A beautiful afternoon in Wiesbaden, preparing for our vacation!

We had beautiful weather in Wiesbaden yesterday, which was great, since it was Saturday. Bill wanted to visit the ADAC office downtown to pick up a vignette for Switzerland. I’ve written a few times about the vignette system that many European countries use to help pay for their high speed roads.

Some countries, like France and Italy, use tolls. Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic, among other countries, use “vignettes”, which are stickers one can buy at gas stations near borders, at ADAC, via mail order, or at the borders themselves, that entitle a person to drive on the roads. Swiss vignettes are unique in that they’re good for about fourteen months at a time, if you time it right. You can buy the vignette for the following year in the late fall– say late 2021– and it remains valid until the end of January 2023. But we didn’t buy our vignette at the end of last year, since we haven’t been in Switzerland since last summer.

When we go to a place that requires a vignette, Bill will usually get it ahead of time at ADAC. This also gave us a reason to go into town and have lunch. Wiesbaden was alive with people yesterday, folks enjoying the sun, running last minute errands before Easter, and just having a good time. Wiesbaden is so festive, especially at this time of year. I especially love the buskers– guys playing songs on guitar like “Ev’ry Rose Has its Thorn” (which I hated when it was popular) and guys playing “La Vie en Rose” on the accordion, which is a lot more European.

The weekend market was in full swing. I thought about doing some browsing, but then remembered that we’ll be going away soon. So instead of buying stuff, we just looked and I took some photos. Every time I start to think that living in Europe is getting too inconvenient, I’m reminded of why I love living over here. There’s always something going on, especially in a pretty, vibrant town like Wiesbaden.

I was planning to find us a nice place to eat lunch, but we ended up at Five Guys! Why go to Five Guys when we could have gone to any number of other places? Well, it was getting close to 2:00pm, which is when a lot of restaurants stop lunch service. Five Guys is quick and the restaurant was not busy. It had also been awhile since our last visit. I noticed that this week, even fewer people were wearing masks, although some folks were still abiding by the recently dropped COVID-19 rules. Five Guys still has the plastic barriers up around its booths, which I figure they’ll keep from now on, in case the rules come back… which they probably eventually will.

After lunch, we decided to go back to the Market Square and have a glass of wine as we watched the weekend market shut down. Below are a few photos from our day. After we were finished in Wiesbaden, we came back to home, stopping by a nearby Hofladen for some eggs for today’s Easter breakfast.

The farm has a little shack where you can pick up what you need and pay on your honor. I love that about Germany. We don’t have as many farms up here, as we did in Jettingen. This one is very close to our home in Breckenheim.

I hope everyone enjoys their Sunday… and if you celebrate Easter, I hope it’s a joyous celebration. I plan to finish my puzzle and read. Sounds like a usual day!


Five Guys in Wiesbaden!

It’s raining cats and dogs today, and I needed to go to AAFES to pick up a few things. Bill has to go to Stuttgart tomorrow, so we decided to head into Wiesbaden for lunch and a little ‘Murican shopping on post. I kind of didn’t want to go into town because of the steady rain and unseasonably warm temperatures, but Bill was curious to see how our brand new Five Guys location was doing.

If you read last week’s post, you might know that we overheard an employee at Wiesbaden’s latest burger restaurant telling people that they would be opening their store on Thursday, January 30th. Bill and I have been to the one in Frankfurt a couple of times, as well as ones in Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland. And, since I am a Virginian and we used to live in Northern Virginia, we have also tried one of the original Five Guys’ restaurants (the chain was founded in Arlington, Virginia in 1986), as well as the Five Guys outlets that have been springing up like kudzu all over the United States. The funny thing is, I distinctly remember reading back in 2002 or so that the Murrell family would never allow anyone to franchise their restaurants. Now, every time I turn around, a new one is opening. They’re probably rolling in money now.

Anyway, we noticed that today, there wasn’t that much of a line. The first time we went to the one in Frankfurt, there was a line out the door. I actually saw tables open, even though it was prime time for lunch. So, just because I do like a good burger and I wanted to visit this location before it turns into a total zoo, we decided to try it. Here are some pictures.

I was pleased to discover that the burgers we had today were just like the ones we’ve had in the States. In fact, even the pickles were right. Last time we ate at Five Guys, I didn’t like the pickles because they were sweet. Today, they used “spicy” ones, which aren’t actually spicy as much as they are sour.

