customs

The first night of Breckenheim’s very first wine fest!

This year, we seem to be attending so many wine fests! It’s probably on account of COVID-19 restrictions finally going away. October is coming, and there may be new restrictions, based on what the virus does. For now, Germans are having their beloved festivals, and where we live, they’re all about the wine. Remember that we moved to Wiesbaden in late 2018, so we missed the 2018 season. In 2019, it was “normal”, but we were dealing with stress associated with our departure from Stuttgart that put a damper on our spirits. Then came 2020 and 2021, and fests were significantly reduced. In 2022, things have rebounded a lot.

Our little town of Breckenheim is up and coming. We just got a weekly market, which started last week, probably to justify the installation of the new public toilet (which I got to use last night). This week, had a market AND a wine fest. I anticipate that there will be a lot more socializing in our village, and it’s a great thing. I’ve stated more than once how much we have enjoyed how convivial Breckenheim is. It’s a very different, friendly, mostly inclusive vibe here that helps to make up for losing the awesome beauty of the Schwarzwald in our backyard.

Bill came home from his latest business trip yesterday afternoon. He took Arran to the vet, because he’s been a little “off” lately, plus his run ins with the hedgehog in our backyard resulted in his getting fleas. Hedgehog fleas apparently don’t infest dogs and cats like regular fleas do, but they do bite. I noticed Arran had swollen popliteal lymph nodes, too. So he got a fine needle aspirate, antibiotics, and flea meds. One of the fleas was kind enough to jump off of Arran when he was being examined. Bill said the vet, two techs, and he all worked together to corral the nasty beast so it can be studied under a microscope. I’m hoping that whatever has Arran acting odd will turn out to be related to the fleas and isn’t due to cancer. He’s about 14 years old now, and our last three dogs succumbed to cancer. Arran was a little slow this morning, but after he had some breakfast and a walk, he perked up a bit.

The wine fest is going to go on all weekend. We’ll probably go again, because we had so much fun last night. At first, there were a couple of ladies giving us the side eye when they heard us speaking English to another American. Later, our next door neighbor’s mom came over to talk to us. She went over and sat with the ladies, and probably told them we weren’t tourists. Then our landlord bought us a round of wine. And then the young family who is moving to our neighbor’s vacant apartment came over with their kids, and we had a great time chatting with them. I have a feeling they are going to be good friends. They even asked us to carve a jack o’ lantern for Halloween, because they want to celebrate it. I’m happy to do that. I’m not very good at carving pumpkins, though.

Halloween is kind of hit or miss in Germany. One year, during our first stint in Germany, we had people come to our door and we weren’t prepared. Then we weren’t home other years. Bill now picks up candy in case anyone rings the bell, but no one ever does. Looks like this year will be different. This is the same family who brought me a piece of the pretzel the other day. I found out that the mom is half Italian, which explains why she found the Stuttgart area to be less friendly. It’s my experience that Italians are stereotypically a lot warmer– sympatisch— as my Italian friend who lives in Germany would say– than people from Swabia are. At least at first. I’ve found that most Swabians will eventually warm up, once you get to know them. It just usually takes more time than it does up here in Hesse.

We were only going to stay a little while last night, then go home and have dinner, which is why we didn’t try the food vendor’s wares. Instead, we ate a pretzel with Spundekäs, which wasn’t enough… especially considering how much wine we enjoyed. There were maybe four or five wine stands going, plus live music, plenty of seating, and the new toilet, which we learned last night cost taxpayers 120,000 euros or so… No wonder so many people were upset about it and a news guy from the local radio station was asking for opinions last year! But it is a nice facility, at least for now. And it’s Kostenfrei (free of charge), which really makes it special. 😉 I tried the new toilet, but failed to lock it properly. Luckily, I was finished when someone opened the door on me and said, “Entschuldigung!” (excuse me) I suppose I’ll learn the right way to lock the door, now that the village is about to be bustling with events.

Below are some photos from last night’s fun, plus a couple of videos from Bill’s return home.

