holidays, markets

Santa visited our little Adventmarkt while riding a motorcycle!

Every year at Advent, when the pandemic isn’t forcing everything to be closed, our little town of Breckenheim has a little Christmas Market. They only have the market for one night, and it mostly consists of local clubs selling Gluhwein, hot apple wine, beer, and funnel cakes. There are usually also a couple of little stalls selling crafts.

Four years ago, when we moved to Breckenheim, we happened to be here on the night they did the market. However, because we were up to our armpits in boxes, we missed it that year. In 2019, we made it to the market, which I remember to be a really fun time. Back then, we only had Arran, as we lost our sweet Zane to lymphoma on August 31 of that year.

In 2020 and 2021, the market was canceled because of COVID. I remember last year, we did make it to the Wiesbaden Christmas Market, but in 2021, a lot of the smaller markets were still called off because of the pandemic. This year, they seem to have come roaring back! Some people live for the Christmas Markets. I could take them or leave them, to be honest. I think they’re lovely to look at, and I enjoy the food and some of the shopping, but I don’t necessarily feel like I have to go to a bunch of them.

It was fun to go to the Advent Market last night, though. We brought Arran and Noyzi with us, because Arran seems to have been regressing a bit since he’s been getting chemo. Twice, we’ve gone out and found that he’s torn up something. I suspect it’s because the steroids make him obsess over food. He made a huge mess last week when we went to see James Taylor, and he made a more minor mess on Thanksgiving. So this time, we decided we’d just take the boys with us and give Noyzi some much needed exposure to crowds.

It was pretty chilly last night, but thanks to a new alpaca sweater from Novica and an Irish flat cap, I stayed pretty warm. Bill and I took in the sights and sounds, as we sipped mulled wine and watched lots of eager children play as they waited for Santa Claus to arrive at 5:00pm, sharp. After the Santa visit, there was a church service held at the big beautiful church by the Dorfplatz. We didn’t go to the church service because it would be in German and we had the dogs with us. But we did watch Santa come in, announced by sirens and a guy from the local biker club escorting him with his chopper.

We also ran into one of the other American families who live in our town, and we had a nice chat with them until it was time for Santa. Noyzi was pretty well behaved, although he was a bit spooked by all the kids and the noise. Arran ended up being filmed because he was barking at the huge Maine Coon cat who has adopted our village and shows up for all of the events. I don’t know who she belongs to, but she’s very friendly and doesn’t care at all about Arran’s crotchety beagle barks. I think this will probably be Arran’s last Advent Market, not that he attended a lot of them before he got cancer…

Noyzi, on the other hand, needs some training so that he can go out in public more often. He loves people and is very friendly, but he still gets pretty scared of things he’s not used to. After about an hour, though, he did calm down and seemed rather pleased with himself. Arran was over the market within a few minutes and was very happy to go home, where he could worship Bill in private.

Below are some photos and videos from our outing. We tried to stay out of trouble by hanging out on the periphery.

A very short video of Santa’s entrance and exit on a motorcycle. We didn’t get closer because of the dogs.

Edited to add: someone got a great shot of Santa…

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holidays

Mr. Bill and I celebrate 20 years of marriage… Part one

I’ve been looking forward to November 16, 2022 for twenty years. That’s the day Bill and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. As some readers already know, I am Bill’s second wife. On some levels, I would say he and I have had a fairly easy time of marriage. We get along very well, and we genuinely love spending time together. We aren’t just husband and wife; we are best friends. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t had our share of dramas.

All year, I’ve been thinking about what we should do to celebrate our big milestone. Normally, I would come up with a fancy vacation of some kind, or at least a trip to somewhere we’ve never been, even if it’s not a luxurious destination. But then in September, I discovered that our beloved dog, Arran, had swollen lymph nodes. The diagnosis was B-cell lymphoma. We are now in our last days with Arran, who is a very special family member, and has a particularly close bond with Bill.

