churches, customs

A visit to St. Elizabeth’s Church, the Russian Orthodox Church in Wiesbaden…

Although we will have lived in Wiesbaden for four years at the end of November, there are still a lot of places in Hesse we haven’t yet seen. A big reason for that is COVID-19. Things have really only been somewhat normal since April of this year. There are a few other reasons, too… one of them being sheer laziness and feeling slack because not that many people read my travel blog anymore. Nevertheless, I still enjoy writing it and taking photos, and I know there will come a day when I’ll look back on these memories with fondness. So, with that in mind, I let Bill talk me into another excursion today.

St. Elizabeth’s Church is also known as the Greek Chapel. It was built between 1847 and 1855 by Duke Adolf of Nassau, to pay respects to the death of his 19 year old wife, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Mikhailovna of Russia. The couple had only been married a year when the duchess died in childbirth, as did their baby daughter. The duke was so bereaved that he decided to build the church around the duchess’s grave in her honor, using money from the duchess’s dowry. It is now the site of the largest Russian Orthodox cemetery in Europe, outside of Russia itself.

I had long been wanting to visit St. Elizabeth’s Church, a beautiful golden domed Russian Orthodox church on Neroberg, a hill overlooking one of Wiesbaden’s most tony neighborhoods with very grand homes owned by wealthy people. This church is the only Russian Orthodox church in our fair city, and besides being lovely, it offers some beautiful views of the city. There are also other things on Neroberg, to include a vineyard, a couple of restaurants, a pool, a climbing forest, and lots of walking paths. To get up to the church, one can either drive and hope to find a parking spot, or hope to find a spot at the bottom of the hill and take the Nerobergbahn, which is a funicular that goes up and down the hill. It’s also possible to walk or bike up there, but that’s definitely not for people like me. ūüėČ Especially in August!

Bill had warned me that today there would also be a large climate change protest in Wiesbaden, with many people riding bikes to rally for Earth friendly policies. Remembering last week’s Stau on A3, I was hoping we wouldn’t be hindered by the crowd. Fortunately, as you will see in the photos at the end of this post, we were leaving Wiesbaden, as they were coming in. Based on what we saw in Wiesbaden itself, there’s going to be quite a party going on. I know there was a food truck festival going on, too, but after last week’s shenanigans at the wine fest, we decided the church was a better bet today.

It took us a few passes to score a parking spot near the Nerobergbahn, and when we did find one, Bill had to parallel park. That shouldn’t have been hard in a 2020 Volvo with parking assist, but I don’t think Bill trusts it. Fortunately, he was able to park the SUV, and we made our way to the funicular, where we purchased tickets going up and down the hill. It’s important to note that the current 9 euro train passes don’t work on this funicular. You have to buy tickets, which at this writing, cost 5 euros per adult. If you just want a one way ticket, it’s 4 euros. They also have special rates for groups, families, and kindergarten groups with children. The ticket can also be combined with tickets for the climbing forest, which appears to be an adventure/tree climbing/zip line park for people more fit than I am. ūüėČ

The funicular runs until 7:00pm at this writing, and there are two wagons that continually go up and down. The car is enclosed, so face masks have to be worn. As much as I hate masks, it makes sense, since it gets kind of chummy in there. If you score a standing place on the caboose, you don’t have to wear a mask. The ride is about three minutes or so, and you don’t see much as you go up and come down. Still, it beats walking.

When we got to the top of the hill, we went to a nearby Biergarten and had a snack, since I was a bit hangry and needed a bathroom. There were lots of people there, and I heard several different languages. I felt a lot less grouchy after Bill and I shared a Flammkuechen (Alsatian pizza) and washed it down with beer. I don’t even like Flammkuechen much, but I didn’t want a Schnitzel or a piece of cake. It was just enough, and after we ate, we walked around and got photos. I really just wanted some pictures of the view of downtown Wiesbaden, and the beautiful Russian church.

I already had Russia kind of on my mind, thanks to an advice column I read yesterday in the Washington Post. A woman wrote about how she’d married someone from Eastern Europe, and his family shows love by pushing food on guests. She explained that she has a lot of food issues, and isn’t comfortable eating a lot. I noticed a lot of the comments from Americans, most of whom either have no experience with Eastern European cultures, or no appreciation for other cultures. I commented that I empathize with the letter writer, since I had been a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Republic of Armenia, which is a formerly Soviet country. Food is a big part of their culture, which is all about hospitality. One of the first phrases we learned as Peace Corps Trainees was how to say “I’m full.” in Armenian. We were also taught how to signify that we were appeased, so the host(s) didn’t feel the need to keep bringing out food. Leave a little food on the plate.

