Yesterday, we decided to go to AAFES to pick up a few things and visit Bijan, a local craftsman who makes tables out of wine barrels. Bijan, who is a member of my wine group on Facebook, says he is going to stop making tables because of an injury he had. Now he’s making jewelry. After we bought some personal care items at AAFES, we stopped by Bijan’s table, tried some wines, bought a few bottles, and picked up a couple of Bijan’s bracelets for Bill’s daughter and granddaughter. I’ve been making a care package for younger daughter as a morale booster. She’s halfway through a difficult pregnancy.
We had beautiful weather again yesterday, and Noyzi had really wanted to come with us on our quick trip to AAFES. Of course, dogs aren’t allowed in American stores on post, so he had to stay home. But once we got home, we decided to visit XXL Restaurant Waldgeist, a local restaurant near a sports park that specializes in humongous burgers. They also have a great Biergarten with comfortable tables and umbrellas, although since we didn’t have reservations, we didn’t score an umbrella.
Noyzi was very excited to be with us, because there were a lot of dogs at the Waldgeist yesterday. He’s getting better at going to Biergartens, although it takes him a little while to settle down. Bill and I decided to have lunch/dinner, which you can really do at Waldgeist. The portions are huge. Bill had the smallest Schnitzel they offer– 250 grams. It was still too big to finish. I had a Haxe, of which I managed about a third. I suspect I’ll be eating it for the rest of the week. I saw a couple of people ordering the huge burgers. They were the size of a small pizza! Waldgeist also has huge steaks, although I didn’t see anyone order one of those.
Waldgeist is a very kid friendly place. They have a playground for children, as well as children’s portions on the menu. We watched several little kids having a ball while their parents enjoyed food and each other’s company. It struck me how much I enjoy these weekend excursions, watching people enjoy themselves with their families and friends.
I think Waldgeist is a popular venue after sporting events, too, as it’s located very close to several playing fields, as well as a dog park. One thing to note if you visit the Waldgeist is that they only take cash payments. But, on the positive side, they’re open every day! Warm food goes from noon until 10:00 PM, and the restaurant is open from 11:30 AM until midnight.
Below are a few photos from our afternoon.
Later, we hung out in the backyard, listened to music, and enjoyed some wine, along with cheese that I bought for Bill at Henri Willig, a Dutch chain of cheese purveyors. I don’t eat most cheeses myself. I only like cheese when it’s a very specific kind, prepared in specific ways. I can’t just eat it cold, for instance. But Bill loves all cheeses, especially goat cheese. I can’t eat goat cheese at all!
Looks like I made good choices this time. I wish I’d gotten a picture of Bill’s face when he first tried the goat cheese. It has garlic and herbs in it, which is a favorite combination for Bill. The other cheese is made from cow’s milk and includes Mediterranean spices. I also got some Baby Gouda cheese, but that’s pretty normal stuff, so he didn’t try it yesterday.
Pretty soon, this beautiful weather will be a thing of the past until the spring. I’m glad we managed to venture out yesterday. We probably should visit the Waldgeist more often. It’s a really nice place to spend a couple of hours outdoors, especially with our Noyzi.
Yesterday, Bill was supposed to Skype with his mom. He didn’t do it, because I complained to him that I wanted to go out and do something on Saturday. And yet, we didn’t end up going anywhere yesterday… it was hot and muggy, and nothing was appealing.
Today was different. It was hot and muggy today, but we decided we wanted to go out, anyway. The Birkenhof Hofladen has a 24 hour fridge that people can buy produce from. They also have a Biergarten called the Bembelschänke, which is a really nice venue for drinking beer, eating pretzels, and pondering life. It’s a dog friendly place, so Noyzi came with us. Boy did he have fun! A Bembel, by the way, is a pottery wine pitcher found in these parts. This is German wine country, after all.
When we arrived at the cornfield, we walked Noyzi toward the entrance, where we were promptly greeted by a gorgeous dog who obviously lived at the farm. I think he might have been a “Swissy”. He was very much “Johnny on the spot” when we arrived, meeting us at the gate, and checking out Noyzi with his hackles raised. Noyzi, of course, just wanted to play.
The lady of the farm came out and claimed her dog, whom she said was two years old. She yelled at him to sit and he ignored her the first couple of times before he complied. He and Noyzi traded a couple more sniffs, then parted company as she took him inside.
Bill and I chose a shady spot in the Biergarten, which wasn’t very crowded at all. We ordered a couple of beers– an amber for him, and a weizen for me. Noyzi was nervous, but he eventually calmed down a bit as we enjoyed a “cheese bread” plate for Bill, and Spundekäs with a pretzel for me. I was impressed by how beautifully the food was presented.
