahn (cable car) or cog wheel train to the summit– is not an easygoing place. Lots of people were taking advantage of the lake– swimming, sailing, paddle boating, hiking, and picnicking. I had really just wanted to get a few photos, so that’s what we focused on… then, kind of on the fly, we decided to take the cable car to the top of the Zugspitze, where we enjoyed a beer and got even more photos.

These pictures of the Eibsee are kind of misleading. I managed to get some that don’t show a lot of people. The place was very crowded, and we would have been hard pressed to find a spot if we’d wanted to go swimming or boating. I didn’t have a bathing suit with me, anyway. I was glad to get the pictures, though, and now that I’ve seen the Eibsee, I don’t have to visit again. Since we were already there, we decided to see the Zugspitze, too. Bill was last up there in the 1980s, when there was no Seilbahn. The cog wheel train still runs and you have a choice as to which method you want to use to get to the top of the mountain. Since face masks were required for either method, we chose the Seilbahn, which is super efficient and only takes ten minutes. The basic cost for either method of getting to the top of the Zugspitze was 59 euros per person, although they had other tickets for families or those who wanted to visit other attractions.

We could have spent a lot more time exploring here if we’d wanted to… They have lots of exhibits as well as other activities that we didn’t try. It’s obviously a popular attraction for children, too. But it was a very full day for us, so we were ready to go back to the hotel. Getting out of the parking lot was obnoxious– we encountered a trifecta of dumbasses. As Bill was backing out of his space, an oblivious young fellow with water toys almost collided with the hood. Then, another dumbass with his buddies and perhaps a girlfriend, decided to aggressively angle for Bill’s spot. He came very close to hitting our 2020 Volvo. I sure as hell am not looking for another legal issue this year, although it would not have been our fault if he’d hit us. Bill just sat there and stared the kid down until he let us leave.

Finally, the last dumbass of the day was an old guy on a moped. He suddenly got a wild hair up his ass and cut Bill off as he carelessly pulled into traffic without even looking for oncoming cars. It was a very near miss. The guy could have met his maker if Bill weren’t such a good driver.

On the way back into Leutasch, I spotted a little fest going on. We stopped and listened to some Austrian folk music, bought a small piece of art and some locally produced gin, and checked out a camel who was brought in for camel rides. They also had pony rides.

A short video with the folk music. I wasn’t trying to capture people on film, so it’s not a great video. But the music is delightful!

And finally, our last dinner at the fabulous Hotel Kristall to cap off this gargantuan post about our Sunday. I really enjoyed Austria and it was far too long since our last visit. We need to come back again and explore more of this underrated country with its warm hospitality and breathtaking views!

I would say that Sunday, August 9th, was the best day I’d had in a long time. It was worth the cost of the entire trip. But there were more thrills to come in Italy. More on that in the next post!

The prettiest view in Eppstein… Ristorante Kaisertempel

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After last night’s wonderful dinner and our outing to the Fasanerie, Bill and I decided we’d take another trip to lovely Eppstein.  I wanted to explore the temple on the side of the mountain I noticed when we visited Eppstein Castle a couple of months ago.

The Kaisertempel.  Right next to it is a very nice Italian restaurant called Ristorante Kaisertempel.

After a rather scary, white knuckle ride up a steep, narrow, mountain pass, we came to the restaurant, a large, charming building with a stone oven for pizzas and a full bar.  The area is full of walking trails, so there were plenty of bikers and hikers, although there are precious few spots on the narrow road that make it easy to pass cars going the opposite direction.  It wasn’t a problem when we went up the mountain, but it was when we came back down.  In any case, we had a very lovely lunch.  Here are some photos.
My very first view of the view… Absolutely stunning!

They ask for a small donation at the door.


A little info in German…
The inside of the temple, which opens out into Eppstein’s most beautiful view.
What the temple looks like from the lookout point, where there’s a telescope and a bench for taking in the gorgeous panorama.
We spent a few minutes gazing at the beautiful landscape, then went to the restaurant.  We didn’t have a reservation, although I have read they are a good idea to have, especially at dinner time.  They don’t take a pause.
The inviting front door.  You pass the bar and the stone oven before you enter the beautiful dining room.  I wouldn’t have minded eating in there, but of course the weather was fine.  We sat outside, right next to the soul stirring view.

The menu had a number of options.  There were a few pasta dishes, pizzas, and main courses like steak and fish.  They also had a special fixed price meal that could be ordered in courses or on their own.
I decided to have lasagne.  It was very good… maybe not the best I’ve ever had, but definitely tasty.  It was Bolognese style, with bechemel sauce and ground beef.
Bill had a buffalo mozzarella pizza.  It was delicious!  I don’t usually go for pizzas in Germany, but the crust on this was magnificent.  We paired our dishes with the usual sparkling water and a glass each of Montpulciano.

Total bill came to about 45 euros.  Bill gave them 50 and asked them to keep the change.  Then, we took the white knuckle ride back down the mountain.  Kudos to the guy who was coming up as we were going down.  He backed much of the way down the last stretch of road so we could pass.  It really is a scary drive up, but well worth it at least once, if only to see the views.  It’s gorgeous up there. There was a nice breeze and it was noticeably cooler, too.  
I could see it’s a very popular place for bikers and hikers, but there was plenty of free parking available.  I’d go back, as long as someone else does the driving.
Eppstein is so beautiful!

