blog news

Eight years of contractor life…

I’ve decided to add another entry to my “contractor life” series. Aspects of this story might seem insensitive. Please bear in mind that it’s simply my perspective, and I’m trying to be honest about my personal experiences over here. Other people’s mileages may vary. Also, this article mentions suicide, so please proceed with caution. The featured photo is our current house!

This morning, I noticed that someone hit some old posts I wrote when we last lived in Stuttgart. They were about “contractor life”. I had completely forgotten that I had written those posts, which were pretty popular when I was still using the Blogger platform. I think I meant to maintain that series, but then March 2020 hit, and we all know what happened with that. ūüėČ

My husband’s contractor life in Germany has continued, and now we’ve lived in Germany for eight years. A lot has happened over those years. Hell… I just look at old photos from August 2014, when we first moved back here, I realize that Bill and I both look different. I quit coloring my hair, for one thing. The hardness of German water turned it into straw when I used color, and I hate going to hairstylists. I’m sure this look would surprise people who last saw me stateside, back in 2014.

Last time I wrote one of these posts, we had just found out that Bill’s old job was being converted to a GS (government service) position. At that point, we didn’t yet know that Bill would be an attractive candidate in Wiesbaden. He waited to apply for the job, mainly because we thought we wanted to stay in Stuttgart. At the time, I was a bit trauma bonded– and I didn’t want to move‚ÄĒ for all the wrong reasons. Finally, one of his old bosses came to him and told him that the folks in Wiesbaden were actually WAITING for him to apply for the job, and had requested him, personally. He had pretty much all of the experience and skills they were looking for. At the same time, I finally had a epiphany one night when I was home alone. Although I had been resisting leaving, I actually wanted to leave Stuttgart.

Actually, it wasn’t so much that I wanted to leave Stuttgart, as I wanted to move out of our old house. For several reasons, our former landlady and I didn’t get along at all. Complicating matters was the fact that former landlady’s ex tenant, an American who was also her “friend”, was monitoring my blogs and apparently reporting back to the ex landlady.

It wasn’t so much that I was posting a lot of stuff about the ex landlady, per se, as that I would occasionally vent in the blog when she would upset me. She had a habit, for instance, of yelling at me in my own home and treating me like an especially slow-witted child. I really resented it. Moreover, the whole time, former tenant (then living in the USA) was occasionally leaving me comments, then dirty deleting them, after reminding me about the importance of maintaining her “privacy”. It made for a very toxic, stressful living situation, which all came to a head when my husband sued the ex landlady for illegally withholding over 80 percent of our deposit (legal insurance for the win, though– get it if you come here).

I liked our neighborhood, but I didn’t like the house. Even if our landlady didn’t have a habit of popping over unannounced, blaming me personally for things that weren’t my fault, and yelling at me for inconsequential things, it was a house without much charm or convenience. It had two things going for it– a nice view into the forest, and a relatively low rent (low for Germany, not the United States). Because we lived there for four years, and we got tax breaks from living abroad, we were able to retire a lot of debt, including my student loans (about $40,000 when we arrived in 2014, and completely paid off less than four years later).

Okay, I also liked the fact that the house was close to Nagold, which is a great little town on the edge of the Black Forest. But the town we lived in wasn’t that interesting, and it was far from where Bill worked. Living there meant long traffic jams and a hideous commute for Bill. And, although the house was badly in need of renovation, our ex landlady acted like we should be grateful to be “allowed” to live there, and willingly put up with her micromanagement and surveillance without any complaint. She also seemed to think we should allow her to use our money to upgrade the house. I figured it was time for her to harass someone else– although hopefully not anyone from the US military community. We did submit her name to the non referral list, along with the paperwork from the lawsuit that took about two years to settle.

I also found the local Facebook environment in Stuttgart to be a little too dramatic, and it was way too easy to get caught up in the drama myself. Stuttgart has a lot to offer, and we still love going down there to see our dentist. But I had made the mistake of getting involved in too many local Facebook groups, and that led to a lot of embarrassing adolescent toxicity that frankly, at my age, I don’t have time for anymore. A move to Wiesbaden meant I could divorce that drama somewhat and start anew.

So, one day in September 2018, when Bill came home from a business trip to Africa, I told him that I wanted him to take the job in Wiesbaden. He threw his hat in the ring, and after a very perfunctory phone interview, was offered the job. In late November 2018, we made the intra-Germany move to Wiesbaden. I did write a series about it, which you can find starting here.

The former tenant finally left me alone after the lawsuit with the ex landlady was settled, although I suspect that she was keeping an eye on me from afar (either by watching personally, or having “flying monkeys” do it). But she did finally quit monitoring me. I now know that this will be a permanent condition, because sadly, she took her own life a few months ago. Maybe it seems tasteless to mention this part of the story, but it IS part of the story, and a reminder that sometimes some crazy stuff can happen that you might never expect.

I don’t know why the former tenant took the actions she did. I had her blocked on Facebook, and did not go looking for information about her, because I wanted her to leave me alone. However, she had worked for the same company Bill does. Last spring, he noticed she was no longer on the email roster and wasn’t showing up in the GS system. So, at that point, I decided to unblock her on Facebook and look her up, because I wanted to make sure she wouldn’t be re-entering my life. That’s when I made the shocking discovery about her tragic suicide. The news was easy to find, as it was widely reported online. While I’m glad to know she’s permanently out of my life, I’m also genuinely sad for her friends and family. I’m even sorry for the former landlady, whom I know had held her in high esteem. I never would have expected this turn of events, either. It was truly a shock to find about it several months after it happened.

It’s hard to believe that we’re now coming up on four years in Wiesbaden. It’s been quite a ride. I will say that living here, in spite of COVID-19 and a few personal upheavals, has mostly been less stressful. For one thing, we have a much better house and landlord. Yes, it costs a lot more, but our landlord is much fairer and more respectful. He lives next door, but he leaves us alone. Our neighborhood is very friendly, and we don’t share walls with anyone. Many of our neighbors have dogs, too, so I worry less about them annoying people.

