Stuttgart, Germany… it’s as lovely as ever in the springtime… part two

On Friday, March 24, Bill and I made our way down to a very familiar city. We were both relieved to be on our way. The lead up to this trip had been very stressful, as our dog, Arran, was suffering from lymphoma, and we were very worried about the prospect of boarding him. He’d been physically healthy enough until the evening of March 16, when he suddenly had what appeared to be a stroke.

On the morning of the 17th, it was pretty clear that Arran was fixing to make his way to the Rainbow Bridge. We helped him on his way. While it was very sad to say goodbye to Arran, the timing of his passing was kind of fortuitous. It meant we wouldn’t be worried about him all weekend, as we were in the fall, when we visited Hotel Bareiss just after he was diagnosed with cancer.

March 24th was a rainy and chilly day. Noyzi was delighted to get to go to the Tierpension Birkenhof, though. He hadn’t been there since the fall, when we last went to see Dr. Blair. In November, we had our 20th wedding anniversary holiday, in Ribeauville, France. We took the dogs with us for that trip. For this trip, we needed to board Noyzi. I booked the Wald Hotel’s suite, and though the hotel is very dog friendly, the specific room we were staying in wasn’t, as it is carpeted. Luckily, Noyzi LOVES the hundepension. Arran used to like going there, but as he got older, he made it clear that he’d rather be with us. It was good that he didn’t have to endure a last stay there.

I got a video of Noyzi on his way to the “dog hotel”. He absolutely loves going there– as you can see! I was surprised to see that they’d done some renovation since we were last there, too. But Noyzi also likes coming home. Bill is going to go get him in an hour.

Noyzi is joyfully reunited with his beloved human friend, Natasha, at the Birkenhof.

Once the dog was dropped off, we continued our journey south. I had suggested to Bill that we should stop for lunch in the town of Besigheim, a hamlet known for its wines. It’s just north of Ludwigsburg, a city in the Stuttgart area we used to visit all the time. We had never been to Besigheim before, but I decided it would make for a nice stop when I saw someone share photos of it in a local Facebook group. We didn’t have the best weather, but I did find the municipality to be very charming indeed. Better yet, it had plenty of cheap parking, and a garage that had a public restroom, which Bill really needed. 😉

I managed to get some photos, and then we had lunch at a historic restaurant on the main drag called Ratsstüble Besigheim. It appeared to be a local favorite, and we did have a nice lunch there. I think the waitress was kind of curious about us. Overall, we liked the lunch, although my fish was a little burnt on one side. Bill loved his salad, though.

I don’t think they get a lot of Americans in Besigheim, although I could be mistaken. My German friend says that one of Barack Obama’s forebears was born in that town in 1729. These days, it looks like it’s mostly known for being a place to buy lovely local wines. I’d like to go back, as I noticed a nice looking hotel, a wine bar, and some inviting looking shops. They also had several restaurants that were intriguing, and an Italian Feinkost (gourmet shop).

I would have liked to have stayed in Besigheim longer, but it was getting later in the afternoon and we were worried about traffic. It turns out we were right to be worried. Getting into Stuttgart via Heilbronn and state roads was a bit of a nutroll. There was tons of construction, as usual, as well as the annoying traffic patterns one often encounters in Stuttgart. But, after taking our usual route back today, we can say with all honesty, the Autobahn isn’t a whole lot better. 😉 There is a reason they call it “STAUgart.

We arrived at Wald Hotel in the late afternoon, and were welcomed by a young man who half-heartedly offered to help us with our bags. I was more impressed the last time we visited the Wald Hotel, and stayed in the Junior Suite (which is a better room, in my opinion). That was in May 2019. But anyway, I got photos of the Suite, too… and I don’t think I need to book it again. It was nice enough, but I liked the Junior Suite more, and it costs less. I actually like the rainfall showers better in the newer Superior Rooms. They’re awesome, and have mood lighting. The “suites” are lovely marble, but they don’t have rainfall capacity or mood lighting. I also think the beds in the Superior rooms are more comfortable.

I see in my review of the Junior Suite (502/500) in May 2019, I mentioned a “mysterious stairway”. I think I figured out that it leads to the Suite (501), as the two can be booked to accommodate a family of up to six people. There’s also a little bedroom in the Suite complex (500) that probably gets used for kids.

