Lunch in lovely Hofheim!

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We have pretty weather today, so Bill asked me if I wanted to go out. I did want to go out, as I have a bad habit of being reclusive when I should be out enjoying Germany. Unfortunately, Aunt Flow showed up this morning… about a week delayed. I was hoping for a reprieve but– NOPE– no such luck. It always happens on a Saturday, too.

Anyway, I mention Aunt Flow only because we were on our way to Hofheim in my Mini Cooper convertible (which really needs to be driven more), when I realized I had forgotten to arm myself with the necessary feminine hygiene supplies. Fortunately, Hofheim has a very nice Edeka located in a shopping mall that has a nice parking garage with low rates. We parked there, stopped by the store, visited the restrooms (50 cents), then took a stroll through Hofheim, which is one of the nicest towns near where we live.

A few months ago, when we tried and failed to adopt a dog from a German pet rescue, I joined the Wir in Hofheim Facebook group. It was one of many groups I joined in an attempt to try to locate the dog we hoped to adopt who escaped from his pet taxi as he was being unloaded. Unfortunately, the dog met an untimely end on the Autobahn, but I stayed in the groups, anyway. The Wir in Hofheim group is one of my favorites. I regularly follow it, because there’s a lot of helpful information in it and the people are very nice. It was from that group that I got the idea to go to Hofheim.

It’s not that we hadn’t been there before. Bill and I visited the outskirts when we first moved up to the Wiesbaden area and ate in a now defunct Italian place. Bill also visited the town to get take out for us when the COVID-19 restrictions were very strict. Unfortunately, one of the places we discovered in the spring, Blanca Bistro, is now closed. We passed by there today on our way into the old town. I was sad to see it sort of abandoned… there’s still liquor and glassware in there, and signage is still up, but the restaurant stopped serving food a couple of months ago. Several places have had to close due to COVID-19, including the excellent German place near our house. We only ate there one time because it was always packed! But it couldn’t keep going during the pandemic.

We did manage to find lunch, though. We ate at Ristorante L’Opera, an attractive establishment in a little alcove on the main drag. No one else was there when we arrived at about 12:30pm, but we were soon joined by a German couple who enjoyed smoking.

Bill filled out the contact tracing paperwork and the waiter handed us the laminated menus, obviously much abbreviated compared to normal. There were still a few dishes that were attractive, as well as some specials that were advertised on a sandwich board by the passage. Unfortunately, the uncomfortably narrow chairs, which are the kind often found at gelaterias, reminded me that I probably ought to cut back on my groceries.

I don’t usually get pizza in Germany, mainly because it’s always more than I can finish and I don’t always like the kinds of pizzas that are available. I will say that today’s pizza was excellent. I especially enjoyed the crust, which was absolutely perfect! I’m sure they have a pizza oven to get such perfection. Light, yet chewy with a slightly crisp crust, delicious mozzarella cheese, and a light layer of tomato sauce made that very simple pizza creation a delight! And I even skipped the meat.

Bill enjoyed the pulled pork sandwich, which had a housemade bun. He especially liked the slaw, though. Bill likes cabbage very much. I noticed he cleaned his plate, while I had leftovers, which our attentive server was happy to wrap up for later.

The bill for lunch came to about 41 euros. Bill gave the guy 45, and we took a walk around the town. Hofheim is maybe nine kilometers from where we live, but it’s very charming. We probably ought to visit more often, if only because we like the Edeka better than Rewe.

Anyway… it wasn’t long before we needed to head home and rescue Arran from his loneliness. Although Hofheim isn’t a substitute for some of our favorite little towns in Baden-Württemberg, like Nagold, Esslingen, Ludwigsburg, and Tübingen, it’s not a bad place to spend a couple of hours. There are several nice restaurants there, charming ambiance, places to shop, and enjoy the last days of summer. I’m glad we took the time to go there today… and for any readers who are looking to move to Wiesbaden, this is one town I would recommend seeking a home nearby. It’s a very pleasant little hamlet.

Big business in Poland, part three

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We landed in Wroclaw a little bit late on Sunday afternoon. Our flight was delayed by about a half hour. I was feeling grouchy because, once again, we didn’t eat before we traveled and I wasn’t wanting the cheese sandwich being passed out on the plane. Fortunately, getting out of the local airport was a breeze. Wroclaw has a small but very modern airport, and it was super quick getting out of there. The cab driver spoke English and whisked us to the Sofitel Wroclaw, which was one of the hotels authorized for this trip.

As we drove into town, Bill and I marveled at how much more upscale things are looking in Poland. We knew they were coming up in the world during our last visit in 2008, but we were especially impressed by how clean and modern things are looking in 2019. It’s hard to believe that when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer from 1995-97, Poland was a Peace Corps country. I could have easily spent two years in Poland teaching English which, by the way, just about everyone seems to speak almost fluently! We did not have that experience in Poland even in Wroclaw back in 2008. In fact, Bill and I still laugh about how, while visiting Jelena Gora in 2008, we stopped at a McDonald’s and no one there spoke any English. We had to use a picture menu to get what we wanted. This time, I have yet to encounter anyone in this town who doesn’t speak English as well as I do. Here’s a link to a story by an older Peace Corps Volunteer who served as an English teacher at the end of the Peace Corps’ time in Poland. I must admit, I could relate to his experiences, even though I was in Armenia and quite a bit younger.

