dental, Schwarzwald

Seeing “stars” in Baiersbronn… Part two

Bill’s driving habits turn to shit…

Thursday morning we woke up early with big plans for the day. Because we had dental appointments in Stuttgart, Bill decided that we’d need to skip breakfast. He said our appointments were at ten o’clock and eleven o’clock, and as downtown Stuttgart is about 100 kilometers from Baiersbronn, it would take over an hour to get there. Plus, there’s Stuttgart’s famous traffic to consider, and scheduled road work that was going on. Well… as it turned out, we certainly could have eaten breakfast. But more on that in the ensuing paragraphs.

The sun was shining as we set off for our old stomping grounds. I busied myself by taking photos of the enchanting landscape as we passed through charming towns and past green fields full of sunflowers in bloom. Bill was trying very hard to make sure we got to the dentist on time. He decided to take a route that directed us through Horb, a town we only managed to visit once during our time in Jettingen, even though it’s a nice looking and easily accessible place from our old town. Going through Horb turned out to be a time consuming decision, since there was road construction going on. A detour sent us through more picturesque towns that delighted the senses. I took a few more photos as Bill continued to stress and stew over making our appointments.

We stopped at a bakery for coffee, juice, and bread. I noticed what appeared to be a new chain of bakeries… or maybe it’s not a new chain, but I had never noticed them before our visit over the weekend. I counted at least four outlets of Ziegler’s Bakery on our drive. We stopped at one in Horb, then Bill got back on the road and immediately got blitzed by a speed camera! Then, about fifteen minutes later, as we entered the hamlet of Eutingen im Gäu, Bill got blitzed a second time! To put this in perspective, I think in seven years of living in Germany this time, Bill has gotten just one speeding ticket. That time, it was near our old town of Pfäffingen, where we lived from 2007-2009. I guess in a few months, he’ll get the tickets in the mail.

Despite the detour and blitzing, Bill managed to get us to Dr. Blair’s office at 10:00am. The sunshine we enjoyed in the Black Forest had disappeared behind clouds. Rain was forthcoming.

Bill waits patiently in his high speed mask. I can’t stand the FFP2 masks, so I wear a disposable surgical mask. Using homemade cloth masks alone is no longer permitted in Germany.

There were several other people in the waiting room. I’m not sure what happened… Bill said he’d reconfirmed the dates and times, but it turned out we were early. It was after noon when I finally got in the chair. I had a clean checkup, but Bill has to return this Thursday for a repair. He told Dr. Blair about a trouble spot in his mouth. As Blair was poking around, the tooth, the filling fell out. Fortunately, Bill can easily take the ICE train from Frankfurt and get to Stuttgart much faster than he would if he drove. Blair’s office is even close enough to the main train station that Bill could easily walk to his next appointment from there, rather than taking the U-Bahn.

After our appointments, I had a date to drop off corks with a member of the Stuttgart military community. But Bill wanted to eat lunch first, so we stopped by Abacco’s Steakhouse, a chain restaurant that offers steaks served on hot stones. We had eaten there once before, back in 2016. As we entered the restaurant, our waiter checked our COVID-19 passes. Every restaurant we visited over the weekend checked our vaccination status.

Abacco’s Steakhouse offers soups, salads, and steaks. The steaks, which come from the U.S. or Argentina, come out lightly seared and very rare. The idea is to let them cook on the hot stones to your preferred level of doneness. I’m not all that excited about cooking my own steak in a restaurant, but I have to admit the 300 gram rib eye steak from Argentina was good after a lean morning no protein. It came with barbecue sauce, horseradish, and a chimchurri sauce, as well as steak fries.

With lunch done, we headed to Panzer Kaserne, where we dropped off our corks. The lady we were meeting is a longtime member of the Facebook food and wine group I run. It was nice to put a face to the name, especially since we’ve been conversing for several years! I always collect corks from the many bottles of wine we drink, since I’ve found that a lot of crafters want them for their projects. Every time I’ve asked if anyone wants them in my Facebook group, someone always does! I could just as easily dump them at the store, but I like to help out the crafters when I can, since I’m not particularly crafty myself. Besides, it’s a nice way to meet people.

I was pretty shocked to see how things have changed around Panzer in the time we’ve been here. When we lived in Stuttgart the first time, the bucolic road that links Vaihingen to Sindelfingern, Pascal Strasse (affectionately known as Frog Road by Americans, thanks to the ponds and many frogs on it) was completely sheltered in forest. I used to love driving on that road, since it was so pretty compared to the A 81 Autobahn that runs next to it. When we moved back to the Stuttgart military community in 2014, that road started to change. The end of it was diverted to a nearby state road and the traffic pattern was completely rerouted. Since we left in late 2018, the area has changed even more. It made me feel sad, since I always enjoyed driving on Frog Road. Looks like it’s being torn up now.

After we dropped our corks, we headed back to Baiersbronn. Bill opted to go back a different way, one that would take us through Herrenberg and past our old town of Jettingen and Nagold, where we spent many wonderful weekend days during our second stint of four years in the Stuttgart area. I must admit, as enjoyable as Wiesbaden is, I really miss living close to the Schwarzwald. It really is a beautiful area, even on the edge where we lived, and in spite of our troublesome exit from our previous house. ‘Nuff said about that… I want to keep this blog post positive!

Our alternative route also took us past Freudenstadt, which is another great town where we spent a lot of time. Freudenstadt is very close to Baiersbronn, too, so anyone who is tempted to visit Baiersbronn after reading this area can easily do a trip to Freudenstadt shopping or eating or other activities.

On the way in to Baiersbronn, Bill’s driving was tested again. We rounded a curve, where we were suddenly confronted by some guy who’d apparently had a single car accident. His small car was pointed in the wrong direction in our lane, as if he’d slid into the wrong lane. Bill had to swerve to avoid hitting him, since he was sitting in the middle of the road, wearing his orange vest but having neglected to put out his warning triangle to alert other drivers. We narrowly missed having a collision ourselves, as other cars were coming in the other direction. That was a near miss!