We also got a free round of drinks in the bar because I am an Expedia gold member and booked through them. Wald Hotel used to have a really cool bartender named Angelo who worked there, but he retired not so long ago. The current bartender was very good too, although Angelo was an old pro, and it really showed. I’m sure the current barkeep will eventually become legendary in her own right.

We decided to eat dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, Finch, so we had our free round at the bar and the bartender beamed when Bill tipped her on the “free drinks”.

It does appear that Wald Hotel is doing things a little differently now. It used to be they offered free drinks in the minibar. Now it looks like the minibar is no longer “free”. Still, we were glad to be back. We got to bed at a reasonable hour and slept mostly well. The mattress was very firm, which we’re not used to, but that could be because I just put a foam topper on our bed.

Saturday, we made new discoveries, which I will write about in part three tomorrow.


We finally made it to another local wine stand!

Those of you who have been following this blog for awhile might remember that a couple of years ago, before the COVID-19 plague began, my currently adopted town of Breckenheim would have wine stands during the warmer months. Naturally, that tradition had to pause last year, as the threat of the coronavirus among unvaccinated people was too great. We didn’t have them for most of this year, either, and the local powers that be even dismantled the permanent kiosk that used to be set up in the Dorfplatz.

In August, the wine stands finally started again, although not with the same regularity that they were held in 2019. We had to miss the first one in August, because we were in the Black Forest visiting the dentist. 😉 They had another one two weeks ago, but I got sick with my cursed stomach bug and we couldn’t attend. Finally, last night, the stars aligned, and Bill and I managed to make it to the wine stand, located just down the hill from where we live.

I was wondering what the stand would be like in the COVID era. I brought my purse with me, just in case masks were required. As it turned out, they weren’t. I also thought to wear warmer shoes and a wrap, because I had a feeling it would get chilly as the sun set. Here are a few photos!

Last night’s wine stand turned out to be especially interesting. At one point, a lady came up to us and asked in German if she could sit down with the two adorable children with her. Bill answered in German. She continued speaking German, but Bill misunderstood her. She wanted to push in the bench so the kids wouldn’t get soup all over them. He thought she was just asking to sit down.

It turned out she was American, and had moved to Germany over forty years ago when her father was in the Air Force and stationed in Wiesbaden. She married a local and is now a very convincing German Oma to the two kids, who looked to be about 4 (boy) and 6 (girl) and were absolutely charming, with blond hair and blue eyes. They had these little bags of what looked like puffed rice cereal that they poured into the pumpkin soup. They reminded me of Trix, only they weren’t colorful. The American lady said they were salty. I had never seen them before, but I was curious. It looked like maybe she got them at a bakery. I’m not sure they were puffed rice, either. She said they were a type of grain.

I never did learn her name, but we traded a few stories. Her family is back in the United States, but I could see that she was totally integrated here– and I would have imagined so, after forty years! The folks at our table knew her and she was chatting easily with them. In fact, the locals were even friendlier than usual to us, too. Oma asked where we were from, and we told her– Arkansas for Bill, and Virginia for me. She didn’t know either state… although she does know Texas, and Bill spent a lot of time in Texas. I got a sense that maybe she kind of missed the US a bit, but that was only due to a fleeting look of wistfulness on her face.

Oma and the grandkids left, and the very friendly lady across the table, who didn’t really speak much English said she wanted us to meet someone. She kept mentioning that he was a gardener. Next thing we knew, a British guy was standing near us, chatting. The guy’s name was Steve, and he came from the northwest of England, which gave me a thrill. It turned out that before he had moved to Breckenheim, he had lived in Nagold, down at the edge of the Schwarzwald (Black Forest). Nagold is, of course, the town that was closest to us when we used to live in Jettingen! Bill and I used to go there all the time before we moved up to Wiesbaden! It was one of our favorite places in our old stomping grounds.

Steve said he’d lived in Nagold for about fifteen years. We sat there and talked about all of the little restaurants we visited, and Steve told us about how, back from 2008-2010, the city of Nagold did a massive beautification project because they were hosting a garden show there. We lived in Germany from 2007-09, also near Stuttgart, but that time we were in a little town called Pfaffingen, which is closer to Tubingen. We never discovered Nagold during our first German stint, although I do remember hearing it mentioned.