I only know a handful of people in the local military community, which is also, frankly, a plus for me. Again– less drama and less bullshit with people in the military community. Some people like being “popular” and are very extraverted. I’m not one of those people; I just like to write, and I like to be honest when I write. I did have a temporary setback with my blogs, because I felt forced to relocate them to WordPress. That was a real pain, mostly because it meant a lot of work reformatting the travel blog and starting over completely with the main blog. The upside is that I think the blogs are better quality now. I do have fewer readers, especially on this blog, but the ones who do read are of a better quality. I get fewer “drivebys”, and more people who are actually interested in the content, rather than stirring up shit and causing trouble.

Anyway, aside from the difficult and stressful divorce from our Stuttgart life, we’ve really enjoyed living in Wiesbaden. No, it’s not as picturesque as the Stuttgart area is, but Wiesbaden offers a lot of its own charms, and a very different culture. Personally, I think my husband gets treated better as a contractor in Wiesbaden. The US military’s footprint is smaller here, and the population in the military community is somewhat more mature. There’s less traffic and fewer traffic jams. And again, I mostly stay away from any military affiliated Facebook groups, except for the one I run. It’s a food and wine group, so there’s very little drama involved with that. I’ve found that people here tend to be somewhat friendlier, and if you like wine, Wiesbaden can’t be beat!

I’m especially grateful that we’ve been able to experience living in two areas of Germany. The last eight years have flown by, and we’ve been so fortunate to be able to see and do many exciting things, not just in Germany, but in Europe as a whole. So, if you’re reading this, and wondering if you should move to Germany, I would highly encourage you to give it serious consideration. Yes, there are some aggravations related to living over here. But, on the whole, I find living in Germany more interesting and fun than living in the United States. I especially love being away from the crazy political climate in the United States. The European lifestyle suits us and, once you get used to how things are done here, it’s not hard to be an expat in Germany. It’s also been very good for us financially speaking. The only problem is, now I don’t want to move back home. ūüėČ

I hope this latest installment is helpful. I know the current political difficulties in Europe will end up generating jobs, and that means that more Americans will probably consider making the move. If you have any questions, be sure to drop me a comment.

anecdotes, Germany, wine

We finally made it to another local wine stand!

Those of you who have been following this blog for awhile might remember that a couple of years ago, before the COVID-19 plague began, my currently adopted town of Breckenheim would have wine stands during the warmer months. Naturally, that tradition had to pause last year, as the threat of the coronavirus among unvaccinated people was too great. We didn’t have them for most of this year, either, and the local powers that be even dismantled the permanent kiosk that used to be set up in the Dorfplatz.

In August, the wine stands finally started again, although not with the same regularity that they were held in 2019. We had to miss the first one in August, because we were in the Black Forest visiting the dentist. ūüėČ They had another one two weeks ago, but I got sick with my cursed stomach bug and we couldn’t attend. Finally, last night, the stars aligned, and Bill and I managed to make it to the wine stand, located just down the hill from where we live.

I was wondering what the stand would be like in the COVID era. I brought my purse with me, just in case masks were required. As it turned out, they weren’t. I also thought to wear warmer shoes and a wrap, because I had a feeling it would get chilly as the sun set. Here are a few photos!

Last night’s wine stand turned out to be especially interesting. At one point, a lady came up to us and asked in German if she could sit down with the two adorable children with her. Bill answered in German. She continued speaking German, but Bill misunderstood her. She wanted to push in the bench so the kids wouldn’t get soup all over them. He thought she was just asking to sit down.

It turned out she was American, and had moved to Germany over forty years ago when her father was in the Air Force and stationed in Wiesbaden. She married a local and is now a very convincing German Oma to the two kids, who looked to be about 4 (boy) and 6 (girl) and were absolutely charming, with blond hair and blue eyes. They had these little bags of what looked like puffed rice cereal that they poured into the pumpkin soup. They reminded me of Trix, only they weren’t colorful. The American lady said they were salty. I had never seen them before, but I was curious. It looked like maybe she got them at a bakery. I’m not sure they were puffed rice, either. She said they were a type of grain.

I never did learn her name, but we traded a few stories. Her family is back in the United States, but I could see that she was totally integrated here– and I would have imagined so, after forty years! The folks at our table knew her and she was chatting easily with them. In fact, the locals were even friendlier than usual to us, too. Oma asked where we were from, and we told her– Arkansas for Bill, and Virginia for me. She didn’t know either state… although she does know Texas, and Bill spent a lot of time in Texas. I got a sense that maybe she kind of missed the US a bit, but that was only due to a fleeting look of wistfulness on her face.

Oma and the grandkids left, and the very friendly lady across the table, who didn’t really speak much English said she wanted us to meet someone. She kept mentioning that he was a gardener. Next thing we knew, a British guy was standing near us, chatting. The guy’s name was Steve, and he came from the northwest of England, which gave me a thrill. It turned out that before he had moved to Breckenheim, he had lived in Nagold, down at the edge of the Schwarzwald (Black Forest). Nagold is, of course, the town that was closest to us when we used to live in Jettingen! Bill and I used to go there all the time before we moved up to Wiesbaden! It was one of our favorite places in our old stomping grounds.

Steve said he’d lived in Nagold for about fifteen years. We sat there and talked about all of the little restaurants we visited, and Steve told us about how, back from 2008-2010, the city of Nagold did a massive beautification project because they were hosting a garden show there. We lived in Germany from 2007-09, also near Stuttgart, but that time we were in a little town called Pfaffingen, which is closer to Tubingen. We never discovered Nagold during our first German stint, although I do remember hearing it mentioned.

For all of the crap we went through in our last home near Stuttgart, I am still glad we lived there, because it did afford us the opportunity to visit a lot of places we would have missed if we’d lived closer to the military installations. I still miss Nagold a lot. It had a lot of what I love about cute towns, without the huge crowds and obnoxious traffic. If we ever move back to that area, I wouldn’t mind finding a home in Nagold… as long as the landlords are fair and respectful.

Steve was telling us that he really missed living in Nagold. I could relate. Wiesbaden is a nice area, and there are things about it that I enjoy, like wine stands. But I find the area near Stuttgart to be more authentic and interesting. It offers more of a pure German experience– or, actually, more of a Swabian experience, which is something else entirely. Up here, people are friendlier and more laid back, and there’s not as much thriftiness, but housing costs more and it’s a bit more built up. Curiously, despite being more built up, the traffic is much less terrible up here. Steve explained that a lot of the people in Breckenheim are politicians or are involved in finance. I can tell this neighborhood is kind of well-heeled. It has a different feel than either of our previous German towns. Down in BW, the atmosphere is more agrarian, although that doesn’t mean the standard of living isn’t high.

