Health

Wiesbaden on business, followed by pleasure…

I have been needing a new contact lens prescription for ages. Now that I’ve reached 50 years of age, my eyes don’t work the way they used to. I need reading glasses, but I don’t wear them because I didn’t know what kind I needed. Besides, if I don’t wear my lenses, I can read just fine. But when I have them in, I have a very hard time reading small print. Likewise, Bill was in need of a new lens prescription, as it had been five years since our last exams. I’ve been taking advantage of the fact that one can buy contact lenses in Germany without an official or yearly updated prescription. If you know what you need, you can simply order from Amazon. So that’s what I’ve done… but it’s not been without its drawbacks, as I’ve gradually been self prescribing stronger lenses for myself.

The last time we saw an eyecare professional, Bill and I visited the Stuttgart health center on Patch Barracks, then filled our prescriptions at an optical shop in Nagold, a cute town near where we used to live in BW. Wiesbaden doesn’t have such a facility, and even if it did, using it would be on a space available basis for peons like us. So Bill decided to “bite the bullet”, and he made us appointments at Apollo Optik, an optometrist in downtown Wiesbaden. I should mention that Apollo is one of many eyecare outfits downtown. We passed two others on the way there today.

Bill made our appointments online, and we both got confirmations and reminders by email. Bill was in a hurry to get to the shop, but he needn’t have worried about being on time. Apollo wasn’t like the typical eye doctor’s office we’re used to, where there are places to sit. ūüėČ We arrived and waited for the painfully shy gentleman helping the people ahead of us to check in. He didn’t speak much English, and didn’t seem all that comfortable with German, either. He did not appear to be a local. My appointment was first, so I sat at a machine that did an automated exam that took about two minutes. But he neglected to tell me to remove my contacts first, so we had to do it again, once I’d taken them out. I was glad I brought my glasses and a fresh pair of lenses!

After a short delay, the technician came in and did my exam. He spoke English reasonably well, and was actually very thorough, as I explained that I need to upgrade from my regular astigmatism dailies to multifocal lenses. My prescription had changed a bit regardless, so it was good that we went in. He ordered new lenses for me to try, and when they come in, we’ll go pick them up and I’ll try them out. If they don’t work, he’ll order different ones. ūüėČ We are going away next week for a few days; then Bill has a business trip. We’re also dealing with Arran, who is newly diagnosed with lymphoma. But hopefully, we can get in and pick up the new lenses so I can at least see better.

Speaking of Arran… he’s a little slower than usual, especially in the morning, but he’s hanging in there. Yesterday, Noyzi got a dental, and Arran had more blood samples taken so that we might know what kind of lymphoma he’s got, and whether or not it will be worth it to treat him with chemotherapy. But again, he’s about 13 or 14 years old, so we’ll probably just make him comfortable until the sad day comes when we have to say goodbye.

Now, back to our day in Wiesbaden, which is a happier topic. Bill got his exam done. He just wanted new lenses for his glasses, as his frames from Nagold are made of titanium and he likes them. They were also expensive. The whole appointment took about 90 minutes, and when we were done, we both really had to pee and wanted some food. Our plan had been to eat at the City Fest, or the Fall Fest, both of which are going on right now. Unfortunately, for some reason, the toilets weren’t open, even though the fest was in full swing! So we decided to visit the Andechser Ratskeller, where we’d eaten once before, back in 2019. I’ve been wanting German food anyway, so it was perfect.

I had a Doppelbock beer, while Bill had a “special Hell” (hell is a German style of beer, not the fiery place down below). To eat, I had Schweinebraten with Rotkohl and a potato Knodel. Bill had a Wiener Schnitzel with fries. It was hearty fare served by a hardworking waiter, who was delighted when Bill tipped him American style. Our bill was 42,50 euros, and Bill gave him 50 and told him to keep the change. I could see the guy got a nice lift from that, since he was really busting his ass! I’m sure that might help him pay his energy bill this year. ūüėČ Or maybe pay for a few liters of gas… Ordinarily, we don’t tip like Americans when we’re in Germany, since people who work in restaurants actually get paid here. But I know firsthand how tough that job is, and we can afford to be generous sometimes.

After we ate, we made our way back toward the parking garage, stopping to explore the fall fest. I remember going to it in 2019, before COVID was a thing. It was great to see everything back in full swing again. People were having a lot of fun, and I saw some art I wanted to buy. Maybe we’ll go back tomorrow and get something, making sure to be armed with more cash. I heard several excellent musicians in the city fest, including an awesome brass band who were playing “Sweet Child O’ Mine” (yes, by Guns n’ Roses). I wanted to listen to them, since I love brass bands… but my bladder was screaming for relief. So maybe we’ll catch them another time. They were great! We also heard a British duo performing a lovely version of “Old Man” by Neil Young, and a beautiful classical guitar player, enchanting people on a soundstage.

We did need to get home, though… the boys needed to eat and pee, and they were happy to see us.

Here are some photos from today’s excursion!

I hadn’t wanted to go out today, but I’m glad I did. I was reminded of how lucky we are to live in Germany, especially at this time of year. Autumn is magical in Germany. It’s almost as amazing as Christmas is.

Standard
customs

New neighbors clue me in to a German tradition I had never heard of…

Bill had to go out of town on business, so I’m spending most of the week alone. We got a bunch of Amazon deliveries yesterday– a new spool for the weed whacker, dog food for Noyzi, contact lenses for me, and two bottles of liqueurs that I was curious about trying. I thought I was finished answering the door when the bell rang again. I will admit, I was a little annoyed, mainly because I wasn’t wearing clothes that people outside of the household should see. But I answered the doorbell anyway…

It was our neighbors-to-be, whom we met on Friday night– mom, dad, and two young children. They were all dressed up, and the wife was holding a plate with what appeared to be a piece of bread on it. She said, in her heavily accented and somewhat broken English (which is still much better than my German any day), that yesterday was the first day of school, and it’s a tradition for sweet “Brezels” to be served for good luck. I think she also said that it was tradition to share the treat with a neighbor, and originally she had described what looked like a yeast bread as “cake”.