Someone else commented that they had also been an Peace Corps Armenia Volunteer, years after I was there, and was going to write the very same thing! And I had also mentioned that Armenians would always comment when I lost or gained weight, too. That was another aspect of that culture I remember with somewhat less fondness. Sigh…

Anyway, I thought of that exchange as we decided to visit the inside of the Russian Orthodox Church. It’s two euros per adult to go inside. One thing I had forgotten was that Orthodox churches don’t allow people to go inside with bare legs. Bill and I were both wearing shorts, so the lady behind the counter apologized and asked us both to put on wrap around skirts. It was a little embarrassing, but then I remembered the Armenians (and Greeks, now that I think about it) were the same. We had to cover our legs to enter the churches and not wear revealing clothes. I also told Bill to be careful not to cross his legs. That was another caveat we got in Armenia, lest some little old lady chastise us for being disrespectful. I smiled at Bill and said, “It’s taboo.” And now that I have looked it up, I see that my memory serves me correctly. Of course, it didn’t come up anyway, since the church doesn’t really have anywhere to sit. I mean, there aren’t any pews or anything. Maybe a couple of chairs.

Photography isn’t really allowed inside, but I snuck a few photos anyway, since I had to wear a skirt. No one noticed. I did appreciate the smell of incense and the beautiful Russian choral music. St. Elizabeth’s Church really is a very lovely church and well worth a visit. I’m glad we finally made the trip to see it.

After our visit to the church, we walked back up the hill to the overlook, where we saw a World War I memorial and gazes at Wiesbaden from the vantage point of the hill, in view of the vineyards. It was very beautiful. I might have liked a few fewer clouds, but given how dry it’s been here this summer, I’d say the clouds were probably Heaven sent.

Here are today’s photos…

Well, that about does it for today’s post. I’m glad we went out today and got to know our city better. It sure is POSH.

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Sud Tyrol and beyond… part seven

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.

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Our little Adventmarkt!

A year ago, Bill and I spent December 1st moving into what was our new home in Wiesbaden. He was recovering from cleaning our old house in Jettingen, which turned out to be a complete waste of time, since our former landlady was determined to find and charge us for every little defect, whether or not we were responsible for it. In retrospect, I wish we had just broom swept the place, as required by our lease, and been done with it. Trying to clean that house to her impossible standards was a waste of energy that took away from the energy we needed to set up our new home.

Anyway, because we were in the process of moving, we never did make it down the hill to Breckenheim’s adorable little Adventmarkt, which goes on for just one day every year. They had it last night, so we went down for a couple of glasses of Gluhwein. I got some pictures. Most of the booths were for food and mulled wine, as far as I could tell. They had waffles, crepes, and I could see the Breckenheimer bikers were selling brats off the grill. They were the ones who threw the awesome rock festival over the summer.

I love how community minded Breckenheim is. This is a community that does a lot of neighborhood events and I can see that the neighbors are friendly and social and like to do stuff together. I experienced this a lot less when we lived in the Stuttgart area. They had events, but they weren’t necessarily neighborhood events. It was also a lot harder to meet people down there because it seemed like the general mood was more reserved. I did make friends in the Stuttgart area, but it usually took more time. A lot of times, our dogs facilitated the meetings, too.

The lady who owned the dog, Sammy, was also working the Gluhwein stand. She noticed Bill’s German accent wasn’t native and quickly figured out we are English speakers. It turned out she lived in the United States for awhile and worked for Seagram, the beverage company. She came out and had a lovely chat with us on topics ranging from The Rolling Stones to Donald Trump. I found myself apologizing for our president, who is not popular over here for obvious reasons. But Germans have a laugh about that, since Trump’s origins in Kallstadt are not far from where we’re living now. Some of Trump’s poor extended relatives in Germany have been treated badly because he’s a distant relative.