When we got back to the hotel, we decided to try the pools. The Hotel Engel Obertal offers several pools and whirlpools, as well as saunas. It was a bit crowded when we got there. We had to check in, and thanks to COVID-19, there were limits on the number of people allowed in the pool at a time. The lap pool was pretty empty and quiet, so we basically hung out there. Lots of people with kids were in the big fancy saltwater pool that offers egress to the outside. We skipped the saltwater pool, because there were many kids in it and there weren’t supposed to be more than four people using it at a time. We also skipped the Naturalbadsee because it’s entirely outside and the weather was a bit too chilly for swimming outside. However, we did see some intrepid Germans using it, including one woman who went nude!

We opted not to have dinner, since we had a big lunch and Bill had an online appointment with the Jungian therapist he’s been talking to for the past few months. While Bill did his hour with the shrink, I sat in the bar and listened to love songs from the 80s and 90s. Bill joined me later, and we enjoyed a few cocktails. Next post, I will write about our gourmet extravaganza! Stay tuned!

housekeeping tips

Toilet seat hunting… one way to crap off the week…a

This post was written in November 2018.  Sorry for the confusion!

On Monday of this week, I wrote a tale of woe about the toilet seat in our upstairs bathroom.  The bumper on the old toilet seat in our current house busted the other day.  Bill decided to get a new seat.  Off we went to the Toom in Herrenberg to find one.

Bill was armed with the measurements he’d taken of our current commode.  We spent several minutes perusing the impressive array of toilet seats available at our handy German hardware store…

There’s a whole wall of seats.  They range from the colorful to the plain.

Bill found a couple of contenders.

I was amused by all the beach scenes, especially since I grew up pretty close to the ocean and miss it.

This one was in 3D!

I probably would have preferred the zebra.

I was eyeing the toilets jealously, but then remembered that our new house has new toilets… or so we were told.  To be honest, with all the houses we visited, it’s hard to tell who said what.  Suffice to say, I don’t think the toilets in our new house are “water saver” types like the one in our current house’s upstairs bathroom.

Bill paid about 30 euros for the new seat, then we headed into Herrenberg for lunch.  We could have had lunch at the Toom, since they have a full scale snack bar there.  We got to town a little bit later than optimal for lunch.  It was about 1:30pm, which is getting close to “pause” time.  I’m going to miss Herrenberg, so I took a few pictures.

I took a photo of this store because I hope someday to visit and buy a table here.  They have some really beautiful custom made tables in this shop on the main drag through town.  It’s called Lieblingsholz.

Closing down the Saturday market.

A charming sign…

Just before we stopped to take a picture of this sign, we stopped at our favorite local pizzeria.  It was closed today, just as it was last time we were in Herrenberg.  I was looking at the sign and an elderly German guy came over and asked us if we wanted to “have a coffee”.  I was actually talking to Bill when I said, “What did you say?”, but I guess the guy thought I was talking to him.  It turned out the German gent spoke perfect English.  He told us about a really nice bakery down the street that serves coffee.  We were very charmed by his inclination to help us find coffee, even though we were looking for lunch and have lived near Herrenberg a total of six years over two tours!  It was such a nice, welcoming gesture, though!

Herrenberg kind of feels like home.  I fear Wiesbaden may not feel that way to me, because it’s so crowded and people have more money there.  But I have met people from Hesse who live down here near Stuttgart and I have met a guy who is married to someone from Stuttgart who lives in Hesse.  So I guess we’ll find some friendly folks regardless.

Yesterday, Bill stopped by our vets’ office in Herrenberg to pay for the dentals we had them do on our dogs and take care of the VAT form.  One of the vets had recommended that we stock up on wormers and flea and tick pills, so it would be on the VAT, too.  I’m going to miss our vets, too.  They’ve taken great care of our boys and I’ve gotten to know them fairly well, for professional purposes, anyway.  I told them I wouldn’t be surprised if we came back to the area at some point.  This is the place for guys like Bill.

We ended up at Hanoi Pho.  We have eaten there once before and I remembered liking the food.  I liked it today, too.

Shot of Bill after he asked our waiter what the lady next him was having.  She had a bowl full of fried stuff that looked just right for me.

But I ended up having shrimp with vegetables and peanut sauce.  Unfortunately, this had a couple of mushrooms in it, but Bill came to my rescue.  It was otherwise very good and lightly spicy, if not a little heavy.  

Bill went with pho made with beef and noodles.  In the picture, you can also see the mushrooms he took from my dish.  Thankfully, there was just one cut into a few pieces.  It didn’t affect the flavor of the dish.  Bill used some red chili sauce in the pho and it was apparently very potent.  He ate the whole thing and even threatened to drink the broth.  As we were leaving, he was wiping his eyes and nose because the sauce had brought on the waterworks.

The proprietor dropped hints that he was ready for a smoke break when he brought us our bill unrequested.  It came to about 25 euros.  We were about finished anyway.  Bill had to go look for a wrench so he can install the new toilet seat.  Then he said, “I guess I better get some wine, too, since we only have two bottles.  One is Moldovan and the other is semi-sweet.”

My response was, “Oh God, yes, get some wine.”  That’s my Bill.  Always a provider.  He’s been busy today, taking care of some minor maintenance issues like changing lightbulbs and offloading trash.  When he removed the old toilet seat, the bolts were so rusted that one snapped clean off.  It was definitely time for a new seat.  Hope the new tenants like it.

Tada!  After Bill installed this snazzy new seat, he fetched a bottle of wine.  I have now christened the new seat and it’s a vast improvement over the old one.  

If you got through today’s post, I would like to share with you some glorious photos from a couple of sunrises this week.  I think the view at our current house is the best part of our experience here.  I’m going to miss it, too.

These were from Tuesday…

And these were from this morning.  For about twenty minutes each morning, especially when it’s going to be cloudy, we get amazing sunrises and sunsets at this time of year.  Unfortunately, the view from our new home will include a lot of rooftops.  We weren’t as lucky in finding a rural location in Wiesbaden.

