Our pandemic dog rescue story… part three

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When we take trips, I usually take a lot of photos, even from the car. Before a couple of weeks ago, I had never heard of Kransjka Gora, and had no idea of what we were in for. I did remember how beautiful Lake Bled was and had been wanting to visit Slovenia again. But Bill and I are getting older and it’s hard to drive for seven or eight hours straight, so that means it’s best if we can break up the trip. And, as most Americans know, there’s only so much leave a person can take. When Bill worked for his first company, the pay wasn’t as good, but they were very generous about letting him take time off. His current employer pays very well, but it’s not as easy to go away for longer trips. Not that we’re complaining. Six years ago, when we first came to Germany, I still owed $40,000 on my student loans. I managed to pay them off two years ago, nine years ahead of time!

While I usually like to take a lot of photos on our trips, I was more preoccupied this time. I didn’t think to take any pictures until we stopped for lunch at a KFC. German KFC is not like American KFC. And American KFC is not like the Kentucky Fried Chicken of my youth, which used to be a lot better than it is now. We decided to stop for chicken, even though it’s not as quick and convenient as other fast food is. I was kind of astonished by the rest stop where we pulled off. It had an amazing assortment of choices, especially for Germany. There was a McDonald’s, a Burger King, a KFC and a Subway!

And right next to the Subway was an enormous “adult” book store, complete with blow up dolls outside the entrance! I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of the erotic book store. I wish I had. In the United States, the adult book stores aren’t quite as prominent as they are in Germany, although I do remember repeatedly passing Club Risque in North Carolina many times as I drove back and forth from Virginia to South Carolina to and from graduate school.

I guess the erotic book stores are intended for the lonely truckers who traverse Germany from all over Europe, especially the East. I notice that they are well catered to in this country. Many rest stops have showers, as well as pay toilets that are clean. Where I come in the States, the rest stops are a little bit nicer than the free ones in Europe, which are really bare bones. But they don’t usually have restaurants (except in the Northeast). In Europe, the rest stops that aren’t just a place to pee have restaurants, fully stocked convenience stores, gas stations, and yes, something for the truckers who need a little distraction from the road.

Lunch was pretty filling. We ate it in the car, mainly due to having Arran with us and because of COVID-19. I watched people going in and out of the restaurant, ignoring the request to exit from the opposite side of the entrance. I also noticed in the ladies room, that someone had dumped pasta all over the bathroom floor. I couldn’t tell if it was cooked or not. It was an odd sight.

Once we got lunch sorted, we got back on A3 and headed south. I had forgotten how long the drive to Austria by way of Salzburg is. It seems to take forever to cross the border because you have to keep going east. I always enjoy driving over borders, but on this first day of our trip, we were about 90% in Germany before we arrived in Salzburg. We made another quick stop at an excellent rest stop not far from the border so Bill could buy an Austrian vignette (toll sticker). They are required for the Autobahn and you can buy them for ten days at just under 10 euros.

That’s another interesting thing about Europe. Many countries over here either have systems where you either pay for a vignette to use the motorways or you pay tolls. In Switzerland, you buy a sticker for the year and it costs about $40 (40 Swiss Francs or 30 Euros). In other countries, they are for shorter time periods and cost less. Many of the countries that have vignettes also have tolls for when you go through a long mountain pass. Germany is the only country I’ve seen so far where the Autobahn is free. But we don’t know for how much longer it will be free. Of course, you still have to pay 70 cents to use the bathroom at the fancy rest stops. That’s why it’s not at all unusual to see people peeing on trees here. They’re pretty brazen about it, too.

The proprietors at the Haslachmühle B&B had requested that we check in by 6:00pm. We arrived there at about 5:30pm, having driven through Salzburg’s traffic and passed by a guy driving a carriage pulled by two white horses. The horses spooked Arran, who barked and startled us both. I wish I’d had my camera, though. Those horses were a lovely sight.

So… about that B&B. It’s a winner. Getting to it is a little bit tricky, since it’s located on a very narrow “goat trail” type of road. But it’s a very charming place, with six unique rooms and a small free parking lot for guests. The lady in charge, along with her very sweet female dachshund “Luezy” (pronounced as if you were rhyming it with “noisy”), met us as we pulled up. She was quick to check us in and show us to the beautiful room I rented for the night. We stayed in the Room City View, which was just awesome. It had a big bed, a huge balcony that offered a view of the city, and a gorgeous masonry heater. I especially loved how the walls had built in bookshelves loaded with books (in German, of course). It was really unique and lovely. I was sorry we could only stay one night.