Our new acquaintance from last night had plenty of opinions about American politics, which she expressed in excellent English, as well as a funny story about visiting the Jim Beam distillery in Clermont, Kentucky and being shocked that it was in a dry town. We chuckled and told her that Jack Daniel’s distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee is also in a dry town, and that folks who live there have to bring in their booze from a neighboring town that doesn’t ban alcohol.

When we told our new acquaintance we used to live in Swabia, she had a good laugh about the dialect, which even a lot of Germans don’t understand, and the stereotypes about people from Stuttgart. She said they are very good at business, since they’re very detail oriented and hate to spend money. I suppose I can agree with that, although I don’t know that being that way always leads to good business sense. Sometimes, both of those qualities are alienating and can get in the way of business. The trick is knowing when to be that way and when to lighten up and go with the flow. Sometimes a person can be “penny wise and pound foolish”.

Sammy, the dog, was incredibly adorable. His owner told us that he doesn’t like little kids and she worries that he’ll bite them. I noticed Sammy started barking whenever kids ran past him, but he was utterly charmed by the two fluffy furball puppies another family brought. I wish I had Arran with me, but he’s at the Hundepension Birkenhof today, because Bill and I have to go to Landstuhl and spend the night. Bill is having routine tests done at the hospital and I am the designated driver, because he will be under the influence of sedatives. God help us. At least we have a Volvo!

We headed back to the house when it became clear that my kidneys are in good working order. I suppose we could have gone back to the festivities and hung around for the appearance of Santa… Maybe if we’re still here next year, we’ll do that, if it’s not too cold. Last night’s weather was chilly, but not too unpleasant, but you never know in Germany. A few years ago, we had snow on December 1st. But then, that was down in Stuttgart, where things can be chillier in more ways than one!

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Jettingen who? New discoveries in nature and more Breckenheimer rock n’ roll!

Last night turned out to be unexpectedly awesome. ¬†After we came home from Idstein, we decided to hang out with the dogs for awhile. ¬†Then, at about 6:00pm, the Breckenheimer Bikers were back to continue their fest. ¬†I asked Bill if he wanted to go. ¬†He said “sure”, so we walked to the area where they had set up their booths and tables. ¬†The weather was better, so there were a lot more people. ¬†It looked like they had different food, too.

Then Bill wanted to see if there was anything going on at the Dorfplatz, which is where they always have the wine stands every other Friday night. ¬†Nothing was going on there, but we decided to keep walking. ¬†I’m ashamed to say that in seven months of living in this town, I haven’t explored it much. ¬†I don’t know why. ¬†When I was younger, I’d always walk around my new neighborhoods to make new discoveries. ¬†I usually have the dogs with me, though, and our new town doesn’t have very good sidewalks, since it’s very densely populated. ¬†I guess I figured the area was too congested for them, making it hard to dodge cars.

We walked down Dorfgasse, which is the main drag, passed the antiques dealer, a Kurheil practitioner, a pension, a bakery, an architect, and a druggist with a gynecologist’s office attached to it. ¬†Aside from the bakery and the druggist, I had no idea the other stuff was even there. ¬†We also passed a bunch of guys sitting in their garage, drinking beer, and having a party.

Then we saw a country road on the edge of the neighborhood. ¬†Yes… Breckenheim is on the edge of the country, and we discovered a large park where we can take walks with the dogs. ¬†Perhaps my days of walking them in the poo and dildo infested fields near the Autobahn and the Rewe are over. ¬†Here are some photos from our walk.

This looks familiar… our old town of Jettingen had a similar sign asking people to pick up their dogs’ crap.

Turns out there’s a pretty big walking area, complete with orchards.

There’s even a woods!

 

After a few minutes of walking, we came across a small paddock where a group of ponies were enjoying some hay. ¬†I call them ponies, but they might have been miniature horses. ¬†I mean, they’d be ponies because of their height alone, but they had the more delicate features of horses, with a lighter bone structure. I don’t have much experience with minis, although I have plenty of experience with ponies. ¬†Whatever they officially were, I was delighted to see them! ¬†I spent most of my childhood around horses and even used to have my own pony. ¬†It’s been too many years since I last had a horse in my life. ¬†They are wonderful company. ¬†I even miss their wonderful aroma.

 

One of the mares had a colt by her side. ¬†It looked like a couple of the others might also be expecting, although it’s a bit late in the year for that. ¬†They might have just been fat.

