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A day in a parrot paradise– Vogelburg

A couple of weeks ago, I joined a German Facebook group that offers ideas for fun day trips in and around the German state of Hesse. Actually, I joined an American run version of that group, but decided to join the German version when I noticed the group admin was mostly just reposting whatever was shared in the German group. He was adding very little original content or even a US perspective as he was resharing the German group’s content. So I decided I might as well join the German group, since locals often add information that Americans don’t have.

I know I recently mentioned that I would like to take this blog back to the way it was from 2014-2018, before we were dealt the double blow of a lawsuit with our former landlady and COVID-19. In 2019, we were new to Wiesbaden and trying to get used to our new town. Then, everything shut down for a long time, so that prevented us from exploring the way we would have, otherwise. For now, we are allowed to travel freely, but it’s taken time to get back in the mood to take day trips. Part of the reason I decided to go out today is because the weather was nice. It was sunny, but not too hot. Also, I needed to take my mind off of a threatening, harassing, message I got this morning on my now defunct Overeducated Housewife Facebook Page. One of the best ways to get me to temporarily forget about trouble is to visit animals.

Someone shared a post about Vogelburg, a sanctuary for rehomed parrots, parakeets, macaus, and cockatoos in the German Facebook group. I was intrigued, since I’d never heard of it. I showed Bill the official Web site, noted that it was open today, and we made plans to visit! The sanctuary is just north of Wiesbaden, on the way to Limburg, which is where we visited a few weeks ago. We probably could have gotten there in about 40 minutes, if not for a horrific pile up on Autobahn 3. We counted at least fifteen ambulances passing us, along with cop cars, fire engines, and the doctor’s car. The Stau held us up for about an hour, as we watched people exiting their vehicles to pee on the side of the road. It was quite frustrating, as I was also a bit hangry. However, once we got to the park, it was well worth the wait.

We paid eight euros each to enter the facility, bought some sunflower seeds, and made our way around, feeding the gentle and beautiful birds, watching them preen, listening to them communicate, and enjoying their antics. We saw one pretty cockatoo sitting on a girl’s shoulder while she petted it. Others were talking, hanging upside down, or begging for food. At first, I was nervous about feeding the birds, since there were picture signs warning about bloody fingers (see my photos). But I soon got the hang of things, and really enjoyed giving the birds treats. Quite a few of them really knew how to pour on the charm, as you can see in the video below.

Listen for the cuckoo bird!

After a couple of hours enjoying the birds, who came from all over the world, we decided to have a quick lunch at the park’s restaurant, which serves things like wurst, Frikadelle, potato salad, and cake. Bill and I both had bratwursts with potato salad. I could not finish the huge serving of potato salad, but did enjoy washing everything down with a cold Weizen beer. I did notice that the facility looked like it had been around a while and could use some refurbishment (ETA: it dates from 1981). But the birds are well cared for and very entertaining. They also have a Parrot School, which I guess is a program where visitors can learn more about the birds (ETA: My German friend says that the school is for the parrots). All of the signage is in German, though, which makes me think the “school” probably is, too.

We both left Vogelburg smiling, and I decided that we need to spend more time in this part of Hesse, which is quieter and less built up than Wiesbaden is. It reminded me a little of the lovely rural areas near Stuttgart we used to enjoy regularly when we lived down there.

This is a great activity for young children, although strollers may not be the best idea there, because there are cobblestones. They even have a cool slide at the top of the hill that kids can slide down and land in a sand pit. Plenty of adults were enjoying the park, too, as the birds are very social, healthy, and friendly! On the way out, there’s a gift shop. We didn’t stop in. This park opens every year on March 15th, and the season runs through October 31st. It’s open daily, from 10am to 6pm. Parking is free!

I’m happy to report that the drive home happened without incident– no wrecks or Staus. That’s always a plus in Germany!

All in all, it was a great day! I’m so glad we went to see the beautiful birds of Vogelburg today. They really helped me enjoy the day, and forget my troubles for awhile.

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Lunch at Momenti di Vita Italiani in Hofheim!

We had pleasant weather yesterday, so Bill and I decided to take a quick trip to the nearby city of Hofheim. I really just wanted a change of scenery, but it was also time for lunch. We parked at our usual venue, the indoor lot at the Chignon Centre, which is an indoor shopping mall. It was kind of weird walking through there maskless. A few people still wear masks indoors, but for the most part, that custom has been abandoned… at least temporarily.

