Belgium

My Belgian Birthday! Part five

Since we were sort of in the area, Bill and I decided to visit Ghent (or Gent) on Monday.  Ghent is a bit further away from Alveringem than Bruges is, but I had heard it’s a beautiful city.  Another frequently recommended Belgian city is Antwerp, but that wasn’t convenient to us on this trip.

Bill went to town again for more croissants.  The lady who sold him the croissants asked, “English?”  Bill said yes.  So she laughed and said, “Ta ta!”  We both had a laugh over that– since it’s kind of an antiquated Britishism.  I guess it would be hard to tell where an English speaker is from if it’s not your native tongue.  Like, I would have trouble telling Schwabish from Bavarian.  It was pretty funny just the same.

We said good morning to our animal companions before we left.  The bunny came back, as did the cows and chickens.

Marianne told us that they were doing some extensive roadwork in Ghent.  That turned out to be true.  Bill was a bit white knuckled as he searched for a parking garage.  Ignoring my gasp and warning of “Look out!”, he managed to drive over a couple of… well, I don’t know what they were, but he wasn’t supposed to drive over them.  He was focused on the construction, while I was focused on the things on the road that he was supposed to drive around as opposed to over.

Once again, we were pleased by the parking garage, which was very clean and offered a relatively pleasant unisex bathroom.  This one was free and came with its own mood music.  In our case, it was a new song by Phil Collins.

The parking garage in Ghent even had its own Breathalyzer!  First time I’ve ever seen one of these.  I think it’s very progressive.

Our first stop was in a cathedral in Ghent, which turned out to be even more beautiful than the one in Bruges.  We walked through the crypt and checked out the artifacts as well as the ornate interior.  Once again, Bill was moved to tears.  Bill frequently gets overcome by beautiful art or places.  With me, it’s music.  Had a choir been singing, I probably would have been bawling like I was in Haarlem two years ago.

Our next stop was a bank.  One snag we hit on this trip was USAA erroneously thinking Bill’s debit card was compromised by fraud.  He managed to make a purchase at Johnny Rocket’s at Ramstein.  Then the card quit working.  He had to call USAA to straighten it out.  While we were Ghent, he needed to replenish his cash.  For some reason, we had a hard time finding a bank.  But while we were searching, I was able to get some nice photos.

Ghent is actually a very beautiful town, though perhaps not as quaint as Bruges is.  It was also pretty crowded, but not as obnoxiously so as Bruges was.

I think this was once the post office, but it now appears to be a mall.

I didn’t take a lot of photos in the Ghent cathedral, but I had to get one of the choir loft.  On the other side, there was identical seating.  That must be quite a choir!

American themed clothing store.  

Bill and I thought it was funny that the Marriott was offering “High Wine”… especially since it’s historically tied to a high profile Mormon family.

We stopped for lunch at a little restaurant called de Grill.  There was a lot of outdoor seating under umbrellas and they were offering an attractive special involving steaks.  Bill and I went for seafood, though.

And beer…  I had a tripel and Bill had an amber by Gentse.  Again, it was good enough that we bought some to bring back to Germany with us.

We watched people in boats passing… many of them had rainbow colored parasols.  Actually, both Bruges and Ghent appeared to be very LBGT friendly.

I had a fish brouchette, which included salmon, shrimp, and whitefish.  It was excellent!  I was especially pleased by the salmon, which was perfectly cooked.  And of course, there was a trough of fries and Bearnaise sauce.

Bill had croquettes made with shrimp and cheese.  He said it was good that I didn’t order the croquettes because the cheese was pretty strong.  He loves his strong cheeses.  

I had a Gentse Gruut Inferno for dessert.  I think it annoyed the waiter, who was clearly in a hurry to shut down. 

He closed the unused tables at 1:45pm and was happy to bring out the check for us.  Bill says lunch was just under fifty euros.

I could have spent a little more time in Ghent.  I’d like to go back sometime without the dogs and walk around for awhile.

