France

Reunited with France… and it felt so good to be back! Part one…

The featured photo is of a sign in a German restaurant… I share the sentiments of the person who drew the sad face. That’s why we went to France.

Ever since we moved to Wiesbaden in late November 2018, we have used visits to the dentist in Stuttgart as an excuse to get away for a few days. Or, at least that was the original plan, before COVID-19 wreaked havoc on the planet. Thanks to the pandemic, we haven’t been back as often as we had originally planned. We did combine a trip to Stuttgart to see the dentist in May 2019 with Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road concert. We went to the Spring festival, saw Elton, and got our teeth cleaned. We also stayed at the Wald Hotel, which is our favorite Stuttgart area lodging. We even brought our dogs down to stay with their Stuttgart area pet sitter.

Then COVID struck, and we couldn’t get back down there again until August 2021. I had planned another trip to the Wald Hotel, but it was totally booked during that period. So I decided we’d visit Baiersbronn, which is a little Black Forest town known for its excellent restaurants. We loved visiting Baiersbronn when we lived near Stuttgart, so it made sense to go stay in the area for a few days, see the doc, and eat some really excellent food for a few days.

A few weeks ago, Bill reminded me that it was time to see the dentist again. We had appointments for March 2. I thought maybe I’d find us a little rental home or a cute hotel in a different part of the Black Forest, since we had so much fun in August. There are still so many places we’d like to see there. But then I noticed how strict the COVID rules are, down in that part of Germany… and I realized that having been triple vaxxed and never venturing out much at all for months, I’m pretty damned sick of COVID rules.

Or, at least I’m sick of the super strict ones. Baden-Württemberg has been requiring people to use FFP2 masks, which I find very oppressive and obnoxious. I know… I know… they’re supposedly “better” masks, and all, but I still hate wearing them. I am not a rule breaker, but if I can go somewhere else where I don’t have to wear the fucking things, I’d prefer to do that.

I noticed as I searched for places in the Black Forest, I was also getting suggestions for Strasbourg, France, which is really close to the Black Forest. I didn’t really want to go to Strasbourg, though, because that was where we went during our last trip to France in February 2020. I enjoyed Strasbourg, but I wanted to go somewhere different, especially since the wine expo is set to go on at the end of March and we may end up going there for that. We haven’t yet decided if we will go.

It was at that point that I remembered Soufflenheim, which is a little French town known for its pottery. We have a few pieces from there that we bought in Ribeauville a few years ago, but we’d never actually been to the town itself. I realized that since it was just a little bit north of Strasbourg, it would be on the way back to Wiesbaden, anyway. And this would be a great chance for us to get pottery for ourselves, and Bill’s younger daughter, who is expecting a baby boy soon.

So I searched for a place in Soufflenheim, and soon noticed ads for a Michelin starred restaurant that also has four hotel rooms. Auberge au Boeuf is located in adorable Sessenheim, which is right next to Soufflenheim. A quick peek at the reviews on Google and Trip Advisor, as well as Booking.com, told me that this was a nice play to stay. Better yet, the cost of the room in France was about half of what I would have paid at the Wald Hotel, a nice hotel in a city I’ve been to many, many times, and will no doubt go to again at least once in the future… and probably more often than that. Maybe my next Wald Hotel visit should wait until I need a dental procedure.

Then I realized that France is not nearly as uptight about COVID-19 as Germany is… the latest rules changes in Germany notwithstanding. Those changed while we were away, plus I was booking before they were still being considered. I ran the idea of going to Sessenheim by Bill. Not surprisingly, he was all about it. The fact that the great German poet, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, spent so much time there clinched the deal. Bill and I are literature lovers, too… Bill is more so than I am, in spite of my English degree.

So I booked our room at Auberge au Boeuf for March 2-6. I also booked their restaurant for the third and fourth nights of our stay. I eagerly looked forward to the trip, as I warily watched Vladimir Putin’s increasing aggression toward Ukraine. I don’t normally do this for short trips that don’t involve flights or cruise ships, but I was nervous enough about Putin that I even booked travel insurance in case Bill had to cancel and go to work. Fortunately, that didn’t happen, and now I have lots to report!

Stay tuned for my latest multi-part series about the many wonders of France! Boy, was it great to be back there! But first, it’s time for lunch.

