anecdotes, Germany, restaurant reviews

This weather makes me want to hibernate…

I was in the mood to go out last night, but we didn’t feel like going far.  It was so dark outside and cold.  We ended up at Taverne beim Griechen, the Greek place in a sportsplatz near where we live.  We have another Greek restaurant we could walk to, but when it’s really cold and dark outside, I can’t be bothered to walk.  Besides, we really like the food at Taverne beim Griechen.  I wanted dorade in the worst way.

We were greeted by the Greek lady who always waits on us.  She speaks no English, but our German is slowly improving.  In fact, just this week, I finished Duolingo’s German tree again.  I can still practice all the lessons, since I am far from fluent, but I’m not acquiring new lessons until they add to them.  I suppose I should just sign up for a class, but that would require me to go out and mingle.  As I said, this cold, foggy, dark weather makes me want to hibernate and be antisocial.

Anyway, we had a nice meal last night.  I had the dorade and Bill went with salmon steaks.  I have had the dorade at Taverne beim Griechen before, but I think this might have been the first time either of us ordered salmon at Taverne beim Griechen.

We had a bottle of Greek wine, along with our usual water.  

This fish was delicious!  One thing I love about living in Europe is getting to eat dorade a lot.  I’m sure it’s available in the States somewhere, but I have never eaten it there.  Here in Germany, I get it fairly often.  Taverne Beim Griechen does a good job with it!  They serve it with a garlic sauce that isn’t too potent.

Bill’s salmon steaks.  He said these were good.  The skin was pleasantly charred and the flesh was not too dry.  


Service and food, as usual, were great!  It was nice to go back after the new year.  I noticed a lot of people were enjoying a Friday night dinner there along with us.  Someone brought what looked like an adorable bichon frise with them.  I wish our dogs were well behaved enough to go into restaurants!

The weather is rather schlecht looking this morning.  Maybe later, we’ll venture out, though.  In a few days, I will be having dental implant surgery and a sinus lift, so I may not be up to any restaurant visits next weekend.


The things I see when I walk my dogs…

This morning, after a rather intensive German Duolingo session, I decided it was time to walk Zane and Arran.  I usually wait until Zane begs for a walk, but the sun was out and I was feeling very motivated.  So I got dressed, grabbed my phone, supplied myself with shit bags, and got the dogs on their leashes.  We started walking and Zane promptly dropped a load near a neighbor’s house.  While I might have been tempted to leave the pile, since so many others seem to do it, the lady of the house was outside shaking out her rugs.  Besides that, Zane went next to the sign pleading for people to clean up their dogs’ messes.  I felt guilty, so I cleaned up the mess.

Since we were so close to the poop can, I decided to go the route that passes it.  As an explanation, there’s a fork in the road on my dogwalking route.  I can go one way, past the recycling bins.  It means not having to climb a hill on the way.  Or, I can go past the dog poop can, allowing me the chance to drop off any deposits the dogs might make early on.  It means climbing two less intensive hills and going down the tough one.

Anyway, since I had a bag to drop off, I went past the poop can.  As I was about to drop off Zane’s crap, I looked down and noticed that someone had left their glasses under the can.

What the hell?

I don’t know why, but I often run across strange things when I walk the dogs.  I don’t understand why someone left their glasses under the shit can, but I’m sure there’s a story.  If only those glasses could talk!  I’m glad today it was glasses, though.  On occasion, I have also seen someone’s undergarments stashed in the treeline near the poop can.

Someone left this child’s desk and chair on the hill from hell.  It’s mystery who left it and why.  But it’s been sitting there for months and I’ve never seen anyone using it.


Over the summer, Bill and I were walking the dogs and we saw liquor mysteriously sitting on a bench.

Yes… this is a pretty full bottle of what appears to be Jack Daniels.  Who left it there?  And why?  


As I was cleaning up a second pile of poop, a stern looking local passed me.  I was suddenly glad I had two bags with me.

We kept walking, dodging a car illegally driving on the road that is supposedly meant for farm vehicles and bottle recyclers.  We finally passed a friendly old guy who had walked to the recycling bins to drop off his bottles.  I said “Good morning” to him.  He responded in kind and started saying other stuff I don’t yet understand.  So I explained in German that I am American and don’t speak German.  Then I corrected myself and said I speak a little German.  Hey, I’m getting there slowly.  If I would stop and talk to my neighbors, maybe I could say more than “Hello, I don’t speak German.”  Oh, and “Ich bin eine Banane.”  No joke.  That was an actual sentence I learned on Duolingo today.