I enjoyed the music playing– lots of decent rock from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, although it was turned up a bit loud. I told Bill that I wouldn’t enjoy working at Five Guys due to the noise, fast paced environment, and the extremely bright lighting. In fact, as much as I do like a good burger, I don’t even really enjoy sitting in their dining rooms because they’re so loud and bright. But I was pretty happy with the hot, juicy burger. The cheese was melted well and they got the order right.

Besides burgers, you can get hot dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches, BLTs (bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches), and veggie sandwiches. They also have “freestyle Coca-Cola” with free refills, Evian water, and milkshakes. I saw a lot of people with shakes today. I might try one myself someday, although I would probably have to go there only for the shake. There’s no way I could have a burger and a milkshake in one sitting. I’d probably throw up from the excess. As it was, we didn’t even finish half of our one order of regular fries!

Some people complain about the prices at Five Guys. Our burgers were priced at 9,50 euros, which is admittedly higher than what you might find at, say, Burger King. But the burgers at Five Guys are all beef, never frozen, and aren’t loaded with way too much mayo. I don’t think we’ll go to Five Guys regularly, especially since I have a feeling it’s going to be super busy as it catches on in Wiesbaden, However, for the occasional burger, I don’t mind if I do… I hear Stuttgart’s location opens on Monday, so there’s no longer any need for anyone to make a road trip from down there to Frankfurt just so they can get their American style burger fix.

This is more my style.

After we ate, we dropped by AAFES, where I wasn’t able to find exactly what I was looking for. I got what I could find, then got in line. While we were standing there, ready to pay, I looked over to the entrance of the store and spotted a young man wearing a t-shirt that read “Fucking Slayer” as he held on to a handle of a baby carriage. Then, as the cashier was ringing us up, she talked to the customers ahead of us, who were waiting on a price check. The man said the cashier was good at multi-tasking, and the cashier said, “Yes, I am surprisingly good at multi-tasking. When it’s slow, I drop shit.” I guess nowadays, people don’t even try to stifle what are traditionally known as “swear words”.

At least I didn’t see any curlers today…

I am certainly not a prude when it comes to off-color language. I just thought it was kind of funny that she said “shit” out loud without batting an eye. That, and the guy’s profane t-shirt, reminded me of a time when a person could be kicked off an installation for wearing something like that in public. When I was a kid, certain clothes weren’t allowed to be worn… like, if a woman wore curlers or spandex in a shopping area on post, she might be asked to leave.

In my mom’s day, women weren’t even allowed to wear pants or shorts in the commissary or the officer’s club. Nowadays, when I go to AAFES, it’s like a live rendition of the People of Walmart. There’s nothing like a visit to AAFES to remind one of his or her ‘Murican roots. Ah well… I don’t really care too much about that issue. I just thought it was funny and interesting. As much as I curse, I would probably blush if I accidentally swore in front of customers. But I guess it’s not a big deal nowadays.


Lunch at Due Amici in Wiesbaden…

Although the weather is cloudy, foggy, cold, and grim, Bill, Parker, and I decided to go to Wiesbaden for lunch. I knew a lot of places would be crowded due to the icky weather, but we still managed to find a relaxed atmosphere at Due Amici, an Italian restaurant in Downtown Wiesbaden that, prior to today, Bill and I had never tried. Due Amici is billed as an “Italian Crossover Kitchen”, and indeed, there were a few items on the menu that weren’t Italian. For instance, I noticed they had burgers, including a salmon burger with Asian accents, and steaks from Australia. But they also had pasta with black truffles and Burrata auf Caponata.

We had our usual bottle of San Pellegrino, and Bill ordered a bottle of Nero D’Avola, a lovely red that has become one of my favorite grapes/wines since we moved back to Germany. Parker had the pasta with black truffles, I had tagliatelli con lachs, and Bill had Beef Tagliata with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and rucola. Below are some photos:

I really felt comfortable in the restaurant, which had nice bank seating with cushions and ample space between tables. I didn’t care too much for the loud, dramatic Italian pop that sounded like it was inspired by opera, but they later changed it to something a little less commanding of everyone’s attention. Service was excellent– professional and friendly, but not overly intrusive. I would definitely go back, especially since I saw a couple of the burgers and they looked very good.

After lunch, Parker said she wanted to get some locally made chocolate to take back to Texas. We took a stroll around the block, and they showed me where the new Five Guys is opening this Thursday. I hear Stuttgart also has a brand new Five Guys, which may give some of the local burger joints some competition. I suspect the Five Guys restaurants will be packed with Americans for at least a few weeks after they open! Hard to believe that, not long ago, people would drive all the way from Stuttgart to Frankfurt to get a burger from Five Guys or dine at Chipotle Mexican Grill. Now, at least, people won’t have to go so far for their American fast food burger fix.

