Champagne Bucket trips

Onward into Czechia… part four of our 2023 Czech tour!

At last, we arrived at the day I’d been eagerly anticipating, Tuesday, October 3rd. One of the reasons we decided to visit the Czech Republic is because October 3rd isn’t a holiday there. German holidays are great if you’re German, because you get a day off work. But if you’re not German, it usually means a lot of things are closed. Our hotel was closed, after all. They said it was due to a lack of staff, and I believe that’s true. But I also think it was because of German Unity Day, which is, of course, a big deal and should be celebrated.

I’m old enough to remember when there were two Germanys. I even wrote about East and West Germany when I was in the sixth grade, having been shocked to find out that the country was then divided. What can I say? We had no Internet in those days, so I spent a lot of time playing outside instead of surfing the Web, learning new things about the world. I don’t know that today’s kids have it better than we did in the 1980s, but they sure do seem to be more articulate and world savvy.

Of course, forty years ago, when I was eleven years old, I had no way of knowing that in just six years, the Berlin Wall would start to crumble. Bill was actually in Germany when it happened, and every time we go to the Czech Republic, he tells me at least once about how he used to guard the German border and mess with the sometimes female Czech border guards. 😉

We packed up our bags, enjoyed the leftover croissants and juice, and Bill got some cappuccinos to go from the bakery. Once we were all set, we loaded up the car and dropped the room key in the mailbox, where the proprietors had told us to leave it. I was kind of glad to be on the way to Czechia, although overall, we enjoyed Hotel La Casa. The people who run the hotel are very nice. I hope they get some new colleagues soon, so they can get back to being fully functioning.

Our drive to Cesky Krumlov would take several fun filled hours. I can’t say that the drive was particularly exciting, although it was quite pretty in some areas. Bill and I are pretty familiar with the German part of the drive, since the beginning of it is the same way one would go to Austria, Slovenia, Italy, or other points southeast from Stuttgart. We broke up the trip by stopping at a pretty awesome truck stop, where I had a really delicious chicken burger and Bill had a Pfännle, which is hard to describe. Luckily, I have photos.

After lunch, we were back on the Autobahn. We had no need to stop at a Rastplatz, because Bill had gotten an electronic “vignette” for the car. This is a cool new thing the Czechs are doing, making it possible to pay to use their highways without having to put stickers on the car. I hope the rest of Europe follows suit. He had pre-paid for the electronic vignette to last for our full time in Czechia– about a week or so.

The countryside on the way to Cesky Krumlov was as beautiful as I remembered it, as the roads were as loaded with potholes. There’s a definite drop off in road quality as one exits Germany. Here in Germany, we have constant road construction projects, but very few shitty roads. In Czechia, it seemed the opposite was true. Our route took us through some scenic areas, albeit with a few aggressive drivers on our tail. Below are some photos I took of the landscape as we headed east toward our destination.

I had pretty vague memories of Cesky Krumlov, as the last time we were there was on my birthday in 2008. It happened to be during their Five Petalled Rose Festival, and everyone was dressed in medieval garb. They had medieval games, too. I seem to remember we parked in a dirt lot near the town after visiting the old town of nearby Cesky Budjovice, where Czech Bud is made. I remember climbing the castle tower, seeing the bears, and noticing how pretty the town was.

Arriving there in 2023 was surprising, as they had parking lots designed for tourists and busses. We had booked two nights at the delightful Monastery Garden, a small lodge near the castle gate. The manager had helpfully sent me instructions on where to park and how to find the place. Unfortunately, we had a lot of trouble finding “P2”, the parking area where we were instructed to park. We finally ended up parking at the bus station and walking into the town to find the Monastery Garden, which we did after about twenty or thirty minutes of searching. Below are a few first looks of the beautiful town of Cesky Krumlov.

As we were checking in, Bill realized that one of his colleagues was also there. They had just spent a week working together in Bavaria. She had her aunt, uncle, and mom with her, and I got the sense that maybe she was delighted to see us. Bill called her by name as I went to get us checked in by the very friendly and English speaking receptionist.

Cesky Krumlov is a very charming medieval town, recognized by UNESCO. Very limited driving is allowed in the town, and you have to pay a fee to legally do so, even just to drop off luggage. Bill paid for the permit to drive into the town, but ended up just parking in P2, once he found it, and trucking in our luggage. Poor guy. He’s such a mensch.