Thanks to Ruine Mandelberg, our Sunday wasn’t ruined!

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This morning, Bill called my attention to a swollen cut on my dog, Zane’s, face.  He and our other dog, Arran, had a fight last night.  After Bill broke them up, he thought both dogs were okay.  Neither appeared to have a scratch.  In fact, Zane had actually come out the victor, having scored a rare rawhide treat that Arran had momentarily let out of his sight.  We were marveling at that, since Zane is not really a fighter and tends to be the less aggressive of our dogs.  But then this morning, there was that swollen place on his face.

Zane enjoyed the freshly mowed grass yesterday, before he and Arran had their little spat.  He’s going to be ten in November and both he and Arran have had cancerous mast cell tumors that have had to be surgically removed.  But they’re still plugging along and at each other.  

Bill and I don’t have kids together, so we tend to be neurotic about our dogs.  Because puncture wounds can get infected quickly, Bill decided to take Zane to the on duty vet, a gruff guy in Herrenberg named Dr. Katz.  Dr. Katz took a look at Zane, said he was fine, and told Bill to keep the spot clean.  Then he said goodbye without even bothering to charge Bill for the visit.

Since Zane seemed to be okay, Bill and I decided to go out to lunch in Nagold.  Afterwards, we had plans to visit Ruine Mandelberg, another one of my highway finds during our many recent trips to the Black Forest.  I had noticed the sign for it as we passed the turnoff for the little hamlet of Bösingen, a true one horse district if I’ve ever seen one.  I had looked up Ruine Mandelberg on the Internet and I wasn’t sure if it was something that would excite me, but since it’s pretty close to where we live, we decided today was the day to see it.

We started in Nagold, where parking is free on Sundays and you never know what’s going to happen. Lunch was at Provenciale, a little Italian restaurant near the main square.  We had eaten there before, but it had been awhile.  For some reason, this restaurant does not get good reviews on Trip Advisor.  I don’t know why.  Our experiences there have been good.  In fact, today we both enjoyed our pasta dishes.  I especially liked mine.

We enjoyed malty hefeweizens.  Sometimes, when I drink one of these, I taste Ovaltine.  That sounds strange until you realize that beer is malty and so is Ovaltine.  Bill had to move as the sun did.


Bill enjoyed cheese filled tortellini with spinach, ham, and gorgonzola cheese sauce.  He said it was delicious, even if he preferred yesterday’s mushroom extravaganza more.  Personally, I preferred his choice for today, if only because it didn’t smell of fungus!  Sigh– if I only liked mushrooms, my life would be so much easier!


I went with the very safe Tagliatelli Salmone, made with cream sauce and very tender, delicious pieces of salmon.  I loved it.  What can I say?  I like comfort food.  It shows… especially on my ass.  

 

This particular restaurant also specializes in ice cream and we saw plenty of people enjoying fancy Italian/German style ice cream treats today.  I think many people were substituting ice cream for lunch!  Our bill came to 27 euros, which Bill rounded up to 30.  Before we left, we caught the Albanian cultural/dance club Shota marching by.  My German friend says they were performing at Kinderfest today.  I caught a short video clip of them parading by.  I’ll have to see if I can upload it to YouTube.

After lunch, we got back on B28 and headed for Ruine Mandelberg.  We drove through tiny Bösingen, which has an interesting looking antique shop, a gasthaus, a church, and lots of pretty scenery.  There’s a road where cars are not supposed to go unless they are going to the ruins.  There’s a small parking area near a park/picnic area.  It’s free to park there and, as you can see below, there’s playground equipment for kids.

A map of the sights in the area.  If you wanted to, you could take a nice hike here.  There are lots of trails.

It looked like a group was having a picnic today.

 

We parked the car and started walking.  It was about 1.5 kilometers to the ruins themselves, though there were a couple of other trails and roads that made Bill nervous we weren’t going the right way.  

 

But then we rounded a corner and easily found the ruins, which date from the 12th century.  Actually, according to Wikipedia, the 11th century ruins predeceased what is there now.  The first time the castle was mentioned in documents was in 1287.  The castle burned down during the peasant revolts in 1525 and was never rebuilt.

A sign offering a brief history… in German, naturally!

The community of Pflazgrafenweiler purchased the property in 1970 and renovated what was left of the ruins.  In 1975, they renovated the keep, which is 35 meters high and offers nice views of the surrounding countryside.  Below are some pictures I took during our visit.


First glance of the tower.  A family of four was at the top when we first arrived.  They met us at the bottom as I was wondering whether or not I really wanted to climb up the extremely tight spiral staircases.  The parents were encouraging us in German, telling us it wasn’t unlike climbing the church spires in Ulm!

 

The first steps seem narrow…

 

And the tower seems high…  You do get two opportunities to pause on the way up and down.

 

But those steps are extremely narrow.  You must hold on to the railing and the center or risk falling.  Bill got dizzy going up the tight spiral.