We were tired from the drive and still full from lunch, so we had no need for dinner. However, the B&B has a fridge where guests can get wine, beer, or soft drinks, as well as snacks. You just write down what you took and pay on checkout. Our room came with two bottles of water (looked like they came from a Penguin), mini Ritter Sports on the pillows, and three apples. Adding in some crackers and wine, we were pretty much set for the night. I enjoyed watching the sun set over the mountain. We also watched some network TV, which we rarely have the chance to do.

If we had needed food, we could have ordered from Lieferando.at or, if we were feeling determined, driven into town. There aren’t any restaurants near the B&B that I could see.

Breakfast in the morning included the usual buffet spread, with cheeses, cold cuts, fruits, juices, and breads. The proprietor made us coffee and scrambled eggs. While we were eating, Arran started pitching a fit. We hadn’t brought him into the breakfast room. I was very pleased to see that the proprietor didn’t mind Arran’s howling and even said we could bring him into the breakfast room, which we ended up doing. Another couple also had a dog with them and Arran behaved like a perfect gentleman.

After a leisurely breakfast, we loaded up the car and checked out. I would definitely go back to Die Haslachmühle B&B, next time without any canines. However, I am happy to report that they are very welcome there, even if children aren’t (according to Booking.com, anyway). We weren’t even charged extra for Arran. I was expecting a pet fee, so that was a really nice surprise. Below are some more photos from our stop in Salzburg. It really is a beautiful city. I would love to go back and do another tour of it when we don’t have business to attend to.

By late morning, we were heading south to Slovenia, which isn’t that far from Salzburg. I think it was about a three hour drive. I managed to get a few pictures of castles from the side of the Autobahn… again impressive sights. We really should come down and actually visit sometime. We had a chance to tour Salzburg when we did our very first Space A hop from the USA back in 2012, but that was just a day trip that we took from Munich. We had a great time, but it wasn’t long enough. Time to look into visiting again. We’ve been to Salzburg three times and still haven’t done the Sound of Music tour. 😉

More on the drive to Slovenia in the next post.

Post pandemic trip number two– getting there is half the fun!

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Friday morning, Bill took Arran to the Tierpension Birkenhof in Darmstadt, which has become a great help to us in our quest to see more of Europe. When we lived near Stuttgart, we used two different pensions. One was a place we’d used during our first tour, from 2007-09. During that time period, the place was very well run and we never worried about our dogs. But during the five years we were absent from Germany, the lady who used to run the pension divorced her husband and left the area. I guess the pension was the husband’s property. He remarried, and although his current wife is very nice, she wasn’t as good at caring for animals as the ex wife was. We changed pensions when we heard some disturbing stories about the fate of some of the dogs who stayed there. Two different people we knew had dogs who died after staying there. Another had a dog with diabetes who got very sick after her stay. Although we never had trouble ourselves, I couldn’t put the dogs there again after hearing the stories.

The next pension we used was Dog On Holiday. It was not in as bucolic of an area as the first place was, but the people who own it are exceptional, and they took outstanding care of Zane and Arran. When we suddenly lost Zane to cancer last year, Bill let Max, the proprietor, know. He actually called Bill to find out what happened. He was genuinely saddened by our loss, as was Celene, the lady who runs the Birkenhof, who sent us a very kind letter of condolences. Max and his wife are excellent caregivers to dogs; consequently, they are often fully booked. Fortunately, up here in Wiesbaden, it’s easier to book the dogs when we travel, so Arran (and our soon to be new dog, who already lives with a bunch of dogs outside) don’t come with us as often anymore. It works out fine, since Arran actually loves going to the pension and hanging out with other dogs. He would have been welcome at the Hotel Zur Post in Meerfeld, too. There was an adorable beagle staying there while we were visiting. But it’s really easier for us to travel when we go without our four legged “son”, and that was certainly true this time.

