Earlier this week, Bill noticed the wine stand sign was up, advertising the return of our village’s reliable club fundraisers. I was excited to hear that the spring ritual was commencing because that means better weather is on its way. Breckenheim has impressed us a lot since we moved here at the end of November 2018. People are friendly, and there are a lot of community events.
Last fall, we finally got a weekly market, which has proven to be very popular. It went off so well that it continued even through the winter. Every Thursday, local fresh food vendors sell their products in our Dorfplatz. The wine kiosk is open, and someone usually cooks brats on the grill. However, the market only goes from 1pm until 6pm, so that makes it hard to go shop unless Bill gets home early.
The wine stands are different, as they are only about wine and socializing. Sometimes, there’s live entertainment, too. Last night’s wine stand was hosted by the local tennis club. Seems to me the last time they hosted, they also had a singing group. I remember it well, because it was during the summer and, because they were putting in the new public restroom, the stand was held in the parking area of the Rathaus/elementary school. That’s even closer to where we live than the Dorfplatz is. I also remember that particular wine stand because I got COVID-19 right after we attended.
I shared a couple of photos with the wine group I run on Facebook. A lady who lives down in Stuttgart asked about the wine stand, and I had to break it to her that I’ve never seen wine stands in Stuttgart or its environs. That area is more about beer, although they do have wineries in the Stuttgart area and their own wine culture. But Wiesbaden and the surrounding area is in the heart of the Rheingau, which is Germany’s wine country.
Stuttgart does have some other fun traditions, though, like pop up “Besen” (Swabian word for “broom”) restaurants. If that’s a Germany wide tradition, I have yet to run across it in the Wiesbaden area. But then, I don’t hang out in the local Facebook groups up here.
Anyway, last night’s wine stand was fun, albeit a bit chilly, and mostly uneventful… I did get some photos, and when we came home 90 minutes later, Arran gave us an enthusiastic welcome. Our old guy still has a big tumor on his side– I had thought it was a lymph node, but the vet says she thinks it’s a tumor. He seems a little more tired lately, too. But he’s still with us, and wanting to do all he can for as long as he has left.
I will spend the next week home alone, as Bill has another business trip this week and part of next week. Good vibes, please, that Arran hangs in there until the business trips stop for March. He had a treatment this week and will get one next week.
Today, we have plans to go to a wine “messe” in Hofheim. If we actually make it, I’ll be writing a new post tomorrow. Stay tuned.
It’s time for me to write another one of my “ten things I learned” posts. This one is coming a bit later than usual. I’m going to preface the post with a bit of an explanation for the people who still follow my travel adventures.
I’ve held off on writing my usual “ten things I learned” post for our most recent trip to France. I’m sad to say that I’ve kind of lost some of my desire to produce travel blog posts. There are a couple of reasons for this development.
Ever since I moved my blogs to WordPress, I’ve been struggling with lagging morale, particularly regarding the travel blog. Part of the reason I’ve been struggling has to do with people who were following me on Blogspot and decided to cause trouble. That situation was what led me to move my blogs in the first place. I suspect they just didn’t like me personally, for whatever reason, and decided to stir up some shit. It all ended badly, and ultimately, not in their favor, but it left me with some significant psychological angst that has taken some time to overcome.
I spent a year struggling with feeling really violated and angry, mainly because the people who were causing issues were being creepy, dishonest, and toxic. I’ve written quite a lot about that situation, mostly on my main blog, so I don’t want to rehash it here. I do think it’s really sad that some people feel the need to meddle in other people’s business and try to sabotage something like a personal blog. What those people did caused real damage on many levels, and there was absolutely no reason for it, other than their need to be destructive and creepy.
The second reason I’ve been less enthusiastic has a lot to do with the pandemic, and how difficult and annoying travel has been since COVID-19 became part of life. I was finally starting to feel better about writing in early 2020, only to have everything fall apart due to a deadly novel virus. The below song by Rhonda Vincent is pretty much a good summation of my feelings about COVID… If you haven’t heard it, I highly encourage you to listen. I promise it’s good, unless you just can’t abide bluegrass.