In ten years of living in Germany, this has never happened to me before, so I was unaware of the custom, but I was very moved by the gesture, nonetheless. Especially since they are going to be our neighbors as of next month! I did enjoy talking to them at our party the other day, mainly because she was born and raised in the Stuttgart area and had some rather candid opinions about her hometown that I found amusing. Let’s just say that she has the same impressions of the Swabian culture that a lot of people seem to have, and she prefers living in Hesse. Personally, I really like the Stuttgart area, but I have to agree that Hessians are stereotypically friendlier.

She presented the piece of “Brezel” to me on a lovely plate. I asked her what I should do with the plate when we were finished with it. She said I could return it when they move in next month. I am enjoying the Brezel bread for breakfast today, with my coffee. I thought it had raisins in it, too, but now that I’ve tasted it, I think they’re chocolate chips! Even better!

I posted about this surprise gift on Facebook, and my German friend– also hailing from Baden-W√ľrttemberg– was initially confused about the tradition herself. But then when I explained that the “cake” was actually Brezel, she wrote “alles klar”, and explained that it‘s customary for sweet pretzels (Brezels) to be made for the new school year, and passed out to the kids. Usually, one only sees them at New Year’s, when they are made fresh and passed out to family and friends for good luck and cohesion. However, in some areas, they also make them for St. Martin’s Day, or for the new school year, which starts in September in these parts.

Here’s a video about the New Year’s Pretzel, which I guess is the same as the pretzel handed out yesterday.

My friend asked if the bread was braided, and I wrote that I couldn’t tell, as it was only a generous sized piece of the Brezel, and not a whole one. But after a few minutes of research, she was able to find the answer for me. Now that I think about it, I believe our new neighbor’s husband’s family– who is also going to be our neighbor– is from a bit north of Wiesbaden. He brought some special beer to the party that can only be found in that area, and he and Bill bonded over it.

One of the things I like about living in Europe is that there are a lot of surprises. Most of the time, they’re pleasant surprises, like the time we lived in Jettingen and I got serenaded by three kids dressed up for Three Kings Day. They were collecting money for the Catholic church, and they were so adorable I couldn’t resist giving them some spare euros. There’s always something going on here, and so many traditions. We’re also heading into my favorite time of year, when the summer heat dissipates, and the weather gets cozy. I can stop wearing my t-shirts and Daisy Duke shorts (which I can’t pull off worth a damn), and wear pretty sweaters, scarves, and jewelry.

Hopefully, this new family will turn out to be actual friends. So far, so good. The wife even laughed at my jokes… especially when I was talking about having to leave Stuttgart early the first time and said, “I was PIIISSSED…” Come to think of it, I was probably also “pissed”, in the British sense of the word, when I was telling that story… But it’s a good sign that she wasn’t offended. ūüėČ

Standard
Uncategorized

Our first visit to Landhaus Diedert… I give it an A+!

Yesterday, as I was considering where we might visit in Italy later this month, I realized that it had been awhile since our last nice meal. I asked Bill what he thought about going to one of our favorite restaurants, Villa Im Tal. He was up for it, but Villa Im Tal was closed this weekend. Then Bill noticed Landhaus Diedert, a restaurant and hotel located in the Kloster Klarenthal, which dates back to the 13th century. While I was searching for places to stay during our upcoming trip, Bill was reading up about this restaurant, which is family run and has a mention in the Michelin Guide. After today’s lunch, I can see why. We had an absolutely FANTASTIC experience.

The restaurant is located on the outskirts of Wiesbaden, in an area not far from nature. There’s free parking, and in the warm months, they offer a very nice outdoor area, complete with a little playhouse for the kids. But the food here is anything but kid stuff. It was more what I would call a mix of comfort food and haute cuisine.

The mask requirements in Hesse were dropped yesterday, and our vaccine statuses weren’t checked, but I noticed everyone wore masks in the lovely dining room at Landhaus Diedert. I don’t know if that was required; they didn’t have a sign up. I suspect people are just used to masking, and as time passes, more people will relax. The staff all wore masks, and there were two hand sanitizing stations in the restaurant, which is very beautiful. I do know that the health minister wants people to keep masking. Personally, I look forward to being done with the fucking things… but I did wear a mask today, since everyone else was doing it.

When we first arrived, we were taken for Germans. That always pleases me. One waiter delivered the specials in German. I understood most of what he said, but when he was finished he heard me say in English, “It’s asparagus season.” And indeed, they did have a number of asparagus specials available. He was kind enough to give us the specials in English, and brought us menus in English, too. I was grateful for the English menus, although they weren’t necessary. We enjoyed a round of Sekt and some fresh breads with hummus and butter, then perused the extensive wine menu. Bill chose a lovely Shiraz from South Africa.

To start, I had a delicious wild garlic soup with a won ton filled with smoked trout, and served with a side of wasabi mayonnaise. Bill had a cannelloni filled with goat cheese and served with greens and a walnut dressing. I tried the walnut dressing, though I’m not a goat cheese fan. Bill liked his starter very much, but I LOVED the wild garlic soup. It made my tastebuds sing from the first taste. Although it was a bit rich, I had to finish the whole thing. I exclaimed how good it was as one of the servers cleared the first course. I have a feeling it’s a popular offering.

For our main courses, Bill had a perfectly tender U.S. flank steak with prosciutto wrapped asparagus and pureed sweet potatoes, topped with chimchuree. I had a braised beef short rib with smoked roasted and mashed potatoes, leeks, roasted corn, and a sweet gravy with blueberries. It was very rich, but absolutely delicious and comforting. We had to take our time with the main courses, because they were substantial. I did end up bringing home some of the mashed potatoes.