They were very friendly, although I didn’t dare try to pet them. ¬†I have a lot of experience with electric fences, too. ¬†I’m glad we walked up this way, since my dogs go nuts when they see horses. ¬†Now, if I try to walk them here, I’ll be forewarned.

The further we went down the road, the quieter and more bucolic the views were. ¬†I was reminded of the more country areas where we’ve previously lived in Baden-W√ľrttemberg. ¬†I’m really a country girl at heart, so finding out our new Hessian town has country scenes did my heart good. ¬†The one thing I’ve been missing about Jettingen are the beautiful wooded areas where I could walk my dogs. ¬†Now I’ve found Breckenheim’s version.

 

The church on the other side. ¬†I think there’s a concert there today. ¬†We might have to check it out.

 

On the way back to our neighborhood, we happened to pass by a tree as several birds of prey had engaged in what appeared to be a violent attack. ¬†I grabbed my camera and tried to film them in action, but was just a little too late to capture the fight. ¬†But then I saw something strange. ¬†A bird was hanging upside down by one talon. ¬†It hung there for an agonizing minute as we looked on, wondering if it was just stunned. ¬†I filmed the bird and my German friend told me it was an¬†Eichelh√§her, otherwise known as an Eurasian Jay. ¬†It bore a slight resemblance to our blue jays. ¬†Just after I turned off the camera, the jay lost its desperate grip on the branch and dropped to the ground. ¬†It was still alive when we left it, but I doubt for much longer. ¬†I was a little sad about witnessing that scene, but unfortunately, it’s the way of nature.

By the time we got back to our street, the fest had exploded. ¬†Most of the tables were full of people drinking beer, Sekt, Aperol spritzes, and Jack Daniels. ¬†There were several bands, all of which were quite good. ¬†Our landlord and his wife were there, having a good time. ¬†I like them both, although I haven’t really spent much time talking to them. ¬†Our new landlady doesn’t speak much English, but she’s always very friendly and seems happy to see us. ¬†The landlord seems to like Bill, and he speaks more English– likewise, Bill speaks more German than I do. ¬†We said hello and watched a few acts. ¬†The landlord said they usually do this fest every year, although some years they’ve skipped it. ¬†I’m glad we were around for it this year.

The bikers put on a hell of a party!  I remember Jettingen had events too, but none like this.  A lot of the fests in Jettingen were religious or agricultural.

Cheers!

I got video of a couple of them, which maybe I’ll turn into something I can share here. ¬†I did think to take a few pictures, especially of an enthusiastic gentleman who danced to several well covered classic rock songs. ¬†The group before the rock band consisted of four very talented men singing a cappella in surprisingly good harmony. ¬†I am myself a singer, so I know how hard to can be to stay on pitch when you sing unaccompanied. ¬†They did a really good job of it. ¬†I was especially impressed by their version of “The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond”. ¬†For some reason, Germans seem to love Scotland, just like I do… ¬†I got some raw video, which I might turn into something sharable at some point.

This guy was dancing his ass off.

This dude sounded like a mix of Bon Scott and Meatloaf.  He was singing songs by Foreigner, Billy Idol, and Bob Seger, among others.  His female partner covered a Bryan Adams song and Pink.  They were surprisingly good.

They brought up a young girl… a family member, perhaps, who joined them on the Bryan Adams number, “I Need Somebody.”

This guy was awesome.  He was inspiring people to cut loose.

We went back home and Bill cooked burgers on the new grill. ¬†The party went on down the street. ¬†At about 10:45pm, they set off some fireworks– maybe a minute or two’s worth. ¬†At about 11, the party was over. ¬†All in all, from Idstein to party time, our Saturday was amazing. ¬†I’m not sure what we’re going to do today, but we sure did have a great day yesterday!

Fireworks!

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Breckenheim bikers throw a good party!

Every time we move to a new place, I’m always intrigued by our neighborhoods. ¬†Some places have been better than others. ¬†This time around, we seem to have chosen a very social neighborhood. ¬†Last week, we had the wine stand. ¬†This week, we have a street fest that was capped off by a concert hosted by a bunch of bikers from our current hamlet, Breckenheim.

The club members all had these vests.  Most of them were very personalized.  As you can see, this group was celebrating their 20th anniversary!

