Wining and dining at Ratskeller in Tübingen

We had beautiful sunny weather today, although it was cold and kind of windy.  I got the idea to go to Tübingen to pick up some wine at Vinum Weine & Feines, one of my favorite wine stores in the area.  I wanted to see if they had any Georgian Saperavi.  It’s the only wine shop I’ve found yet in Germany that carries Georgian wines.

Before we hit Vinum, though, we needed to have lunch.  We decided on Ratskeller on a whim.  We’ve passed this place a bunch of times, but never noticed it had a restaurant.  Apparently, it’s a club that hosts bands in the evenings.  I was actually lured there by the sign below…

The sign above the bowl reads :”Bitte, hier trinken anstatt zu pinkeln.”  Translation: Please drink here instead of peeing.  I’d love to know what prompted the management to post that sign…


Today’s specials.


The front facade.  


Bill stares in wonder at the locally produced IPA he found.  It was actually very good.  He was impressed.


Nice to see the Germans getting in on making craft beers.


I had a glass of wine (grenache and syrah blend), which came with a small glass of sparkling water.  Notice under the tulip is an ad for a Jam Session.  The Ratskeller hosts bands.  I think our table was actually on the small stage.

Ratskeller seems to specialize in burgers.  They had everything from a plain ol’ cheeseburger to veggie burgers.  They even had choices for vegans.  I noticed they had a few other items for those who didn’t want sandwiches, as well as soups, salads, and specials.  Bill and I decided to have burgers, although neither of us went for the usual American beef variety.  I had a chicken burger and Bill had a vegetarian apple and cheese burger.  He said the cheese was somewhat mild and it came with a dressing and tomatoes.

Bill’s apple and cheese burger.  This was one of the weekend specials.  He didn’t realize it was a meat free sandwich, but enjoyed it just the same.  The fries were ordered a la carte and came with a “dip”.  They had ketchup and mayo, as well as a number of more exotic dips.  We both had ketchup.


My chicken burger had thin breaded chicken breast filets, sliced tomatoes, a curry dressing, lettuce, cheese, roasted onions, and pineapples.  It wasn’t bad at all, although the burger was pretty large and got kind of messy.  I couldn’t eat the whole thing.


The interior of the restaurant is pretty nice.  There’s an attractive bar area, as well as a cavernous dining room that looks like it was the old cellar.  I noticed they had lots of board games there for people to play.

The “cavern” dining room… on the way to the ladies room.


Board games for the bored.

And the bar.


I noticed there were signs posted warning clients of the patrons of date rape and sexual harassment.  Apparently, Ratskeller and other local night spots are committed to preventing their guests from being harassed.  It was translated into several languages.  I was glad to see it.

“No means no.”

In French and Arabic.

In English…

Our bill came to about 33 euros.  All in all, we enjoyed our lunch and would eat at Ratskeller again.  It has a nice atmosphere, reasonable prices, and pretty good food.  Maybe next time, one of us will brave one of the more conventional beef burgers.  After Bill paid, we headed to Vinum for wine shopping.  I snapped a few more photos on the way.

Someone has a weakness for Gremlins, Garfield, and Odie.  Guess they must be about my age.


The city square is looking fine, as usual.


I especially love visiting here when the sun is out.  Lots of people were enjoying the sun, drinking coffee and beer outside.  It was still a little too chilly for me.  I guess you can take a girl out of the South, but not the South out of the girl.

The entrance to my favorite bottle shop in these parts.  


They have whisky and other tastings, too.  We didn’t partake of any whisky today.


But if you want to try some of their wines, you can help yourself to the ones they set out.


Just grab a glass and go to town!  I only tasted two today.  I’m usually pretty shameless when it comes to tasting wines at Vinum, but restrained myself.


We did manage to score two bottles of Georgian Saperavi.  In fact, we cleaned them out of what they had on display.  I want to encourage them to stock more.  For those who are curious…

This is what we’ve picked up on our last few visits.  If you like leathery, full bodied reds with a lot of character, you may want to give it a try.


This was the total haul.  We were conservative because Bill forgot his wine bag and we are already pretty flush with vino right now.  I just got a bunch of Armenian wines from Armenian Brandy and Wines out of Belgium.


Right next to Vinum is an optical shop.  I liked the eye charts they had for men and women.

Apparently, women prefer shoes…


And men prefer beer.  Actually, I’d rather take the beer test.

On the way to the parking garage, I noticed someone was using a US mailbox.  I haven’t seen one of these in over three years.

Tübingen is always lovely, but especially when the sun is shining!  Bring on spring!