Then, for dessert we decided to go with something different. Bill decided to have a flambeed pineapple slices, with ice cream. This was prepared at the table for us, and the gentleman who served us was kind enough to let me take a video, which I have posted at the bottom of this post. I had a rhubarb crumble with vanilla ice cream that was very extreme. I mean, I’ve had vanilla ice cream, but this was something very special.

Service was kind, competent, and expedient. The pacing of the meal was perfect, and we noticed that everyone seemed very jovial. It must have been the food and the friendly service. I wouldn’t say this restaurant is particularly kid friendly, but I did see some children there, and they seemed happy to be there. And, again, in the summer, they can play while the adults enjoy the food, which is really something to behold. Total bill was about 185 euros, before the tip, and we paid with a credit card.

Landhaus Diedert makes a great place to celebrate a special occasion, or just celebrate great, seasonal food. We really enjoyed ourselves today. This is one place I’m glad we didn’t miss.

I’m sure we will be back again… Below are some photos from today’s fabulous lunch!

Bill’s dessert. The waiter was kind enough to let me video. I’m sure I’m not the first.

And just to close out this post. I want to add a couple more photos… things I noticed on the drive to and from the restaurant.

What a great Sunday! I hope we can do this a lot more often now.

Standard
day trips

From Wiesbaden to wine, women, and Worms…

We had nice weather today. It was the first nice, warm, sunny day in about a week. Or, at least the day started out nice, anyway. We have clouds right now. At about 11:30am, I asked Bill if he’d like to go do something. He said he would. I’d been wanting to visit Worms, a well touristed city in Rheinland-Palatinate, maybe an hour’s drive from Wiesbaden. So we beagle proofed the house, got in the trusty Volvo, and headed to the city of slimy critters.

Crossing the Rhein River into Worms… this is the ¬†Nibelungenturm, built by architect Karl Hoffman’s, whose handiwork can be spotted all over the city. It’s pretty cool!

By the time we got to Worms, I was hungry. It was about 12:45pm when we parked, and then because Bill parked in an outdoor parking spot at Das Wormser, he only got an hour. It was long enough for me to take this photo of yet another one of Germany’s provocative ads. Well, it would be provocative in the United States, for sure…

Netto is a discount market… I guess the wardrobe budget was cut for this ad. ūüėČ

So we made a quick trip to the Wormser Dom, the big Catholic church where Martin Luther was condemned as a heretic. More went on there, of course, but since I am neither a Catholic nor a student of history, I can’t write authoritatively on the cathedral, except to mention that it had a lofty history before it was reduced in status to a parish church. When you come to Worms, you’ll see it easily on the horizon, and it begs a visit. I got a few photos, which I noticed made Bill tear up.

And a few shots of the other side, which is where the main entrance is.

After we took a walk around the cathedral, Bill moved the car into the inside of the garage at Das Wormser, and we headed back into the city in search of lunch. By that time, I was pretty hungry and getting a bit grouchy. But I still managed to take a few more pictures, which because of Apple’s latest update, Catalina, are a bit of a pain in the ass to upload.

Finally, we ran across a restaurant that was still open, even though it was about 2:00pm. Die Pf√§lzer stays open for lunch until 2:30pm and they were able to help us out with some tasty, high quality food. I was definitely feeling better after a healthy lunch of salmon, spinach, and boiled potatoes washed down with wheat beer, although this restaurant is known for its wines. Bill had grilled wurst with sauerkraut and fried potatoes. There was a table full of Americans in there and I was reminded of how loud my countrymen can be. But overall, it was a nice, economical experience…

After lunch, we headed back toward the Marktplatz and stopped into the Evangelische Kirche– that’s the protestant church in town. It was impressive on the outside, but looked a bit refurbished on the inside, circa 1960 something.

We walked out of the church to discover a wine bar set up outside. Naturally, I couldn’t resist a glass for the road. I drank most of Bill’s too, since he was driving. I love this about this part of Germany. You can go to any town and find neighbors socializing over wine. I don’t remember seeing this in the Stuttgart area. Down there, it’s more beer and less hanging out… but I like Stuttgart too, for many other reasons.

Last night, we went to our neighborhood wine stand. I got a few photos of that, too. We ended up chatting with our neighbor, Uli, who speaks English fluently and has a horse and a cool dog named Levi that she adopted from an American soldier who went to Iraq. I love Levi… and Uli says if we’re ready for another dog, she can help us get one. Something tells me we might not be a three member family for the rest of our time here.

Photos from last night’s fun… one of our neighbors who had seen us at earlier wine stands came over, welcomed us in German, and said it was wonderful we were hanging out with them. Americans could learn a few things from Hessians.

I really hope I get the hang of Catalina soon… or they do something to fix the many glitches in the new system. Otherwise, future posts might be lighter on photos. But so far, our holiday weekend has been good. It’s hard to believe a year ago, we came to Wiesbaden for the first time to look for a place to live. Time flies when you’re still having fun!

Standard
Germany

The Eagles sure didn’t stink in Cologne… part 3

On thing Cologne, Germany is known for is its¬†K√∂lsch (or Koelsch) beer. ¬†This beer is very light, crisp, dry, and refreshing, and it’s usually served in a tall, cylindrical, 20 cL glass called a rod or a spike. ¬†The server, called a¬†K√∂bes,¬†carries twelve of the “rods” in a caddy known as a Kranz. ¬†It looks kind of like a crown or a wreath.

K√∂lsch bars are plentiful in Cologne, but there’s one that is right in the thick of things. ¬†The Gaffel am Dom restaurant¬†is next to the Excelsior Hotel Ernst and across from the train station. ¬†When we visited Cologne in 2012, we ate there, so we decided to do it again in 2019. ¬†As we walked into the large building, we were invited to sit wherever we wanted.

There are two entrances… one across from the train station and the other around the corner.

 

The inside of the restaurant. ¬†It’s actually pretty huge.

