Travel insurance is important for expensive trips!
It’s a good thing that I bought travel insurance for our trip. In the weeks leading up to it, we learned that our older dog, Arran, has lymphoma. We had another dog named Zane who also had lymphoma, and sadly he died just one week after he was diagnosed. In Zane’s case, the cancer appeared while we were vacationing in Scotland back in August 2019, and we had no idea that he was sick. A week after we got home, I felt swollen lymph nodes under his jaws and a week later, he was gone. So naturally, I was worried about how Arran would do while we were gone. We didn’t find out about his lymphoma until canceling would have required us to pay 80% of the cost of the reservation at the Bareiss. Then, we would have been fighting the insurance company. Nevertheless, the thought of canceling did occur to us.
We ultimately decided not to cancel, because Arran is overall healthier than Zane was when he got sick. We also took him to the vet last week and she said she thought he would be okay during our time away. We had a fine needle aspirate done to see what kind of lymphoma Arran has– it doesn’t appear to be as aggressive as Zane’s was. We also knew that since we’d just be in the Schwarzwald, it wouldn’t be a problem to come back and deal with Arran if the need arose. We didn’t get any calls from the Hundepension while we were gone, so we assume he did alright. He has an appointment to see the vet on Wednesday, at which point we’ll determine what can be done to make the rest of his time the most comfortable.
I’m bringing up travel insurance for another reason. A friend of mine from back home in Virginia was fretting the other day because she had booked a cruise, and the area from which the sailing was occurring was affected by Hurricane Ian. She did not buy travel insurance. Fortunately, it didn’t turn out to be necessary; the cruise was delayed, rather than canceled. But she was lamenting about not being “smart enough” to get insurance. I don’t always insure my trips, but I will for expensive hotels that I can’t cancel, and for things like cruises. This trip, being well into the four figures, was expensive for us. So I sprang for the insurance with “cancel for any reason” coverage, just for the peace of mind. I really recommend it, even though it adds an additional cost to the trip. We buy our insurance through USAA, but you can purchase it through many outlets. Be sure to read the reviews before taking the leap! Not all travel insurers are created equally. In fact, given how much service at USAA has been slipping lately, maybe it’s time I re-evaluated getting insured through them. 😉
Edited to add: I am pleased to report that Arran made it through his time at the Hundepension with no issues. He’s home, and delighted to be back with his favorite person, Bill!
Now… on to happier matters!
We decided to start our trip on Wednesday, because our dental visit was scheduled for Thursday afternoon. Downtown Stuttgart is about a 90 minute drive from Baiersbronn, and we didn’t want to be in a situation in which we were arriving late. In retrospect, it would have been okay to arrive on Thursday. I just thought it would be better to be checked in and settled before the dentist visit, especially since we had never been to the Bareiss before and didn’t know how things worked there. Besides, we love luxury hotels, so an extra night is never a hardship.
On the way to the Schwarzwald, we stopped at the Hundepension with Arran and Noyzi. Noyzi was absolutely delighted to be there. He loves the young lady who takes care of him– and young women in general. He also loves to play with other dogs. I expected Arran to be sulky, but he was actually pretty chill. Noyzi practically dragged me to the gate, while Arran moseyed along quietly, touching noses with a few dogs who greeted us on the way in. When we got to the gate, Noyzi literally pounded on it with his paw! He was so excited to see Natasha, the caretaker.
We explained about Arran to Natasha and I asked her to contact us if she had any problems with Arran, since we were only going to be a couple of hours away. Natasha didn’t contact us, so I’m guessing Arran was a slower, finickier version of himself. Bill will go get them in a little while.
Once the dogs were dropped off, we got on the road, stopping at a Rasthof for a bathroom break. Awhile later, we both needed another potty break. Unfortunately, at the second time we needed a break, there weren’t any full service facilities available. Bill decided to pull off at one of the “free” WCs on the side of the Autobahn. Those things are a mixed bag. Sometimes, they’re relatively clean and well maintained. Sometimes, they are something out of a horror show. The one we encountered on the way to Hotel Bareiss was closer to the horror show. The floors were a bit flooded, and there was toilet paper strewn everywhere. I have seen some truly gross facilities in my time, having lived for over two years in Armenia, where the public toilets were so nasty that one was happy to find a squat hole, rather than a commode. We should have moved on from that toilet, but I decided to hold my nose and go. It was not a good decision, as the gross water on the floor got on my pants.
Bill did come away from the experience with a funny story, though. A lot of the men were just going behind the facility and peeing in the woods. I should have done that myself, actually. But one elderly German man braved the toilet with Bill, and complained to him in German. He said something along the lines of, “So, this is Germany. We were in the Netherlands for four days last week. Everything there was right. Look at the state of things here in Germany. Shameful!”