Originally, we thought it would be best to ease Arran into palliative care, but he’s repeatedly showed us he wants to fight. So he’s now undergoing chemotherapy, which has been kind of miraculous. He started treatment October 13th, and on November 20th, he’s still happy and spunky. Nevertheless, I didn’t want to board him. For one thing, we’ve come to realize that Arran doesn’t enjoy being boarded anymore. He’d much rather be with us. For another, I didn’t want to burden the Hund Pension with dealing with his medications, which aren’t that complicated, but do involve some risk. He takes a drug that requires gloves to dispense safely, and it’s not safe for his poop to be accessible to other dogs.

Finally, when we were celebrating our tenth anniversary in Scotland, Arran’s predecessor, MacGregor, had an undiagnosed cancerous spinal tumor that caused an emergency while we were traveling thousands of miles away. I didn’t want anything similar to happen this time. We lost MacGregor a week before Christmas 2012, just a couple of weeks after our return from our big anniversary trip. Arran, who joined our family on January 12, 2013, is named after a Scottish island we saw on that first trip to Scotland.

I decided we’d spend our big day in Ribeauville, France, which is about a three hour drive from us. We have been there half a dozen times since 2017, staying in apartments owned by Yannick Kopff, a Alsatian native and excellent host. Yannick is extremely dog friendly, and since our favorite of his apartments, Riesling, was available for our dates, we decided that was a good place to celebrate. I booked four nights– from Wednesday, November 16th until Sunday, November 20th, at Yannick’s Gites au Coeur de Ribeauville.

Meanwhile, we were also looking forward to seeing and hearing James Taylor perform a concert. Originally, the show was supposed to go on in February 2022. But COVID-19 numbers were too high at that time, and there were many restrictions in place. So James decided to reschedule his European Tour dates for later in the year. In our case, the Frankfurt show was rescheduled for November 8th. Perfect– a Tuesday night, over a week before our anniversary trip.

On November 7th, we got the news that James had to postpone several concerts, including ours. He finally got COVID, and was advised to rest in Zurich, Switzerland for a few days. We watched anxiously, as four shows were eventually canceled because they couldn’t be rescheduled. However, Frankfurt’s venue was open for November 19th… last night. We were supposed to be in France last night, but we decided to come home a day early to catch James’s show… and I’m really glad we did that, because it was a great show, in spite of James’s brush with COVID.

I don’t have a lot of exciting stories to tell about our most recent trip to Ribeauville. November, just before the Christmas markets, is the “off season”. A lot of places were closed in preparation for the frenzy that is about to hit the village. I don’t know how big their market was in 2021, but I’m pretty sure it was canceled in 2020. I have a feeling this year’s markets will be bigger, and I could see that people were preparing. But, in terms of having a lot to do while we were there… I can’t say that we did. On the other hand, we did try a couple of restaurants we had never tried before, and Bill tried a dessert that is a local speciality that we never had before.

This was also Noyzi’s very first trip with us, aside from when we went to Slovenia to pick him up in 2020. Ribeauville was a good choice, because it wasn’t too far away, and because Yannick is so good with dogs in his properties. It was a fruitful trip for Noyzi, too, since he finally learned to poop while on a leash. This is a big deal, because it will make traveling with him much easier and less worrisome. Eventually, we may have to take him back to the States, which means for his own health, he needs to know how to relieve himself when he’s not frolicking in the backyard. He did seem to learn the lesson on our trip.

Aside from taking pictures of the always beautiful village of Ribeauville, binge watching Netflix and cheesy French game shows, eating lots of French comfort foods, drinking Alsatian wines, and being together, we didn’t do much on this trip. It was a good opportunity for Bill to sleep. We also picked up some gifts for his daughter and grandchildren. The beauty of Ribeauville is that we’ve been there so many times that not doing anything doesn’t seem too much like a hardship. By now, the village feels like a second home, even if our last visit was in January 2020.

So… over the next couple of days, I’ll write up this trip and James Taylor’s concert. I don’t think I’ll binge write today, because frankly, I just don’t feel like it. The weather is kind of crappy and I feel like hibernating. But we had a great time, and I’m grateful we could do it. I hope we can do it again.