Another thing I noticed, besides the excellent English skills, is that this town is full of Americans. I’m not sure if all of them are here at the same conference Bill is, but I have heard plenty of folks speaking English with an American accent. In fact, a lot of them were on the same flight we were on Sunday afternoon.

A Polish soldier was sitting at a table checking people in to the conference, so Bill approached her after he checked us into the hotel. Our room this week isn’t nearly as luxurious as the Jumeirah Hotel was, but it’s also not nearly as expensive.

After we dropped off our bags, we headed across the street for food. Wroclaw has several Georgian restaurants, including one called U Gruzina, which is supposedly fast food. I adore Georgian food, so Bill and I went in there for some substantial eats. The place was packed, so we sat at a low level table in the corner, ordered a bottle of Saperavi, and some Georgian specialties. I had Chinkali, which are basically sack shaped dumplings filled with spiced meat or cheese. They’re also very popular in Armenia, as is Khatchapouri, which is what Bill had. They had several varieties at U Gruzina. He chose one stuffed with cheese, potatoes, and bacon. I am a little shy when it comes to cheeses from Transcaucasia, since a lot of them are strong. The cheese at U Gruzina was mild… almost a bit like mozzarella.

Dinner was surprisingly economical I think we spent 125 Zloty before the tip, which is about $32. Tips are appreciated here. Most folks give at least ten percent for good service.

We walked around the big square after dinner, where preparations for the Christmas markets have been going on all week. They’re just about finished setting up as of today. Too bad we’re going to miss it. I did get some pictures on Sunday night, as well as a street performer who was eating and breathing fire most impressively. When I am back at my big computer at home, I’ll make a video and share part of his performance here.

After we walked around a bit, we stopped by a bar called Literatka. They seem to specialize in coffee, cocktails, and vaping. Fortunately, the vaping and smoking went on behind a glass wall. We had a few cocktails and listened to 80s era music. For some reason, they seemed to enjoy using passion fruit in their drinks. They were okay, but I was more impressed by the heavily pierced and tatted out waitresses, as well as the rather disappointing toilet. Ah well, it was a nice welcome to Wroclaw. The bartender spoke English and was very cute and elfin looking. She probably makes good tips.

More in the next post!

From Wiesbaden to wine, women, and Worms…

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We had nice weather today. It was the first nice, warm, sunny day in about a week. Or, at least the day started out nice, anyway. We have clouds right now. At about 11:30am, I asked Bill if he’d like to go do something. He said he would. I’d been wanting to visit Worms, a well touristed city in Rheinland-Palatinate, maybe an hour’s drive from Wiesbaden. So we beagle proofed the house, got in the trusty Volvo, and headed to the city of slimy critters.

Crossing the Rhein River into Worms… this is the  Nibelungenturm, built by architect Karl Hoffman’s, whose handiwork can be spotted all over the city. It’s pretty cool!

By the time we got to Worms, I was hungry. It was about 12:45pm when we parked, and then because Bill parked in an outdoor parking spot at Das Wormser, he only got an hour. It was long enough for me to take this photo of yet another one of Germany’s provocative ads. Well, it would be provocative in the United States, for sure…

Netto is a discount market… I guess the wardrobe budget was cut for this ad. 😉

So we made a quick trip to the Wormser Dom, the big Catholic church where Martin Luther was condemned as a heretic. More went on there, of course, but since I am neither a Catholic nor a student of history, I can’t write authoritatively on the cathedral, except to mention that it had a lofty history before it was reduced in status to a parish church. When you come to Worms, you’ll see it easily on the horizon, and it begs a visit. I got a few photos, which I noticed made Bill tear up.

And a few shots of the other side, which is where the main entrance is.

After we took a walk around the cathedral, Bill moved the car into the inside of the garage at Das Wormser, and we headed back into the city in search of lunch. By that time, I was pretty hungry and getting a bit grouchy. But I still managed to take a few more pictures, which because of Apple’s latest update, Catalina, are a bit of a pain in the ass to upload.

Finally, we ran across a restaurant that was still open, even though it was about 2:00pm. Die Pfälzer stays open for lunch until 2:30pm and they were able to help us out with some tasty, high quality food. I was definitely feeling better after a healthy lunch of salmon, spinach, and boiled potatoes washed down with wheat beer, although this restaurant is known for its wines. Bill had grilled wurst with sauerkraut and fried potatoes. There was a table full of Americans in there and I was reminded of how loud my countrymen can be. But overall, it was a nice, economical experience…

After lunch, we headed back toward the Marktplatz and stopped into the Evangelische Kirche– that’s the protestant church in town. It was impressive on the outside, but looked a bit refurbished on the inside, circa 1960 something.

We walked out of the church to discover a wine bar set up outside. Naturally, I couldn’t resist a glass for the road. I drank most of Bill’s too, since he was driving. I love this about this part of Germany. You can go to any town and find neighbors socializing over wine. I don’t remember seeing this in the Stuttgart area. Down there, it’s more beer and less hanging out… but I like Stuttgart too, for many other reasons.

Last night, we went to our neighborhood wine stand. I got a few photos of that, too. We ended up chatting with our neighbor, Uli, who speaks English fluently and has a horse and a cool dog named Levi that she adopted from an American soldier who went to Iraq. I love Levi… and Uli says if we’re ready for another dog, she can help us get one. Something tells me we might not be a three member family for the rest of our time here.

