Our first French Christmas, part one…

Bonjour, faithful readers. I am currently sitting in Beaune, France. We were here in this same gite (holiday home) a week ago, when we were on our way to Nimes to see my friend, Audra. Now we’re on our way back to Germany, and I have arranged to stay at the same house until tomorrow morning, provided we can get out of here due to a misfortune we encountered yesterday at a rest stop. More on that later. For now, I want to start at the beginning and explain how it was that we’ve had a “French Christmas”.

Audra is American, and we met back in 1987, when we were students at Gloucester High School in Gloucester, Virginia. We both had the same journalism and world history classes during the 1987-88 school year. When we met, I was fifteen and she was fourteen. We got to be friendly in journalism class, since it was a course that required collaboration.

It wasn’t just school that brought us together. Our dads were friends back in the day. Both were Air Force veterans who participated in singing groups in Gloucester. Audra and I are also both graduates of Longwood College, now known as Longwood University, in Farmville, Virginia. We didn’t run in the same crowd when we were at Longwood, so it’s only been within the past ten years ago, through Facebook, that we’ve become closer.

Back in May 2014, Bill and I took our third military “hop” from Baltimore, Maryland. He was on “terminal leave” from the Army, just before he retired. We landed at Ramstein and decided to travel through France by train. On that trip, which I’ve chronicled in this blog, we visited Reims, Dijon, a suburb of Lyon, Nimes, and Nice. Then we flew from Nice to Frankfurt, took a quick trip to the Rhein, and flew from Ramstein back to the States. You can find the story of that trip by searching the blog, although I haven’t yet gotten around to reformatting it since I moved my blog from Blogger to WordPress. I will fix those posts when I get home to my desktop computer. When they’re fixed, I’ll link them to this post.

We visited Audra, her then boyfriend, Cyril, and Audra’s kids during that 2014 trip. A few weeks after we got back to Texas, where we were living at the time, Bill got a job in Stuttgart, Germany. We moved back to Europe, and ever since then, Audra and I were hoping to arrange another rendezvous. A few months ago, she and Cyril, who is now her husband, invited us to spend Christmas with them. They even invited our dog, Arran.

Originally, the plan was that we’d stay at their house, since two of Audra’s children were visiting their dad. But since Audra has cats and Bill is allergic, and Arran loves to harass cats, we decided to book another gite in Nimes. Beaune, which is where I am right now, is roughly halfway between Nimes and Wiesbaden. It’s actually slightly closer to Nimes. I had originally tried to find another gite in a different city, but had difficulty finding one that offered what we wanted and was pet friendly. So here we are, once again, at Au Miracle du Pain Doré, a charming apartment within walking distance of Beaune’s lovely center.

Today’s plan was, originally, to go into town and purchase some wine to bring back to Wiesbaden with us. Unfortunately, we were victimized at the rest stop at the northbound rest stop heading into Beaune. We had stopped so I could pee and we could let our hosts know that we were almost at our destination. During what was intended to be a short stop, a lowlife criminal gouged a hole in one of our tires. So, instead of wine shopping and wrapping up what was a mostly wonderful trip to France, Bill is making a police report and trying to come up with a way to fix our car so that it will get us back to Germany. He did manage to get the tire patched, which makes me a bit nervous, since the gouge was on the sidewall. But the other option is to have the car towed home, since the local tire shop did not have the size we need and we can’t drive it with the “donut” tire spare. The closer we get to Germany, the better… I just hope we don’t have a blowout and cause an accident.

I’m pretty sure the asshole who punctured our tire was hoping to relieve us of our dirty underwear. Unfortunately, this scam is rampant in Europe. Pirates linger near high speed roads and damage motorists’ tires, then offer “help” while an accomplice steals purses, electronics, and whatever else they can find. They target tourists, especially those in rental cars. Tourists are more likely to be unfamiliar with the area, loaded with cash and valuables, and eager to accept “friendly” help. They’re also less likely to make police reports and press charges.