We passed the usual buskers, Middle Easterners, who always seem to be playing on Saturdays and Sundays. I dropped a few euros into their plate and one of them covered his heart with his hand. I like to support street musicians. Parker noticed the Lindt store, but I reminded her that she can easily get Lindt balls of chocolate in America. A few stores down was L’Art Sucre Patissier and Chocolatier. Parker got her chocolate, and I got a few photos of a really nice place for desserts.

Stuttgart is a beautiful city, but I think it kind of pales when compared to Wiesbaden. Wiesbaden is a very lovely town with a slower pace. It’s really growing on me, even though I do really miss the bucolic countryside in Swabia. It’s amazing what you don’t miss until it’s gone.


Damned good burgers at Fletcher’s Better Burger in Frankfurt…

We had absolutely perfect weather today. It was so perfect that we were seriously considering going to an apple festival in Mainz. We decided to go to Frankfurt instead, since Bill discovered a new burger restaurant we had to try. A friend at a conference he just attended at Ramstein Air Base told him about Fletcher’s Better Burger, a chain in Frankfurt that was started by an American. At this writing, there are four locations, all of which are in Frankfurt. I have a feeling this restaurant will take off and there will soon be more places to enjoy one of Fletcher Davis’s juicy burgers.

We tried the location at Katherinenpforte, which is right next to Frankfurt’s big main square and just around the corner from Five Guys. There’s a huge parking garage located right next to the square. It was a bit of a mad house getting in and out of it, and we had to park on the top floor because so many people did a shitty job parking. However, Fletcher’s burger was so good, I didn’t mind it so much. Here are some photos from today’s visit.

It’s a pretty low key affair. They just have burgers (beef and veggie– made with peas), fries, soft drinks, and beer. The meat is fresh daily, and they make their own buns. Burgers come with tomatoes, onions, ketchup, mayo, honey mustard, lettuce, and pickles. You can also get jalapenos, fried onions, BBQ sauce, hot sauce, mustard, and grilled mushrooms free of charge. Irish cheddar cheese and bacon is extra.

Unlike Five Guys, Fletcher’s Better Burger only gives you one patty with a standard burger. Of course, if you want more meat, you can add it for 1,60 euros or 1,90 euros for an extra patty with cheese. You can also order your burger wrapped in lettuce if you’re watching your carbs.

I have to say, we were really impressed with our burgers. They were juicy, fresh, flavorful, and a good size. I also liked the cross cut fries, which were robust with potato flavor and cooked to perfection. I definitely think Fletcher’s Better Burger could give Five Guys some competition. I noticed they weren’t nearly as busy, either.

The only thing I didn’t like about our experience was the music. They were playing godawful dance versions of classic 80s songs, including “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman and a cover of “With or Without You”, which was originally a U2 song. I found the music very annoying. But we could have eaten outside, as they did have plenty of tables available. Also, the bathrooms, which are at the bottom of a flight of stairs (bad news for wheelchair users), could have used some attention today. We would still go back, though. It’s nice to see the humble hamburger getting better treatment in Germany.

After we ate, we walked around a small fest that was going on. We didn’t stay long because there were a lot of people crowded into a small space. But I did take some pictures.

People were selling gifts, crafts, and lots of food. I was disturbed by the number of stalls specializing in mushrooms… the one food I will not eat under any circumstances. Some guy was also selling mushroom lawn ornaments. Creepy!

I’m sure we could have found more to do, but Frankfurt was even more of a zoo than usual today, so we decided to head home so I could write this post. Tomorrow, we’ll hit the apple fest… or, at least that’s the plan.


Easter in Frankfurt!

We were blessed, once again, with incredible weather.  The skies were sunny; the air was warm and breezy; and the Autobahn beckoned us to drive to Frankfurt.  We were considering going to the Dippemess, but Bill wasn’t keen on trying to deal with the train.  The station most convenient for getting to the area of Frankfurt where the Dippemess is going on is in Hofheim am Taunus.

We started off our Easter with Ebelskiver– Swedish filled pancakes!  That’s the closest we got to Easter eggs today.

We decided to visit Frankfurt’s old town, which we missed the last time we went there.  Last time we were in Frankfurt, it was late December and the weather was pretty dismal.  It turns out we weren’t far from the old town that time, but it was cold and yucky outside, so we didn’t explore the way we should have.  Frankfurt was pretty badly damaged by air strikes in World War II, so there aren’t too many really old buildings there.  Instead, there are many skyscrapers.  It’s the land of banks.  Below are some pictures I took today.