 

But then you reach the top…  Thank GOD!  It’s very well fortified, so there’s no need to worry about falling.  Unfortunately, some people left trash up there.

 

At the top of the keep, we were rewarded with some very beautiful views.  Below are some pictures from the top of the tower.


This isn’t a great shot, mainly because the barrier prevented me from getting more of the grounds in the picture.  You can see the cistern on the left, which is unfortunately full of trash.

A couple of closer pictures of the cistern from the ground.

After a few minutes, we decided to climb back down.  Going down was less strenuous, but a bit scarier.  You can see how far down it is as you climb down.  I am very cautious about climbing, so I tend to go slowly.  The last thing I need is to faceplant in a tower.  When we got to the outside steps, I realized that might have been the best spot for picture taking, especially within the ruins.  Here is a 360 tour of the ruins.

Directions for other areas of interest.  I was too sweaty and dirty to hike more.

 

One last look at the tower.

Bill gazes at the view.

A cave?

With a friendly ghost?

Bars on the window…  wonder what for!

Auf wiedersehen, Ruine Mandelberg!

I couldn’t resist taking pictures of this pretty church we passed going in and out of the little hamlet.

I think these ruins are worth seeing if you’re interested in old castle ruins dating from the 12th century.  It might also make an okay stop on the way to Freudenstadt or some of the other attractions in the Black Forest.  It doesn’t take long to see the ruins, but if you wanted to hike longer, you certainly could, and the area is pretty and offers good picnic/play opportunities.  I’m glad we stopped by.  I was also considering visiting Herrenberg’s new Schönbuchturm, but figured it would be crowded, since it just opened yesterday.  Maybe we’ll do that next week!

Fancy in Annecy… Olympic towns! part six

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On Saturday morning, we woke up to painfully gorgeous weather…  I say “painfully” because when the sun chases away the clouds in Talloires, the area is practically dazzling with beauty.  Everywhere you look, you see people enjoying the gorgeous landscape, from sailing on the pristine lake to sailing through the skies parasailing.  Incidentally, if you like to parasail, Annecy is the place to be.  We saw so many people in the sky at at least two centers.  We also saw at least a couple of hang gliders.

Annecy is also very popular with bikers.  We saw many of them on the two lane road that ran past the hotel.  In fact, on at least one occasion, Bill almost ran over a biker.  The guy somehow decided it was a good idea for him to try to pass a car on the left.  He almost hit us head on.  Bill said he could see the guy realized his mistake; it was written all over his face.  Thankfully, it wasn’t also written on the hood of my car.  Hiking is also popular in the Annecy area, although I saw a lot more people enjoying the outdoors in boats, on bikes, or with parachutes than anything else.

We began our trip to Chamonix on this road, which offered absolutely stunning views of people parasailing and swans gliding on the peaceful lake.

When I was researching Annecy, I learned that it’s very close to two cities that hosted the Winter Olympics.  Chamonix Mont Blanc is the site of the very first Winter Olympics in 1924 and is now a very popular ski town near Switzerland and Italy.  Albertville is the site of the 1992 Winter Olympics.  We visited both places on Saturday, and I must say, I’m glad we had the convertible.  The drive to Chamonix from Talloires is absolutely stunning.  It takes you through a rugged mountain pass, bisected by a rushing river and waterfalls.  I managed to take a few photos as we passed through.  It was a little stressful driving through there because of all the bikers.  Some were on motorcycles and some, who must have incredibly strong hearts and muscles, were on bicycles.

Pretty meadows, often with grazing cows…


And huge snow capped mountains…

How to pronounce Chamonix.

This was where we made the turn to Chamonix.  I noticed the beautiful mountain road on our way through, but took pictures on the way back.  Most of the best shots were on the other side of the car.

Chamonix was very tourist friendly, with plenty of restaurants advertising menus in several languages.  I noticed there was some decent shopping there, and during the winter, I’m sure the place comes alive with skiers.  On Saturday, people were mostly just enjoying the sun and the large market going on.  Once again, we spotted Jehovah’s Witnesses set up in a choke point going into the town.  They left us alone.

Downtown Chamonix.

This church was so beautiful.

A couple of interior shots… I think this might have been my favorite of the church stops we made.

A view from the church steps.  A wedding party is in the distance.

The celebration continues.

This rushing river made a good reference point for finding our way around town, not that Chamonix is the type of place where it’s necessarily easy to get lost.

We walked through a church, and later observed a newly married couple as well as a girl who appeared ready for her first communion.  Bill was asked by a co-worker to pick up some mustard, so we stopped into a gourmet market after we had lunch at a charming local eatery called Restaurant La Moraine.  I think I was drawn to it because they had a cool looking outside bar area and were playing good music.  It turned out the service was friendly and the food was good, too.

Bill really wanted a salad, but I talked him into the ribs.  I wanted to see if they were really “Texas style”.

We were seated on a terrace on the other side of the restaurant, away from the bar with the cool music.  Strangely enough, the bench I sat on seemed too high for the table.  I was sitting on a cushion, but had to set it aside so I wasn’t hunching over the table.  The restaurant had a very enticing menu, with a wide range of choices.  I decided on Bolognese lasagne while Bill had “Texas style” pork ribs.