I think a big reason why the Frankfurt area seems less charming and authentic is because a lot of historic buildings were destroyed during World War II. And the ones that were rebuilt don’t have the same old world quaintness that the destroyed buildings had. But, I am glad we moved up here, if only because I can compare and contrast my German experiences, now. And wine stands are one nice tradition that Bill and I really enjoy.

Hopefully, this weekend, we will continue to have some fun, especially since it’s technically a holiday weekend. I think Bill is going to work on Monday, though, so we can take a trip soon.

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 G√§u, 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 Pf√§ffingen, 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!

advice, Germany

All roads lead to Wiesbaden! Our intra-Germany move, part one…

After months of preparation and anticipation, on November 26, 2018, we finally got underway with our move from the Stuttgart area to Wiesbaden.  The packers arrived at about 9:00am that cloudy Monday morning.  Weichert, the moving company hired by Bill’s company, sent us three strong guys from the eastern part of Europe.  I think they were from Croatia, but I’m not absolutely sure.  What I am sure of is that they were first class movers.  Having been an “Army wife” the first twelve years of my sixteen year marriage, I have experienced my share of moves.  This one was one of the easiest, not just because we were moving within Germany, but because we had truly excellent movers.

I wrote a couple more blog posts, anticipating time without precious WiFi access.  Bill had contacted Deutsche Telekom to set up our new Internet connection, hoping it would be done on November 28th, which was our move in day.  He still hadn’t canceled Internet in our old house because he was hoping we could just use Unitymedia in our new home.  For whatever reason, he wasn’t able to move our Internet service to the new house.  At this writing, we still have an active Unitymedia account at our old house.

Packing up…

I booked us a hotel room at Hotel Adler in Nagold, which is an adorable little town I’ve written about many times in this blog.  We lived very close to Nagold and had eaten at Hotel Adler a few times.  I was curious about their rooms, so I took our last night as an opportunity to experience a night there.  We booked the dogs at Dog Holiday for the whole week, so they’d be out of the way while we packed and cleaned.  I will miss having such close proximity to Max and his wife; they have taken great care of Zane and Arran for the past few years.  In fact, we’ll probably still use them when we visit Stuttgart to see our awesome dentist and/or as we pass through on the way to southern countries.

I wasn’t feeling particularly well on our packing day.  I felt like I was coming down with a virus.  With every packed box, our former house grew less and less comfortable.  I felt compelled to clean as the movers worked, knowing that our former landlady would be a stickler when it came time for the move out inspection.

So empty now!

Despite my moniker, “The Overeducated Housewife”, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a pretty crappy housewife.  I don’t enjoy cleaning, and am not particularly good at it.  However, when I do get in the mood to clean, I will clean thoroughly… almost obsessively.  This is especially true when it comes time to move out of a house.  My Dyson got a great workout on packing day, especially in the bedroom, where four years of dust had accumulated under the bed.  Maybe Santa will bring me a super slim robot vacuum this year, strictly for vacuuming under the bed.

Freshly mopped.

The house in Unterjettingen has the distinction of being the home Bill and I have lived in for the longest as a married couple.  When you stay in one house for four years and don’t vacuum under the bed, things get pretty gross.  Fortunately, I didn’t think to take pictures.  I filled the Dyson’s canister at least twice cleaning up the dust bunnies.  It was weirdly satisfying.  I knew it was really dusty under there, but unless I have an extra set of muscles to help with the mattress and box springs, vacuuming under the bed isn’t a job I can easily do.

I also cleaned the dust out of the radiators, as much as I could, anyway.  As I ran the microfiber duster through the narrow slats of the old fashioned radiators, I promised myself our next house would have easier to clean heating elements.  Despite the duster and vacuum cleaner’s efforts, I wasn’t able to make the radiators pristine.  Oh well.

At one point, I went outside to put some stuff in my car and ran into the neighbor across the street.  He was curious about what we were up to.  When I told him we were moving to Wiesbaden, he smiled really big.  He doesn’t speak much English and I know he covets the parking space in front of the house, so maybe he was happy to see us go.  Actually, although he seemed to worry about our dogs when we first moved in, he later became somewhat friendly.  He even brought us some fruit from one of his trees.  But I do know he likes to park in front of our former house, so maybe that was why he was smiling.

The packers were finished by 4:00pm.  I suppose I can thank Bill’s first company for that, since we were only allotted enough money to bring 5000 pounds of stuff with us when we moved back to Germany in 2014.  I have to admit, less stuff makes for a shorter packing day.  Truth be told, I don’t even miss a lot of the stuff we left in storage.  Moving right before Christmas has also put a damper on my Christmas shopping this year.  I have no desire to wrap or unwrap more stuff… or find places to put it.

As we emptied the top floor of our former house, I cleaned the rooms, vanquishing dust bunnies and cobwebs and steam mopping vinyl floors until they shone.  In the back of my head, I knew my efforts would probably be in vain, but I wanted to try anyway.  Originally, we were going to hire professional cleaners, but Bill was never able to arrange it.  So, just like for every other move, it was the two of us trying to make really old carpet, laminate flooring, and linoleum look presentable.  As I removed the portable cabinet from under the bathroom sink, I discovered the pipe had sprung a leak at some point.  I have no idea how long that went on, since it was covered by the cabinet, which was there when we moved in (we bought it from the previous tenants).  It wasn’t a serious leak, but it was definitely noticeable.

After we were finished on Monday, I was ready to go to straight to bed.  My visions of one last meal in one of our favorite Stuttgart area food towns were dashed.  We didn’t even eat at the hotel, which offers good traditional German food.  I wanted something less heavy.  Instead, Bill got takeout from La Meo, a nearby Italian eatery.

The room at Hotel Nagold was typically German, but spotlessly clean and comfortable.  We had the misfortune of having booked a room next to where they were setting up the Christmas market.  Workers were erecting an ice skating rink, which came with the sounds of power tools and super loud dance music.  I will admit that the noise made me decidedly crotchety, but at least they were finished by 9:30pm.