Today was the first day since the fall I could drop the top on my Mini.  I caught a little girl smiling at us as we rounded the bend.  My car is ten years old, but it’s still cute when the top is down…  Some people might say that about me, too.

Frankfurt on the horizon.

Near the train station.

Frankfurt is like Stuttgart on steroids.  It’s a very busy place, and it seemed like everyone was there today.

Our first glimpse of the Dom… that tower is 95 meters tall…

It costs three euros for adults to climb the torturous 328 steps to the observation platform.  It’s 1,50 for kids.

These two ladies were among many wandering musicians we heard today.  They played beautifully!  One thing I love about Europe is the preponderance of wonderful musicians who share their gifts on the streets.

On the other side of the fountain, there’s a wine bar.

The old town was happening…


More musicians… they were good, too, although they played the classics with a bit more tempo than I’m used to…

Pretzel anyone?

Down by the river.  This was prettier from 66 meters up.


Much to my shame, I consented to having lunch at Five Guys.  I really wanted to go somewhere more authentic, but every place was really crowded.  For once, Five Guys wasn’t, so we decided to treat ourselves to a rare American style burger.


Bill went in to get the food while I waited outside.  An ambulance pulled up with its lights going…


Suddenly, around the corner came an old man wearing a heavy coat and carrying a bottle of beer.  He was yelling at the ambulance attendants.  I didn’t understand what he was saying, mainly because I could barely hear him…  I could tell by his body language that he was agitated about something.  The ambulance attendants seemed amused.  They smiled, but didn’t say anything to the old man.

A Five Guys staffer came out to sweep.  He looked at me; I looked at him, then turned to face the ambulance, since the old guy had come around near the front of Five Guys.  Turning to look at the ambulance guys meant I wasn’t staring at him as he continued to yell in German, looking and sounding very stern.

Finally, after a couple more parting shots, the guy stalked off angrily.  I did notice a lot of homeless people and beggars today.  A woman hit us up for money while we ate lunch.  Bill and I have both had bad experiences with wandering people in other European cities.  His bad experience was in Seville, while mine was in Athens.

I’m sad to say the burgers were kind of disappointing.  They weren’t very hot and the pickles were a touch too sweet.  But they were still better than a lot of burgers I’ve had in Germany.  The fries were great, and the beer was a Brooklyn Lager, a nice change from the usual Weizen.


After lunch, we wandered back toward the Dom, passing through the old town again.  We passed one of the homeless people who had been hanging around Five Guys.  The guy was a Spanish speaker and someone was kind enough to slip him a cup of fries.  But just as we were about to pass him, another homeless guy jumped in front of the other guy and appeared to demand his pommes.  I was tempted to see what was about to transpire, but thought better of it.  Gawking isn’t nice.  Still, it’s always interesting to see real life human drama in person.

We had to tip this lady…

She was making this dog out of what appeared to be sand.  

It was incredible.  The dog actually looked real.

We did a little window shopping.  A few stores were even open today, though it’s Easter Sunday.


We found ourselves in front of the tower again.  It was right next to our parking garage.  I looked at the sign and asked Bill if he wanted to climb up.  I’m usually cussing at myself when I do these climbs up narrow spiral towers, but then I enjoy the views so much that I forgive myself… until it’s time to climb down again.  The Frankfurter Dom Turm is a very challenging climb indeed.  I think it took about ten very difficult minutes to get to the top, breathless, sweaty, sore, and rewarded with incredible views…

I zoomed in to get a shot of the TV tower.  Seems like every German city has one.  Still, as high up as this cathedral tower is, it’s still not as high as the Thyssenkrupp elevator testing tower in Rottweil.  That’s the highest observation deck in Germany.  You can read about our visit there by clicking here.  And thankfully, when you visit the testing tower, you can take an elevator.

A whole lot of sweating, swearing, panting, and praying went into these photos.  I will probably be nearly paralyzed in the morning.  But we had amazing weather and as long as I’m physically able, I’m going to do these things.  Hey, I probably burned off my Five Guys lunch, at least.

A quick round around the tower and we went back down.  That was tough in a different way.  You have to be careful not to faceplant.


The stairs pretty much look like this all the way down.  It makes passing a rather intimate experience.  No wonder they charge more for adults.  Pro-tip: If you make this climb, especially if it’s warm outside, please for the love of all that’s holy, wear DEODORANT.  Trust me.


We came; we saw; we conquered.  And we never have to do it again!


We went into the church, which is rather plain by cathedral standards.  This cathedral, officially known as the Imperial Cathedral of Bartholomew was completed in 1550.  It was renovated in the 1990s and is also undergoing some work today.