Photos from last night’s fun… one of our neighbors who had seen us at earlier wine stands came over, welcomed us in German, and said it was wonderful we were hanging out with them. Americans could learn a few things from Hessians.

I really hope I get the hang of Catalina soon… or they do something to fix the many glitches in the new system. Otherwise, future posts might be lighter on photos. But so far, our holiday weekend has been good. It’s hard to believe a year ago, we came to Wiesbaden for the first time to look for a place to live. Time flies when you’re still having fun!

Fancy in Annecy… Annecy part deux! part seven

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Although I had entertained thoughts of visiting Italy while we were down in southeastern France, the huge traffic jam we saw going into the tunnel that leads there made me think better of going there.  Going to Italy would have meant another trip through the fabulous but treacherous mountain pass that gave Bill white knuckles.  So, instead of looking for another nearby town, we decided to go back to Annecy.  Maybe we’d take a lake cruise.  It would also give us the opportunity to visit the chateau, which offers museums to explore.

Sunday morning view!

Well, it turned out that visiting Annecy on a beautiful Sunday was an exercise in frustration.  Annecy was absolutely flooded with people.  The lunch cruise was completely booked and we struggled to find parking.  We walked through the fresh market again, but it was very difficult because there were so many people.  Bill was getting nervous about all the people crammed into the walkway.  It was like being stuck in a stampede.

Nevertheless, we did get a chance to visit Annecy Castle, which required walking up a hill.  We also happened to visit there on the first Sunday of the month, so admission was free of charge!  I was glad to see that a lot of the signage offered English translation, so we didn’t have to guess too much about what we were seeing.  One thing to mention is that the castle isn’t really a castle per se, as much as it is a group of museums.  To be honest, I only saw the museum about the lake.  Except from June until September, the castle closes from 12-2 pm and everybody gets kicked out so the staff can go to lunch.  By the time we were ready to see the other museum, it was close to lunchtime.  I wasn’t upset, though, since I wasn’t all that interested in the other museum anyway.  There were a lot of people in there.  Below are a few shots of Annecy from the hilltop.  For some reason, there aren’t really any good viewing spots from the towers.

I was glad I had my digital camera with me, so I could zoom in a bit.

 

The entrance to the castle.  I’m not sure why they made this a museum instead of simply showcasing the castle itself.

 

The courtyard.

 

Signs in French, English, and Italian.

 

A couple of shots of fish from the lake, kept in the aquarium part of the museum. 

 

I climbed a tower, hoping to see a view of Annecy.  Instead, we got a view of a locked window.  Oh well.  At least I got some exercise.  

Most days, patrons pay 5,50 euros to gain admittance to the castle/museum.  We didn’t have to pay, so this was kind of a nice treat.  I see it gets some mixed reviews on Trip Advisor.  I think it pays to remember the museum closes from 12-2.  Most of the negative reviews seem to come from people upset about being kicked out for lunch.

Speaking of lunch, Bill and I decided to walk around a bit to see if we could find something good.  I usually try hard to avoid touristy spots, but it was kind of hard to do that in the old town part of Annecy.  We ended up eating at Brasserie des Europeens, a rather corporate looking place across from the city hall.  I wasn’t really keen to eat there, but I needed a break from the crowds and the manager was welcoming.

The terrace was hopping.  It brought back flashbacks of my days waiting tables.

 

Bill checks out the extensive menu.  It was actually kind of hard to choose something.  They had everything from mussels to tartare.  

 

This time, Bill got his salad…  washed down with an Edelweiss beer garnished with lemon.  I had a Fischer, which was supposedly Alsatian beer… made by Heineken.

 

I had a skewered hangar steak with frites and a salad.  The steak was a little tough.  I probably should have ordered it medium rare.  Better yet, maybe I should have had mussels.  That’s the kind of dish I can really only enjoy about once a year, though.

 

I got a kick out of their unisex bathroom.  There was also a ladies only restroom.  Both were way too small for the volume of business they were doing on Sunday.  There was just one stall in the ladies room and two stalls plus a pissoir in the unisex restroom.

We had wine for lunch.  As we were enjoying this, the terrace got slammed.  It reminded me of an infamous scene on Spongebob Squarepants.

Anchovies!

 

The folks at the table behind us ordered Crepes Suzette.  The waitress left her bottle of Grand Marnier on the table while she went to get the proper pan… and one of the guys sitting there non-chalantly helped himself to a nip of it.

 

Bill reacts to the sneaky cordial thief.

 

After lunch, we took in yet another church…

 

A young girl sitting at the front of the church was giggling hysterically.  I wasn’t sure if she was being irreverent or overcome by the spirit.

 

It was well worth stopping into this beautiful church, even with the hysterical giggling going on.  

 

We strolled some more around Annecy and I took more photos of what was going on.  There was a lot to see, since there were so many people!

It seems like every major French city has at least one carousel.

I was glad to be in Annecy when the clouds were gone.  Of course, a sunny, warm Sunday means tons and tons of people.  It’s not even the high season yet!

 

Pretty gardens near the church.

 

At around this time, I had to find a public restroom.  Fortunately, France is very generous with its public facilities.  Annecy is no exception.  We found our way to one near a playground.  This was the line.