The Bembelschänke offers a variety of beverages– wines, beers, soft drinks, and non alcoholic juices. I was actually really tempted by the lemonade, which looked very refreshing. The food choices are somewhat limited to snacks, but that’s okay. After you enjoy a round or two, you can visit the 24 hour fridge and load up on farm fresh goodies. I took a video for Bill’s daughter. She’s never had a chance to live abroad.
As we were finishing up our second round, the lady of the farm came over with a big bowl of water for Noyzi. I could tell she was a bit smitten by him. I think the feeling was mutual, as he went right over to her and gave her a snuggle. I was glad to see him so comfortable with someone he doesn’t live with 24/7. Noyzi really likes women, and he’s come such a long way from the scared pooch he was in 2020, when we first brought him home from Kosovo. He was very well behaved at the Biergarten, aside from taking a little while to settle down. I think if we go back, we’ll be welcomed warmly… especially by Noyzi’s new friend.
One of the young waitresses said, when she saw Noyzi, “Mein Herz.” Or something to that effect. The lady of the farm said he was very “Hübsch”. It was clear that he made a very good impression. I do love my beagles, but I’ve got to admit that Noyzi the street dog sure is better behaved and easier on most levels. He works very hard not to offend, and he mostly succeeds.
Anyway, we were very proud of him. It was a hot, but lovely, afternoon. The mood at the Biergarten was perfect– not too busy and very warm and welcoming. I hope we can do it again soon. And the bonus is, we scored some nice goodies for home!
We had such beautiful weather, yesterday, that we just couldn’t abide staying home. But, once again, it was later in the day when we decided to go out for awhile. I started throwing out suggestions of places that were an hour or so away from our house, but then we wondered about Noyzi, who has become very fond of coming with us when we go out somewhere. Bill then remembered a Biergarten located near us that we’d never been to previously. His good friend from work had been there and recommended it, and Google said it was just 13 minutes away by car.
I was sold on that suggestion, so we headed out to Hockenberger Mühle, a restaurant and Biergarten about seven kilometers north of us. Noyzi was all too thrilled to jump up into the back of the Volvo. It’s funny how we used to have to pick him up and put him in. Now, he just leaps in with no problem.
When we got to the Biergarten, we found it very well populated with people who were wise enough to make reservations. Nevertheless, we were able to score a parking spot in a small field across the two lane road approaching the restaurant. The Hockenberger Mühle was tucked away in a corner, with the Biergarten mostly covered by a permanent roof and/or large umbrellas.
An obviously hardworking man seated us with another couple, who turned out to be good company. They had arrived at the Biergarten, courtesy of their bikes. The male half of the couple had taken a nasty spill before their arrival, and had a pretty banged up looking leg. Nevertheless, they were very friendly and talkative, and quite tolerant of Noyzi, who was nervously looking around and occasionally barking. We explained to the couple that Noyzi is a street dog from Kosovo and he’s still learning how to act in public. They were understanding and told us about friends of theirs who had adopted a dog from Romania. That seems to be the “in” thing to do in Germany, these days. I would be happy to adopt a more local dog myself, but the shelters don’t seem to want to let Americans affiliated with the military adopt, thanks to some of the irresponsible actions of our countrymen.
The Biergarten was very busy, and there were many bikers, as there is a bike trail nearby. I also noticed several large, well dressed families who looked like they might have just come from church. The German couple who were sharing the table with us said it looked like maybe some of the kids with them had just had their first communions.
Bill decided to have a tuna salad. I had a Schnitzel and fries. Ordinarily, I might have opted for something less fried, but I was preoccupied with Noyzi and didn’t have the chance to study the menu more carefully. I do like Schnitzels on occasion, but they’re kind of entry level. Oftentimes, I can’t finish them, although I managed to do it yesterday. Bill had a Dunkelweizen beer, and I had my usual Hefeweizen.
After the biker couple departed, we had some time alone at the table. A couple more people showed up with big dogs, both of which were better behaved than Noyzi was (although he really wasn’t bad at all). We did get a few side eyes from some folks. One guy was at the table next to us and kept giving me looks, but I noticed he could barely keep his food in his mouth and he smoked several cigarettes. So, I guess we’re about even, in terms of table manners. 😀
I went looking for the ladies room and stumbled across the restaurant’s playground for kids, plus more tables, which were all occupied. Bill called for the check, but it took awhile for them to bring it to us. Meanwhile, we were joined by more bikers– this time, it was a gay male couple. They were nice enough, but I did think it was funny that they asked if we were there on vacation. I mean, there we were with our big ass street dog… Did they think we flew him over to Germany for a week’s break? They knew where we lived when we explained we live in Breckenheim.
Then, when Bill went to pay the check, he got the numbers mixed up and tried to give the server way more money than she needed. She protested, and after Bill finally got the check paid, one of the men said, “In Germany, a ten percent tip is enough.”