Tomorrow, it looks like we’re going to head to a place we’ve not yet been… provided the weather is decent and we get up and going in time.  We probably should have spent more time out and about today and probably would have, if not for the gusty wind!  I am so ready for better weather!


Blast from the past…

My body language says it all…


Yesterday was Throwback Thursday on Facebook.  One of my friends wanted to see a photo of me when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer.  A lot of my photos from that time period are in storage in Texas.  However, I do have some pictures from a trip I took in June and July 1996.  My friend Elaine and I went by bus from Yerevan, Armenia to Turkey and Bulgaria.  Our first stop on our trip was in Istanbul.  Even though Armenia borders Turkey, we couldn’t go there directly because Armenia and Turkey had no diplomatic relations.  We had to access Turkey via Georgia, which was in itself its own adventure.

Northeastern Turkey is one of the most beautiful areas I have ever seen in my lifetime.  It seriously looks like a fairyland.  The above photo was taken not long after an arduous ordeal at the Georgia/Turkey border, just a couple of days after my 24th birthday.  We were stuck at the border for most of the day and had spent a lot of time drinking vodka and waiting for the customs people and border guards to let us through.  We’d been sitting in a big field near the border that was filled with wildflowers… and little piles of human excrement.  Unfortunately, there were no bathrooms at the border, so many people had just copped a squat behind bushes.

Maybe an hour or two after the border crossing, we stopped for watermelon and more vodka.  At this point in the trip, we had been traveling for maybe 24 hours.  I was tired because I can’t sleep on buses… or at least I couldn’t in those days.  It took another two days to get to Istanbul.

Our bus from Yerevan to Istanbul.  About half of the seats were taken out to accommodate goods.  This bus went from Yerevan to Istanbul every week and was mostly used by people buying stuff in Turkey to sell in Armenia.  It was mostly empty on the way to Turkey, but was probably loaded to the gills on the way back.

The man in the first photo was an obnoxious Armenian guy who would not leave me alone.  He kept grabbing me and talking to me.  At one point, he commented on how fat I am.  When this picture was taken, he was trying to bond with me.  Just imagine… we’d been on a hot bus for more than a day.  He hadn’t bathed, brushed his teeth, or used deodorant in some time (if ever).  He was sweaty and reeking of cigarettes and vodka.  In the photo, I’m cringing, yet still somehow able to smile.

Another shot of our watermelon break.  Notice how the guys are squatting.  I always called that the “Armenian squat”.  You’d see men squatting like that all over the place.  I’m sure people around the world squat like that, but I never noticed it as much as when I lived in Armenia.  These folks were pretty nice to Elaine and me.  We were the only Americans on the bus, so we were invited to the party.

Back when I was there, Armenians loved having their picture taken.  When the guy in the photo saw me pull out my 35 millimeter camera with actual film in it, he insisted on striking a pose with me.  I don’t remember the guy’s name or even if he told me what it was, but he was just one in a string of males on that journey who offered unwanted attention to Elaine and me.  The funny thing is, we were both looking a bit scruffy during that trip.

Those were the days when I earned $5 a day as a Peace Corps Volunteer, so there was no money for anything other than the necessary and the practical.  Moreover, Elaine actually loaned me $500 so I could go with her to Turkey and Bulgaria.  After a year spent in 90s era Armenia, Turkey was like a modern wonderland.  Aside from the sexual harassment, we had a fabulous time.

You might notice the raw spots on my legs.  I think the wound on my left leg was caused by a shaving mishap.  I was trying to shave in the dark (had no electricity in my apartment) and I accidentally skinned my shin.  Both of my legs were also horribly chafed because a couple of days before we took off for Turkey, we attended a fundraiser for hungry horses at the Yerevan Hippodrome.  The organizers let us ride some of the horses.  I made the mistake of wearing shorts (which I NEVER did when I rode horses all the time).  While in the saddle, I rubbed some of the flesh off my legs.  Despite the injuries, that remains a great memory for me, because it was the first time I’d been on a horse since 1990 and I found I could still ride with relative ease.

I have wonderful memories of cantering effortlessly around the ring on a stallion, the very first one I ever got to ride in my lifetime.  That experience was well worth getting chafed legs.  I remember the guy asking me twice if I knew how to ride.  I have never been obviously athletic.  I promised him that I did know how to ride a horse, so he let me go.  People were surprised by my skills; most of them didn’t know I practically grew up in a barn.  Sadly, since that day, I have not been riding.  I have also not done any other three day bus trips on no frills transportation.  I can’t say that is my favorite way to travel, but it was definitely memorable and special.  I’m glad I had the opportunity.  I’d love to go back to Turkey now that I’m married.  😉