Neither Bill nor I were very hungry, thanks to a filling lunch at the airport. ¬†We just wanted to drink some beer and maybe have something a little light. ¬†Well, I’m here to tell you that finding something light isn’t so easy at this restaurant, but I did manage to go vegetarian.

Our waiter carries a Kranz full of beer.

The waiters will keep bringing you beer and mark how many you have on a coaster.  

 

When you’ve had enough, do this.

 

Prost! ¬†It’s definitely not like a Weizen. ¬†K√∂lsch beer is different, because it’s warm fermented with ale yeast, then cold conditioned like a lager.

 

Bill used his beer to wash down beef goulash, which came with a little potato dumpling.  He had this the first time we visited and wanted to try it again.

 

I was happy with my three fried potato fritters with black bread, butter, and apple sauce garnished with cranberry sauce. ¬†This was surprisingly hearty and filling. ¬†They also had meat versions of this dish with the potatoes, which sounded good, but I honestly wasn’t hungry enough for them. ¬†I had been eyeing a chicken salad, but noticed another woman got what I’d been looking at. ¬†It was HUGE! ¬†She actually cried out in surprise when she got it.

 

The waiters at this restaurant are very professional. ¬†The one who took care of us had a great sense of humor and looked dismayed when we stopped at ten beers (five a piece). ¬†Remember, they’re small glasses.

I meant to call attention to Cologne’s love locks. ¬†I’ve seen this “fad” all around Europe and it’s really popular on Cologne. ¬†You get a lock with your name and your lover’s name engraved on it, then lock it to the fence by the train station near the Rhein River.

The love locks were everywhere!

I’ve read they had to cut off the locks in Paris because they were so heavy they were ruining fences.

I’m sure this refers to a politician…

You can buy these locks at souvenir shops.  There is one right across from the train station that sells and engraves them.

Aw… what a charming fad…

Lots and lots of people have hooked their love locks in Cologne. ¬†Bill and I didn’t.

We weren’t quite ready for bed when we finished wandering around the train station, so we decided to try the hotel’s piano bar. ¬†Every night, from 7:00 until midnight, a pianist plays in the hotel’s wood paneled bar. ¬†There, you can listen to music while you sip pricey cocktails, beer, wine, or something non-alcoholic. ¬†Bill loves to try new cocktails, especially since he usually has to drive when we go places.

I started with an expertly prepared Sazerac, served in a lead crystal glass…

Bill’s cocktail… I am hard pressed to remember what it was. ¬†I guess drinking cocktails will do that to a person.

The bartender was great.  He made excellent recommendations in English and made some fantastic drinks for us.

The little baby grand…. Smallest one I’ve ever seen.

White Lady.

A fridge dedicated to Dom Perignon!

While we were sitting in the bar, another couple came in. ¬†The wife was American and her husband was Swedish. ¬†It turned out they had come to Cologne from Malmo, Sweden to see the Eagles, too. ¬†We ended up talking about other concerts we’ve seen. ¬†We have similar tastes in music. ¬†In July, we are going to see Mark Knopfler. ¬†She said they’d wanted to go to that show, but won’t be there. ¬†We ran into those people everywhere except at the concert hall.

Her husband didn’t say anything, while his wife did the talking. ¬†I got the sense that maybe she missed talking to fellow Americans or something. ¬†She was a bit forward, but friendly enough, I guess.

After a few drinks in the piano bar, we headed up to bed. ¬†It was expertly turned down and the air conditioning was cranked, even though it’s not been hot here. ¬†I am no longer used to air conditioning, so I was a bit chilly.

Each night, the turn down person leaves you a little card with a quote on it…

Standard
Uncategorized

Dinner with friends and the Scottish Music Parade!

Bill and I have had a busy week so far.  Monday night, we drove to Schwetzingen, a nice town next to Heidelberg, to visit old friends.  One of Bill’s former co-workers came to Germany and Austria with his wife, to celebrate their wedding anniversary and visit the Christmas markets.  They used to live in Heidelberg when Army troops were still posted there.  Back in the mid 2000s, Bill was a branch chief at the Army National Guard Headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.  That’s where he met the male half of the couple we met on Monday night.

We had dinner at the Brauhaus zum Ritter, a nice restaurant just across the street from the Schloss in Schwetzingen.  We visited the Schloss in 2008, when we spent a weekend in Heidelberg.  That was the first and last time we were in the area, though I had been trying to get back there when we were in Stuttgart.  Now that we’re in Wiesbaden, Heidelberg and its environs are even closer.  We could conceivably spend an afternoon there.

Because it was a visit with old friends, I kept the picture taking to a minimum.  I did get a few shots of the excellent beer and food, though.  Have a look.

We got to the restaurant before our friends did, so we had a round of beer in their bar area.

I had a very tasty and surprisingly flavorful Schwarz Bier…

And Bill had a Weiss Bier… again, surprisingly flavorful compared to other Weizens I’ve had.

I liked the decorations.
 

The Brauhaus zum Ritter offers a lot of the usual German fare.  I had a cordon bleu Schnitzel, stuffed with mountain cheese and ham and served with potato salad.  It was very good and not too huge.

I’m going to have to ask Bill what he had.  It appears to be a Rinderfilet with mushroom sauce and spaetzle.

Instructions on toilet use… Apparently, they had trouble with women building “nests” of toilet paper.

 

It was really great to see Tim and Melody, especially since it had been over ten years since we last saw them in person.  They have gone back to Munich and will be flying back to the States today.  We got home late Monday night, had a rather calm Tuesday, then went out again last night to see the Scottish Music Parade at the RheinMain Congress Center in Wiesbaden.

I found out about this event when we were visiting Wiesbaden for the first time, back in October.  There was a billboard posted near our hotel advertising it.  Since I’ve been on a roll with concerts lately, I decided it might be fun to go see this event, which apparently happens regularly.  One thing I’ve learned during this Germany stint is that Germans seem to love the Scots and other Celtic folks.  On Halloween of this year, we went to the Stuttgart version of the Irish Folk Music Festival, another annual tour.  I thought maybe the Scottish Music Parade would be like the Irish Folk Music Festival, but it turned out to be decidedly different.  Still, we had a good time.  Below are some pictures.