I kind of stifled a laugh and said, “Oh, we know not to tip like Americans here… ”
I don’t think the guy realized what had happened. Bill thought the bill said 53 euros, when it was 35. Anyway, after that little cultural exchange, we were feeling ready to go home to the peace and quiet of our backyard. Noyzi did reasonably well, although he’s still pretty nervous in public. Every time we take him out, though, he gets a little bit better. Plus, he’s a great ice breaker.
We would love to go back to that Biergarten some other time, or maybe eat in the restaurant, which looked pretty charming. Next time, we’ll make a reservation, though, if the weather is fine.
Here are some photos from our brief excursion… A couple were taken in the pretty countryside near our house. We don’t have nearly as much pretty country where we are now, but there’s a little bit to satisfy the part of me that really misses horses. There are also some really cute little villages to drive through, but they are so congested!
Bill is coming home from Bavaria today. I had meant to put another coat of teak oil on the outside furniture this week, but the weather has been very wet and rainy. I’m glad I managed to oil the furniture last week, at least.
I took Noyzi for a walk this morning and noticed the creek was very high. The wine barrel we bought last month is getting close to being full. I’m glad to see it, because I suspect that in two months, that water will come in handy. Lately, the summers here have been pretty dry and hot.
We’ve also been talking about taking a short break at the end of the month. Since we’d have to take Noyzi with us, we’re somewhat limited. He’s actually really well behaved, and I doubt he’d cause as much trouble as our beagles did, but he’s a big dog.
I’d like to find us a self-catering place somewhere rural and beautiful. We don’t have to see or do a lot. It would just be nice to have a change of scenery and access to a Biergarten. Anyway… we’ll see what we can do. We may just stay home and do some day trips. There are still a lot of places near us we’ve never explored, thanks to COVID. We’re also just about to go on a BIG trip that will cost a lot of money.
The creek is wild!
The featured photo is of an ad for an event happening next week. Maybe Bill will be recovered from night shift work by then…
I wish I had more exciting things to write about today, but fear not. Pretty soon, I expect to have many beautiful photos and videos of stunning Norwegian scenery, followed by visits to many other foreign lands. It’s something to look forward to… So hang in there, and bear with me. More exciting posts are forthcoming.
Sunday morning, we woke up to more wind and rain. Naturally, that made me decide it was perfect weather for visiting Hohenzollern Castle. Actually, we took some time to decide where to go. I checked the Ausflugstipps für Baden-Württemberg Facebook page again, and saw a couple of possibilities. But I don’t think we felt like driving too far afield, and Hohenzollern is not that far from Stuttgart. It’s near a town called Hechingen, which is just south of Tübingen, a really cool college town Bill and I know very well.
We had been to Hohenzollern before, back in the spring of 2008. Bill’s coworkers at the time had recommended it, so we went there and were mightily impressed by the castle’s beauty and imposing presence on top of a mountain. I remember on that trip, we stopped at the cheesy tourist restaurant near the castle. It was obviously intended for busses, as there was a large parking lot that could accommodate them. On that 2008 trip, we ate some pretty terrible German style Mexican food, served in virtual “troughs”. Well, it probably wasn’t as bad as I remember it, but it was definitely missing something in the translation.
This time, we skipped the tourist trap and drove up to the large parking lot near the castle. Bill used the free WC, and bought our tickets. As of April 1, summer tickets will be available, which means the museum will be open. But, when we visited on March 26th, it was still considered “winter”, which meant we could only visit the grounds. Our tickets were seven euros each. Summer tickets are 22 euros, but include entry to the museum. I seem to remember that when we visited the first time– also in early spring– we had a choice of getting a ticket for just the grounds or one that included the museum/tour. Since we were financially poorer, and didn’t speak German and/or understood a lot less back then, we got the cheap tickets and stuck to the grounds. Now, we would opt for the museum/tour tickets.
One other thing we did differently this time was choosing NOT to walk up the steep path to the castle. This time, we took the shuttle bus, which was seven euros round trip. I gotta say, after having had the mountain goat like experience of climbing the hill, the shuttle bus is so worth it. Especially when the weather is as crazy as it was on March 26th. Bill and I are probably still capable of walking up the mountain, but I remembered it to be pretty exhausting when I was 35 years old. I’m 50 now, and only have so many spoons. 😉
The weather on top of Hohenzollern can be pretty wild. I remember writing about our visit in 2008 and advising visitors to make sure to bring a jacket, unless it’s just the dead of summer… and even then, it’s not a bad idea to have one. I don’t think I brought a jacket during our first visit, and I got pretty cold. This time, I was better dressed, but we experienced quite an array of weather conditions during our visit– everything from rain to wind to sun… and it was noticeably chillier up there, too.