This sign explains in English and German what happened to Frankfurt on March 22, 1944, when World War II was raging.  The British Royal Air Force did a number on the city, sending a lot of old, beautiful buildings into flames.  The cathedral was also badly damaged and was rebuilt in the 1950s.  The inside of the cathedral is pretty workmanlike as a result.  The cathedral was also burned in a fire back in 1867.  


But the organ is pretty awesome.

Look carefully. You can see the people.  That’s where we climbed to this afternoon.

It really was worth the effort, even though I can feel my muscles stiffening already.

Before we knew it, it was time to head home to the dogs, who were no doubt wondering where their dinners were.  It’s nice to live close to Frankfurt, although I’m glad we don’t actually live in the city itself.  It’s very busy!  Still, it’s different from Wiesbaden and Mainz and, dare I say it?  Stuttgart…

On the way out of Frankfurt, we got behind a Segway tour.  


So long, Frankfurt.  Time for me to have a beer in my backyard, enjoying my new garden furniture and watching the flowers grow.  God bless Spring… and happy Easter to all.


Our first foray to Frankfurt, lunch at Conrad’s, and Five Guys to go…

From 2002 until 2007, I lived in Northern Virginia, birthplace of Five Guys, the burger franchise that’s been taking the rest of the United States and parts of the world by storm.  When I tried my first Five Guys burger, they were strictly a Northern Virginia/Washington, DC enterprise, having been founded there in 1986 by Jerry and Janie Murrell and their then four sons (a fifth was later born and is involved in the business, too).  I remember being flabbergasted by how good and how messy they were.  We became fans.

The things we’ll go through for good burgers…

I was born and raised in Virginia, and lived in Northern Virginia for two years after my dad retired from the Air Force.  My parents lived in NoVA long before Five Guys existed, so I never got to try it when it was still brand new.  In 2002, I married my husband, Bill, and the following year, we moved to Fort Belvoir, Virginia.  We had several Five Guys locations near us.  I remember quite clearly at that time, the Murrells swore they would never franchise.  They wanted to maintain strict control of their product, which was always selling like gangbusters in their no frills locations scattered around the D.C. area.

In 2007, we moved to Germany the first time, and while we were gone, somehow the decision not to franchise was overturned.  By the time we came back in 2009, there were locations all over the place.  Back in 2016, Germany got its very first Five Guys location in the heart of Frankfurt.

I remember being excited to hear about the new Five Guys in Germany, especially since they announced plans to expand throughout the country.  As many of my fellow Americans may have discovered, despite giving the hamburger its name, Germans can’t seem to get them quite right.  I have noticed that some places are doing better, though.  I mean, having moved back to Germany in 2014, I notice that more places are offering better burgers made with real beef.  Still, I have been missing American style cheeseburgers.  Yes, we can make them at home, but there’s something special about a really juicy, messy burger that’s been squashed into a foil wrapper.

Until the end of last month, we were living near Stuttgart.  A road trip to Frankfurt from Stuttgart certainly isn’t out of the question.  On a good day, the drive is about three hours on the Autobahn.  Nevertheless, we never managed to get to the Five Guys when we were living in the Stuttgart area.  We did go to one in Glasgow, Scotland, and it was a little disappointing.  The burger tasted fine, but the cheese wasn’t melted.  That was a huge turnoff.  I can’t abide unmelted cheese on a burger!

Anyway, now that we live in Wiesbaden, we’re within striking distance of Frankfurt and its many restaurants and varied cuisines.  Today, since I’ve been cooped up in the house entirely too much this month, we decided to go to Frankfurt and hunt down some Five Guys burgers.

Originally, we planned to take my car, a 2009 Mini Cooper that we bought in Stuttgart as we were leaving the first time.  In nine years, I’ve managed to rack up a pitiful 35,000 miles on the odometer, so we try to drive it as much as we can on the weekends and trips that don’t involve bringing our dogs.  Unfortunately, the engine refused to turn over.  In nine years, we’ve also never changed the battery.  Guess fixing that’s on the agenda this week.

We took the other car, our 2006 Toyota RAV 4, which we hope to soon retire.  This was our very first trip within Frankfurt itself.  Prior to today, we’d been to the train station and the airport.  That’s it.