The drive to Meerfeld was to take less than two hours, although we did hit a “Stau” near Koblenz– a great city on the Rhein I would like to visit soon. As we journeyed west, I noticed how beautiful the landscape is. Soon we were in a forested area that gave me flashbacks to the Black Forest (Schwarzwald). We lived right on the border of the Black Forest when we lived near Stuttgart and I’ve missed the beautiful scenery and trees. It was so nice to be out in nature again. Rheinland-Palatinate (Pfalz) is not that far from Wiesbaden, but it looked and felt a world away from the suburban views we have in my neighborhood. Yes, there are trees here too, but not so close to where we live. Near Stuttgart, we lived on the edge of a nature park, where there were many acres of forests. Being in Rheinland-Palatinate reminded me of that, minus the high stress living arrangement we had down there.

On the way to Meerfeld, I needed to stop for a pee break. This was the first time I’d been in one of Germany’s many rest stops since the pandemic began. Grumpily, I grabbed my face mask and stalked off to the convenience store/pay toilets/restaurant. The place was almost empty, except for a couple of women in the ladies room. One of them had a small boy with her. They were blocking the sink. When I was done peeing, they were both still blocking the sink when it was time to wash my hands. I probably looked bitchy because– no joke– I hate wearing the mask with a fiery passion. I just wanted to wash up and get out of there. I noticed the proprietors had put a piece of plywood between the in and out doors, funneling people in and out in a single direction. In retrospect, that seems like a good idea. Once that chore was done, we got back on our way, but not before I noticed the funny ad for “safe” eating…

Safe eating! The views beyond this rest stop were a lot more appealing.

Not far beyond the rest stop, I noticed the cell phone signal became very spotty. That is an issue throughout the area, which may or may not be a good thing. If you want to unplug and get away from social media or the news, it’s a good thing. If you need to call for help, as it happened once when we were near Oppenau in the Black Forest, it may not be such a great feature of the area. But then, people have been traipsing around this volcanic wonderland for many thousands of years… I am sure help is available even when there’s no cell signal.

A spare shot of the castle ruins.

Very close to Meerfeld are several cute little hamlets, as well as a magnificent castle ruin called Manderscheid Castle. We did not visit this historic site because we didn’t have the time or the stamina to climb the large hill it sits upon, but if we ever do come back to Meerfeld, I would love to see it up close. As it is, I got some nice photos from a lookout on the road above. The above photo is of Manderscheid Castle, and just seeing it as we passed was kind of a thrill. Meerfeld is just a short drive from the castle, and as you drive in, you can see the famous volcanic lake in the distance. It’s close enough to walk there from any hotel in the town; I counted at least four, as well as several vacation homes.

Aside from lodging and restaurants, there doesn’t seem to be much to Meerfeld. There’s a church, with bells that ring promptly at 7:00am every morning. I also noticed an office for a naturopath. There aren’t any shops, although you can get what you need a short drive away.

We pulled into the front parking lot at Hotel Zur Post, which also has a gate controlled back parking lot that you get access to once you check in. Donning our masks, we entered the reception area and spoke to the very friendly proprietor, who welcomed us warmly and assigned us to room 401. I don’t think she spoke English at all, but I found her German easy to understand. The elevator was very slow, but once we got to the fourth floor, we easily found our generously sized room. Hotel Zur Post also has apartments for rent in the building next to it. They looked really nice. I might have booked one of those if I had found the option to. In any case, the room was pleasant and airy, with a small balcony and a view that overlooked the back of the hotel and offered a peek at the pool and spa area, which are on the fourth floor. The fourth floor is also where you can access the back parking lot, since it’s on a hill. That was very convenient for us. Below are pictures of the hotel room and the views.

After we checked in, we took a short walk around the town. I took the opportunity to take some photos. The walk through the field isn’t how to access the maar itself. There’s a road to a parking area just as you come into the town. You can either walk or bike down that road, or drive your car… driving might get you a few dirty looks, since it’s a narrow passage. Get yourself a Parkscheine at the machine, then walk to the entrance of the maar. Right now, they’re taking people’s contact information in case anyone comes down with COVID-19. We didn’t opt to get a close look at the maar on Friday. I did get some pictures from our walk, though. Lots of plants and animals make their home on the boggy shores and in the maar itself.

