A few days ago, I noticed someone in our local Facebook group had posted that there would be a wine stand this week. I immediately told Bill, who was delighted by the news. He loves going to the wine stands. I like them, too. Our village used to have them every other week in the warmer months as a fundraiser for local clubs. But then we had COVID-19 to deal with, and for over a year, there were no wine stands. We did have one last fall at the very end of the season, but COVID restrictions were still pretty heavy at that time. They are now loosening somewhat, even though a lot of people in Germany are still getting the virus. We were supposed to have “freedom day” last weekend, but Hesse and a number of other states have decided to prolong the measures until at least April 2. Last night’s shindig was delightfully rule free. No one was checking for vaccines, and not many people bothered with masks. We’ll see if Bill and I get sick in the next few days (knock on wood). We stayed away from the crowded areas.
Nevertheless, we did manage to attend last night’s wine stand, in spite of Noyzi’s protests. I think he was just confused because I wore my blue Longwood sweatshirt, which I usually wear when I walk the dogs. He was insisting on trying to come with us. It’s not that he wouldn’t have been welcome, either. The wine stands are very kid and dog friendly. It’s just that he’s still so skittish around people he doesn’t know… and it’s not fun to drink wine while dealing with a restless dog his size. As for Arran, he just gets cranky when he’s around a lot of people, even though he’s friendly.
Noyzi is making some progress in the friend making department. We ran into the proprietor of the local Italian restaurant, pictured in the photos below. The guy likes dogs, and Bill later told me that he worked with a dog rescue. Noyzi could tell he was a friendly and kind man, so he let the guy pet him and even tried to engage in play with him. It was so cute! I love watching Noyzi turn into a confident, happy pooch.
Last night’s stand offered brats and lots of local wines from Hochheim am Main, located very close to Breckenheim. Everybody seemed to be in a good mood… the atmosphere was even friendlier and congenial than usual. I think it’s because the wine stands used to be so much more frequent than they are now. People were definitely ready to mingle. The sign for the stand went up early this week– earlier than usual. And, as you can see, it was well attended! We stayed for about 90 minutes or so… long enough to try all of the wines. Then we came home– it was about a five minute walk. The boys were very happy to see us.
I hope the wine stands are back to stay, even though I usually have a headache on the mornings after!
Before I get started with part four of this series, I want to record something funny that happened this morning when I walked the dogs. Unfortunately, both of my boys seem to have picked up kennel cough during their recent stay at their Hundepension. Kennel cough is annoying and very contagious, but it’s kind of like catching a cold. In most cases, it goes away on its own.
Nevertheless, I didn’t want to risk giving it to another dog, and all of the articles I’ve read suggest letting the dog rest. For that reason, we took a shorter route today, which brought us through the Dorfplatz in Breckenheim. I saw two men in the Dorfplatz talking. One of them had a dog with him. Naturally, the dog noticed mine, so I crossed the street so they wouldn’t meet.
The guy with the dog walked away, and the other man came up to me. He was well dressed, speaking German, and seemed friendly. Then I noticed that he had a mic in his hand with radio call letters and what looked like a station number. It looked like the guy came from a local radio station. I quickly surmised that he was approaching me for a “man on the street segment” for the local news.
The guy continued speaking to me, so I suddenly blurted out, “Sorry, I’m American.”
The guy immediately stopped, switched to English and stammered, “Oh… the Germans wouldn’t… they wouldn’t… ” Then, after a flustered pause, he said with a smile, “Have a nice day.”
I chuckled to myself as I continued walking home. On any other day, I would have missed that guy, because we don’t usually walk through the Dorfplatz. But because of kennel cough, we went a different way… Once again, I fooled the locals. Edited to add…. Looks like the dude was there to ask people what they think about the new village toilet.
Now, back to our travels…
On Thursday, October 28th, we checked out of Hotel Ploberger and made our way to Croatia. I was kind of excited about the trip, since I had only been in Croatia once before, and that had been on an impromptu joyride from Trieste, Italy, back in 2016. I had heard nothing but great things about Croatia and I super excited to see the Plitvice Lakes. I had a nice rental house booked that looked really promising. Off we went, traveling through Austria’s beautiful Alps, then continuing briefly through Slovenia, and on to Croatia. We were slowed down at the border of Slovenia and Croatia. The border guard in Slovenia stamped us out of the country, and then we had to show our passports to the Croatian guard.
Not long after we passed through the Croatian border, we stopped at a truck stop, where we proceeded to have an excellent lunch. It was surprisingly good. If only we’d encountered something similar in Bavaria. 😉
Because of the delay at the border, I sent a quick amendment to our arrival at Peter’s Holiday Home in Korenica, near the Plitvice Lakes. We were an hour later than we expected to be. The drive was easy, as Croatia has great highways, even though there are tons of toll booths on the high speed roads. Below are some photos from our journey to our destination, which I found on Booking.com.
We finally arrived at Peter’s Holiday Home in the late afternoon. A kind elderly couple who lived across the street greeted us, as did another lady who lived in the house next to theirs. The husband spoke some English, while his wife didn’t. She showed us around the house and lit a fire for us. I could see we were well set up for our four night stay. Korenica is located very close to the border with Bosnia. If not for COVID-19, Bill and I might have visited there. But COVID has made everything more annoying and complicated. I have heard Bosnia is an interesting and beautiful country. Hopefully, someday we can visit.