I took these on Tuesday with my digital camera, which is capable of zooming.  I loved the big blackbird.  He sits in that tree all the time, looking for rodents.  Sometimes it’s exciting to watch as he and his buddies swoop into the fields, competing with the many cats that prowl the area.

I’m not sure what tomorrow has in store for us.  I suspect I’ll be purchasing some rugs at the PX.  Maybe we’ll stop by the Auld Rogue or something.  Next weekend, we’ll be in Baden-Baden resting up and celebrating our anniversary.


Der Schönbuchturm in Herrenberg!

Last weekend, Herrenberg opened Der Schönbuchturm, its long awaited new tower that overlooks the forested areas surrounding the city.  I considered visiting the tower last weekend, but since it was the first day, I figured it might be better to wait a week.  I’m glad we waited.  We had perfect weather this afternoon to see the brand new tower– a miracle of German engineering.  Bill pointed out the tower as we drove down the hill from Jettingen.  I’m surprised I hadn’t noticed it before.  It sticks up from the trees in the distant hills overlooking Herrenberg.

First view of the tower.

Der Schönbuchturm, which reaches a height of 35 meters, is located across from the Schönbuch Naturpark, right next to the Naturfreundehaus am Schönbuch, a self-serve restaurant and Biergarten.  We parked there at about 3:00pm.  There was a fairly decent sized crowd there, but it wasn’t too obnoxious.  We easily found a parking spot and then began the 400 meter mostly uphill hike up to the tower.  I was pretty breathless by the time we reached the new engineering marvel.  Some people were biking up and there were plenty of places for people to lock their bikes.  It costs nothing to visit the tower, which is open until 7:00pm nightly.

At the start of the trail, there’s a sign welcoming visitors and a place to lock bikes.

The trail to the tower is covered in gravel made of small stones.  Part of the trail consists of steps.  I noticed a steep bike trail to the side of the steps, but I don’t think that would be suitable terrain for a stroller or a wheelchair.

A bit closer… I stopped to catch my breath after the short uphill hike.  As you can see, you can stop at two vantage points on the way to the top level.


Some interesting stats.  The trail to the tower also has little information points like this one.  Since my German blows, I mostly ignored them.

There are two stairways.  Seems like one should be designated as the “up” stairway and the other as the “down” stairway.  However, both stairways are open to either direction.  Consequently, you may have to stop to let someone pass in the other direction.

These pictures are from the first vantage point.  To be honest, as sturdy as I know the tower is, I was feeling slightly anxious with each new level.  The tower has been designed so that there’s little to obstruct your view.  It can be a bit unnerving.

Wire fencing and “handrails” rather than solid metal…

The above pics are from the top vantage point.

On the way down… phew.  The tower wobbled a bit with the breeze.  It reminded me a little of our visit to Highline 179 in Austria.  I’m not sure I’d want to climb the tower during bad weather!  Today, it was kind of a thrill.  

I think I like this view the best!  

Our visit to the tower only took about a half hour.  It occurred to me as we were enjoying the views that last weekend, we climbed a 35 meter tower that was originally built in the 12th century.  Today, we climbed a 35 meter tower that has only been open for a week!  And both activities were completely free of charge with no one hanging around to enforce the rules!  Gosh, I love Germany!

Last week’s climb was just as high as today’s climb, but today’s was less painful.  Instead of a tight spiral staircase, there’s a much gentler climb.  I noticed a lot of children climbing up, including one adorable little girl with intense blue eyes crawling on her hands and knees!  As nervous as the climb made me, I have to admit the view at the top is breathtaking.  You can see for miles.

Although we could have gone to the Naturfreundehaus for a snack, Bill and I decided to visit La Piazza Gelataria for ice cream.  The outside seating was full of people who had the same idea we did.  I will note that the Naturfreundhaus, while no frills and self-serve, also has a little playground for kids!

The church bells played a hymn we used at our wedding in 2002… “Now Thank We All Our God.”

Bill had a Waldbeere Becher (wild berry cup).  It was strawberry and vanilla ice cream with blueberries, strawberries, currents, and cherries, along with lots of whipped cream.

I had an After Eight Becher, made with After Eight mints.  My mom used to love those things!  It had chocolate ice cream, mint ice cream, mint sauce, and chocolate “streusel”.  We also shared San Pellegrino.  Our total bill was just over 16 euros.  Today was “cheap”!  I don’t think I’ll need dinner, either.

For the first time, I noticed the really cool looking balcony on this building, along with its terrace on the roof.

Fun scene in Herrenberg.  Little kids were enjoying the fountain.  I couldn’t help but muse about how pleasant life in Germany is… for me, anyway.  It’s so nice to be able to sit in a square that looks like it’s out of a fairytale and eat ice cream while children play in the fountain.  

One last shot before we went home.  

I’m pretty happy with how today turned out, especially given how it started off.  Next month, we’re going to Ireland to see Paul Simon in concert.  I bought tickets for the show in February and put them in my usual safe keeping spot.  Somehow in the past four months, the tickets got lost.  This morning, we spent about an hour trying to call Ticketmaster in Ireland to get duplicates made.  For awhile, it looked like we weren’t going to get through to a human being and I was getting pretty pissy.  But we were finally successful.  A lovely Irish lass helped us out and for a six euro fee, I hope to have duplicate concert tickets in my hands for next month’s concert… the second of four we’re planning to attend this year.


Charming Herrenberg: Lunch at Hanoi Pho and a hike to the Schloss!

Sometimes I’m really glad I feel compelled to blog.  If I didn’t blog, it would be too easy to sit on my can and waste a beautiful Saturday like today.  Thanks to my Puritan work ethic and the sad memories I have of the time we wasted during our first Germany tour, I convinced myself to venture out today.  However, I didn’t feel like venturing far.  It looked like it might rain and I was feeling like I might enjoy a nap.  I remembered that even after all of our years living near Herrenberg, before today, we had never visited the ruins of Schlossberg, Herrenberg’s castle.  Bill and I resolved to have lunch and make our way up the path leading to the ruins.