We got to the surprisingly large concert hall a bit early.  I think Bill’s original plan was to find somewhere to have dinner, but we got caught in some traffic and I really needed to pee.  So instead of looking for a restaurant, we entered the concert hall early…  I noticed one guy wore a kilt.  I wish Bill had worn his, but then the weather was a little chilly…

We enjoyed a little wine at the wine bar after checking our jackets.  Light snacks and wraps were available.  We drank wine and ate pretzels.  We also bought three CDs from the dancers who were selling them, as well as programs and t-shirts.

A view of the stage before the show began.  My heart was done good as I heard Bruce Hornsby playing on the sound system.  I grew up near Williamsburg, Virginia, which is where Mr. Hornsby was born and raised. 

 

A kilted man who spoke German came out to introduce the performers.  There were pipes and drums, dancers, and the band Aceltica, whose music was on the CDs we bought.  There was also a male and female singer.  The female singer’s name was Jane Jackson.  She is from Glasgow, Scotland, but she now lives in Australia.  Most of the other performers are from Scotland and live there now.  I didn’t take a lot of pictures during the show because I’d rather watch it than record it for posterity.  However, I did get a few shots of the dancers during the second half of the program, which ran for about two hours with a twenty minute intermission.

The man in the kilt was pretty much the star of the show.  He normally pipes on Britannia, which was once Queen Elizabeth II’s ship.  The Royal Family sold the ship and it is now permanently docked in Edinburgh, Scotland where tourists can visit it.

He was quite the showman.

I really enjoyed the dancers, who were very graceful and athletic.  I found myself wishing I’d learned how to dance when I was a girl. 

Again with the head piper… I think his name was Stephen or Steven…  I should have bought a program.

The guitar player was also quite the badass.  

During the finale, the singers had everyone on their feet.  The male singer, who also played acoustic guitar and, I think, was named Mike, had a voice and a style that reminded me a little of Bono’s. 

The dancers came down the aisles to get everyone going.

Taking a bow…

And they piped in the foyer after the show.  I was very happy that they played Highland Cathedral, which has both German and Scottish ties.  It was the music I walked down the aisle to when Bill and I got married.  And yes, we did have a bagpiper who played with the organist.

 

I thought the Scottish Music Parade was a perfectly enjoyable event, although I think I liked the Irish Folk Music Festival better.  The Scottish Music Parade seemed to rely more on lights and electronic music and was… for lack of a better word… a little bit cheesy.  That being said, Bill and I had a lot of fun watching the performance and would attend again.  I really love listening to bagpipes… must be all that Celtic blood in my history.  The musicians were excellent, as I expected them to be, and I was surprisingly even more entertained by the dancers than I was the musicians.

The tour continues tonight in Koblenz and on into 2019.  If you’re living in Germany and don’t mind traveling to see this show, you can easily catch it.  There are still tickets left.  I’m glad we went.

Tonight, we’re going to a wine tasting and Christmas party.  It’s not often I go out so much during the week!

Standard
Christmas, Germany, restaurant reviews

Christmas in the air in Wiesbaden…

We went back to Hainerberg on Sunday to pick up a few American items at the commissary.  Before we went to the commissary, we decided to have lunch in downtown Wiesbaden.  The Christmas market was in full swing and we walked through it on our way to the Ratskeller, which is a German restaurant underneath the Rathaus in Wiesbaden.  Below are a few pictures of Wiesbaden’s market, followed by my thoughts on Ratskeller.

The Christmas market in Wiesbaden has a different vibe…  

I heard a lovely choir singing carols as I took this picture.

As we were leaving the area later, there was a children’s choir singing “Let It Snow”.  We got rain instead.

They had a puppet theater set up.

And a ferris wheel!  I kind of wish Bill and I had gotten on this, but Bill isn’t a fan of heights or rides.

They had names of all the local areas, like Mainz.

And Winter BBQ… which appeared to be burgers and hot dogs.

Ratskeller enjoys a very advantageous location in Wiesbaden’s Rathaus.  I was surprised by how large the restaurant is.  It’s heavy on beer and heavy German style food.  Oddly enough, that was exactly what Bill and I were in the mood for on Sunday.  Sometimes, we are uncannily in sync with our thoughts and desires.

Bill peruses the choices.  They had a number of Bavarian specialties.

The inside of the restaurant reminded me a little of the Hofbrauhaus in Munich.  There was no band, though.

I had a Doppelbock and Bill had a Dunkelweizen.  I really enjoyed the Doppelbock, which was flavorful, but not too cloying.  It clocked in at 7% ABV, while Bill’s dunkel was a bit lighter and less alcoholic.

I had a small portion of duck.  This was one quarter of the bird.  I could have had half a duck, but I wasn’t hungry enough for that.  I didn’t finish this, although I did enjoy the Rotkohl– red cabbage with apple.  It went very well with the duck and the potato dumplings.  I can never eat more than one dumpling, which may surprise those who get a load of my dumpy backside.

Bill had a pork Schnitzel breaded with pretzel and served with brown gravy.  It came with really good steak fries.  Seriously, those potatoes were excellent.  They had a fabulous flavor.  A lot of fries are kind of tasteless and filling, but these had a great rustic character to them.  The Schnitzel was also well prepared and just the right size.

 

Our waiter spoke perfect English and was reasonably friendly.  I liked the atmosphere in the Ratskeller, although I imagine it probably gets busy and noisy in there.  It’s not often I want German food, but this was just what we were in the mood for on Sunday.  I had a dark wheat beer for dessert, while Bill had coffee.

Dessert prompted us to need the bathroom…

If you aren’t a guest and you need to pee, you’re supposed to pay one euro.  No Nette Toilette here!