If you’re interested in reading about our latest trip to France, I hope you’ll watch this space for updates… Meanwhile, here’s a video I made a few days ago in honor of our anniversary and James Taylor’s show. He didn’t do “Secret O’ Life” last night…

This song has really grown on me over the years. It seemed like a good one for 20 years of marriage…

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Christmas, fests, friends, Germany, markets, Wiesbaden

Wiesbaden Christmas Market 2021

My friend Priya, her husband Ron, and our new friend, Heather, came up to Wiesbaden from Stuttgart yesterday. They asked Bill and me to join them at the Wiesbaden Christmas Market. The markets down near Stuttgart have mostly been cancelled, due to rising COVID-19 infections, but there are many towns in other states that are having smaller versions of their markets. Priya and Ron have been making their way to a number of them.

I was glad they invited us to join them. I had been wanting to to go the market, but was having trouble with motivation. The weather hasn’t been nice lately, and the COVID rules can be onerous. But thanks to our friends from Stuttgart, we managed to have a great time. It was quite a shock to hang out with people again. We were all laughing about the erosion of social skills that has happened since March 2020.

After a few hours and too much wine and beer, we said our goodbyes. Priya, Ron, and Heather went on to visit the market in Mainz. Bill and I went home to feed the dogs.

For some reason, the connection on this site is excruciatingly slow today. I’ll have to keep the commentary to a minimum. I also can’t delete the photos, so there are a few that look like repeats. I’ll try to fix these glitches later.

A good time was had by all!

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anecdotes, dogs, friends

Make new friends, lose the old…

This weekend has been a bust in terms of fun stuff. Although Christmas markets in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg have been canceled, the one is Wiesbaden is apparently still on. We got some sun yesterday, but I was waiting for a package that didn’t arrive until late afternoon. Also, I had a feeling that attending the Christmas market would be more of a hassle than I cared to experience. Even before COVID-19 was an issue, I was never one to enjoy crowded fests. We did attend a lot of them in the past, but I am not a freak about them, like some people are.

A lot of places in Germany are now employing 2G plus measures, meaning that a person has to be either fully vaccinated or proven recovered from the virus, and even then, they have to get tested. I am fully vaccinated, but it’s about time for a booster. So we stayed home yesterday. Today, the weather is crappy, so I don’t feel like walking around outside, and I don’t feel like dealing with face masks indoors. I don’t know if we’ll go out today, but I tend to think we won’t. It’s already two o’clock, and it’s dark and cloudy outside. I can stay in my warm house, listen to cheesy soundtracks from 80s animated films, and write blog posts… no need for vaccine certs or face masks… or a bra.

Last night, a topic entered my head that I thought might be a good one for this blog. Originally, this blog was supposed to be a travel blog, but COVID-19 has made traveling harder. So now, it’s more of an American’s “life abroad” blog. And there’s something I’ve noticed after living abroad a few times. It’s that friendships don’t always survive the move back stateside.

At this point, Bill and I have lived in Germany this time for just over seven years. During that time, I’ve only been “home” once. Because we’re here with the U.S. government/military, I’ve seen a lot of people come and go. I sort of made “friends” with some people. And the vast majority of those friendships have now ended as those people have moved on with their lives.

I noticed the same thing happened in Armenia. I made friends with people there– other Americans– and once we no longer had Armenia in common, the friendship fizzled. Now that I think about it, this happens a lot even if you don’t live abroad. How many people were you once friends with at a job or in school that you never talk to anymore? Before social media existed, it happened all the time. Then, when we had Facebook, or its predecessor, MySpace (which I rarely used), suddenly we were “friends” again with people we hadn’t seen since 4th grade. Gradually, some of those connections faded for any number of reasons.

I guess it seems stranger that it happens when you meet people while living abroad. For many people, it’s a life changing event to move to another country. I know that every time I’ve done it, I’ve changed and grown in immeasurable ways. In some cases, it’s made it hard for me to relate to people with whom I used to identify a lot more strongly. For instance, there are certain friends and relatives with whom I probably can no longer discuss politics or religion. In the case of my relatives, they’ll always be family. There’s always a chance we’ll meet again… maybe at a funeral or a wedding or something. Friends, on the other hand, are more likely to fade away permanently.