I’m pretty sure our visit in 2008 must have happened in April, because I distinctly remember having a beer in the Biergarten, which wasn’t open during our most recent visit. We did visit the restaurant in the castle and had a nice lunch. I had very hearty Maultaschen, while Bill had the veggie bowl, which was attractive, but kind of bland. I liked my dish a lot, but I didn’t really need food again for the rest of the day! 😉
The current incarnation of Hohenzollern is the third. The castle as it is now was built in the 19th century, so it’s pretty modern as castles go. However, there’s been a castle on Mount Hohenzollern since the 11th century. It’s currently privately owned by the House of Hohenzollern, “with two-thirds belonging to the Brandenburg-Prussian branch, and the balance to the Swabian branch.” Family members still occasionally stay in the castle, with each branch flying their respective flags whenever either is there.
I would like to go back to Hohenzollern again sometime and visit the museum. I actually like this castle more than the much touted and unfinished Neuschwanstein, built by Mad King Ludwig. Hohenzollern is beautiful, and offers impressive views of the surrounding terrain. I’m not sure, but I think Bill and I could even spot the elevator test tower near Rottweil, which we visited in 2018.
I was surprised to see a number of people bringing their dogs to the castle. It’s totally allowed, as long as the dogs stay on their leashes. I’m guessing they walked up the mountain, too. I know I’m no paragon of fitness, but that walk up the mountain is not for slouches. I seem to remember there was a sign after the first stretch near a bus stop, for those who changed their minds and wanted the bus. But maybe they just walked along the road, which takes longer, but isn’t as steep. I remember we walked down the road when we came back down from the castle in 2008. In 2023, we were happy to take the bus.
Here are some photos…
The below photos were taken in 2008. Check out the difference! I kind of wish I’d brought my digital camera. It looks to me like cameras rather than phones produce pictures that look less computer generated.
We went to the gift shop on the way out of the castle, because I saw some souvenirs I thought Bill’s grandchildren might like. We bought a wooden sword and shield for the eldest, a fairy tale princess dress for the middle, and a stuffed hedgehog for the baby. I had to laugh when I noticed the princess dress was made in Canada. It’s now going to be shipped to Utah. I also bought a new jigsaw puzzle for myself.
After our visit to the castle, we decided to drive to Tübingen, as it’s always a good time. However, when we got to our usual parking garage, it was closed! It looked like they were renovating it. So we decided to go to Panzer for. a pee break and to see if the rug guy was there. I wanted to buy a new rug to replace the one Arran repeatedly used as a toilet.
We were in luck! The rug guy was there– but he didn’t have the rug I wanted to replace. We chose a different one. As the guy was folding it up for us, I said “I think we might need the bigger version of that rug.” Bill said he thought I was mistaken… Well, it turned out I was right, so the new rug went in the dining room instead of the living room. But, the rug guy said he was coming to Wiesbaden in three weeks, so maybe we’ll try again then.
We also ran into one of Bill’s old work colleagues from Stuttgart. And… while we were rug shopping, Mother Nature treated us to a nice hail storm! March weather in Germany is absolutely batshit nuts!
After we bought our new rug, which is currently clashing in the dining room, we went back to the hotel and enjoyed another evening of libations. I ended up having a chicken Caesar salad for dinner. Bill had a cheese course. We tried several local wines, too… Below are some miscellaneous iPad photos I took, starting with breakfast. Our poor waitress forgot to put in our orders for egg dishes! Luckily, they were worth the wait. All in all, I’d say Sunday was a great day.
Breckenheim had a wine stand last night. We decided to attend, so we could salute Arran in style. Noyzi came with us, because we’re hoping to get him more used to people. We’d like to be able to take him more places. Besides, he genuinely loves people, but he’s scared of those he doesn’t know. Taking him out in the village is a good way to help him get more socialized.
We enjoyed a few glasses of local wine and talked to some of our neighbors. We told them about Arran, and how we lost him yesterday morning. I wondered if they thought we were weird for going out… We ran into our landlady– or, the wife of our landlord. I think she’s the one who legally owns our house, since her brother built it. She asked where Arran was, and we told her what happened.
It struck me as kind of strange. When we lost Zane, our landlords didn’t know until over a year later. That’s how much privacy they give us, even though we’re next door neighbors. Our former landlady probably would have known within days, even though she didn’t live next door.
Anyway, we said we’d seen her artwork at the neighborhood art show in the fall. She laughed, and said that wasn’t her artwork. It seems there’s another woman in our village with the same name. She’s much older. The landlady said she’s always having to tell people she isn’t the same person! Either way, the artwork was beautiful. Our landlady has a nice sense of style, too. She was wearing a pretty scarf. Maybe that reveals a certain artistic bent.