For all of the crap we went through in our last home near Stuttgart, I am still glad we lived there, because it did afford us the opportunity to visit a lot of places we would have missed if we’d lived closer to the military installations. I still miss Nagold a lot. It had a lot of what I love about cute towns, without the huge crowds and obnoxious traffic. If we ever move back to that area, I wouldn’t mind finding a home in Nagold… as long as the landlords are fair and respectful.

Steve was telling us that he really missed living in Nagold. I could relate. Wiesbaden is a nice area, and there are things about it that I enjoy, like wine stands. But I find the area near Stuttgart to be more authentic and interesting. It offers more of a pure German experience– or, actually, more of a Swabian experience, which is something else entirely. Up here, people are friendlier and more laid back, and there’s not as much thriftiness, but housing costs more and it’s a bit more built up. Curiously, despite being more built up, the traffic is much less terrible up here. Steve explained that a lot of the people in Breckenheim are politicians or are involved in finance. I can tell this neighborhood is kind of well-heeled. It has a different feel than either of our previous German towns. Down in BW, the atmosphere is more agrarian, although that doesn’t mean the standard of living isn’t high.

I think a big reason why the Frankfurt area seems less charming and authentic is because a lot of historic buildings were destroyed during World War II. And the ones that were rebuilt don’t have the same old world quaintness that the destroyed buildings had. But, I am glad we moved up here, if only because I can compare and contrast my German experiences, now. And wine stands are one nice tradition that Bill and I really enjoy.

Hopefully, this weekend, we will continue to have some fun, especially since it’s technically a holiday weekend. I think Bill is going to work on Monday, though, so we can take a trip soon.

fests, Germany

Donning a dirndl at the Weindorf on a Monday…

A brand new dirndl pic for 2017, as opposed to the 2016 one I have on Facebook right now.

Bill and I totally wanted to visit the Stuttgarter Weindorf over the holiday weekend, especially since we had no plans to go anywhere for Labor Day.  Sadly, our dog Arran was not feeling well on Saturday or Sunday.  He was vomiting and had diarrhea and I didn’t feel comfortable leaving him alone.  So we spent the long weekend mostly binge watching ER on iTunes.

This morning, we woke up to a beautiful sunny day.  Arran was feeling a whole lot better.  He and our other dog, Zane, took an energetic walk with Bill.  They enjoyed their breakfast and neither one was throwing up or suffering from diarrhea.  We felt safe going to the Weindorf.

Here’s the thing, though.  I had planned to wear my expensive and pretty dirndl over the weekend and probably would have felt pretty fine doing so, since I reckoned that’s when a lot of my fellow American countryfolk would be there dressed for the fest.  I remembered last year, we visited the Weindorf over the weekend and saw people wearing Trachten.  Granted, I think they were all Americans, but we did see them decked out for the occasion.  And since I don’t know if we will attend the Canstatter Fest this year, I wanted to wear my lovely blue dirndl and get some use out of it.

I asked Bill what he thought and he said I should wear it.  He doesn’t have an outfit himself, so all he had to do was be seen with me.  I must admit, there are few styles as flattering to my zaftig figure as a dirndl is. There was even a time in my life when I wore one daily, because I worked at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia in the German section of the park.  And since I blew a big load of cash on my dirndl last year, I decided to wear it, even though I knew none of the locals would be dressed up unless they were waiting tables.

We got to the festival in downtown Stuttgart and walked around.  I felt a little silly in my fancy fest dress.  Looking around, I caught the stares of a few Germans and they were grinning broadly.

We walked over to the area where we sat last year.  I noticed the signs warning people not to climb on the arches.  I’m sure the sign was there because it’s been a problem in the past.

This booth was in the same spot last year…

As was this one… In fact, this was where we sat last year.  This year, we tried a different restaurant.

Just before I took this picture, a slender, pretty blonde woman approached and asked if I was “Jenny”.  I said I was and she identified herself as a reader of this rag of a blog!  I always love meeting people who take the time to read what I write!  Of course, they spot us because of all the pictures of Bill.

Thank God for the WC.  Fifty cents, as usual, worth every euro penny…

We decided to eat at the Zum Reussenstein booth.  We enjoyed a nice dinner last year at their restaurant, so I had a feeling the food would be good.  It also offered seating deep enough so I wouldn’t feel like I was on display in my sapphire blue and silver dirndl with rhinestones all over it.

