booze tourism

“Wining” away our Saturday in Wiesbaden…

A couple of weeks ago, one of Bill’s co-workers invited us to go to a wine tasting/market in Wiesbaden. She bought tickets for us, two of her other friends, and of course, herself. The event was held in the Colonnades near the Kurhaus in downtown Wiesbaden. To gain entry, we had prove we were fully vaccinated, but all other COVID related measures were dropped. We were supposed to be limited to two and a half hours, but fewer people showed up than were expected, so we could have stayed longer if we’d wanted to.

I really had a good time. I had forgotten how much fun these events are, even though I usually end up drinking too much. 😉 We met people representing wineries from around Germany, but there were also a couple of wineries from Italy and France in attendance. We also talked to a lady who runs a nut business out of Freudenstadt, which is very close to where we used to live when we were in the Stuttgart area. She had some really tasty cashews and other nuts that had complementary sweet and savory flavors. She also had salts, cheese breads, and granola.

We didn’t manage to hit every table. If we had, I would be in even worse shape this morning than I am… My liver really got a workout. But I did manage to get some photos. Lots of people were out and about, including a number of wedding parties. Springtime in Wiesbaden is a great time to see brides!

It’s so nice to have some normalcy again. I hope to enjoy it for as long as possible.

I enjoyed talking to some of the winery reps. One French lady bonded with us over a love for Georgian wines and the ancient way wines are made in the Caucasus. She said she did an internship in the Republic of Georgia, and since I lived in Armenia, we both knew about the region. ETA: It turns out the woman was actually from Germany, but she imports French wines. We found this out when Bill got the Rechnung!

Another winery was represented by the founder’s son, who said their winery was extremely tiny, with just one hectare of vines. Besides wines, they also made plum brandy and wineschorles (wine spritzers) that were refreshing. I think we came home with about 30 bottles!

I think we’ll take it easy today… enjoy the nice weather, and take care of some chores.

Here are a few shots of some of our neighborhood’s cutest residents. We ran into them on our walk the other day. Our neighborhood also has a bee feeding vending machine made from a repurposed gumball machine.

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farms, Germany, restaurant reviews, road trips, wine

A beautiful afternoon in Wiesbaden, preparing for our vacation!

We had beautiful weather in Wiesbaden yesterday, which was great, since it was Saturday. Bill wanted to visit the ADAC office downtown to pick up a vignette for Switzerland. I’ve written a few times about the vignette system that many European countries use to help pay for their high speed roads.

Some countries, like France and Italy, use tolls. Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic, among other countries, use “vignettes”, which are stickers one can buy at gas stations near borders, at ADAC, via mail order, or at the borders themselves, that entitle a person to drive on the roads. Swiss vignettes are unique in that they’re good for about fourteen months at a time, if you time it right. You can buy the vignette for the following year in the late fall– say late 2021– and it remains valid until the end of January 2023. But we didn’t buy our vignette at the end of last year, since we haven’t been in Switzerland since last summer.

When we go to a place that requires a vignette, Bill will usually get it ahead of time at ADAC. This also gave us a reason to go into town and have lunch. Wiesbaden was alive with people yesterday, folks enjoying the sun, running last minute errands before Easter, and just having a good time. Wiesbaden is so festive, especially at this time of year. I especially love the buskers– guys playing songs on guitar like “Ev’ry Rose Has its Thorn” (which I hated when it was popular) and guys playing “La Vie en Rose” on the accordion, which is a lot more European.

The weekend market was in full swing. I thought about doing some browsing, but then remembered that we’ll be going away soon. So instead of buying stuff, we just looked and I took some photos. Every time I start to think that living in Europe is getting too inconvenient, I’m reminded of why I love living over here. There’s always something going on, especially in a pretty, vibrant town like Wiesbaden.

I was planning to find us a nice place to eat lunch, but we ended up at Five Guys! Why go to Five Guys when we could have gone to any number of other places? Well, it was getting close to 2:00pm, which is when a lot of restaurants stop lunch service. Five Guys is quick and the restaurant was not busy. It had also been awhile since our last visit. I noticed that this week, even fewer people were wearing masks, although some folks were still abiding by the recently dropped COVID-19 rules. Five Guys still has the plastic barriers up around its booths, which I figure they’ll keep from now on, in case the rules come back… which they probably eventually will.