If you stay at the Hotel Adler in Nagold, you have to use your new fangled key for electricity.  It’s not even one of those rooms where any card will keep the lights on.  You have to use their key.  They only gave us one key, so I sat in the dark while Bill got takeout.

Typical German room.  Comfortable for one night.

Our room had a balcony with shutters, which appeared to be broken.  Had they been fully functional, the shutters would have been good for shutting out noise and light.

The bathroom was sparkling clean, but check out the placement of the makeup mirror.  It was too high for little 5’2″ me.


We spent 120 euros for our night at the Hotel Adler.  Breakfast and parking were included.  The breakfast was typical German continental, but it was served in a very quaint little breakfast room by a pleasant lady.  She got our long Tuesday off to a good start.

One thing I learned during this move is that Dawn dish detergent and hydrogen peroxide are excellent cleaning tools.  Mix the Dawn with hydrogen peroxide and you get a great carpet cleaner and soap scum remover.  Dawn is also great mixed with white vinegar.  How I lived 46 years and didn’t know this, I don’t know… but remember, I admit to being a sucky housewife… in all the wrong ways.

The packers packed the American hydrogen peroxide before I had the chance to use it for one last batch of homemade oxycleaner.  Bill had to go to an Apoteke to get 3% German hydrogen peroxide, which was surprisingly expensive and came in a glass bottle.  I think he paid about six euros for this.  On post, you can get it for less than a dollar.  When you pour hydrogen peroxide out of the dark bottle, you have to use it right away.  It loses its potency when exposed to light.

Seriously, though… Dawn and hydrogen peroxide is great for getting old stains out of carpet.  While the carpets were still old, worn, and basically dirty looking from many years of use, they looked much better after I cleaned them with this concoction.  I’m usually skeptical about homemade detergents, but I will admit to being a believer in the magic of Dawn dish detergent.


City Imbiss D√∂ner Kebab and shopping at Nagold’s Mix-Markt…

It’s a cloudy Saturday here in Unterjettingen, so we decided to take a brief trip to Nagold for lunch, then drop by Nagold’s Mix-Markt. ¬†If you are a regular reader of this blog, you might remember that Bill and I discovered this specialty European grocery store chain several weeks ago, when we visited the one in¬†B√∂blingen. ¬†Mix-Markt carries products from the former Soviet Union and many eastern European countries. ¬†Today, we decided to check out Nagold’s Mix-Markt outlet. ¬†But first, we decided to have lunch.

City Imbiss in Nagold… mmmmm!

Several of the places we usually love to visit are currently closed until next month, so we stopped by City Imbiss, a place that always smells wonderful and offers pizzas and d√∂ner kebabs. ¬†I don’t often eat¬†d√∂ner– that very Turkish sandwich in a pita that has taken Germany by storm. ¬†Every once in awhile, though, I enjoy this beefy sandwich with vegetables and yogurt sauce. ¬†Today was the first time we visited City Imbiss, though I have passed it several times and smelled the delicious aromas that come from its kitchen. ¬†Although I was kind of in the mood for something more formal, we decided a pita sandwich was just what we needed.

At City Imbiss, if you’re not taking food to go, you can sit down at a table and a server will wait on you. ¬†We were told this as we were staring at the big sign over the service counter. ¬†I was a bit overwhelmed by all the choices and briefly considered having pizza, but German pizzas don’t really do it for me. ¬†Finally, Bill ordered d√∂ners for two, with little sauce and no tomatoes for me, and no onions for him…

Lunch was ready in a flash. ¬†It was so fast I didn’t have a chance to get a better picture of Bill. ¬†I made a joke about City Wok, where everybody on South Park hangs out for Chinese food.

This was a great sandwich. ¬†It had thin shavings of beef and lots of kraut, as well as a little yogurt sauce and another sauce that was a bit spicy. ¬†We washed them down with beer. ¬†City Imbiss only has beers in bottles and they’re all .33 cl. ¬†They do have wine, too, as well as lots of non-alcoholic beverages, including Turkish Ayran (a yogurt drink).

I also got a portion of pommes that was huge– definitely enough to share. ¬†We finished half of the pommes and, much to my surprise, I was able to eat that whole sandwich. ¬†It’s not as big as it looks. ¬†I might not have to eat for the rest of the night, though. ¬†Total bill for this was about seventeen euros.

We probably should have gone to the Mix-Markt first. ¬†There’s a guy there who has a Shashlik stand. ¬†Shashlik is delicious Russian/Central Asian barbecue– namely shish kebabs.

And the weather wasn’t so bad… we might have even been able to park there today. ¬†


Maybe we’ll get there before we have to move to Wiesbaden. ¬†At this writing, we plan to move on November 28th, and Bill starts his new job on December 3rd. ¬†I think this is going to be a very busy month. ¬†Next week, my dogs will get their dentals and we’ll be filling up the oil tanks in the house we’re about to leave. ¬†Then, the week after that is Veteran’s Day and our wedding anniversary. ¬†I booked us four nights at Brenners Park Hotel in Baden-Baden. ¬†Then, we’ll be cleaning up, packing up, and driving to our new house in Wiesbaden-Breckenheim, where hopefully, I won’t piss off anyone.

The Nagold version of Mix-Markt is much smaller than the one in B√∂blingen. ¬†It’s also not quite as hectic or crowded, although the parking situation is potentially worse.

Need pickles? ¬†Here’s a whole wall of them.

As well as a whole lot of sunflower seeds, a very popular snack in eastern European countries and the former Soviet Union.

This is an Armenian version of frozen baklava.

And napoleans, too!

They have Russian beer, which personally isn’t very impressive to my tastebuds. ¬†I go to the Russians for vodka.

Pick your mix.

Ditto regarding Russian chocolates, but obviously someone loves it.

This is where we spent our time… ¬†although this Mix-Markt doesn’t have a great selection of wines. ¬†The ones in this picture are from Moldova.

They have Dracula wine, Armenian brandy, and lots of vodka from Russian and Belarus.  We did find a few Georgian wines, too.