Bill enjoyed the view of my melons…

I tried an iPhone selfie, which turned out weird because the camera reverses everything.  I don’t photograph particularly well under the best of circumstances.  Add wine and there is the potential for disaster!  But I felt like this shot captured my silly mood.

I decided on a half duck for lunch…  

It came with bread.  If I had wanted kraut and/or dumplings, we could have spent three more euros for that.  As it was, the half duck was too much.  However, it was very tasty!

I decided to tuck the napkin into my blouse, bib style.  I figured it would be more of a disaster if I dripped gravy on the white blouse than the blue dress.  Although last year at fest, I overdid it and needed some serious dry cleaning services…  I am grateful to add that the dirndl won’t need a dry cleaning before the next time I wear this get up.

Bill went with the “Ochsenbrust”, which I pointed out to him (couldn’t have him ordering a cheese plate if I was eating duck, right?).  It came with fried potatoes and a very nice creamy horseradish sauce.  He said the meat itself reminded him more of a tenderloin than a breast of any sort.


I was quickly finished with the food, so I turned my attention to the wines.  I had four of them.  We started with a lovely white burgundy… the one at the bottom of the list on the picture below.  It was crisp and slightly fruity and I enjoyed it immensely

But it was 8,50 euros…  not cheap!


Bill enjoyed the next vino for him, a dry German red…  I had one made from Lemberger grapes, while his was Salucci blend.

And here you can read in German about what we had…  Mine was the last one on the page, while his was wine #2

Bill was reading up like a good boy…

and he almost had me talked into ordering the merlot…

But I decided to try a very nice and dry rose.  


Bottoms up…  Yikes!  Another freaky iPhone selfie!

At around this time, I decided to go to the ladies room again.  When I came back, a couple of the servers, also clad in dirndls, were putting down reservation notices on the tables.  The table where we were sitting was reserved for 7:00pm.  When she saw that I was wearing a dirndl, she requested in German that I show it off.  I had been covered up with a pretty blue cashmere shawl that I bought in the Miami airport a few years ago.  It happens to match perfectly, as does the lapis lazuli jewelry I bought at Novica last year.  For all I know, she went in the back room and had a good laugh!  But honestly, most of the people I saw today seemed tickled that I dressed up, even if it wasn’t the norm.  Most people were smiling at me appreciatively… or, at least I like to think they were.  After a couple of wines, I didn’t care.

As a last hurrah, I had a glass of sekt.  It was the cheapest and driest one.  


I’m proud to announce that we spent less this year than we did last year.  Of course, Bill stopped at two glasses of wine because we were forced to drive to the fest instead of taking the train, like we did last year.  All told, we paid about 76 euros before tipping.

I had brought a change of clothes in case I either decided I was too uncomfortable or I had an unfortunate mishap with my dirndl, like I did the first time I wore it at the Cannstatter Fest last year.  As it turned out, I didn’t throw up and I wasn’t so uncomfortable I needed to change.  So we went to the Feinkost Bohm in search of sushi for dinner.  There was no sushi, but we did buy a couple of nice Scottish steaks.  And I was very flattered when the guy at the meat counter asked in German if we were Germans or Americans.  I was also rewarded with a huge smile from one of the cashiers as I strutted through with my sapphire colored dirndl with its silver trim and sparkly crystals.  Indeed, I have come a long way from the crappy machine washable polyester dirndl I wore when I was twenty years old and working at Busch Gardens in the early 90s.  Now I am festing in style!  I’m still wearing polyester, but it now requires dry cleaning!

In all seriousness, I don’t know that you need to dress up on a work day for the Weindorf.  I had a feeling that would be the case.  But I was in the mood for some fun and it’s not often I get to wear my German garb, so I happily trotted it out for the lunch crowd.  I think some people enjoyed the spectacle… almost as much as they did the very funny clown who was entertaining people with his whistle.  I have noticed that Germans seem to enjoy people who are willing to act the fool and they are a good and very gracious audience.  But if you’re going to wear fest clothes and don’t want to look silly, you might want to do it on a weekend or in the evening, when others are more likely to sport dirndls and lederhosen.  On the other hand, you only live once… and I did have a good time attracting attention to myself, as usual!  It was a treat to meet another person who has read this blog, too!

The Weindorf runs until Sunday, September 10th.  It’s in downtown Stuttgart and opens daily at 11:30am.  If you like wine, be there or be square.


