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

In part three, I tried to tell you about visiting Haguenau. Unfortunately, the software for this blog is wonky, and messes up my photos. I have to wait until I’m finished writing before I can upload them, because they slow down my typing so much. And then, if I try to upload a big batch, the whole thing turns to shit. It really irritates me, since I actually pay for WordPress. Blogger, back in the day, was a lot easier to use, even with its issues. Anyway, I’ll see what I can do with this post. I hope I don’t have to write many little sections, because people get bored and don’t always finish the series. There’s no point in writing this stuff if people don’t want to read it. So… with that written, on with part four.

Hagenau has a lot of sites for those who want to take them in. We were just there for a few hours, mainly just to get a feel for the city and have some lunch. The weather was sunny and chilly, but after so many weeks of rain and clouds, it was great to see the sun. One thing we did do, though, was visit St. George’s Church, a gorgeous and very old Roman Catholic parish church that dates from 1143. Every time I visit one of these old churches, I’m amazed by what human beings were able to do hundreds of years ago, without the benefit of modern equipment. Wikipedia tells me that St. George’s Church recalls the architecture of Hirsau Abbey a Benedictine abbey in Calw, very near our old stomping grounds in Germany.

We didn’t spend much time in the church. We were in there just long enough for Bill to light a candle for his dad, and for me to take some photos. I am grateful, though, that churches in France are open for visitors. I always think about how welcoming European churches are… Tourists are allowed to come in and look around at the beautiful stained glass windows and architecture. The same is very rarely true in the United States. I mean, I don’t recall anyone coming to the church I was raised in and wandering around like we do in Europe… except, of course, on Sundays.

We also got a look at the ancient water mill downtown, as well as the facade of the tourism office and museum, which was originally the chancellery. It has a clock that reminded Bill and me of the famous astronomical clock in Prague. The clock for the tourism office is actually a copy of the one in Ulm, which was built in 1581 by a Swiss man named Isaac Habrecht. We have been to Ulm, but it was several years ago with our dogs in tow. I’m now thinking we should visit again, sans dogs.

We stopped in Le Comptoir de Mathilde, a gourmet/chocolate shop and did some shopping for Bill’s daughter, who is intrigued by our travels. We picked up some spices and chocolate, as well as some jam and caramels for ourselves. That Slovenian jam we bought in the fall is finally running out. We took the gifts back to the super cheap parking garage.

After we walked around the town, we searched for lunch and found it Restaurant Côté Sud. I had rejected another place nearby, because it looked to be too full of people. I don’t like crowded restaurants even when there aren’t viruses around. We were lucky to find this Moroccan place, especially since it satisfied Bill’s love of exotic food, AND we were able to find something I liked, too!

After we showed the waitress our COVPass, we were allowed to unmask and enjoy the wonderful flavors of Morocco, a place I hope to visit someday. My sister, Betsy, lived there for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer back in the 80s. She probably has more of an appreciation for cous cous than I ever will, but I will admit to loving tajines. I even managed to get a short video to show everyone how hot and delicious my chicken tajine was. It came with a side of cous cous, and included potatoes, carrots, prunes, and lots of peas. It was delicious and filling, and pretty much took care of my food needs for the rest of the day.

Bill had cous cous with beef sausages. It came with a stew made with carrots, chickpeas, potatoes, zucchini, and coriander. I think Bill impressed the very friendly and exotic looking waitress when he said “yes” to harissa. I tried a little of it and it was too spicy for me. Must be all that Scottish and English ancestry I have. 😉

I could tell the chef took a lot of pride in his work. He came out to wish us “Bon Appetit”… and I also noticed that the restaurant seems to have plenty of regulars. I can see why!

After lunch, we decided to go back to the hotel, stopping in Soufflenheim on the way, to pick up some pottery for Bill’s daughter and ourselves. We don’t really have a place to put the pottery, but I can’t help myself. I’ve been shopping deprived too long. 😉 We picked up a kugelhopf mold and backoeffa dish for her, in the requested shade of yellow. I got lots of blue stuff for me. 😉

Then, after we shopped, we were a bit tired. We decided to try out the sauna and jacuzzi in our room. My parents used to have a jacuzzi, so I sort of understood how that worked, although it was still a little confusing. The jacuzzi had lights, as well as well worn controls that were hard to read. The sauna’s directions were posted in French on the back of a closet door. We managed to figure them out eventually, and it was fun to try it out in lieu of going out to dinner. Luckily, there is an Aldi nearby, where Bill scored snacks and wine, and we watched French reality TV…


Karim’s Brasserie for New Year’s Eve!