We noticed a lot of apartments and homes for rent near the Plitvice Lakes. There are also lots of restaurants in the area, though a lot of them were closed. We learned that November 1 is truly the beginning of the off season, so our arrival in late October was just on the edge of when a few places were still open. For instance, we could have visited the Barac Caves, but just barely. They closed for the season on November 1, which was the day we left. Ordinarily, I would have liked to visit the caves, but I kind of felt weird about going so late in the season. Also… COVID. I also noticed a lot of outdoor activities, like horseback riding and kayaking available. I’m sure in the summer, that area is hopping. In fact, the caretakers, who said they’ve lived in Korenica since 1968, confirmed that it gets super busy in the summer. That made me glad to be there when we were. On the other hand, if you’re visiting in season, you will have PLENTY to do.
Anyway, Bill went to the nearby grocery stores, called Konzum, of all things, and picked up some food and local wines for us. We were both kind of tired from the day’s long drive, which was long, even from Austria.
If you are a regular reader of my blogs, you know that I have two adorable furry family members. At this writing, our dogs are Arran and Noyzi. Prior to our acquisition of Noyzi, we had another dog named Zane, who sadly died of lymphoma on August 31, 2019. The featured photo today is of Zane and Arran on August 2, 2014, when we flew from Houston, Texas to Frankfurt, Germany on a Lufthansa flight.
Bill and I have always had dogs. Next month, we will celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary. Our dogs have been our family members, because we were not able to have children. Although I don’t require an emotional support animal, I do rely on my dogs to keep my company when Bill travels. Prior to the pandemic and, more specifically, the new CDC restriction on bringing animals into the United States, it was a pain in the butt to move abroad with pets. Now, it’s become a real hassle for people who have to return home from living overseas. I fear that this new rule may cause a lot of pets to be abandoned. Here in Germany, that is bad news, since Americans already have a terrible reputation for abandoning their pets when it’s time to move. It really sucks for those of us who are dedicated pet owners.
This morning, The New York Times ran an article about the new rule and how it affects people who travel with their pets, or Americans who live abroad. I am a subscriber to The New York Times and have gifted this article, so you should be able to click the link and read it for free. I am a member of a Facebook group for people who are “PCSing” with pets, and there’s been a lot of worry about how to get dogs and cats safely to places abroad. Many of the people traveling with pets are young folks who don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on hiring pet shippers. And many of the people in Germany or other countries with pets brought their animals before this new rule suddenly went into effect. I have noticed that the government has, sort of, been trying to gradually phase in the most draconian parts of this new rule. But they still pose a huge problem for a lot of people who make their living abroad.
My dogs have always flown as “excess baggage”, which means they flew on our flights in the hold of the aircraft. That is the most economical way to transport pets. When Bill was still in the Army, our dogs flew on United Airlines and Delta Airlines respectively. Last time we flew with dogs, back in 2014, they flew on Lufthansa, which is a wonderful airline for pets. The luggage hold on Lufthansa is light and temperature controlled, and the animals are loaded at the last minute, so they don’t have to sit on the tarmac. But the United States government has a rule that makes using pet friendly airlines tricky for people who are flying on the government’s dime.
Because of the Fly America Act, people who are flying on taxpayer funds must use an American carrier for as far as possible. At this writing, only a handful of American carriers are still allowing pets to fly. Some people can get around that rule by booking their flights on a codeshared flight. Say you’re flying to Germany. To comply with the Fly America Act, you should be booking your flight on United or Delta. But you can book a Lufthansa flight through United and still be in compliance. Of course, thanks to COVID-19 and the new CDC rule, it’s gotten much harder to book flights. Some airlines won’t fly animals in the baggage hold anymore. Some will only fly small animals in the cabin, which can be problematic for those who have pets who are too big. Military servicemembers can sometimes use the rotator (Patriot Express) to fly their pets, but spots are limited and book up very quickly. I have read a lot of horror stories from stressed out servicemembers trying to figure out how to get their pets home.
Many people have used pet shippers to fly their pets. I suspect that if and when Bill and I have to move to the States with pets, we will have to use a shipper. Noyzi is a big dog, and he will probably need a special crate. He isn’t very heavy, but he’s tall and long bodied, and there are very specific rules on the sizes of the carriers that can be used. I have been saving money, because I’m sure he’s going to need to go cargo with a pet shipper, and that costs several thousand dollars, as opposed to the couple hundred per pet charged when flying them as excess baggage. Flying with a shipper is also a hassle, since it involves the dog going through a different part of the airport and possibly not coming on the same flight. We are currently fortunate enough to be able to afford a shipper, but not everyone is.
All of this is a real pain for anyone with pets and living abroad, but what is actually prompting me to write this morning are the negative, ignorant, and dismissive attitudes I’ve seen in some of the comment sections on the articles I’ve seen about this new CDC rule. I get that a lot of pet owners have done some “crazy” things, like bringing their emotional support kangaroos or peacocks on planes. I also understand that there’s been some very bad press about animals dying because they were transported in weather that was too hot or cold, or because someone put them in the overhead bin (which is just plain stupid). But there really must be a safe, affordable, and accessible way for people to travel with animals. Especially if we’re serious about not abandoning pets at shelters. This new rule is going to cause issues from negative troop morale to hostile host country relations. It will probably also result in a lot of wonderful pets dying or being abandoned.
So many comments on The New York Times article were from people who wrote things like, “It’s just an animal” or “Good! I hate flying with pets!” or “Americans who live overseas shouldn’t have pets.” This self-centered attitude is really distressing to me. I don’t have a problem with my dogs flying under the cabin, but it should be safe and affordable. And people should not be so narrow-minded and shitty about people who need to move their pets. A lot of these self-entitled twits are the same ones who condemn other people for needing to rehome their pets. It would be nice if people, in general, would have more empathy and understanding for those who aren’t like them. I get that some people have allergies or don’t like animals. I don’t like dealing with some people or their kids… some of them give me a rash or a pain in the ass. It is what it is. Flying is a hassle for everybody.
