churches, holidays

Food and wine in Switzerland, Italy, and Liechtenstein… part four

Parma on Liberation Day…

As I mentioned in part three of this series, I chose to stay at our castle location near Parma because I knew there were several places of interest nearby. There’s Parma, Italy, where Parma ham and Parmesan cheese come from, Modena, which is known for wonderful balsamic vinegar, and Bologna, which is just alleged to be a beautiful city with great food and sightseeing. Bill did some research about Bologna and decided not to visit there, because parking was too much of a hassle. I definitely wanted to go to Parma, and Modena was interesting enough for a visit, too.

On the day we visited Parma, which was Monday, April 25th, it was Liberation Day. We did not know it was going to be Liberation Day before we planned our visit. We have a habit of being in different countries on their major holidays. We did the same thing last fall when we visited Wels, Austria. Anyway, Liberation Day was first celebrated in Italy in the year 1946. It was to commemorate the 1945 victory of the Italian resistance to Nazi Germany and the Italian Socialist puppet state. Because it was a holiday, the streets were crowded; some shops were closed; and there was a parade.

We managed to visit Parma’s beautiful cathedral and monastery, followed by lunch at a really cool restaurant where blues were accompanying the delicious food. Below are some photos of our day. Again, masks were required at that time, but as of May 1, 2022, masks are mostly only needed on public transport, in medical settings and nursing homes, and in sports venues, concert halls, or theaters. I note, once again, that Italy is stricter than Germany is right now. One of these days, I’m going to make a video of all the beautiful cathedrals I’ve seen in Europe.

A busker entertained us with Bach. He made me cry.

The monastery is located very close by the Parma Duomo. We had to wear FFP2 masks to see the library.

After more walking around, and more photos taken, we found our way to a quiet little plaza where we had lunch at a restaurant called Osteria del Teatro. This was a cute and popular place where excellent blues music paired with really nice local dishes and wines. Old vinyl records were used as placemats!

Below are some more photos from our day in Parma. Some decorations are in honor of the holiday.

By late afternoon, we were ready to go back to the B&B and drink more wine… which we did.

After our wine break, we watched old American shows dubbed into Italian… The Dukes of Hazzard, The A Team, and Walker, Texas Ranger! No wonder I saw so many Confederate battle flags in Italy.


Meet the vet… and eat Cajun food!

Those of you who know me on Facebook and/or have been following my main blog might have read that a couple of nights ago, our dog Zane experienced a bit of veterinary drama.  Bill had to take him to our local vet because he was throwing up foam.  A couple of hours after they left the local vet, Zane had bloody diarrhea.  I asked Bill to take Zane to the Tierklinik Hofheim, which is not too far from where we live.  I first heard of the Tierklinik Hofheim from our former vet, Dr. Schube, in Herrenberg.  She said it was one of the best veterinary clinics in Germany.  I never thought we’d ever live close enough to use their services, but I was sure glad we had their services handy on Thursday.

Our new vet.  Up here, all of the vets have a little “V” sign by their office, indicating they are veterinarians.  I don’t remember ever seeing that near Stuttgart.

Bill brought Zane in at about 8:00pm and didn’t get home until almost 1:00am.  I was really worried about Zane, who really looked uncomfortable.  I did some checking online and it appeared that he might have suffered from HGE (Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis).  While this condition is very treatable if it’s caught early, it can be deadly if it’s not treated aggressively with supportive therapies.  Fortunately, Zane wasn’t as sick as he seemed and Bill brought him home to sleep off the medications and the effects of the illness.  He’s fine, now.

We’d already had an appointment for today, which Bill made before Zane got so acutely sick.  We went in today to drop off some samples from our dogs to find out if they have parasites… and if they do, what kind.  I have a feeling parasites might have been behind Zane’s attack, especially since both dogs have had a lot of gas lately… and it has a distinctively “wormy” odor to it.  I can’t describe it; and you probably wouldn’t want me to; but once you know that smell, you know it.  Arran was similarly sick a few months ago and deworming him fixed him right up.  That time, I had some dewormer from our Stuttgart area vets.

Our new vets are pretty high speed.  The male half of the husband and wife team was in the news for doing IVF on a dog in Dubai.  They have several vets on staff and even offer Saturday hours, which is pretty impressive.  I don’t enjoy visiting the vet, but I did need to visit so I’d know where to bring them when it falls to me to get them in for vet care.  I did most of the vet stuff when we lived near Herrenberg and I have a feeling that Bill likes it that way, even if I don’t.  Although Arran didn’t need to see the vet, we brought him along for the ride so he wouldn’t be stuck at home alone.  Actually, our vet appointment was pretty much nothing.  We went in, talked to the vet, and dropped off the sample.  That was it.  It took about an hour, though, because there were a lot of people waiting.

Our vets have a book “lending library” out front.  That scores points with me!

Once we were finished at the vet’s office, we dropped the dogs off and then visited our new friend, John, at Spirit of New Orleans, his fabulous Cajun restaurant.  I’ve written about this restaurant before and it bears a repeat write up.  If you’re in Germany and missing American cuisine, this is a good place to be.  John is from New Orleans and has made his home in Germany.  He’s been thrilling homesick Americans for years and, best of all, his restaurant is located just a few kilometers from our house.  Today was only the second time I’ve eaten in the restaurant, but I’ve had Bill go pick up food from there a few times.  He has everything from ribs to burgers, with some special delicacies like po boys, jambalaya, red beans and rice, chicken wings, and shrimp.

Today, I decided to have the steak special, which came with shrimp, macaroni and cheese, and a salad.  I finished half and will eat the rest later.  