Bill was telling me about his very first German landlord in Ansbach, back in the late 1980s, who had fought in World War II. The guy was a member of the Nazi party, not because he necessarily believed in its principles, but because he wanted to advance in the military, and at the time, being in the party was a requirement. The landlord showed Bill his souvenirs from those days. Bill said his first landlady, wife of the former military landlord, was a very fastidious Bavarian lady whom he ended up hiring to clean his apartment. Unfortunately, she was adversely affected by the nuclear fallout from Chernobyl, which blew up in April 1986. She got cancer and died just six weeks after her diagnosis.

I remember when the Chernobyl accident in Ukraine happened. I was in eighth grade, without any idea that someday I’d end up living in Europe and the former Soviet Union. Incidentally, in 1997, I took a train tour around Europe for a month. One stop was in Regensburg, and I spent a night in a cheap hotel by the train station. As I was checking out, the proprietor told me that he had been taken prisoner of war by the Americans during World War II and was held in Tennessee. I didn’t know what to say to that information… at the time, I had no idea there were POW camps in Tennessee. But he didn’t seem too upset about it and I learned something new. Graveyards are interesting places with a lot of history. I thought the one in Meerfeld was beautifully kept.

Bill and I made dinner reservations at the hotel for 6:30pm. I was looking forward to it because not only had I heard the food was excellent, but I was also really hungry. We didn’t eat much lunch before we set off for Rheinland-Palatinate (Pfalz- my German friend says Pfalz is the German word for Palatinate). Below are some photos.

We retired to our room to watch some German TV and relax. We had some big plans for Saturday! Stay tuned for the next post, which will probably be written tomorrow, because my computer is being super annoying tonight.

Last minute getaway to Ulm: Part three

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As most regular readers know, I am a sucker when it comes to beer and wine.  I enjoy a good fest.  It was just turning 11:00am as we were deciding what we wanted to do next.  As we were at the right place at the right time, I told Bill we needed to stop and have some wine.  Fortunately, Bill loves wine as much as I do.

This is pretty cool, isn’t it?  I saw a couple of these at the small wine fest near the cathedral.

Look at all those empty tables!  It looked like several restaurants/wineries were catering this event.  There were several different areas and the menus were different.  I saw Spanish tapas, pizzas, bruschettas, and flammkuchen being offered.

Bill takes a look at one of the menus and all of the available wines.

We finally sat down at a place that had Spanish and Italian wines and foods.

We were among their first customers of the day.  Bill ordered us two different whites.  The one I had was called Larrua.  

 

The pretty waitress who looked after us was utterly charmed by Zane and Arran.  She came over and loved all over them.  They ate up the attention and only indulged in a couple of outbursts during our time at the fest.  I told Bill that even though we weren’t really hungry after our lumberjack truck stop breakfast, it might be a good time to eat.  The fest was not very busy while we were there, so I figured we’d have an easier time eating then.

At one point, Zane jumped up on the bench with me.  Poor guy never learned his manners!

Bill and I split this Hawaiian pizza.  It was pretty good and the ham was useful for bribing the dogs.

The wine made our dogs’ occasional barking sessions more tolerable.  At one point, some folks were laughing at us!  It was pretty funny.

 

In all, Bill and I shared five glasses of wine.  I had a Riesling and a Montepulciano and Bill enjoyed a Temperanillo from a cask with the pizza.  When we settled up with the waitress, Bill apologized for the dogs’ occasional outbursts.  She laughed and asked us in German what kinds of dogs they are.  We explained that they are hunting dogs who chase small game.  I tried to say “squirrel” in German, but failed.  I have heard it said that Germans have a hard time saying squirrel.  The waitress figured out what I meant when I mimicked one.  We left the fest feeling decidedly mellow.

Funny video about Germans and the word “squirrel”…  Frankly, I think Americans would have a much harder time with EICHHÖRNCHEN…

Russian Orthodox church near the cathedral…

Handy facilities after time spent at a wine fest.

This fountain in front of the church was also useful for watering the dogs.

I sent Bill into the Ochsen Shop for some beer.  I thought he’d get some of the other gourmet goodies in there, but he disappointed me.  Maybe next time, I’ll do the shopping.

Ah… Vom Fass!  Another cool German chain for all those who love their spirits.  Bill went in there and got a bottle of Bordeaux and some rum from Belize.

 

The weather started to turn right around the time Bill was coming out of the Ochsen shop.  We thought about hitting the trails with the dogs, but decided we’d rather not get caught in the rain.  So we headed back to the garage where our car was parked.