Monastery Garden in Cesky Krumlov is a wonderful place to stay.

We booked Room 6, which was one of their “Signature Suites”. It was a very large room, beautifully decorated, with a very cool looking armoire with a door that opened into the bathroom. The bathroom had a clawfoot tub, with a handheld shower sprayer. The place also had an “honesty bar” in the lobby, where guests could help themselves to food and beverages and just report what they had the next day. The lobby is also where they serve their incredible breakfasts that are as beautifully presented as they are delicious. Below are some photos from Room 6.

After we settled in, we started trying to plug in our various electronics. This was when we realized that using a typical adapter doesn’t work in the Czech Republic. Every outlet has a metal post that sticks up. Fortunately, I have a bunch of electronics with European specs, making it possible for Bill to connect his phone and get charged via my laptop computer. The whole time we were traveling, he kept saying he wanted to stop in an electronics store and find a new adapter. He never did, though.

Finally, once we got the electronics sorted, we headed out in search of dinner. I believe this might have been the only night. we went to a restaurant for dinner, which surprised me. I guess we’re just getting old. In the evenings, we were usually not hungry and too tired to go out for an evening repast. So we’d watch TV, drink wine, and eat snacks. It probably saved us money and calories, to some extent.

The place we visited was called Papa’s, and it served very typical heavy Czech fare. I had a duck leg with gravy and heavy dumplings. Bill had pork with a mustard sauce and dumplings. We both had beer. The food was pretty filling. I can never eat more than one dumpling, at most, but they usually give you at least two. I think there were four on the dishes we ordered! We were too full to consider having dessert, so after we ate, we walked around a bit more and stopped at a bar called Apotheka, which used to be an apothecary (druggist). There, we had several interesting designer cocktails. It was a nice way to cap off the evening, even if we did drop quite a few Czech crowns there.

One of the cocktails I ordered…

When we got back to where we were staying, Bill’s colleague and family members were at the big breakfast table playing cards. We stopped to chat with them for a few minutes, but I got the sense we were crashing a private party from the older folk. Bill’s colleague, by contrast, seemed eager to chat with us some more. I can’t say I blame her! As much as I love my family, the idea of traveling with them makes me a bit weak in the knees. I might do okay with my mom, if she was more up to traveling. She’s pretty low maintenance.

Anyway, aside from a rather adventurous “shower” in the fancy bathtub, everything was in order for our night’s slumber. We went to bed and rested up for our big, active day in Cesky Krumlov.

More on that in the next post!


And a few more photos from the bar area in our hotel…

We’re staying in a “design hotel”, so naturally, things are designer here. We decided to skip dinner and just have drinks. You can get some very good cocktails at Nobis Hotel, for a hefty price…

The bartender was a bit negligent at first, but he woke up when he caught a look from Bill. He was an excellent barkeep and made great drinks, but he was doing a lot of bullshitting with the three ladies at the bar. He seems pretty young, though, so I guess he’ll grow up. 😉

That was basically our dinner, since we had a big lunch. Tomorrow’s lunch will probably be on the Splendor! We leave the hotel promptly at 11:00 AM.


A weekend of honey dos…

I mentioned in my main blog that we didn’t really do much this weekend in terms of “travel.” Bill and I have a big, expensive, Nordic trip scheduled for next month that has eaten up a lot of our disposable income. We also have a U.S. holiday coming up this weekend during which we’re hoping to do a few day trips from the Wiesbaden area. Plus, we had some chores that needed to be done in the backyard.

I had been contemplating planning a dog friendly trip for the holiday weekend, but then I realized how much we’re spending to visit Norway, Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Estonia, and Denmark next month. Then I remembered that we were denied the opportunity to see a lot of our local environs due to the COVID pandemic.

There are quite a few somewhat local places I’d like to visit, and Bill has some leave time he needs to take, anyway. So he’s going to take a few days off this week and next and we’re going to try to explore. He also needs to go see Dr. Blair again for a tooth repair, so that might get done this week or next. It sucks getting old! ETA: as I’m writing this, Bill says he has an appointment for tomorrow at 2:15PM. Guess he’ll take the ICE train. I think it takes about an hour to go from Frankfurt to Stuttgart on the train.