Ubiquitous Coca-Cola!

We stopped at the store again on Monday to stock up for our drive back to Germany.  We stocked up on beer, cheese, and hair products.  After another low key evening at our rural hideaway, we were well-rested for the very long drive back to Stuttgart.

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Germany, restaurant reviews

A summer dinner at Pizzeria da Piero in Jettingen…

Last night for dinner, Bill and I decided to walk to Pizzeria da Piero in Jettingen.  We had only eaten at this restaurant one time prior to last night, but because it’s so close to where we live, we have gotten take out from there many times.  In retrospect, we might have been more comfortable getting take out last night, but I really felt like going out.  We took the twenty minute walk uphill in the heat and arrived in the thick of dinner service.

Though the restaurant has a nice biergarten with a shade, we ate inside by the bar.  Oddly enough, right next to the bar is an area for kids to play in with toys and everything.  A couple of girls were taking advantage of the chance to play while their parents sat in the dining room on the other side of the restaurant.

A lucky obligatory shot of Bill…

Because it was really hot last night, despite a brief afternoon rainstorm, I told Bill we should have some white wine.  He ordered a pinot grigio and, after ten minutes or so, a waitress came by with an electric wine opener, a bottle of pinot grigio, and the handy wine chiller pictured below.  I was impressed enough by the electric wine opener.  That would have come in handy when I was a server and struggled with opening bottles at the table.  Of course, I am a pro at wine opening now.

No, the white part is not ice.  It’s made of plastic and can be chilled.  It’s a lot less messy than a wine bucket.

 

Since we were having white wine and I wasn’t in the mood for pasta, I decided to order shrimp.  I considered a zander filet or salmon, but ultimately I made the right choice…

Five big shrimps!

And a salad with a light vinaigrette.

Bill had the zander filet.  Though it was really good, the vegetables that came with it were loaded with mushrooms, which as you may know, are of the devil as far as I’m concerned…

The bread tasted homemade and was delicious.

The hardworking servers at Pizzeria da Piero were very busy last night, so our meal was a bit leisurely.  We had good conversation.  Then, an older couple tried to sit in the booth behind us and opted to move, potentially because I might have said the f word too loud…  or maybe I’m just paranoid.  Anyway, it was no skin off our backs…

Empty bottle…

 

I considered ordering dessert, but decided I’d rather have a beer.  It was just sultry and nasty last night…

This went down easy as we paid our 59 euro check…

Nice biergarten.  We really should have sat out there last night.  I’ll be so glad when the summer temperatures mellow out a bit.

  
I like this restaurant well enough, especially when it’s not really hot outside.  I noticed they had ceiling fans in there, but for some reason, they weren’t using them last night.  I wasn’t as hot and uncomfortable as I have been in other restaurants during the summer here.  The wine helped.  Pizzeria da Piero does a very brisk take out service and lots of people were picking up food last night.

Somehow, in the course of the evening, I also lost an earring that I bought in Greece.  Guess that’s a good reason to plan a trip back there.  For now, I’m looking at Switzerland.  Bill has a hankering to see a certain weird museum in Gruyeres.

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anecdotes, fests, Germany, Stuttgart, Sundays

Stuttgart festing on Sunday…

We started today off with a walk.  We encountered this on the way.  I wonder what the story is behind this bottle of Jack Daniels…

No, we didn’t drink any.  For all we know, someone peed in the bottle.

Bill and I didn’t go anywhere yesterday, mainly because we wanted to keep an eye on Arran.  Since he seemed to be fine today, we decided to head into Stuttgart and check out the Afrikafestival and the Hamburger Fisch Markt.  It was easy to access both of these events via public transport.  We parked the car at the Herrenberg train station and took the S-Bahn to Vaihingen.  From there, we took U1, first to Erwin-Schöttle Platz, where the Afrika festival was going on, and then to Charlottenplatz, for the fish market, which was actually being held at Karlsplatz, across the street from the metro station.