They weren’t really Texas style, but they were tender enough and the portion size wasn’t overly huge. Bill enjoyed the ribs.  I guess we’ll have to go back to Texas for actual Texas style ribs.

This lasagne was delicious!  It was perfectly cheesy, with plain meat sauce and a nice little side salad.  I was very happy with it!

For dessert, I had tangerine sorbet with orange liqueur topped with a meringue.  They also offered “colonels”, which is lemon sorbet with vodka.  And, of course, they had several other very tempting desserts with no booze in them.

I would definitely go back to La Moraine if I ever find myself in Chamonix again!

After lunch, we went to the gourmet store for the mustard.  I got a kick out of the stuff being sold in this store, including Genepi beer.  I tried that beer some time ago, when we first moved back to Germany.  It’s kind of an alpine specialty– very herbal and often green.

Sausages galore!

Plenty of mustard!

Another sax player.  That guy was very good, actually.  We probably should have seen if he had any CDs for sale.

Locks of love.

We decided not to stay in Chamonix much longer beyond lunch because, to be honest, if you aren’t hiking, biking, shopping, or skiing, there’s not much to do there as a day visitor.  We decided to head to Albertville, simply because I was curious about what that town looked like.  But first, we had to drive back through the beautiful mountains.  Below are some shots of our trip.

 

I really could have stopped to take photos or dip my feet in the cool water, had there only been a convenient place to do it.  But yes, this was great convertible scenery.

We did make one stop so Bill could fix the GPS, which fell off the windshield.  It happened to be a convenient place to pull over, since there was a remarkably clean public restroom there.  However, the toilets were of the squat hole variety.  I was a little surprised to see that in France, although I have seen them in Italy more than a few times.  Anyway, I was just glad it was clean.

Our first view of Albertville, which seemed pretty “sleepy” compared to Annecy and Chamonix.

I loved this church, but we didn’t venture inside because there was some sort of service going on.

We spotted an Armenian restaurant, that appeared to be closing for good.  Too bad for that.  I would have enjoyed trying it.

Albertville is kind of pretty, though sleepier than I expected.  It did appear that they were encouraging visitors, though.  There was plenty of free parking.  Bill mentioned a medieval city nearby, too, which we ran out of time to visit.  

City hall.

 

I made the unfortunate choice to wear brand new sandals on our trip.  Even though they are Danskos, which are supposed to be very comfortable, I managed to get a blister.  We decided it would be better to go back to the hotel, after first stopping at Carrefour for some provisions.

They collect corks at the store.  Too bad I left my big bag of them in Germany.

Above are pictures of the pool area at Hotel Les Grillons.  We should have taken a dip.  The pool was very inviting.  I think Bill may be traumatized, though, because many pools in France require the men to wear Speedos.  He’d rather go naked.

Look closely and you can see people parasailing.  I got more pictures on Sunday.

Cocktails before dinner.  An Americano for Bill and a Kir Royale for me.

Saturday night’s dinner was pretty busy.  A large British tour group came through.

Saturday night’s wine.

We had a smoked trout starter.  This was supposed to come with a crostini on top, but I think the waiter brought them out prematurely.  Bill used some of the bread at the table to enjoy this starter, which was like very high speed tuna salad, only made with trout.

The main course was exquisite and likely inspired by the large group of Brits.  It was very tender and perfectly cooked medium rare roast beef with a carrot puree, mashed potatoes, and a delightful mustard and horseradish sauce.  This was my favorite of the entrees.  It was delicious!

And dessert, a rosemary hinted tart with raspberries and starfruit.

Once again, we went to bed tired and a little sunburnt, despite the sunscreen I diligently applied early in the day.

An evening shot of the view from our window.

Glassblowing at Dorotheenhütte and the best Black Forest cake, ever!

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Some time ago, someone in one of the local Facebook groups alerted me to Dorotheenhütte, a glass museum and store in Wolfach, Germany.  Prior to today, I had been wanting to visit there for months. We finally decided to go this weekend, when we realized we were finally going to have sunny skies!

Wolfach is a resort town in the Black Forest.  It takes a little over an hour for us to get there from Unterjettingen via B28, which is definitely the slower, scenic route.  If you’re coming from points north, you may want to use A81, as it’s faster and less icy after a good snow.  Apparently, our area got a lot of snow last weekend and a lot of it still hasn’t melted.  There’s still a lot of white stuff in the Jettingen area, but there was even more snow west of us in Freudenstadt.  We decided to take the scenic route anyway, and were treated to some stunning views of snow capped mountains and pine trees laden with white stuff.  I got a few pictures of the scenery, which kept me occupied until we reached Wolfach.

As we were driving on either side just outside of Freudenstadt, I noticed a lot of people had parked on the side of the road.  I could see many folks cross country skiing.  That area still has a lot of snow after last weekend.  We also saw kids sledding.  If you’re ever looking for residual snow in the winter, the area west of Nagold is a good bet.  It’s a higher elevation and snow sticks around longer than it does closer to Stuttgart.  


Wolfach is a pleasant town, just made for tourists.

