churches, holidays, Italy, restaurant reviews, road trips

Food and wine in Switzerland, Italy, and Liechtenstein… part four

Parma on Liberation Day…

As I mentioned in part three of this series, I chose to stay at our castle location near Parma because I knew there were several places of interest nearby. There’s Parma, Italy, where Parma ham and Parmesan cheese come from, Modena, which is known for wonderful balsamic vinegar, and Bologna, which is just alleged to be a beautiful city with great food and sightseeing. Bill did some research about Bologna and decided not to visit there, because parking was too much of a hassle. I definitely wanted to go to Parma, and Modena was interesting enough for a visit, too.

On the day we visited Parma, which was Monday, April 25th, it was Liberation Day. We did not know it was going to be Liberation Day before we planned our visit. We have a habit of being in different countries on their major holidays. We did the same thing last fall when we visited Wels, Austria. Anyway, Liberation Day was first celebrated in Italy in the year 1946. It was to commemorate the 1945 victory of the Italian resistance to Nazi Germany and the Italian Socialist puppet state. Because it was a holiday, the streets were crowded; some shops were closed; and there was a parade.

We managed to visit Parma’s beautiful cathedral and monastery, followed by lunch at a really cool restaurant where blues were accompanying the delicious food. Below are some photos of our day. Again, masks were required at that time, but as of May 1, 2022, masks are mostly only needed on public transport, in medical settings and nursing homes, and in sports venues, concert halls, or theaters. I note, once again, that Italy is stricter than Germany is right now. One of these days, I’m going to make a video of all the beautiful cathedrals I’ve seen in Europe.

A busker entertained us with Bach. He made me cry.

The monastery is located very close by the Parma Duomo. We had to wear FFP2 masks to see the library.

After more walking around, and more photos taken, we found our way to a quiet little plaza where we had lunch at a restaurant called Osteria del Teatro. This was a cute and popular place where excellent blues music paired with really nice local dishes and wines. Old vinyl records were used as placemats!

Below are some more photos from our day in Parma. Some decorations are in honor of the holiday.

By late afternoon, we were ready to go back to the B&B and drink more wine… which we did.

After our wine break, we watched old American shows dubbed into Italian… The Dukes of Hazzard, The A Team, and Walker, Texas Ranger! No wonder I saw so many Confederate battle flags in Italy.


Gay pride in Wiesbaden… wine in Hofheim…

I had heard a couple of wine events were going to be happening in Wiesbaden and Hofheim this weekend. Bill and I decided to check them both out. I must have gotten confused about the Wiesbaden event, because we never did find it. Instead, we ran into a gay pride parade, and had lunch at a Greek restaurant called Kavos. Below are a few photos I took of what we could see of the parade. I was sorry we hadn’t gotten there a little bit sooner, but we did see many dressed up people walking around the city with gay pride rainbow flags.

Yesterday was the second time we visited Kavos. I was in the mood for Greek food, and they had a nice lunch special going. I had pork “Spiess” (skewer) and Bill had a lamb skewer. They came with kraut and potato medallions. We also had t’zaziki, garlic pitas, and beer. In retrospect, I probably should have had water, given the wine market we attended in Hofheim.

I’m actually glad we never found the Wiesbaden wine event, since I ended up trying wine from five different vintners yesterday in Hofheim. I’m surprised I can still remember it.

Edited to add: My German friend says the chicken display is a warning to use sunscreen. One chicken says to the other to use sunscreen so she won’t look like a rotisserie chicken. Glad to have that confusion cleared up.

Below are some photos from the wine market in Hofheim. We stayed pretty socially distanced, although some people were having a great time! I must admit, I’ve missed going to these kinds of events, although my liver is probably scarred as hell now.

I think the wine event in Wiesbaden is going on today, too. I had the wrong location yesterday. I’m not sure if we’ll go. Unfortunately, I just went outside to clean up Noyzi’s business and it grossed me out so much that I puked. I love that dog, but he really takes humongous craps and I no longer have the strong stomach I once had. In any case… I’m glad we got out yesterday. It was really fun. Nice to have some normalcy for however long it lasts.


Volvo, Mark Knopfler, and East German adventures… part nine

Saturday was our last full day in Leipzig.  To be honest, I was feeling kind of ready to go home.  I always look forward to vacations, especially long ones that involve different cities and countries other than the ones that immediately border Germany.  But usually, after about a week, I start to feel tired of being away from home.  I miss my dogs.  I miss having access to my desktop computer, which is a lot easier to write on.  I miss making music.  I also miss having plenty of clean underwear, even though I usually pack enough to take care of me even if I were to hypothetically shit in them every day.

I have a bad habit of packing too much stuff I won’t wear.  For instance, this last trip, I packed two dresses in case we decided to go somewhere nice for dinner.  I packed jewelry, which I never bothered to wear.  I packed an extra bathing suit, which I might have used if I had gone to the pool at our Copenhagen hotel.  But I almost never go to the pool unless it means visiting an awesome spa, like at the Upper House.  Meanwhile, I should have packed more pants and a couple more long sleeved shirts.  I should have brought a sweater or a jacket, although I did bring a wrap.

Making matters worse was the fact that the gin and tonics I had the night before were reminding me I’m a long way from being 21.  And… somehow during the night, I got bitten by something.  I had three red, swollen blotches on my right leg.  They didn’t itch, but they were kind of painful.  Nevertheless, Bill and I took a walk and visited St. Peter’s Church, whose steeple I had seen in the distance.  It looked like a beautiful church.  We walked in the direction of the old building, which took us through a decidedly poorer neighborhood that was heavily littered with trash and large piles of feces that, I hope, came from dogs and not people.