The Africa festival was interesting, though we weren’t there in time to hear any live music.  There were vendors from all over the place selling food and drink items, clothes, art, jewelry, musical instruments, pottery and dishes.  We wandered around a bit and Bill picked up some African coffees.  I made use of the nice, clean, uncrowded WC.  The Afrikafestival ends today, so I’m glad we were able to get there and check it out.  Here are some photos of what we saw at the Afrikafestival.  I was a little disappointed that I didn’t find anyone selling music.  Some of the stuff that was playing sounded good to me.  There was some interesting food being offered by vendors, but I wanted to eat fish at the fish market.

Pretty church.

Man, I wish I had bought that plate in the foreground.  

After about 45 minutes of walking around the Afrikafestival, we got back on the metro and rode a few stops to Charlottenplatz.  I was excited about the fish market, since when we went to Hamburg last January, I slept too late to catch the real market in action.  We will have to go back to Hamburg and get up early on a Sunday so we can catch it live.   The weather today was absolutely beautiful.  Temperatures were comfortable and there was a nice breeze.  I’m so glad we did this today and not last week, when it was sweltering hot.

I love interesting graffiti.  

Here we go…

 

Smoked salmon…  Just across from this, a vendor was selling enormous pickles.

Our first mission was to find something to eat.  The fish market is loaded with good fish dishes.  You can find everything from salmon and shrimp to fried delicacies.  I saw people eating sandwiches, crab cakes, and fried fish.  There were also plenty of sweets available, though we didn’t partake.

We ended up in a tent…

Jever was apparently a big corporate sponsor.  It was everywhere.  Jever is pretty hoppy!

Those plastic tablecloths stick to your legs if you wear shorts.  

Bill had shrimp with garlic sauce.

I had salmon with an enormous baked potato and salad.  I could have done without all the sour cream, though I managed to enjoy about half of the potato anyway.  The salmon was absolutely delicious.  Not too much, not too dry, and perfectly seasoned.

A rubber seagull…

Though Bill and I spoke crappy German to the waitress, she said goodbye to us in perfect English.  I’m not sure why we bother trying to learn German, though I do find that it makes understanding menus easier.

I got a big kick out of the guy selling sausage.  He had a microphone on a headset and was doing a great job talking up his meat products…  

I thought we might bring home fresh fish, but we actually ended up with a big bag of sausage…  10 euros for all this!  The vendor next to the sausage guy was selling ten euro bags of fruit.  I wish we had more than two of us in our household because the fruit looked really good.  But it would go to waste at our house.

Spices galore.

I kind of wanted to buy some of this, but we were afraid the long journey back to Jettingen wouldn’t be good…  I think Bill is going to get some dorade this week.

 

This guy was surprisingly entertaining…

 

See?  Actually, I think Bill was laughing at me.

After awhile, we became thirsty again…

So we stopped for prosecco with strawberries…  The strawberries were delicious!  Sweet, luscious, and very nice with the sparkling wine.

Mmmm…

I might have liked to try some chocolate dipped fruit…

After awhile milling around the market, listening to music, and overhearing many American conversations, we decided to make a pit stop…

And I am glad to report the toilets were clean and functional.  The line wasn’t too long. 

Waiting at the Vaihingen train station…

I had to take a picture of this ad…  I’m not sure German beef is a selling point.

More photos…

We had a good time today.  I kind of wish I’d had some fried fish, since it’s not good for me.  But the Hamburger Fischmarkt is a lot of fun.  It runs until next Sunday.  Monday-Saturday, it opens at 10:00am and stays open until 11:00pm.  Sunday hours are from 11:00am until 11:00pm.  Who knows?  Maybe we’ll go back for more!

ETA:  We just tried the sausage and it’s really delicious.