We reached Wolfach at just before noon and decided to tour the museum before we had lunch.  The tour is self-guided and there are translations in German, French, and English.  It turned out we got there at a good time.  There weren’t too many people there when we arrived at noon, but within an hour, more people began to show up.  It cost 15 euros for two adult tickets to the museum.

There were a lot more people here within an hour of our arrival.  I would imagine this place gets really packed in the summer.  I think now is a good time to visit Wolfach.  

When we pulled into the glass factory’s large parking lot, I noticed there was a lot of parking for buses.  There were no buses today, but they still had a good stream of folks coming in to tour the museum and get themselves a custom made vase.  I opted not to wear my jacket in the factory, since it wasn’t that cold outside.  That was a mistake, because the area where the museum is and the glassblowing is done was pretty chilly!  But as I stood there watching the group ahead of us getting vases made, it occurred to me that the factory must get pretty busy in the summer.  I’ll bet the museum gets hot, too.  The furnaces where the vases are made get to be up 1200 degrees centigrade.

 

Children’s play area.

 
 

A few shots of items available in the very expansive shop.  There are lots of nice items to be had and I thought the prices were pretty reasonable.

Christmas tree stands.

Items on display as you enter the museum area.

It turns out there’s a lot of “glass history” in this part of Germany.  The curators did a good job explaining how the glass industry came to be in Wolfach.  It’s obviously a significant source of employment.  In the small theater at the museum, there was a film about the factory.  I think it employs 34 people.

Above are schnapps bottles that were mouth blown.  Each farm was entitled to two liters of schnapps per cow.  

Different minerals found in the area.  There is also a place nearby where one can pan for minerals.

These are glass eyes– prosthetics for people who have lost an eye.

Explanation about the eyes here.

This was what I was waiting for… Glassblowing.  For 18 euros per vase, you can have one custom made and have a small part in its creation.

 

There are a couple of tables with examples of vases.  You choose two colors and which pattern you want.

Bill watches the group ahead of us.  They had several kids with them and I think they made three vases.  

Finally, it was my turn.  The guy who helped me spoke German at first, then switched to pretty good English, which I really appreciated.  I choose pink and blue for my vase.  In retrospect, I wish I had chosen blue and white… or maybe blue and green.  Oh well.  It turned out okay anyway.

The guy gave me a plastic mouthpiece that fit over the hollow rod.  When he pulled my vase out of the furnace, I blew into the rod, which helped shape the glass.  

Here’s a 30 second video  I made of the process.

More shaping and making a flat surface on the bottom…

Another trip into the furnace.

Then 20 minutes to cool off.  The glass gets up to about 500 degrees centigrade, so it needs to cool down and harden.  The guy made me a certificate and we paid for the vase and gave him a two euro tip.  Tips are appreciated and solicited.  You must pay for the vase on the spot.

 

We entertained ourselves by walking around the museum some more.  Not long after my session ended, a very large group showed up.  There were quite a few kids among them.  I must admit, I was impressed by how the guys running the glass works interacted with the kids.  They were great with them.  I could tell the kids were enjoying the activity, too.

Some more creations made in the factory.

Bill was eager for me to see the glass above.  It was colored by uranium before it became common knowledge that uranium is poisonous.

 

A view of the glassblowing.

A model of the furnace, sans heat.

Old glass making tools.

Tips please!

You can spend your twenty minutes watching a movie about the factory if you want…

This was as close as Bill got to making a vase of his own.

A wooden cuckoo clock.  I have been told Germans don’t care about them.  I left mine in the States.

 

When it became clear the large group was going to preclude us from being able to pick up our vase, Bill went to find the guy who helped me make it.  He got the vase and trimmed the top of it for me, then washed it out.

 

Finishing touches.  Then he wrapped it for me and put it in a bag.

 

When we were finished making my vase, we decided to have lunch.  The factory has a good restaurant serving traditional German food and some delicious desserts.  The lady who took care of us was a cute older lady who looked and acted very much like Oma.  She gave us the specials in German.  Realizing that we were English speakers, she asked if we understood.  I mostly did, though I settled on something from the regular menu anyway.

Bill looks at the menu, which was translated in French and English.

I had bratwurst with fries.  It came with mustard and ketchup.  The sausages were good.  The fries were ordinary.  I’m glad I didn’t fill up on them, because dessert is a must have experience at the factory.  

Bill had Zigeunerschnitzel “gypsy schnitzel”, which was basically a breaded pork cutlet with a paprika and tomato flavored sauce.  It was kind of like Hungarian salsa.  I noticed that a lot of the food coming out looked and smelled delicious.  I would say this restaurant offers above average food for what it is.  

 

Lunch was very satisfying and I think we were going to stop with what we’d had until I saw the ladies at the next table with pieces of Black Forest cake.  That is a particular weakness of mine.  But then, so is chocolate rum cake, which they were also offering… and cheesecake, too.

Wow…  an array of presents for my ass.  These cakes were beautiful!

We shared a piece of Black Forest cake and had coffee.  That cake was so good.  It was probably the best Black Forest cake I’ve ever had anywhere!