After lunch, we decided to go back to the Market Square and have a glass of wine as we watched the weekend market shut down. Below are a few photos from our day. After we were finished in Wiesbaden, we came back to home, stopping by a nearby Hofladen for some eggs for today’s Easter breakfast.

The farm has a little shack where you can pick up what you need and pay on your honor. I love that about Germany. We don’t have as many farms up here, as we did in Jettingen. This one is very close to our home in Breckenheim.

I hope everyone enjoys their Sunday… and if you celebrate Easter, I hope it’s a joyous celebration. I plan to finish my puzzle and read. Sounds like a usual day!

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

ETA: I had a real problem with uploading pictures for this post. The second set of photos is actually several galleries. If you notice “repeats” when you scroll through, just move to the next gallery.

Before we went to sleep the first night, we were visited by one of the restaurant staffers. She bore a slight resemblance to the actress Elisabeth Moss, who plays June on The Handmaid’s Tale. That was how we found out that our room had a doorbell! She came bearing fresh baked treats from the kitchen, which were scrumptious. She came to ask us about our breakfast preferences and reconfirm our reservations at the restaurant on Friday and Saturday nights.

The breakfast at Auberge au Boeuf was absolutely something to behold. But as it was our first time visiting, we didn’t know what to expect and we were decidedly overfed on the first morning. The lady from the restaurant asked us what we wanted from the list of offerings, which included boiled eggs, ham, fruit salad, cheese, smoked fish, juice, coffee, tea, yogurt, jam, butter, Museli, and fresh baked pastries and bread. This breakfast, which costs 12 euros per person, is served “family style”. But we didn’t know that on Wednesday night, when we were asked when we wanted to eat, and whether we wanted breakfast at the big “Stammtisch” table, or in our room. So, we ordered two of some things, not knowing how big the portions were.

The next morning at 8:00am sharp, a tiny lady who spoke French and German brought out tons of food for us… two servings of the things we both liked. I will admit, we were able to eat a lot of it, but some things went to waste. We had two big trays of smoked fish, two big trays of ham and salami, two of three kinds of pastries, and two butters… I was grateful we were the only ones eating at 8:00am, which is when breakfast starts. It was embarrassing to get that much food! We noticed a couple who ate later got less food. Now, we know better.

However… I must admit that the breakfast at Auberge au Boeuf was one of the best I have ever had anywhere. And, at twelve euros per person, it was very reasonably priced. The pastries alone were worth the price of admission, as it was obvious to me that they were very fresh and probably house made. They were exquisite! Below are some pictures from breakfast in the Stammtisch room.

The Stammtisch is something else I must mention. The restaurant offers less fancy and expensive meals at the big table in their gorgeous breakfast/dining room. We didn’t try the Stammtisch, since we didn’t know about it before we came and decided not to have dinner on Wednesday and Thursday nights. The food offered there is mostly beef and Alsatian– and looking at their menu, I might have had some issues with it, since there are many mushrooms! I see that the Stammtisch is offered for lunch and dinner on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. On the other hand, if we go back to that hotel, we may have to try it. The Stammtisch room has a very different vibe than the gourmet restaurant does. I think if I could have found something without fungus, I would have loved it.

The big “Stammtisch” table is made from a tree– in fact, I was blown away by how beautiful that room is. It looked like the plates, cups, saucers, and serving platters were all locally produced by a potter. They were very cool looking and original. They also have a cool wine cave, as well as a museum devoted to Goethe, that I didn’t see open during our visit.

After our first night at the hotel, we took a walk around the neighborhood. First, we passed a small market, where vendors were selling local produce, rotisserie chicken, and cheeses. I noticed that the hotel even had a kiosk set up, probably so people could pick up their catering orders. Patrons can order things via the restaurant’s Web site.

During our walk, I met a very sweet and social “European style” beagle who was super friendly and wanted to chat with us. He was so cute! I wanted to take him home with me, but I know if I bring another dog home, Arran will shit on my pillow! I have noticed that beagles are getting more popular in Europe, but they look a bit different than American beagles look. They’re a bit stockier, and have jaws that look kind of square. Whatever… I think they are adorable! Below are some scenes around Sessenheim.