It probably took about fifteen minutes to get my turn.  Every time someone uses the potty, it gets hosed down.  That keeps the toilets from stinking a lot, but they also never get a chance to dry out on a day like Sunday.  Consequently, it was probably not the most hygienic situation, as evidenced by the looks on some of the people’s faces as they emerged.

 

A whole lotta peeing going on.

After my visit to the loo, we decided it was time to vacate Annecy for some peace and quiet at the hotel.  I took a few more photos on the way out.  Annecy was positively bustling with people engaged in all kinds of fun activities.

Parasailing!

One coming in for a landing.

They’re braver than I am!

We decided not to have dinner at the hotel on Sunday night because the entree was veal.  I like the way veal tastes, but I try not to eat it because of the way it’s made.  I know… I am not a vegetarian by any means, but I think South Park spoiled veal for me.  Also, the starter was mozzarella, which I do like, but only when it’s not cold.  We could have asked for something else, but I decided I’d rather have something simpler for dinner anyway.  We went to the snack bar next to the hotel, which was directly across the road from a campground and next to a cheesy looking bar/restaurant that didn’t yet appear to be open for the season.

Before we went to the snack bar, we walked down to the lake.  It was an easy stroll from the hotel.  Too bad we didn’t go there earlier in our visit.

Even better shots of the parasailing daredevils.

I love this shot.  It’s probably destined for my Facebook cover.

We were eagerly greeted by a swarthy man who invited us to sit down and told us they had rotisserie chicken.  I probably should have ordered that instead of the Margherita pizza I ordered.  I can never finish them.

I probably should have split Bill’s pizza.

This was kind of a nice change, though.  I’m sure the veal at the hotel was good.  I probably would have loved it. 

 

Another English speaking couple sat near us.  It was a little weird because the female half seemed a bit high maintenance.  I heard her say in a pissy voice, “I’m sorry I don’t speak French.” to the guy who was looking after everyone.  He went and got his boss, who did speak English and seemed a little like Mr. Krabs on Spongebob Squarepants.  He was all about the euros!

Before long, the snack bar filled up with people and the one guy who waited on us was soon overwhelmed with people.  Bill had to hunt him down to pay him.  The guy seemed relieved when Bill told him to keep the change.

Next time, I’ll do a better job looking for specific activities.  Fortunately, the Annecy area has a lot to see.  I think it would be worth another visit.

Scotland and Northern Ireland 2017, Part ten…

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On Friday morning, we had plans to visit Londonderry, the second largest city in Northern Ireland and the fourth largest city in Ireland as a whole.  Although the city is officially called Londonderry, it is popularly known as Derry and that is how it was tagged in my iPhone photos.

Prior to our visit, the only thing I had ever heard of regarding “Londonderry” was the song “Londonderry Air“, otherwise known as “Danny Boy”.  I have sung that song many times, but never thought I would one day visit the walled city known for its architecture.  The cruise officials had arranged for us to meet the mayor, who was presented an award by Hebridean Princess.  We had a brief tour of the Guildhall, a gorgeous building that houses a very impressive pipe organ.  Too bad my mom wasn’t on this trip, since the guide asked if anyone played organ.  My mom was a church organist for over fifty years, although I don’t know if she played a lot of pipe organs.

Derry’s Guildhall.

The gorgeous pipe organ in Derry’s Guildhall.

Stained glass was everywhere!

After a coffee and tea break, we took a tour of the city given by a local guide who wore a bright yellow jacket.  Our guide’s surname was McCrossan, which made Bill perk up.  For all we know, he could have been a relative of ours.  Local guides can be hired for four GBP and Hebridean Princess hired one for our benefit.

Derry is right next to County Donegal, which is where Bill’s people are from.  It’s very close to the border of the Republic of Ireland and, in fact, our guide pointed out where the border was.  He also explained that Harvey’s Bristol Cream, a favorite sherry of Bill’s and mine, had a connection to Derry.

I learned a bit more about religion in Northern Ireland, too.  Prior to our tour, I had no idea that there were so many Presbyterians in Northern Ireland.  I was born and raised Presbyterian by a family full of them, so that part of the tour was especially interesting for me.

A charming block of shops near the Guildhall and the Bishop’s Gate.

David Indge presents Londonderry’s mayor with an award.

 

A kid unwisely walks by the fountains, which I observed to shoot geyser like sprays of water at random intervals!

Part of Derry’s famous wall.

These jets randomly sprayed water.

This was a settlement of the city inhabited by Catholics.  The ground was very marshy, which the guide described to us in detail.  In the distance, you can see the Catholic church.  We learned that back in the day, poor Catholic households in Northern Ireland could only be represented by one person when they voted.  That was one reason why they were so oppressed.  It wasn’t until 1968 that this rule was changed.

 

A very famous Presbyterian church in Derry.  The history surrounding this church was very interesting.  I wish we could have gone in for a look.

I seem to recall taking these pictures because they reminded me so much of Lexington, Virginia, where my dad went to college and Bill and I got married.  I felt as if I were standing there.  It was kind of eerie.

Bishop Street Within… meaning it’s within the walls of the city.  There’s also a Bishop Street Without, I believe.