The glory of German doughnuts and wine…

The bakery at our local Real had hot Berliners and Quarkinis today…


This morning, I had ambitious plans to find a new restaurant.  I’ve been cooped up all week and thought I’d enjoy a nice lunch out somewhere.  But then I looked outside, noticed the depressing weather, and decided today would be better spent in my nightie drinking wine.  Bill did manage to talk me into going to the Real for a few necessary items.  I tagged along while he dumped many bottles and traded in our plastic water bottles.  My nose caught a whiff of something divine.  The Sehne bakery at the Real was selling hot Berliners (Pfannkuchen) and Quarkinis.  Plenty of people queued up to get theirs.

The Real was a bit of a madhouse today.  Bill could tell I didn’t want to linger.  They older I get, the less patience I have for crowds.  So we hastily picked up what we needed and headed for the checkout.  After we finished our shopping, I thought maybe the smell might entice Bill, but he walked right past the doughnuts.  To make matters worse, while we were crossing the parking lot in the rain, the local chicken man’s stand was putting out tantalizing aromas of fresh rotisserie chicken.  We didn’t get any chicken, either.

Having loaded up the car, Bill took a look at my face and asked what I wanted.  I told him I wanted a Berliner.  What can I say?  When it comes to fresh pastries, I’m weak.  He resolved to stop at the Sehne on the way home.  We picked up a couple of Berliners and a few Quarkinis (which I had not tried before today).  We also got a piece of cherry dream cake for the next time I get a sweet craving.

Although I’d never be able to say German doughnuts are “healthy”, I will say that they are not as sweet as what we’re used to in the States.  The Quarkini, for example, is basically a fried dough ball made with quark cheese in the batter.  But only the sugar it’s dipped in is sweet; the dough itself is not very sweet at all.  Ditto for the Berliner, which today was filled with plum jam.  Quark cheese is another food I’ve discovered since we’ve experienced Germany.  I don’t generally like cheese that much, but I will admit quark is nice and mild, which is the way I like my cheeses when I do indulge.

Today’s treats!  Unfortunately, these were not hot when we bought them, but they were very fresh.

As you can see, the inside of the Quarkini is not filled, but the quark cheese is in the batter itself.  That was my first Quarkini and it was a hit!  Just what I need… another treat to crave.


While we were shopping, I noticed several interesting German wines.  I ended up picking up half a dozen new bottles, most of which were dirt cheap.  German wines are a relatively new discovery for me.  I have to admit that the last time we lived here, we hardly ever indulged in the local wines.  That was a mistake.  The Stuttgart area is German wine country and there are some great grapes here.  The trick is knowing what to look for and having an open mind as well as open tastebuds.

Today, I discovered Schwarzriesling, something I never would have tried during our first German tour.


Last time we lived here, we were overly focused on German beer.  While German beer is excellent, it mostly tastes the same, varying only by style rather than brewery.  The wines, on the other hand, are more individually styled.  And while we did have a few German wines we didn’t care for last time we were here, we have found quite a few this time that we love.  For instance, we have become very fond of the Lemberger grape, which is a local favorite.  We’ve gotten into Rieslings, too.  I used to think they were too sweet, but I’ve found that German Rieslings typically aren’t as cloying as ones I’ve had from California.

Today, we even found a new grape to love.  The wine pictured above is a Lauffener Schwarzriesling (12% ABV) and I am trying it today for the first time.  It’s very fruity, but not very sweet.  I love the taste of strawberries and cherries in this wine, but it also reminds me a little of cranberries.  It went beautifully with my German doughnuts, and I bet it would also make a great accompaniment to Thanksgiving turkey.  This wine is from Lauffen am Neckar, which is a town near Heilbronn here in Baden-Württemberg.

I was admittedly a little hesitant to get the Schwarzriesling because I don’t really like sweet wines, but at about 4 euros a bottle, I figured we could take the risk.  As it turns out, this is not a sweet wine. We also found another Schwarzriesling that is labeled as dry (trocken).  I’ll be interested to see how that one tastes.  At the rate I’m going today, I’ll probably try it in a couple of hours.  I don’t see myself going out in the weather today, especially since we’re going on vacation Friday.

Anyway… this little treat brightened my day considerably.  May your day be similarly blessed with something yummy.