We also met an English speaking guy who hailed from the Nagold area and moved to Breckenheim. He said he used to work as a waiter at a nightclub in Stuttgart. One night, the deejay was very late coming in, and he was flanked by two police officers when he finally did show up. I guess the show didn’t go on that night.
It was a pretty average wine stand, but I did get a nice video of the neighborhood horses passing, as well as a few photos…
It was nice to get our and enjoy the onset of spring… and now we can make some travel plans. We’re long overdue for a trip. After three years of road trips, I might even be convinced to fly on a plane and go somewhere further afield.
Cheers to Arran, who is no longer suffering, and no longer has cancer or needs chemo… and doesn’t have to worry about trying to jump up on our too tall bed. I like to think of his soul finally free of his sick, but very strong body. The featured photo is the second to the last one we have of Arran. I took the last one in the vet’s office, just before we said goodbye. I don’t normally do that… but for some reason, I just felt like doing it. I’ll keep it private, because I don’t want people to remember him in that way. He was a majestic dog with a larger than life presence. We were blessed to know him.
On Wednesday afternoon, Bill and I loaded up the car with a couple of small bags and lots of supplies for our two dogs, Noyzi and Arran. Both dogs were excited at first, because they enjoy going places. But then Arran got decidedly sullen. I could see that he was upset, because he noticed Noyzi was in the car with us, and probably figured we would be taking him to the Hundepension. There was a time when Arran didn’t mind being boarded. Bill and I have noticed that lately, he’s a lot more interested in hanging out with us. So, he looked pretty sad at the beginning of our trip. Depressed, even. Noyzi, on the other hand, was barking and carrying on. He likes car rides, and loves going to the Hundepension. Last time we took them there, Noyzi actually banged on the gate to be let in!
I noticed that Arran’s countenance was decidedly less dour when he realized we weren’t on the familiar road to the Hundepension. He knew that he was going on a trip with us, something he and Noyzi’s predecessor, Zane, used to do fairly regularly. Zane was a lot smaller than Noyzi is, so it was easier to take them on trips. We could even get the two of them in my Mini Cooper. Noyzi won’t fit in my Mini by himself, let alone with Arran. He takes up the entire back of our Volvo. So traveling with the dogs is more challenging than it used to be, and, for that reason, we don’t do it as often.
When we got to Ribeauville, Arran knew EXACTLY where we were, even though it had been about 4.5 years since his last visit. We used to go to Ribeauville fairly often, but we didn’t bring Arran on our last visit, back in January 2020 (before we had Noyzi), because we had Bill’s mom with us, and we wanted to be free to take her to different places without worrying about Arran making a fuss. I watched in amusement as Arran pulled Bill toward the Riesling Gite, where we always try to stay when we visit Ribeauville. I had to remind myself that it was our 20th anniversary, as I played Keb’ Mo’s song, “France”.
Noyzi had never been to France before, so he was a bit bowled over by everything. I let our host, Yannick, know that we had arrived, and he said he’d be coming over in about an hour. We set up in the apartment, and fed the dogs, as it was time for them to eat. Yannick came over with treats, which impressed both dogs. He told us that he loves dogs, but his wife doesn’t like them because their hair gets all over everything. I can see why that would be annoying, but I don’t think I could be married to someone who didn’t let me have a dog. 😉 They are the best company, as far as I’m concerned.
After Yannick left, Bill and I went looking for dinner. We ended up at a restaurant we had never tried before. The Cheval Noir is at the edge of the main drag, and while the outside of it is very cute and quaint, it has a decidedly unromantic ambiance. We ate there because there were only a few restaurants open in Ribeauville, as many places closed in preparation for the upcoming Christmas market. They had space for us, although there were lots of people dining there on Wednesday night who had made reservations. We sat in a corner, where we perused the very Alsatian menu. They had all of the usual stuff one finds in Alsace– Choucroute Garni, pork knuckles, potatoes with Munster cheese, and faux filets. Alsatian food is a lot like German food, just with a French accent. I ended up ordering one of the specials, a salmon fillet with Beurre Blanc sauce and roasted potatoes. Bill had a faux fillet with Munster sauce and roasted potatoes. Both dishes came with side salads.
We ordered a bottle of local wine, giggling that it was our 20th anniversary. The waitress, who spoke English, promptly wished us a “happy birthday”, which only made me giggle more. The food was good, but very basic stuff one can find at a lot of the local places. It wasn’t the kind of special dinner I expected to have on our 20th anniversary, but I found that I wasn’t upset or disappointed about it. Maybe that was the point. We’ve had a pretty wonderful 20 years, with many special evenings and occasions. It somehow made sense to have a somewhat run of the mill 20th anniversary. At least we were together, which is more than I could say about our 19th anniversary, which Bill spent alone in Poland.