As for what we did this weekend… well, we tried Galliano liqueur for the first time and Bill made us a round of Harvey Wallbangers. It’s not a bad cocktail, but I probably wouldn’t order it at a bar. Maybe I’ll try one on Regent Splendor next month. 😉 Ours were missing cocktail cherries, because we didn’t have any on hand. Bill also shaved his beard and left tiny hairs all over the bathroom. I cleaned that up.

Bill went to the local “bee bomb” vending machine and bought six more capsules of seeds. We planted them in some empty planters we had. With luck, they’ll sprout and bloom, and we’ll have pretty wildflowers that will also feed the bees. I’ve never particularly been a big fan of bees, but I know they are essential to life. I read some sad stories in summers passing about bees not having enough to eat. So I’m hoping we can do our part in helping them out. I already started some bee bombs a couple of weeks ago, and we have some pretty good sprouts already going now. If you look at the featured photo, you can see the capsules of seeds in the background.

I pulled some ivy vines down off our garage and gave the patio furniture another layer of teak oil. Bill charged up my car’s battery, which I’m sure will be dead in a month. I really need to drive my car more.

Bill gathered more old clothes for the bins by the grocery store. I need to do another round of that myself. I have tons of clothes that won’t fit in my dresser, and some others that won’t fit me. 🙂

I did more yardwork, though I can hardly call it work, since we have a robot to mow our tiny backyard. I do have to use the weed whacker, though. I didn’t do much yard work yesterday because it was Sunday. We aren’t supposed to make a lot of noise on Sundays. It probably would have been okay, though. Our neighborhood is pretty chill about that kind of stuff. I wouldn’t dare use power tools on Sunday in Baden-Württemberg. That would be sure to earn me a good tongue lashing from a neighbor or the Polizei. In Hessen, it’s probably cool.

I spent some time moving more of my massive music collection from my old computer to the new one. It’s a very tedious and annoying undertaking reminiscent of when I moved this blog from Blogspot to WordPress and had to reformat a bunch of old posts… some of which are still not properly formatted.

And we also enjoyed some barbecue… spareribs last night and chicken on Saturday. It was quite yummy!

I did think wistfully about going out somewhere fun, but I really have fun with Bill wherever we are. It’s so nice to have him home again. This will be a short work week for him, so I’m hoping to have some good content later this week. We won’t be doing the “honey do” stuff this weekend… although we might do the “honey do me” stuff. 😉

I’m kidding about that… sorta. 😀

I would like to do a dog friendly trip soon. Maybe we’ll do one to pick up a new friend for Noyzi… We’ll see what the future holds.


Baiersbronn in the Black Forest– Bareiss Style! Part five

Friday night is a bit of a blur. Why? Because the moody weather outside made me want to drink beer. We went to the bar at 5:00pm so I could do that. I started with a pilsner, but then asked for a Hefeweizen, which they didn’t have on tap. When I was finished with those, it was time for dinner, and we met our new server. She was a lovely young woman who appeared to be very professional and seasoned.

Bareiss has its own professional academy, where its employees are trained. The young lady who had been our server on the first two nights was very personable and friendly, but she didn’t quite have the polish of our next waitress, who seemed to have a calmer disposition and slightly more poise. The difference was very noticeable. She must work more on weekends and holidays, when business is up. Her English was very good, and she was better at keeping up with pouring wine. Not an easy feat when I’m around. 😉

On Friday night, we also had company in our little section. The tables at Hotel Bareiss are grouped by twos, with barriers that kept them together. For our first two nights, no one was occupying the table next to ours. Friday night, an older couple appeared. According to their nametag on the table, they were both doctors. I looked them up, and see that they own a general practice in Ulm, and are joined by their daughter, who is also a physician, and another young male physician, who didn’t seem to be related.

The couple didn’t really talk to us much, except to say hello and goodbye. I noticed they were very sensible about their diets, but not totally health conscious. It dawned on me that this must have been a rare weekend of rest, as yesterday was German Reunification Day, so they had a long weekend.

Below are some photo from Friday night’s repast, which I believe was fish based. I see from the photos that I didn’t try every course.

After dinner, we went back to the bar and proceeded to try a bunch of cocktails, some of which were invented by the hotel staff. Let’s just say we really ran up a bill that evening, and put the bartenders through their paces. One of the barkeeps was a pretty young woman who reminded me of the actress, Shelley Long, in the 80s. She was cool and professional, but Bill must have tipped her well, because on our last night, she said she’d miss us. 😉 She probably says that to everybody, though.