I was pretty grossed out by that bathroom experience, and especially by the souvenir left on my pants. I actually considered changing pants before we got the hotel, I was so offended. But we pressed on, and arrived at the Hotel Bareiss in the early afternoon. We pulled up the grand structure with the electric gate, that didn’t open for us at first. But then we arrived at the front of the hotel, and a very kind and friendly man in a green blazer welcomed us. We walked into the lobby for the first time, noticing that the doors opened electronically just about everywhere on the grounds.
A young man at reception eagerly welcomed us, easily finding our booking. He spoke English, but had some sort of severe speech impediment. I don’t know exactly what it was– maybe stuttering of some sort, or perhaps dysprosody? He was very professional, and I was amazed by his ability to explain things to us in English, in spite of his obvious problems speaking with fluency. We tried to put him at ease to make it easier for him to speak clearly. The only issue was that he had a trainee with him who appeared somewhat amused by his colleague’s difficulties speaking to us. I suppose that’s a human reaction, but it was kind of uncomfortable to witness.
The young man showed us the little “mailboxes” in the lobby, where we could store our car key fob for easy access when we wanted the car brought to us. Then he took us to our room. I booked the Double Room Rotunda Landhaus II. This room– LH 35– had a huge balcony with a nice view and was outfitted with quaint floral accents. There was a large heart on our door that read “Herzlich Willkommen!” I noticed the heart sign was on the doors of all newly arriving guests. The bathroom had a huge bathtub in it, that I never got around to trying. It had his and her sinks, a bidet, and lots of gold fixtures. There was lots of closet space and a minibar, as well as an adjustable bed, couch, and a flat screen television with German channels. Below are some photos of the room:
Because it was still early in the day, and we hadn’t had lunch, we decided to see what we could find to eat. It was about 1:30pm, so they were serving lunch in the dining room where we had most of our meals. Lunch is not included in the price of the room, but breakfast and dinner are. That was different from the Hotel Engel Obertal. There, breakfast and lunch are included, but dinner isn’t.
Bareiss has several a la carte restaurants, including the Kaminstube, which we didn’t try, the Dorfstube, and the Forellenhof, which we tried last year. The hotel also has a Three Star Michelin Star restaurant called Restaurant Bareiss. Of course, to eat in the fanciest restaurant, one must reserve well in advance. Maybe we’ll try Restaurant Bareiss if we manage to stay at the hotel again. I would love to do that, since I was impressed by our a la carte lunches. The meals we got from the board option were all excellent, but I was very impressed by the a la carte dishes that we paid for separately. I definitely think there’s an even higher standard with those menus. Below are some photos from lunch, which we purposely kept small, because I knew dinner was liable to be a big production.
After lunch, we took our first walk through the “Waldpark”, which includes a short barefoot trail and a petting zoo. We met the hotel’s delightful goats and ponies, as well as some of the rabbits kept on site. Bareiss also has pet deer on the premises, but we never got around to visiting them. I was too enchanted by one special goat, who proved to be very friendly and willingly posed for several photos. I wanted to get a pet goat after meeting the ones at Hotel Bareiss!
For dinner, the hotel management requests that guests dress in smart casual attire. I didn’t see this rule being enforced, much to the chagrin of one European TripAdvisor reviewer. I did bring a couple of dresses, which proved to be useful, especially on Saturday night. Most nights, I wore pants and a sweater, while Bill dressed like he was going to work. Some people wore jeans, though, and weren’t turned away at the door. The staff all wore traditional German attire. I was impressed by the beautiful dirndls and dresses the women wore. I don’t generally like uniforms, but I thought the ones at Bareiss were very nice looking.
As for dinner itself– it’s extensive. Each night, there’s a theme. Most meals begin with a trip to the humongous salad bar/buffet, where there are many different dishes available, according to the theme. The array of choices is incredible. I counted over 35 different cheeses offered. I don’t eat much cheese myself– at least not the fancy ones that Bill likes. I do enjoy watching him enjoy them, and he sure went to town.
Then, you choose courses from the menu– starters, soups, fish dishes and red meats, cheeses, and desserts. If nothing on the themed menu impresses, you can order steak, or other cold dishes that are always available. Beverages are not included in the price of dinner, but they are included at breakfast. Each night, we enjoyed a different bottle of locally produced German wine from the hotel’s vast cellar. And, in case anyone is wondering, yes, they have wines from other places, too.
Below are some photos from our first dinner, which had an Asian theme. I wasn’t very hungry, due to the lunch we enjoyed late in the afternoon, so I only had fish and dessert… and wine, of course. The family that owns the hotel gifted us with a complimentary glass of Sekt. Dinner is served from 6:30pm, and the staff requests that people come between 6:30 and 8:30pm, although it’s possible to come later– until 10:00pm. Our waitress the first two nights was the same lady who looked after us at lunch. She was very friendly and professional.
I’d say our arrival was a success! Stay tuned for part three.