I’m always a little bit sad when I lose contact with someone I once called a “friend”, even if they were just a social media friend. Maybe younger people have less of a problem with it than I do. I grew up at a time when friendships meant more. Or maybe it just seemed that way. We had fewer friends, because those relationships had to be cultivated in person. Now, you can be “friends” with anyone, anywhere in the world. In some ways, that’s a great thing. I have some dear friends that I have never met offline. And I have other friends I used to party with who are now in my past.

I decided to write about this today because I realized, with some sorrow, that I don’t even really want to try to make friends with people anymore. I don’t want to connect with someone, only to have the relationship eventually fizzle out. That’s kind of a bleak way to look at things. I’d rather not be so cynical. But I also really try to be a good friend, even if I can sometimes be a bit slow to trust people. That comes from being burned multiple times. It also comes from the idea that a lot of people don’t know how to take my personality. Maybe that’s why I’m so much more comfortable with dogs and horses.

Speaking of dogs… our Noyzi has really started to integrate into the family now. He likes to hang out with me on a little rug by our bed. I had originally put it there for Zane, to give him traction when he jumped on the bed. Now, it’s Noyzi’s little spot when I watch TV, as you can see in the featured photo. Sadly, the man who rescued him got angry with me a couple of months ago, because I didn’t want to get involved in a fundraiser he was trying to organize. I felt it was not a wise thing for me to do, because he didn’t seem to have the fundraiser set up completely, and some of his practices seemed kind of sketchy to me. He got angry with me and blocked me on Facebook, which makes me sad.

Even today, I was thinking about what a miracle it is that Noyzi was found by this man in Kosovo. If it wasn’t for him, Noyzi would, at best, still be living on the streets in Pristina. But he’s here in Germany, giving and receiving a lot of love. He was even named by this young man in Kosovo and I kept the name, though I would have made a different choice if I had been the one to name him originally. I would have liked to have been actual friends with this man, who gave us such a gift. But it didn’t work out, because I didn’t want to bend to his will. He accused me of “playing games”.

I realize I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, but I truly don’t go out of my way to screw over anyone. I don’t try to annoy or offend people. I’m just who I am, which is apparently too much for some people.

Lately, I’ve realized that living over here can be kind of lonely. I do miss some of my family members, although I doubt most of them miss me. I don’t know if or when we’ll be going back to our roots, but even if we did, I don’t think it would be the same… and I would probably just want to move again. Moving to the States with Noyzi would be quite a project, so I am hoping we can put it off for awhile.

Anyway… this turned out to be more of an introspective and joyless post than I intended it to be. I guess I’ll close this post and go hang out with Bill, who has already been in here twice to talk to me, even though he knows I’m writing. We have chicken and homemade rolls to eat. Last night’s dinner was definitely a better effort than our Thanksgiving dinner was. Hopefully, the holiday spirit will kick in… maybe I will even be arsed to go to a Christmas market before they all get canceled.

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Christmas, Germany

Our halls are decked again…

I didn’t do any writing yesterday because I wanted to put up the Christmas crapola. I usually put them up around Thanksgiving, but one of our neighbors already has up their Christmas lights. I like the way the lights look and didn’t feel like waiting. So I hauled our two trees up the steps from the basement and did the yearly decorating ritual.

Christmas in Germany is usually kind of a magical time of year. There are usually markets, which have rides, ice skating, food, and lots of unique gifts for sale. This year, thanks to COVID-19, the markets won’t be happening. Wiesbaden won’t have its adorable market in the big square, pictured above. Our little town of Breckenheim won’t have its one night event where everyone gathers for Gleuwein (hot mulled or spiced wine) and Lebkuchen (gingerbread). I suppose some people will still do that privately, but one of the nicest things about living in Germany is the community spirit here. I love going to fests and seeing people enjoying themselves. Thanks to the virus, we can’t this year. Just across the Rhein River in Mainz, though, there is hope for a new vaccine that will help us get back to living.

I have not left our neighborhood since early October. I don’t even remember the last time I was in downtown Wiesbaden. I’m reminded of the first time we lived in Germany and almost never visited downtown Stuttgart. I never even got a good look at that city during the first two year stint we spent in Germany from 2007-09. Now, I know Stuttgart pretty well, thanks to all of the traveling and exploring we did when we lived there the second time.