As we passed this bakery, I had to get a couple of photos of wedding cakes.

We got back to the hotel at about 2:30 or 3:00 after stopping at Kaufland for some snacks and wine.  I think we only meant to stop at the hotel for a brief time, but I suddenly felt really tired.  I didn’t sleep well at all the first night.  I laid down on the bed.  The dogs jumped up and joined me.  Then, I fell fast asleep for the next three hours… awakened again only by the damn church bells going off at 6:00!

We decided to stay in and watch TV.  Recognize this man on the TV?  It’s Bob Ross, the PBS painting guy.  He’s been dead since 1995, but they still show his painting series.  This was in English and kind of fun to watch.

 

We spent last night drinking wine, eating snacks, and eventually watching Al Pacino and Chris O’Donnell in the 1992 film Scent of a Woman dubbed in German.  Watching that movie, which was released when I was in college, made me feel all kinds of ancient.  Still, it was kind of nice to watch TV for a change.  I found that I understood a lot of the movie.  I had seen it before, but it had been years.

I slept somewhat better this morning, but it still wasn’t the greatest sleep I’ve ever had.  Bill and I decided to skip the hotel breakfast and head home, where we knew we had great coffee waiting for us.  The bonus to getting on the road at about 7:00am was that the autobahn was fairly empty and we had a stress free drive.  Bill cooked breakfast and we enjoyed some delicious, fresh Kenyan coffee.

If we do ever go back to the Ulm area, I will choose a different hotel, although the Lobinger Weisses Ross was a pretty good value.  We spent 232 euros.  Thirty-two euros went for the bottle of wine Bill bought.  The rest was for the room and the very reasonable pet fee.  I think if it had just been Bill and me, we would have liked the hotel fine.  With our dogs, it just wasn’t all that suitable.  The room and the bed were just a little too small.  Also, the WiFi situation was a bummer.  On the other hand, I would recommend that hotel for people who have young kids or folks on a budget.

I do hope we can go back to Ulm and the surrounding area for another look.  There’s a lot there we didn’t get to see and Ulm alone is a very charming city.  It’s definitely a good bet for those who are looking for great shopping and restaurants.

Hopefully our next short break will be in France, now that Bill has his passport.  It figures that they had it ready on Friday and we could have gone to France after all.  Oh well!

A “two dog night” in Riquewihr, France… part three

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After we ate lunch at L’Originel, we headed over to the hotel and checked in.  As I mentioned in the first post, I got one of the last available rooms at Best Western Hotel Le Schoenenbourg, which turned out to be a suite.  It was humongous!  There was a large sitting room, a bedroom with two TVs, and a huge bathroom with a separate toilet. The bathroom had a deep soaking tub and a large shower stall.  Our beds were originally twins, but they kindly pushed them together for us, although the beds were still dressed as twins underneath the bedspread.

Have a look at the photos!

I had my first bath in awhile thanks to this awesome deep tub.  I brought my own toiletries.   I didn’t try the ones offered by the hotel.

Twin beds pushed together.  The bed was comfortable enough, though I was kind of glad I brought my own pillow.  It would have been okay if I hadn’t, though.  These pillows were more generous than some I’ve found in other hotels in these parts.

A little couch in the sitting room.

A water bowl and treats for the boys!  

This was a nice surprise.

They also left us a complimentary bottle of water.

The minibar.  I didn’t check the price list, but Bill said it wasn’t that expensive.  There is also a bar in the lobby that serves drinks and hot snacks like quiche.

As you can see, the boys were very comfortable.

 

While I took a leisurely bath, Bill went shopping for stuff to bring home with us.  He tasted several wines at a couple of wine shops in town.  He also ran into a very aggressive cheese vendor who ended up selling him four different types of cheese and sausage!  I don’t eat a lot of cheese, so I hope his work friends don’t mind if some of it’s stinky.   He bought macaroons and cookies, but no chocolate.  🙁  Darn.  For this excursion, Bill bought a cooler that plugs into the car and keeps things cool without the need for ice.  It also provided a handy platform for Zane to stand on during the drive.