I wish I could have taken some photos inside of this church, but you had to pay a fee… which I would have done, except we were running short on time.  The guide recommended we come back and get a proper tour of Saint Columb’s Cathedral.  It really is beautiful.  He also told us a funny story about a woman getting married there when they had turned on the floor heating.  As she was passing the grate in the floor, a gust of wind blew up her dress, Marilyn Monroe style.  Now, when people get married, they make sure to turn off the heat.

A couple of shots of Bishop’s Gate.

And a pretty rainbow in Larne, after our drive back to the ship.

I would like to visit Derry again sometime, perhaps not while cruising.  It appears to be a very charming city with plenty to see and do.  I would have liked to have had lunch there, but the ship had arranged for us to eat at a golf resort about a half an hour away.  To be very honest, I probably would have preferred lunch on the ship.

Our buffet lunch consisted of a bowl of vegetable soup, which was good, and a side of soda bread, also good.  We also had wine.  The main courses were Irish stew with beef, which I skipped because I was afraid of the dreaded fungus.  There was also a chicken dish that was loaded with mushrooms.  They had pasta and salad, mashed potatoes, and chips, too.  I avoided the meat and liked the dessert, which was either chocolate lava cake or apple crumble with warm vanilla custard.  I love a good crumble, so that pretty much made the meal for me.

By the time lunch was over, it had started raining.  We were supposed to visit a house and some ruins, but it was mid afternoon and people were tired.  Our intrepid purser arranged for a small bus to take some of us back to the ship.  Bill and I decided to take the short bus rather than visit the ruins and the house.  It turned out we were smart to do that, since the ground was really messy at the ruins and they didn’t stay long anyway.  It gave me an opportunity to come back to the ship, relax, and try a few more local beers… and other boozy delights.

This appears to be a smoked salmon roulade starter.

Sole for me at dinner.

 

And Bill had veal, which I know was tasty.  

A snifter of brandy…

And more dessert.

One terrific afternoon in Tübingen

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This morning, as I sat on my couch watching reruns of Dallas on iTunes, my dear husband Bill asked me what I wanted to do today.  Without really thinking about it, I said, “Why don’t we go to Tübingen?”

Tübingen is one of our favorite places to be, especially in these parts.  When we lived here last time, we lived really close and visited all the time.  Now we don’t live quite so close, but we still enjoy the occasional visit.  Today, we decided to take the train rather than drive, which turned out to be a good decision.  Bill wanted to enjoy some alcohol with lunch.  We caught the 12:44 train from Herrenberg and arrived in time to see lots of people enjoying the ice…

These people are braver than I am.  The weather was relatively warm today, although the ice looked somewhat solid.  Some were even wearing ice skates and playing what looked like some form of hockey.

We crossed over the pedestrian bridge toward the old town…  I took a few winter shots.

More people were walking on the river.  That seemed more dangerous, since one side of the river had large melted areas.

I didn’t see anyone fall in, though.

 

We decided to have lunch at La Cantinella, a very nice Italian restaurant we’ve been trying to get back to ever since we moved back to Germany.  We ate there a few times last time we lived here, but never seem to get to town at the right time now.  We happened to get there just in time for lunch today.  They weren’t very busy, although there were several rambunctious kids in the dining room.  At one point, their father apologized on behalf of the high spirited tykes running around, shouting, and banging on the piano in the foyer.  It wasn’t really a problem for us.  They were cute kids who needed to burn off some steam and they didn’t stay long.

Bill checks out the menu.

A little blurry photo of the dining room, which is very quaint and stylish.  By the time I took this photo, the little kids and their dad had moved on.

Bill ordered a lovely primitivo to go with our lunch.  This was full of berries, cherries, and a touch of raisins.  It opened up nicely after awhile.  They also brought us fresh bread and olive oil.

I had sesame encrusted branzino.  To be honest, the fish was a little bland and the sesame seeds were a bit too rich.  The vegetables were nice, though.  Very fresh and not overcooked.  I was also relieved that I didn’t accidentally order anything with mushrooms, like I did last time we visited.  

Bill had a pasta dish with beef and green pepper sauce.  He said it had a spicy kick and he really liked it.  

 

Our bill was about 60 euros.  I was acutely aware that the restaurant was going to have a pause at 2:30pm.  Although the waiter didn’t say anything, I got vibes that he hoped we wouldn’t linger.  I would definitely go back to La Cantinella, though.  It’s got a nice “family owned” ambiance and an impressive wine list.  Next time, I’ll get the pasta that was tempting me today.  La Cantinella does not have pizza and I didn’t notice a children’s menu.  However, they were very tolerant of the kids who were there when we came in for lunch today.

I took a photo of the outside of the restaurant, as well as the surrounding area.

See that crane?  People were hanging off of it.  I didn’t know it when I took this picture, but I was about to get some really great views.

Time for fasching.

A shot of St. George’s Collegiate Church, which dates from 1470.

I noticed signs indicating that the tower was open today.  Bill and I had never climbed up the tower before today.  Now that we’ve done it, I can say that it was worth the trip.  The views are awesome.

One shot of the stained glass.  The organist was practicing as we walked through the church on the way to the tower.  It costs one euro per adult to climb the tower and see the tombs.

The bells were made during different centuries.  Some were made in the 15th century, while others were made in the 20th century.  They are very loud when they ring, especially if you’re climbing up the tower!

It was a long, twisty, narrow walk up, but at least there were things to look at.

And this was our reward!  Check out the crane!  Yes, people are hanging over the city!