Overall, I was a little disappointed in the Nagold Mix-Markt, although it’s good to know that it’s there. ¬†We also found a Mix-Markt in Wiesbaden, so we’ll be able to stay stocked up with our favorite libations from the east.

I’m really going to miss Nagold. ¬†It’s such a nice city.

Cool jack o’lanterns set outside a bar in Nagold.


We stopped by Nagold’s awesome Edeka to pick up some green beans for the homemade dog food Bill makes for Zane and Arran. ¬†While we were there, I indulged my sweet tooth and bought a small bottle of Pepsi, a can of 7 Up and ice cream. ¬†I shouldn’t have watched all those ads from the 70s and 80s on YouTube this morning. ¬†Too much junk food!

This cool mural is near the Edeka in Nagold. ¬†Next time we go there, I will have to get a better picture. ¬†I hope we can find another version of Nagold in the Wiesbaden area. ¬†I am going to miss this little town the most. ¬†Last time we lived here,¬†T√ľbingen was my favorite town. ¬†


Maybe tomorrow, we’ll do something a little more exciting than shopping for wine and ice cream.

Germany, restaurant reviews

Nagold’s Fall Fest and another lunch at Osteria da Gino’s!

Today was one of those days when I am really very thankful to live in Europe, and Germany in particular.  Most days are like that for me, but some days I’m even more grateful than others.  Today was one of those days.  It was just glorious.  I’m writing this post, not just for myself and for those who already live here, but also for those who are planning to move to the Stuttgart area or even somewhere in Europe.  I hope it will excite a few readers, especially those who have never lived in Europe.

It started with an enchanting sunrise…  One thing I will miss about where we live.  I hope our next house has such a view.

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about the Mix-Markt chain, which is a European grocery store that specializes in goods from countries in the former Eastern Bloc and Soviet Union.  We visited the one in B√∂blingen, mainly because I figured that location was most convenient for a lot of my local readers.  Today, we tried to visit the one in Nagold, but unfortunately, the parking lot behind the store was absolutely jammed, as was our usual parking lot that is close to the store.  We ended up parking on the other side of town, which would have made hauling a large booty of groceries an exercise in difficulty.  So, instead of visiting the Mix-Markt and picking up some more eastern European wines, we decided to check out Nagold’s Fall Fest which is happening today and tomorrow.  Tomorrow is a shopping day in Nagold, so not only will this fest be going on with lots of food and music, there will also be shopping.

Lots of pretty fashions were on sale.

Damn.  I knew I forgot something.  Should have gotten some quarkinis for tomorrow!  They smelled heavenly!

Alsatian pizza anyone?

Fun for kids.  I would have liked this when I was a youngster.  Looks like it’s akin to bungie jumping.

Before we went shopping, we stopped by another one of our favorite local restaurants, Osteria da Gino, and had a sumptuous lunch.  Gino was there today, just as jovial and hilarious as always.  He shook Bill’s hand and delivered his trademark warm and friendly service.

We started with a lovely Primitivo, chosen by Gino’s second banana… who also happens to speak English.  That’s handy, because Gino isn’t an English speaker, but he still manages to be very entertaining.


We split this absolutely heavenly Vitello Tonnato– veal with tuna-caper sauce.  I usually try to stay away from veal, but I made a rare exception today.  This is truly delicious.  It sounds like it wouldn’t be, but it is…  

A pause before the pasta arrived.

We both had homemade pasta and tomato sauce with meatballs and Parmesan cheese.  I saved half of mine for later, because I wanted dessert…

Yet another piece of Gino’s wonderful tiramisu, which we shared.


I know I gush a lot about the restaurants in Nagold, but they truly are delightful.  I’m going to miss this town for all it offers.  I hope we find a similarly lovely town near Wiesbaden.  Total for lunch, which lasted about two hours, was just under 90 euros.

After we ate, we visited the bustling market.  I took some photos.  As you can see, the produce was well loved by other shoppers.

Chestnuts are a big hit.  There are several trees near where I live and I often see people picking up the ones that are on the ground.

I was attracted to this beautiful display of heirloom tomatoes.  I love all the colors.

Bill laughs as I swoon to the musical stylings of an accordion player…

He was really helping the mood.

At this point, I noticed a woman selling chocolate.  She spoke Spanish, German, and English.  It turned out she’s from Ecuador and lives in Calw and she operates her own chocolatier that uses less sugar.  We ended up talking to her for a few minutes and bought some of her truffles and chocolate shavings.  I found myself getting a little sad, realizing that we’re going to be leaving this town and the area around it.  It’s really been a pleasure to live out here in BFE.

After we bought the chocolate, I spotted a “Nette Toilette” sign.  I have written about this program before.  It basically allows people to use the restrooms in public facilities, free of charge.  Gino’s is a designated Nette Toilette, as is the municipal building I found on the way back to the car.  If you spot a red sign that says “Nette Toilette”, it means the business is getting money from the city to allow people to use its restrooms.  That’s pretty handy to know.  It definitely came in handy today.

Next, we stopped at a stand where a man was very animatedly telling a couple about his olive oil.  He was also selling wine, so we stopped in…  I ended up tasting two wines.  He gave me a piece of very strong cheese to try with the wine, which I passed to Bill, who is much more of a cheese person than I am.  I told the guy that Bill eats cheese and I drink.  All of the English speakers cracked up.  Then the guy gave me ham and sausage to try with the wine.  I don’t think I’ll need dinner tonight.

German gin.  We didn’t buy any… but I was tempted.


A moose passed while the guy was telling us about his 1000 year old olive tree in Italy.  It just occurs to me that the women who are passing look a little pissed…  Wonder if they were giving me the stink eye.

Bill makes a decision about the oil while I look on…

The overall mood of this fest was very “festive” and convivial.  Everyone was enjoying themselves… lots of people were eating, drinking, being friendly, and loving their community.  I will really miss Nagold.  I have come to love it.

If you’re looking for something to do tomorrow, I recommend visiting Nagold and checking out this festival.  Gino’s will not be open tomorrow because Sunday is his Ruhetag, but there will still be food, shopping, live music, and kids’ activities.  As for Bill and me, I think we we finally visit the Cannstatter Fest so I can get some use out of my dirndl and he can try out his new kilt.  Hopefully, no one will throw up.  Just kidding.  I intend to do more observing than drinking.