Well, now it’s time to write a book review.   Bis bald.  😉




German skills…

I never studied German when I was in school.  I took four years of Spanish in high school and two years in college and never got near being fluent.  Then I learned Eastern Armenian in Armenia and got closer to being able to speak a foreign language out of necessity.  I should have studied German but in my school system, they didn’t have a German teacher until I was already into Spanish.  I figured Spanish would be a lot more practical anyway.  Lo and behold, we moved to Germany, where German would come in handy.

Last time we were here, I tried to use Rosetta Stone to learn some German, but my efforts didn’t last very long because I got really bored with the program and lacked discipline.  Besides, every time I tried to speak German, the person I was speaking to would switch to perfect English.  So I quit trying and figured it was no big deal.

Now we’re in Germany again and I want to learn more so I can say something when I get yelled at… or at least understand more when someone says something shitty (which has happened).  So yesterday, I started using Duolingo, which is a free program on the Internet that allows users to brush up their foreign language skills.  It’s actually kind of a fun program and pretty easy to use.  I like that it assigns rewards and goals.  I may never speak coherent German, but I do find that I understand more than I think.

Of course, there is a downside not to know what people are saying.  I ran into a couple of weird incidents last time I was here and was pretty sure I was being insulted by host country nationals.  It was probably just as well that I didn’t understand what the people were saying.  Here’s an essay I wrote several years ago about one of those experiences.

A lesson in communication

May 1, 2009

The Bottom Line Sometimes it doesn’t take language fluency to catch the drift of a conversation.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband Bill and I visited Agais, our favorite Greek restaurant, for a bite to eat. Bill was fresh from a business trip to Latvia and it was cold and rainy outside. Neither of us felt like cooking and knew the proprietor of the restaurant, a man I affectionately refer to as “The Mad Scientist”, would welcome our business.

When we arrived at Agais, we found that our favorite booth was occupied. Luckily, the folks who had been sitting there were paying their bill and about to leave. While they were gathering their things, Bill and I took a seat at the next table. There was a large, noisy party of six Germans, three men and three ladies, seated at a table that was perpendicular to it.

The Mad Scientist was very happy to see us and quickly cleared the booth for us. He brought out our usual glasses of red wine, perfect for such a chilly, wet evening. While we looked at the menu, I noticed that the large party had gotten louder. Aside from Bill and me, this party was the only other one in the restaurant. And they certainly behaved as if they were the only ones in the room. One man, sitting at the end of the table, seemed to be holding court. I don’t speak German, but I heard him loudly mention the word “Schweiz” several times in a mocking tone accompanied by gestures. I got the feeling he was making fun of the Swiss and not in a good natured way.

Bill and I chatted quietly over gyros and red wine while the folks at the other table kept sneaking glances at us. The ladies’ laughter had grown ever more shrill as they continued to drink wine and chatter. I noticed that The Mad Scientist was playing different music, as well– not his usual Greek party music, but some kind of live recording. I liked the change, but noticed the large party loudly protested when The Mad Scientist made a move to switch it.

As I watched and listened to the group, I got the feeling that they were trying very hard to look like they were having a good time. They ordered more drinks and dessert, laughed boisterously and spoke in tones that suggested they were having the time of their lives. And yet, underneath their conspicuous show of merriment there seemed to be a subtle veneer of hostility, especially from the guy who had been making fun of the Swiss. He got up to smoke a cigarette and I noticed that the tension in the room had lessened a bit. Still, it seemed like there was an undercurrent of rudeness that was hard to ignore, not just toward us, but among the group members.

Finally, the group paid their bill and got up to leave. When they were gone, The Mad Scientist came out of his kitchen chuckling. He looked at me and Bill and asked, “Do you understand German?”

Bill speaks a little German, but sadly I don’t.

“Do you know why those people are here in Entringen?” he asked us.

We said we didn’t.

He was still chuckling as he said, “Those people are here for marriage counseling. They’re taking a class here as a last resort effort to save their marriages.” The proprietor, who recently starting renting out an apartment above his restaurant, indicated that one of the couples was staying there and the group had been eating in his restaurant regularly. I certainly didn’t know that the little town of Entringen had a marriage counselor that would merit a retreat.

Suddenly, I started to understand why the room seemed so tense. I said, “That guy at the end of the table… he seemed to be making jokes at everyone else’s expense.” I didn’t add that I had a feeling he’d been making fun of me and Bill, too.

And The Mad Scientist laughed and said, “Oh yeah! He’s the worst off of all of them.”

Then he smiled and said, “You know, I can tell that you and Bill don’t have those problems.” He gave Bill a fond look and said, “He has a big heart! I can tell that you two love each other.”

I heartily agreed with that, of course. Besides love for each other, we also have mutual respect. From what I could observe, even with my limited German skills, mutual respect was something that was lacking in the group who shared the atmosphere at Agais with us that night. Nevertheless, it was one of the more interesting experiences we’ve had since we moved to Germany!