Lunch came to about 38 euros.  The lady who looked after us was doing a good job serving everyone.  She got very busy as we were finishing.  I bet that place is crazy with tourists when the weather warms up.

We decided to take a quick look at the Christmas town.  You can get your ornaments year round!

After I made a couple more impulse purchases, we headed back to Unterjettingen.  I got a few more pictures of Wolfach and the surrounding area.  This is pretty much stereotypical Grimm’s Fairy Tales Germany, right here.  I think I’m going to look for a house to rent for our next long weekend.  I think we’d love to get away in the Black Forest, especially since it’s not far from where we live, yet it’s kind of different.

We passed a wolf and bear park on the way to and from Wolfach.  This is another possibility for something to do in this area.  I’m definitely adding this to my list of places to see on a Sunday.  It looked well attended today.

More beautiful landscape shots from our drive.

 

My loot.  The taller vase and paper weight came from the shop (as if you couldn’t tell).  The pink and blue vase is what I helped make.  Next time Bill brings me flowers, I won’t have to use the wine decanter!

Right after we got home from our adventure, my dog Arran got loose.  Our door sometimes doesn’t close all the way, especially if it’s windy.  Bill neglected to shut the door securely and that’s how Arran got away from us.  I had just stepped out of the shower when it happened.

It’s unusual for Arran to run off.  Usually, Zane is the one who scares us with his daring escapes.  Fortunately, most of the people in our neighborhood have seen me or Bill with Zane and Arran.  When Bill got to where we usually walk the dogs, there were people there who had seen Arran run by, including a fellow hound owner.  Their dog, Oskar, is a friend of Zane’s and Arran’s.  In fact, Oskar’s mom often gives our dogs treats.  Anyway, they pointed Bill in the right direction.  One guy even kindly drove Bill in his van.  They saw a lady standing on the side of the road as if she knew someone was looking for Arran.  She’d grabbed him and put him in her house.  Once again, I’m heartened by how great our neighbors are and greatly relieved that Arran is okay.

We had a great day.  I would definitely recommend the glass factory and Wolfach in general, especially on such a pretty day.  The area is absolutely gorgeous and there’s a lot to do there, even if you aren’t wanting to make a vase.  I’d like to go back and check out the mineral pit… try my luck at finding rare rocks.

Herrenberg… and lunch at Cafe Atelier…

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The weather is a bit gloomy again today, so Bill and I decided to keep today’s outing low key.  We went to Herrenberg for lunch and tried a place new to us, but not to the city.

The morning market was just finishing up when we arrived.

Herrenberg is such a cute little city.

 

We came upon Cafe Atelier, a cute little place I’d noticed a few times over the years but had never tried.  They had a bunch of chalk boards and a menu outside that made the place look inviting.  I could also see a large display case full of desserts.  Desserts will lure me every time, so we ventured inside.

A little cafe with lots of yummy looking baked goods out front.

 

When we walked in, we noticed a man standing behind the counter reading the paper.  There were two tables with ladies sitting at them, conversing animatedly.  I get the sense this cafe is very popular with ladies who lunch.  The inside is very feminine looking and cute.  Bill wondered if maybe the front room was only for people having coffee and pastries.  He walked toward the back room and the guy behind the counter stopped him and told him we could sit in the front room.

The encounter was a little bit awkward… but we had a seat.  I knew what I wanted immediately, a glass of Greek cabernet and the gyrosteller.  Bill ordered a different red.  The guy took our menus before we had a chance to order food.  Below is Bill’s expression at that…

Actually, he had a funnier one, but I was too slow on the draw to capture it.

Lots of good looking desserts!  We didn’t try any, though, because lunch filled us up.

 

The guy came back over after pouring my wine and told Bill that his choice was not available.  So Bill had a glass of the same cabernet I ordered.  We both settled on the gyrosteller.  I guess I must speak my limited German with a terrible accent, because I had to repeat myself a couple of times.  I should get someone to teach me to say “gyros” at the very least.  Happily, I no longer pronounce it “guy-rohs” like I did many years ago.

The little salad that came with the gyrosteller.  It had a rather strong mustard vinaigrette that was oddly sweet.  It wasn’t bad, but the flavor was more intense than I would have expected.  I appreciated that the salad wasn’t really big.  I prefer little salads.

 

While we were waiting for our gyros, I noticed the man behind the counter, who seemed to be a little bit over it.  He sneezed.  I was relieved when I saw him go to the sink.  But then I watched him rinse his hands without soap.  The public health educated side of me cringed a little.  A few minutes later, he blew his nose.  Then he went back to the sink and rinsed his hands again.  I guess I should be that grateful that he did that much.  Some people don’t.

Behold… the gyros with pommes and tzatziki.  These weren’t too bad.  They were well seasoned, at least, and I didn’t get the sense that the pork was really intended to be a schnitzel.  However, I don’t think the gyros were prepared the way they are at my favorite taverna, on a spiese.

 

We had a leisurely lunch and when it was all said and done, it cost just 29 euros before the tip.  Hopefully, we won’t be catching a cold.  Bill visited the restroom and noticed that the proprietors are okay with non customers using their toilet if you give them fifty cents.  I figure that’s fair, as long as the toilet is clean and stocked, which it evidently was.  I didn’t visit it myself.  We walked around the corner and passed a fruit and vegetable market, where there was some excellent looking fresh produce was offered.