We looked around at some of the places where we’ve previously dined, as well as places we’ve wanted to dine, finally ending up at Momenti di Vita Italiani. This restaurant is right in the middle of the town, along the main drag. Though there weren’t a lot of people sitting inside the restaurant, the outside area was bustling. In retrospect, we probably should have eaten inside, if only to avoid the smokers and flies. But at least we could people and dog watch, which I did.

This restaurant has a very extensive menu. They had specials on a large easel, as well as on a smaller one on the table, plus they had the usual pizzas, pasta dishes, and Italian dishes found at most Italian eateries in Germany. Bill and I both decided on specials that were on the smaller, table easel. He had a glass of Pinot Grigio, while I had a Lugano to go with my dorade filet with wild garlic and asparagus pesto. Bill had linguini with sundried tomatoes, black olives, and mascarpone cheese.

Near us was a large table of English speakers. It sounded like three Brits and an American. They were talking about politics. Across from my was a couple who brought their two dogs. One was a very sweet and well-behaved Bulldog. The other looked like a very fit Rhodesian Ridgeback, who was barking at every dog who passed. We spent a couple hours on our leisurely lunch, and spent about 60 euros with the tip.

Below are some photos from our brief outing. It was brief, because the dogs weren’t that pleased that we were going out, but sometimes, I need to get out of the house without the dogs for my mental well-being.

I asked Bill to take the “back way” home, rather than the Autobahn. I like to be reminded that there are some pretty areas near us. Thanks to the pandemic, we haven’t explored this area as much as we should have by now. I’ve been wanting to go on some weekend outings, like we did in Stuttgart. Hopefully, we’ll get around to that again, soon.

I’m not sure what we’ll do today. It’s a bit cloudy outside. I might just give the dogs much needed baths and work on reading my latest book. I’m glad we managed to get out yesterday, though. It’s always a pleasure to visit Hofheim. We should do it more often.

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Wiesbaden is ALIVE again!

In celebration of our fully vaccinated and certified status, Bill and I decided to visit Wiesbaden yesterday. It was my first visit to the downtown in almost a year. I hated the COVID-19 rules so much that I just stayed home, where I could do my own thing without having to worry about confrontations, dirty looks, or judgments from other people. I realize that attitude was probably prompted by news articles and social media posts I was reading on the Internet about how things are in the United States. I read so many accounts of people getting into altercations about COVID-19 that it just turned me off of interacting with other people. So, visiting Wiesbaden was kind of a big deal. I guess our Heidelberg visit last weekend was a reminder to me that life is still going on where we live, too.

I took some photos of what was happening in Wiesbaden yesterday, as well as our visit to Scotch N’ Soda, an Irish pub and popular American hangout. We stopped in for lunch and got treated to a little concert by buskers… guys I’ve seen before in the city. They rove around town with their instruments. One guy has an upright bass violin. We saw him lugging it around before he met his buddies for their session. I was so happy to see and hear them that I tipped ten euros. One of them rewarded me with “twinkling eyes” (he squinted and smiled affectionately– I used to see this in Armenia all the time) and a hearty “Danke schoen!”

As we were enjoying beer and lunch at Scotch N’ Soda, the buskers played “my song”. It’s not my song in that I love it– although I do. It’s my song because I’ve sung it so many times that the lyrics are burned on my brain and I can’t mess it up. I’m the same way with Patsy Cline’s version of “Crazy”. I don’t actually do those songs very often anymore, because I’ve done them so many times. But people who know me and know my songs, know those are perennial favorites from way back!

Another one of our funny experiences in a Biergarten.

On our way out of Wiesbaden, a young woman with a child asked me in German if I had two ten cent pieces for a twenty cent piece. I was surprised when I understood her without having to think too hard about it. I guess seven years in Germany is finally rubbing off on me. 😉

I think we may head out again today… take my Mini Cooper convertible, which has suffered mightily from disuse during the pandemic. We had to replace the battery two or three times because it went dead from lack of driving. Finally, we bought a battery charger and an air pump for the tires, which also were going flat from temperature changes and lack of use. Normally, during the summer months, we use my car all the time!

