The Kubach Crystal Cave… and lunch at La Fonte!

If you’re among the few folks who have been following this blog for all of the years Bill and I have been in Germany (this time, anyway), you might remember that I am a big fan of caving. In a way, it’s probably in my blood. Both of my parents come from the mountains of Virginia, and there are caves there. I remember visiting a couple of wild caves when I was in high school and being really impressed by the experience. My uncles also used to run Natural Bridge and its accompanying hotel, before it became a state park. Natural Bridge has caverns, which were always pretty amazing to visit.

Since we’ve been in Europe, I’ve had the chance to visit several different cave systems. Most of them have been in Baden-Württemberg, where we’ve spent six of our almost 21 years of marriage. Today, we visited our very first Hessian cave, the Kubach Crystal Cave (Kubacher Kristallhöhle) in the rustic hamlet of Weilburg, which is about an hour’s drive from our home near Wiesbaden.

I’ve been wanting to visit this cave for a couple of years, but COVID put a damper on our ability and desire to go anywhere– especially anywhere I’d have to wear a mask and exert a lot of physical effort. And then I just kinda got lazy. Caves are generally pretty challenging to explore, since they often require climbing up and down steep steps or ladders.

I had visions of our experience at the Laichinger Tiefenhöhle a few years ago. This cave is the deepest show cave in Germany, but it’s exhausting to visit, especially if you’re a fatass housewife like me. It requires sure footedness and stamina, as well as a strong heart and lungs. I did it in June 2017, but I think it would be harder for me to visit today. I’m older, fatter, and not as fit as I was then… which is pretty sad, I know.

I didn’t think the Kubacher Crystal Cave would be as intense as the Tiefenhöhle was, and it wasn’t. That doesn’t mean it was easy… but it was doable for me. Maybe I can convince some of my Germany local visitors to give it a whirl. It’s not the easiest or most exciting cave I’ve ever visited, but it’s well worth an hour of your time. And if you do happen to wipe out, you can rest assured that help will get to you somewhat quickly.

The guided tours– in German, of course– are required. You also have to wear a helmet, because there is a section of the cave that is a tight squeeze with a low ceiling. Being 5’2″, I didn’t have to duck much, but taller people may be challenged. And I did notice that quite a few of the helmets were pretty scratched, which indicated that many people have hit their heads in the Kubach Cave. We did not have helmets or tour guides when we visited the Tiefenhöhle.

Kubacher Crystal Cave is one of a few show caves in Hesse, which is less mountainous than points south are. They call it a “crystal cave”, but I think that’s a bit of a misnomer. This particular cave is not full of stalactites or stalagmites. It’s a huge hole under the earth with cavernous rooms, but lots of limestone and some other elements, like silver, amethyst, and many unique rock formations.

We arrived at the cave at about noon, which was just after the tour before us departed. Bill went to buy tickets– ten euros per person, plus a one euro charge for taking photos. We had to wait about an hour before it was our turn to go on the tour. There used to be a restaurant at the cave, but it’s now closed. I passed the time by drinking a Coke, purchased from a vending machine on site, and peeing a lot. We also wandered around the outside rock formation museum and the inside museum, which showed the history of the cave. Again, it was all in German.

The lady who sold us the tickets did not speak English, but the guide did. I don’t think she knew we were Americans until the end of the tour and I was dragging my ass up the stairs. She was very kind and patient, telling me she’d much rather I go slow than have an “Unfall” (accident).

We were climbing a long passage of steps when she told me that I’d be “screwed” if I wiped out there, since the paramedics would have to carry me up the steps. She further explained that if I were to drop in the bottom of the cave, they could get me out without paramedics needing to carry me. I guess they have a secret exit or something. Anyway, none of that was necessary. I did some heavy breathing, but recovered quite quickly. I had a nice lather of sweat in my hair, thanks to the helmet and my sweater, and then came a very pleasant rush of endorphins.

Our group was pretty small, with a young family (a couple with two young kids), another couple, and an older woman who, like me, was not keen to face plant while climbing up and down the 456 steps, about 70 meters under the earth. There is a sign at the cashier’s desk advising that anyone with serious heart related health problems forgo visiting the cave. It is a fairly strenuous climb. I noticed our guide was pretty fit, though not as obviously athletic as I would expect someone who climbs up and down the steps a lot would be. She also didn’t wear a helmet. I guess it was because she knows where to duck, and the helmet does kind of obstruct your vision somewhat.

One thing I have learned from visiting other caves in Germany is that it’s good to wear pants, good shoes with excellent traction, and bring a light jacket. Gloves may also be useful, as you will hopefully be using the handrail and it gets wet and slippery. I left my purse in the car, since I didn’t want to have to cart it up and down with me on the steps… been there and done THAT! It was a good decision.