One lady kept writing about how when she was a “military kid living overseas”, her parents didn’t allow her to have pets. She implied that those of us in that situation should “suck it up” and live without pets. I finally had to offer her a cookie and a reminder that as a military “brat”, she should know that military families are diverse. To some military families, pets are beloved companions who make life easier and more worthwhile. And while it may not be practical to have pets when there’s a chance one could move overseas, life happens to everyone. Sometimes people in civilian jobs get the opportunity or find that they must move abroad. There should be a solution for those people, too.
In my case, I was not able to have children, and I’ve followed my husband to several different states and twice to Germany for his career. The career I planned for in public health and social work, back when I was single, has turned into blogging. I know a lot of people don’t think my blogs are worth anything, but they give me a reason to get up in the morning. My dogs help keep me sane and happy, especially when he travels. I don’t have a lot of human friends. We rescued Noyzi from Kosovo, where he lived outside with a bunch of other dogs. He wasn’t being abused in that environment, but he’s much happier having a family. Every day, we get to see him evolve and become more loving and trusting toward us. It’s very rewarding for us, and, I imagine, for him.
When we moved to Germany with Zane and Arran in 2014, the rules were already stricter than they had been in 2007 and 2009, when we flew with our previous dogs. Now, they have become downright oppressive. We made the choice to move here in 2014 because we wanted to live in Germany, but it was also the only place where Bill had a firm job offer after his Army retirement. It was either move to Germany, or be unemployed and soon land in dire financial straits. The move was a good one for us, but thanks to this new rule from the CDC, we’re going to have to do what we can to stay here for as long as possible. Abandoning our dogs isn’t an option, and it shouldn’t be something people are forced to do over well-intended, but impractical, rules imposed by the CDC.
At this point, Germany is not on the list of high risk rabies countries, nor are other countries in the European Union. But because of the CDC’s new rule, a lot of European airlines are not wanting to transport animals. They don’t want to deal with the hassle. And who can blame them for that? After January 2022, it’s going to be a lot harder to bring animals into the United States, because only three “ports” will allow them to enter– Atlanta, JFK in New York City, and Los Angeles. That will cause backups for sure. I truly hope this rule will be amended or abolished at some point soon. Otherwise, Bill and I will have to stay here until Noyzi crosses the Rainbow Bridge. At twelve years old, we may not have to worry about Arran for too many more years… although he’s proving to be a real scrapper in his old age.
Rant over for now… tomorrow, we go on vacation, and the boys go to the Hundepension. Hopefully, it will go off without a hitch, and I can write some new content about actual travel.
Edited to add: Here’s a link to a book review I wrote about a lady in Virginia who, along with her mom, adopted dogs from Turkey. Military and government employees aren’t the only ones affected by this ruling. She rants about the new rule in her book, too.
It’s German Unity Day (Tag der Deutschen Einheit), which means it’s a holiday. It’s also Sunday, and kind of rainy outside. Yesterday, it was also overcast and chilly. Bill and I decided to stay home and rest yesterday. We’ll probably do the same thing today.
I always feel a little bit guilty on the weekends when we can’t be bothered to do anything, particularly when we didn’t do anything the weekend before. A year ago, we went on an epic whirlwind journey to Slovenia to pick up Noyzi, our Kosovar rescue dog.
I would have liked to have done something exciting this weekend, too. Pretty soon, the weather will definitely be crappy more often than not. But we had a very busy week. For one thing, our upstairs bathroom got a huge upgrade, and that took a couple of days. For another, poor old Arran had to have another surgery to take off some crusty, itchy bumps that I’m afraid might be mast cell tumors. And again, there’s that pesky rainy weather, which in the age of COVID-19, doesn’t lend itself to going out and about. Bill has been hard at work on an exercise, which has kept him busy and preoccupied. I’m mostly over last week’s virus, but still a little tired.
I am really excited about our newly renovated bathroom. When we moved into our current home, it had been awhile since the shower and tub had been used. The water in Germany is famously hard, and the fixtures on the tub and shower were probably original to the house. Consequently, we could not turn on the cold tap on our shower at all. The faucet on the bathtub leaked all over the floor. Our first week in this house was hard, because we had to bathe in the tub, which would leak water from under the faucet when we ran the taps. The water leaked outside of the tub and got all over the floor.
Our landlord got the shower fixture changed out very soon after we moved in. It took much longer to get the tub fixed. Part of the reason for that was because Bill was reluctant to talk to him about the need. He was still a bit traumatized by our last renting experience. But he finally talked to the landlord over the summer, and sometime in late July, the landlord brought over his plumber to see what needed to be done. Much to our delight, he was fine with fixing the tub fixture and even decided to put in a new rainfall shower head for us.
We had to wait two months for the plumber and his assistant to have the time to fix up the bathroom. Apparently, there’s no shortage of work for plumbers in Germany. They came on Wednesday and worked most of the day. The landlord came over to see the progress and I got the bright idea to show him the lime covered fixtures in the downstairs hall bathroom. It wasn’t as bad as the tub was, but it was also leaky. He said “No problem,” told the plumber, and after they had lunch, they fixed the downstairs sink, too!
Below are a few photos of their handiwork:
As the plumber was working, he asked if I’d like for him to move the shower head to the corner of the stall. I was all about that, since the previous shower head, which dripped and had lots of lime on it, was situated to the middle of the wall. We would get water on the floor every time we showered. Now that the head is moved further back, there’s no more after shower mess. Plus, that new head and its matching sprayer are just really excellent! Hopefully, I can somehow keep it free of buildup, although it’s way too high for me to reach.