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dogs, France, German culture, Germany, road trips

Art in Breckenheim…

We’re leaving tomorrow for our Stuttgart dental/edge of France odyssey… I am looking forward to seeing some new things, even if it does mean wearing a fucking face mask for a few days. Hopefully, the dental visit will go okay.

In the meantime, I got some pretty photos from some children’s artwork that was put up in our little village over the weekend… I’m not sure what the occasion was, but it was nice to see these pictures done by the local tykes. (ETA: Our local Facebook group announced that this was a contest. Winners were announced today.). Maybe it has to do with Carnival. I remember how, a couple of years ago, we got mooned by a drunken kid who was celebrating Fasching. That was before the COVID-19 nightmare, though.

For the love of God, get vaccinated!

The other day, we ran into some kids from the local elementary school, dressed in their Fasching costumes. One little girl asked if she could pet Noyzi, who was obviously wanting to say “hi”, but still too shy to stand still for a pat on the head. He’ll get there. I’m continually amazed by how sweet and kind Noyzi is, in spite of his humble beginnings. He loves people, and other dogs… He even loves Arran. I have noticed how kind and considerate he is to the old man, even though Arran is cranky towards him.

Speaking of the dogs, they are now wanting to be walked, and only being somewhat patient. So I will wrap this up and get on my way. Stay tuned for some honest to God new fresh content on this blog VERY soon! I can’t wait!

ETA: Here are a couple more photos…

It’s so nice to see sunshine again.
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dental, trip planning

A dental appointment means we finally have actual travel plans!

On March 2, 2022, Bill and I have an appointment to go to Stuttgart to see our dentist, the venerable Dr. Blair. It’s time for our cleanings, which we forewent for two years before we finally went to see him last August. Some readers may remember that we combined our last trip to Stuttgart with a visit to the Black Forest.

We went to the Black Forest for a few reasons. First, our usual go-to hotel in Stuttgart, the Wald Hotel, was fully booked when we needed a room. Second, it occurred to me that we’ve been to Stuttgart enough times that it’s no longer a very exciting place for us to be, even though we both love staying at the Wald Hotel. Third, we used to live at the edge of the Black Forest, and went there many times for day trips. We loved going there, and I thought it might be fun to stay a few days. And finally, it was a great opportunity to spend a long weekend in Baiersbronn, where there are several excellent Michelin starred restaurants. It beat hanging out in Stuttgart, where we’ve been many times.

Well, we did have fun in Baiersbronn last August. It was so much fun that I thought maybe we’d go back to the Black Forest and stay in another area we visited for a day and loved. I looked at visiting both Oppenau and Wolfach, both picturesque places that are in different parts of the Black Forest. But then I read about the strict COVID-19 requirements in Baden-Württemberg and decided that it wouldn’t be that much fun to hang out in a hotel, or even a guest house, dealing with those rules. Plus, I just want to get out of Germany for a few days, since we have that capability. When I searched for properties in Oppenau, I noticed that I was also getting results for Strasbourg, France. I didn’t want to go to Strasbourg, though. Our last trip to France was to Strasbourg, exactly two years ago this month. February is usually when Strasbourg hosts an annual wine expo. Last year, it was canceled. This year, it was postponed until late March.

Then it occurred to me that we’ve never been to Soufflenheim, which is a town near the German border, famous for its pottery. I went looking for a place to stay in Soufflenheim, and noticed that one of the choices was a small hotel in nearby Sessenheim, which is known for a museum dedicated to the German poet, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The hotel, Auberge au Boeuf, has a restaurant by the same name with a Michelin star. The place gets rave reviews, especially for the food, but also for the rooms. They had one room open for the time we were visiting. It would cost substantially less than the room I was thinking of booking at the Wald Hotel in Stuttgart, and, as it’s just inside the French border, does not impose the same onerous COVID rules and restrictions that Baden-Württemberg currently has.

