Sundays

Barfuss in the park…

The Barfuss Park is open daily from 9:00am until 8:00pm.  

Some time ago, there was talk in one of the local Facebook groups about “barefoot” parks in Germany.  Apparently, walking barefoot on trails is a thing in Deutschland.  I was immediately interested because I love walking barefoot.  I never wear shoes unless I have to.  I don’t even put on shoes when I have to take the trash out in the snow.

Anyway, the idea of visiting the BarfussPark in Dornstetten stayed in the back of my mind for some time.  Then, two weeks ago, Bill and I took an overnight trip to France and passed signs for the BarfussPark on the way there.  I decided then and there that it was time to try out walking barefoot in the park.  A bonus is that the park is not even thirty minutes from where I live, as long as there aren’t any farm vehicles on the road!

We were blessed with beautiful sunny weather and agreeable temperatures this morning as we set off for our outing.  We left the dogs at home, having read that they aren’t welcome in the park.  And really, if you think about it, that makes perfect sense.  While you will likely get dirty walking barefoot in the park, no one wants to get dirty by stepping on what comes out of Fido during a good walk.  😉  We did see one dog at the park today, though, and no one seemed too upset about it.

We arrived at the park at about 11:30 or so; it’s pretty much right off B28 heading west.  The parking lot wasn’t full at that point.  In retrospect, it was a good idea to get to the park somewhat early because by the time we left at a little after 1:00, the lot was full and some people had parked on the side of the road coming into the park.  We took advantage of the handy WC near what appeared to be the bigger of the two parking lots we encountered.  Then, after Bill paid for three hours of parking, we headed to start of the barefoot trail.

It is forbidden to wash your feet in the bathroom!

The big sign before the park… there are ads for restaurants and a map of what’s on the trail.

 

These handy little “foot” markers show you where to go.  The trail can run as long as 60 minutes if you go the long way or 30 minutes if you take a shortcut.

 

There are lockers for those who want to lock up their stuff.  We opted to just carry ours.

 

But it’s there if you need it!

 

I was really enjoying walking on the grass toward the first part of the park, which appeared to be an area geared toward children.  There was a cold little puddle to walk through, then a few other water related activities.  Only one of the activities appeared to get people wet.  I didn’t try it because I didn’t come prepared with a change of clothes.  And actually, after what happened on our walk, I would definitely recommend bringing something to change into, just in case.  😉

This water was frigid!  But it felt really good after we stepped out of it.

 

Probably my favorite part of the trail was the trampoline.  I could see it was very popular with others, too.  I watched several little kids gleefully bounce the length of it.  For once, I didn’t let Bill discourage me from indulging my inner child.  I gave him my purse and hopped across.  Then I goaded Bill into it.

We were both smiling after bouncing on the trampoline!

 

We encountered many different walking surfaces.  There were rocks, sand pits, wooden beams, and even a couple of glass beds.  We encountered a rope bridge, a pinecone pit, and a surface comprised of nail heads.  Although I did see some glass shards on the trail, the glass wasn’t sharp and didn’t cut my feet.  The rocks, on the other hand, were a little painful, even for someone like me, who isn’t a tenderfoot.  You always have the option of walking around or skipping an activity you don’t want to do.

Here’s a video of us… the last part is pretty much why I recommend bringing at least a towel and perhaps even a spare pair of shorts!

After we walked through the mud, we stopped by this bed of straw…  it kind of helped get the mud off, but you’re going to have to rinse off at the end!  A bunch of German ladies laughed at me as I tried to shake off the very sticky mud.

Some people wiped off on the tree.

Pinecones.

Bill helped me across these logs, due to my honkin’ big purse full of shoes and stuff…

 

Rope bridge!

Nail heads!

Glass!

Rocks (these were the most painful for me).

Those who have upper body strength can make like a monkey and swing on the bars!

 

All through the park, there are cool wood carvings.  I saw totem poles, an owl, and the gnome above.  