Needless to say, I thanked the landlord profusely. He also had a new garage door opener put in a few weeks ago, because the motor on the one we had was shot. When Bill pointed it out to him, the landlord said the opener was probably as old as the house was. He decided to get a new opener for his house, too. We were both remarking at how much quieter and nicer the new openers are.
Don’t get me wrong. These were repairs that desperately needed to happen, and they should have happened much sooner than they did. But it was just so nice to have them done to a good quality, and without being yelled at or blamed for anything. It’s nice to have a landlord who wants us to be happy and doesn’t just do cosmetic repairs, but fixes things that will make our living conditions better. And, given how much we pay to live here, it now feels more like we’re getting our money’s worth. In any case, the upgrade in the bathroom is a huge morale booster.
In other news… I have been looking for a place to spend a few days as 2021 starts winding down. I used to be so much more into trip planning and going on outings, but I’ve found myself less enthusiastic lately. I think I’ve got a case of the blahs, in part because COVID makes things more complicated and annoying. Even just going to a restaurant is an ordeal. And everything is encouraged to be done outside, which is less appealing as the weather changes.
Bill has been working so hard, and there’s so much that needs to be done. Last week, he had to get the windshield replaced on my MINI, because there was a crack in it that finally got too long to pass inspection. Before getting the windshield replaced, he had to deregister the car and get temporary plates put on, because our registration expired while the car was in the shop. It’s all fixed now, and ready for the the plates to be put back on, but first he has to go back to the inspector and get passed. So that’s something else that has to be done. Arran will be getting his latest stitches out on the 11th.
Anyway… there’s a chance we’ll do something this afternoon, but I kind of doubt it. It’s so dark and cloudy, and I doubt either of us will feel like putting on real clothes. So maybe we will, maybe we won’t. At least I can take a great shower, though, and not get water everywhere! Maybe I’ll read up about how 31 years ago today, Germany finally reunited with the East and became one country again. I’m sure it will inspire me more to read about that than the very divisive attitudes so many people have in the United States right now. Or maybe I’ll just play with Noyzi and marvel at just how far he’s come since he joined our family last year!
As I wrote in my main blog this morning, I seem to be on the mend from the weekend’s sickness. I was feeling noticeably better after I finished yesterday’s post, and by the afternoon, I even had enough energy to take Noyzi and Arran for a walk. They were delighted to go, since I think they thought they’d be missing out yesterday. I usually walk them in the mid mornings, but somehow they knew I was green around the gills and didn’t bug me like they usually do. I’m being serious. My dogs will pester the shit out of me if I don’t walk them when I’m supposed to. Luckily, they seemed to notice a lack of energy from me yesterday and left me alone, although I was definitely feeling better than I was on Saturday and Sunday.
Today’s post title is inspired by a story by Dr. Seuss that I read when I was a little girl. I never have been the biggest fan of Dr. Seuss’s books, but I did used to have a great general children’s storybook anthology that was handed down to me by my three older sisters. The book happened to have Dr. Seuss’s story, “And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street” in it. Wikipedia tells me this story was Dr. Seuss’s very first, and it was written in 1937. You can read the Wikipedia entry I linked for the gist of the story by Dr. Seuss. I would describe it here, but Seuss’s story is about a fantasy, while I’m about to write about real life. In other words, I really DID see this stuff in Breckenheim over the past couple of days, and I’m left with some wonderment.
As I mentioned up post, I usually walk my dogs in the mornings. They insist upon it. But yesterday, I was still feeling kind of yucky, so I had to wait until the afternoon to catch a burst of energy for our stroll. Consequently, I saw different things than what I usually see. Most days, when I walk the dogs, I see and hear kids in the local schoolyard. They take their recess at about the time the boys and I take our walks. I’m sure the kids notice us. Sometimes, I see little girls looking adoringly at the dogs and remember myself as a horse crazy child. I used to get excited whenever I saw a horse. If I’m honest, I still do. But I don’t stop and stare like I did when I was a kid. Many little girls love animals, and German girls are no exception.
Well, because I was walking in the afternoon, school was about over. I did see a mom with her daughter, though. The girl, who wore her striking strawberry blonde hair in a pony tail, looked to be about 9 or 10 years old. Mom was talking to the girl as she got into the backseat of their little red car. I saw the girl glance at my dogs with that expression of adoration as she settled into the seat. Mom gave me a friendly, confident smile as she shut the door and made a move for the driver’s seat. I nodded and passed, then continued on my way.
We got to the place where we usually turn to walk past the neighborhood gardens. Arran needed to take a dump. We happened to be near a trash can, so I cleaned up the poop and dragged him back the other way so I could drop off the bag. He was planting his feet, not wanting to cooperate. I broke a sweat. It was a bit humid and I might have still had a slight temperature. Then I noticed a sign posted on a tree. I wondered if it was another admonition against lazy pet owners not cleaning up their dog’s shit. But it was just someone looking to rent a garden plot. I saw another sign just like it at the other end of the garden plots. I missed the second sign yesterday, but noticed it today.
We turned to head uphill past the farmer’s fields that I’ve noticed are as likely to be growing plastic sex toys as they are wheat and corn. Someone discarded their facemask, not by throwing it on the ground, but by neatly hanging it on a sunflower. The gardens are in their last hurrah of the Indian summer as they prepare to go dormant for the onset of cold weather. The pictures below were taken this morning, but I noticed the mask yesterday… I thought to take a photo yesterday, but decided not to. I guess I was too eager to get home and back to the proximity of a toilet.