Bill had spare ribs, which I’ve had a couple of times.  John’s barbecue sauce is homemade and delicious.  I love his “fries” too, which are really more like very rustic steak fries.  


As he was preparing our food, we could hear him in the kitchen cussing.  I heard him yell “Aw fuck!” just before he brought out my steak and almost delivered it to the wrong table.  I could tell he was a bit on edge.  Bill says he reminds him a little bit of the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld.  As long as you follow the “rules”, you’re in for a treat.  Not only is his food amazing, he also plays awesome music.  I was really enjoying Earth, Wind & Fire as I waited for my lunch!  He also offers regular events starring local musicians.  Someday, we’ll be in town when he has an event.  He’s doing a brunch for Mother’s Day next weekend, but we’ll be in Stuttgart… and/or on our way back from Stuttgart..

I had to get a shot Bill…

As well as our local Harley-Davidson dealership, which boasts a certain taboo symbol…


It’s always interesting to see the “stars and bars” in Europe.  The flag doesn’t seem to mean what it does in America.  I’ve seen it on cars, in Italian truck stops, and now at the neighborhood Harley dealer.  They probably think they’re catering to Americans with that…  An Italian friend explained to me that, for some reason, southern Italians relate to southern Americans and some have adopted the “Confederate Battle Flag” as their symbol.

A couple of shots from the hilltop looking down toward our neighborhood.  It’s not as beautiful as Jettingen was, but if you know where to look, you can appreciate lovely views here, too.

We left Spirit of New Orleans with my leftover lunch, plus an order of chicken wings, and New Orleans Crawfish Etouffee.  I think John’s restaurant is the only one we’ve been to in Germany where we regularly order lunch, as well as more food to go for later.  It really is a treat!  He went to New Orleans in April, so it’s great that he’s back in town.  He lit up when I told him we missed him.  Although he’s a bit eccentric and sometimes uses blue language in the kitchen, he’s a really great cook.  I’m willing to overlook a little nuttiness if the food is good.  It really is.

Well, in a few days, we’ll be back in Stuttgart to see our dentist and see Elton John perform.  With any luck, the dogs will not have any more veterinary dramas and we’ll be able to enjoy our old stomping grounds with a couple of new Stuttgart restaurant reviews.


A whirlwind trip to Austria, Italy, and probably Switzerland, part 9

Bill came back from his final meeting in Vicenza by 10:00am.  That meant we were free to pack up and leave.  I was pretty ready to go.  Don’t get me wrong.  Vicenza seemed like a nice town based on what little I saw of it.  I was just really looking forward to our hotel in Switzerland, which I had been eyeing for years.  That, and it seemed like the air quality in and around Vicenza was really terrible.  I noticed a lot of smog around Vicenza and Verona.

I hadn’t realized how long it was going to take us to get to Vevey, Switzerland.  For some reason, I think of the countries in Europe like states in America.  Like there will be big interstates connecting them easily.  That’s definitely not always true.  As it turned out, it took all day to get from Vicenza to Vevey.  We were forever stopping to pay tolls, too.  I think we paid about 50 euros worth just to get out of the country.  Then we had to take St. Bernard’s Pass, which was almost another 30 euros.

Our drive to Switzerland introduced me to the Auto Grill phenomenon.  Sure, I’d seen truck stops before, both in the United States and Germany.  For some reason, when Bill and I travel, we rarely stop at them.  We learned our lesson in Italy.  When you drive on the autostrada in Italy, you take a ticket at the beginning of your journey, then pay when you get off.  We got off the autostrada in Bergamo, searching for a place to have lunch.  We found no easy options, so we got back on the road.  I told Bill we should just stop and eat at an Auto Grill.  The first one we stopped at was just a snack bar.  The second one had a full service cafeteria style restaurant.

And, as to be expected in Italy, the food was pretty good.  I had chicken with fries.  Bill had salmon and potatoes.  I had a piece of yummy chocolate pie for dessert and Bill had some kind of delicious custard.  I know we have truck stops in the States, but this was pretty damn impressive.

The one and only Italian beer I drank in Italy.  Wine is ridiculously cheap and good there.  Beer is not their speciality, though this one wasn’t too bad.

The outside.  We had a lot of sun.


Auto Grills also offer relatively clean places to pee for free.  They also sell lots of stuff… stuff that I might even consider buying.  Seriously, they have all kinds of high quality Italian foods there, everything from sausages to dried mushrooms (yecch).  And you can get gas for your car, too.

Cool looking bridge as we headed toward Turin.  The following pictures are of the magnificent scenery, kind of ruined by the poor air quality.

When we had to pee again, Bill ended up at an Agip station.  We walked in and I was shocked to see a Confederate flag.  Yes, we were in Italy, not far from the Swiss border.  An Italian friend commented that perhaps the owners of the gas station were from southern Italy.  Who knows?  But you can buy your olive oil there, too.

I took a photo of these cheesy looking Italian liqueurs because they reminded me of something else.

The drive to the huge pass between Italy and Switzerland was absolutely beautiful.

I ran out of juice in my phone in the big tunnel.  I had just enough to tell people we made it to Switzerland before the damn thing conked out.


All in all, we had a nice time in Italy.  I’d like to go back, though maybe not to Vicenza… or maybe to a different hotel.  Don’t get me wrong.  I see why people like Hotel Victoria.  It’s great if you’re doing business or moving to Italy.  It’s also great if you want to shop, which is what I ended up doing.  But to see the actual town or do things without taking the bus or driving, you need to be located elsewhere.

I guess if Bill asked me to go back with him, I’d go, though.  We had wonderful food in Italy and I did pick up some great stuff for the kitchen and my wardrobe.  I didn’t spend a lot of money, either… except on the tolls!