Bill enjoys the view.  Right after I took this, he told me how much he loves Tübingen.  I agree; it’s a great place to spend an afternoon!

The crane was rotating.

After a few minutes of enjoying the views, we made our way back down.  We needed to visit Vinum before they closed at 4:00pm.

As we were leaving the church, I noticed this person’s sign hanging out of their window.  We can always count on seeing interesting political statements in Tübingen.

Sad when people deface very old buildings.

We went into Vinum, which is one of our favorite wine stores in the area.  They always have wines to try.  We ended up buying four bottles they were highlighting.

I noticed the construction on the Rathaus was finally done after years of work!

We stopped at Ranitzky’s Kaffeehaus for hot chocolate and a pee break.

I had hot chocolate with Bailey’s…

Bill had plain hot chocolate.

On the way out of town, I noticed that the Dunkin’ Donuts in the old building was gone…

And this very cool yarn store is moving.

I guess Germany doesn’t run on Dunkin’.

More brave souls on the ice.

But look at that!

Pigeon house!

 

We got to the train station just in time to get the 4:17pm train back to Herrenberg.  We really had a lovely afternoon.  I think we need to spend more time in Tübingen.  I think my favorite part of today was climbing the church tower.  That is something well worth doing!  It’s a great energy burner for your little ones, too.

I thought these ads were interesting.

Shit weather?  Hmmm…

More Greek food… and a lovely Sunday walk!

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Yesterday, Bill made a beautiful lunch of steamed cod with vegetables.  We had wine with the lunch and soon it became clear that we didn’t have anything decent on hand for dinner.  Because of the wine, we didn’t need to be driving…

Bill even broke out my china for yesterday’s lunch!

Arran loves the table.

A little Kessler Sekt and strawberries for dessert.

So we walked to Taverne Bei Dimi for dinner.  I might have gone to Tommi’s Bistro, but they’re closed for most of August.  The sweet lady who runs Taverne Bei Dimi was there last night after her time in Greece and was so happy to see us.  She and her brother shook our hands as they welcomed us.

Wine, water, and ouzo…

More salad…  My body was liable to go into shock.

Since Bill and I also had Greek food on Friday night, we decided to try something different last night.  I had calamari and Bill had bifteki.

Mmm… fried squid rings…

And beef with cheese in it…

It was totally dead when we got to the restaurant, but had filled up by the time we left.  I was glad to see them getting some good business.  I think we are now official regulars.

This morning, we decided to go back to Wurmlinger Chapel and try our hike once again, now that my mom is back in the States.  Today, we were successful.  We brought the dogs with us and all four of us enjoyed a walk to the top of a large hill.

The way to the chapel… it’s a steep hike.

Map of the area.

So many pretty views as we ascended.  I was huffing and puffing as my out of shape body carried me higher. 

I always take pictures prematurely as I walk up hills.  It doesn’t occur to me that there will be even better views as I go higher.

Lots of grape vines.

200 meters to go.  I was way out of breath!

I can see our old village in this photo.

Finally, we got to see this chapel up close.  When we lived in Germany the first time, I saw it every day from our backyard.  I even have a small painting of it in storage.  

This shows you where all the points of interest are.  I love that scenic places in Germany have these.

The crypt is very cool.

The caretaker was an older German lady who drove up to open the church.  She told me there was water for the dogs.  That was about all I could understand as she kept talking to me.  I tried telling her I didn’t understand, but she was undaunted.

Blackberries ripening on the way back down.

The dogs enjoyed the view, too.  

Sheep grazing.

Dogs have to stay out of the courtyard.  Bill and I took turns having a look.

Zane enjoyed himself and the ride back.

I’m so glad we finally got to see Wurmlinger Chapel.  It’s a very pretty little church and the views are just lovely.  Today was a great day to hike up there.  It wasn’t too hot outside.  My mom would not have been able to make it up the hill, but I think we could have driven up there.  It is discouraged to drive and I certainly needed the exercise.  I did alright for an out of shape fat chick, though.  Just as a reminder, there is a bathroom in the parking lot for those who need the facilities.

I took this photo in 2008 from our old house in Pfäffingen.

We might have to go back before it closes for the winter.  I bet it’s lovely in the fall.

Roaming around Rome…

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Bill and I left Florence on the afternoon of May 9th.  Our train was scheduled to depart at about 12:30 pm, but was a few minutes delayed.  Consequently, we had to wait a bit in the train station, which was loud, dirty, and chaotic.  Since we were a little early, Italo’s track hadn’t been identified.  We put our RedOxx bags down on the dirty floor and Bill went to McDonald’s to get sandwiches.  As I stood there waiting for him and the train, I heard the incessant announcements and it occurred to me that it was pretty impossible to hear and understand what the announcers were saying.  The announcements just sounded like incessant squawking, which raised the stress level of waiting in the place.