At the end of our walk, it was definitely time to rinse off…  

 

And beer…

What’s the wurst that could happen?

Well deserved suds!

 

All told, this was a very cheap activity.  We spent a total of about twenty euros including the two euro donation (on your honor), parking, and wursts and beers.  The snack bar has ice cream and other beverages.  I’m thinking this would be the perfect place for a BBQ.  😀  As long as it’s not too cold, anyway.

We had a great time at the BarfussPark and I’d love to go again.  Bill and I were both grinning ear to ear at the end of it and the walk was just long enough to get our juices going.  Next time, we’ll bring another pair of pants in case of a fall.  At the very least, don’t forget to bring a towel!  I would say I enjoyed this activity even more than the famed “Tree Walk”, which we did last year.  The Tree Walk is also a lot of fun, but I think you get more bang for your buck at the BarfussPark.

My feet handled all of this very well!

Helpful facilities for those who can’t wait for the WC…  I always get a kick of the illustrations on these portapotties…  Pretty much the universal sign of people who need to pee!

Bees!

 

If you want to grill, there are facilities.  We saw one group enjoying a picnic lunch at a nice table out in the woods.

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anecdotes, 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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anecdotes

A crappy day in Germany…

I have had one hell of a crappy day.  What really sucks about my crappy day is that I was looking forward to the weekend, hoping to have some fun.  My husband, Bill, has been gone to Chad all week and I’ve been by myself, hanging out in our rented home with my two sweet but occasionally irritating hounds.  I really need to get a life and make some friends.

Last week, I was sick with a cold and I’ve been dealing with what I think is a very weird gum abscess.  It doesn’t hurt, but it’s worrisome and annoying and has caused a little swelling and bleeding.  I need to have it looked at, but we don’t have dental insurance yet… it doesn’t kick in until January 1.  Add in the fact that I am very neurotic when it comes to my teeth.  I have two baby teeth that may be about to give up the ghost.  I expected them to– they are 42 years old and have served me pretty well.  They seem to be rooted well, too.  But the idea of possibly needing an extraction or two and the expense, trauma, and pain associated with that does nothing for my mood.  And once those teeth come out, it’s time for implants.  What fun.

I got a visit from Aunt Flow a couple of days ago, which is always fun.  It’s even more fun when your plumbing is on the fritz.  This morning, I went downstairs to do my laundry and there was a bunch of standing grey water in my new washing machine.  I immediately assumed something was wrong with the machine.  My husband bailed the water out, then went to take a shower.  While he was showering, the drum in the washing machine filled with more water.  That tells me there’s a blockage of some sort in the house.

So we called the landlords and they came over to help us.  There’s water all over the floor.  My dogs are going crazy.  I’m feeling neurotic about my teeth and I’m on the rag.  We finally got the washing machine going to the point at which we got the laundry done, but it wasn’t without a big mess and inconvenience.  The homeowners will call a plumber on Monday because there’s a leak in the pipe and the drain probably needs snaking.

I’m still feeling very cranky and grouchy…  the mail carrier comes by.  She looks a lot like my mom.  She has a package for me, a star I bought for our big Christmas tree because the one I have on it is a 110 lighted one from Target.  I’ve been waiting awhile for this thing to arrive.  It didn’t cost much.  Looking at the address on the envelope, I see why it’s taken so long to get to me.  The star came all the way from Hong Kong.

I open the package and this is what I see…

This thing is even more disappointing in person than it is in the photo.

 

It’s made of cheap plastic and there’s no way to stick it on the tree.  It’s sloppily and incompletely covered with glitter.  And it’s just a sucky product.

 

I showed it to Bill and he said, “It’s like the equivalent of the Charlie Brown Christmas tree.”  He asked me if I wanted to put it on our other tree (we have two because the first time we were in Germany, I forgot to pack our tree and got another one that is small).

I said “No, we can just put it somewhere and make fun of it.”  That comment made him laugh.