A couple more shots of what appears to be a rather historic building.

Wiesbaden is sure pretty…  

On the way back home, we stopped by the commissary and picked up some American items.  I didn’t take the time to really explore the commissary, but it did appear to be somewhat nicer than the one at Patch Barracks.  Of course, Stuttgart is supposed to be getting a brand new commissary soon.  I don’t know that we’ll visit the one in Wiesbaden more than once or twice a month, now that we’ve become so accustomed to German stores.  However, I did notice there’s a nice view from the commissary…

My camera didn’t really do this justice… there were sunbeams coming out of the clouds as if they were sent straight from Heaven.

Standard
Uncategorized

Lunch at Wichtel Hausbrauerei in Böblingen

Tonight is the last night we will spend at our soon to be former house in Unterjettingen.  Tomorrow, the packers will come and we’ll spend a night at the Hotel Adler in Nagold.  Tuesday, we’ll load up our stuff and be on our way to Wiesbaden.  It will be my last day in the house.  Our new house has no carpets (hallelujah) and is a bit larger than the house we’re leaving.  I love not having carpeting to worry about, but I do worry about the beautiful new floors that are in our new home.  We decided to visit the Turkish rug guys at Panzer and load up on some floor coverings.

Now… this was not my first time buying carpets at Panzer.  A couple of years ago, we bought a couple of rugs for our living room.  I have to admit, they kind of look like hell now, mainly because they’re stationed right by the doors to the outside.  I don’t expect the new rugs we bought today will hold up much better.  They are better, and more expensive, than the shitty rug sets often sold in the PX, and I like the way they look more than the German rugs I’ve seen.  For many reasons, IKEA really doesn’t do it for me.

But before we bought rugs, we went into AAFES to buy new toothbrushes and some face cream. We ran into Bill’s soon to be former boss and Bill chatted with him.  Then we happened to check out behind a guy who had a rather complicated order that took some time to process, so I took the opportunity to crack inappropriate jokes.  Bill later told me the guy is a high ranker on post.  I wasn’t surprised.  He definitely had the air of a general.

Then I was waiting for Bill to use the men’s room.  While I was waiting, a vendor offered me free chocolate.  I thought about taking it, but a pre-teenaged girl swooped in front of me and grabbed it before I could act.  I kind of laughed about it, and the vendor said he had more chocolate, but I plan to be pounding beer throughout the rest of the moving process… except when we’re driving to Wiesbaden.  I have to be totally sober for that.

Anyway, after we bought our AAFES stuff, we went to see the Turkish rug guys, who were only too happy to help us.  I walked out of there with three large rugs, a runner, and a smaller rug for my office.  They threw in the hall runner for free.  Nice of them, and I’m sure we’ll use it.  I’m also sure I’ll be visiting the rug guys in Wiesbaden, if they have them there.  I’m not sure why they wouldn’t, since I’ve seen those guys at every European base I’ve been to… perhaps with the exception of Lajes Field in the Azores.

After we dropped 1200 euros on rugs, we decided to have lunch.  I think Bill was originally planning to visit Patch to return some electronic Swiffer products we bought without realizing they won’t work without massive transformers.  But after our large purchase, I think Bill was ready for a drink.  We decided to try the Brauhaus in B√∂blingen, but as usual on a Sunday afternoon, it was packed.  So we moved on to the Flugfeld, where I knew there were a couple of restaurants besides Check Inn Foodport we hadn’t tried.

Actually, that complex has at least three restaurants.  There’s Check Inn Food Port, which is very nice for a dinner date.  Tower 66 Steakhouse is open for lunch until 3:00pm on Sundays, then takes a pause until 5:30pm.  And then there’s Wichtel Hausbrauerei.  I noticed Wichtel got some pretty mediocre reviews on Google, but they didn’t have a pause.  Sold!

We walked around the restaurant’s generous terrace, which still had some tables out, though they weren’t set up for outdoor dining.  To enter the restaurant, you must walk into the Motor World building.  Then you go in and find a seat.  Unlike at the Schoenbuch Brauhaus, there were plenty of spots open at Wichtel Hausbrauerei.  We chose one near the taps.  I needed a slight boost to get up on the tall seat.  I actually like high chairs because I’m short, but I’m also getting old, which makes getting up and down on them harder than it used to be.

The outdoor area.  You have to walk around this to get inside the restaurant.

Welcome!  I really should have stopped to look at the specials for today.

An adorable young man stopped to ask for our drink orders.  Seriously, he was super cute.  I bet his mom is proud of him.  Not only was he good looking, he was also very charming and congenial.

I asked for a weizen and he rattled something off in German, which took me by surprise.  Actually, I know he was asking me which size I wanted.  At Wichtal, you can get a beer in three sizes– .33 liter, .5 liter, or a liter Krug.  Bill started answering in German, but then the guy switched to perfect English and offered me a menu in my native tongue.  I actually do pretty well reading German menus.  It’s just speaking German that kills me.  I can only sing in German.

Bill decides on lunch.  The choices are somewhat limited if you don’t want pizza.

So Wichtel has what appears to be a hybrid of regular pizza and Flammkuechen.  I asked the waiter what it was like and he said it was like both pizza and Flammkuechen.  He said the rest of it was “marketing”.  Our winsome waiter was not only friendly and adorable, he also had a sense of humor.  What a cutie pie!  Too bad I’m happily married, fat, and old enough to be his mother.  I noticed his name was Valentin.  He’s aptly named.  Hubba hubba!

I ascertained that the “pizza” would be too big for me to eat by myself and I am not trying to bring home more food as we’re trying to clear out of here.  I ended up ordering what was described as “roast beef”.  I had a choice of spaetzle, potato salad, or fries as a side.  I decided to be extra healthy and went for fries.  Bill ordered a schnitzel.

If I had paid more attention, I could have ordered today’s special, which was half a duck.  I believe they had another type of braten on special today.  Besides pizza, schnitzel, and “roast beef”, they also had salads, sausages, and other drunk food.  They also had a kids’ menu.