If we’d wanted to, we could have just sat out on one of our balconies. ¬†The bikers had a band and were selling brats, brotchen, beer, and Jack Daniels. ¬†I loved that they all had matching leather vests with their names on them. ¬†I got the sense that during the work week, they were all working conventional jobs. ¬†On the weekend, look out! ¬†They were born to be wild!

We stayed at the fest for a couple of hours and listened to the band’s first set. ¬†Here are a few pictures.

The view from our balcony.

 
We had a little bit of rain, but the locals were prepared.  They put up a tent and, with some teamwork, were able to put it over about half of the tables.

A plane on the way to Frankfurt, no doubt.  We live about twenty minutes away.

Bill was in a festive mood.  He likes a good Friday night fest, even though he knew he needed to stay sharp because we finally got the VIN for our new car and he had to call the bank about arranging the loan.

 

Drinks were flowing… ¬†They even had four dispensers for Jack Daniels. ¬†I guess that’s a biker thing. ¬†I used to like Jack Daniels a lot. ¬†When I used to fox hunt, the master of the hounds would pass around a flask full of the stuff. ¬†I didn’t drink it then, because I was just a teenager. ¬†I don’t drink it much now, but when I was in college, I was a fan.

The brats were grilling.

Lots of people were socializing.  This looked like a very friendly group.  I like that there are so many clubs in Germany, one for every possible interest.

 

This was dinner. ¬†It was very good! ¬†I don’t usually go for brats at these events, but I think the bikers put me in the mood.

The band was also pretty swell.  They were playing all manner of hits, from well-known pop songs in English to German songs.  One lady sang a well-known Adele song; another covered Amy Winehouse.  They were quite competent and even had a sax player!

 
The crowd was into it.
 

I tried one of the Jack and Cokes. ¬†It was a lot sweeter than I remembered it, and not just because of the cola. ¬†This one was a double… ¬†I’m feeling it this morning.

 

They had lots and lots of Jack Daniels. ¬†I didn’t know Tennessee Sour Mash whiskey was so popular here.

 

After awhile, we decided to go home so Bill could attend to his loan business and I could play him a new song I discovered yesterday. ¬†I think there will be a lot of activity choices for us this weekend… lots of fests are going on right now. ¬†We’re definitely spoiled for choice!

 

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France

Fancy in Annecy… Olympic towns! part six

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.

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advice, Germany, Stuttgart, Sundays

Six miles at the B√§renschl√∂ssle im Rotwildpark and Schloss Solitude…

Although Bill and I have now lived in the Stuttgart area for almost five years, we never managed to visit the¬†B√§renschl√∂ssle im Rotwildpark or Schloss Solitude¬†until today. ¬†I wasn’t actually planning to visit there this morning, but someone in a local Facebook group mentioned it and made it sound like a great place to see. ¬†And I have heard so much about Schloss Solitude from all of the photographers who do shoots there; they always made it sound like such a beautiful place. ¬†I didn’t even know that one could walk to Schloss Solitude from the Rotwildpark until we saw a sign for it near the¬†B√§renschl√∂ssle. ¬†I did not plan to walk almost six miles this afternoon, but I sure managed to do it and had a great time in the process.

My first clear shot of the water.  It was full of huge carp, turtles, and ducks.

The Rotwildpark is a large park very near Vaihingen. ¬†There’s a beautiful lake there and many walking and biking trails. ¬†I saw plenty of people with their dogs, although we left Zane and Arran at home. ¬†I even saw a couple of dogs taking a dip in the lake, although I’m not sure if that’s verboten or not. ¬†Once we parked at one of the many parking lots– free of charge, I might add– we set off for the¬†B√§renschl√∂ssle, where we planned to have lunch.

This is where we parked… ¬†These map signs are all over the area so you’ll know where you are.¬†

 

Lots of kids were playing on these wood sculptures, which were all over the park, especially near the Bear Castle.

The¬†B√§renschl√∂ssle has a self-service restaurant where once can get sausages, pretzels, or a linsenteller. ¬†There was also a teenager selling ice cream from a small stand. ¬†I didn’t actually go into the restaurant because it was full of people. ¬†Instead, I got us a table on the balcony overlooking the water and offering a great vantage point for people watching. ¬†A lot of people were at the park today, taking advantage of the relatively sunny and warm weather we had for most of the day.