A fine landmark.  Just after we passed it, Bill tried to turn right into traffic going the opposite direction.  Fortunately, they were stopped at a light and he managed to correct his error before we got creamed.  Then we found a parking garage, where we were in good company with lots of others seeking parking today.  
The air was heavy with the aroma of curry wurst and the sounds of people rushing around, shopping at high end retail stores.  The weather was kind of grim and depressing, which didn’t really make me want to explore.  Frankfurt is the land of big business, banks, and people with lots of money.  I haven’t seen much of it, but it doesn’t appear to be a particularly picturesque town.
It definitely has a different feel than Stuttgart has.  I was reminded a little of Washington, D.C.

We spotted the big church located right next to the Five Guys, but still had to wander around a bit before we finally saw the magic sign.  It was about 1:30pm…
But it was packed, and there was nowhere to sit.  Actually, this was a lot less busy than it was a couple of hours later, when we decided to come back.

The Five Guys was full of people at 1:30pm.  I started inwardly berating myself for wanting to stand in line for burgers I’ve had a bunch of times.  I told Bill we should go look for another place to have lunch.  Bill had to pee like a racehorse, so he was eager to find a place quickly.
We walked out of the big Walkplatz where Five Guys in Frankfurt is.  This looked interesting, but we needed to find a place for Bill…
This mural was right next to an enticing place called Conrad’s Restaurant.

I wasn’t really wanting German food, but Bill was eager to relieve himself.  A friendly waiter beckoned us, so we went in.  The inside of Conrad’s is very small and rather poorly laid out.  There are several very large booths and the tables are close together.  There’s not much of an aisle for people to walk through, either.  At one point, Bill and another man had to get out of their seats to allow a woman and her stroller to pass.  
Conrad seems to specialize in Schnitzels, though they offer other stuff like steaks, sausages, and breakfast.  The restaurant has a full bar, video gambling, and flatscreen TVs tuned to sports.  There’s also really shitty pop music on blast.  Seriously, the music really got on my nerves.  
Bill looks at the menu…
He decided on a Paprika Schnitzel, which was a pork schnitzel with a pepper, tomato, and onion sauce.  It was served with fries, but you could also substitute country style or mashed potatoes.  You could also have veal or turkey schnitzel for a small upcharge.
I went with the Mozzarella Schnitzel.  It was a pork schnitzel with fresh tomatoes covered with mozzarella cheese and baked.  I don’t actually like schnitzels that much.  They’re usually too much for me to eat.  Today’s was no exception, although it tasted fine.  I only finished half of this one and its accompanying fries.  However, I did appreciate that Conrad’s offered several different kinds of schnitzel, which puts them ahead of any other place where I’ve seen them offered.

Conrad’s doesn’t exactly get the best reviews on Google or Trip Advisor.  I wouldn’t be as harsh as some other reviewers have been.  The schnitzels were hot, fresh, and served with a smile.  The fries weren’t that great, but they weren’t terrible.  I thought of Conrad’s as a perfectly average restaurant until it came time to use the restroom.  There, stationed on a little stool in the tiny area near the toilets was a woman with a plate.  She was collecting change from people wanting to use the bathroom.
At first, I thought maybe this was just for people coming in off the street.  I’ve seen some places put out plates for people who really need to use the bathroom but don’t want to eat.  That might have been the case at Conrad’s, too.  But I didn’t see a sign or anything indicating that the Klofrau was only charging people who weren’t eating or drinking.  I find being asked to pay a Klofrau very tacky in a restaurant.  I mind it only slightly less at truck stops.  On the other hand, I’m sure the Klofrau discourages people from taking advantage of the restaurant’s prime location.
Anyway… I don’t think we’ll go back to Conrad’s… but it wasn’t a disastrous meal.  The food wasn’t terrible or overpriced.  It was just profoundly mediocre.  You can make reservations on OpenTable, too.
The outside of Conrad’s.

While we were eating our schnitzels, it occurred to me that Five Guys will probably always be packed.  And I didn’t really want to come back to Frankfurt to do this again… at least not while the weather is so cold, damp, and depressing.  Maybe we’ll brave it again when the sun stays out longer than six or seven hours a day.  So, although we ate schnitzels and I wasn’t even able to finish mine, we decided to pick up a couple of burgers to go.

This was what it was looking like at about 3:00pm.  The second photo was taken about twenty minutes later.  People were actually standing outside the automated doors.  Good thing they don’t take a pause and are open every day.

Bill went in to get a couple of burgers, sans our usual fries.  I waited outside and played Evil Apples. About thirty minutes later, he came out with our burgers.  He said the music at Five Guys was a lot better than it was at Conrad’s.  They were playing awesome classic rock by Rush, the Outfield, and Lynyrd Skynyrd.  They also have free peanuts, just like the Five Guys restaurants in the States.
You can fill your bike tires with air while you eat burgers.