I liked their coasters.  They reminded me of myself.  Bill said they reminded him of Starbucks.

Someone was doing shots of some sort… You can see the barkeep pouring them.

So this was my lunch.  It turned out the “roast beef” was actually a strip steak.  Bill reminded me that sometimes what we think of roast beef is not really roast beef to Germans.  It’s steak.  This was German beef, which was okay.  It was smothered in a brown gravy and dried onions.  Not the way I usually eat steak, but it wasn’t bad.  I’m probably done eating for the day.

Bill’s Schnitzel was your standard Schnitzel.  It came in two pieces with a side of potato salad and gravy.  While I don’t know that we necessarily really wanted to eat German food today, it wasn’t a bad thing that we did.

 

Prices at Wichtel are very reasonable.  It’s a very family and kid friendly place.  And although Google reviewers gave it mediocre reviews, we thought the service was quite good.  I was smitten with Valentin.  I wonder if he’d be my Valentine…  LOL… I’m kidding.  I only have eyes for my Bill.  Anyway, our tab came to 41 euros, which gave Bill significantly fewer heart palpitations than our purchase of five rugs did.  But I figure I could spend that much on one really nice rug from the Middle East.  And as long as I have dogs, I won’t be doing that.

So ends today’s review… perhaps the last one I write of a restaurant in this area for the time being.  Or maybe we’ll go somewhere in Nagold tomorrow night, our last down here on the edge of the Black Forest.  I’m seriously going to miss it…  Especially the views from our house.  But as the Brady Bunch sing, when it’s time to change, it’s time to change.

One more picture for the road.  My view is about to change substantially.

Standard
Germany, restaurant reviews

Hello again to the Holzkrug!

Back in August 2014, around the time Bill and I moved back to the Stuttgart area, we paid a visit to the Holzkrug in Vaihingen.  I had fondly remembered the tiny little eatery from our first tour in Stuttgart, from 2007-09.  For the first six weeks of our stay, we lived at the Vaihninger Hof, a run down hotel within walking distance of Patch Barracks.  Because it was a no frills German hotel, we only had a little dorm sized fridge in our room.  We had to eat out for most of our meals.  As a consequence, I got to know the restaurants circa 2007 in the Vaihingen area very well.

I remember liking the Holzkrug because of its local style charm and the fact that they sometimes serve roasted chicken there that is to die for. ¬†I see by my last Holzkrug post, Bill and I both had chicken the last time we were there. ¬†Today, we stopped in for lunch because we stopped by Patch to gas up my car. ¬†They weren’t serving any chicken today, but we still had a nice lunch.

The door was open and the German pop was playing…

 

Holzkrug offers hot food from 10:30am until 2:00pm on Saturdays.  They also offer lunch with specials from 10:30am until 2:00pm and then dinner from 4:30pm until 8:00pm all during the work week.  On Sundays, they are only open from 10:00am until 2:00pm.  Dinner is not offered on weekend nights.

The Holzkrug is the only restaurant in this area that I’ve been to that sometimes offers roasted chicken. ¬†The only other time I’ve seen it has been at fests or from “chicken men” with food trucks. ¬†If there are other local restaurants that have chicken, I haven’t run into them yet.

Bill checks out today’s limited menu.

 

Today’s offerings. ¬†Bill originally settled on “Forelle” (trout), but they were out of it. ¬†They did, however, have fried fish of some sort. ¬†That’s what he ordered. ¬†I ordered “Cordon Bleu und Krokettes”, basically a fried schntizel stuffed with ham and mild melted cheese.

 

The Holzkrug has a very local vibe, even though it’s close to Patch Barracks. ¬†Although I did see a plaque with an American flag on it, I don’t know that they get a lot of Americans in there. ¬†We had to share a table with a guy who was clearly a regular and kindly made room for us at the “Stammtisch” (a table set aside for regulars). ¬†I think it’s mostly a bar, though we’ve always gone there to eat and have enjoyed every experience.

“Stammtisch”– if you see one of these signs in a German or Austrian restaurant, it means it’s reserved for regulars. ¬†However, I can’t say that I’ve ever seen too many regulars taking advantage of one. ¬†Maybe it’s because I make a habit of trying so many different places that I haven’t really become a “regular” at many restaurants here. ¬†The Stammtisch is different than a table that’s “reserved”. ¬†

 

The view of the bar from where I was sitting. ¬†This is a small place, but it’s very quaint and kind of charming. ¬†I’m pretty sure they have English menus if you ask for them. ¬†Sometimes the servers speak English, though today’s didn’t really. ¬†I like the interior of the Holzkrug. ¬†It’s the kind of place I wish we had in our own little town… you could go there and soak up the atmosphere over a couple of beers.

 

Here’s a picture of our deep fried goodness… ¬†Bill had the fried fish special, which came with potato salad. ¬†He washed it down with a Hefeweizen. ¬†I had the Cordon Bleu and fried potato croquettes. ¬†It was a lot and we brought home leftovers from my dish!

 

The guy sitting next to us was humming off key. ¬†It was driving me nuts. ¬†I happen to be a very musical person with “perfect pitch”, which means that when things are off key, it’s like nails on a chalkboard. ¬†I felt badly about being annoyed, though, because he was nice enough to share his table with us. ¬†The guy sitting behind Bill, also clearly a local and a regular, kept shooting glances at us. ¬†But the wait staff was very kind and attentive.

This is a decidedly dog friendly place. ¬†A large Doberman was enjoying a visit while we were there. ¬†It’s also kid friendly. ¬†I noticed the bartender gave a little boy a little bag of popcorn while he was waiting for his Oma to finish up. ¬†There are also a couple of kid-sized choices on the menu.

After we ate, I noticed the sign on the wall. ¬†It basically translates to “If you’re the type to forget to pay when you drink, pay beforehand.”