We did opt for dessert, which was also nothing special. We’re big on desserts, as one can tell just by looking at us. I had profiteroles, which are ice cream filled pastries with chocolate sauce. Bill went with, torche aux marrons, a local speciality we never saw before, but saw twice on this trip. Basically, it’s a dessert that is support to look like a stork’s nest, as storks are very prevalent in Alsace. Or maybe it looks like a torch. Nearby Colmar is the birthplace of Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, the artist who created the Statue of Liberty.
Torche aux marrons consists of meringues topped with chestnut cream squeezed out as if through a grinder. Bill said it was interesting, but he probably wouldn’t order it again. I enjoyed the profiteroles. I think we spent about 70 euros, which is pretty reasonable.
When we got back to the gite, we found that Arran had raided the trash can. Yannick’s treats came in packages, which we threw in the trash and forgot to lock in the bathroom. We cleaned up the mess and went to bed, as we were both tired. Of course, Arran needed potty breaks and snacks in the night. Below are some photos from our first night. As you can see, 20 years of marriage leaves a mark on the ol’ ring finger.
I’ve been looking forward to November 16, 2022 for twenty years. That’s the day Bill and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. As some readers already know, I am Bill’s second wife. On some levels, I would say he and I have had a fairly easy time of marriage. We get along very well, and we genuinely love spending time together. We aren’t just husband and wife; we are best friends. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t had our share of dramas.
All year, I’ve been thinking about what we should do to celebrate our big milestone. Normally, I would come up with a fancy vacation of some kind, or at least a trip to somewhere we’ve never been, even if it’s not a luxurious destination. But then in September, I discovered that our beloved dog, Arran, had swollen lymph nodes. The diagnosis was B-cell lymphoma. We are now in our last days with Arran, who is a very special family member, and has a particularly close bond with Bill.
Originally, we thought it would be best to ease Arran into palliative care, but he’s repeatedly showed us he wants to fight. So he’s now undergoing chemotherapy, which has been kind of miraculous. He started treatment October 13th, and on November 20th, he’s still happy and spunky. Nevertheless, I didn’t want to board him. For one thing, we’ve come to realize that Arran doesn’t enjoy being boarded anymore. He’d much rather be with us. For another, I didn’t want to burden the Hund Pension with dealing with his medications, which aren’t that complicated, but do involve some risk. He takes a drug that requires gloves to dispense safely, and it’s not safe for his poop to be accessible to other dogs.
Finally, when we were celebrating our tenth anniversary in Scotland, Arran’s predecessor, MacGregor, had an undiagnosed cancerous spinal tumor that caused an emergency while we were traveling thousands of miles away. I didn’t want anything similar to happen this time. We lost MacGregor a week before Christmas 2012, just a couple of weeks after our return from our big anniversary trip. Arran, who joined our family on January 12, 2013, is named after a Scottish island we saw on that first trip to Scotland.
I decided we’d spend our big day in Ribeauville, France, which is about a three hour drive from us. We have been there half a dozen times since 2017, staying in apartments owned by Yannick Kopff, a Alsatian native and excellent host. Yannick is extremely dog friendly, and since our favorite of his apartments, Riesling, was available for our dates, we decided that was a good place to celebrate. I booked four nights– from Wednesday, November 16th until Sunday, November 20th, at Yannick’s Gites au Coeur de Ribeauville.
Meanwhile, we were also looking forward to seeing and hearing James Taylor perform a concert. Originally, the show was supposed to go on in February 2022. But COVID-19 numbers were too high at that time, and there were many restrictions in place. So James decided to reschedule his European Tour dates for later in the year. In our case, the Frankfurt show was rescheduled for November 8th. Perfect– a Tuesday night, over a week before our anniversary trip.
On November 7th, we got the news that James had to postpone several concerts, including ours. He finally got COVID, and was advised to rest in Zurich, Switzerland for a few days. We watched anxiously, as four shows were eventually canceled because they couldn’t be rescheduled. However, Frankfurt’s venue was open for November 19th… last night. We were supposed to be in France last night, but we decided to come home a day early to catch James’s show… and I’m really glad we did that, because it was a great show, in spite of James’s brush with COVID.
I don’t have a lot of exciting stories to tell about our most recent trip to Ribeauville. November, just before the Christmas markets, is the “off season”. A lot of places were closed in preparation for the frenzy that is about to hit the village. I don’t know how big their market was in 2021, but I’m pretty sure it was canceled in 2020. I have a feeling this year’s markets will be bigger, and I could see that people were preparing. But, in terms of having a lot to do while we were there… I can’t say that we did. On the other hand, we did try a couple of restaurants we had never tried before, and Bill tried a dessert that is a local speciality that we never had before.