Another Nagold restaurant I’m really going to miss…

I am truly going to miss this place.

Last night, Bill and I decided to go back to Nagold for dinner.  We had visited Nagold last weekend, hoping to eat at one of our favorite restaurants, Luz Bistro at the Alte Post, but they were hosting an event.  Last night, they were open.  In fact, when we approached the menu posted on the front door, Marina Hentsch, the proprietor came out and enthusiastically greeted us!  There was a couple sitting on the terrace having drinks, so she invited us to sit inside or out.  We opted for outside, knowing that soon it will be way too cold to eat al fresco.  This is also kind of the sweet time of year when you can enjoy the last of the good weather without battling the bugs!

Obligatory shot of Bill looking at the menu.

We really enjoyed this lovely primitivo from Italy…

Bill got a kick out of the “math problem” on the back of the bottle.


We may have to have this again!


Before we move to Wiesbaden, I wish we could dine once again at the Alte Post’s more formal restaurant, which is on the second floor.  We had the privilege of eating there twice and we dropped a whole lot of euros, but of all of the places I’ve had fine meals in Germany, I think I might have enjoyed the Alte post best.  Unfortunately, last I heard, Alte Post was suffering from the same problem a lot of local restaurants are… lack of qualified help.  I know of at least one other decent eatery that had to close because there wasn’t enough wait staff.  The upshot is that the Alte Post is now open for events only and isn’t offering the more formal multi-course menus on the weekends.

Fortunately, the more casual Luz Bistro is still very nice.  There’s a server who speaks English and has been working there for as long as we’ve been patrons.  She recognized us last night and delivered great service with an excellent attitude, even though everyone else decided to eat inside.  It was a pleasant evening, at least until the sun dropped and it started to get chilly.

I went with braised beef and spatzle.  The beef was topped with sauteed onions and the spatzle was very fresh and delicious.  I don’t usually like spatzle a lot, but I really liked the Luz Bistro’s version, with its creamy, cheesy sauce.  It really complemented the tender beef, served with a very savory gravy.

Bill had the “cordon bleu”, with was a breaded pork filet stuffed with feta cheese and ham and served with t’zatzki and loads of pommes.  This was also a nice choice, although I try to avoid schnitzel if I can.  It’s not that I don’t like it– it’s more that it’s easy to get it when I don’t want to be adventurous.

We decided to have dessert.  I had to Google “Affogato”, which is the Italian word for drowned.  It consists of a scoop of vanilla ice cream “drowned” in hot espresso.

We got to watch a bunch of local kids playing in the square while we enjoyed the fall evening.  

I love Nagold so much.  It’s such a nice little town.

Our waitress lit candles for us.

Bill had the Affogato, which was just the right size.

I went with the parfait.  It was light and creamy, with bits of rich chocolate ganache and meringues.  It was a nice way to end the evening.  I hope we can squeeze in one more visit before we move.


Total bill for last night’s dinner was about 98 euros.  We really enjoyed ourselves, as usual, and I will probably pine for Luz Bistro when we can no longer access it so easily.  Ah well… I’m sure we’ll find good places near the Rhein, too.


Friday night at Waldhorn in Nagold…

The Waldhorn… seems to be quite the legendary restaurant in Nagold!


Although Bill and I have been living near Nagold for just over four years now, last night was our first time visiting Waldhorn, an Italian restaurant in Nagold.  It wasn’t originally our plan to go to Waldhorn.  We went there because the restaurant we were hoping to go to was closed for an event.  We ultimately decided to eat at Waldhorn because it’s one of a few well known restaurants in Nagold we haven’t tried yet and, pretty soon, we will be leaving the area.  I had wanted to try Waldhorn a couple of months ago, but they happened to be closed for vacation.  After last night’s experience, I’m kind of sorry we didn’t visit there sooner.

When we got to the restaurant at about 7:00pm, things were in full swing.  The place was bustling with people.  Most of the tables were filled with couples and families, all talking loudly.  It’s definitely not the kind of place you’d go to for a quiet evening.  However, I could easily see that Waldhorn is a popular place with the local crowd.  Our waiter was very friendly and spoke English as he led us to the lone available two-top in the middle of the dining room.

Obligatory shot of Bill reading the menu.  Maybe when we move, I’ll come up with a new running joke as my signature.


We ordered a half liter of Barbera wine, which came in a carafe.  We also had our usual San Pellegrino.  This restaurant doesn’t offer wines by the bottle.  Indeed, it appears to be kind of a casual place that offers good food at reasonable prices.

The Barbera was very nice, especially after it opened up a bit.


Waldhorn offers the usual pizzas and pastas, as well as fish and meat dishes.  I saw that they had quite a few veal selections, as well as some of the better known Italian favorites like tuna carpaccio and Saltimbocca alla Romana.  They also had a couple of pasta dishes with mussels.  I had a hard time choosing, but finally just went with an entrecote, since I wasn’t in the mood to be adventurous.  Bill decided to have Spiedino al pepe, which was basically pork and beef served on a stick with pepper sauce.

They brought out a lovely bruschetta for us.  I usually don’t get too excited about bruschetta, but the tomato topping on this was a little spicy in an appealing way.  Also, the bread was very fresh and tasted like homemade pizza dough.  It was a nice change.

My steak came with an enormous and beautifully presented salad, of which I could only eat half.  It had a light balsamic vinaigrette on it.

Since I was having a salad, Bill had one, too.  His dish didn’t come with salad, so this was extra.  Instead of the balsamic vinaigrette, he had a creamy yogurt based dressing.  He said he preferred my dressing to his, although he did enjoy the whole thing.

Bill’s dish, complete with decorative rose garnish.  It came with a side of cooked vegetables, including broccoli, carrots, and potatoes.  I neglected to take a picture.

And my steak… this was 250 grams and cooked medium rare.  I had asked for it to be cooked to medium, but I don’t mind medium rare.  It came with krauterbutter.  To be honest, I’ve had better steaks, although this one was alright.  If we manage to go back to Waldhorn before we move, I’ll have to be brave and try something less pedestrian.  I noticed a lot of people were enjoying the pizzas.

I was kind of wanting chocolate last night, but ended up finishing with prosecco.  Bill had an espresso.  Our waiter was very charming and offered us a house shot of grappa.