I would like to drive to the Rhein– maybe to Eltville or Bacharach. I’m not sure how successful that would be, though, because Die Salzbachtalbrücke, which is a bridge on A66 is falling apart and will have to be blown up soon, because it can’t be repaired. That means a traffic nightmare for the next fourteen months or so, or at least that’s what the paper estimates. I’m pretty sure we usually go over that to get to those areas… and there are other places we haven’t been recently that need our attention. Maybe we’ll hit Hofheim today, instead. We’ll see… it’s just so nice to finally have the option to go out and be relatively free to be normal.

Wiesbaden was almost back to normal yesterday. They didn’t even do contact tracing at Scotch N’ Soda yesterday… no need to use the Luca app for checking in, like we did in Heidelberg last weekend. I hope the trend continues, although everybody is a bit worried about the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus.

I think now it’s time to plan for a vacation… and a trip to Stuttgart for dental hygiene purposes.

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Just another Saturday morning in Unterjettingen…

I’m writing a second post this morning because Bill is out of town and I need to fill up my time doing something constructive.  I thought I’d write a quick post about some of the shopping in our town.  I know some people read my blog for information about daily life in Germany, as well as the “contractor” lifestyle.

Jettingen is blessed with a Real, as well as several other handy stores.  We needed to visit the pet store yesterday because our dogs’ beds were falling apart and we wanted to replace them.  Jettingen has a pretty nice pet store and we managed to find what we needed.  But while we were waiting, I caught myself reading the signs.

I was impressed by everything the store had.  They had a great line of premium dog foods, as well as pick and pay dog treats.

I learned the word for collar, which kind of makes sense.  “Halsband” literally translates to “neck band”.  That describes a collar perfectly.

 

After we bought the new beds, some treats, a couple of new toys, and shit bags, we went to the Real, where I was shocked to find an honest to God Coinstar!

This may not seem like a big deal to some people, but I know we always have a huge load of coins at our house.  I’m glad to see this handy machine in Germany, at long last!

I kind of got a kick out of the “quiet zone/rest area”.  Basically, it’s a wooden bench in the middle of the bustling, big box store.  It has a water cooler, a trash can, and someone’s discarded package of toilet paper.  I don’t go into the Real very often myself.  It’s too crowded for me.

Someone’s graffiti on the Waschstrasse sign.  Bill says that’s been there for a couple of weeks already.  It’s not quite as funny as the word “penis” that was painted on a sign on A8 a couple of years ago, though.  I wish I’d gotten a photo of that.  What can I say?  I have a very juvenile sense of humor.

 

The dogs are enjoying their new beds.  One is a very fancy leather trimmed one that is quite well padded and comfortable.  The other is one that allows burrowing.  I’m not sure my dogs will get the hang of it, but they’ve already tested them out and seem to approve of the new bedding.  Of course, that doesn’t stop them from sleeping in our bed at night.

 
 
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Sundays

Afrika Fest in Böblingen, 2017

Once again, Bill and I were confronted with a weekend and no plans.  After checking out the Stuttgart Area Events and Celebrations Facebook group, Bill and I decided we should check out the Afrika Fest in Böblingen.  It started yesterday and continues through tomorrow.  There’s a bouncy house for kids, lots of exotic things to eat, live music, and shopping galore.  Bill and I usually don’t buy a lot at these fests, but we made an exception today.  We came home with a few things for the house, coffee, and products for my skin.  Here are some photos and anecdotes…

After parking in a garage near the Hendl Haus (the bibliotek), we had a short walk to the fest.  The first thing we encountered was the bouncy house.

Next, we came across the first of many places to buy African clothes…  I am always afraid of humiliation, so I rarely stop to look at the clothes.  

I did end up buying some olive wood here… after we did some other shopping.  

 

The food at the fest was excellent.  There were several stands selling food from Ghana, West Africa, and East Africa.  It all looked and smelled wonderful and was a nice change of pace.  Bill and I shared a plate for two that included chicken, turkey, shrimp, rice, and coconut sauce.  There was also a really delicious slaw included (which I usually don’t like).  It was delicious.

If you want mixed drinks…

or smoothies…

Before too long, we found ourselves at a stall where cosmetics featuring argan oil were being sold.  We came away from there with soap, oil, and a lovely smelling face cream.  The salesman was very astute and managed to get us to part with plenty of euros.

Bill says this is a much prized oil in Morocco.  We’ll see what it does for me.

Plenty of seating for eating and enjoying the festivities, which includes live music and impromptu dancing from kids and adults.

We made a stop at this table with beautiful silver and pottery from Morocco.