It’s not so much that I’m an anti-vaxxer, or anything. I have been triple vaxxed, and I wear masks when I have to. But I HATE the FFP2 masks with a passion, and while they could be required in France, at least if we go there, it’ll be a change of scenery. At this writing, masks and vaccines are required in France, but they have done away with the rule requiring people to wear masks outside, and it’s my understanding that a simple medical mask will do. And we have MISSED France so much! Bill and I didn’t visit France much when we were here the first time, from 2007-09, but this time, we have gone a bunch of times. We have come to love it. It’s almost like a second home, since it’s not far from where we lived near Stuttgart, nor is it that far from Wiesbaden.

Yesterday, I made reservations at the hotel’s restaurant for dinner on Friday AND Saturday nights during our visit. It looks that special. Also, Bill and I have been to Alsace enough times to know that it pays to make reservations. Otherwise, you could end up having a really terrible time at a poorly rated restaurant where the waiter asks you if you’re pregnant. Of course, that happened to me in October 2014, when I still colored my hair and wasn’t as nearly close to menopause as I am today. It’s doubtful that would happen to me in 2022, even though my face is still pretty smooth and, in fact, still occasionally has zits. Thanks, hormones. On another note, damn, we have really been here a LONG time.

I think we’ll have a great time in France. I suspect Noyzi will be delighted to visit the Hunde Pension again. Arran will be annoyed, but it’s only for four nights. Then, we’ll come home, and he’ll be pampered again. Poor guy used to love going to France with us, when we still had Zane, and it was easier to travel with the dogs. Noyzi is a good traveler, but he’s huge, and takes up the whole back compartment of the car. And hotels and rentals aren’t as keen to rent to people with big dogs… although I’ll bet Yannick in Ribeauville would be cool with it. We’ve stayed at his place many times; the latest was in January 2020. Alsace never gets old, but we do want to see other areas than Riquewihr and Ribeauville, and the like. Sessenheim is also a little closer to Nancy, where we visited in 2009. Maybe we can go there on this trip. Nancy is a beautiful city. It’s about a two hour drive from where we’ll be staying, but what the hell? We have no agenda, other than eating at the hotel twice. Based on what I’ve read, we could end up eating there even more times.

I’m looking forward to our trip. Hopefully, nothing will fuck it up for us. That includes anything that happens because of Putin.

Moving on…

We didn’t do anything special yesterday, except for use our new fondue/raclette grill. I got a few photos. It really is fun to use this grill, and it offers a nice change of pace at dinner. Bill is quite the gourmand.

And then, this morning, Bill decided to get doughnuts from our neighborhood bakery again, like he did last week. I think it’s because we finally have some Peet’s Major Dickason’s coffee to drink. We’re big fans.

The heart shaped Valentine’s doughnuts were especially yummy! Raspberry! And sweeter than usual. No, we didn’t eat them all. I look forward to a snack later, or maybe breakfast tomorrow.

So things are looking up. It’s nice to look forward to a dentist appointment. I think we’ll have a great time in France. Knock on wood, nothing will screw this up… I’m looking at you, Russian dictator wannabe Putin. I think the Georgians sang it best…

Hear us?
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Switzerland

Our time in Die Schweiz was definitely not Scheißig… part one

A couple of weeks ago, Bill tried to get us dentist appointments in Stuttgart. Why Stuttgart, and not Wiesbaden? Because we both love our Stuttgart dentist’s work and, even after almost three years in Wiesbaden, we haven’t found a new dentist yet. Although Stuttgart is a couple of hours away by train, when we moved here at the end of 2018, we had visions of coming back down there at regular intervals. And then COVID-19 struck. We haven’t seen Dr. Blair since May 2019, and we won’t see him until the end of August, because he’s booked for the rest of this month and, like so many locals, is taking vacation through most of August.

But Bill still had the days off, so he asked me to plan a short trip. I queried my Facebook friends for ideas. My caveats were that the suggested places had to be somewhat nearby, because I don’t want to fly anywhere unless I absolutely must. I also didn’t want to go anywhere where COVID-19 was on the rise. I’m stressed out enough as it is, even though I’m fully vaccinated with the Moderna shots as of last month.

Bill has been seeing an online Jungian therapist for the past few months. He’s doing so because I’ve been telling him for years that therapy is a great thing, but also because he is fascinated by Carl G. Jung. Bill’s therapist is American and based in Berlin. The guy has a background in art therapy, which also really interests Bill and fits right in with Jung, since Jung was an artist, as well as a great thinker and psychologist. Our friend Meg, who made it possible for us to adopt our Kosovar rescue dog, Noyzi, also has an interest in Jung and has been studying him. It was she who suggested that we visit Küsnacht, which is where Carl Jung’s house and museum is located.