Arran and Noyzi were delighted to see Bill after his trip. So was I!
Arran had to give his favorite person a hug. I was working on my latest puzzle.

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Uncategorized

Rheingauer Weinwoche in Wiesbaden, Part Zwei…

Bill and I had a productive morning. After I ranted in my regular blog, I decided to practice guitar and then change the strings. Changing the strings on my guitar is a major pain, mostly because of the types of gears I have on my headstock. It takes me awhile and sometimes involves some pain. However, as I just recently made a video in which I played guitar, I realized that a string change was probably long overdue… so I did that, and Bill bottled his latest homebrew.

I recently joined a couple of swell Facebook groups devoted to day trips, mostly because I have really missed seeing and writing about interesting places on the weekends, like we did in Stuttgart. It’s time we got back into the swing of doing that, so we can get more out of being in Germany, and maybe I’ll start making ad revenue again. I saw some places that interested me, but as we didn’t get to see the whole Wiesbaden wine fest on Friday, plus it was already the afternoon when we were ready to venture out, we decided to go back downtown.

We walked a bit around the much calmer fest, slowed down a bit by the bright sun and intense heat. This current heatwave probably isn’t the worst I’ve experienced, even in Germany, but it has been going on for awhile… I’m pretty tired of it. It makes me cranky. The weather channel says we will probably have some rain– finally– this week. I sure hope so. The heat is a real bummer.

I got some more photos and we decided to visit the Barth Weingut stall, because last year, we went to a wine stand in Hofheim and bought some of Barth’s wines to take home. They were, and still are, very good. I have to say, I liked them better than the wines we had on Friday night at Weingut Hamm. But then, I wasn’t the one choosing those wines. We had a pretzel and spundekäs (cheese dip), a local specialty out of Mainz.

We also had a late lunch– a hot smoked salmon sandwich for me, and pulled pork for Bill. While we were enjoying our wines from Barth, a couple sat at the table behind us and proceeded to chain smoke. I was a bit annoyed, since there were quite a few empty tables nearby where they could have sat and not fouled the air with their cigarette smoke. Then, I was dumbfounded when the female half of the couple donned a heavy duty FFP2 face mask! They were sitting there smoking for a good half hour, but then she decides she wants to be a COVID-19 warrior? Amazing! But that’s one of the mysterious things about living in Germany. Some folks are the crunchiest, most health conscious people you’ll ever meet. But they love to light up, especially while they enjoy local wines and beers.

Anyway, we stayed for about three hours, hearing the vague strains of live music as we enjoyed Rieslings by Barth. I don’t know if we’ll go back again, even though the fest is running until next weekend. I am a little tired of wine fests, and would really like to do something different, in a different town. But we can’t always go to the Wiesbaden Wine Festival, while those other activities are usually available.

Below are today’s photos… they aren’t as exciting, because today was a lot more laid back and low key. I kind of like it that way, to be perfectly honest. I am not a big fan of crowds and super busy events.

It was kind of a low key time to be visiting the fest, but that’s kind of the way I like it. Hopefully, next week, we’ll find a nice Tierpark or something. We’ll see.

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Germany

Our Heidelberger Birthday Holiday! Part six

Yesterday morning, we enjoyed another “lie in”, then packed up everything for the relatively brief trip home to Wiesbaden. I’m glad we went to Heidelberg. It’s not far from where we live, but it has a different feel. It was nice to leave Hesse, even if we were just over the line. I could have used another day, to be honest.

I didn’t take pictures of yesterday’s breakfast, which was much like the one before it, although we had it inside instead of out in the courtyard. I mentioned that it was my birthday and was hugely surprised by a special gift from the kitchen…

This was a delight! I truly wasn’t expecting it.

After breakfast, we brought our own bags down to the reception desk. They greeted me with a “Happy Birthday!”, having noticed it on the paperwork. All told, our extravagant weekend ran us about $2000 or so– including two nights in the junior suite, a couple of trips to the bar, breakfast, parking, one dinner, and a couple of bottles of wine. Yes, it was very expensive, but we felt it was well worth it after such a difficult and strange year. For us, personally, it wasn’t as difficult as it’s been for a lot of people… but it was definitely weird. I’m hoping for better and less odd days in the near future, as more people get vaccinated against COVID-19. We choose to enjoy life while we still can… and splurge when we can. Bill’s latest TDY per diem will be paying for this trip.