So, in review, I’ve got residual snot from a cold to get rid of.  I’m on the rag.  The plumbing is messed up.  The washing machine may also be messed up, though we did at least get the thing going enough so we have some clean underwear.  I have dental problems and no insurance until January 1… and I’m not in enough discomfort to go to the dentist and pay entirely out of pocket.  At the very least, I suspect I need some antibiotics and knowing that, I keep checking my teeth and gums for signs that I need to get to a doctor urgently.  That has made the side of my face sore because I have to contort my lips in order to see and I’ve done it enough times to cause muscle fatigue.  I wanted to have some fun this weekend, but it looks like that’s not in the cards.  I can’t take a shower because of the plumbing.  And I’ve been listening to my dogs bark all day.

Stuff is just piling up.  I know these are minor first world problems, but they are still very irritating and have spoiled my mood.

Last night, we visited The Mad Scientist for dinner and ran up a respectable bill.  I had my usual stuff for dinner, but finished up with my very first taste of Metaxa, which is a Greek brandy.  It sort of tasted like brandy mixed with sherry.  It tasted good and no doubt made our Mad Scientist friend happy that I ordered it.

Metaxa in the glass…

Metaxa in the colorful bottle…

 

I need to have some fun soon.  At least I’m not in any pain, though.  On a positive note, Bill did bring home some macaroons from Paris.

These are yummy!

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Uncategorized

Tickets to Seville and The Prado… and an amazing taste of real Spain

During my last visit to Madrid, my sister Becky and I visited the Prado museum.  I distinctly remember that we didn’t have time to see much because we needed to catch a train.  Also, Becky was in a foul mood and had pretty much cussed me out in a nearby park.  But Becky’s an artist and has the temperament to match her talent, so there you go.  Anyway, Bill loves to look at art and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more interested in it.  So we decided to go to The Prado and check out the exhibits.

Yummy churros con chocolate…

But first, there was some business we needed to attend to.  I wanted to go to Seville, which is my favorite Spanish city thus far.  So, after a cheap and very satisfying breakfast of churros and chocolate at an Asian owned bar near our hotel, we went by metro to the Atocha train station, one of Madrid’s two big stations.  It was interesting to take the Madrid metro again after so many years.  Bill observed that the machines offered directions in English, but there weren’t any attendants around.  So we had to be a bit more intuitive as we determined where we needed to go.

We got to the train station and made our way to the RENFE office so we could buy our tickets.  I sort of dreaded doing this, since the last time I visited Spain, I encountered some very unpleasant people in the Atocha train station.  I’m happy to report that this time, the woman who helped us was very nice and even admired Bill’s squiggly signature which doesn’t resemble a name.  She pronounced it “clever” and then made fun of all the people who signed so carefully on the credit card machine.  All the machine really cares about is that someone scribbled something in the right place.

We ended up with two tourist level tickets for the 1:00 train.  I would have opted for “club class” had the clerk offered it, but as it turned out, second class was a lot cheaper and plenty comfortable.  More on that in my next post about our bullet train ride to Seville.

Anyway, I remembered that the Prado Museum was very close to the train station.  My memory didn’t fail me.  All we had to do was cross the street and walk a little ways and there it was.

The Prado…

A cathedral near the Prado…

We got to the museum at 11:20 am and got tickets to the special temporary exhibit for 11:45am.  The exhibit was on the Velasquez family of Philip IV and it was surprisingly interesting.  Indeed, I was marveling at how much of art is also a history lesson.  After we looked at the Velasquez exhibit, we looked at some sketch books of Spanish artists who went to Rome to learn technique.  That was an even more interesting exhibit, given all that went into the training and the varying levels of talent among the artists.