I should have gotten one of these.

Produce worth getting excited over.

If we hadn’t purchased over two pounds of cheese in Alsace last weekend, maybe we would have stopped in…

Unique gifts for Christmas!

We decided to walk back to our car via Edeka.  Herrenberg has a large, impressive one that sells all manner of food, drinks, bras, and underwear.  They also have beer Advent calendars.  I already have a calendar full of liquor that I ordered from Master of Malt.  I like beer calendars, I guess, but German beers mostly taste the same to me in each of the few styles available.  But I can see why people get excited about them.

We bought ice cream instead.

 

A very considerate lady noticed we only had one item, so she let Bill go ahead of her.  It always makes me feel good when people are unexpectedly kind like that.  On the way home, I noticed the very dramatic skies…  Winter is on its way.

Looks like a spaceship is about to land.

I love it when sunlight streams through the clouds like this.

I needed a vacation like nobody’s business… International relations! Part 4

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Saturday morning, we woke up to bright and sunny skies.  Bill’s ankle was still throbbing from his little mishap Friday morning.  We were still determined to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather.  After breakfast, we took the boys on the same walk we took the day prior, only we kept going a ways.  We climbed up a long hill, cheered on by a marauding dog at the top of a wall who was desperate to protect his territory.

That dog meant business!

Rocky road!

When we finally reached the top of the hill, we were greeted by a tiny, toothless, old Italian lady dressed all in black.  She smiled and offered a greeting, then engaged us (well, really, Bill) in a lengthy conversation.  She did not speak any English and we don’t speak Italian, but I’d studied enough Spanish to understand some of what she was saying.  Bill was gamely trying to respond to her as she rattled on about how the people in Domaso are nicer than the people in Milan.

I stood there in amazement because the conversation lasted several minutes with neither party being conversant in the other party’s language.  I gazed up the hill and noticed another lady standing on a terrace watching the whole thing.  The old lady who was talking to us obviously knew the other lady and called up to her to tell her we were visitors.  It turned out the lady was standing on the terrace of Sorsasso, Domaso’s well-regarded agritourism restaurant and shop.  Because you have to make reservations, we never did get a chance to visit there.  If we ever get back to Domaso, we will have to make a point of having dinner there.

After bidding the friendly local lady goodbye– and she thanked us for listening to her– we strolled to the end of the road where we captured a more stunning pictures of the enchanting landscape.  Really, I could spend all day simply taking in the beauty of this little town, watching the people, and drinking wine.  That’s pretty much what I did, too.

Sorsasso

 

After a short rest, we decided to go down to the lake without the dogs.  On the way back into town, we passed a grandmother taking her toddler aged granddaughter for a walk.  The lady was smiling and singing to the girl.  Bill said I got a huge delighted grin on my face as we passed them.  He said, “You love Italy, don’t you?”  Yes…  yes I do!  I also love Germany, although I have to admit I am always charmed by how friendly the Italians are.

Domaso has a nice beach area and, we soon discovered, it’s a very popular place to camp.  There’s also a great youth hostel there, located right next to the water and offering cheap, basic rooms.

A charming sight on the walk down to the main drag.

I took this picture of Bill noting that there was evidently a Scottish wedding going on behind that wrought iron fencing.  There were guys in kilts standing outside the city hall.  I never thought I’d see guys in kilts in Italy.  On the other hand, why not?

In Italy, you have to pick up your dog’s poop…  

 

Domaso also has a shop where one can buy wine on tap.  We didn’t venture into this business because we ran out of time.  Maybe if we happen to go back to Domaso we’ll visit.

The kilted ones again.

After about an hour of strolling, it got to be time for lunch.  I was really in the mood for lasagna.  Alas, we fell victim to a very charming and assertive restaurant hawker who lured us to his terrace.  Lasagna was not on the menu at Ristorante da Mario.  I see his place doesn’t get the best reviews on Trip Advisor, but we managed to enjoy lunch there anyway.  It’s hard to get a bad meal in Italy.

Bill is laughing because the guy who lured us– I presume it was Mario himself– kept speaking to us in German.  He gave us German menus, even though he had ones in English.  His wife (again, I presume), spoke English and picked up that we are not German.  Mario never got a clue, though!  We were repeatedly mistaken for Germans this past weekend.  It was actually kind of funny.

I had noodles with Bolognese sauce.  These were pretty good, especially when paired with a nice wine.  We asked for sparkling water, but Mario brought us still water.

Bill had fish with risotto.  The risotto was very good– not gummy or sticky.  And the fish was well-prepared.  

For dessert, we had lovely tiramisu.  Bill’s piece was noticeably bigger than mine was, but that’s okay.

This lunch went for about 45 euros.  Although it wasn’t the lasagna I really wanted, it was fine.  We definitely made up for the experience at Mario’s later, when we ventured out for dinner.  More on that in the next post.