This was lunch.  It cost 18 euros for four very fresh wurst, two pretzels, sweet mustard, and two beers.  It hit the spot for our big walk.

 

A bird bravely stopped by to say hello.  This one was almost tame.  It actually took me some time to get my camera and the bird hung around long enough for me to capture an image.

After lunch, I went to the ladies room and happened to arrive there at the same time as a bunch of local women. ¬†One of them said something to me in rapid fire German. ¬†I responded in embarrassed English “I’m American.” ¬†She responded in perfect English that she thought I should go first! ¬†I was happy to oblige. ¬†And with that bit of business taken care of, we started walking along the main drag toward the castle.

As we walked along the paved main drag, I took note of the cookout and play facilities for kids.  It looked like a number of people were taking advantage of the opportunity to picnic.

 

We stuck to the main road from the Bear Castle, but I noticed there were many more rustic looking trails.  You could probably visit there several times and never do the same walk twice.  To get to the castle, you have to cross a somewhat busy intersection after you go over a bridge.  Then, you share a dirt path with many bikers and whatever animals have traipsed through and left pungent smelling calling cards.  If you decide to walk to the castle from the Rotwildpark, I recommend watching where you step.

The walk to Schloss Solitude was about four kilometers. ¬†Here’s Bill checking out the map before the driveway to Schloss Solitude.

 

This was my first time visiting Schloss Solitude, so I don’t know if today was a typical weekend. ¬†We saw several wedding parties, including one that appeared to be from India. ¬†We also saw a cute little girl having her first communion pictures taken. ¬†There’s a museum at the castle, though we didn’t check it out. ¬†I was in too much of a hurry to process the beer I had at lunchtime. ¬†We stopped in the Der Kleine Cafe for cake and a weizen.

We were in luck!

 

Many people sat outside and caught some rays. ¬†Bill and I sat inside and I got a good look at the display case full of pastries. ¬†Bill and I both had Black Forest Cake. ¬†I think it may have been the best I’ve ever had.

 

This was delicious!

 

After our cake and beer break, we walked around the grounds and I took some photos. ¬†Like I said… lots to see today. ¬†Plenty of people were there enjoying the views, green grass, flowers, and majestic architecture. ¬†For some reason, I was reminded a little of Colonial Williamsburg, even though the castle looks nothing like what you’d see in Williamsburg. ¬†I grew up near there, though, and I definitely had a sense of deja vu at Schloss Solitude. ¬†Below are some shots I got this afternoon.

I seem to have caught one couple kissing.

One of many happy dogs we saw today.

Having grown up around horses and missing them terribly now, I had to take several shots of the horses at the castle.

A duck hauls ass in the water.

Lots of people were taking pictures of their kids on the bear sculptures.

It’s not an outing if I don’t take at least picture of graffiti or stickers.

I have to confess that my feet were hurting after that walk, mainly because I need new hiking shoes. ¬†But I do feel pretty good after walking almost six miles. ¬†Bill just told me he’s feeling very relaxed after our energetic stroll in the woods. ¬†I would definitely recommend visiting this beautiful park in Stuttgart if the weather is good. ¬†We had a nice visit today. ¬†And you can’t beat the price, either! ¬†Next time we visit, we’ll have to actually tour the Schloss instead of just walking around it.

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day trips, Germany, Sundays

A beautiful Sunday afternoon in Seewald…

I’m always looking for new things to do, especially on Sundays. ¬†Today, I was inspired by the continuing beautiful weather to take a trip to a place Bill and I had never been to before. ¬†I remembered that one of Bill’s coworkers had suggested a cool Biergarten in Seewald. ¬†After searching all my bookmarks, I suggested it to Bill, who had originally planned for us to visit the commissary. ¬†I’m pretty glad I talked him out of that, especially after our little road trip today!

Although Unterjettingen is not all that close to the military installations near Stuttgart, it is in a great area for finding things to do. ¬†Yesterday’s trip to the Barfuss Park was pretty painless; it’s only about a half an hour from where we live. ¬†Likewise, Seewald is also within about a 30 or 40 minute drive. ¬†I was keen to try the Seeheiner Gasthof and Cafe. ¬†I knew the Seeheiner was next to a lake. ¬†What I didn’t know is that the Seewald is a great place to hang out, swim, boat, have a picnic, and enjoy nature. ¬†In fact, many Germans were doing just that today.

