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!


Noyzi makes new friends at the wine stand!

Here’s a very quick post about last night’s wine stand, which was blessed with sunshine and relatively warm temperatures (for a change). Recently, we’ve been bringing Noyzi, the Kosovar wonderdog, to the wine stands. We hope to get him a little more socialized and used to crowds, noise, and people.

Noyzi has made a lot of progress since we adopted him in October 2020. When we first got Noyzi, he was afraid of most people, especially men. Now, he’s still a little nervous and skittish, but he clearly loves people and wants to interact. And he’s very gentle– not a single aggressive bone lies in his massive doggie body.

We probably would have gone to the wine stand last night, no matter what, but we did have a good reason to celebrate last night. Bill got a very nice raise yesterday. He gets them yearly, but this year, it was double the size of last year’s raise. So we definitely raised a glass or two to that.

We got to tell Noyzi’s story to a German couple who were intrigued by him. They spoke a little English, we spoke even less German, but we still managed to bond over our street dogs. It turned out the couple has one, too. I think they said theirs was from Romania.

Noyzi was pretty fidgety at the wine stand last night, but a quick walk around the Dorfplatz helped him calm down a bit. I think by the end of the summer, the wine stand will be old hat to Noyzi and he will be much better in public places. After about an hour, he was settling down enough that I thought he might even lie down, but we never quite made it to that point.

We met another guy with his big brown dog, Sam. Noyzi and Sam hit it off famously. As we were leaving, Noyzi made a point of saying goodbye to his new canine village friend. One thing that makes Noyzi good at the wine stand is that he’s relatively quiet. We seldom brought Zane and Arran to these events because they were both pretty loud and obnoxious, and they had each other to hang out with. Noyzi is a totally different kind of dog, and I think he will eventually become really good at these gatherings.

Below are a few photos from our excursion to the Dorfplatz… I also included a couple I took yesterday morning on our walk.

And here are a couple of short videos… One is of Noyzi as we were about to go to the wine stand, and the other is of our very full village brook, which is really rushing right now. I suspect that pretty soon, the heavy rain will stop, and the creek will be much shallower and slower.

Noyzi used to be afraid of leashes and Bill. Now he loves both, and enjoys excursions. He likes people and other dogs, too, even if he is a bit nervous.
The creek is FULL. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it this high.

The first night of Breckenheim’s very first wine fest!

This year, we seem to be attending so many wine fests! It’s probably on account of COVID-19 restrictions finally going away. October is coming, and there may be new restrictions, based on what the virus does. For now, Germans are having their beloved festivals, and where we live, they’re all about the wine. Remember that we moved to Wiesbaden in late 2018, so we missed the 2018 season. In 2019, it was “normal”, but we were dealing with stress associated with our departure from Stuttgart that put a damper on our spirits. Then came 2020 and 2021, and fests were significantly reduced. In 2022, things have rebounded a lot.

Our little town of Breckenheim is up and coming. We just got a weekly market, which started last week, probably to justify the installation of the new public toilet (which I got to use last night). This week, had a market AND a wine fest. I anticipate that there will be a lot more socializing in our village, and it’s a great thing. I’ve stated more than once how much we have enjoyed how convivial Breckenheim is. It’s a very different, friendly, mostly inclusive vibe here that helps to make up for losing the awesome beauty of the Schwarzwald in our backyard.

Bill came home from his latest business trip yesterday afternoon. He took Arran to the vet, because he’s been a little “off” lately, plus his run ins with the hedgehog in our backyard resulted in his getting fleas. Hedgehog fleas apparently don’t infest dogs and cats like regular fleas do, but they do bite. I noticed Arran had swollen popliteal lymph nodes, too. So he got a fine needle aspirate, antibiotics, and flea meds. One of the fleas was kind enough to jump off of Arran when he was being examined. Bill said the vet, two techs, and he all worked together to corral the nasty beast so it can be studied under a microscope. I’m hoping that whatever has Arran acting odd will turn out to be related to the fleas and isn’t due to cancer. He’s about 14 years old now, and our last three dogs succumbed to cancer. Arran was a little slow this morning, but after he had some breakfast and a walk, he perked up a bit.

The wine fest is going to go on all weekend. We’ll probably go again, because we had so much fun last night. At first, there were a couple of ladies giving us the side eye when they heard us speaking English to another American. Later, our next door neighbor’s mom came over to talk to us. She went over and sat with the ladies, and probably told them we weren’t tourists. Then our landlord bought us a round of wine. And then the young family who is moving to our neighbor’s vacant apartment came over with their kids, and we had a great time chatting with them. I have a feeling they are going to be good friends. They even asked us to carve a jack o’ lantern for Halloween, because they want to celebrate it. I’m happy to do that. I’m not very good at carving pumpkins, though.