I am happy to report that Europe really is FINALLY opening up again, and COVID measures are becoming less obnoxious. This is happening, even though COVID infections are on the rise again in Europe, and I was actually exposed to COVID on our latest trip (though I haven’t been sick). I’m hoping the “red tile” on my Corona Warn app will go back to green today. Bill and I had a wonderful time in France, and now we want to travel more. So, I’m hoping we can move back into our former lifestyle, and I will recapture the joy of travel and experiencing new places and things. And now, on to the ten things I learned…
10. COVID-19 measures in France are currently much less annoying than they’ve been in Germany.
One of the reasons Bill and I went to France in the first place is because we didn’t want to be bothered by strict COVID rules. France doesn’t require FFP2 face masks, and if you are vaccinated, you don’t have to bother with masks in public indoor areas of restaurants and hotels. You do still need to wear a mask in shops, because they don’t check for vaccinations at the door. This was true during our visit, but as we know, rules are always subject to change.
9. Soufflenheim is French pottery heaven!
We have been to the Alsace area of France many times, but we’ve always stuck to the Wine Route. This was our first time exploring the area above Strasbourg, and we decided to go there because we knew Soufflenheim was where Alsatian pottery is made.
8. But there isn’t that much else going on in Soufflenheim…
Or, at least that was our impression during our visit. It’s a great place to go pottery shopping, but I wouldn’t say the town is particularly picturesque. However, nearby Sessenheim, where we stayed, is very cute!
7. There’s more to Alsace than the Wine Route.
On our previous trips to Alsace, we stayed in pretty, tourist friendly towns like Riquewihr, Colmar (Bischwihr), Ribeauville, and, of course, Strasbourg. We have visited the picturesque hamlets around Riquewihr and Ribeauville, and even made a point of stopping by Kaysersberg, where Anthony Bourdain took his life in 2018. If you go north of Strasbourg, you’ll still be in Alsace, but it feels different… and it’s well worth seeing.
6. Auberge Au Boeuf is a really cool place to stay!
I think the main reason we enjoyed our trip so much is because we discovered Auberge Au Boeuf, which is a wonderful, historic restaurant. But it also has four really cool bedrooms that can be rented. We were delighted by how thoughtfully designed and beautiful the hotel was. The little town of Sessenheim is also notable for its historic connection to Johann von Goethe, a very famous German poet, playwright, novelist, and statesman.
5. Michelin starred restaurants are not the end all, be all…
I do enjoy eating fancy food on occasion; but I’m really much more of a comfort food fan. We ate at the Michelin starred Auberge Au Boeuf twice. I’m not sorry we did that, but we did learn that “fancy food” should be special, or the magic wears off. On the other hand, it had been so long since we last indulged!
4. Speaking German often, but not always, comes in handy in Alsace.
We kind of already knew this from other trips, but we did run into a number of people who didn’t speak German or English. It made me wish I had studied French, in school, instead of Spanish.
3. The town of Bitche, which is in Lorraine, is very close to Kaiserslautern and Ramstein.
I did not realize how accessible this town, with its impressive and famous citadel, is to Germany’s largest military community. Maybe if Bill had worked in K-town, we might be slipping over the border more often.
2. Saverne is a cute town I’d never heard of!
We visited Saverne on a whim after we got bored in beautiful Obernai. Seriously, Obernai is a very pretty town, but it reminded me so much of other wine route towns. It was a treat to discover Saverne, which was about 45 minutes away. It had a very different feel. I wish we’d had time to explore more of it. Maybe we can go back.
It’s time to get back to enjoying Europe… for as long as possible.
One of our biggest regrets during our first time living in Europe is that we spent too many weekends at home. We completely missed out on the Black Forest and Alsace during our Army tour. In fact, I don’t even remember any visits to Stuttgart Mitte during those two years. When we came back to Germany in 2014, we were determined to explore more. For four years, we were able to do that, and we did it to great success.