We finally made it to lovely Schloss Lichtenstein…

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Bill and I have now lived in the Stuttgart area for a total of four years.  We were here from 07-09 and we have been here this second time since August 2014.  We have seen a lot of cool places in the local area, especially since we moved back here the second time.  The first time we lived here, we spent way too many weekends cooped up at home.  That was a huge mistake and we have been doing our best to rectify our error during our second Germany experience together (Bill had a third experience back in the 80s, but it was when I was still jailbait…)

Today, we finally made the trip to Schloss Lichtenstein.  I am ashamed to admit that the first time we lived here, I had no idea this beautiful little castle near the town of Sonnenbühl even existed.  It wasn’t until we moved back and my new Facebook friends from the local community started posting pictures that I realized what I had missed.  I have now seen several castles here in Germany and I think Schloss Lichtenstein may be among my favorites.  I think I like it even more than the much hyped Neuschwanstein, which I did manage to see during my first time living here.

Bill and I set out for Schloss Lichtenstein at around noon.  We expected our journey from Unterjettingen to take about an hour via B28.  What we didn’t know was that traffic was going to be absolutely horrendous driving through Tübingen and Reutlingen.  Turns out there’s a lot of construction going on in those towns, plus it was a beautiful day.  Lots of people were out and about, so traffic was backed up.

Having studied the route before we left, I was surprised Bill didn’t opt for B27, which would have taken us south of the construction.  We did come back that way and it was much easier going!

The drive to the castle is absolutely gorgeous and it was so nice to have the top down on the convertible, speeding along country roads.  As we approached the parking lot and saw all the cars there, I could see there were lots of people who decided today was a good day to see the castle…  or perhaps they had come for the Abenteuer Park

 

Here are a couple of shots I got of the ropes course.  Lots of people were there today, enjoying the zip lines and climbing challenges.  Much to my great surprise, Bill said it looked like fun and he wants to come back and try it!  I might have to sit at the biergarten when he does…  

 

We momentarily thought it would be a good idea to eat before we visited the castle, but did not realize that the onsite restaurant Altes Forsthaus (Old Forester’s Lodge) had been booked for a wedding reception.  It was closed.  So we went on to the castle.  Here are some photos I took. 

You can either pay a couple of euros to walk around the grounds or opt for the tour.  The tours run for about 30 minutes and cost 7 euros for adults and 3,50 euros for children.  Our tour was done in German, although you can purchase a card that explains everything in a different language.  I understand English tours are also available on request.  We muddled through with German; consequently, I didn’t understand everything that was said.  Guess I’ll read up on it.

Stunning views!

I was kind of sad that we didn’t get to go to the top of the tower.  The tour was very short and really only consisted of the first two floors.  The inside of the castle is beautiful, though, and well worth seeing.

I think it was worth the price of admission just to get the pictures!  Wow, this is one pretty little Schloss!

I think this is my favorite photo of the day!

This is the chapel, which I understand can be rented for weddings or baptisms.  There is also a tiny chapel in the castle itself.  The ceiling looked like it came straight from Florence.

After we toured the castle, we decided to go have lunch at the Castle’s Tavern.  This is basically a snack bar that offers a few items of substance.  I noticed they had a few specials today to include a vegetarian dish and Maultaschen.  They also had turkey schnitzel and the usual wursts with pommes. Bill got us two schnitzels while I waited.  He ordered in German and the lady behind the counter answered in perfect English as she handed him a “beeper” to let him know when our order was up.

I took a photo of our spot in the biergarten… little did I know, this was the calm before the “storm”.

Ahh… refreshing export beer…

Our schnitzels…  they came with substantial salads.  We probably should have just shared one.  We almost forgot the salads and the lady from the counter brought them out to us with a gentle reproach.  I didn’t get a picture of the salads, but they were substantial and surprisingly tasty.  I especially liked the pepper relish that came with it.    

 

Just as we were sitting down to eat, a German family came over and joined us.  It was a young mom, dad, and two little boys close in age…  I’d say one was probably two and the other was perhaps four.  They were a boisterous lot.  I think Oma was also in tow, along with another woman who might have been a friend or an aunt.  They filled up our once roomy picnic table.

I didn’t mind them too much, although the older boy startled everyone when he spilled his drink all over the table.  His dad started yelling at him in German.  I am surprised to say that I understood much of what he said and it sounded a lot like what many parents yell at their kids in English!

As we were finishing up our late lunch, we heard lots of honking and saw cars driving up the road to the castle.  The wedding party had arrived!

There is a playground next to the biergarten for your little ones to go burn off some steam.

And a rather dark photo of the Castle’s Tavern.  It does have an indoor dining area, too.  I don’t think anyone was sitting in there today.

A map of the area.  There is a lot to do near this castle.  I want to go back and visit the Easter museum and the caves…  

 

We didn’t bring Zane and Arran with us, though we did notice a couple of folks with their pooches walking around the grounds.  If we do go back, though, it’ll probably be so Bill can try the ropes course.  And I will most likely be talked into trying it with him… which would mean Zane and Arran would need to stay home again.

All in all, we had a great day!  I would definitely recommend visiting the Lichtenstein Castle with your kids and any visitors coming your way.  It makes for an excellent day trip from the Stuttgart area.