One of many rounds!

There are live musicians that perform every night at Hotel Bareiss. I saw two– both were men who played the electric piano in the bar and were much better players than singers. But I did appreciate that the music they played in the bar was from the 70s and 80s instead of the 90s, which is what they played at Hotel Engel Obertal. 90s music reminds me of how old I am, while music from the 70s and 80s is just better overall, and reminds me of being a kid. And I especially appreciated that there weren’t any panpipes!

We staggered back to our room at about 11:30 pm, which is a late night for us. I somehow managed to drop my iPad in the crevice between the two beds, which put me in a temporary panic, until I finally found the right mode on Find My iPad and located the thing. Yep… Friday was a night of excess. That’s for sure! But we had a good time. It’s not very often that we get to enjoy bars anymore. And Bill likes cocktails, but rarely gets to have them, because he usually does the driving. So this was a nice treat for him.

I always admire bartenders who can keep their cool and keep the drinks flowing smoothly. Before it got too crowded, I asked the bartenders if they have to remember all of the drinks in their very extensive menu. They said that a lot of drinks are repeated, and if there’s one they don’t know, there’s an app for that. Okay, then! I did get to try some new cocktails, which was fun. But I don’t think I found any new favorites.

I liked the bartenders at the Hotel Bareiss, but I can think of ones I enjoyed more at other hotels. The Waldhotel in Stuttgart had an awesome bartender named Angelo who recently retired. And the Excelsior Hotel Ernst in Cologne also had a great bartender who made excellent suggestions, was very personable, and taught Bill a few tricks. He also complimented his taste. A good bartender is worth his or her weight in gold at a hotel! Those other hotels don’t have some of the wonderful amenities that Hotel Bareiss has, so I guess it’s an even split.


Good intentions waylaid by a Stau…

We have nice weather today, and several fests are going on. I was thinking I might like to go to one in a town near us, since I knew there would be wine, food, and live music. But just after we got on A 66, we hit a Stau… that is, a traffic jam. We must have gotten to it pretty soon after a wreck, as a couple of ambulances passed us while we sat behind an endless processional of cars.

It was just after one o’clock when we hit the Stau, and about 1:45pm when we were finally moving again. We were both so irritated and hangry that we decided to just go to AAFES on post and pick up a few necessary items. I hadn’t been to the PX in many months… it’s probably been over a year. I needed to get some new makeup, because the stuff I’ve been using is probably from the pre-pandemic days. Bill also wanted to get shit bags for the dogs, and an Internet extender for the house.

By the time we were done shopping, we had spent well over $200, mostly on my cosmetics, because I don’t use cheap stuff. I usually buy Lancome, but there wasn’t any way to tell which shades things were, so I switched to Estee Lauder. Then we went to the Pizza Hut Express and got a pizza, which was pretty crappy. Pizza Hut used to be pretty good, back when you could go there and sit in the restaurant for dinner. Now, it’s kind of yucky. But it was handy to get it, since it was after 2pm, and we were both grouchy.

When we got home, the dogs were ecstatic. Noyzi goosed us both in the ass. Then I noticed a funny Carolyn Hax column in the Washington Post, about a woman who was pregnant and having to deal with her mother-in-law treating her like her grandchild’s vessel. For example, they’d go out for Thai food, and Grandma would say, “If that’s what Baby wants…”

My response was, “I’d tell her Baby would rather have a double gin martini.” For some reason, people thought that was a really funny quip. In honor of it, Bill made us gin martinis. See the featured photo for that. 😉

Below are a few photos from the highly annoying Stau. We were used to those in Stuttgart. They aren’t so common up here in Wiesbaden. Good thing we didn’t have our hearts set on doing anything special or having lunch anywhere good.

And no, I did not commit Beleidigung today, although the impulse was there. The martini was made from gin we bought from Vom Fass in Wels, Austria. We finally finished the bottle.


The bulimic elf…

Last night, Bill and I visited some new local friends who were having a cookout.  There was much fun and merriment going on… people were mingling and getting to know each other.  The socializing was lubricated somewhat with alcoholic beverages.