This was also Noyzi’s very first trip with us, aside from when we went to Slovenia to pick him up in 2020. Ribeauville was a good choice, because it wasn’t too far away, and because Yannick is so good with dogs in his properties. It was a fruitful trip for Noyzi, too, since he finally learned to poop while on a leash. This is a big deal, because it will make traveling with him much easier and less worrisome. Eventually, we may have to take him back to the States, which means for his own health, he needs to know how to relieve himself when he’s not frolicking in the backyard. He did seem to learn the lesson on our trip.
Aside from taking pictures of the always beautiful village of Ribeauville, binge watching Netflix and cheesy French game shows, eating lots of French comfort foods, drinking Alsatian wines, and being together, we didn’t do much on this trip. It was a good opportunity for Bill to sleep. We also picked up some gifts for his daughter and grandchildren. The beauty of Ribeauville is that we’ve been there so many times that not doing anything doesn’t seem too much like a hardship. By now, the village feels like a second home, even if our last visit was in January 2020.
So… over the next couple of days, I’ll write up this trip and James Taylor’s concert. I don’t think I’ll binge write today, because frankly, I just don’t feel like it. The weather is kind of crappy and I feel like hibernating. But we had a great time, and I’m grateful we could do it. I hope we can do it again.
If you’re interested in reading about our latest trip to France, I hope you’ll watch this space for updates… Meanwhile, here’s a video I made a few days ago in honor of our anniversary and James Taylor’s show. He didn’t do “Secret O’ Life” last night…
We had beautiful weather again yesterday, so Bill and I decided to go to Wiesbaden and have lunch at the new BrewDog restaurant. BrewDog is a Scottish craft brewery that claims to be the #1 craft brewer in Europe. Bill and I both like beer very much– that could be an understatement, actually. Bill is a big fan of India Pale Ales (IPAs), too, so he was especially interested in trying the place, which is situated in what used to be a Maredo outlet.
Maredo is a well-known German steakhouse chain, and if you search this blog, you’ll see that Bill and I have visited them a few times, although I don’t think we ever went to the one in Wiesbaden. Looking at their Web site, it appears that they closed a lot of locations. Stuttgart used to have two of them within view of each other, but now it looks like there’s only one. And I remember going to one at the Bonn-Cologne airport back in 2012, and it looks like it’s no longer open, either. There is still one in Frankfurt, so I guess we could go there if the spirit moved us.
In any case, I’m glad to see that there’s a new restaurant in Wiesbaden and it offers unique offerings, for Germany, anyway. Wiesbaden is actually pretty well served by different cuisines, but sometimes one can get stuck in a rut eating Italian, Greek, and German food here, and drinking hefeweizens, pilsners, and the like. BrewDog’s menu is very American friendly, but it also offers vegan choices. And, according to its official Web site, it’s a child friendly place every night until 9:00pm. It’s also dog friendly, as are a lot of German restaurants. We didn’t see any four legged guests yesterday. In fact, when we got there at about 12:30pm, there weren’t many guests at all. The door was wide open, but I didn’t see anyone enjoying lunch. I even wondered for a minute if they were open. It was busier as we were leaving.
We took a seat at table near the front of the restaurant, enjoying plenty of social distance. The barkeep checked our COVID vaccination statuses, but that formality will probably go away next week. The beer menu included a lot of BrewDog’s offerings on tap, but there were also bottled beers. Not too many of them weren’t of the IPA variety, though, which later turned into a problem when Bill’s co-worker saw us and decided to join us for a round. She ordered a pale ale and sent it back, because it was too bitter. I don’t mind IPAs in small doses, but like our friend, I would probably choose a lager or weizen over a bitter brew. I did enjoy my “Elvis Juice”, though, and afterwards, I had a Kokosnuss Porter for dessert.
For lunch, I had a Patriot burger, which was 100% beef with cheddar, pickles, onions, bacon, baby gem, and barbecue sauce. It came with pretty good fries. Bill had a Buffalo Chicken Burger, which was buttermilk fried chicken, hot sauce, honey glaze, gorgonzola cheese, and honey gem. It also came with fries. I was pretty happy with the burger, especially for Germany. It’s been nice to see the burgers get better in this country since our return in 2014. I almost went with the Chuck Norris, which was buttermilk fried chicken on a bun with avocado, red onion, cajun mayo, and coriander. I decided against it because I’m not a big fan of coriander. Next time, maybe I’ll try it… or maybe I’ll get brave and try one of the many vegan selections offered. They also have snacks, chicken wings, bowls, and salads, and for kids, there’s even a “Hoppy Meal”.