Finally, we got to the point of our route at which we turn toward home. It’s near a cemetery. There’s a custom picture framing business there, as well as a couple of apartment houses. Today, I took a photo of the area where I saw the most interesting and exciting thing on yesterday’s walk, just to give those who read this a visual reference…
So yesterday, the dogs and I were walking down the sidewalk pictured above. There were several more cars parked there yesterday afternoon than there are in the above photo, which I took this morning. In fact, there was a utility truck parked where that open stretch of street is. Workmen were on the other side of the street doing some kind of work on the street. If you picture that, you might realize that the passageway was more narrow and busier.
Noyzi and Arran are not close to being the same size. Noyzi is humongous next to Arran. He has a tendency panic sometimes, when he’s in unfamiliar situations. Arran wants to sniff and eat things. So I was focused on handling them and negotiating the narrow passage down the street. Where the cars are, there’s a grassy, nettle covered hill, which closes things in even more. If I wanted to avoid something on the sidewalk, I’d have to cross the street or walk in the middle of it. It would have been complicated to walk in the street yesterday, thanks to the workmen.
As we passed the utility truck, Arran tried to sniff something the workers had left by the curb. I pulled him away and issued a grumpy reprimand. Then I noticed an orange car with an older woman sitting in the passenger seat. She was about to open her door, which I knew would block my egress. I groaned inwardly, since I’ve run into this scenario a few times. People park on the street and open their doors, oblivious to pedestrians on the sidewalk… even those with two dogs, one of whom is the size of a miniature horse.
Sure enough, the woman got out of the car. I started thinking about how I was going to negotiate this challenge. But then I was met with a surprise. The woman closed her door, straightened the neat blazer she was wearing. I was noticing how nice and put together she looked, as if she was going to see someone important.
Then I heard a flurry of footsteps and saw a flash in the corner of my peripheral vision. Next thing I knew, a young girl of maybe eight or nine had jumped into the woman’s arms, obviously overjoyed to see her. The girl had shoulder length blonde hair and a huge smile on her face. I heard them trade enthusiastic and loving greetings. I was about to pass them on the sidewalk, when the girl suddenly let go of the woman and launched into the older man’s arms. He’d been in the driver’s seat, and I hadn’t seen him until he had exited the car and moved behind it. He had a delighted expression on his face. I had just enough time to notice that the girl was similarly ecstatic and more expressions of love were traded among them.
I was witnessing what appeared to be a reunion of people who obviously love each other very much and had missed being together. I’m assuming it was Oma and Opa visiting, but I don’t know. Obviously, this was a bonded group. I gave them a warm smile as I quickly passed, not wanting to intrude on their private moment of reunion, but yet happy I was able to share it with them in some way.
My mood suddenly brightened considerably, which surprised me. I often get really cranky when I walk the dogs, mainly because there’s not the greatest walking route where we live. We often have to dodge cars, farm vehicles, horses, other dogs, looky lous, and pedestrians who aren’t watching where they’re going. Just this morning, I encountered three cars, a biker, and a tractor all in one spot, as I turned off the main drag to walk past the gardens. We’re also very close to the Autobahn and a high speed train track, which makes the area a bit noisier than I’d like. So, unlike our neighborhood in Jettingen, which was next to a huge nature park, Breckenheim is not quite as dog walker friendly, although the people are friendlier, and are, themselves, very dog friendly.
When I saw that orange car, I was expecting to be inconvenienced by someone. But, what I saw instead was something I very rarely see in Germany. I mean, I’m sure it happens… it’s just that I don’t see it or haven’t seen it much. People are polite and cordial here, and they love their families, but they don’t seem to be that demonstrative (unless they’re at a Fest or something, then all bets are off). I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an unbridled and honest expression of pure love and affection like that on the street. It was really nice to see, especially since I was totally caught off guard and experienced a temporary mood boost because of it.
Then I finished walking back home and got back to the work of healing, which involved some more time on the toilet. But I’m feeling much better now… Pity, though, since I notice my clothes are already looser. I noticed today on our walk, I was a lot crankier on the last stretch, mainly because someone in a Volkswagen came careening around the corner. I probably looked really bitchy as they passed. What a contrast to yesterday, when I was feeling unexpectedly cheerful despite being sick.
I was reminded, yet again, of the Buddhist monk we saw in 2015. I was super cranky and hungry, not feeling well, when we stopped outside of Munich for lunch. Then I saw a Japanese monk sitting near us who gave off incredibly calming vibes. It was like just seeing him erased all of my grouchiness.
Watching that reunion yesterday had a similar effect, making me forget my crabbiness and sickness for an instant. It was like a gift. I looked for the orange car today, wondering if Oma and Opa are still visiting. I’d like to know the rest of the story that started on an ordinary day in Breckenheim. And to think I never would have seen that if I hadn’t been sick and taken a walk later than usual… not that I’m ever that grateful for the experience of diarrhea and vomiting. But there’s good in everything, even if it’s just a story I can share and a lesson about staying observant, even when your day is mundane. You never know what you’ll see, even in a place like Breckenheim.
This past weekend was a bit of a bust in terms of German adventures. Our dog, Noyzi, recently decided that he wants to stay upstairs with me, rather than hanging out downstairs. He’s co-opted a pile of bedding that was previously used by Zane and Arran. Arran still uses it from time to time. On Friday night, while enjoying my evening buzz, I decided to buy Noyzi a bed for upstairs, reasoning that he’d use his downstairs bed when he’s downstairs. I bought him a smaller one for upstairs, noting that the downstairs bed is huge and there’s less room for it in my office than down in the living room. It was supposed to show up yesterday, so we waited around for it. But then, at around 2:30pm, I got the dreaded message from DHL that the shipment was delayed. By that time, we’d already had lunch, and it was during the usual “pause” time anyway… so we just hung out at home.