We were not robbed yesterday. I think the would-be crook was spooked when I stayed in the car with Arran and Bill got on the phone with ADAC, one of Germany’s auto clubs. He lingered for a moment, then vanished once Bill gave him the stink-eye. Still, he and his maggot accomplice managed to ruin a perfectly good tire that has only been on the car since July, when it was built in Sweden. And though he’s given me a new life experience and a good story for this blog, I am actually a bit concerned about our safety tomorrow. If it weren’t going to be a Sunday, I think we’d wait and try to get a new tire. If you’re the praying type and you don’t mind, please offer up a few kind words for us.


Ten things I learned in Alsace and Burgundy…

Every time I take a trip, I like to take a moment and reflect on the things I learned during my travels.  No matter where I go, I always learn something new.  On this particular trip, I learned more about French food!  But I also learned some other things that I want to share with those who read this blog. So here goes…

10.  Ribeauville is pronounced “Ribeauvillay”.

I was curious about how to pronounce Ribeauville because I noticed that all the signs showed an accent over the second e in the name.  I asked Yannick, our host at our first gite, how to pronounce Ribeauville and he helped me out.  Here’s a link to where you can hear French speakers say it.

By the same token, Alsace is pronounced “Al-zahss” (not Al-sayce).

9.  There’s an art to ordering steak in France.  

I was under the impression that in France, most people like their meat bloody.  It’s also been my impression that the French know Americans don’t always like really rare meat.  If you want to be in the know for enjoying beef in France, here’s a guide to how to order it.  I asked for medium steak twice and ended up with well-done the second time.  If I had known the French terms, maybe it would have turned out differently.

8.  The word for turkey in French is “dinge”.  Storks are a big deal in Alsace.  

And I like turkey, so that’s good to know for next time!  I never knew there were so many storks in that part of France and had not noticed them prior trips.

7.  Escargot isn’t half bad…

It’s not all bad, either.  I was pleasantly surprised by the escargot Bill and I tried in Burgundy, although I think all the garlic helped.  It reminded me somewhat of eating haggis, though, and will probably be an experience saved for special occasions.  I will say that every time I have smelled escargots being prepared, I have been intoxicated by the aroma.  They always smell delicious to me, even if the idea of eating something slimy is a bit off putting.  But, in fairness to snails, they aren’t slimy when they’ve been cooked.

6.  Kugelhopf is a tasty breakfast bread.

It’s available in Germany, too, especially close to the French border.  I’d probably still prefer croissants, but there aren’t really any bad French breads, are there?

5.  You can have a great time in a no name destination.

I say “no name”, but what I really mean is a place that isn’t on the tourist map.  Ribeauville is definitely more touristy than Saint Marcelin-de-Cray is, but I think Bill and I enjoyed the less touristy side of our trip more.  It was fun just to be in a place where we were aliens and could just soak up the atmosphere.  It was great being in what the wine seller described as “the real France”.

4. Going off the beaten path is good for the soul as well as the brain.

All week, we were challenged to learn a little bit of French.  We ran into only one group of Americans and that was on the first night of our seven night trip.  Although a few people we ran into spoke English, we had to live a bit more by our wits.  And if you read my series, you now know that can sometimes lead to eating chitterlings.

3.  Andouillette in France is NOT the same as American Andouille sausage. 

Moreover, the French also do Andouille sausage differently than the Cajun folks do.  If you are an adventurous eater who enjoys offal, it may be a thrill to try it in France.  If you’re not, you may want to be aware.  That being said, I read that Andouillette is a delicacy in Burgundy.  It’s also very popular in Lyon, which is considered France’s food city.  There’s even a club for connoisseurs.

2.  In Burgundy, if you are offered “coffee” at four o’clock, don’t be surprised if you end up with wine.

Of course, you may also get coffee.