It occurred to me that Bill and I had never actually visited Zürich before this past weekend. We’d only been to its, admittedly superb, airport. When we lived near Stuttgart, we lived pretty close to the city and could have gone there with ease. For that reason, it always lost out to other, more “exciting” cities. Also, I’d heard that Zürich wasn’t that interesting compared to some other places we’ve been. Of course, now that we’re living in Wiesbaden, Zürich is a little more exotic. I decided to see what kind of hotels were available in Zürich and found one that is in a building that used to be a brewery. When I read that it was also connected to a Thermalbad, I was sold! I booked four nights at the B2 Boutique Hotel, located in the Enge area of the city.

An artsy photo of Lake Zürich. I took this with my digital camera, rather than my usual iPhone or iPad.

Then it turned out that Bill had actually only wanted me to book three nights. We were starting our trip on Thursday, because he’d been trying to get dental appointments for us. When he failed to get them for the time he’d arranged to be off work, he decided to just take Thursday and Friday off instead of his usual Friday and Monday. I misunderstood him, though, and booked four nights instead of three. Bill was a little pissy about it at first, but then I reminded him of all the things we could see and the fact that we haven’t traveled in so long because of COVID-19. He relented, and got today off from work. That turned out to be a good decision, which I’m sure will become clear as I write about this trip.

In the end, I wasn’t surprised that I chose Switzerland for this trip. I’ve had Switzerland on the brain for some time now. For years, I’ve felt kind of “meh” about the beautiful neutral country, mainly because it’s so expensive and always seemed a bit sterile to me. But last year, we took our vacation to Austria, Italy, and Switzerland. We had a great time in Austria, and a decent time in Italy (marred by too many rambunctious kids at our hotel), but Switzerland turned out to be a healing balm to us after four hectic nights at the nice, but noisy and busy Italian property. I was able to rest in Switzerland… enjoy peace and quiet and good food, as well as an excellent spa at the Oberwaid in St. Gallen. I have noticed that Switzerland does spa retreats well.

I was definitely eager to go back to Switzerland, even if it meant we’d be spending more money than usual for our long weekend break. What the hell, anyway? Prior to this past weekend, we hadn’t done any decent traveling in a long time. We might as well spend some money and have some laughs and big fun. As it turned out, we even spent less than I feared we would.

So I’m going to write up my usual blow by blow account of our trip to Die Schweiz, as the Germans like to call it. I expect this series will run at least six or seven parts, depending on how I split up the story. We had a really nice time, and got some much needed rest and relaxation. Now it’s time to get back to work… and reality. Luckily for me, part of my “life’s work” is writing this blog. 😉

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France

“Looking for trouble” on President’s Day weekend in Robert-Espagne, France… part two

As I mentioned in part one, Robert-Espagne is in a rural area.  We passed some pretty country on the way there, as well as the larger town of Bar le Duc, which is about 12 kilometers from Robert-Espagne.  If we’d had another day, I would have liked to have walked around Bar le Duc.  It looked like a pleasant city.  As it was, we probably should have stopped there, if only to escape the late afternoon sun’s glare, which was blinding both of us.  We could have also sampled “Bar le Duc Jelly”, which is a preserves made of white currant or red currant fruit preserves.

Welcome to France!

 

We saw lots of wind farms and wide open fields, where battles were fought over one hundred years ago…

And we saw Spock selling McDonald’s french fries…

I took this picture in downtown Bar le Duc, because it reminded me of downtown Farmville, Virginia, where I went to college. Of course, it’s a French version of that town.  One of my college friends agreed with me.

 

On Friday night, we were a little too tired to go hunting for a restaurant.  There is a hotel in Robert-Espagne and it does have a restaurant, but we didn’t try it.  In retrospect, maybe we should have.  Bill ended up walking to a convenience store near the house, where he picked up some wine, chocolate, bread, and a couple of other things.  There’s a bakery and a butcher in the neighborhood, besides the tiny convenience store, but that’s about it.

We got a good night’s sleep, since this house is equipped with very comfortable beds.  In fact, I was surprised by how good the mattress was.