Last night, Bill asked if I’d like to go out to lunch today. I said sure, so Bill chose a Latin American place called Buena Vista. He set the reservation for 1:30pm on OpenTable. This afternoon, off we went to lunch. On the way there, I noticed Frankfurt’s TV Tower. We parked at an expensive parking garage attached to a huge shopping mall, very close to Jumeirah Hotel, where we stayed November 16, 2019 to celebrate our anniversary.
When we arrived at Buena Vista, we were informed that lunch wouldn’t start until 2:00pm, even though we had reservations for 1:30pm. I also remembered that we ate at that particular restaurant in November 2019, when we stopped there for a snack on our anniversary. We had spent the night in Frankfurt to celebrate, then headed to Wroclaw, Poland for a week of business for Bill and a week of messing around for me. Since we didn’t feel like screwing around for a half hour and I wanted to go somewhere different, we decided to cancel our reservation. That’s how we ended up eating lunch at the Cafe Hauptwache.
The Hauptwache (Main Guardroom) Cafe has a long history in Frankfurt; it dates from 1904. Bill and I had been attracted to it on previous visits, but always seemed to get waylaid by the nearby Five Guys. Today, we were determined to give it a try. When we first walked into the Biergarten area– an excellent place for people watching, by the way– the sun was trying to come out. We sat down at a table under an umbrella. But within a few minutes of ordering drinks, it started to rain. We managed to duck under the porch, where there was a four top well away from the precipitation. It’s good that we moved, since the sky soon opened.
Our waitress was pretty perfunctory. She moved with no urgency, and seemed kind of half-assed about the work. She wore a face mask, but it hung under her nose. Her colleague didn’t bother with one at all. And thanks to the rain, all the smokers were huddled under the porch with us. One lady smoked the whole time, even when she had food.
One other thing I didn’t care for at this place was the fact that they have a Klofrau. That’s a woman who sits at a table by the bathroom and collects change. I’m sure she’s there for people off the street who just need to pee, but I find the practice of charging patrons in a restaurant to go to the toilet very chintzy. I also had to get an unsolicited tutorial from her on how to get the touchless faucet, soap dispenser, and towel dispenser to work. She might have done better to instruct me on the self-cleaning toilets. I’ve encountered them numerous times, but I never quite trust them to flush as they should. I’m not sure why a place that has touchless and automated everything needs a restroom attendant. It just seems cheap and tacky to me. On the other hand, I do have a ton of change that needs to be spent.
As for the food, it was quite good. I was very impressed with the burger. So many times, we have had burgers at German restaurants and they’ve been sub par. Cafe Hauptwache did satisfy with the cheeseburger. It came with cheddar, lettuce, mustard, tomatoes, onions, mayo, and I think ketchup. The fries were also very good. I couldn’t finish them, though.
This place has options for vegans and a children’s menu. It also has a full bar and apparently offers breakfast all day.
We considered having dessert, but the waitress was so inattentive that we decided to have another round instead. I had a Hefeweizen and Bill had coffee. I did see people having dessert, though, and it looked inviting. They have waffles with sugar and cinnamon or Nutella (blecch), ice cream, or the cake of the day. Today, it appeared to be cheesecake. I wouldn’t have minded trying that. Or, maybe it the weather was better, we would have looked for a Konditorei.
We called for the bill. It came to about 47 euros. Bill gave the server 50, and we were on our way home to two very excited dogs. Maybe tomorrow, Noyzi’s new bed will arrive.
Anyway… I would eat at Cafe Hauptwache again. We aren’t unhappy that we stopped there, especially due to its historic look and excellent location for people watching. The inside isn’t very big or impressive, though, so it’s probably best to go there when the sun is shining. I did love the music they were playing– 70s and 80s hits. I could hear it when the rain wasn’t pouring. I’m glad we ate there, instead of at the Buena Vista restaurant.
On Wednesday, we’re off on our next trip– a mixture of business and pleasure– four nights in the Black Forest town of Baiersbronn, where there are several Michelin starred restaurants, and a trip to Stuttgart to finally see the dentist. I did book us at what appears to be a very nice resort, so that should be fun. We also have a couple of reservations, although we couldn’t score any at the very fancy places. They’re either fully booked or on vacation. It IS August, after all. Hopefully, next week, the blog will get a nice boost.
Sunday afternoon, after our visit to the Lindt Home of Chocolate and rainy drive next to the shore of Lake Zürich, we found ourselves in need of lunch. I had spotted a cute pizzeria on our drive, but parking was a challenge and it was really pouring rain. I was enjoying the misty views of the lake, but the heavy deluge was making us nervous. So instead of continuing around the lake, we decided to head back toward Zürich.
By the time we got back to the city, the rain had stopped and the sun was coming out. As we walked out of the parking garage, I spotted what looked like a promising lunch spot. They were advertising “craft” burgers and beer. I’m generally kind of wary of burgers in Europe, but this place did look like it might be okay– especially given how many people were there. Unfortunately, they were “complete”, so we kept looking. We finally ended up at Restaurant-Boucherie August, a place that was attached to a hotel.
We stopped at Boucherie August because it looked open, and because the lady cleaning off the tables outside was friendly. It smelled good, too. When we walked in, it was about 2:00, and the place was packed. An hour later, when we’d finished, we were the last ones in the dining room. The dining room was all checkerboarded and the tables were close together, but had plexiglass partitions on either side to discourage the spread of germs. The hard chairs were a bit uncomfortable– they were the kind with arm rests that don’t actually allow for resting one’s arms, yet limit the width of the chair. Service was a little slow, but it was friendly enough. We enjoyed our food, too, although I think their Web site is a bit over the top in what people should expect.