Best Western Hotel Le Schoenenbourg has a pool that was being used extensively yesterday.  They also have bikes available for rent.  I brought a bathing suit, but didn’t end up going for a swim.  Later, while Bill and I were enjoying drinks at the bar, I started wondering if the pool at the hotel had a rule about men wearing Speedos.  Apparently, many pools in France require women to wear bathing caps and men to wear skimpy bikinis.  I blogged about that last year and it’s one of my most popular travel posts.

The dogs were welcome at the bar, though that Astro Turf did a number on Zane’s paw.

Alsatian beer.  It was a surprisingly good wheat beer. 

And a local Jupiler on draft.

While we were drinking and enjoying the sunshine, we were charmed by an adorable little boy and girl who were siblings and appeared to be two and four years old.  The boy was older and clearly looking after his sister.  They spoke a language we didn’t recognize.  It turned out they were Dutch and they both had stunning platinum blond hair, giving them an angelic appearance.  Their parents were very fit and spoke perfect English, asking us if it was okay that their kids were hanging out near us.  I could tell the kids were enchanted by Zane and Arran and probably wanted to pet them, but were too shy to ask and didn’t speak our language anyway.  We ran into them at least three times, including when we had dinner.   They were so cute and kind of made me lament that I never had children.

A map of Riquewihr.

 

Breakfast tray.  The coffee was very disappointing.

My only complaint about the hotel was the breakfast.  They have a buffet that costs 13 euros a person.  I’d read that it was a ripoff.  We opted to have breakfast delivered to our room for 9 euros a person.  For that, you get a basket of breads, butter, jam, honey, Nutella, coffee and juice.  The breads were excellent and very fresh.  There were croissants, baguettes, and chocolate chip brioches.  The juice was adequate.  But the coffee, I’m afraid, SUCKED.  It was barely drinkable and much too weak.  Consequently, when we drove home this morning, Bill and I were both still very sleepy.

Other than the breakfast, I had no real complaints about the hotel.  It was super convenient and pet friendly, even when Zane and Arran got on a scent on the way downstairs this morning and started baying.  For our one night with drinks at the bar and breakfast in our room, we paid just under 200 euros.  Parking outside and WiFi are free.  If you want secure parking, you can use the parking garage, which costs 10 euros a day.

Review of Hotel Flora in Stuttgart-Mohringen…

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Bill and I spent a week at Hotel Flora, which is on Filderbahnstrasse in Mohringen.  I chose this hotel when we were in Texas because we needed a place that was pet friendly and not too far from Kelley Barracks, which is where Bill is working.  I typed “pet friendly hotels Mohringen” and Hotel Flora was the first place that came up.  It got good reviews on Trip Advisor and had availability, so we went with it.

We arrived at the hotel exhausted on August 3, 2014.  The night before, we were on an overnight flight from Houston, Texas to Frankfurt.  After two hours in the airport collecting our bags, our dogs, and our rental car, we spent another couple of hours on the autobahn and were pretty wiped out by the time we checked into the hotel.

The lady at the front desk didn’t speak any English; fortunately, Bill speaks some German and understands it pretty well.  She gave me a look when our dogs pulled me outside and peed on the immaculate lawn.  I was sorry about that, but the poor things had been stuck in carriers for hours and though we gave them a pit stop on the way to Mohringen, they were still adjusting.  I had grabbed a couple of plastic bottles and absent-mindedly placed them on the counter as Bill was checking us in.  I almost forgot to take them until she called my attention to them.

Our room was #29.  It was in a building separate from the main one and we were no doubt assigned it because our of our hounds.  It was a fairly comfortable room; somewhat large with a little patio to its back, a minibar, free WiFi, a couch, and plenty of storage.  The bathroom was pretty tiny– the shower especially so.  But it was very clean, basically pleasant, and very traditionally German.  We had a TV in the room, but Bill never did get it to work.  It looked like it lacked a power cord, though it was hooked up to cable.  No matter… we aren’t into German TV anyway.

I promptly got into bed and fell asleep, only to be awakened a few hours later by the people living in the house next door.  They were enjoying a Sunday game of football.  Ordinarily, that wouldn’t bother me, but since I was tired, I was a bit cranky.  There’s also a lot of traffic noise because the hotel is situated between two major roads and near churches that ring bells a lot, especially on Sundays.