1.  If you haven’t tried staying in a self-catering “gite” (pronounced zheet), you should give it a go.  

When Bill and I lived in Germany the first time, we pretty much always stayed in B&Bs and hotels when we traveled.  This time, because it’s not as easy to book our dogs at their favorite place, we have been taking them with us.  Our dogs are not the most polite hounds on the block, so we like to find places to stay where they won’t be disruptive to others.  Gites are great for that purpose.  I have found that France is especially dog friendly, too.  We spend a lot less money for larger accommodations where we can cook our own meals and not have to worry about disrupting housekeepers.  It’s a win/win all the way around.  I still love going to really nice hotels and being pampered, but when we bring our dogs, gites are the best alternative.  And we have met some great people that way, too.

And also great donkeys…



Alsace and Burgundy… Another trip to Cluny and having “coffee” in a wine store. pt. 8

On Saturday afternoon, we decided to go back to Cluny and try another restaurant.  Sophie, the gite hostess, had recommended a place, but we had trouble finding it.  We stopped at a different restaurant instead.  Again, I chose it after following my nose.

Au Bon Point is obviously very much a local dive.  The dining room was full when we got there and everyone looked like they knew the place and its owners.


The menu is on the wall.  This time, I was the adventurous one and Bill had a steak and fries.


We meat to have a bigger bottle of wine than this.  We did rectify the situation with a great bottle from the South of France.


Bill enjoys his “faux filet”.  The frites on his dish were outstanding… probably the best out of the entire trip.


I had shrimp in creamy risotto, with peas, carrots, and tiny pieces of jambon blanc (boiled ham).  This was a very tasty dish, but it was also super messy!  Bill laughed at me as I peeled the shrimp and got creamy risotto everywhere.


This was a delightful red from southern France, with lots of berries.  I hope we can find it in these parts.


Bill had the cake of the day for dessert.  It was apple, of course.


And I had a chocolate macaron, which basically ended up being a glorified lava cake.  I’m not a big fan of lava cakes, but I suppose I have to have one on every trip.  I think the chocolate sauce might have been Hershey’s syrup!


Because of all the wine, we capped off lunch with espresso.


Again, no one spoke English and we got a fine meal at a good price.  I think we spent about seventy euros on this lunch and left fairly satisfied.  I would go back again, although it wasn’t my favorite of all the places we tried.  I think that honor goes to Caveau Heuhaus.

After lunch, we stopped into a winestore because Bill wanted to buy a bottle of locally produced “grappa”.  Au Plaisir Dit Vin was an interesting stop, if only because the guy working there was definitely a salesman.  We picked up a couple of packs of beer from Burgundy and Bill asked about the digestive he wanted.  The man spoke English and helped him pick a bottle.  As we were paying with a credit card, I spotted a bottle of wine I wanted, so we bought that in a separate transaction in cash.

A good liquor store.

The guy then asked us if we had time for a cup of coffee.  Bill seemed reluctant, but I said yes.  So the sales dude brought out two glasses of white wine.  He explained that in France, if it’s four o’clock, a host will sometimes offer coffee and bring out wine.  That way, it’s more socially acceptable to drink before five o’clock, I guess.

As we were trying the wine, I said I tasted lime and, of all things, shortbread.  The sales guy asked me if I was Scottish.  I laughed and said, “No, I am American, but many of my ancestors were Scots.”

The salesman then asked what we were doing in the area.  He guessed maybe we were skiers, but he clearly didn’t get a good look at my ample physique.   I haven’t been on skis since I was a teenager.  We told him we’d just decided to see the area on a lark.  When we said we were staying in Saint Marcelin-de-Cray, he said, “Ah… that is the REAL France!”  Having been to a lot of France’s best known cities, I have to agree.

I am sure that if we hadn’t been interrupted by the next customers, an enthusiastic Russian couple who spoke English, we probably would have left that store with a lot more booze.  I could tell the sales guy was looking to make some money.


After walking around a bit more so Bill’s head could clear, we went back to the farm, where I took more pictures and drank more wine.