There’s plenty of free parking, and I’d say that if you have children who are reasonably fit and listen well, this is a fairly child friendly place to visit. There’s an outdoor museum, where you can look at rock formations, and an indoor museum explaining the cave’s history and how it came to be discovered and opened to paying visitors. This cave was rediscovered in 1974 and opened to the public in 1981. It is the highest show cave in Germany, as it has a ceiling height of 30 meters.

Another thing that makes this cave special is the presence of “cave coral”. From the site

The cave has two spots with extraordinary speleothems, a strange and rare speleothem called bulbous calcite or cave coral. The first location is right at the entrance in the first chamber of the cave. The walls are covered by cave coral, somtimes spottet with other minerals. Here is the 50 cm borehole and the small group of stalagmites which was discovered first and is actually the only dripstone formation in the cave. The second area is a narrow passage in the middle of the cave, with even more beautiful cave coral which is filling holes and cracks and rather difficult to spot. We recommend to walk slow, look up and back to discover the hidden minerals. This is actually one of the main sights of this cave.

Below are some photos from our excursion today. The first batch are from the grounds, museum, and outdoor area with rock formations. The second batch are from the tour itself. And the third and fourth batches are from the drive and our delightful lunch at La Fonte. I think it was time well spent!

The ladies restroom was nice. It had a Dyson faucet and hand dryer. Bill said the stalls in the men’s room were locked, so if you need to poop, you have to ask for the key. Same for the baby changing room. The ladies room had no such restrictions. There was also no Klofrau. Sometimes it pays to be female. 😉

I was surprised to find that the way back out of the cave is different than the way down. Both going up and going down are challenging. I expect to be a little sore tomorrow. But at least there weren’t any ambulances necessary today.

We drove through lovely Bad Camberg to get to and from the Crystal Cave. We’ll have to come back and visit the town and other attractions nearby. There’s a castle and a Wildpark calling our names. I think we also passed some kind of stone mason’s park or something. See the photos with the carved animals. The property had a fence with little dragons on top of it.

Once we were finished visiting the cave, we made our way back home with a stop at our local Sportsverein restaurant, La Fonte. There, we refueled with a three course late lunch that will keep us going until tomorrow. It had been quite awhile since our last visit to La Fonte, so I was surprised to see how our village’s new school is coming along. They will be tearing down the one that is located near where we live. I heard it was going to be turned into apartments. Bummer. But at least the school looks nice. La Fonte is always a pleasure. Lunch was about 65 euros before the tip.

I’m going to wrap up today’s post and join Bill for our nightly happy hours… I’m glad we made the effort to go to the cave today. And I’m even more glad that I didn’t pass out on the way out of the cave! I guess I’m not as big of a fatass as I feared. Maybe that means I can climb the tower in Cesky Krumlov when we visit at the end of the month!


Sunday afternoon at the Waldgeist Biergarten!

Yesterday, we decided to go to AAFES to pick up a few things and visit Bijan, a local craftsman who makes tables out of wine barrels. Bijan, who is a member of my wine group on Facebook, says he is going to stop making tables because of an injury he had. Now he’s making jewelry. After we bought some personal care items at AAFES, we stopped by Bijan’s table, tried some wines, bought a few bottles, and picked up a couple of Bijan’s bracelets for Bill’s daughter and granddaughter. I’ve been making a care package for younger daughter as a morale booster. She’s halfway through a difficult pregnancy.

We had beautiful weather again yesterday, and Noyzi had really wanted to come with us on our quick trip to AAFES. Of course, dogs aren’t allowed in American stores on post, so he had to stay home. But once we got home, we decided to visit XXL Restaurant Waldgeist, a local restaurant near a sports park that specializes in humongous burgers. They also have a great Biergarten with comfortable tables and umbrellas, although since we didn’t have reservations, we didn’t score an umbrella.

Noyzi was very excited to be with us, because there were a lot of dogs at the Waldgeist yesterday. He’s getting better at going to Biergartens, although it takes him a little while to settle down. Bill and I decided to have lunch/dinner, which you can really do at Waldgeist. The portions are huge. Bill had the smallest Schnitzel they offer– 250 grams. It was still too big to finish. I had a Haxe, of which I managed about a third. I suspect I’ll be eating it for the rest of the week. I saw a couple of people ordering the huge burgers. They were the size of a small pizza! Waldgeist also has huge steaks, although I didn’t see anyone order one of those.

At the Waldgeist!

Waldgeist is a very kid friendly place. They have a playground for children, as well as children’s portions on the menu. We watched several little kids having a ball while their parents enjoyed food and each other’s company. It struck me how much I enjoy these weekend excursions, watching people enjoy themselves with their families and friends.