Our Italo car was fuller on the trip to Rome than it was to Florence.  There was a couple sitting behind us who were American.  They had a very large suitcase that was a challenge to put on the overhead luggage rack.  Bill’s polite suggestion to the man sitting behind him that the suitcase would fit better in the storage area between the cars was completely ignored.  I mean, the guy acted like he hadn’t even heard Bill speak to him and didn’t even acknowledge his presence.  I immediately got the impression that the guy was a major asshole.  When he and his wife got on their cellphone and started having a loud conversation with their son, who was still in the United States, my initial impression was confirmed.  The guy kept asking their son if his “check had come in”; he seemed very preoccupied with the status of this check and asked about it several times in the course of their short conversation.  That was the last I heard from the guy, since I pulled out my new Bose noise canceling headphones.  At the end of our short journey, Bill said that the guy had complained the entire way from Florence to Rome about everything from the boxed lunch he had ordered to the fact that he didn’t seem to like Italy.  His poor wife had been trying to placate him the whole time.  I felt really sorry for her.  The man didn’t seem like a fun travel companion.

We got off at the Rome Tiburtina station.  Neither Bill nor I had ever been to Rome, so we didn’t know a thing about this huge station or where we were supposed to go.  We ended up wandering around for several minutes, trying to find our way to the taxi stand.  Poor Bill’s thumb was throbbing and he was being quite the trooper, carrying my big duffel bag.  After we walked through the crowded metro section of the station, we found the taxis and a long haired guy wearing sunglasses took us to the Relais Hotel Orso, another Jetsetter find.

Of all the hotels we stayed at during our trip, the Relais Orso was my least favorite.  It’s a stylish new boutique hotel in a very good location in Rome.  However, right next door to the hotel, there is construction going on.  During the daytime hours, there’s lots of banging, drilling, and dust.

I had booked us a junior suite, which had sort of a loft look to it.  There were three windows in the room, all of which opened into the elevator shaft.  On the wall, there was a cryptic quote about how we had all become “broken”.  I guess it was supposed to be deep, but it seemed kind of pretentious to me.

The bathroom had a rainfall shower, but there wasn’t enough water pressure to use all the jets in the shower.  Consequently, the water didn’t really come down in streams as much as it blended together.  The toilet and bidet were square shaped, which looked kind of cool.  The bidet took up valuable floor space, but actually came in handy on our last morning when we had run out of toilet paper.  The room came with free WiFi, but I couldn’t log on with my iPad; nor could I log on with the iPad that came with the room.  My phone picked up the signal, though.

Anyway, despite the fact that Aunt Flow was unexpectedly still in full force that Thursday afternoon and I was feeling kind of yucky, we decided we had to get out of the room and away from the banging of sledgehammers.  We walked to Vatican City, where we ran into a whole lot of Lamborghinis.  It turned out there was some kind of race going on to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the brand.

A sign about the race…

One of many Lamborghinis we ran into in Rome.  

Vatican City

 

*Slightly TMI*

I got a kick out of all the touristy religious souvenirs in Vatican City.  I mean, there were pictures of the Pope all over the place.  I would have stopped to purchase a magnet or something, but I was on a mission.  I had run out of maxi pads, thanks to an unexpectedly long visit from Aunt Flow and needed to stop by a pharmacy to pick up some more.  We popped into a little shop on a street just off the main drag through Vatican City and a very kind looking lady sold me some Italian maxis.  My husband paid for and carried them for me, which is a sign that he must love me very much.  I have to say, using those Italian pads was definitely an incentive to pack more American feminine hygiene products next time.

We walked around some more and I looked up and suddenly realized that we were standing outside the Armenian Orthodox church.  I spent two years living in Armenia, so this was a pretty cool thing for me.

I stood there trying to translate, though I never did learn how to read Armenian as well as I could speak it… and I never did speak it very well.  We continued to walk and passed a police station, where there were lots of cops standing around.  A quiet street took us past a church where a homeless looking guy was sitting on the steps drinking beer.  Bill and I watched in amusement as a man passed and yelled something at the guy.  Neither Bill nor I speak Italian, but it looked like he was shaming the street person for drinking in front of the church.  The street person did not seem affected by the shaming.  He casually raised his bottle as if to offer a sip to the guy who had just yelled at him.

Me and my food idiosyncrasies…

We decided to stop for dinner, but it was still somewhat early.  Or maybe we just missed something in the translation.  The upshot is, we ended up having a “snack” at a cafe.  The waiter was a bit pushy and had a tattoo of a spider web on one of his elbows.  He suggested a meat and cheese platter and a bottle of wine.  I don’t actually like to eat cold cheese… it’s a texture thing.  I can eat mild cheeses that are melted or have been melted but have gone cold (like cold pizza).  But I can’t eat a piece of cheese that is just cold.  So I asked for the menu so I could see if there was something on there that wouldn’t force Bill to eat a lot of cheese.  The waiter was offended and said, “I’m not dishonest!  It’s not expensive!”

I laughed and explained that I don’t like to eat a lot of cheese and I wanted to see if he had anything that Bill and I would both like.  It turned out he didn’t, so we got the meat and cheese platter.  I must say, it was pretty good…  The wine was especially nice.  Wine always soothes Aunt Flow.

For dinner that night, we stumbled across a German/Austrian restaurant that was very close to our hotel.  I know we were in Italy and who wants to eat German/Austrian food in Italy, right?  But we had been eating a lot of stereotypical Italian food since our arrival and this little restaurant had Scottish and German beers.  So we went in…  Things got off to a good start with the above appetizer, which was sea bass with orange peel and greens.  Our waitress was really young and very cute and there were little teddy bears all over the place, one of which had a German fest hat on its head…

We ordered chateaubriand for dinner, but it came to us in a way we didn’t expect…  It looked like slices of beef smothered in hunter’s sauce, which is LOADED with mushrooms.  Unfortunately, mushrooms are one of a few foods I cannot eat.  I kind of freaked out.  The waitress was gracious and brought me another serving with just the sauce, minus the mushrooms.  Unfortunately, I was still a little freaked out.  We made it up to her by ordering dessert.  She was careful to tell me there were strawberries on the cheesecake I ordered.  I said that was just fine.  And I did enjoy a lovely beer or two as well.