The sky was ever changing and ever beautiful.


We climbed up the tower one more time so Bill could take a look at the sunset.

Our very gracious hostess told us that she didn’t have any bookings yesterday, so we could stay as late as we wanted to.  I would have liked to have stayed longer yesterday, but we knew we had a six hour drive ahead of us.  So after a good breakfast, we packed up and cleared out by 10:00am.  We left our gite in fine spirits, as Sophie told us we’d be welcome back any time.  I promised her I’d spread the word about her lovely accommodations to all of my friends.  So I am doing that with these posts and I hope I can convince a couple of readers to take a journey into rural Burgundy and see “the real France”.

Not only is Burgundy beautiful and brimming with wonderful wines, it’s also a place where there is great hospitality.  Once again, as we said goodbye to Sophie yesterday, we felt like we’d made new friends.  That is the best part of a good trip.


Alsace and Burgundy… Animal farm and animal parts! pt. 6

I think my favorite part about our stay in Saint Marcelin-de-Cray were the animals on the farm.  I could tell they were all happy and well cared for.  I grew up riding and showing horses, so it was a particular treat to get to hang out with the donkey and horses that live on the property.  The donkey and the nanny goat both stole my heart, but I was especially fond of the donkey (whose name I think was Anton).  If you check the video below, you’ll see why.  I went around and took footage of most of the animals, but the first part of the video is probably the most entertaining.

The sights and sounds were at the farm, while the music is by a wonderful harp guitar player named Stephen Bennett, who used to play during my many dinner shifts at the Trellis Restaurant in Williamsburg, Virginia.  I will post a link to the albums the music came from, for those who want to check them out.


This donkey was my best friend!

These two were good sports when Zane and Arran came over to meet them.

Llama parents.

My dogs are not used to seeing livestock, so they barked a lot at the donkey and his Friesian horse friend.  Much to my delight, the donkey cut loose with a sassy response, which I managed to catch.

I loved this friendly goat!

Mama and baby!

Rabbits everywhere!

On our first morning at the farm, we had yet another collision with French culture.  Jean Pierre told us we could leave Zane and Arran alone in the gite if we wanted to, so we took the opportunity to go to the nearby town of Cluny.  Cluny is a very charming place, but we were there for lunch.  We made the mistake of stopping at the very first restaurant we came to that was open.  It was called Brasserie du Nord.

I shouldn’t say it was a bad place, per se.  It really wasn’t.  I did see one person leave a comment on a review in English that only the French could mess up French food.  Things got off to a shaky start when Bill misunderstood the waitress and we ended up ordering two half liters of wine.  An English speaking waiter came over to clarify and we only kept one bottle.  In retrospect, we should have definitely kept them both.

I had entrecote and frites there and they weren’t horrible, although the steak was a bit grisly and fatty.  It was also cooked well-done when I asked for medium.  But at least I wasn’t grossed out by it, which is more than I can say for Bill and his meal.  I hasten to add that it’s not the restaurant’s fault that Bill got grossed out.  You see, he fell victim to not knowing what he ordered.

Bill is a fan of spicy, smoked, cajun style Andouille sausage, which is found in Louisiana and was brought there by French people.  He thought he saw a dish with that sausage in it and was psyched that he’d be getting a treat.  He was a bit puzzled when his lunch came out and it had a very distinctive odor.  Although Bill’s people come from Arkansas and have eaten their share of exotic meats, he had never been faced with what he ordered in France… andouillette.  Andouillette is also sausage, but it’s made of chitterlings.  I should mention that in France, Andouille is also made of chitterlings.  In the USA, it’s made of pork shoulder roast.

I was pretty proud of Bill, though, because he gamely ate most of it.  And he didn’t complain too much, either.  He also ate dessert!

Cluny has a very impressive abbey.

We should have ordered more wine in light of Bill’s lunch.

Andouille… otherwise known as chitterlings.

My steak was not as scary.

Bill’s expression when he realizes what he’s eating.