I think Waldgeist is a popular venue after sporting events, too, as it’s located very close to several playing fields, as well as a dog park. One thing to note if you visit the Waldgeist is that they only take cash payments. But, on the positive side, they’re open every day! Warm food goes from noon until 10:00 PM, and the restaurant is open from 11:30 AM until midnight.

Below are a few photos from our afternoon.

Later, we hung out in the backyard, listened to music, and enjoyed some wine, along with cheese that I bought for Bill at Henri Willig, a Dutch chain of cheese purveyors. I don’t eat most cheeses myself. I only like cheese when it’s a very specific kind, prepared in specific ways. I can’t just eat it cold, for instance. But Bill loves all cheeses, especially goat cheese. I can’t eat goat cheese at all!

Bill and his cheeses!

Looks like I made good choices this time. I wish I’d gotten a picture of Bill’s face when he first tried the goat cheese. It has garlic and herbs in it, which is a favorite combination for Bill. The other cheese is made from cow’s milk and includes Mediterranean spices. I also got some Baby Gouda cheese, but that’s pretty normal stuff, so he didn’t try it yesterday.

Pretty soon, this beautiful weather will be a thing of the past until the spring. I’m glad we managed to venture out yesterday. We probably should visit the Waldgeist more often. It’s a really nice place to spend a couple of hours outdoors, especially with our Noyzi.


A few photos from last night’s wine stand…

The weather was so beautiful yesterday. It was about 74 degrees, sunny, and breezy. I was actually a bit tempted to just sit in the backyard and enjoy music and the gorgeous weather. But it was Friday night wine stand time, and pretty soon, those will be ending for the winter. So we got Noyzi and went down to the Dorfplatz, walking down some steps at the church’s community building, because someone is building a house next to the narrow alley that leads down there and they have the alley blocked off.

We decided to sit on the other side of the Dorfplatz last night, because someone beat us to our usual spot and they had a dog with them. Noyzi is very friendly to other dogs, but he can be kind of noisy and fidgety. So we found a spot on a bench and enjoyed some wine in the late summer September sun. Noyzi got to meet several dogs and their owners, including one dog that looked a bit like a setter or a pointer. I think they would have had a good time frolicking if they’d had the opportunity.

A good time was had by all… and then when the sun went down, we went back to our house and had burgers. Unfortunately, we had a slight mishap last night that required a middle of the night laundry run. But then we slept in until about 8:00 AM. I haven’t done that in ages!

I’m not sure what we’ll do today. Once again, the weather is perfect. I love this time of year, and I appreciate living in a little village where we can have these fun evenings with our neighbors. It’s always fun watching Noyzi blossom into the dog he was meant to be. He’s so sweet and gentle, even toward little dogs. He met a couple of them last night, too, and was very good.


American cuisine in a Germany based restaurant owned by Iranians…

The weather cleared up nicely this afternoon, so Bill and I decided to go to Wiesbaden. I read there was going to be a festival there, starting at 3PM. So we fired up my neglected Mini Cooper, put the top down for the first time since last year, and drove to town.

We actually got to Wiesbaden at about 1:30. I watched a lot of people walking around in costumes. Bill said there was some kind of Cosplay event going on… Glad he explained. I might have thought Let’s Make a Deal had made it to Germany.

We walked around a bit, enjoying the beautiful, warm, sunny weather. We passed a new looking wine bar that appeared to be inviting. But when we got to the end of the street we were on, we ran into what looked like an anti-vaxxer demonstration. We turned down another street and soon passed a new restaurant called Godfather. Bill said he’d just gotten a Facebook ad for the place, which opened on July 17th.

Since we didn’t have any other big plans, we decided to give it a try, even though I’m not always impressed by American style restaurants in Germany. The first thing I noticed when we went inside was the music. It was a bit loud, and consisted of a single female singer doing covers of somewhat recent hit pop ballads that mostly sounded like the same type of emotional song. The singing certainly wasn’t bad, but the tempo was a little depressing, especially for a burger joint. I heard the playlist at least twice through during our visit. I probably wouldn’t have noticed it or minded if there had been a mix, rather than just the one singer doing covers of songs like Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”.

I looked on the wall and noticed there was an “Uber Uns” (about us) statement hanging on the wall. It read that the people who owned the restaurant were from Iran and had come to Germany because the husband was getting an education in engineering. They decided to stay in Germany and open a restaurant. The wife is a singer and a writer. Hmmm… sounds like we have something in common. I also used to live just north of Iran, in neighboring Armenia.

The restaurant offers burgers, fries, quesadillas, pizzas, snacks, and a full bar. Bill and I decided to have a round of beer, and I had the Philadelphia burger. He had a quesadilla. I got a choice of what kind of bun I wanted, as well as the type of patty. The waitress also asked if I wanted everything on it, which in the case of my burger was “salad” (lettuce), tomato, avocado, guacamole, Godfather sauce, and there was supposed to be cheddar cheese (although my burger didn’t have cheese on it).