My sister was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco, so I recognized a lot of the stuff and liked it…

I was tempted by the shiny silver and then realized I’d have to clean it.  

Very cool toys for kids.  Made me wish I had one so I could buy stuff…

We sat next to the fake lake for lunch.

Our yummy shared lunch.  We didn’t wash this down with African beer.  Instead we had our ever present suds made by the Schonaich Brau.  That chicken was so tender it fell right off the bone, but I was most surprised by the slaw.  

The band was coming…

After lunch, we headed for the bank for more cash and went on a shopping spree.  It was handily located right across the street.

Lots of pretty things to see.

After a few passes through the market, we decided to walk around the lake.  It was our first time doing so, despite living in the area for a total of five years, off and on.

I got a kick out of this sign, especially since a little girl was feeding the ducks.

Those ducks are well fed, despite the signs prohibiting feeding them.

A pretty view from afar.

I did not know that the fair city of Böblingen has a rose garden dedicated to the Scottish poet, Robert Burns.  I know this verse from a choral piece I learned in college.  That was before I realized how much Scottish heritage I have… or how much German heritage, for that matter.

The rose garden dedicated to Robert Burns.

Something strange happened at about this time.  I was standing at a table, waiting for Bill to bring us some beer.  It was pretty loud because there were drummers on stage beating their skins.  A woman came up to me and said in halting German, “Ist hier frei?”  I was so taken aback that I took a moment to respond and shook my head.  She moved to the empty table next to ours.  I felt kind of bad about it, but then again, no American has ever spoken German to me.  I must be fitting in.  If that lady happens to read this, I sincerely apologize.  I was genuinely shocked.

Here’s the loot… We got two bars of heavenly smelling soap, some skin cream, and lotion from Morocco.

A new stool for my kitchen because I’m short and the dog looks like Arran.  It was only 25 euros.  I hope I don’t break it.

The elephant plant stand and the beautiful Moroccan bowl on top of it…  The plant stand is from Thailand and is nice and heavy.

Coffee and a little olive wood container for nuts and such.

Because I have a foul mouth and a raunchy sense of humor, I was really tempted to buy a baseball hat with the word “Fuck” written on it in ghoulish florescent green letters.  I didn’t do it, because I knew I’d feel too self conscious to actually wear it in public.  But even as I was considering buying it, I saw a guy with three young kids wearing a wife beater shirt that said “Fuck, tomorrow is Monday.”  It made me realize that language really is a relative thing.  Germans don’t seem to care that much about the word “fuck”.  Still, as an American, I do have some shame.  Besides, I almost never wear baseball caps.  It was kind of funny, though.  I saw several Germans wearing shirts with German swear words on them.  Made me wish I’d worn this shirt…

Maybe next time.

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Lunch in Nagold…

Bill and I had heard of Nagold last time we were here in Germany.  Bill had a co-worker who lived there– and it turns out the guy is still here, still working for EUCOM (which is where Bill used to work) and is now a contractor working for the same company Bill works for.  I remember that guy with much fondness.  He’s quite into wisecracking, as I am too.

Anyway, Jettingen is maybe five kilometers from Nagold, which is a very cute town.  When we used to live in Pfaffingen, we’d go to Herrenberg or Tuebingen on Saturdays, both of which were about ten minutes away from where we lived.  Herrenberg is still maybe ten minutes from here.  I haven’t been back to Tuebingen yet, but I’m guessing it’s maybe twenty or twenty-five minutes.  But Nagold also has a lot of what makes those places charming.  It’s less crowded than Tuebingen is, too.

Today, we went there, walked around a bit, and had a very nice lunch by the Longwy Platz.  I’m not sure what the significance of Longwy is in Germany, but I know it’s a town in northeastern France.  We’ve driven through it.

We left the dogs with Kongs filled with peanut butter, which obviously served very well in getting the dogs to simmer down and be occupied while we were gone.  Our outing was about two hours, but it made a difference.  I feel better, now.

The Longwy Restaurant was where we ate.  Our waitress spoke perfect English with virtually no accent.  And as soon as Bill spoke German, she switched to it.

Sights around Nagold…

Bill had lemon chicken…

And I had cordon bleu…

And a dunkleweizen for dessert…

We stopped in Edeka for some odds and ends and paid only one euro for parking.  I think we could spend quite some time in Nagold while we live in this area.  It’s a great town.  Everybody had their dogs out, too.

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