One of many lovely views I enjoyed today.  I hate climbing hills, but I’m always glad I did it when I get to the top.

Lunch was very successful.  We stopped by Hanoi Pho, a place where Bill had only previously gotten takeout.  Hanoi Pho serves German style Chinese food, but it’s really more of a Vietnamese restaurant.  They had their outdoor seating ready, but we decided to sit inside, where I enjoyed crispy sweet and sour duck and Bill had a Vietnamese dish called Bun cha gio Vietnam.  We both had hefeweizens.

I was kind of tempted by the Pho.  So was Bill.  We have only had it once before, when we lived at Fort Belvoir in Virginia and visited one of the many awesome Asian restaurants outside the Telegraph Road gate.  But since it’s kind of warm right now, we decided not to try it this time.  The quality of today’s lunch was good enough that I think we’ll be back.

Bill studies the menu, wondering if he should ask “What the pho?”

Nice wheat beer…

And entertaining placemats.  Apparently, Bill was born in the Year of the Dragon, while I was born in the Year of the Rat.  That makes us compatible.  No wonder we get along so well.

Bill’s Vietnamese dish… basically fried dough stuffed with ground meat, cucumbers, coriander, cilantro, and mint, among other things.  It was served with rice noodles, fresh vegetables, and a sprinkling of peanuts on top.  Since it’s mushroom free, I will probably order it next time we visit.  I’ve had my fill of sweet and sour crispy duck.

Although this was very good…  For some reason, the waiter gave me a fork and Bill got chopsticks.  The sweet and sour duck was served with sliced pineapple, carrots, and red peppers.  It was very satisfying.

Total bill was just 22 euros, served with fortune cookies!  Mine said I would be getting a big gift soon.  I do have a birthday in 18 days…  Bill said he would soon get a lot of money.  If he knows what’s good for him, he’ll use some of it on my big gift.  (Kidding, of course…  I’d be happy just to spend the day with him.)


The square was looking fine today!


With lunch sorted, we decided to head up to the Stiftskirche, which is the iconic church that sits on a hillside over the city.  We’ve visited it a few times.  We walked around the church so I could take some pictures and catch my breath.  The walk to the church is a little steep.  Below are a few photos I took as I slowed down my heartbeat.  We didn’t climb the church tower today, although there are days when that’s permissible.

No dogs.  No booze.  After 10pm, no loud noises.  Seems reasonable to me.  And they thank you for your understanding, too.

Lovely red roses.  Unfortunately, these weren’t the only thorns we would encounter today.

 Behind the Stiftskirche is the trail to the ruins.  Instead of heading straight up what appeared to be a curvy and steep but well maintained trail, we decided to go left.

The trail was also good beyond this gate.  But then we passed a young woman who had suddenly  popped out of the woods. 


As we approached where she had come from, Bill said, “I thought maybe there’d be a trail here, but maybe she just ducked in there to take a piss.”

Then I noticed there was actually a trail.  It was just kind of narrow and steep.  I pointed it out to Bill, who said, “Oh yes… this takes you right to the Schloss!”

Against my better judgment, I followed my husband up the slightly slippery hill.  There was a lot of pollution on the trail… bottle caps, broken glass, and cigarette butts.  But the trail was functional until it stopped right before the ruins.  I could then see why the young woman had decided not to go that way.  Bill had already plunged ahead, where there were tons of sticker bushes.  They were viciously sharp, but hell, I grew up in Virginia.  I’ve crossed my share of wild terrain.

Besides, I was able to get some interesting photos.

Sadly, the trail became more thick with vegetation.  I was sorry I’d left my machete at home.

We were so close, though!

So I said, “Screw it… let’s keep going.”  That was not the best decision.

Bill told me to go ahead of him.  I did, and things were okay until I got to just before the powder tower.  Suddenly, I started feeling the sting of thousands of tiny needles.  It turned out the vegetation in front of the ruins was riddled with stinging nettle roots.  As I type this, I still have patches of stinging flesh on my lower legs and lower left arm.  Thank God I wore capris and a shirt with three quarter length sleeves.  If I had worn shorts, I would definitely be in Hell right now.  The initial stings were pretty painful– hot and intense.  Bill suggested we turn around.  But again, I looked at how close we were and said, “The hell with it.  Let’s just go.”  Because if we’d turned around, we’d just have to walk through the nettles again and we wouldn’t have satisfied our curiosity.  Besides, it appeared there was an escape…

This is on the other side of the wall, beyond the thick cover of nettles and thorny prickers.  There, I could see a very well established trail, sans any dangerous weeds…

I looked at my rapidly reddening skin and the welts that were starting to rise and said, “Let’s just take a quick look.”  Bill agreed.  Then we were rewarded.

A lovely green lawn, where one can sit and ponder the meaning of life or have a picnic…

And you can climb to the top of the tower and look down over Herrenberg.  We spotted the lady who had popped out of the woods up there.  She was sitting on the edge of the tower and probably laughed at us as we were making our way through the punishing field of nettles.

We walked to the right of the plateau and looked down.  I got a big smile on my face.  One of the best things about Germany is that you’re always rewarded when you climb a big hill.  Below is the Schlosskeller Biergarten.  Not only does it serve food and beer, it also has restrooms where one can start to wash off stinging nettles.

A sight for sore, itchy, stinging skin.

And more enchanting views of Herrenberg and its environs.  In the distance, I could see Wurmlinger Kapelle to the south.  When we lived in Germany the first time, that chapel on a hill was almost in our backyard.  We visited there a few years ago.  Our visit to the chapel in 2015 was another case of us taking advantage of having the chance to live here again.  Because during our first tour, we gazed at the hilltop church daily, but never took the time to hike up the hill to see it.

We chose a table under a tent and ordered Germany’s national drink.