Overall, we had a nice time at Waldhorn.  It’s obviously a local favorite and I can see why people like it.  It’s a good hangout for family and friends.  Our bill came to about 75 euros, which I think was pretty reasonable for what we had.  I’d go back.

Nagold is a town I’m really going to miss.  Not only is it super cute and charming, it also has a lot of fun events and several really good restaurants.  I hope we are just as lucky and find such a local gem of a town up near Wiesbaden.  If anyone reading this review is looking forward to moving to Stuttgart, I highly recommend looking for housing in the Nagold area, even though it’s kind of far from the military installations. It’s been a real treat to live so close to Nagold for the past four years.


Nagold triple threat! Grill Off, Dog Swimming, and a Street Food Fiesta!

It’s no secret that Nagold is probably my favorite of all the cute towns in the Stuttgart area.  There are a lot of reasons why I love it.  For one thing, it’s super close to where I live.  For another, there are many awesome restaurants.  It’s a very pretty little town with a river, a great Badepark, and lots of shopping.  There’s even a nice hike to some well preserved ruins that give you a great view of the whole area, right on the edge of the Black Forest.

It’s not lost on me that when Bill and I move in the next couple of months, I’m going to really miss Nagold.  It’s an awesome town.  If we ever have the good fortune to move back to this area, I will be looking for another house near Nagold.  I love that town!

Today was a great day to be in Nagold, since there were three events going on.  There was a grill off, involving several eateries vying for the best barbecue, a Street Food Fiesta, and the pool complex was allowing dogs to swim on the last day of the season.  Bill and I visited all three events.  Below are some photos from the day, with some light commentary.  To my knowledge, these are annual events.  I know they do the dog swim every year at the end of the pool season.

This was a good bet today!


Not too busy yet!

This man is serious about his meat!

Setting up for judging.


After a quick weizen, we went into an awesome warehouse turned after work bar.  It’s called Teufelwerk and they host dancing, after work parties, movie nights, and concerts.  I had seen it before, but today was the first time we ever ventured inside.  Let me just say, I’m a little sad we have to leave now…

The inside of Teufelwerk.  We went in for a cupcake and potty break…

They have a little outdoor area overlooking the river, complete with repurposed toilets.

You could sit here and watch the world go by…

Or watch whatever is on the stage.

Or have beer and cupcakes.

They were getting close to starting the judging for the grill off…

The scene was set for good beef… so we decided to watch some dogs swimming.


Nagold has a really nice pool complex.  Today is the last day of the summer season, so people were allowed to bring their dogs for a swim.  We didn’t bring Zane and Arran because neither of them particularly enjoy swimming.  But we did pay a euro each to go in and watch the dogs who did attend.

This dog didn’t want to get in the water, but did want that ball.  S/he was trying to get the ball to float closer… and getting checked out by another pooch.

Plenty of dogs were having a blast!  It was a great place for action shots!


I was kind of tempted to jump in myself!

We passed by the grill off on our way to the Street Food Fiesta, which, to be honest, was kind of disappointing.  We should have just stayed at the grill off and eaten beef.

This was kind of a small affair.  The music was pretty horrible, too.

Bill had a “pulled beef” burger from this stand…

I was a little tempted by these fried dough treats, but then I realized they were a recipe for heartburn.

As I was sitting here eating meat on a stick, some really awful racist music came on.  They were playing dance and rap music and they played one song that was full of really filthy racist language.  I usually have a pretty high tolerance for that stuff, but my ears were burning.  

So I ate this and drank a beer.  Then we got the hell out of there.  I had to cleanse my brain by listening to Ronnie Milsap.

Still, they had some interesting food selections. I’ve seen better street food fiestas, though. Maybe we’ll have better luck at the next one in T√ľbingen in a couple of weeks.


My favorite part of the day was the dog swim.  I wish I had brought my dogs and my bathing suit.  Maybe they wouldn’t have gotten in the water, but I would have.  It was a great day for it.  And it was fun watching all the dogs playing.  If we were going to be here longer, I think we’d definitely check out Teufelwerk, although maybe we’re too old for it.

I’m sure Nagold isn’t the only town basking in the last days of summer.  If you’re new to the area, I encourage you to seek out events in your town.  There’s always something going on in Germany.  Dive in and enjoy the culture!  Create some memories!  As for me, I’m making a few more before we move to a new German town and make new memories on the Rhein.


Big news on a little move… old favorite restaurants for old time’s sake…

Our very first lunch at Osteria da Gino in Nagold…  and another visit to see “The Mad Scientist”.

It’s been a big week here in Unterjettingen.  The biggest thing that has happened is that my husband was unofficially offered a new position in Wiesbaden.  That means that unless something really crazy happens, we will be packing up and moving about 100 miles north in a couple of months.

I have mixed feelings about the move.  First off, I HATE moving with a fiery passion.  We’ve done it many times over our sixteen years of marriage and, now that Bill is retired, it’s been nice to stay in one place for awhile.  As of this month, we’ve lived in our current house for four years, and the Stuttgart area for a total of six years.  That is the longest we have ever lived in one place.  I like the area where we live.  It’s far from the drama of the city and being close to the military posts, yet close to a lot of great places in the Black Forest.  We’re also near several really cute towns.  Nagold happens to be my favorite of all of them and it’s the closest to Unterjettingen.

On the other hand, I look forward to new experiences, new scenery, and a newer toilet that doesn’t take multiple flushes to empty.  I look forward to a much larger kitchen with a real refrigerator instead of a dorm sized one.  I can’t wait for my husband not to have to take marathon flights to Africa for business trips.  There‚Äôs even the attractive prospect of my getting to join him on some of his journeys.

Most of all, I am grateful that Bill is going to remain employed in a country I’ve come to love.  I have a feeling we will enjoy the Wiesbaden area as much as we’ve loved having lived in Stuttgart for two stints.  I also think there’s a good possibility that we’ll come back to Stuttgart, mainly because of what Bill does.  It could be as soon as two years from now.  On the other hand, there’s no telling what might happen in two years.