I snapped this shot as we sat at a light in Altensteig, a picturesque town we passed through on our way to Seewald.

 

As we approached the biergarten, I noticed there were many, many cars… and even more bikes! ¬†Seeheiner’s parking lot was full of motorcycles. ¬†Plenty of people were parked on the side of the road and most of the parking lots were full. ¬†Undaunted, we parked in P2, which is a lot a bit past the biergarten. ¬†We made our way there, enjoying the majestic beauty of the lake, surrounded by evergreens and full of people having fun.

A man checks out a commemorative sign…

My first unobstructed glimpse of Seewald.

Plenty of people brought all manner of boats and rafts. 

Bringing your dog?  Seewald has you covered.  Unfortunately, not everyone availed themselves of this Hundestation.

At last, we reached the biergarten. ¬†We wanted to sit outside, but every table was taken. ¬†People were especially eager to take the tables on the slowly rotating platform that offered 360 degree views of the lake and the surrounding areas. ¬†Seeheiner has lots of outdoor seating. ¬†Besides the rotating platform, there are a couple of wraparound balconies offering views of the lake. ¬†There’s also seating out front. ¬†We didn’t want to wait for a table outside, so we decided to eat inside. ¬†That was actually okay, since Bill and I drove the Mini convertible and already got some sun on the way to and from the lake.

Beer!

A shot of the rotating platform. ¬†It moves very slowly round and round…

And another shot of the bikes… Bikers obviously love Seeheiner!

It was a beautiful day!

Bill checks out the menu.

 

Seeheiner has warm food throughout the day, though some dishes are only available at certain times of the day.  If you want a traditional lunch, you should arrive between 11:00 and 2:00pm.  The food is very typical hearty Swabian cuisine.  I saw only a few options for vegetarians, though there is a menu for kids.  The wait staff was working very hard and it took some time for them to get to us.  The food turned out to be well worth the wait.  Not only does Seeheiner boast a great location, it also offers delicious food.

Bill and I both had Hefeweizens.

And we had salads, though our dishes were so large that we probably shouldn’t have. ¬†I could only eat about a third of this.

Bill had Schweinebraten. ¬†He said it was probably the best he’s ever had. ¬†I have to admit, this pork was super tender and flavorful. ¬†It was delicious!

I had fresh Nagolder trout. As you can see, it’s liberally sprinkled with toasted almond slivers and accompanied by parsleyed potatoes. ¬†The fish was also excellent. ¬†It was super fresh, moist, and flavorful. ¬†I managed to eat a little over half before I had to stop. ¬†I thought about taking it home for lunch tomorrow, but thought better of it when I realized we were going to want to walk around a bit. ¬†What a shame!

 

I noticed quite a few delicious looking desserts heading out the door… lots of ice cream creations and cakes. ¬†If we were going to be spending the night in Seewald, I might have come back later for a late afternoon sweet. ¬†As it was, we were too full to even consider having dessert. ¬†Our bill was just over forty euros.

A better shot of the sign as we were leaving.

We took a walk around the lake and I found myself wishing I’d worn my bathing suit. ¬†I have been itching to take a swim for some time now! ¬†Maybe we’ll go back next weekend, if the weather holds up for us. ¬†The following are some photos I took as we explored Seewald, a name that now means more to me than just Jessa Duggar’s new last name. ¬†ūüėČ

The Seeheiner is one of several nice looking biergartens in the Seewald area. ¬†I also noticed there were lots of people camping in the area. ¬†There is also a small snack bar near the Seeheiner for those who just want a snack and don’t want to battle crowds at Seeheiner. ¬†I also noticed a pubic restroom near where we parked.

When we got back to our car, the guy who was parked next to us had his door open, blocking me from entering my vehicle.  Bill told the guy in German that we were going to leave.  He came around and closed his door.  I got into the car.  As I put the top down on my convertible, he smiled and asked in German if we wanted to trade cars with him.  He was driving a minivan!  Nein danke!

What a beautiful day to go to the lake and enjoy the sunshine. ¬†If you’re looking for a way to spend a warm sunny Sunday, Seewald is a good bet!

But get there early… ¬†Parking is a bit tricky! ¬†At least it doesn’t cost anything!

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