But if we’d wanted food, that could have been arranged.  This Biergarten is also very dog and kid friendly.  Several people brought their dogs, who were all given bowls of water to drink.


As we were finishing our beers, a large group of elderly German hikers showed up and took the large table in front of ours.  They good naturedly apologized for spoiling our view.  But I said in German, “Kein Problem!  Prost!”  This was more successful than my attempt at ordering food in German last night, which started off German and slipped into Armenian.  Some habits die very hard.  I haven’t been in Armenia since 1997, but I still have a few language skills.

Below are a few photos of the view from the Biergarten before we hiked back down the hill.

I used the zoom lens to focus on Wurmlinger Chapel, which is probably about ten miles away.  We used to live in a neighborhood very close to this chapel.

I had to explore this before we headed down…

It was a beautiful day for a hike!

The park near the Schloss has many sculptures in it.

But none of the art could match the beauty of Herrenberg itself.

There was probably a lot more to the Schloss ruins than we saw today, but I really needed to get home and into a hot shower.

Overall, I’m really glad I wasn’t lazy today.  We really enjoyed our afternoon in Herrenberg, even if I do have a painful stinging nettle rash now.  As for that trail, I would not recommend taking it unless you’re well protected with long pants, closed shoes, and long sleeves… and maybe a machete.  However, I will admit that the trail was a handy shortcut.  I won’t be cheating again, though.  Next time we visit, I’m sticking to the professionally made trails!

I enhanced my photo of Wurmlinger Chapel and it looks like a painting!


Sunday lunch at Eiscafe La Piazza in Herrenberg…

Eiscafe La Piazza is a very popular place in Herrenberg, especially on Sundays!


The first time Bill and I lived in Germany, we lived in a little town in Ammerbuch County called Pfäffingen.  It’s about ten miles south from Herrenberg and ten miles west of Tübingen.  In those less adventurous days, we used to visit either bigger town frequently.  We went to Herrenberg less often because it’s smaller and less interesting than Tübingen is.  Usually, we’d go there when we needed a change of scenery.

One place we often visited in Herrenberg during our 2007-09 stint was Eiscafe La Piazza.  La Piazza is a very nice Italian ice cream cafe.  They serve beautiful ice cream creations, but they also have gorgeous cakes, coffee drinks, and cocktails.  You can also find pizza and pasta there.

When we lived in Germany the first time, we’d often visit this cafe and have lunch.  I think we mainly went there because it has non-stop service.  A lot of times, we don’t get going until it’s too late for lunch.  That’s not a problem at La Piazza.

Since we’ve been back in Germany, now going on four years, we’ve only visited La Piazza twice.  The first time was back in April 2016.  We went in there for ice cream after walking around Herrenberg and ran into our original next door neighbors from our first tour here!  It was very strange, since they immediately recognized us.  I recognized them, too, but it seemed like my mind was playing tricks on me.  We proceeded to have kind of an awkward conversation, since they don’t speak English and my German is very rudimentary.  I used to talk to their daughter and son-in-law all the time, though.

The second time was today.  We went in there and I was half expecting to see our old neighbors again, but lightening didn’t strike twice.  A friendly English speaking guy invited us to pick a table.  We did, and ordered some San Pellegrino and a couple of glasses of Primitivo that he didn’t have on the menu.


Bill laughs at my jokes… that’s why we get along so well.


As we were waiting for our dishes, I took note of the music playing, which was pretty good Motown and jazz.  It was better than the German pop we heard yesterday.  More people filed in and pretty soon, the cafe was almost full.

Originally, we had given some thought to visiting a small fest going on near our house.  A local metal smith, who, according to our landlady, made our carport, was serving goulash made with wild boar and hosting a choir that would be singing German folk songs.  However, the weather, while much warmer than it has been recently, was kind of wet and depressing.  Also, our landlady said that she thought he was a better metal worker than cook.


Tagliatelle con salmone…  This was pretty good and very reasonably priced at under eight euros.  It was a simple creamy sauce with salmon.  I appreciated that we had plenty of Parmesan cheese.


Bill had the “pasta of the house”…  This came with olives, tomatoes, and plenty of garlic, with pieces of fresh Parmesan.  Bill really enjoyed it.  The garlic was especially welcome!


Every time we’ve been to La Piazza in Herrenberg, I’ve been tempted by dessert.  Their cakes always look so good!  They had several beautiful ones today.  I am usually too full to consider having dessert.  Today, I didn’t finish the pasta and saved room for a piece of the cake posted below.  Bill split it with me.

This was kind of like a Sacher torte, only with cherry instead of apricot.  It was moist and sweeter than a lot of German cakes I’ve had.  I’m glad we shared it.  I liked this fine, although next time, I think I’ll go for the Tiramisu.  It looked amazing.

And an espresso!

The total bill came to 37 euros.  I noticed a lot of the people coming in were there for just cake or ice cream.  In the spring and summer, when the weather is fine, this cafe will set up a large outdoor area. I expect that in less than a month, a lot of people will be enjoying its prime location, right in Herrenberg’s attractive main square.  Herrenberg was pretty quiet today, though.

If you live near Herrenberg and are looking for a “go to” Sunday spot, La Piazza is not a bad choice.  It’s not fancy, but it’s got lots of simple pizzas and pastas, as well as tempting desserts.  You will find English speaking servers there and not break the bank.  And it doesn’t matter what time you arrive, because they serve food until 10:00pm.  I also noticed that they have a lot of breakfast choices, which are available until 11:00am.  Maybe someday, we’ll go there for the first meal of the day, then climb up to Herrenberg’s castle ruins.  I will probably need to be fortified for that!

Germany, restaurant reviews

Mauerwerk in Herrenberg, take two!

I must confess that the dreary weather we’ve been experiencing lately in Germany has not made me want to venture out and try new restaurants.  However, this morning, I realized that I had spent entirely too many days in my nightgown, just waiting for the sun to shine.  So I decided to adopt the German way of thinking, which is there is no such thing as bad weather… only bad clothing.  Although I usually try to experience new restaurants on the weekends, today we decided to pay another visit to Mauerwerk in Herrenberg, a place we visited for the first and only time in October 2015.