The next morning, we had beautiful, spring-like, sunny weather with really nice temperatures.  Bill walked to the bakery and brought back the most delicious croissants ever!  I would go to France if only to eat croissants.  No one else comes close to making them the way the French do.  I hope we remembered to bring the leftovers.  I wanted Bill to get more this morning, but today was the bakery’s “Ruhetag”.  Bummer.

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Uncategorized

“Looking for trouble” on President’s Day weekend in Robert-Espagne, France… part one

A couple of weeks ago, probably between Bill’s two most recent TDY trips, I asked him if he’d like to take a trip over the long President’s Day weekend.  He said sure.  Off I went to Booking.com, my trusty source for pet friendly accommodations.  Next weekend, we have plans to visit a new Hunde pension, so maybe we can take a few more petless trips.  But, for now, Zane and Arran have to come with us when we leave town, so pet friendly digs are important.

I had originally wanted to go to the Czech Republic, like we did last year.  I found a really nice looking and pet friendly apartment near Chodova Plana, which is where Chodovar Brewery and Beer Spa is.  But the apartment I wanted to book was not available for President’s Day weekend.  It’s a shame, too, because we went to Chodovar for President’s Day weekend in 2009– ten years ago– and it would have been fun to go back this year.  They have done a lot of renovating since 2009, but it’s still cheap.  When we went in 2009, we stayed in the hotel at the brewery, but though the hotel is pet friendly, Zane and Arran are not hotel friendly.

Since the apartment near Chodovar wasn’t available, I went back to my list of saved properties.  When we were still living near Stuttgart, I saved a bunch of pet friendly accommodations that ticked all or most of the boxes of what I look for when I look for pet friendly places.

Luckily, we’ve found plenty of places where our dogs are welcome.  Our visit to rural Robert-Espagne, France was very pet friendly, as we booked the weekend at the charming, historic Maison Qui s’y frotte s’y pique, a house that was built in 1920.  The owners, Alexandre and Stephanie, bought the house about a year ago and renovated it with a new kitchen, bathroom, and electric shutters.  It now boasts mixture of old world charm and modern convenience.

I was a little hesitant to book at first.  For one thing, the rates for this house are dirt cheap.  Sometimes, when you get dirt cheap rentals, you get everything you paid for and less.  For another thing, I wasn’t sure what there was to do in the area.  I think I found it when I was looking for rentals near the Champagne region, but Robert-Espagne isn’t super close to Champagne, nor is it that close to Lorraine.  It really is in “the real France“… as in, it’s not really a tourist friendly area.  However, if your goal is to experience France, away from your American countrymen, it’s not a bad place to be.  And if you want to walk your dog out in nature, go kayaking, or visit historic sites from World War I, it’s also a good bet.

We planned to do none of those things… I just wanted a change of scenery and maybe the chance to pick up some champagne.  I had read there was a small vintner near Robert-Espagne that offered tastings and tours.  I also looked forward to good food and people watching.  We did manage to have a couple of meals and we have six new bottles of champagne.  I got some pictures, too, although our plans to do a lot were a bit thwarted because we were distracted by an issue that came up just after our arrival at our rental house.

Speaking of the house, here are a few photos…

The outside of the house.  “Qui s’y frotte s’y pique” is a saying that translates to “If you go looking for trouble, you’ll find it.”  Come to think of it, that sounds like the story of my life.

 

On our way to the this house, I got a message from Alexandre, the owner, who asked in French that we call his parents when we were two hours out from our arrival.  Neither Bill nor I ever studied French, but it wasn’t too hard to figure out his request.  His parents live two doors down from the rental home, and they are super nice people.  However, they really speak very little to no English.  It wasn’t a big problem.  We basically understood what they said.  Alexandre’s mom speaks a little English and Alexandre, who is a captain in the French Army, speaks a tiny bit more.  He visited yesterday, since he is based near Strasbourg.  He and Bill bonded over being soldiers.  Alexandre has been to both Iraq and Afghanistan and he said he was very impressed by the dining facilities on the American bases.

The stairs were very old fashioned and creaky!  The floors are wood or tile.

One of the bedrooms.  We didn’t use this one and kept the door shut after I shooed Zane off the bed.  Incidentally, the owners prefer that animals stay on the first floor.