I think he needed to recover.  Over Bill’s shoulder, you can see a guy wearing a hat.  We saw the same guy two days later eating at the same restaurant.  He’s obviously a very colorful regular.

I had tiramisu for dessert.

Bill had the apple tart of the day.  I think it came with butterscotch ice cream.

If you see this sign in France, take heed before you take the plunge.

Cluny offers a nice diversion.

After lunch, I think we needed to go back to the gite and process things.  So we went back and rested for awhile… and Bill digested his pig intestines along with lots more wine.


Alsace and Burgundy… Snips and snails and puppy dog tails! pt. 5

Last October, Bill and I spent Columbus Day weekend in a cute little Hexagonal Tower in a town called Semur-en-Auxois.  While I was searching for that property, I saw another gite located further south that interested me.  The place is called Gite de la Maison Bleue and it’s located in a tiny little town called Saint Marcelin-de-Cray.  Now, before we visited this charming area, we had no idea of what was in Saint Marcelin-de-Cray.  In fact, having grown up in Gloucester, Virginia, I could almost say that our visit was kind of the equivalent of a French person vacationing in my hometown.  It’s what one might call “The real France”.

Anyway, I chose this particular property because it got amazing reviews on Booking.com and the pictures of it were awesome.  Also, it’s very dog friendly, which we needed because we brought Zane and Arran with us.  When I booked the property, it was going for just 90 euros a night.  There was supposed to be a 90 euro “security deposit”, but I don’t think our hosts ever collected it from us.

To get to Saint Marcelin-de-Cray, we had to drive about four hours south of Alsace, mostly on high speed roads.  Then, we drove for another hour or so on a smaller road through many quaint towns on Burgundy’s wine route.  I would have loved to have stopped for a couple of tastings.  Maybe next time, if we don’t have the dogs with us.  Or maybe even if we do.  Sophie and Jean Pierre, the people who own the gite where we stayed, were fine with us leaving the boys alone while we went out for lunch.

We did have problems actually getting to the gite.  Our GPS was not finding the property.  We had to call Sophie, whose heavily accented English is a bit rusty.  Jean Pierre speaks no English whatsoever. Fortunately, our years of living in Germany and visiting France have made us pretty good at figuring things out.  After driving around for awhile, we finally found our accommodations at the top of a serene hill.

There’s no need to worry about parking or poop bags.  Gite de la Maison Bleue is a working farm, so there’s poop everywhere.  Animal lovers will delight in the three horses, three llamas, nanny goat, donkey, rabbits, two dogs, cat, two sheep, chickens, ducks, geese, and a pig who currently has seven little piglets.  This place is also a snail farm and in the summer, you can go and get your fill of escargot.  As a matter of fact, we had occasion to try snails during our visit.  Much to my surprise, they didn’t gross me out.  In fact, I even enjoyed them.

This was one of the two bedrooms.  We slept on this bed in the beautifully decorated room.  I’m happy to report that both beds are king sized and comfortable.  A local artist has placed a number of his pieces throughout the gite.  You can purchase them and they are reasonably priced.  I spotted a couple I wanted to buy and I will be hitting up the artist’s email and making the request.


The other bedroom, which we didn’t use.  There was a flatscreen TV in there and down in the kitchen. WiFi is free, but rather spotty.  Also, the password is the longest I have ever seen!  

The kitchen was outfitted with all you’d need, except a freezer.  I’m sure if you needed to freeze something, the hosts would oblige.  Right off of the kitchen is a terrace, where you can sit and gaze at the beautiful view pictured below.  There is also a wood chip heater, which came in handy.

A view of the super cool “tower”, which you can climb to the top of for even better views of the valley and mountains.  The shower in this place is great, too.  It has a rainfall head, as well as three jets and a handheld nozzle.

Some of the animals we shared quarters with…

This morning’s sunrise was lovely.