I see by my first review that we enjoyed our first visit to this restaurant on Herrenberg’s main drag.  When we lived here the first time, from 2007-09, the building Mauerwerk is currently in was a protestant church.  It’s now a place where one can enjoy a good meal or a good show.  Mauerwerk regularly offers movies, concerts, and theater productions.  Why we haven’t availed ourselves of this place more often I don’t really know.

The front door…  


And a different perspective of Herrenberg…

In any case, we made a reservation for 1:00pm, but we didn’t have to do that.  When we arrived a little before our reservation time, we found the restaurant had only a few tables full.  There was a birthday party for kids going on in the upper level and a couple of family gatherings on the main level.  Bill and I were offered a four top next to the bar, which offered a different perspective than where were seated during our visit in 2015.  The menu, however, had changed little.  On our first visit, I had salmon, which I saw offered again today.  Bill had a burger on that visit and I saw a similar version of what he on that visit had offered today.

Obligatory shot of Bill looking at the menu…  besides the offerings on the menu, there was a special burger being offered called the Maui burger.  Neither of us went for it.

Very nice bar area, complete with 15 year old El Dorado rum… one of my favorites.

And a view of the artwork… I liked the pipe organ themed sculpture.  I love pipe organs.

Last time we visited Mauerwerk, we had three courses, which was too much food.  This time, we were more sensible.  I went with the Mauerwerk Burger, which kind of crushed Bill, since he wanted it, too.  He decided to have a vegetarian dish instead, a curry made with coconut milk, mango, red and yellow peppers, onions, snowpeas, coriander, and cumin.  I raised my eyebrows when he decided not to have it with turkey strips, which made our waiter laugh.

This was the Mauerwerk Burger.  It was 180 grams of fresh ground beef, cheddar cheese, bacon, homemade chili ketchup, lime pepper mayonnaise, arugula, onions, and homemade pickles.  It came with a side of herbed fried potatoes and ketchup.  I’m pretty sure the bun was homemade.  It was delicious.


Seriously, I was impressed by the Mauerwerk Burger.  The beef was very fresh and juicy and tasted really good, which I’ve found isn’t always a given when it comes to German beef.  I liked that the cheese wasn’t too strong, as it was when Bill had a burger there the first time we visited.  I only wish they offered an option that allowed patrons to choose their own toppings.  I prefer my burgers a little less fancy.  As it was, this sandwich was almost too big to eat with my hands.

Bill’s vegetarian curry.

I asked for my burger to be done medium, which it was.  I managed half before I had the rest packed up.  I wanted dessert.

We paired our lunches with wine.  I had a Spanish Rioja and Bill enjoyed a delicious Syrah from South Africa.  We also had our usual fizzy water.  I was a little tempted by Mauerwerk’s Wall Dwarf, which is a beer that is brewed exclusively for them.  I’m glad I went with wine, though.  After I finished the first one, I had another Rioja that was offered as a daily special.

One thing I noticed while we were dining is that the dining area is a bit noisy.  The kids on the second floor were pretty loud, as kids tend to be.  I said to Bill, “It’s too bad they don’t turn on some music.  I see they have speakers.”  Just as the kids were about to leave, the bartender answered my prayers and turned on some great classic rock.  Suddenly, the atmosphere was way better… Queen, Foreigner, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Pink Floyd, Bonnie Tyler, and Leonard Cohen…  yeah.  Much better than the sound of little urchins chattering.  Much as I love urchins, that is…

Speaking of little kids, at the table next to us was a young couple and their little baby, along with a couple of friends.  I was enjoying watching them.  The father, in particular, was very attentive to the baby and, I can only assume, his wife.  He helped his wife when she left the dining room to breastfeed.  He held the baby when she got fussy and, when Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” came on, danced with her around the room.  It was very heartwarming… especially since I have my doubts that guy was even born when “Total Eclipse of the Heart” was popular.  I was a little kid myself in those days.

Anyway, the music made me want dessert and more wine.  The wait staff seemed to enjoy my attempts at German, too, although at least one of the staff members spoke native like English.

I had the “Toblerone” mousse… two clumps of semi sweet chocolate mousse, kumquats, pomegranate seeds, red currants and blueberries, and a little chocolate cookie…

Bill went with the mango pancakes, which I’m sure he thought would be smaller.  The pancakes were not very sweet, but had a little dusting of powdered sugar.  They arrived warm with a side of vanilla ice cream and more berry compote.  It was way more than he could eat; we should have shared it.  However, it was delicious.  

Our total bill was just over 60 euros.  We paid in cash, though they do take cards.  Our servers were very appreciative when Bill gave them a generous “Trinkgeld” (tip).

I’d been wanting to go back to Mauerwerk since our first visit in 2015. It’s a shame it’s taken so long to visit again. I really enjoyed today’s lunch, if not because of the good food and cheerful service, because of the pleasant atmosphere. In fact, as I was sitting there enjoying lunch over my beloved classic rock, I felt the need to post on Facebook… “I love (heart emoji) Germany soooo much!” And I do, even if the winters do make me want to hibernate.

Mauerwerk is a real gem in Herrenberg. Not only is the food good, but it’s also a much appreciated source of entertainment. It’s time we took in a show there. I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled, since we live so close.  Mauerwerk is open daily for dinner from 5:00pm and from 9:30am until midnight on Sundays.  They do a breakfast on Sundays until 3:00pm.
If we don’t do anything special for dinner on Valentine’s Day, I suspect my next post will be about our next road trip, which will be to the Czech Republic… another place we are long overdue to visit! Stay tuned!


Herrenberg… and lunch at Cafe Atelier…

The weather is a bit gloomy again today, so Bill and I decided to keep today’s outing low key.  We went to Herrenberg for lunch and tried a place new to us, but not to the city.

The morning market was just finishing up when we arrived.

Herrenberg is such a cute little city.