Last night, I told Bill that I would probably spend some money this year on Christmas. Last year, we spent money because we traveled to Nimes in France to see my friend Audra, and her family. This year, we can’t travel, so maybe it’s time I bought some stuff that make being at home better. I’m sure the economy could use the stimulation.

Here are a few photos from yesterday’s decorating drill…

Why do I have two Christmas trees? It’s because when we moved to Germany in 2007, I somehow forgot to pack our Christmas decorations. We ended up buying a fake tree at the PX in Stuttgart. That little tree, which really should be plenty for a couple like us, has followed us around ever since. I remember it was pre-lit with 220 bulbs, which I cut off when we moved to Georgia in 2009. Then when we moved to Texas, we got rid of our original tree, which I bought from Rose’s discount store in Fredericksburg, Virginia (we were broke in 2002). I got the new tree– the lovely fake Costco version which is so much easier to put together because the branches don’t detach.

I have never had a “real” Christmas tree. Mom didn’t like them because they were messy. I also used to love decorating for Christmas, but now I can see why Mom gave me that job when I was growing up. It’s tiresome, especially when it’s only for us. However, I do like to look at the lights. Mom also ran her own cross-stitch, needlepoint, and knitting business in Gloucester, Virginia, which she’d have to decorate for Christmas. She’d get a florist to come to our house and put up real pine garlands on our porches and hang pine wreaths. It was very pretty, but I’m sure it was expensive and exhausting, too. Incidentally, my mom made our stockings, too, although we never bothered to hang them when I was a kid. I can remember some years, my mom had me wrap my own presents! And I actually suck at wrapping presents, so they looked pretty terrible.

I guess it makes sense that I’d be kind of spiritless at Christmas. My mom always treated the holiday like a chore. She was also a musician, so she’d be busy playing Christmas music at church or with other ensembles. My dad was always in different singing groups, too. The holiday season was very busy for them, and probably wore them out, thanks to their businesses (dad’s picture framing and art selling business complimented mom’s). I would like to enjoy Christmas more, but for many years ,it was a source of angst for a lot of different reasons. But I do like the music and the lights… and this year, I will miss the markets very much.

Well… I may not catch the Christmas spirit this year, either… unless you count the spirits in Harris Gin. But at least the lights are pretty to look at, and we have Noyzi to help us celebrate. Noyzi was more upset about the unfamiliar boxes in the living than the trees. Go figure that dog!

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Our first French Christmas, part three…

Sunday morning, we awoke to rainy skies and wind that made the shutters clatter against the gite. I am not a fan of walking around in rain, but when the skies finally cleared, Bill and I decided to head into town. Arran protested loudly when we tried to leave him alone, so we took him too. Au Miracle du Pain Doré is a very short walk from town, so we enjoyed a good stroll to Beaune’s center. A small Christmas market was going on, and we got to try salami and Bill tried cheese. I was tempted to get some of the salami, but Bill worried about how it would fare during our trip to Nimes. I think if the market is still going tomorrow, maybe we’ll pick some up.

Arran met a couple of dogs who appeared to be truffle hunters. The market actually had a small booth dedicated to truffles and they had pictures of the dogs they use to find them. I don’t get the appeal of truffles at all. I wish I did, since people who love them make them sound so good and worth the money. Unfortunately, most things fungal make me want to run away screaming.

After we walked around, admiring the cheeses, homemade sausages, breads, and mulled wines, we noticed some stores were open, even though it was Sunday. Then, we ended up eating at what, according to Trip Advisor, might be one of Beaune’s worst restaurants. Fortunately, we had a good experience there. The weather wasn’t too bad, so we sat outside with Arran at La Concorde, which offers all meals at apparently most times.

This song was playing at the market. I first heard it on National Lampoon’s European Vacation circa 1985. 80s music was big last Sunday.

I was surprised to read the poor reviews of this restaurant. I had fish n’ chips and Bill had a burger with Epoisses cheese, and we shared a carafe of wine. The waiter was a bit slow to greet us, but he was charming and charmed by Arran. I think a lot of complaints seem to come from a three course deal they offer and confusion over the bill. We didn’t have a problem, although perhaps the prices were higher than they should have been. I was just glad Arran behaved and wasn’t freaking out about the other dog sitting at the table next to us. The French lady enjoying lunch, complete with escargots, was complaining about the bill.