One gentleman in attendance last night is Irish and clearly enjoys creating and making mixed alcoholic drinks.  He created one beverage, which he named after himself.  I was sitting outside drinking a beer when a new friend offered me a taste.  Somehow, I misunderstood the name of the drink.  What she’d called it didn’t sound very appetizing to me, so I passed on trying the cocktail.

My friend persisted in her encouragement.  Again, I demurred, owing to the name of the drink, which just sounded very unpleasant to me.

She tried again and I said, “Why would I want to drink something called The Bulimic Elf?!”

That made everyone bust out laughing because that was definitely not what the drink was called…  I wonder what a graphic representation of a bulimic elf would be…  Something like this?

Does this make you want to drink?
Or how about this?

I have an ex boyfriend from my high school years who often told me I reminded him of an elf.  He’s an artist and used to draw depictions of me with elfin features.  If a cocktail existed that made me puke rainbows, maybe I’d be persuaded to drink it.  On the other hand, I could probably be persuaded even if no puking is involved.  I do take note of the names of things, though.

We all had a great time last night.  I’m always glad when I can hang out with friends offline.  I’m not sure what we’ll do today.  Unfortunately, I’m not really feeling like a long hike uphill.  I may just stay in and watch pornographic vomiting elves on YouTube.


Part six of our Hamburger saga! Trendy cocktails…

People who are reading this blog will likely come away with the idea that I am a terrible lush.  And if I’m honest, I have to agree that I am a bit of a lush.  I do enjoy my booze very much.  So does Bill.  Despite my love of beer and wine, it’s actually not that often that I drink hard liquor.  That is more Bill’s department than mine.  Give me a beer or some vino and I’m golden.  Nevertheless, every once in awhile, I like to try new cocktails.  When I stay in hotels, I also like to try stuff out so I can blog about them.

Since Bill and I weren’t so successful at Sofitel’s nice restaurant, Ticino, and we had such a lovely late French lunch, we decided to try the bar, interestingly named Seven Heads.  If you want to, you can order food at the bar.  I was thinking it could be possible that we’d do that.  But then we sat down on a stool and a very cheerful bartender started chatting us up.  You’ll understand that my memories are a little fuzzy.  Of course, they give you spicy snacks so you’ll drink more, too.

I was thinking I might have a glass of bubbly… or maybe try a wine flight.  Seven Heads actually has an impressive menu filled with cocktails, beers, and wines.  But the bartender was eager to have me try a new cocktail.  First, he made me a Cucumber Gin Mule.  Okay, it actually has a different name… but I can’t remember it now.  The drink is made with gin, ginger beer (the non alcoholic-soda kind, not the British alcoholic beer kind), lime juice, simple syrup, and cucumber.  He served it in a copper cup with a straw.  It was very refreshing, though I think it would be even better during the hot summer months.  Bill had a gin cocktail made with celery bitters and garnished with cucumber that he also liked.

My “mule”…

Bill’s cocktail…

I liked the “mule” just fine, but I wanted something with tequila since I am very partial to it.  Bill wanted to try a gin basil smash, which is apparently a “hot” cocktail in Hamburg because it was supposedly invented there.  So I ordered an Agave Basil Smash and he had a Gin Basil Smash, made with Hendrick’s gin.  I must say, I liked my drink better than Bill’s.  The agave and basil blend beautifully together, probably because tequila has sort of a limey tart flavor.  The gin smash was also very good, but more subtle.

Our “smashes”.  My cocktail is on the left.  

I still wasn’t ready to call it a night after our second cocktail, so Bill had a gin and tonic made with Monkey 47 dry gin, made right here in our area…  I had a ginger beer margarita made with tequila and mint.  The bartender who was making us these pricey designer cocktails was great at his job and was telling us about the local gins being made in Germany.  Aside from Monkey 47, the Sofitel also had Munich’s The Duke gin, and Gin Sul, which is made in Hamburg.  Bill was totally into the lesson, since he loves exotic gins.  I was content to drink the nectar of Mexico.

This was pretty good.  I still finished it before Bill finished his gin and tonic.

I ended up having a Jever beer while Bill finished his drink.  I know… I drink like a fish.  Still, all was not lost.  I learned about German gins and got to try a few very nice designer cocktails.  It’s not often that we get to go to bars.  Even when we do go, Bill rarely drinks much because he’s usually driving.  So since we were staying in the hotel, we took full advantage.

I don’t even want to think about the check…