Getting to and from the restroom was a little confusing, since we had to go into the hotel area to find it. And then, once we were finished eating, it took awhile before we could find anyone to bring the bill. But we were just looking for something to eat. What we had was enough that we didn’t need anything else for the rest of the day… except, of course, wine. 😉
As it was our last day in Switzerland, we were ready to wind things down. We rationalized that if we got hungry later, we could just order something from the hotel. Their menu is a bit limited, but offers small plates. I couldn’t see myself wanting more food on Sunday night. We hung out in the pleasant foyer for awhile, enjoying more Swiss wine. I must admit, I had very limited exposure to Swiss wines prior to this trip, but we found several that we enjoyed while we were staying at B2 Boutique Hotel. I definitely saw some ideas for future trips, too, if we’re lucky enough to keep living here. Bill tells me we’ll probably be here at least another year, but we’ll see what happens. As I’ve recently and poignantly learned, there are never any guarantees about the future.
Bill’s work with his Jungian therapist has him thinking about other things he might like to do with his life besides planning military exercises. One thing he has been considering is taking classes at the C.G. Jung Institute in Küsnacht. I think that would be very exciting for him. He’s an unusually empathic person, with a warm, kind, heart and a keen intellect. Jung fascinates him, and that interest was a major reason why we decided to go to Switzerland in the first place. If Bill decides to take any courses, we might be spending more time in Switzerland.
As for me, I was just really happy to get out and travel again. I have really missed going to new places and having things to write about. Last night, I shared a few posts from this series in the Facebook food and wine group I run, since there were a few people in the group who had expressed interest in the hotel. Someone gave me a “laughing” emoji and commented that my “blog is bigger than Switzerland.”
I’m not sure what that woman meant by her comment; but here’s what I assume— which I realize could be a mistake. She might wonder what compels me to write these long posts about my travels, since a lot of people don’t like writing. She might wonder why I would share them, since she probably doesn’t care about what other people do when they travel. Maybe she’s turned off by the name of my blog, which I’ve discovered many people in the military community are.
Here’s a hint, though– I don’t really care if you think my blog title is offensive or bragging. If you take the time to get to know me, you’ll find out why I call my blog(s) The Overeducated Housewife (– I am a housewife with three university degrees, which means I am literally overeducated for my lot in life.If I had known this was what I’d be doing with my life, I would have skipped grad school.) I also don’t really care if you think my decision to share the posts is annoying. I share the posts for the interested. Those who aren’t interested can simply keep scrolling.
What is the biggest reason why I blog?
I mostly blog for ME…
When we lived in Germany the first time, I wasn’t a blogger. I wrote product reviews and articles for content mills. I’m sorry I didn’t blog in those days, if only because I could have kept better access to some of the photos I took back then and some of the stories I took from those experiences. I switched from a PC to iMac in 2011, which made a lot of my photos and videos from that time incompatible with my machine. If I had blogged in those days, I would have curated some of those memories. Sadly, most of the stuff I wrote during our first Germany tour is lost, thanks to Epinions and Associated Content (Yahoo Voices) tanking. I do have some stuff I saved on Facebook, but it’s a fraction of what it could be.
But I also blog for YOU…
I’ve been in Germany this time for seven years, and I’ve gained a lot of experience. I write these posts for people who might find them interesting or useful. I write them for people who are looking for trip ideas or reviews. I have benefited from people who have taken the time to write about their experiences. Their posts have contributed to my memories. So I’m simply trying to repay the favor.
In any case, I realize there will probably be a day when I can’t have these experiences as easily as I can now. So I want to preserve the memories, mainly for myself, but also for those who might find them entertaining. They’re free of charge to read, and maybe some people think that being “free of charge” is about what they’re worth. But to me, these blog posts represent priceless and precious memories. And again, I actually enjoy writing. My mom expresses her creativity through cross stitch and knitting. I hate doing those things. For me, writing and making music are creative pursuits that are truly enjoyable. So that’s why I write these “bigger than Switzerland” blogs. But I realize not everyone likes or appreciates them. I can’t please everybody, and would go crazy trying.
And now, to end this series…
We spent our last night watching Olympic coverage while drinking wine. In the morning, we got up, had our last breakfast, and were delighted to see that someone in the hotel had already brought up our Volvo from the parking garage down the hill. We packed up our stuff and I waited by the car while Bill went to settle our hotel charges. I was afraid we were really going to have an enormous bill– I was thinking maybe 3 or 4 thousand Swiss Francs. But it turned out our bill was only about 2,700, which is still a lot, but it included four nights in a junior suite, one dinner for two, many bottles of Swiss wine, valet parking, and spa for two. Breakfast, Internet access, and minibar were all included with the room. So, overall, I left the B2 Boutique Hotel pretty contented, even about what we spent for our trip.
Our drive home was completely unremarkable. We didn’t even encounter any Staus… nor did we eat anything interesting. We stopped at the “Erotic McDonalds” off the Autobahn near Heidelberg… same place we stopped on the way from Stuttgart to Wiesbaden when we moved up here in late November 2018.
Now… one last detail. I mentioned in my second post that our old dog, Arran, was going to be having a dental. Before we set off on our trip, Bill took him in to the vet to be evaluated and get some antibiotics for tomorrow’s procedure. Well… after we got home, Bill went to get some stuff from the grocery store. I was doing laundry. As I carried clean clothes up from the basement, my eyes landed on what looked like a piece of off white plastic on the floor.