The other bedroom.  Both rooms have flat screen TVs and schranks.

 

Upstairs bathroom.  It has a generous sized tub and a shower, and everything is brand new.

 

The downstairs toilet.  It doesn’t have a sink…

 

But it does have a rainfall shower.  We didn’t use it because it wasn’t convenient.

 

The living/dining room.  It has a table for six, a couch, television, and two chairs.  We put our own towels on the furniture, since Zane and Arran are couch potatoes.

 

We got a kick out of the owners 45s.  He had a bunch of 80s era pop music, some of which was from the US and some from France.  I was impressed to see that he had a turntable equipped with a CD player.  It looked like it would also accommodate an MP3 player, although I just used my laptop.  WiFi is free.

Very nice kitchen with a striking tile floor.  It has an induction stove top, a huge fridge, dishwasher, and most everything else you’d need.

Smoking is not allowed in the house, but you are allowed to smoke on the porch.  We don’t smoke, so this wasn’t a concern for us.

You can also play foozeball…

Grill out… or play darts.  The dartboard is on the wall next to the grill.

For three nights, I paid 180 euros (175.50 for the house and 4.50 in taxes)…  I think it’s a steal.  If this looks good to you, you can find this property listed here on Booking.com.  Or, you can just search for Robert-Espagne.  I think it’s the only property available in that area.

ETA: As of 2020, pets are no longer allowed.

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The Netherlands

We went Dutch for MLK weekend 2019! Part two.

 

Off to the Netherlands!

I had let our hostess, Nel, know that we would be arriving sometime between four o’clock and five, since we needed to check our APO box on post.  Bill is going to be out of town for the rest of the week and I can’t be arsed to go to Clay Kaserne to check the mail.  I don’t even have the combination to our mailbox.  That turned out to be a good plan anyway, since we had a few chores to do before we could head for the Autobahn.  From Wiesbaden, Viljen is about a three hour drive, but most of it is on high speed highways.  And unlike Stuttgart, it appears the the Autobahn up here is pretty well appointed.  There are probably more people here than down there, but traffic isn’t as bad.

We had a mostly uneventful, yet beautiful, drive to the Netherlands.  Here are a few pictures I took on the way.

As we got closer to Aachen, I noticed these signs on the side of the Autobahn.  They were names of trees and years.  My German friend explained that they are “trees of the year“.  The count started in 1989 and every year, a new tree and year is erected.  On the Autobahn, you can see the signs from 1989 to 2014, although I saw no evidence of actual trees planted there.  However, they are planted at the Berlin Zoo.  Since 2010, a German “tree queen” is also elected to represent the project.


Another tree…

 

I also noticed this interesting truck, which had artistic depictions of the Crusades painted on it…  

The art was pretty cool looking, although I wouldn’t be surprised if some people were distracted enough to have a wreck at the sight of it.

We stopped here for a little late lunch.  This rest stop has a Nordsee, which had pretty good food.  Since we had the dogs with us, we ate in the car.

I always enjoy the reading material on the stall doors in German rest stops.  They’ll let you charge your phone, but you still have to pay 70 cents to pee.

Thanks for being there, Serways.

We arrived in the Netherlands at about 3:40pm and arrived at our apartment less than 20 minutes later.  Our hostess was waiting for us.

I like how some places have a canopy of trees formed by lines of them on either side of the road.

 

Pretty country on the way in, with rolling hills…  this is the most “mountainous” part of flat Netherlands.

One of the reasons I like border towns is that you can see how countries change.  You cross the border and the signs change, the language changes, and the laws change.  In the Netherlands, I noticed a difference in architecture, with many brick buildings and painted shutters.  And yet we were really just minutes away from Germany.

I remember enjoying our first trip to the Netherlands in 2015 and wanting to go back there, but it was so much easier to go to France from Stuttgart.  Now that we’re in Wiesbaden, I predict a lot more trips to Benelux, where the beer and the chocolate is better.

Below are some photos of our accommodations, which were very reasonably priced.  I paid just 336 euros for three nights in this two room apartment in rolling farmland.  We also paid 9 euros taxes in cash on the way out today.