We made our way back to the car.  I took note of the energy in Frankfurt.
Teens were dancing in the square.
I notice there are even more signs in English in Frankfurt than there are in Stuttgart.  It’s a very international city.  Even our trash bins have directions in English on them.
And big ass buildings, too!  I’m sure Frankfurt has a charming area somewhere.  We’ll find it eventually.  As we passed through this intersection, we found ourselves on the gambling and sex street, very close to the train station.
They look like the American style Five Guys burgers.
Right down to being smashed into foil.

I did taste my burger before wrapping it up for later, when my schnitzel has been digested and I have more room to enjoy it.  I’m happy to report that it tastes almost just like it does in the States.  It’s juicy, and the beef is very flavorful.  The only difference I noticed are the pickles, which are a little bit sweeter than what we get in the U.S.  But then, Germans seem to like their pickles sweeter.  It would have been nice to eat it while it was piping hot, but I think it’ll be fine in awhile.  It wouldn’t be the first time we saved a Five Guys burger for later.

I’d go back, although not anytime soon.  I definitely don’t need a Five Guys location near me, but it’s nice to have one.  Do you need to drive here from another German city like Stuttgart?  I’d say it depends on how much you like Five Guys burgers.  Stuttgart has a few places that are getting pretty good at making decent burgers.  Your mileage may vary, of course.

Next stop…  Hooters?  Maybe not.

Hebridean Island Cruises

Scotland and Northern Ireland 2017, Part three…

We checked into the Carlton George Hotel in the early evening.  I booked three nights, even though we’ve been to Glasgow several times thanks to Hebridean Princess.  Although Glasgow is probably not as popular or tourist friendly as Edinburgh is, it remains a very nice place to visit with plenty of things to do and places to eat.  We made good use of our time there this visit.  The first order of business was to enjoy a cheeseburger, but not before we listened to an impressive array of hits played by a bagpiper who stationed himself near our hotel room.

This video admittedly sucks, but you get the idea…  Glad he wasn’t around all night.

I made a video of Bill’s reaction when he heard him play the Army song… you know, “The Army Goes Rolling Along”.  The guy knew all of the U.S. military “hits” and proceeded to play them all, everything from “Anchors Aweigh” to the “Marine’s Hymn”.  After that, he played a few Scottish hits and delved into pieces like the “Star Wars” theme.  He really had an impressive repertoire, although we’ve heard better bagpipers.  Fortunately, he didn’t stick around too long.  We passed him on our way to Five Guys and he was gone by the time we came back to the hotel.

Speaking of Five Guys… yes, it was the very same burger restaurant that has exploded in the United States.  Thanks to my status as a Virginia native and Bill’s time in the Army, which pretty much guarantees a stint living in northern Virginia, we have been familiar with Five Guys for years… even before they started franchising and went national.  I always shake my head when I see Five Guys outside of northern Virginia, since the family that founded it swore they would never expand into franchising.  And yet, there are plans to open Five Guys locations in Germany!  I hate to say it, but Germany could use a Five Guys.  It’s not easy finding really good American style burgers here, although we have found some places that offer somewhat decent facsimiles.

Anyway, Glasgow has a couple of Five Guys locations, as well as several other burger restaurants.  We decided to go to Five Guys for dinner on our first night, since we wanted something quick and painless.  The experience was very much like it is in the United States, as was the taste of the burger.  My only complaint was that when I got my cheeseburger, the cheese was not melted.  I am pretty grossed out by cold cheese, especially when it’s American cheese.  They put a ton of it on there, too.  I would say that if you are coming to Glasgow from the United States, you could probably skip the Five Guys experience and not miss it.  However, since we haven’t been to the States since 2014, we were glad to stop there.  Actually, since we ate nothing but fancy food on the ship, it was kind of nice to have a cheeseburger.

Very good… except for the excessive and unmelted cheese!!!

One goal met!  

This was the view from our table at breakfast in the hotel’s rooftop restaurant.

I had some rather extreme Eggs Benedict that I couldn’t finish.  The hotel offers a pretty nice breakfast which includes dishes made to order.  It does cost extra to get breakfast included, though.  I think we paid 75 GBP for three mornings of breakfasts for two.  We probably got ripped off, but it was sure convenient.

The next day was Sunday.  I had decided ahead of time that I wanted to visit the city of Stirling, which is a charming town about halfway between Glasgow and Edinburgh.  I was aware of the castle there, but also learned of a whisky distillery and a couple of other attractions.  It was raining on the day of our visit, which dampened things a little bit, but our hotel was located right next to the Queen Street train station, which made it easy to get to Stirling by rail.  It took about forty-five minutes.  Naturally, we were seated near fellow Americans.  Glasgow was positively rife with them.  😉


I get a kick out of British nannyism signs.  I have an album full of them on Facebook, which I will add to after I’ve written up this trip.