Bill’s Washington Quesadilla had beef, mozzarella, cheddar, tomato sauce, corn, pico de gallo, avocado, and their version of Ranch dressing.

We also had a round of pommes (fries) which reminded me of what we might find in Belgium. We couldn’t finish those and took them home with us.

Overall, I thought the food and service at Godfather was very good. The staff was friendly to us, and the serving sizes were ample, as well as reasonably priced. The only thing I didn’t like as much was the music, which I found a bit sedate and a little too loud. They did change it to something peppier as we were finishing up.

I thought the presentation of the food was very nice, and noticed there was a lot of fresh vegetables. I think my burger was also hand formed, which is excellent. One thing I don’t like about German burgers is that a lot of times, they’re very tightly molded, so they aren’t juicy or flavorful. Not so at Godfather. I had to eat my sandwich with a knife and fork, because it was a bit messy!

I think we’d go back to Godfather. We had a good experience. I do wish they offered some Iranian food, since there are plenty of places to get burgers in Wiesbaden. I noticed they had a burger called the Tehran Burger, though. Maybe they’ll come up with some interesting twists of their burgers with Iran in mind… even though Godfather is meant to be an “American” restaurant. I won’t get the Tehran burger, because it has mushrooms on it, although I guess I could ask them to leave them off.

Below are some photos from today. We really enjoyed the weather. Wiesbaden is such a pretty town!

As we were leaving, the car ahead of us had trouble getting out of the newly refurbished garage. Bill was getting irritated by that… but then we ran into traffic due to the breaking up of a football (soccer) game. It was fun to watch all the men walking down the street with their plastic cups of beer.

We never did make it to the fest that prompted us to go out. I was thinking about hitting a wine stand or something, but decided I’d rather just come home and hang out with Noyzi. It was good to go out for awhile, though… especially since there were so many people celebrating life.

Maybe tomorrow, we’ll do something truly different. We’ll see…


Here’s blood in your eye!

Bill and I were thinking about going to Mainz today, since there’s a wine festival going on. I’m reminded of the cheery toast some people offer at such occasions… “Here’s mud in your eye!” I could definitely do that today.

The only problem is, I somehow messed up my left eye with a subconjunctival hemorrhage. I don’t know how it happened, which the medical Web sites all tell me is not that unusual. Sometimes you can remember an actual incident that causes these things… and sometimes you can’t. I usually get this when I vomit, but I haven’t recently done that. I do cough and sneeze sometimes, and I read that this can happen after that. I wear contact lenses, and sometimes they can cause these bleeds. I also probably have high blood pressure by now… it runs in my family.

My left eye looks pretty bad. The side closest to my nose is all red. Unfortunately, there’s nothing that can be done to get rid of this condition, other than just wait for my body to absorb the blood. It could take up to a couple of weeks, although in my experience, it’s usually healed within a few days.

Yikes! My eye looks like this right now.

We might go to the wine festival anyway, in spite of my scary looking eyeball. Or maybe we’ll just stay home, like we did yesterday. Although the weather was beautiful, we decided to do yard work instead of going out among the masses. We cut the grass, trimmed the shrubs and the revived myrtle tree, and used the trimmer. The yard looks a lot better, although pretty soon, it’s going to be bare again. August is just about over. The summer flew by!

I suspect I may need to see a healthcare professional pretty soon… Whether or not I fulfill the need depends on how insistent Bill gets. I hate dealing with doctors. However, I think my gallbladder may be about ready to be yanked. Or maybe something else is wrong with me.

It sure does suck getting old.

If we do go to the wine fest, I will probably write about it later. If not, I’ll be back when I have something new to write about.

Hofheim, Sundays

Noyzi makes a new human friend at the Birkenhof Hofladen’s Bembelschänke…

Yesterday, Bill was supposed to Skype with his mom. He didn’t do it, because I complained to him that I wanted to go out and do something on Saturday. And yet, we didn’t end up going anywhere yesterday… it was hot and muggy, and nothing was appealing.

Today was different. It was hot and muggy today, but we decided we wanted to go out, anyway. The Birkenhof Hofladen has a 24 hour fridge that people can buy produce from. They also have a Biergarten called the Bembelschänke, which is a really nice venue for drinking beer, eating pretzels, and pondering life. It’s a dog friendly place, so Noyzi came with us. Boy did he have fun! A Bembel, by the way, is a pottery wine pitcher found in these parts. This is German wine country, after all.

When we arrived at the cornfield, we walked Noyzi toward the entrance, where we were promptly greeted by a gorgeous dog who obviously lived at the farm. I think he might have been a “Swissy”. He was very much “Johnny on the spot” when we arrived, meeting us at the gate, and checking out Noyzi with his hackles raised. Noyzi, of course, just wanted to play.