The church was beautiful, but looked like it could use some work.  The interior looked a bit careworn, like maybe not enough tourists had come out to donate money.  It was a bit of a walk from the center of town.  But the windows were pretty, and I could see the skeleton of the building was very graceful and strong.  It looked like it had a good foundation.  When we arrived, it appeared that they were setting up for a concert.

Linoleum floor.  Had seen better days.

Interesting clouds.  Looks almost like a Monet painting.

Indeed, there was a concert going on.  Benjamin Britten is graduate level music.

I was impressed by this BARF market for dogs.  BARF is basically raw food that some dog owners swear by.  If my dogs didn’t have mast cell tumor issues, I might try it myself.

My leg was starting to hurt, as was my lower back.  We sat down on a bench near the St. Thomas Church, where Bach used to play his organ.  I took a picture of my bites and shared it with friends.  My German friend, Susanne, recommended that I go to an Apotheke (druggist) to see if they could give me something for the swelling and itching.  That was a very good recommendation.


This place was near the main drag and it was obviously open.  When we went in, it was empty.  The young guy behind the counter took one look at my leg and said, “What happened to you?” in perfect English.  I explained that something bit me.  He fixed me up in a jiffy.

I left with antihistamine drops and cortizone cream.  I didn’t know the drops were antihistamines until after I took them… and then started drinking wine with lunch.  Still, I was impressed, because he got me some water and measured the dose for me in the pharmacy, like I was a kid.  And while we were in there, the place filled up.

We decided to have lunch at Cafe Madrid, since someone in the Facebook wine group recommended it.  Spanish food sounded good to us.  I thought maybe we’d have tapas, but I was a bit overwhelmed by all the choices.  I ended up having a pork filet and Bill had a shrimp salad.

So colorful.  My only complaint was that the vegetables included mushrooms.  I wish I had known…  The potatoes were very good.  They were heavily salted and served Canarian style, which seemed to mean they came with a very flavorful, garlicky green sauce.  The pork was Iberico and not bad.  It came with a port wine sauce.


Bill enjoyed his huge shrimp and avocado salad… and he was happy to eat the mushrooms that came with my dish. 

Lots of choices.  If we ever go back to Leipzig and eat here, we’ll be sure to get the tapas.


I got a kick out of the “peeing bull” in the restaurant.

As we were finishing lunch, I told Bill that I needed to lie down.  Wine and antihistamines equals nap time.  Sure enough, that’s what I did for three hours.  When I woke up, my leg looked like this.

Much better.  It’s not quite totally healed yet.  There’s still a little pain, but there’s no itching and the redness and swelling are gone.  I just hope that wasn’t caused by bedbugs and I especially hope we didn’t bring them into our house.


But the next morning, Bill found this under his pillow.  It was crushed and dead, but clearly some kind of insect.  He never got bitten and those were my only bites.  Still, it kind of gives one the willies.  I was very impressed by the help I got at the Apotheke, though.  That guy took great care of me.

We went to Morrison’s Traditional Irish Pub, where we were served by hardworking Germans who were busy, but willing to take care of us.  The food was good, and the service was better.  They brought out the wrong order, but were quick to correct the mistake with a smile and a good attitude.

Bill had fish & chips…  The chips were especially good.  I stole several of them.

I had a duck salad.  I don’t usually go for salad, and this was probably a better choice than what I was hoping to have at another restaurant.  It was very good, and reasonably priced.  We were happy to reward the much better staff with a good tip.

Gay pride!  Leipzig is full of it.  We saw lots of gay pride flags during our visit.


We were about to go back into the hotel when I heard what sounded like a man on trumpet playing David Soul’s “Don’t Give Up On Us, Baby.”  It turned out he was playing a flugelhorn and the song was “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” by Elton John.  The guy playing piano was excellent.  I could tell he was influenced by Elton John.  After that number, he did a solo rendition of ABBA’s “The Winner Takes It All”.

Cool looking show.  Toilet paper always gets my attention.


After we listened to a couple of songs, we went back to the hotel and had a nightcap, then went to bed.  The next morning, after breakfast, we decided to check out and head home.  Bill discreetly spoke to the reception about the critter we found under his pillow that might have been the culprit for my welts.  We didn’t ask for anything, just wanted to alert them to a potential problem and give them a chance to check the room before someone else gets bitten and raises hell.  I’m still praying that wasn’t a bedbug and none of its friends stowed away in the luggage.

The guy who handled our bags was very funny.  He spoke fluent English and said he’d lived in Chicago fifteen years ago.  He wondered why we’d choose to live in Germany.  Is he kidding?  As we were dishing about Mark Knopfler, he confidentially mentioned that his hotel was where the rock stars like to stay.  I’ll keep that in mind.

The drive home was uneventful and pleasant.  It took maybe four hours or so, not counting breaks.  Bill dropped me off and went to the commissary to buy food while I did laundry and started this blog series.  Then he went to get Zane and Arran, who were definitely glad to be home.  I’m always so glad and relieved to see my dogs, but they always need a good brushing.  They don’t get petted as much when they get boarded and need to shed.

Next month, we’ll take another big trip… another whisky cruise in Scotland.  This time, we’re starting in Invergordon and sailing over the top of Scotland to Oban.  I am praying I don’t get norovirus.  Stay tuned.

All in all, this was a very fun trip.  It lived up to our expectations and, in some ways, really exceeded them.  I’m so glad we were able to combine our trip to get our new car with our trip to see Mark Knopfler.  A lot of really cool things happened during our week of travel… it was almost surreal how much cool stuff happened.  And yeah, I got bitten and we ran into an asshole at a bar, but we saw a rock star and traveled in style.  And nobody died…  I’d say it was a big success overall.  Thanks for joining me on my odyssey.

Leipzig is a really lovely city with an unusual vibe.