We came upon Cafe Atelier, a cute little place I’d noticed a few times over the years but had never tried.  They had a bunch of chalk boards and a menu outside that made the place look inviting.  I could also see a large display case full of desserts.  Desserts will lure me every time, so we ventured inside.

A little cafe with lots of yummy looking baked goods out front.


When we walked in, we noticed a man standing behind the counter reading the paper.  There were two tables with ladies sitting at them, conversing animatedly.  I get the sense this cafe is very popular with ladies who lunch.  The inside is very feminine looking and cute.  Bill wondered if maybe the front room was only for people having coffee and pastries.  He walked toward the back room and the guy behind the counter stopped him and told him we could sit in the front room.

The encounter was a little bit awkward… but we had a seat.  I knew what I wanted immediately, a glass of Greek cabernet and the gyrosteller.  Bill ordered a different red.  The guy took our menus before we had a chance to order food.  Below is Bill’s expression at that…

Actually, he had a funnier one, but I was too slow on the draw to capture it.

Lots of good looking desserts!  We didn’t try any, though, because lunch filled us up.


The guy came back over after pouring my wine and told Bill that his choice was not available.  So Bill had a glass of the same cabernet I ordered.  We both settled on the gyrosteller.  I guess I must speak my limited German with a terrible accent, because I had to repeat myself a couple of times.  I should get someone to teach me to say “gyros” at the very least.  Happily, I no longer pronounce it “guy-rohs” like I did many years ago.

The little salad that came with the gyrosteller.  It had a rather strong mustard vinaigrette that was oddly sweet.  It wasn’t bad, but the flavor was more intense than I would have expected.  I appreciated that the salad wasn’t really big.  I prefer little salads.


While we were waiting for our gyros, I noticed the man behind the counter, who seemed to be a little bit over it.  He sneezed.  I was relieved when I saw him go to the sink.  But then I watched him rinse his hands without soap.  The public health educated side of me cringed a little.  A few minutes later, he blew his nose.  Then he went back to the sink and rinsed his hands again.  I guess I should be that grateful that he did that much.  Some people don’t.

Behold… the gyros with pommes and tzatziki.  These weren’t too bad.  They were well seasoned, at least, and I didn’t get the sense that the pork was really intended to be a schnitzel.  However, I don’t think the gyros were prepared the way they are at my favorite taverna, on a spiese.


We had a leisurely lunch and when it was all said and done, it cost just 29 euros before the tip.  Hopefully, we won’t be catching a cold.  Bill visited the restroom and noticed that the proprietors are okay with non customers using their toilet if you give them fifty cents.  I figure that’s fair, as long as the toilet is clean and stocked, which it evidently was.  I didn’t visit it myself.  We walked around the corner and passed a fruit and vegetable market, where there was some excellent looking fresh produce was offered.

I should have gotten one of these.

Produce worth getting excited over.

If we hadn’t purchased over two pounds of cheese in Alsace last weekend, maybe we would have stopped in…

Unique gifts for Christmas!

We decided to walk back to our car via Edeka.  Herrenberg has a large, impressive one that sells all manner of food, drinks, bras, and underwear.  They also have beer Advent calendars.  I already have a calendar full of liquor that I ordered from Master of Malt.  I like beer calendars, I guess, but German beers mostly taste the same to me in each of the few styles available.  But I can see why people get excited about them.

We bought ice cream instead.


A very considerate lady noticed we only had one item, so she let Bill go ahead of her.  It always makes me feel good when people are unexpectedly kind like that.  On the way home, I noticed the very dramatic skies…  Winter is on its way.

Looks like a spaceship is about to land.

I love it when sunlight streams through the clouds like this.


Lunch at Gasthaus Lamm in Herrenberg…

The day kind of got away from us today.  We got up rather late, had a late breakfast, and then Bill went to the store to pick up some things for the week.  Consequently, it wasn’t until about 1:00 that we finally decided what to do with our afternoon.  We entertained thoughts of going to a fest, but ended up going to Herrenberg, where we stopped by the Gasthaus Lamm for lunch.

Gasthaus Lamm’s sign.

The last time we visited the Gasthaus Lamm was for Thanksgiving in 2015.  We didn’t have a Thanksgiving dinner there; rather, we enjoyed a large German meal that was kind of fall inspired.  I’d been wanting to go back for some time, but this is a restaurant that is almost always packed, even during the daytime.  We noticed today that they had a sign outside signifying that after next weekend, they would only be open in the evenings.

Things will change next week!

We arrived at the restaurant at about 2:30 or so, about a half an hour before the restaurant has its afternoon pause.  There were a few tables open, so we chose one in a corner near the bar area.  One thing I like about Gasthaus Lamm is that it’s a very cozy place in an old building.  It’s very typically German, as is the food.  During the warmer months, there is outside seating available.  In winter, it’s best to make reservations because the restaurant is very popular and it’s tiny.

Bill’s typically charming expression after I tell him dirty jokes.

A pleasant young man who spoke perfect English took care of us.  We both had weizens and salads.  I had one with grilled chicken strips and Bill had one with tuna.

My salad, which was described as chicken strips with bread.  This was actually not what I was expecting, but it tasted good and was good for me.  This was priced at 10,50 and had a nice light vinaigrette and a sprinkling of seeds.

Bill’s tuna salad came with soft, mild cheese, but was basically the same set up as mine.  


Our bill came to 25,50, which we thought was a fair price.  I wasn’t able to finish my whole salad.

Gasthaus Lamm happens to be located right next to the Alte Brennerei, which happens to be one of our favorite bottle shops.  Although we probably should have steered clear, we went inside and ended up enjoying an impromptu rum and wine tasting.  The people in Alte Brennerei speak perfect English and are always willing to let their customers taste things.  Of course, when we taste things, we often end up buying, and that’s what happened today.  We came home with plenty of wine and rum for the rapidly cooling evenings in Germany.