A memorial in Glasgow’s busy’s Central Railway Station.

A Glasgow pic.

To get to Stirling, we had to use the Queen Street Station, which was right next to our hotel.

Bill is excited.

This is a Baptist church in Stirling, which was one of the first things we saw there.  We don’t see too many Baptist churches like this one in the United States.

A couple of other shots as we made our way up a hill toward Stirling Castle.  Before we got there, we ran into the Stirling Old Town Jail


We didn’t know it, but we happened to be in Stirling on the last day of the season for the Old Town Jail.  I love visiting jails because I’m kinky that way, so Bill and I bought tickets and took the tour.  We were there with three other visitors, led by an actor who repeatedly changed costumes as he told us about the jail’s history in character.  He treated us like new inmates at one point, which was more annoying than scary.  Kids probably appreciate it, though.

Prior to the jail’s opening in 1847, people who crossed the law in Stirling were thrown into the Tolbooth Gaol, which was a horrible place to be punished.  Compared to the Tolbooth, Stirling’s old jail was visionary.  Prisoners were fed, kept in cells by themselves, and paid to work, although they were all addressed by number rather than name.

The attraction itself is interesting, if not kind of corny in the way it’s presented.  I would say it’s probably a fun place for older kids to see.  An added bonus is that you get to climb the tower and see lovely views of Stirling, although it was pretty cloudy and rainy when we visited.

One of a few cells we visited.

This sign has a typo.  I couldn’t help but notice.

This was one shot I got.  We were told prisoners were not allowed to take in this view when they were in the tiny courtyard for exercise.

This was an interesting form of punishment.  Basically, prisoners worked hard all day at nothing.

For once, I didn’t make Bill pose for a shot.


A couple more foggy shots.

Bill poses by the tower before we finished the tour of the jail.

Mind the steps.

These four shots are of spots around Stirling, taken before and after we visited the castle.

A gate to the cemetery, I think.  I thought it looked artsy.

The entrance to Stirling Castle.


To be honest, I don’t have a whole lot of patience for visiting houses and castles.  For some reason, I tend to get bored quickly in them.  I also don’t like crowds, and Stirling Castle was pretty crowded, even on a rainy Sunday.  Nevertheless, we did stay awhile I got some photos.  I think my enthusiasm was dampened by the misty weather.  It made me want to find a nice pub and drink.  I did enjoy the Queen Anne Garden pictured below, despite the rain.  The flowers smelled so good!

As a musical person, this exhibit was interesting to me…  

The Great Hall, I believe…

I don’t know how, but it took this visit to find out how significant unicorns are to Scots…  They were all over Stirling Castle and elsewhere in Scotland.  I am a horse lover, yet somehow never noticed all the fantastic unicorns in the land of much of my ancestry.  The above photos were taken in the King’s and Queen’s bedrooms.  Unicorns are Scotland’s national animal.

Once we’d had enough of the crowds, we headed back down the hill and visited a pub we’d passed on the way in.  It happened to be packed with people, though we did manage to score the last table.  The guy over my shoulder felt a little like the Grim Reaper.  He was standing right behind me for most of our stay.  It kind of gave me the willies.

I am sporting the drowned rat look, thanks to the wet weather.

Scottish style macaroni and cheese.  It was good, but the cheese was fairly strong.  Bill probably would have liked it better than I did.

I liked his spicy pasta dish.  We probably should have traded!

After lunch, we headed back to the train station.  We were a little too late for the 2:45pm train back to Glasgow, so we stopped in the Coffee House pictured below.

I didn’t take note of the opening hours when we walked in…

Bill got a cup of coffee and I had a mocha.  We had been sitting there for about ten minutes when the barista abruptly kicked everyone out.  We hadn’t realized that she was closing at 3:00.  There was another American couple there and the male half made me laugh when he mimicked the barista with a flat, “Get out!”  We saw a few other hapless folks unaware of the hours walking in and getting kicked out promptly and very bluntly.  Having worked in the service industry, I completely understand the sentiment, although it was a little off putting.  Oh well.  At least I got my mocha.

On the way back to Glasgow, the train was pretty packed.  Some very kind gentleman offered me his seat until the conductor found two for Bill and me to sit together.  I was heartened by how genuinely kind the guy was to me.  In America or even in Germany, I would have expected total indifference.