Anyway… since we know we’re probably going to be out of here by December, we decided to visit a couple of our favorite restaurants.  Hopefully, we haven’t visited them for the last time, but I did want to make sure we got at least one more visit in with each.  Both Agais in Entringen and Osteria da Gino in Nagold are special haunts for us, mainly because we’ve always managed to have a great time there.  The proprietors of both restaurants are excellent hosts and have given us a lot of great memories.  I thought today, I’d write up our latest experiences at both places, even though I’ve written about them several times already.  Here goes…

Agais on a Friday night

Agais in Entringen has the distinction of being the one restaurant still in business where Bill and I used to dine frequently during our first tour.  From 2007-09, we lived in a little town called Pf√§ffingen, which is in Ammerbuch.  Two kilometers from our old town is a little hamlet called Entringen.  We used to pass through Entringen to get to and from A81.  On the main drag is a Greek restaurant called Agais.

When we lived in Germany the first time, we used to eat at Agais all the time.  The owner is a very friendly Greek man who worked in Canada for many years as an engineer.  When we were here the first time, he spoke perfect English.  I think while we were gone, he must have had a stroke, because his ability to speak English diminished significantly.  Nevertheless, when we visited him again in 2014 after having been gone for five years, he still remembered us.  His English has come back somewhat over the past few years.

Last night, we decided to pay him a visit, mainly because neither of us felt like cooking.  Agais is now probably about a twenty minute drive from where we live, but the weather was nice…

I got a kick out of this sign reminding people to use condoms.  Such a quaint old building for such an important PSA…  I see there are several versions of this, including one for gay men.


When we walked into the familiar eatery, the couple who own it were waiting for customers to arrive.  I think we were their first.  The wife, who is German, does the cooking and her husband, whom we’ve nicknamed “The Mad Scientist”, waits tables.  They lit up when we walked in and welcomed us.  Bill ordered our usual Nemea dry Greek red, which has the essence of sour cherries, and we had our usual sparkling water.


We also ordered the flatbread, which comes piping hot and drizzled with olive oil and garlic salt.  I love this, even if it’s very simple.

We both had the gyros platter, which comes with either fries or oven baked potatoes.  Bill had the baked potatoes and I had pommes.  I also had a green salad instead of the kraut salad that usually comes with this dish.

I cracked a filthy joke to make Bill smile… and our old friend smiled, too.  


While we were eating, a couple came in with their son and the family dog.  They asked the proprietor if it was okay to bring the dog in.  I remember from our first tour that the proprietor isn’t a big dog fan, but I think he needed the business.  So he granted permission and they brought in their very sweet border collie who behaved like a perfect lady.  After a lovely dinner, which cost 51 euros, and a couple of glasses of wine for me, we enjoyed a house shot of ouzo and were on our way.  I hope we can stop in again before we move.  Last time we were here, we didn’t get to say goodbye when the time came.

Lunch at Osteria da Gino for the first (and possibly the last) time…


This morning, we were rewarded with wonderful late summer weather.  Although Nagold is having a Street Food Fiesta right now, we decided to have lunch at Osteria da Gino.  We have eaten there several times, but until today, we have always gone for dinner.  Osteria da Gino is kind of a special place for us.  Gino is kind of an Italian version of The Mad Scientist, with more upscale food.  Also, Gino doesn’t speak English and neither does his adorable wife, who waits tables.  The wife helped us today when we showed up at around noon, sans reservations for once.  We had a fantastic meal.

Goofy Bill as we wait for white wine.  We just told them dry white and that’s what they brought us…  good stuff.

Antipasti!  Grilled vegetables, orange and fennel salad, prosciutto with cheese, bread, and octopus…  You’d think this would be enough…

But we also decided on the pasta dish, too.  I had spaghetti with clams.  These were very fresh and lightly seasoned with cilantro, red pepper, and onions.  As the waitress put it down, she said, “Hier, keine K√§se!”  (No cheese here!)  I guess it’s not kosher to use Parmesan cheese on your clams!  I saw another couple enjoying mussels.  Gino does have a menu, but we have never once used it.  We just take what they recommend.  

Bill had fettuccini with Steinpilze and a fresh tomato sauce.  I hate mushrooms, so I didn’t try his, but he said the pasta tasted homemade.

When we come for dinner, we often have a main course, which is usually either fish or meat.  Since the pasta and antipasti filled us up, we decided to take a brief pause and then have dessert.

Which today, was delicious tiramisu and cups of espresso…


I’d say we spent about two hours enjoying the food and each other’s company, as well as the other diners who love Gino’s brand of hospitality.  This is one place where your four legged friends are also welcome.  A well behaved Golden Retriever was lying under a nearby table with a bowl of water.  I didn’t see Gino today, but I know he loves dogs.  He also likes children, although I wouldn’t necessarily call his restaurant “kid friendly”, per se.  Kids are definitely welcome there, but in the cold months, everybody eats in the tiny dining room and sometimes you have to share a table.  If you have young ones, it might be best to go when the weather is good so you can have more room outside.  Total cost for today’s meal was about 95 euros, which isn’t cheap, but I’ve never once been disappointed at Osteria da Gino.  I will truly miss it when we go.  A bonus is that you can buy a bottle of wine to take home with you if you want to.

After lunch, we took a walk around Nagold, which is a really lovely little town.  It’s been such a pleasure living so close to it for the past four years.  I will miss it.


Osteria da Gino is not open on Sundays, so if this review has tempted you, make plans to visit on a different day.  If you’re coming at dinner time, you may want to make reservations.

Tomorrow, Nagold’s  Street Food Fiesta continues, which we will probably attend.  There will also be a Grill Off, where you can enjoy steaks by self proclaimed grillmeisters.  And… if you have a dog who loves to swim, you may wish to bring them to Nagold for the last day the pool will be open.  They are going to let dogs swim tomorrow.  There’s also the river, where dogs are always allowed to swim.

I don’t look forward to the painful process of moving, but I do think my blog will get more love, since I will be exploring a brand new area (to me) right in the middle of wine country!  If I have to move, it’s not a bad thing to move from the Black Forest to the Rhein River!  Last time we moved from Germany, it was to Atlanta, which started off a string of moves to three states before Bill retired.  At least this time, we can drive to where we’re going and we can always come back to visit our old stomping grounds down here…

And again, I think we could be be back at some point.  We’ll see…