Beaune is very cute, easy to walk, and has lots of food and retail shopping… and I think we’ll be back again, despite the asswipes at the rest stop who fucked up our tire. I noticed some wine stores I wanted to check out last week. Now that we are stranded, maybe we’ll drop in tomorrow… if they’re open this week, too.

Another discovery I made just now is that Aldi has partnered with Trader Joe’s, which I guess must be part of the Aldi group. We got cashews with the Trader Joe’s logo. If Trader Joe’s is in France, it would be worth it just to come back for that. I’m dying for some of their frozen “crack” n’ cheese, which is even better than mine is.

On Monday last week, we checked out of Beaune and made our way to Nimes… what this whole trip was about… to see my friend and “sista” Audra. But clearly, our adventures in Beaune are still going. More on that as the story evolves.

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Christmas

Wiesbadener Weihnachtsmarkt 2019

Bill and I were determined to get out of the house today, even though the skies were cloudy. It was a bit warmer today than it was yesterday and we wanted to pick up a few Christmas gifts and get some lunch in town. After a quick walk around the market and the weekly farmer’s market, we stopped by Ristorante Comeback, an Italian place on Wiesbaden’s “restaurant row”. Having tried La Cantinetta, the Italian place next door, we were eager to try a new place.

Ristorante Comeback was pretty busy, and it was warm enough that some people sat outside. We decided to sit inside, although it was pretty crowded in there. The waiter offered us English menus after hearing us speaking our native tongues, but we told him we could manage with the German menus. After five years, we can do that much, right? Here are a few photos from lunch. We both had special pasta dishes that were heavy on foam.

The waiter spoke English well and took good care of us. We rewarded him with a generous tip, for which he offered sincere thanks. I’d go back to Comeback Ristorante, although on a busy day, I think I’d rather sit outside. It was pretty chummy in the dining room. Our bill came to 55 euros and consisted of the pasta dishes, a bottle of San Pellegrino, and two glasses each of red wine. They also brought out hot, homemade bread, which was very nice.

After lunch, we did our shopping, enjoying the festive sights and sounds of Wiesbaden during the holidays. I think I prefer the market up here to the one down in Stuttgart, which was always very crowded and zoo-like. Here are some photos from our visit. We got some gifts for friends, but I saw quite a few things I wanted for myself. We may have to go back next week with more euros.

I’m not usually all that keen on Christmas markets because they’re so crowded and people don’t watch where they’re going. I like Wiesbaden’s market, though, because there’s a big space for it and the crowds aren’t so obnoxious. It’s also very festive and people are upbeat. There were quite a few buskers out, too, including one band that appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent. They played “Feliz Navidad” (which Germans seem to love for some reason) and a not quite accurate version of “Jingle Bells”. But what can we say? I don’t think it’s their holiday. I give them mad props for effort and being entertaining. I hope they brought in some euros!

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Uncategorized

Big business in Poland, part ten

At last, it was Friday… the last day of my husband’s big Polish business trip. It promised to be a weird day, since our flight didn’t leave until 7:00pm and check out at the Sofitel was at noon. Fortunately, the staff at the Sofitel granted Bill’s request for a late checkout, so we had use of the room until 3:00pm, even though the hotel was booked. As it turned out, I didn’t need the room beyond noon. The weather was nice, so I decided to walk around the main square and check out the Christmas market, which opened that day. I dropped off a bag with the hotel staff and set out on my last Polish adventure.

First, I was going to have lunch. Originally, I thought I’d go back to the Doctors’ Bar, but for some reason, they appeared to be closed on Friday. Maybe they had a special event, since it looked like it was open, but the door was locked. So then I decided to find another place, which took some time, since I couldn’t decide what I wanted. I hate eating in restaurants alone, because I feel awkward. Eventually, I ended up at a place called Steak ‘N Roll, which appeared to be a steak joint loosely modeled after the Hard Rock Cafe.