We had a bit of a mishap during our first night.  Jean Pierre brought over some snails for us and came into the gite to help us prepare them.  On his way out, he wasn’t quick to close the door.  Our little rascal, Zane, managed to escape.  It was getting dark out and the air was thick with new smells.  We spent about twenty scary minutes trying to round up our wayward dog.  Fortunately, Zane got distracted by a light and a big hunk of French bread.  He had it in his mouth when Bill brought him inside.  I swear Zane was smiling, too.  As much as it scares me when he gets loose, I was actually glad to see it on one level.  A few months ago, he didn’t have nearly the energy level he’s had lately.  A change of diet and some medicines have given him new life.

So these were the snails we had.  They had lots of garlic butter in them and reminded me a bit of haggis.  I probably wouldn’t order them as a matter of course, but they weren’t bad at all.

I kept taking pictures of the valley, but I don’t think I quite captured how beautiful it really is.

The boys loved the terrace, where they could hang out.  There is no extra charge for pets.  In fact, they are warmly welcomed, even if they’re loud and try to escape.  

Our hosts gave us fresh eggs from their chickens.  

I had to get a picture of the sound system.  It had a turntable and a CD player.  

This is not a great picture of the top of the tower, but it’s a super cool feature of this property.  You can look at the splendor of the countryside from every direction.

Our first breakfast.  Bill went to the next town for the croissants and clementine juice.

A picture of the house from the pasture.  The gite is attached to Sophie’s and Jean Pierre’s home, but that’s not a problem at all.  

I have much more to write about our experience in the next post.  If you’re an animal lover, stay tuned!


Alsace and Burgundy… it’s another French adventure! pt. 1

Hello folks!  I have been dying to write blog posts for the past few days, but the places we’ve been to are short on decent Internet access.  Or at least the net access hasn’t been good enough to try to do any writing.  The place where Bill and I are staying right now does not have the best Internet connections, but I am ready to write and won’t be denied.  So here goes.

Some time ago, Bill’s mother, Parker, told us she was going to come visit for a week in February.  She also said she wanted to go on a short trip to France.  Although we went to Ribeauville last month, we ultimately decided to go back there with Bill’s mom because we  knew we’d have to bring the dogs with us and Yannick, the guy who owns the gite we used, is extremely dog friendly.  Yannick runs six rental apartments in Ribeauville.  All of them are named after locally popular wine grapes.  Last month, we stayed in “Pinot Noir”, which is a one bedroom apartment.  This month, because we were planning to bring Bill’s mom, I rented “Riesling”, which sleeps six people and has three bedrooms and two bathrooms.  Surprisingly enough, the three bedroom place was not that much more expensive than “Pinot Noir” was.

Yannick also has four other apartments.  Two are studios in the building where we stayed both times. Two are in a different building very close, but overlooking the main drag through Ribeauville.  We haven’t seen the studio apartments, but we did get to see the two new ones.  They are very cool.  He’s done a great job fixing them up.

So… I rented the apartment and we looked forward to seeing Parker.  But then, she had an accident that caused her to suffer a significant leg injury.  At first, doctors thought she’d had an insufficiency fracture, but the MRI showed that what she really had was a very bad bruise.  It caused her a lot of pain and required her to use crutches, so she cancelled her trip at the last minute.

Originally, we planned to just go to Ribeauville for three nights and then come back to Stuttgart.  But then I decided we should go ahead and add to the trip.  Bill had already arranged for the whole week off so he could entertain his mother.  I remembered a very inviting looking gite I saw advertised last October.

Ultimately, Bill and I visited Semur-en-Auxois, an adorable town in Burgundy.  I remembered the runner up, though, a beautiful place in a tiny town called Saint Marcelin-de-Cray.  It was a bit further south of Dijon and Beaune than Semur-en-Auxois– closer to Macon.  The gite was called Gite de la Maison Bleue and it looked like a really beautiful place.  The price was definitely right, too.  Just 90 euros a night and dogs are accepted with no extra charge.  We booked it for the rest of the week.