Since we couldn’t pick up the dogs until 6:00pm, we decided to go home a different way and spend a couple of hours in Speyer, a town in Rheinland-Pfalz I had heard a lot about but never had a chance to visit. On the way there, my German friend shared this adorable happy birthday video with me.

Bwahaahahahaaha!

After we parked the car, we started walking toward the picturesque city, when I spotted this…

We decided to just stroll through the town and take some photos, since we were really full from breakfast. Founded by the Romans, Speyer is one of Germany’s oldest cities. It’s the kind of place where it’s just cool to be there. It has a unique look and a different vibe. After our brief look, we’ll definitely have to go back for another visit and perhaps an overnight or two. Parking was cheap and easy in a huge lot near the downtown area.

After an emotional visit to the Dom, we strolled through the park, where there was a small fest going on. I kind of wanted to hang out for awhile, but Bill only paid for two hours of parking. Bummer… we will have to go back. This cute little festival was a nice reminder of what was, and what hopefully be again. Gotta keep the faith.

The dog was enjoying watching the kids on the ride!

We got home in the afternoon, just enough time for me to start the laundry and this travel series. We picked up Arran and Noyzi at the Tierpension Birkenhof 6:00pm. I could hear Arran all the way out to the car. He has a very distinctive bay! I’m happy to report that the boys did fine… When the caregiver opened the gate, Arran came right out to us.

Noyzi needed to be redirected. I’m glad to see he enjoyed his accommodations at the Tierpension Birkenhof!

Noyzi got confused and went back to his “room”. It actually took some convincing to get him to come out to us. Both dogs said goodbye and were relaxed and happy as we loaded them into the Volvo. I felt good about that. I didn’t expect Noyzi would have any trouble and he didn’t disappoint. I think the lady who watched them fell in love with Noyzi, which doesn’t surprise me, either. He’s a very sweet, gentle, easy to handle dog.

Arran says hello before he had his accident in our backyard.

My birthday would have ended up on a great high note, if not for Arran’s exuberance when we got home. Once we let him off the leash, he took off running outside. At some point, he must have careened under the bushes at a high rate of speed. He and Bill were having a reunification bonding session when I noticed blood on Arran’s shoulder. I took a closer look at the fresh wound and realized that he’d torn a big gash open, with a flap hanging down. It wasn’t bleeding a lot, but it was kind of deep.

So poor Bill had to take Arran to the Tierklinik Hofheim for debridement and stitches. Sadly, a lot of people were having pet emergencies last night, so although Bill got there at 9:30pm, he didn’t get home until 4:30am, about 825 euros poorer. The vet clucked sympathetically over the cost, which was pretty high… but in the United States, it would have cost a hell of a lot more than 825 euros to get emergency stitches for our dog in the wee hours of the morning. So while we wish the accident hadn’t happened, we’re grateful the clinic was available and Arran’s situation wasn’t worse. Bill said he counted three people who lost their pets last night. 🙁

Arran seems no worse for wear today, except for the stitches. They loaded him up with antibiotics and painkillers, and I suspect the forced rest will cramp all of our styles a bit. He jumped up on the bed at 4:30am, gave me a kiss, and went right to sleep. He’s been napping all day today. We’ll be taking the hedge trimmers to that bush in the backyard. This is the second time Arran has cut himself on it.

Well, that about does it for my birthday celebration for 2021. If you’ve been following along, thanks so much for reading. We really had a great time. I guess if there’s one thing we’ve learned from the pandemic, it’s that travel is a wonderful privilege that shouldn’t be wasted or taken for granted. And every once in awhile, it’s a good thing to splurge. I suspect our next splurge will be when we book our long awaited dentist appointments in Stuttgart. That will probably be next on the agenda… and after that, maybe a real vacation! Dare to dream!

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