I picked up the strange looking item, which I really thought was something that had broken off something inanimate. A few seconds later, much to my horror, I realized that I was actually holding one of Arran’s “fangs”. It must have snapped off on Thursday, before we took him to the Tierpension Birkenhof. I immediately felt dread. Arran is Bill’s baby, but he’s getting old, and we worry about his health. Last time we took a trip (to Heidelberg in June), Arran injured himself under a bush and had to visit the emergency vet. Seven hours and 800 euros later, he came home with stitches. And now he had a broken tooth.
I immediately started wondering if he’d spent the weekend in agony. I remembered an earlier dog, Flea, had broken a fang when we were here the first time. A couple of weeks later, Flea was diagnosed with prostate cancer, so the tooth never got fixed. We were a lot less acquainted with German vets at that time, plus we moved back to the States. This time, we were somewhat prepared, at least. Arran already had a dental appointment set for tomorrow, and Bill took him in yesterday, just to make sure he’s not in pain. And hopefully, he doesn’t have prostate cancer, too… (which he shouldn’t– I certainly haven’t seen any signs of it). Arran actually seems more chipper than ever, which makes me wonder if that tooth was hurting before it broke. He had tons of energy on his walk yesterday and has no trouble eating. I expect that after he recovers from his dental, he’ll be even spunkier. Maybe he’ll even be nicer to Noyzi. We’ll see.
Well, if you’ve been following along on this blog series, thanks for reading and your patience. I’m through sharing, now. Until next time…
First thing’s first. I have to write a disclaimer about the title of this series. I kind of made up the word scheißig– which kind of translates to “shitty”. I use the word “shitty” a lot in my daily language. Instead of looking up the actual German word for “shitty”, I decided to add “ig” to the German word for shit and hope it worked. My German friend tells me the German word for “shitty” is actually “beschissen”. However, apparently the word “scheißig” is used in slang situations, especially in Hesse. As luck would have it, I live in Hesse… and this slang bastardization of the word “shitty” works a lot better with “die Schweiz”.
With that explained, on with the tale of our trip. We planned to leave Wiesbaden on July 22nd. I had noticed our older dog, Arran, was having some dental issues. He yawned and I saw a black spot. His last dental cleaning was a year ago, but he’s getting to be an old codger. I asked Bill to take him to the vet to have him checked and schedule a dental cleaning. Bill took him in, got some antibiotics which Arran will start tonight, and an appointment for this Thursday, the 29th, for a dental.
Then, on Thursday the 22nd, we packed everything up and headed south, stopping by the Birkenhof Tierpension on the way, to drop off Arran and Noyzi. All seemed fine as we handed them over. Noyzi and Arran were wagging their tails and very excited to go into their “hotel room”, then out to play. (I promise, this part of the story is relevant…)
We headed down A5, which is also the route we now take when we want to go to France. At lunchtime, we stopped in Baden-Baden for lunch. Regular readers might remember that Bill and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary in Baden-Baden back in 2018. We enjoyed a spectacular four nights in an upgraded junior suite at Brenner’s Park Hotel and experienced the famous nude Irish-Roman baths at Friedrichsbad. It was a little weird to be stopping there just for lunch on the way to Switzerland. Baden-Baden is a very beautiful town. I would have been happy to have just stayed there. But we were just there for a quick break. We found an excellent Asian restaurant called Vinami Asia Grill and Bar…
Baden-Baden is such a lovely city. We probably should go back for a short break sometime soon. But, like Switzerland, it’s the kind of place where you need to bring lots of money! It’s not cheap!
After lunch, we got back on the road, noticing that there were many “Staus” (traffic jams). Fortunately, they were on the northbound side of the road, so we weren’t troubled as we made our way south. Bill stopped near the border to pick up a 2021 Swiss vignette (toll sticker). I’ve explained this a number of times on this blog. To use Swiss Autobahns, you have to have a special sticker, which costs 40 Swiss Francs. The sticker is good until January 31, 2022. The Swiss issue new ones every year, and you can get them at ADAC stores (or online), at rest stops near the border, or at the border itself. Most other countries that use the vignette system offer them for shorter stints and cheaper prices. Not the Swiss, though… so it pays to make use of the sticker if you live close.
The rest of the drive was pretty uneventful. We arrived in Zürich just in time for traffic/rush hour. Unbeknownst to us, our hotel was also near what would become a construction zone over the weekend. On the way to the B2 Boutique Hotel, we were able to drive straight through, although that took some time, thanks to all the traffic. But by Friday, the area we had come through to reach the hotel was completely blocked off. This caused some stress for Bill, even with the GPS going. I’ve never been a fan of using GPS… the voice always interrupts conversations and music. But Bill likes to use it.
Anyway, we drove up a hillside to get to the B2 Boutique Hotel. As usual, what I had pictured in my head was not what the reality was. Not that I was disappointed at all, mind you… It’s a beautiful hotel, and they’ve done a great job of turning what was a brewery into a nice place to stay– especially if you’re into spas, as I am. A year ago, Switzerland was very laid back about COVID-19 rules. I noticed that no one wore masks indoors in 2020. This year, there were signs everywhere demanding mask use.
I don’t like the masks, but I always cooperate… and yes, I have been vaccinated. Count me among those, however, who hope the mask mandates go away at some point. I really do hate the fucking things. In any case, everyone wore them at the hotel, and most everywhere else we went that was indoors. They had lots of hand sanitizer, too.
I booked us in a junior suite. I usually use travel sites like Expedia or Booking when I make reservations. This time, I booked directly with the hotel, because for some reason, the travel sites wouldn’t let me reserve for two people. They would only let me reserve for one. But, I did get a reward for booking directly… they gave us a free drink. Below are some photos of our room, which was rather unusual but comfortable. For about 500 francs a night, it should have been!