So here we are… it’s Thursday and we’ve been having a fabulous time in France all week.  We’ve enjoyed local delicacies, lots of wines, and some interesting cultural exchanges with the locals, both human and animal.  While I’m sorry Parker couldn’t be with us this week, we’ve definitely had some fun and memorable times.  I hope my readers will enjoy taking the trip with us!

A rainbow in Riquewihr…


A pet friendly Columbus Day weekend in France… part six

We woke up yesterday, bright eyed and bushy tailed.  One nice thing about taking trips is that you get to go home.  I was ready to go home, although we really enjoyed our weekend in the Cote D’Or region in France.  One quirk about staying in a vacation home is that you have to do some cleaning before you leave.  Louise mentions a “cleaning service” in the guidebook she made for the Tower, but it was not offered when we booked on Booking.com.  For those who would prefer to book the cleaning service, I think it cost 50 euros.  But even if we’d booked it, Bill and I (but especially Bill) are considerate people and wouldn’t want to leave a mess.

We stripped the bed and put the towels in a pile.  Actually, it was very nice that these items were included in the price of the Tower.  A lot of times when you rent a house, you either have to rent towels and linens or bring your own.  I scrubbed the toilet and swept while Bill did the dishes.  He vacuumed the dog hair off the chairs and floor while I loaded up the car.  At about nine o’clock, after our lovely included breakfast, we hopped in the RAV 4 and headed back to Germany.  All in all, it was a very successful trip.  We came home with plenty of good wine, cheese that smells like feet, wonderful French butter and cream, and crusty French bread.

As we were saying goodbye to Louise and her hunky husband who is obviously very good with his hands, Bill said we’d be back.  I definitely wouldn’t mind coming back to Semur En Auxois at all, although it will depend on how much time we have left in Germany.  At this point, it’s a mystery how long we’ll be here.  I hope it’ll be awhile, because I still have a long list of places I want to see.

Next time, we’ll pick a weekend where we can book the dogs so we can visit some of the local attractions and restaurants more easily.  The area is chock full of museums, chateaus, abbeys, and charming places to eat and shop.  This isn’t to say that dog owners should not come to Semur En Auxois.  I consider it a very dog friendly place, especially if your dogs are less high maintenance than ours are!

Hallo Deutschland!


The drive back to Germany was pretty easy.  We had little traffic and France helpfully offers plenty of clean rest areas where one can pee for free.  We stopped at one place where they had put a banged up utility truck.  It was all crumpled like it had been in a terrible accident.  I was tempted to take a photo of it because I was curious as to why it was there.  Were they trying to warn drivers?  Was it just a place to put a badly damaged vehicle until someone could tow it somewhere else?  Enquiring minds want to know.

I enjoyed the drive through this mountain pass near Freiburg.  These two mountains reminded me of my family’s hometown of Natural Bridge, Virginia.  The only thing missing was the “bridge” connecting the two mountains.  Both coming and going, it gave me a flash of homesickness to go through this area.

Ditto to this cool cross on a little hill.  I have an Italian friend who claims Europe is full of atheists.  He may be right, but I still enjoy seeing something like this on a public road and it not being controversial like it would be in the United States.  This isn’t to say that I’m a particularly religious person.  I just like it when people live and let live.

I understand there was snow in BW while we were gone.  I didn’t see any down in France, but I did notice a splotch of white on the mountain in the distance as we were coming home.   I suppose we’ll be shoveling snow before we know it!

And finally, the ads on the door at the first pay toilet I used all weekend…  Yep, we were back in Germany, where there are no highway tolls (yet), but you will pay to pee!


Whenever I take trips, I typically do a top ten list of things I learned.  I will write that list now and then our trip to Semur En Auxois will be thoroughly explained!  Our next planned trip is next month, when Bill and I will be going to Ireland.  It will be my first time as someone old enough to remember and Bill’s second time (last time was during the 1980s, when there was a depression going on).  It should be interesting!