But then, once we moved, we dealt with harassment and COVID-19, which knocked us off track somewhat. As we’ve learned from COVID, life is short and tomorrow is never guaranteed. Putin is making things in Europe a bit tense. Add that to COVID, and things can seem mighty grim. The truth is, every day there are risks to be faced. It’s time to face more risks and get back to living. I hope that’s what we can do more of in 2022.
And to those who want to cause trouble and see me fail…
This post also appears on the main blog, since I have different readers there. The featured photo are cookies brought by our landlord.
I’m getting a late post up today. I was actually thinking of taking off the last day of 2021. I didn’t have anything earth shattering on my mind that I felt compelled to write about. Bill had the day off, and we were both kind of tired. Bill was especially tired, since he never gets a full night’s sleep. So I worked on reading my book, and he took a nap. Later, he’ll fire up the fondue/raclette grill set I got him for Christmas, and we’ll try it out. He’s already used the new hot tea pot I got him. He’s drinking tea as I write this.
Arran took a nap with us, while Noyzi tried to steal my brand new fuzzy slippers. I think he thinks they’re small animals. I might let him take them, but he’s already eaten a couple of toys. The emergency vet is the last place we want to go tonight.
I managed to accomplish a couple of other chores, too. After I worked on trying to rid the toilet of limescale and calcium stains, I went on Amazon.de and bought some citric acid, as well as cleaning soda and salt. Today, I tried the acid on a really terrible hard water stain in the shower that I’ve never been able to get rid of. I poured the acid on the stain and, wouldn’t you know it? That stain was gone in minutes! There’s no trace of it. I think it’s a wonder drug. It’s hard to believe it’s taken seven years to figure this out. Vinegar is good, but citric acid is the bomb! And it’s cheap, too!
I also climbed up on a stepladder in the shower and knocked the calcium off the shower head jets, so the nice rainfall spray won’t squirt all over the place anymore. Now, the new shower head is as nice as it was in September, when it was installed.
I heard that fireworks weren’t supposed to be sold in German stores again this year. Like last year, the government wants to discourage people from setting off fireworks, because they don’t want people getting hurt and needing to go to the hospital, thanks to COVID. I suspect there will be fireworks, anyway… Germans are law abiding people, but they love fireworks on New Year’s Eve. I think that’s pretty much the only day they are allowed to be set off, at least by the regular rank and file folks. I seem to remember that there were fireworks last year, despite the ban on them.
Our New Year’s celebrations are usually pretty boring affairs. We spend them much the same way we spend any night at home… listening to music, drinking wine, and talking.
I’m hoping 2022 will be a better year for everyone… although 2021 wasn’t, for me, a particularly bad year. I’ve had worse. But this COVID-19 shit needs to be fixed. Hopefully, 2022 will bring us some breakthroughs.
In any case… I want to offer sincere thanks to everyone who’s been reading my blogs. This main site, in particular, has really taken off this year! In the past month or so, I’ve had an explosion in traffic. That really does my heart good, and makes writing this blog worth the time and effort.
The travel blog has been somewhat less trafficked this year, but I can understand why. I haven’t been traveling as much… nor have many other people! I’m sure the traveling we have done may even be a downer for some folks. I know some people suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out), and it can be depressing to look at other people’s travel posts when travel is so potentially risky and definitely stressful. I am very grateful, though, that we finally managed to go to Croatia. I hope we can visit again. There are more places I want to see. And with any luck and maybe God’s grace, if you’re into God, that is– maybe COVID-19 will be more under control by this time next year.
I’m still making music, too… Been getting better with my guitar skills and can even play some songs. There are some times when I find myself playing things completely spontaneously. I still have plenty of learning to do, which is a good thing. And I’ve also found someone to collaborate with on YouTube, too, which is very rewarding. Maybe I’ll put up a new song or two, now that I have new gear. Maybe I’ll try to learn bass guitar and banjo, too… if the virus continues to spread, I might have to do something else to pass the time.
Well… I don’t have much else to say, except…
I wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year’s Eve, and a very fortuitous New Year’s Day… and 2022!