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Germany, kid friendly, restaurant reviews

There’s something fishy near Pforzheim…

Thanks to our local Facebook group, last week I became aware of a great place to get fresh fish.  Fischzucht Zordel is a delightful trout farm in Neuenbürg/Eyachtal, a scenic little hamlet not too far from Pforzheim.  Someone posted about this place on Facebook and, being a lover of fresh fish, I knew I had to try it.  My husband, Bill, is going away on business next week and has to leave tomorrow morning, so I told him I wanted to go there today.

We hopped in the Mini and drove north on a beautiful stretch of highway on the edge of the Black Forest.  It took about an hour as we made our way through cute little towns, over hills, and along a swiftly rushing river.  I was reminded of the drive to Colmar, France we took last fall.  We actually missed the turnoff for Fischzucht Zordel because we were enjoying the scenery and my collection of cheesy 80s rock so much.  But we managed to turn around and correct ourselves.  We drove along a lane with the hills in the background and a picturesque river rushing on the left before we came to a generous parking lot.

A welcoming sign… open every day from 8:00am until 8:00pm.

 

Bill and I noticed a number of couples walking around as we easily found our way to the fish grill.  Here, you can order trout soup, potato salad, a grilled trout stuffed with onions, and bread.  Beer, wine, soft drinks, and water are also available.  The menu is very simple and inexpensive.

A side look at the case where the trout is available for sale to take home.  They have fresh trout and smoked, as well as roe, filets, and condiments.  

Bill anticipates a good lunch.

If I weren’t going to be alone all week, we would have bought some fish to go.

 

We decided to order one trout, a cup of the trout soup, a side of potato salad, and two beers.  I’m really glad we shared everything.  That was plenty of food and cost just over 18 euros.

 

I loved the piping hot soup.  It’s a bit salty and made with smoked trout, peppers, and a hearty broth.  

The rest…

We had a bit of a wind today, which made holding on to all the plasticware tricky.

That fish was very fresh and delicious.  The potato salad was also very good.  This was a simple but very satisfying lunch!

The view from where we were sitting…  Can’t you just hear the water rushing?  An indoor seating area is also available for when the weather is bad.

As we were enjoying lunch, an older gentleman came by with what looked like a big empty bucket on wheels.  A few minutes later, he passed us again, this time with a bucket full of fish destined to be processed.  I ended up making a very inappropriate joke that I probably shouldn’t repeat here…  I actually felt a little sorry for the fish, even though they are definitely delicious.

Obligatory shot of Bill looking disinterested.

Once we were finished eating, we walked around the grounds and I took lots of pictures. As you can see, the surrounding area is beautiful. 

Fish in the ponds waiting to be harvested.

This picture reminds me so much of Goshen, Virginia… It was like being home.

A friendly looking horse was enjoying a snack of carrots and bread.

This house is beautiful, right down to the trout carvings on the balconies.  I envy the people who live here and run this business, though I’m not sure I’d really want to deal with fish processing.

As the weather gets better, these tables will fill up…

 

For fifty cents, you can feed the fish.  A few kids were enjoying feeding the fish in the first pond, so I went to the one being ignored a ways down.  It was a lot of fun feeding the fish because they are eager to eat and will jump to get the food.  A word of warning, though.  The fish food smells a bit like a mixture of dead fish and ass.  You will definitely want to wash your hands after you feed the fish.  Fortunately, there is a generous three stall restroom available perfectly suitable for washing up.

I’m not sure what kind of fish these were… they were huge.

Poor fishies… so close to freedom.

A couple of resident mallards…

I was dying to pet this horse.  Another one was in a nearby paddock.

These fish were jumping for the ass smelling fish food.  I had fun delivering, until I noticed what my hands smelled like afterwards.  I would advise using one of the plastic cups offered to catch the food as it comes out of the machine.

We really had a great time at Fischzucht Zordel today.  I bet we’ll be back, especially as the weather improves.  It’s a lovely place to have a simple lunch and enjoy nature.  I highly recommend it!  Kids seem to love it, too.