Well, we made it. 2020 is over. We had a pretty typical New Year’s Eve, except we didn’t have as many fireworks. One thing we did this year that we don’t usually do was order dinner. As a matter of fact, in 2020, we ordered takeout on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. It’s not unusual for us to dine out on Thanksgiving, but we usually cook on the other days. This year, we decided we preferred to help out the local restaurants and spare ourselves from cooking and cleaning.

For New Year’s Eve, we went a bit more casual and didn’t break out the china. Karim’s Brasserie, a Moroccan restaurant in Wiesbaden, was offering a New Year’s Eve menu. They had a couple of options available– chicken or lamb. Bill likes lamb, but I don’t, so we went with chicken. For 36,50 per person, we could eat for days. Seriously, they really loaded us up with great food! Here are some photos!

We started at about 7:00pm with the appetizers. I was, of course, very familiar with the hummus, since we are big fans of it. Karim’s version was very light and creamy, yet delicately flavorful. The Zaalouk, otherwise known as Moroccan eggplant salad, was a nice change of pace for us, since we rarely eat eggplant. Neither Bill nor I are big fans of eggplant, but this was pretty good. Bill loved the Moroccan carrot salad, which was slightly sweet and offered a contrast to the spicy M’hammara, paprika cream with pomegranate syrup and walnuts. Bill especially loved the M’hammara. He likes spicy foods. The Laban by Khyar was basically a Moroccan version of t’zaziki. It consists of yogurt, cucumbers, and mint.

The chicken was delicious! It was very tender and juicy, and fell right off the bone! It was such a pleasure to try it prepared in a different way. There was a time when Bill wouldn’t eat apricots because they are supposedly bad luck for “tankers”, which is what Bill was when he was in the Army back in the early days. I love apricots, having gotten acquainted with them in Armenia, where they are very popular and delicious! They went so well with the chicken! Glad we have leftovers!

After a bit of time digesting, we tried the desserts– typically nutty and fruity, but not too sweet or heavy. It was a good way to end a fabulous New Year’s Eve repast. We will be grazing on the leftovers for days. I think we got a lot for our 73 euros. I look forward to the day when we can dine at restaurants again. Bill and I ate at Karim’s Brasserie once when we were moving to Wiesbaden and liked the food very much. We probably ought to go there more often, or at least get takeout. This was a great change of pace for us. I think it was my favorite of all three of our holiday takeout meals of 2020.

I learned about a German tradition yesterday when someone in the Pets of Wiesbaden Facebook group posted that they had come into possession of a female piglet who was wandering around Clay Kaserne, one of the two U.S. military installations in Wiesbaden. I had never heard this before, but apparently in Germany, it’s good luck to encounter a pig on New Year’s Eve. Typically, Germans give out pigs made of marzipan with a penny or a four leaf clover in its mouth. Alternatively, sometimes people put a freshly washed piglet in a basket and pass it around. Anyone who touches it will have good luck and a “happy year”.

I can’t be sure, but it sounds like the piglet who was found yesterday might have been intended to participate in this custom and somehow escaped. She was found on the Army post and advertised on Facebook, as none of the surrounding farms would claim her. Eventually her rescuers found her a farm to go to. I’m not absolutely sure, but it sounds like she’s headed to a sanctuary. I sure hope so, anyway. Anyway, a lot of people got a kick out of seeing her, and I learned something new. I’m sure the military police are now checking the fence around Clay Kaserne to see if there are any breeches. It’s more likely someone brought her on post, but it’s possible there’s a hole somewhere.

According to the link I shared earlier in this post, we violated German tradition by having chicken on New Year’s Eve. Evidently, it’s verboten to eat poultry in Germany, due to a very old superstition. However, people in the Rhein area apparently didn’t get the message, as a lot of people do eat goose on New Years’s. I am not in the habit of eating goose, anyway… but I never turn down chicken unless it’s prepared with the food I never eat– mushrooms.