The permanent exhibit is absolutely huge and takes hours to get through.  We saw a good portion of the  museum, but I finally wimped out after about three hours.  There was so much to see that I didn’t feel like my brain could process much more.  I’m really glad we took the time to see this museum, though.  It was well worth the price of admission.  One of the favorite parts of my visit was getting to see an amazing copy of the Mona Lisa…  Check out this link from CNN for a glimpse!

The walk back to Puerta del Sol…

We walked back to our hotel from the Prado, then headed for the Puerta del Sol area, which is sort of the heart of Madrid.  I found us a nice family owned restaurant not directly in the line of tourism and we had paella and beer for lunch.  I think it was Bill’s first taste of paella and he really enjoyed it.

Bill had chocolate and I had vanilla for dessert…

Mickey and Minnie Mouse were in Puerta del Sol…  So were Bart and Homer Simpson and Spongebob Squarepants.

We went back to our hotel, where I proceeded to take another long nap.  I guess the Prado affected me more than I realized.  Once I woke up, it was time for dinner and we went walking in search of a place for something to eat.  I didn’t want to go back to the Puerta del Sol area, because it was very crowded and busy and I didn’t feel like fighting crowds.  But I also didn’t want to sit in a crowded place near our hotel.  After walking around a bit, we finally stopped at a deserted looking bar.

The place was not the usual sort of establishment I would choose, but I was tired and just wanted to get something simple to eat.  Little did I know, that sad little bar would turn into an amazing cultural experience.  We walked in, sat down, and ordered two beers.  I ordered chicken wings and Bill ordered Serrano ham, which is just as good as Iberian ham, but less expensive.  The legs of ham were right up there at the bar and we watched the bartender carve some for us.  The bartender also brought us Russian salad and potato cakes.

Bill eats ham and bread…

Those chicken wings were delicious.

 It was pretty slow at the beginning of the night…

We drank beer and wine…

As the night wore on, we seemed to endear ourselves to the bartender, who brought us olives.  More people came in, including a guy who looked like he was into sports.  A little while later, his girlfriend came in.  She was tall, a bit overweight, and wore an extremely low cut blouse that showed off her boobs.  My face must have registered shock because next thing I know, she was whispering to her man.  He gave me a dirty look.  Then I saw her turn around and she had zipped up her jacket to cover her breasts.

I felt a little badly at first.  I didn’t mean to embarrass her.  But I honestly was surprised to see her boobs.  They left and Bill and I kept drinking.  The owner of the bar brought out more tapas we didn’t order.  It was clear that if you were drinking, they were feeding you.

I got up to go to the bathroom.  There was no toilet paper in the toilet, which was not very clean.  Fortunately, I had tissues that I had gotten on our Scottish cruise on Hebridean Princess in 2012.  They really came in handy.  I left a few for the next gal to come along.

The owner brought of empanadas and potatoes and bacon… I finally had to look up at him with a look that said I was about to explode…  though it was a lot of fun watching the crowd.  Football was on the TV and we got to see some Spanish ads, which are a hell of a lot more entertaining than American ads are.  One that we saw several times involved a naked man running through the streets.  His private parts were blurred out; but still, you’d never see that in America.

When we were in Scotland, a kind-hearted cabbie gave me a “wee Scottish tartan umbrella” to help fend off the frigid, damp weather.  Bill brought it with us on our trip and had taken it along on that night at the crazy Spanish bar in Madrid.  He was a bit buzzed and forgot to take it with him when we left.  I was a little sad, since that umbrella had sentimental value.  But then I realized we had traded one cultural experience for another.  And honestly, that bar was obviously run by guys who weren’t into neatness.  I bet the umbrella is still sitting where we sat and will be there awhile.  We noticed that there was a lot of trash on the floor and no one seemed too worried about picking it up.  On the other hand, we had a wonderful time.  When I protested all the food, the guy who was bringing it out gave me a “never mind” look and rubbed his stomach as he licked his lips.  Too funny!

The front of the infamous Spanish bar…

 We passed a gay bar on the way back to our hotel and I couldn’t resist snapping these photos.

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