The lady of the farm came out and claimed her dog, whom she said was two years old. She yelled at him to sit and he ignored her the first couple of times before he complied. He and Noyzi traded a couple more sniffs, then parted company as she took him inside.

Bill and I chose a shady spot in the Biergarten, which wasn’t very crowded at all. We ordered a couple of beers– an amber for him, and a weizen for me. Noyzi was nervous, but he eventually calmed down a bit as we enjoyed a “cheese bread” plate for Bill, and Spundekäs with a pretzel for me. I was impressed by how beautifully the food was presented.

The Bembelschänke offers a variety of beverages– wines, beers, soft drinks, and non alcoholic juices. I was actually really tempted by the lemonade, which looked very refreshing. The food choices are somewhat limited to snacks, but that’s okay. After you enjoy a round or two, you can visit the 24 hour fridge and load up on farm fresh goodies. I took a video for Bill’s daughter. She’s never had a chance to live abroad.

A little about what’s available…

As we were finishing up our second round, the lady of the farm came over with a big bowl of water for Noyzi. I could tell she was a bit smitten by him. I think the feeling was mutual, as he went right over to her and gave her a snuggle. I was glad to see him so comfortable with someone he doesn’t live with 24/7. Noyzi really likes women, and he’s come such a long way from the scared pooch he was in 2020, when we first brought him home from Kosovo. He was very well behaved at the Biergarten, aside from taking a little while to settle down. I think if we go back, we’ll be welcomed warmly… especially by Noyzi’s new friend.

One of the young waitresses said, when she saw Noyzi, “Mein Herz.” Or something to that effect. The lady of the farm said he was very “Hübsch”. It was clear that he made a very good impression. I do love my beagles, but I’ve got to admit that Noyzi the street dog sure is better behaved and easier on most levels. He works very hard not to offend, and he mostly succeeds.

Anyway, we were very proud of him. It was a hot, but lovely, afternoon. The mood at the Biergarten was perfect– not too busy and very warm and welcoming. I hope we can do it again soon. And the bonus is, we scored some nice goodies for home!

Below are some photos…


Rheingauer Weinwoche in Wiesbaden– 2023 edition! And more dental woes for Bill…

Yesterday, I lamented to Bill that yet another Saturday was about to get away from us with no fun outside of the house. His answer to me was to suggest that we go to downtown Wiesbaden, where the Rheingauer Weinwoche is going on. This annual event started on Friday and will run through August 21st. COVID kind of messed it up in 2020 and 2021, but we attended in 2019 and we went several times last year.

Although we had some rain yesterday, we managed to get to the festival after most of the weather had passed. It was just partly cloudy with some breezes and a few drops from the sky. As usual, the big celebration is going on in the Schlossplatz, and there are dozens of wineries from the Rheingau region represented, along with some food stands and live entertainment.

Bill and I parked at our usual garage at the theater, where we soon noticed that they had a brand new parking system in place. It used to be, when you drove in, a machine would give you a ticket that you’d later feed into the payment machine. It would tell you how much you owed when you reclaimed your car. Now, you just drive in and input your license plate number when you leave. I also noticed that they had designated a bunch of spaces on the first floor for electric vehicles. I guess that’s one reason to get an electric car. You get prime parking spots downtown! 😉

Anyway, it had been awhile we were last in downtown Wiesbaden. We should probably go there a lot more often than we do, because it’s a really nice town… much prettier than downtown Stuttgart is. There is often a lot going on, too.

We walked around the fest, just to see what was available. I stopped at the first WC I saw, noticing that the price of a whiz has gone up to 1 euro. However, you can purchase an all day ticket for four euros, or a family pass for six euros. I ended up going four times and Bill went twice yesterday. Next time we go, we’ll have to get a family ticket. 😀

We stopped at a random wine stand that had plenty of seating and a good view of the festivities. I had a glass of Riesling and listened to a female singer in the distance, but noticed I could also hear a brass band on the other side. I was more in the mood for the brass band, so we left after one glass and went to the other side. Not surprisingly, there wasn’t a lot of seating there, so we went around the corner and sat at another random wine stand that happened to specialize in Sekt.

That other stand was also near a WC, which was very handy for me… so we just sat there and people watched, drank wine, and took some photos. I’m sure we’ll be back again at least once, because just as they did last year, Bill’s co-workers have reserved a table for this coming Friday night. I have a feeling Bill will be ready for a celebration, because on Monday morning, he has to visit a local dentist to have a tooth extracted and start the process for his very first dental implant.

Wednesday, he was at work, eating a gummi bear, and suddenly noticed that there was some rattling in his mouth. He spit out a hunk of gold, which turned out to be a root canaled and crowned molar that he’d had done in 2011 or so. It just sheared right off! He called our usual dentist in Stuttgart, but as usual in August, he had shut down his practice for his annual vacation. Since this was not a situation in which Bill could wait until next week, when Dr. Blair returns, he asked a colleague for a local suggestion. Her dentist turned out to be pretty excellent, too.