Toward the end of the evening– later than he’d intended, since he’d forgotten– Bill called his mom and we visited on Skype. It was great to talk to her. I also chatted with a cousin. I probably should call my mom today, too.

Bill brought our landlords champagne and a bag of lentils, which are also considered good luck/good health promotion on New Year’s in Germany. We had a very short fireworks show that lasted about twenty minutes, since fireworks weren’t on sale this year due to COVID-19. It suited us fine, since Bill was struggling to stay awake. We also had some snow, although it was all melted by the time we got up today. It was kind of strange watching fireworks go off as it snowed. This morning, we slept in… it was the first time in a long time I woke up after sunrise!

So far, 2021 is off to a good start. I pray that it’s a better year than 2020 was! Happy New Year, everybody! Keep the faith, and stay healthy and sane!


Whirlwind trip to Wiesbaden– our quest to find new dog friendly digs… Part four

Once we had visited the two houses, we headed back to the hotel.  It was time to feed the dogs and Bill and I were both hungry ourselves, since Bill neglected to plan a time for lunch when he made our appointments with the prospective landlords.  I suppose we could have stopped for fast food on the way, but that’s usually an exercise in disappointment for us.  Not only is fast food really bad from a nutritional standpoint, we also usually end up with sandwiches that are drenched in condiments.  Neither of us are fans of tons of mayo or ketchup.  A little dab will do us… and really, I’d prefer to skip the mayo on a lot of things.

We were in luck, though, because the Town Hotel in Wiesbaden is surrounded by shopping and restaurants.  Besides our two breakfasts at the hotel, we had three other meals in Wiesbaden and all three were outstanding.  The first place we tried was Karim’s, a Moroccan restaurant just catty-cornered to the hotel.  The weather was perfect, so most of their terrace was reserved for dinner.  However, the very kind waiter let us have a two top as long as we’d be finished by 8:00pm.  No problem!  That gave us three hours.

Feast your eyes…

I got this photo yesterday morning.  During service hours, there are four large umbrellas up that provide shade.

I had the Mazza Arabica, a sampler plate of treats.  This vegetarian delight included falafel, hummus, m’hammara, tabouleh, laban bi khyar, batendjan makmour, and fennel salad.  Although there was no meat on this plate, I was pretty full by the time I’d eaten half of it.  It was delicious!  

And it came with a side of lavash.

Bill went with a lamb stew tajine that came with a saffron and cumin sauce and a side of saffron rice. I don’t like lamb, so I didn’t taste his dish, but he was raving about it.  It was also a very manageable size, which he appreciated.  We’ve never had bad Moroccan food before, but we have gone to a couple of places that serve huge portions!

Obligatory shot of Bill… you knew there had to be one.


This meal was reasonably priced.  My dish was 12,50 euros and Bill’s was 17,90.  We both had two rounds of beer and left feeling very satisfied.  Service was friendly, competent, and efficient.  I take it as a good sign when a place has so many reservations for dinner.  I look forward to eating at Karim’s again sometime.  Guess I’ll have to start a “good eats” list for Wiesbaden, now.


We’re liking Lyon….

Okay, so actually, we’re staying a little north of Lyon.  I looked for a reasonably priced hotel closer to central Lyon, but wasn’t so successful.  But it’s really okay, because our Best Western is perfectly fine  and not too expensive.  It’s also near a great Moroccan restaurant.  I happened to spot the restaurant as Bill and I were trying to find the hotel in the wind and rain.  It turned out we were so close…

Bill went the wrong way and we ended up consulting a map.  As we were looking, a lady who did not speak English tried very hard to help us.  She pointed out the tourism office, but it turned out we were close to the hotel.  We just went a couple of blocks in the wrong direction.

We checked in, then visited an Irish pub that served Belgian beers and played music from the 80s.  I was in heaven.  We came back to the room; Bill did homework and I took a three hour nap.  Afterwards, we had an amazing Moroccan dinner.

The train ride was interesting.  It was an older train with compartments… Plenty of space.  A young girl asked if she could sit with us.  We welcomed her.  When she left, she smiled and said goodbye.  Bill said he got the impression that maybe she sat with us so she wouldn’t be alone in a compartment and bothered by men.

France has been delightful…  I look forward to writing more in detail when we get back to Texas.