Halloween is kind of hit or miss in Germany. One year, during our first stint in Germany, we had people come to our door and we weren’t prepared. Then we weren’t home other years. Bill now picks up candy in case anyone rings the bell, but no one ever does. Looks like this year will be different. This is the same family who brought me a piece of the pretzel the other day. I found out that the mom is half Italian, which explains why she found the Stuttgart area to be less friendly. It’s my experience that Italians are stereotypically a lot warmer– sympatisch— as my Italian friend who lives in Germany would say– than people from Swabia are. At least at first. I’ve found that most Swabians will eventually warm up, once you get to know them. It just usually takes more time than it does up here in Hesse.

We were only going to stay a little while last night, then go home and have dinner, which is why we didn’t try the food vendor’s wares. Instead, we ate a pretzel with Spundekäs, which wasn’t enough… especially considering how much wine we enjoyed. There were maybe four or five wine stands going, plus live music, plenty of seating, and the new toilet, which we learned last night cost taxpayers 120,000 euros or so… No wonder so many people were upset about it and a news guy from the local radio station was asking for opinions last year! But it is a nice facility, at least for now. And it’s Kostenfrei (free of charge), which really makes it special. 😉 I tried the new toilet, but failed to lock it properly. Luckily, I was finished when someone opened the door on me and said, “Entschuldigung!” (excuse me) I suppose I’ll learn the right way to lock the door, now that the village is about to be bustling with events.

Below are some photos from last night’s fun, plus a couple of videos from Bill’s return home.

Arran and Noyzi were delighted to see Bill after his trip. So was I!
Arran had to give his favorite person a hug. I was working on my latest puzzle.


Street food in Hofheim equals presents for my ass…

I was feeling kind of lazy today, and probably could have been talked into staying home. But then I noticed Hofheim, which is a town very close to our village of Breckenheim, was having a street food fest. I have to admit that I love German street food fests. They are always an interesting mix of kid friendly activities and adult beverages. Also, there’s usually live music and good food. I don’t care that much about kid friendly activities, of course, but I am all about adult beverages, good live music, and street food… especially if it involves empanadas. So off we went in the Volvo, since I didn’t feel like messing with the Mini’s last decade sound system. I think it’s time to shop for a new car. The Mini is 13 years old and can’t keep up with technology. 😉

We parked in a different area of the Chinon Centre, which is the local shopping mall. We easily found the fest, which was/still is going on downtown. There was a nice turnout of vendors, with everything from Indonesian to Colombian food. We didn’t actually eat a lot, because much of what I saw being served was in pretty large portions. I may look like I can eat a lot, but actually, I am more of a drinker. 😉 So I ended up just having a couple of empanadas… but I did learn about a fruit that was new to me… and especially about the hilariously rude names people in the UK use for it.

Anyway, below are some photos and videos… It was a lot of fun, and a nice way to waste the afternoon. I really liked the guy who was playing guitar in the last hour or so of our visit. He seemed equally influenced by Sting, Santana, and Mark Knopfler. All are worthy, in my opinion. And his live guitar playing beat the ever loving hell out of the crappy Euro trash trance music that was playing. I do love Europe, but the pop music here often sounds like a mixture of dance music and late 80s era Mentos commercials.

As you can see, we had lots of choices for food and drink, and there was plenty for kids to do. The weather was perfect, not too hot or windy. My only complaint is that they needed another umbrella or two. Also, I wish there had been smaller portions at some of the food trucks. But really, those were minor complaints. It was a really nice afternoon. Hofheim rocks!

Medlar fruit, AKA Mispelfrucht in German, is interesting. Apparently, in Britain, some people give it vulgar names because of how it looks. Seems about right for my peeps. They call it “monkey’s arse” or “open arse” or whatever. It is, however, considered to be a very tasty fruit. Today was the first time I have ever encountered it in my lifetime.

I would have liked to have tried other stuff, but it was quite hot, sunny, and bright outside, and Bill was worried about the dogs. So we came home. We had a good time, though, even if we were near an American lady who was very loudly letting everyone know where she’s from. I guess eight years of life in Germany has made me sensitive to loud talking.

I did get a few videos of Bill, which also captured the guitar player. He was pretty good.

Don’t mind our silly banter. I have the best husband ever.


Where has Limburg been all my life?

First thing’s first. I had no plans to visit the Hessian city of Limburg, Germany today. I went there because I follow Wiesbaden Fest Finders on Facebook, and I run my own “wine and food” group, mostly for Americans in Stuttgart and Wiesbaden. My food and wine Facebook group started in 2017, when Bill and I lived in Stuttgart, and we made a point of trying new restaurants and doing new stuff every weekend. In those days, we had no clue that we’d eventually move to Wiesbaden, and we had even less of a clue that there would be a global pandemic.