He called that dentist’s office and they got him in at 10:30. The oral surgeon– a young German guy who went to school in nearby Mainz– said he couldn’t save the tooth, which had a huge cavity in it under the gold crown. But since the tooth had already been root canaled, the dentist said Bill could wait until Monday to have it extracted without risking infection. Then, perhaps, he might even be able to get the implant put in without having to wait for the tissues to heal first (like I did when I got my implant in 2016). Truthfully, though, I have a feeling he’s going to have to come back later for the implant. They’re probably going to have to do a sinus lift, which will take more time. I had to get one of those, too.

So… not only did we just buy a bunch of new appliances for our house, but now Bill is going to have a big dentist bill. We do have dental insurance, but it’s still going to be pricey work. And when we go back to see Dr. Blair in October for our cleanings, he’s going to be like “WTF”? 😀

Honestly, though, given the number of appointments it takes to get a dental implant, it’s probably a good idea for Bill to have it done locally. If and when my other baby tooth finally gives up the ghost, Dr. Blair can do another implant for me. I know he does excellent work. The one I had done in 2016 is still perfect.

I figure the wine fest will offer Bill some pain relief, after he has his extraction on Monday… I don’t know if we’ll go back today. Bill just brewed a new batch of beer last weekend, so he needs to bottle his brew. My car also needs a spin to keep the new battery functioning. It looks a bit cloudy, too. On the other hand, the wine fest is a lot of fun– there’s also beer and non alcoholic beverages for those who aren’t into wine, as well as plenty of food. We capped off yesterday by having a rare east Sicilian treat called arancini. I noticed them early in the day and was intrigued. They’re deep fried rice balls, covered with bread crumbs and stuffed with mince meat and/or vegetables, mozzarella cheese, peas, and ragu. The ones we had yesterday were delicious and filling!

Here are some photos from our excursion…

I do love this about living in Germany… There’s always some kind of fun or interesting activity going on, and the vast majority of people are well-behaved. Yes, the police were there, and there was security, but I saw little need for them to intervene. The same isn’t necessarily true at events in the United States. So, I’m grateful to live here… and raise yet another toast to the annual wine festival week in Wiesbaden!

housekeeping tips, Military, rants

Repost: Launderette etiquette… dryer hogs!

I wrote this piece for my original OH blog on August 9, 2014. That means this post is exactly NINE years old! I’m leaving it “as/is”, so whatever’s in it was accurate as of 2014. I’m really glad I don’t have this problem anymore. Fair warning… there is minor profanity in this post. It was written when I still lived in Stuttgart.

One thing I have noticed that hasn’t changed in the years since we last lived as Americans in Stuttgart is that when it comes to laundry, people can be incredibly inconsiderate.  When we first moved here in 2007, doing laundry was an unpleasant weekly ritual.  In those days, Panzer didn’t have the huge hotel that it now has; they were building it as we were leaving in 2009.  Now that Panzer has a hotel and it has its own laundry room, the launderette doesn’t get quite as busy as it did pre 2010 or so.  But last time we were here, it was not uncommon for people to do tons of laundry during peak times, hogging washers and especially dryers, and holding up everyone else.

This morning, Bill and I took a trip to Panzer Kaserne to get our laundry done.  We had two small plastic bags full of laundry that needed doing.  I dreaded going to the launderette, because I spent way too much time there during our first tour.  The laundry room on Panzer has about 12 washing machines and, generally speaking, it’s no problem to get one or two of them without any waiting.  But there are only eight dryers and one or two of them are always broken.  That was true in 2007 and it’s still true today (there were two down this morning).  So that means there are only six dryers that can be used.

You get someone who needs to do a shitload of laundry– people who are stuck in local hotels or people who have a bunch of kids and need to knock out that little chore… and even people who have a place to live, but just want to avail themselves of a larger washer/dryer.  German machines are smaller and take longer to get through a cycle than American machines do.  All of these folks come to the launderette on a Saturday morning, the one day that most everyone has off from work.  They do a mass load of laundry, then proceed to use more than one dryer to dry their clothes, blankets, and whatever else they have.

This morning, I witnessed a man load up four dryers.  That’s four out of the six dryers that were operating.  I couldn’t believe my eyes or that man’s nerve.  I honestly couldn’t believe he thought that was okay.  Obviously, he’d never had to wait for a lone dryer to free up, right?

Granted, when the dryer hog loaded the dryers, I was still waiting for my washer to finish the last of its cycle.  But there were at least two people ahead of me who also needed a dryer.  One was a guy who ended up just leaving, seemingly in disgust.  The other was a nice couple here in Stuttgart on vacation.  As we were waiting for Mr. Inconsiderate to get a clue, another lady came in to do her wash, as did one who obviously just needed to use a dryer and left when she saw there was a line.  And then two or three other folks arrived and the launderette was soon very busy.