The living room area… note the very steep stairs.  Our dogs had a little trouble with them at first, but then got used to them.  The bathroom is on the first floor, which makes our middle of the night pees a little less fun.  We left a light on in the living room for safety, although there is a hall light, too.

A washing machine, but no dryer.

The master bedroom has what I presume was a queen sized bed.  This room also has a TV.

These are two twins pushed together, I think.  There is no TV in this room.

Steep!

It’s a little like climbing a ladder.

The dining area is adjacent to the living room and kitchen.  It does not have a traditional oven, but there is a microwave that has a convection setting.  There’s also a dishwasher.

Another view of the bedroom.  It was a bit chilly during our visit, but the bed linens were warm enough.

 

There is a TV in the living room and a broken DVD player.  The are also a few board games like Rummikub and Yahtzee.

This was a hit at our family reunions when I was growing up.  Nice to know the Dutch like it too.

 

But probably my favorite part about the accommodations was the big fenced in paddock.  Our dogs were welcome to run around in the paddock to their hearts’ content.  They were also allowed to play with Nel’s dog, Yogi, an adorable Shiba Inu.  These Japanese dogs look just like foxes and are bred to hunt birds.  Yogi is just eight months old at this writing and she had a good time getting my 9 and 10 year old dogs to play with her.

Nel also has chickens, which were kept very safe from the dogs and foxes, and she offers boarding for two horses who made Zane and Arran bark.  In warmer weather, we could have walked a route around town, stopping at different restaurants and bars for refreshment every few kilometers.

We decided to stay in on Friday night after Bill made a quick run to the grocery store.  After a good first night’s sleep, we did some exploring on Saturday.  More on that in the next post.

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Uncategorized

We went Dutch for MLK weekend 2019! Part one.

One of the best things about living in Germany is being able to access so many great countries so easily.  When we lived near Stuttgart, it was super easy to get to France and Switzerland.  Now that we live in Hesse, we live much closer to BeNeLux… that is, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.

It’s our habit to take quick trips over holiday weekends and, boy, was I ready for a trip.  We hadn’t had a good one since September, when we visited beautiful Lesa, Italy on Lake Maggiore.  Although we’ve had long weekends since September, we spent Columbus Day weekend house hunting in our new town of Wiesbaden.  We spent Veteran’s Day weekend celebrating our anniversary in beautiful Baden-Baden.  We had good times on both of those trips, but sometimes I just need a break from Germany.  Fortunately, it’s easy to cross borders in Europe.

A couple of days before Christmas 2018, I started looking for places to go over Martin Luther King weekend.  I went on Booking.com and started looking at my list of bookmarked places.  Bill and I narrowed our choices down to two– the Netherlands or the Czech Republic.  We flipped a two euro coin and the Netherlands won.

We haven’t yet found a local boarding facility for our dogs, nor have we found our local vet, although we do have ideas for both.  We decided this time, as usual, to bring our dogs, Zane and Arran, with us.  Wherever we went would have to accommodate the dogs.  As I’ve mentioned before, when I look for rental houses or apartments, I look for places that don’t charge extra for dogs.  I’ve found that people who don’t charge pet fees tend to be much more laid back about the dogs and welcome them, rather than simply tolerate them.

I had been curious about the eastern Dutch city of Maastricht, especially since it’s not too far from where we live.  Adding in all of my other criteria, I ended up finding very dog friendly accommodations in a little hamlet called Vijlen, which is just fifteen kilometers from Maastricht and only a few kilometers from the German city of Aachen.

The apartment I found in Vijlen, which is connected to the hostess’s house, is called Hoeve Nelderhof.  It’s within walking distance to the St. Martinus boutique winery, as well as the city of Vaals, which is very close to the highest point in the Netherlands as well as the three country border of Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands!  I love booking trips near border towns, too.  You get more bang for your travel buck when you can access two or more countries.  Vijlen offers access to three!

I had good feelings about our hostess when I let her know we were coming with two beagles.  Her response was that we’d be very welcome.  And indeed, she made it so.  We had a great time in Vijlen, although the weekend was a little too short.  If you’re searching for a dog friendly place to visit, I hope you’ll come along with me on this multi-part series.  As usual, I’m going to start at the beginning and will include links at the bottom of each post.

Cute shoes!

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