 

A Pilsner…

After lunch, I had a Pils. ¬†I don’t usually drink Pils, but every time we visit the Holzkrug, I am reminded of our first time here. ¬†Bill ordered a Pils at this restaurant and thought they had forgotten about his beer when I got served my Hefeweizen first. ¬†He asked the barkeep where his beer was. ¬†The bartender chastised him and told him that a proper Pils can take up to seven minutes to pour. ¬†A quick Googling tells me that she was telling the truth about that, but truth be told, I have yet to ever visit a bar in Germany where it’s taken that long…

At about 2:20pm, it was time for our server to clock out, so she asked us to settle our bill. ¬†It came to about thirty euros before the tip. ¬†I finished my beer and visited the ladies room. ¬†Here’s a handy tip for anyone who happens to be in Vaihingen and needs to pee. ¬†The Holzkrug will allow non-guests to use their restroom if you pay 50 cents. ¬†Yeah, I know paying to pee is the norm here, but at least you know there’s a place to go if the need strikes.

Anyway, we like the Holzkrug.  I like them even better when they have roasted chicken, which they also sell to go.  This is a nice local hole in the wall with typical German food, friendly service, and very reasonable prices.

Standard
cute towns, Germany

Rothenburg ob der Tauber: Part five– Sadistic punishments and one last dinner!

We were finished with lunch at the Louvre Japanese Restaurant just around the time the Criminal Museum opened for the afternoon. ¬†During the low season, it’s only open for a few hours in the afternoon. ¬†However, if you have any interest in crime and punishment, especially during the medieval era, I would highly recommend visiting the Criminal Museum. ¬†It’s very large and extensive. ¬†We spent over an hour in there and we didn’t read everything. ¬†If you take your time and read all there is, you can easily spend a couple of hours looking at exhibits and learning about the ways people of a bygone era dealt with those who committed offenses.

Below are some pictures I took of some of the more interesting exhibits.  Suffice to say, you had to stay on a straight and narrow path to avoid being publicly humiliated, tortured, or executed.

The outside of the museum. ¬†It’s connected to a church and we heard the organ playing as we passed it before the museum opened.

Pillories, where many people were forced to endure public shaming.
“Paddy wagons” with bars on them.
This is a spiked chair– obviously a torture device for people who needed correction.

Throughout the museum, there were cool little exhibits that reminded me of dollhouses.  They showed how people were punished.  Another showed how kids in school were disciplined.

The two above pictures were taken in the very extensive exhibit about the original Martin Luther and the many witch hunts that took place in medieval times.

An executioner’s cloak.

A drunk tank.  Men who drank too much were forced to wear this barrel, sometimes weighted down for extra punishment.

One of many masks worn by people who needed to be shamed.  This one was an especially nasty one.

The above photos depict an exhibit showing how children in school were punished.

 

An iron maiden.

As a musician, I got a kick out of this device, meant to shame bad musicians.

Admission to the museum is 7,50 euros per adult. ¬†I thought it was well worth the price because it’s so extensive and everything is translated into several languages. ¬†It looked like a number of young kids were also enjoying the exhibits. ¬†We ran into one couple who were telling their sons about the double “violins” people wore that basically yoked two people together who couldn’t get along. ¬†They were forced to wear the device until they stopped fighting.

Another exhibit explained how couples who fought could be shamed. ¬†If a man let his wife beat him, the roof of his house could be torn off. ¬†He and his wife would be publicly punished and they were forced to give their neighbors a tankard of wine. ¬†Premarital sex was also a no no and violators were publicly shamed. ¬†They weren’t allowed to marry in a church. ¬†Instead, they had to marry in an inn. ¬†Later, the husband would go to jail while the wife spent some time in a pillory.

After the Criminal Museum, we went back to Anno 1499 and enjoyed a little CNN and a brief rest.  Bill got some love from our dogs, who were enjoying getting to vacation with us.

Zane isn’t much of a kisser, but when he does kiss you, he does it on the nose.

We decided to have dinner in town, even though I was kind of full from lunch. ¬†Originally, we were going to try an Italian place we saw on Saturday. ¬†I kind of wish we’d done that, since it was rated #1 on Trip Advisor. ¬†Instead, we went to a German restaurant at Hotel Reichskuechenmeister, a place about a block from the Marktplatz. ¬†On the way there, I took more pictures…

More Schneeballen and other baked goodies.

This time of year is nice, if only because it’s dead on a Sunday night and I can get some good night pictures.

Stop right here!  Your dream job (at a bank) awaits!

We decided to eat at the Hotel Reichskuechenmeister because it smelled good.  When we walked inside, I could see the place was pretty full, which is always a good sign.  A waiter opened a small dining room on the side for us.  Although I was tempted by a pasta dish with scallops and shrimps, I decided to have fried carp.  Bill went with goulash made with venison.

Substantial salad I shared with Bill.  It came with my fish.

Bill listens intently as I flap my gums at him. ¬†He’s a good sport. ¬†I had to use the ladies room, which involved taking the elevator to where the guest rooms are. ¬†I guess their public restrooms are being renovated or something because they had what looked like a tiny single hotel room set up as a WC. ¬†They placed a Schrank so that you couldn’t access the room, but I could see it was very small and had a traditional Bavarian twin sized bed in it.

I enjoyed the presentation of my fried carp. ¬†It was position to look like it was jumping out of water. ¬†It tasted good, too… very fresh. ¬†However, there were a lot of bones.

Bill liked his hearty goulash, which included cranberry sauce and spatzle, as well as the dreaded mushrooms I hate.  He had a dark beer with his dinner while I had a glass of locally produced Sylvaner, a crisp white Riesling.

Outside by the front door… ¬†I think we spent about fifty euros on dinner. ¬†It was a pleasant experience. ¬†Next time, we will have to visit the Italian place where we were originally headed.

And a few more window displays…

My last post in this series will be my traditional “what I learned” post… ¬†Stay tuned!

Standard