I admit, I got rather bitchy and more than a little passive aggressive, loudly commenting that I only needed one dryer to get my stuff dry.  The dryer hog, to his credit, did eventually get a clue and start freeing up machines for other folks who were waiting.  I did hear him say, though, as he was unloading and folding his laundry one machine at a time, “I know folks are waiting, but I’ve only got two hands!”

Dude… take your shit out of the machines and fold your clothes after they’re out so other people can get started!  Are you really that situationally unaware and/or rude?!  Jeez! 

The dryer hog did appear to have a number of friends, which makes me think he must otherwise be a nice person.  And I’m sure he thought he could get away with hogging the dryers on a Saturday morning.  I would say that if you’re at the launderette in the wee hours of the morning and you need four dryers, knock yourself out.  But on a Saturday after 9:00am, you need to be more considerate of other people who are also trying to get that one little pesky chore done.  We all want clean underwear and I’m willing to fight for the right to stain and stench free drawers!

It’s bad enough when people leave their clothes in a machine forever… don’t even get me started on the ones who do that with washing machines when there aren’t other others available for use.  But hogging a bunch of dryers just because you think no one else needs them is just a shitty thing to do.  If there are other people doing laundry, they are very likely going to need access to a dryer, unless they are fortunate enough to have access to a clothesline.  It takes longer to dry clothes than it does to wash them.  So when you hog four machines out of six, you really are screwing over your fellow Americans at the Panzer Launderette!

Bill was walking the dogs while I was waiting for a dryer and then my clothes to get done.  We weren’t held up too much and, unlike the cute couple I chatted with while we were waiting, I wasn’t wasting precious vacation time.  With any luck, we will get to move into a one room apartment for the next few weeks while we look for a more permanent place to live and then this issue will be a non-issue for me once again. 

housekeeping tips

All new adventures in German laundry… and last night’s festivities!

The last fifteen hours or so have been rather eventful. First off, last night the two day Breckenheimer Dorfplatzfest began. Ordinarily, last night would have just been a regular wine stand night, but the local culture club held its annual festival. So basically, it was like a supersized wine stand with beer, food, and live music. They had brats and burgers, along with fries (pommes) and wild potatoes with tzatziki.

Our neighbor and multi-talented veterinarian, Dr. Konrad Blendinger, was there with his pop ensemble, providing entertainment as friends and neighbors gathered in the village “square”. Dr. Blendinger plays guitar and even wrote a song about Breckenheim, which he sang last night. When he’s not playing music, Dr. Blendinger is well-known for his prowess in breeding dogs. Like, he’s world renowned for it– and people come from all over for his services. I even caught him admiring Noyzi when we brought him to a wine stand. Noyzi will never be a father, though. 😉

Bill and I had a pretty good time, although we were joined by an older German couple who didn’t speak English. There were also a few women there, one of whom was one we met on prior occasions. She asked us where Noyzi was. We left him at home, because we figured it would be too loud and busy for him. She nodded her approval.

We impressed them with our ability to enjoy wine, then they brought over some guy who spoke Russian. I spoke Armenian to him… 😉 I did so to be funny, not because the Russian and Armenian languages have anything in common. Of course, I didn’t expect him to speak Armenian, and I’m actually glad he didn’t, because I have forgotten a lot of it myself. I guess I just get tired of people assuming all Americans are monolingual. The guy got up and walked away. 😀 Oh well.

I also had occasion to use the new toilet that was installed last year. The fest was canceled last year because it was being built. As you can see from the photos, it’s pretty snazzy. This time, no one walked in on me, either. They put up directions in German and English!

I got some photos and videos of the festivities.

We had a good time, but unfortunately, I overdid the wine quite a bit. This morning, I look like I got in a fight. Oh well…

As if having a hangover wasn’t bad enough, Bill greeted me with the news that there’s an issue with our washer. I bought the washer brand new from nine years ago next month. For the past couple of years, it’s been in decline. There’s a problem with the door sensor, so that it doesn’t close properly unless you bang the shit out of it. This morning, Bill tried to do a very light load and the cycle quit at about five minutes.

I drained the machine, which made a big mess… then I determined it was time to buy a new washer and dryer. Our dryer is functioning, but it has an annoying squeak that I can hear all the way upstairs, and it’s just a very no frills Turkish model that is too small and isn’t that great.

I spent the last hour or so agonizing over which brand to buy. The washer we have now is an LG, and it’s not bad… and I know how to use it, for the most part. But I wanted to get one as soon as possible, so I ended up buying a Siemens washer and dryer. I figure if they turn out to be smart devices (and I think they are), I’ll only have to download one app. Plus, I could get them delivered on the same day. Hopefully, they’ll work out fine. I paid a little extra for the delivery guys to hook everything up and take away the old appliances.