There are plenty of restaurants near this hotel and we had the chance to try several of them.  You can read my reviews on this blog.  Hotel Flora also offers a very generous breakfast, which is included in the room rate.  The breakfast is basically a large buffet with breads, cold cuts, cheeses, cereals, yogurts, scrambled eggs, boiled eggs, juices, tea, and coffee.  One other note– the mini bar was well stocked and reasonably priced.  They even had appropriate glassware for the beers in the fridge.  You may not be able to find an extra pillow in the cabinets, but by God, you’ll have the right glass for your hefeweizen.

Housekeeping is pretty good, though they weren’t consistent as to when they’d show up.  Since we had dogs, that was kind of inconvenient.  Some days they’d come at 10:00am; sometimes, they’d show up at 3:00pm.  I never knew when they needed to clean the room, so I’d end up waiting for them so I could take the dogs out.  I will say, though, that the staff is very nice and helpful.

Parking is available in an underground garage connected to the hotel.  It costs six euros a day.  Reception closes at 2:30 on Sundays, but if you need to check in, you can go to the hotel’s sister property.  I don’t know where that is, but a number is posted on the front door.  Smoking is allowed in some rooms; if you are sensitive to smoke, you should request a non smoking room.  If you want to smoke, you can request a room that allows it.

Hotel Flora is very close to an S-bahn stop, which was nice for Bill.  There’s also a bus stop close to the hotel.

We spent about $1000 for our week at Hotel Flora.  We are now in an apartment, which is a lot cheaper than the hotel was.  We have found a house, but won’t be moving in until September 1.  All in all, this move is going more smoothly than our first one here went.  Someday when I’m bored, I will write about our six weeks at the Vaihinger Hof, which was a crazy but fun place to be.  😉

Overall, I would recommend Hotel Flora, though it may not be the most conducive place for military folks to be long-term.  It worked out fine for us, though, and they were very nice about our dogs… but then, we paid an extra 20 euros (10 per dog) per day to allow them to stay there.  Had we not had dogs or a car, our rate would have been 83 euros a night.

Yet another La Quinta…

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We’re staying at a La Quinta about 40 minutes from where our soon to be former house is.  It actually would have made more sense to stay at a La Quinta closer to Converse, since it’s on the way to Houston.  But Bill’s mom lives on the northwestern side of San Antonio, so we decided to stay closer to her.  She’s driving us to Houston.  Or actually, Bill will probably drive… and she will come along and drive back home afterwards.

I’m going to stay in the hotel tomorrow while Bill deals with the movers.  I’ve done all I can do and the dogs need to be kept out of the way.  I’m happy because I don’t want to go back to that house ever again and now I don’t have to.

We are at La Quinta because it’s pet friendly and reasonably priced.  It’s basically got all we need, though if we were sans dogs, I’d want a more comfortable place.  The breakfast at La Quinta rather sucks.  This particular La Quinta is pretty well booked, too.  Hope I can keep the dogs calm tomorrow.  I’d almost want to go with Bill tomorrow because I think I’ll be bored, stuck here with no car.  But it’s really too hot to leave the dogs outside all day while the movers come in and out of the house.

Hard to believe I’ll be in Germany again in just a few days.  I will have plenty to write about.

Planning the route…

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It’s going to take us a few days to move to San Antonio.  San Antonio is about 1300 miles from here and we’ll probably have a UHaul or something so our life is bearable when we get to our new home, wherever that ends up being.  We’ll probably have to spend a night in a local hotel because after we clean the house, we’re going to want to have a decent night’s sleep before starting the journey west.  Since we have our dogs, the places will have to be dog friendly.

When we left Georgia, it was relatively easy.  We boarded our dogs for a couple of days while we cleaned the house.  Then the morning we left, we picked them up.  The drive to North Carolina took about six hours.  Piece of cake.

This time, we will have to find pet friendly hotels.  I have a feeling we will become intimately acquainted with La Quinta, since that chain is famously pet friendly and there are about 80 of them on our route to San Antonio.  I suspect the first leg will take us to the Atlanta area, where we’ll try to pick up some excellent JailHouse beers.  The next day, we’ll probably stop somewhere on the Gulf coast… maybe Biloxi or Mobile or maybe even somewhere in Louisiana.  The third night, we’ll probably stop in eastern Texas somewhere.  Maybe Houston?

I don’t know.  Bill says the Army expects us to drive 400 miles a day.  I look forward to Texas, but dread the driving and heavy lifting and cleaning…