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France, military hops, Space A

France and Germany… a send off from the Army– Part 8

After a good breakfast at the Star Hotel, Bill and I set out to see Nice.  Although it had been almost 17 years since my last visit, I basically remembered where to go to get to the beach.  The aroma of salty air always excites me, but I had completely forgotten just how insanely blue the Mediterranean Sea is near Nice.

A sign in our hotel room…

 

Nice is much bigger than I remembered it.  I think the last time I went there, I didn’t get out and see much.  I was with two friends who are now a married couple and I think I felt a bit like a third wheel.  This time, I was with my beloved Bill.  We made our way downtown, passing a park where a Middle Eastern man appeared to be giving a very animated lecture to another man.  I have no idea what they were discussing, but it was obviously important business, given how the man was carrying on.

The park…

We crossed the park and I spotted some steps that seemed to lead down to some close knit alleys.  We went down and started walking…  I’m glad we went that way, since it took us through some charming plazas and past a beautiful cathedral that was being extensively restored.  We went inside, enjoyed the ornate decor and listened to the peaceful music that was piped in.  It was easy to ignore all the scaffolding in the middle of the cathedral.  The rest of the church was so pretty.

Charming Nice…

 

After we left the cathedral, I smelled rotisserie chicken roasting on a spit and heard some more modern sounds, probably Michael Jackson’s “Love Never Felt So Good”, which I heard a few times during this trip.  We meandered through the maze of neighborhoods until we were spit out near a farmer’s market that was right next to Nice’s “boardwalk”.

Farmer’s market…

Near the beach!

I went down on the public beach, which has pebbles and rocks rather than sand.  A lot of people were sunbathing and there were a few bums that appeared to be sleeping on the rocks.  A couple of brave souls were swimming, though it wasn’t very hot outside and the water, while not freezing, was kind of cold.  I would have liked to have gone swimming, but I doubt Bill would have been up for it.

We decided to take a VERY long walk instead.  We walked along the beach, then up a hill that curled around to a World War II memorial.  We kept walking down to the harbor area, where luxurious and simple watercraft shared space.  We passed people walking their dogs and people repairing their boats…  we saw a cruise ship or two and the air, once again, was perfumed by brilliant flowers.  This time, they were bright purple.  I was kind of wistful as we passed the dock and I saw one of the Windstar ships there.  We’re due for another cruise at some point.

World War II memorial

By the time we got back to the hotel, it was lunchtime and we figured we walked about nine miles.  I got a lot of great pictures of the dramatic scenery near the shore.  We watched people fish and snorkel and listened to people talk… In all, we figured we walked about nine miles.

We enjoyed a late lunch at a fish place I happened to find a couple of blocks away from our hotel.  They were serving paella and tuna as specials.  I ordered us a carafe of sauvignon blanc and some water and we enjoyed a thoroughly delicious meal.  Afterwards, we went to a nearby mall for some ice cream because I had a terrible craving for it.  After lunch, we went back to the hotel, where I fell asleep.  I did a lot of napping on this trip!  Bill did school work while I snoozed and recovered from our nine mile hike, which totally wore me out.

Lunch and dessert…

Instead of going out to dinner, we stayed in the hotel room and ate cold cuts, bread, chocolate and guacamole from the local supermarket.  Of course, we washed it down with water and a nice red wine.  I would have liked to have spent another day in Nice.  We probably could have done it, but we were running out of cash for train tickets and needed to think about getting back to Germany so we could get a flight home.  I briefly considered trying to get something out of Aviano, which is a base in Italy not far from Venice.  It would have been closer to get there by train and we love Italy.  But Aviano’s schedules weren’t very predictable and we managed to find an inexpensive flight to Frankfurt, courtesy of Air Berlin’s subsidiary, the Austrian airline Niki.  More on that in the next post.

Ferry to Sardinia!

You can rent electric cars in Nice…

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