There wasn’t any rock star memorabilia on the walls or gimmicky cocktails on the menu, but they were playing rock music on the sound system as they showed unrelated muted rock videos on the monitor. The music and videos were reminiscent of Hard Rock Cafe… and, in fact, I think the music was my favorite part about the experience, which ended up being kind of disappointing.

A tall young man invited me to sit down and handed me a menu in English. I asked him for a large draft beer. He said all they had was dark beer, which was fine with me. He went to get the beer and set it down, then asked if I was ready to order food. I wasn’t, because I was having trouble deciding what I wanted. I kind of didn’t want another burger, but it was either that, a Reuben sandwich, or a steak. They had other stuff on the menu that didn’t really appeal… salads, soups, fish bowls, and such.

I wasn’t sure I wanted a steak for lunch, and didn’t know if I had enough cash, although they do accept credit cards. I don’t really care for Reubens because of the sauerkraut, which I knew would result in a very windy flight. I just wanted a sandwich, and nothing jumped out at me as especially appealing. I asked the guy for another minute or two, which seemed to put him off a bit, even though there was only one other party in the dining room.

After a couple of minutes, the waiter came back and asked for my order. I decided to have the Classic BBQ burger, which consisted of a patty with cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, BBQ sauce, and mustard seed mayonnaise. This is not really the way I like my burgers, but the only other regular burger choice was the Alamo Burger, which came with mustard seed & mayonnaise sauce, nachos, cheddar, bacon, tomato salsa, jalapeno, and lettuce. That sounded like a recipe for indigestion. Or I could have had a vegan burger, which came with goat cheese, lavender mustard, rucola, beetroot, and nuts… and that didn’t appeal to me, either. Side note: wouldn’t goat cheese render that burger non vegan?

Once I ordered, the waiter came back with a basket of grilled bread and a side of truffle spread. I’m sure a lot of people love the truffle spread and, in fact, Bill probably would have eaten all of it if he’d been with me. Unfortunately, I have a demonic hatred/phobia of mushrooms and truffles. Just having that spread near me was giving me the willies. I don’t enjoy the aroma of truffles, either, so I left the spread untouched and pushed it far away from me. I know a lot of people think this is crazy. Believe me, my life would have been so much easier if I didn’t hate fungus so much.

Finally, the burger arrived, along with a side of steak fries, which looked really good. However, just like the burger I’d had earlier in the week, the sandwich was too big to bite into. I had to cut it, which made a bit of a mess. Also, they had really slathered on a ton of the mustard seed mayonnaise, so much so that it was dripping copiously from the side in big glops. I don’t know what the deal is with mayo in parts of Europe, but I’ve found that people over here seem to love it and really load their burgers up with it.

I didn’t think the burger was as good as the one I’d had at Doctors’ Bar. The patty didn’t taste very fresh and had been molded, rather than hand shaped. The steak fries looked appealing, but had kind of a weird aftertaste, like maybe the were fried in old oil or something. As I was finishing up, the waiter asked me if I wanted dessert. They had a three items that looked appealing, but I decided I’d rather have another beer. By that point, they also had a lager, which the waiter offered. I told him I wanted another dark beer. I got up to go to the bathroom and when I came back, I found that he’d left me a small beer, even though I’d said I wanted another one and meant I’d wanted one just like the one I was drinking.

So I decided to just finish up and get out of there. I asked for the check, which the guy brought to me. The total was 61 zloty, so I put down a 100 zloty bill and asked him to bring me 30 zloty back. Instead, he brought back the whole amount and said, rather curtly, “Here’s the rest of it.” I kind of sighed and gave the guy a ten zloty note and went on my way. He did kind of smile at that. It occurred to me that he probably didn’t want the coins… who knows? The experience left me in kind of a bad mood, though. I wished I had just eaten shashlik at the stand in the Christmas market that was set up just outside. I probably would have had a better experience.

After I ate, I had a couple of hours to kill. I walked around the main square and took pictures of the Christmas market stalls I’d watched workers constructing all week. I’m glad I got to see them open before we left, although I didn’t end up buying anything. There was nothing there that I couldn’t live without and/or couldn’t buy in Germany. Still, the Christmas markets are kind of cool, and it was interesting to see one in Poland. Here are some photos.