I was actually thinking of going to Sindelfingen today.  Perhaps if we had gotten an earlier start, we would have gone there and tried a new restaurant.  Maybe we’ll try that tomorrow, if we don’t hit a fest.  Quite a few are going on this weekend.

Germany, restaurant reviews

Dinner at the Hotel Hasen in Herrenberg…

Try saying that three times fast…  “Hotel Hasen in Herrenberg“.  Meh, it’s probably not that hard to do.  I like alliteration, though.

When Bill and I lived in Germany the first time, we settled in a town a bit south of the pleasant city of Herrenberg.  Consequently, we’d often drive down the main drag in Herrenberg and notice the large four star hotel on the hill.  I kept thinking I’d like to stop in for dinner sometime, but we never managed to do it during our first Germany tour together.

Fast forward five years after we PCS’d.  It was October 2014.  We had just visited Colmar, France, and had some time to kill before it was time to pick up our dogs from the dog pension.  We stopped at the Hotel Hasen for lunch.  I remember being impressed by the food and service.  We now live in a town a bit west of Herrenberg, probably about the same distance away as we did during out first tour.  We still spend a lot of time in Herrenberg.  Last night, I asked Bill if he’d like to go back to the restaurant at Hotel Hasen and have dinner.  He agreed.

The front of the hotel.  There is limited parking out front and more in the back.  There is also a city parking area next to the hotel’s parking.


During the warmer months, Hotel Hasen has a biergarten.  We decided to eat out there last night.  They were doing a brisk business, with most of the tables occupied and a few people enjoying drinks on the outdoor patio furniture near the inside bar.  An elegant older lady in plain clothes invited us to sit at a table near the wait station, where I could easily observe beer and wine being poured and dishes coming from the kitchen.  They were pumping them out at an impressive pace last night.

Bill checks out the menu.  His was in French.  Mine was in German.  Apparently, they also had English menus.

We settled on hefeweizens.


The food at the Hasen Hotel is very German and a bit heavy.  They have salads and vegetarian dishes,  but a lot of the food is big on meat, spaetzle, potatoes, and rice.  I happen to like that well enough, though I wasn’t wanting anything super filling last night, since it was a warm outside.  Many of the dishes on the menu are available in a smaller size and a slightly lower price.

I settled on zander filet, which was fried (but could have also been baked).  It came with a light white wine cream sauce and an interested vegetable garnish.  There was a thin slice of rutabaga topped with a layer of mashed potatoes, with cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, and carrots arranged somewhat artfully around the rutabaga and potatoes.  My dish also came with a large bowl of “dry rice”.  

Bill had deer goulash, which he pronounced very good.  It came with baked apples and spaetzle.  He couldn’t finish the whole thing.

Dry rice… yes, it was cooked, but there was nothing else to it.  


I had another beer after dinner and Bill had a double espresso.  There were some excellent looking desserts passing us that I probably would have enjoyed.  However, our waitress, though very professional, seemed a bit over it and I decided I didn’t need the calories.  The bill came to about 53 euros.


The word “Hasen” means rabbit in German.  The Hotel Hasen does indeed have a couple of rabbit ambassadors living on the grounds.  We ventured over to see them after we finished dinner.  They live in a little hutch next to what looks like a play area for little kids.  The play area appeared to need some cleaning up; the equipment looked like it was covered in dirt caused by rain.  It was otherwise in good repair.

Hotel Hasen’s bunnies!

Don’t feed the rabbits!

Overall, we enjoyed a pleasant evening at Hotel Hasen’s biergarten.  It was a nice night to go out to dinner.  I think we could go back when the weather is a little cooler.  On the other hand, there are other restaurants in Herrenberg I haven’t tried yet.  So who knows?

Germany, restaurant reviews

Dinner at Del Sole in Herrenberg…

After a successful first week with his new company, Bill was ready to celebrate over a nice dinner.  We decided to go to Herrenberg and try a restaurant we’ve walked past many times.  Ristorante Del Sole is located on Seestraße, a main artery of Herrenberg.  We parked across the street near the Edeka, but there’s also a large parking lot next to the restaurant.

Bill checks out the posted menu.  This restaurant offers the usual pizza, pasta, and salads, as well as fish, meat, and veal dishes.

Del Sole has a nice dining room, but we opted to sit outside and enjoy the unseasonably cool temperatures.  A bunch of German guys were sitting at a large table near us.  They appeared to be regulars.  There were also a few couples and I noticed several tables were reserved.  An older lady who seemed to be the proprietor was joking around with the table full of guys as if she knew them well.  I always take it as a good sign when a restaurant has regulars who are on good terms with the staff.

Bill checks out the menu.  I made him laugh by singing the Swanson TV dinner jingle to him… “How do you handle a hungry man?  A manhandler!”

I went for the grilled shimp…   This was very simply prepared with garlic and white wine.  I kind of wished for Wet Naps as I peeled the shrimp, but I was impressed by the size and quality of this dish.  I had no trouble sharing shrimp with Bill.

It came with a large plate of perfectly cooked spinach with plenty of garlic.  Again, plenty to share!  I can only take so much spinach in one sitting.

Bill had the scallopine al limone– veal medallions with oven baked potato slices and lemon sauce.  I don’t like to eat veal, so I didn’t try this.  Bill said it was very tender.  I did try the potatoes, which had some of the very tasty lemon sauce on them.  It was very fresh and zesty!

We also got a generous basket of bread made from pizza dough.  We also had a glass each of an Italian red wine that tasted of cherries and we shared a bottle of San Pellegrino.  


Service was competent and professional, although we did have to signal the waitress when we wanted to pay.  The bill came to about 46 euros and the waitress was very pleasantly surprised when Bill rounded up to fifty euros.  I was impressed by how good the pizzas smelled and looked.  We’ll have to go back and try them again.

Overall, Bill and I both enjoyed Del Sole, especially the very pleasant biergarten in the back.  I can see why they have a local following.  If you’re in Herrenberg and looking for good a pleasant Italian restaurant, Del Sole isn’t a bad choice… at least based on this first visit.