We also saw some pygmy goats who were hanging out in someone’s yard, enjoying the nice weather. And we visited Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s memorial, which is open and free to the public. If we’d wanted to, we could have planned a day’s activities around Goethe. There’s actually a lot around Sessenheim and its environs about Goethe, who fell in love with Frederique Brion, a French woman from Sessenheim, when he was studying law in Strasbourg. Goethe immortalized her in his memoirs.

We strolled through the neighborhoods, noticing a couple of places for sale. I started talking to Bill about whether we should look for a house in France when he retires. I noticed how beautifully the gardens are kept there, including someone’s well tended kale plants. Dr. Blair, the dentist, used to practice in the Black Forest, and he said a lot of Germans buy homes in Alsace, because it’s supposedly cheaper. And, as we can attest, it’s more laid back, too.

After we took a walk, we made our way to Haguenau, which is a small, pleasant city known for pottery. There are museums, spas, and churches, and even a microbrewery there. The city is located near the famous Maginot Line, so it attracts people who are interested in “Remembrance Tourism”. There is also a lot of Jewish history in Haguenau. There’s even a museum dedicated to baggage in Haguenau! There are also some interesting looking restaurants, bars, and retail establishments. Since we’re still a bit COVID wary, we kept our activities outdoors, with the exception of visiting one cathedral, where Bill lit a candle for his father, who was a devout Catholic and died in 2020.

For lunch, we visited a tiny Moroccan restaurant called Restaurant Côté Sud. We lucked into finding this place, which offered a few French items like faux filet, as well as tajines, cous cous, and some intriguing salads. I’ll write more about Haguenau and our Moroccan lunch in the next post. Uploading photos is problematic for some reason.

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Sud Tyrol and beyond… part eight

Bumming around Bolzano…

Back in 2009, I spent about a week taking bus tours with Alpine Adventures, which provided services to guests at the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. For those who don’t know, Edelweiss is a special hotel that is only for people affiliated with the U.S. government or military. It’s a very nice and large facility located on the small military installation in Garmisch. We haven’t been back to Edelweiss since 2009, but I understand it’s serving even fewer people nowadays, thanks to German tax laws.

When Bill and I were in Germany with the Army, he was working for EUCOM and they frequently had conferences at the Edelweiss resort. I would tag along with him and go on tours with Alpine Adventures. Most of our trips were in the winter, which to be honest, was a much better time to go to Edelweiss because they were a lot fewer people there. But in June 2009, after our very first cruise (Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas– Oslo to Stockholm), Bill and I had to rush back to Germany so he could attend a weeklong conference at Edelweiss. I spent that week taking tours that took me to Innsbruck, Munich, Berchtesgaden, and Italy– namely Vipitano and Bolzano (otherwise known as Bozen). We went to Bolzano to see Ötzi, the Iceman, and to mill around the city for the day. We didn’t have a lot of time to spend in Bolzano. I remember eating lunch there and then getting back on the bus to go back to Germany, with a stop at a famous church to look at a ceiling painting.

I remember that week as interesting, yet frustrating. We had a very annoying tour guide who looked like an ancient version of Pippi Longstocking and, thanks to a chain smoking habit, had a voice like steel wool. She was obsessed with Stadls… (hay barns). Since she led most of the tours I took that week, I had to listen to her drone about the Stadls and Mad King Ludwig all week as I was forced to sit next to strangers on the packed buses.

Anyway, I had liked Bolzano, and wanted to visit again with Bill. But every time I tried to plan a trip there, something came up that made it impossible. That was why I had focused on Bolzano this time. By the way, it looks like Alpine Adventures has quit doing the Italy tours. I’m sure a lot of the tours they offered in 2009 are now defunct, thanks to COVID-19 and the need to socially distance.

On Thursday of last week, we decided to visit Bolzano, a city that is as Austrian/German as it is Italian, although I noticed more people speaking Italian when we were there. As we were driving into the city, the amber check engine light came on in the Volvo. Bill, who is not the handiest guy when it comes to cars, started to freak out a little. The Volvo is a 2020 model and should not be having engine problems of any kind. But after about twenty minutes of fretting, he figured out that whatever the problem was/is (the light comes on and goes off at random) is something that needs to be checked, but isn’t urgent. We spent the day walking around the city, which was even more charming than I remembered it.