I really liked the interior of the restaurant, which offered views of the exposed bricks of the old building, which was perfectly located right near the main square in Wiesbaden. We probably should have sat outside, given the location. It was such a nice day, and the place is primely suited for people watching. There was a Muslim wedding going on out there yesterday! But I also enjoyed the music they were playing indoors. All told we spent about 53 euros before the tip. Food is not too expensive, but the beers were a bit pricey, as were the gooey looking desserts. BrewDog is Lieferando friendly, although I think their delivery area is fairly limited to downtown Wiesbaden. They don’t deliver to our neighborhood, for instance. You can also get beer growlers and canned beer to go there.
One word of caution for anyone with mobility issues. The restrooms are located upstairs, just as they are in a lot of European restaurants.
Below are some spring photos from our lunch date and stroll around Wiesbaden. It was a real pleasure to get out and about! And, on another note, I was glad to see Nora again, Bill’s colleague!
We have nice weather again today, but today is the first day of the DST time change. It’s already 1:19pm, and I am not dressed. I don’t know if we’ll go out or not. I did just send Bill out to drive my car, which hasn’t been out in weeks. I have heard the weather is going to be crappy again next week, so maybe we should make an effort to go out. We’ll see.
I have mentioned before that I think Austria is an extremely beautiful country. We haven’t spent enough time there, which is a shame, because it’s a small country that has huge things to offer. I love the scenery there. There are enormous mountains, babbling brooks, Dirndl clad ladies and men in Lederhosen, and lots of great food. I like Austrian food more than German food. Yes, there is a difference.
It seems like Austrian food has a little dash of Italian to it… and it also seems like there’s more variety to it. It’s not just Schnitzel, sausages, Spatzle, potatoes and cabbage. And yes, I know I’m inviting criticism from my few German readers for writing this. But I also know that some of them are reading because they want to know what things look like from an American point of view. Well, I am American, and this is my point of view, even if it’s not entirely accurate. You know what they say about perspectives. I know Germany has a variety of different specialties throughout the land, but for some reason, Austrian food just seems slightly different to me. Not that we had much of a chance to eat it during this whirlwind trip.
I was expecting Bill to stop for lunch. He never did. I don’t know how he hasn’t learned in almost eighteen years of marriage that it’s good to take a break. On the other hand, there weren’t that many appealing stops on the way down to the Slovenian border. We did stop at one place so I could pee. It was pouring down rain, though. I also remember having to pay a toll of 12,50 euros before we could go through Katschburg Pass. Bill was freaking out because the toll was done by machine and it wouldn’t accept his Bar (cash). I told him he should just take his time. People would have to wait. It’s not like they don’t make us wait when they have business to attend to.
Anyway, as we approached the border, we ended up on a narrow mountain road behind some guy who didn’t seem to know which was was up. There were many wrong turn signals, a few weaves and bobs in the road, and slow speeds. The drive over the mountain was very beautiful. The leaves are turning, so the colors were dramatic against the stormy skies. There’s a bunker museum on the mountain road. We saw a lot of signs and had we not had Arran and it hadn’t been raining, it would have made for an interesting stop for Bill. It was built during the Cold War to make sure no one from former Yugoslavia would cross into Austria and raise a ruckus. Again… I would love to visit Kransjka Gora again, so maybe someday we’ll get a chance to visit.
Here are some photos from our drive down from Salzburg.
We rented an “apartment” for our night in Slovenia. I didn’t realize it was really more of a hotel apartment. We told the proprietor that we’d be there at 2:00pm, since they told us they needed an hour to get to Kranjska Gora. We actually arrived earlier than 2:00, but for some reason, it didn’t occur to me to message them through Booking.com. We just waited for a car. Well… first, Bill went to a tiny grocery store near the apartment and picked up a few essentials. Kranjska Gora is very close to both the Italian and Austrian borders. It must have been interesting to live there when Slovenia was still part of a closed society.
After we picked up a few items, we went back to the suite hotel and met the young lady who showed us our digs for the night. For about 86 euros, we got a little place with a bed, a sitting room, basic kitchen facilities, and a bathroom with a tiny shower. It was very clean and had what we needed, but it wasn’t quite as nice as our place in Salzburg. The floors were tile, which makes for easy cleaning, but chilly quarters. Still, it was just fine for a night and the price was right. Checking out was equally a breeze. All we had to do was dump the trash and leave the keys on the kitchen table. That was perfect for our purposes. The place we stayed was called G&F apartments on Booking.com, but it was in the Hotel Klass building, which is very close to the town center. I prepaid for the room and we had to pay four euros for the tourist tax. There wasn’t a pet fee and Arran was definitely not the only dog there.
Our original plan was to get Noizy at about 8:00pm, as that was when Meg was supposed to arrive with him and two other dogs who got new homes. Another American couple, based at Ramstein, I believe, were coming down to pick up a dog for themselves and transport another to a German family in Bavaria (I think). That other couple turned out to be a godsend. More on that in the next part.