In late 2018, when we moved from Stuttgart to Wiesbaden, just about everyone in my Facebook group was based in Stuttgart. It was a pretty active group then. Since I spent six years living there in two different stints, I decided to just tack Wiesbaden onto the name of the group. In 2018, I thought I’d be going to Stuttgart often, if only because that’s where my dentist is. The main difference is, I don’t belong to a bunch of Wiesbaden groups. Living in Stuttgart and dealing with social media drama there made me want to be more under the radar. So I kept the group going, but while I thought I’d be going to Stuttgart more often than I do, that hasn’t happened. Thank COVID for that.

I still have lots of Stuttgart members, and some Wiesbadeners have joined. It’s not a particularly popular group, and frankly, I’ve been thinking about going defunct. But just when I’m about to abandon the group, something exciting happens that makes me keep going. Today was one of those days. Today, we discovered Limburg! And no, it’s not where the infamously stinky cheese comes from; that’s in Belgium.

A whole shitload of wine fests are happening right now in the Rheingau. I posted several of them this morning. The Limburg fest happened to be the first one I shared in my group. I was a little curious about Limburg, because in 2020, when we were trying to adopt a dog from a German rescue, we had a home visit done by a lady who was from Limburg. She said it was about 45 minutes away. She approved us for adopting the dog, but tragically, it didn’t work out for us. But no matter. Now we have Noyzi, the wonder dog from Kosovo.

So anyway… that brings me to this morning, as I was contemplating whether or not I wanted to go out, having just recovered from my first official bout with COVID-19. I finally decided that I did want… and NEED… to get out of the house. Like I wrote before, there were many things going on today. We had our pick. But I decided I wanted to go to Limburg, so that’s where we went. And, I have to say, we had a great time! This was our first time in Limburg, but God willing, it will not be our last. What a cute town! It’s on the Lahn River, and there are so many splendid timbered buildings dating back hundreds of years. The weather was perfect, and when we got there, I was enchanted by the many adorable shops. I even found something I wanted to buy, but decided not to, when I realized how heavy it was.

We stopped at the Leon Gerhard Weingut stall and tried several wines. I would have liked to have tried others, but we were a little pressed for time, thanks to the parking garage. It was one where you prepay, rather than pay when you’re done. Bill’s credit card wouldn’t work, and for once, we were short on spare change. While I didn’t think the cops were gonna bust us for overstaying, Bill was in a hurry… and we did have hungry dogs to consider.

There were a whole bunch of vintners at the Wine Fest, as well as food purveyors. As we were leaving, musicians were setting up for live music. I couldn’t help but feel so grateful to be in Germany now… as my homeland is embroiled in endless political bullshit, Germany is having wonderful festivals, reminding us that sometimes you just need to chill out and enjoy some wine and company. God bless Germany. It will always have a piece of my heart.

As for Limburg, it definitely didn’t stink… again, the infamously smelly cheese, comes from the Limburg area of Belgium, not Germany. So although I will make jokes about stinky cheese and cheesiness, this town isn’t the one affiliated with famously pungent cheese. We’ll be back, because I’m sure they have lots of fests. We were only there for a few hours, but I feel like I got a short vacation, and it was great for my soul. Especially when we visited Limburger Dom, which is a uniquely beautiful cathedral that has its origins in the 9th century.

We did stop for lunch at Werner-Senger Haus, which is a very cute and historic restaurant in a building that dates from the 1200s. We ate in their garden, which was up a couple of flights of stairs, or accessible from a gate on the other side of the restaurant. It was hot, so we drank Weizens, and I had a Wildschwein Burger, while Bill had Wildschwein Bratwurst with Pfifferlingen mushrooms. The food was good, and there was plenty of it, although it was a bit messy! Both dishes came with a Preiselbeer sauce that was a bit heavily applied on my burger, which was “molded” rather than hand shaped. But it tasted okay, even if it was a little rarer than I like it.

As we were leaving Werner-Senger Haus, I noticed a portrait on the wall near the door. I thought maybe it was Werner Senger, but my German friend was kind enough to edify me with the startling truth. Apparently, the man in the portrait is the Schinderhannes, Johannes Bückler. The restaurant is in the house where he was brought after he was captured. Wikipedia tells me that Johannes Bückler was an outlaw and thief who lived from 1778 until November 21, 1803, when he was guillotined in nearby Mainz. Bückler was famous for organizing one of the biggest crime sprees in German history, so we were dining on true historic ground! I did marvel more than once that I thought the restaurant was really cool looking, but now I know it’s very historic, too.

I might have preferred street food at the fest, but I needed to pee, and as we walked through there, the public WCs weren’t quite open for business. They were when we came back an hour or so later. Our bill at the restaurant was about 49 euros. I would like to go back, if only because it really was such a unique and historic building, just as so many others in that town are. I felt like I got a half day vacation!

Below are some photos…