These new machines are quite a bit more expensive than the old ones were– naturally. I think I paid just over $1600 (about 700 euros each, before VAT and delivery) for the pair, whereas I see I paid about 600 euros for my old dryer (no longer available) and 370 euros for the old washer (which I now see is also no longer available and gets poor reviews– it probably didn’t when I bought it). But I think they’ll be easier to use, and they’ll hold more. I got the 9 kilogram size, instead of the 7, which is what I’ve been using. I would have liked to have gone for the biggest one they offered, but doing that would have significantly reduced my choices. Also, we have to make sure we can get the appliances through the doors and down into the basement.

I mainly decided to buy the models I did because they got mostly good reviews, weren’t super expensive, and could be delivered as soon as Tuesday. I do a lot of laundry, so this is a good thing. The bigger size should make it easier to do laundry, too. I think I got a condenser dryer, which will be a new thing for me. I tried to find one that vents, because that’s what I’m used to, but they didn’t seem to have them available. So, now I get to learn how to use a condenser dryer.

I’m already feeling a lot better than I was earlier. I took some Advil and ate breakfast, which helped a lot. The Dorfplatzfest starts up again at 2:00 PM, but I’m not sure if we’ll go today. Bill is talking about brewing some beer… and I sure don’t want to start tomorrow like I’ve started today.

In other news, we have some pretty wild flowers in our backyard… They came from the bee bombs I planted a few months ago.

anecdotes, Military

Funny repost… “German fork language”

I don’t usually put reposts on my travel blog, because it’s a place for me to write about living in Germany and our travel adventures. But I just ran across this funny post from the Blogspot version of my original Overeducated Housewife blog, and I thought it might make a funny entry for this blog. So here it is, written September 7, 2014, and appearing here “as/is”. Please be advised that the language is a bit rawer than usual, because it was written for the original blog, and I tend to curse more there. I hope some of you enjoy it!

A few weeks ago, I ranted on my travel blog about Stuttgart Friends, which is a Facebook group dedicated to people in the Stuttgart area who are somehow affiliated with the US government.  I’m pretty sure there are some Germans and other European folks on that site, too.  While Stuttgart Friends and its many spinoff groups are generally very helpful, I notice that some folks get a bit uppity sometimes.

For instance, today someone posted a very interesting article about dining in Germany.  Given that a lot of Americans are not familiar with dining in Europe, it was good reading.  Many of us need to learn more about the local customs here.  Some people were commenting about things they had or had not experienced while dining in German restaurants. 

One person brought up how if you place your fork a certain way on your plate, it’s a signal to the server that you’re finished eating.  I usually put my knife and fork at about 3 or 4 o’clock on the plate and, sure enough, the server takes my plate.  Another person in the group dubbed this practice as “fork language”.

Well, I noticed that another person wrote a lengthy post about European table etiquette and how Americans are “backward” because, in general, we don’t eat the way Europeans do, with our knives in the right hand.  Her initial post was somewhat interesting, though it bordered just slightly on snob territory.  A couple more people, myself included, posted about so-called “fork language” and used that impromptu expression.  I thought it was kind of a clever term, even if it’s not necessarily official. It sounds almost sexy, though the possibilities of what one might do while communicating with fork language are endless and potentially horrifying.

An old video I recently watched about table manners… They mention not having to hold silverware the “European way”. Funnily enough, Bill holds his silverware like a European does.

Our resident European etiquette expert came back and wrote how she was taught proper table etiquette, not “fork language”.  She added a winky smiley, possibly to soften the blow of her holier than thou-ness.  How awesome indeed! 

Naturally, her comment annoyed me, because I’m not usually impressed by people who presume to school other adults in such a condescending manner.  Moreover, if she was really an expert in etiquette, she’d know that it’s rude to try to chastise and correct people in that way.  I mean, isn’t etiquette ultimately all about being graceful and making other people comfortable?  And before anyone brings this up, I do not claim to be an etiquette expert.  In fact, I delight in making certain people uncomfortable.  

But really, I’ve always thought being polite and showing proper etiquette was about being charming, civil, gracious, and kind, not making other people feel like boorish twits because they don’t know how to position their forks when they want their plate cleared at a restaurant or they decide to refer to table etiquette as “fork language”.  I mean, jeez!

So, being the smartass I am, I wrote, “Pin a rose on your nose…”  😉  (special thanks to Stephanie Tanner of Full House for that stale one liner…)     

I mean, big fucking deal…  So the proper term is “table etiquette”; that doesn’t mean the terminology can’t evolve and people can’t come up with new or creative ways to express themselves.  That person needs to get over herself.