There was another American couple dining near us and one of them noticed me taking photos.  She offered to take my picture with Bill, but I declined.  People are usually taken aback when I do this, but I actually hate having my picture taken because I hate the way I look in photos.  I think my pictures are best when I’m not in them!  The one exception is when I can take my picture with a web cam, but even those require editing and strategic posing in order not to make me cringe.

This is a photo of one of the ceilings in the Museum of Rome…

The next day, we wandered around Rome and ended up going into many cathedrals.  We also visited the Museum of Rome, which was actually a very interesting place.  Bill loves art and this place was packed with works from artists all over the world.  I even found a couple of works done by an artist from Charleston, South Carolina back in the 1800s.  The museum also had some really beautiful ceilings.  The above photo is one of about a dozen I took of the ceilings in this place… some of which were more interesting than the works on the walls.

More ceilings…

I snuck a photo of this painting…

A ceiling at a cathedral dedicated to Pope John Paul II…

Look carefully at this photo…  There’s a guy with his shirt rolled up.  He kept walking around, rubbing his stomach…

 
 

I got a kick out of the caricatures that were being done… especially of the one of Prince, who is painted in all his oversexed 80s era glory…

We snuck into this amazing cathedral where I shot yet another rotunda photo…

We went out to lunch on the second day and ended up at a little trattoria close to our hotel.  I enjoyed a fantastic piece of Bolognese style lasagna there.  But when it came time for dessert, I made the unfortunate choice of lemon sorbet.  Actually, I can’t say it was unfortunate, since the sorbet tasted good and was very refreshing.  But, it wasn’t frozen!  The waiter, a young Asian man wearing braces, told me that there are two kinds of sorbet.  One is like ice cream and the other was like the soupy stuff he served me.  I think that was bullshit, but I didn’t complain because it was still cool and tasted good.  Dessert is one of my many vices.  And, I have to hand it to that waiter for his brazen line of bullshit.  He delivered it without a trace of hesitation.

Our hotel offered the use of the Twizy, which is a tiny battery operated “car”.  Rome was too scary to attempt driving and parking this thing…

Coffee break




Later, we ended up near the Pantheon, which was teeming with people.  There were street performers there.  My attention was captured by Tibetan monks… or, at least I think that’s what they were…

Notice the two guys in orange.  One seems to be balancing the other on a pole.  As I turned away from these two guys, a very tall American man, apparently from the South, said something along the lines of “What in the HELL…”  That made me laugh out loud.

 Ceiling in the Pantheon

After taking in the Pantheon, it was time for a beer.  We found an Irish pub.  As we were sitting there, an older Scottish gentleman came in with a pretty blonde on his arm.  It turned out she was just some girl he’d run into and bought a drink.  She ditched him rather suddenly and Bill heard him asking the bartender where the blonde had gone.  Bill felt sorry for him.  He seemed lonely.

Spilled wine…

A couple of hours later, we stopped for dinner at a very touristy restaurant.  I usually try not to eat at the obviously touristy spots, but we were hungry and I desperately needed to pee.  There were two waiters  taking care of the tables outside.  The older one was obviously very experienced and very Italian.  As soon as I put my bag down, he said “The toilets are downstairs.”  I thanked him and marveled at his ability to see what I really needed.  The other waiter was a young Filipino man who was very eager to upsell and create a clientele.

We took his suggestion of a dry white wine, which turned out to be very good for what we were eating.  I had chicken, but I don’t remember what Bill had.  Anyway, there was a British couple sitting behind us and a third waiter who seemed to be running food, accidentally dumped half a bottle of wine all over the guy sitting there.  Suddenly, there was a scene being made…  The waiter had charged the couple for the bottle of wine, half of which they had ended up wearing, thanks to the clumsy waiter.  The male half of the couple seemed embarrassed and just wanted to GTFO of there, but the woman he was with was very irate.  She said, “Apologies are nice, but you just wasted our wine!”  The incident went on for a few uncomfortable moments and I tried to tune out because it reminded me of my days waiting tables.

When I got up to pee again, the older Italian guy gave me a look and laughed when I explained that water and wine does a number on my kidneys.  By the time I got back, the British couple had left.  We ordered dessert and our waiter came out and apologized that we had to witness that incident, explaining that his colleague was drunk and that was why he had spilled the wine.  I didn’t need to hear that and, in fact, know that spilling wine is entirely possible even when a person is stone cold sober.  That kind of shit happens when you wait tables.  I told him that I completely understood and it wasn’t a problem for us.  He brought us a round of prosecco, which made the older Italian waiter shake his head in amusement.  He recognized us as tourists who wouldn’t be back again anytime soon.  I appreciated the Filipino waiter’s enthusiasm, though, even if he did throw his colleague under the bus.

Mmm…

The next day was the big day…. May 11th, the day we would once again board SeaDream I!  Stay tuned!