Shopping American in Wiesbaden…

Advertisements

Bill and I spent last weekend getting to know our local military installation.  Wiesbaden is a bit different than Stuttgart, which at this writing, has commissaries on each of its four installations.  In Wiesbaden, there’s only one commissary, and it’s located on Hainerberg, which is not the installation where Bill works.  We wanted to buy a few items that aren’t generally available in German grocery stores.  AAFES, too, is located on Hainerberg, which is also where the American schools and stairwell housing are.  Hainerberg is close to Wiesbaden proper.

This week, I knew I would be getting Internet access and we also planned to get German TV.  Prior to last weekend, we had two TVs.  One was a Hitachi model we bought in 2007, when we lived in the Stuttgart area the first time.  That one is compatible with German TV and is dual voltage, although it’s showing its age.  It works fine, but it’s kind of small.  It’s funny, because I remember we paid $899 for it at Panzer Kaserne and I remember thinking it was a huge, snazzy TV back then.   Now, it looks puny and prehistoric.  Even though it’s a “flatscreen” TV, it’s at least twice as thick as today’s models.  I remember thinking it was such a new fangled set, having grown up with a huge floor model box TV that had no remote control.  Times, and TVs, have really changed.

Our other TV was purchased in 2013 at a Target near San Antonio.  That one I figured wouldn’t be compatible with German TV and isn’t dual voltage.  We used it for DVDs and Apple TV in Stuttgart. Now that I know a bit more about modern “smart” TVs, I realize our Target purchased television probably would work with German cable.

Saturday, we decided to go to AAFES to look for a new TV.  We found one.  It’s a 55 inch Samsung model with a curved screen.  It’s a huge TV for us.  I never thought we’d ever go that large.  At $799, it was $100 less than what we paid for our comparatively puny Hitachi from 2007.

It was probably not the best idea to buy a TV at AAFES, since they really only sell American electronics there.  I mean, there are times when you can find 220 appliances  there, and we did find our dual voltage PAL/NTSC compatible TV at the Panzer AAFES.  However, as a general rule, most of what they offer isn’t really Europe friendly.  If you’re planning to move back to the States after three years, that’s probably not such a big deal.  But we’ve been in Germany four years so far and may be here for at least a couple more years.  We probably should have hit Media Markt.

The sales guy at AAFES explained that the old PAL/NTSC thing of old TVs is no longer a thing.  Now, if you have a receiver, you can access German TV with a smart TV.  We were also under the impression that our new TV is dual voltage and, we thought, like our old Hitachi from 2007, it might even come with both American and European plugs.

Well… sadly, we were mistaken.  The new TV is not dual voltage and did not come with compatible plugs.  Like our other “smart” TV, it requires a transformer.  And, when the Deutsche Telekom guy came to install the Internet and our TV service, he said that we needed more Internet equipment besides the receiver they sent us.  I think he said we needed another router and somewhere to hook up to a phone.  There is a phone outlet in our bedroom, but it doesn’t function.  So… our new TV will handle Apple TV and DVDs.  I don’t know if we’ll get German TV or not.  I guess it doesn’t matter.  I’ll let Bill sort it out.

While we were waiting for pay for the new TV, we ended up talking to a very friendly lady wearing an Irish fisherman’s sweater.  Bill can’t resist interjecting whenever someone starts talking about Ireland.  He overheard her talking about the sweater and started telling her about how fishermen in Ireland all have sweaters with special patterns that apply to their families.  It turned out the friendly woman runs a ministry.  She wanted to know if we have kids.  Nope… just dogs.  I guess I don’t have a problem with ministries for those who like them.  I, myself, am not a very religious person.  If I did have children, I’m not sure if they would be religious.  Maybe they would be… but it was kind of an awkward conversation.  On the other hand, it was also nice to be warmly welcomed.

Anyway, we were not the only ones buying TVs on Saturday.  There was a lady ahead of us who was being rather demanding with the sales guys.  She left with a 70 inch TV that barely fit in the back of her SUV.  I heard the sales guy say it was a good thing she didn’t go for the 75 inch model.  I saw several other people carting huge TVs out of AAFES on Saturday.  As for Bill and me, we managed to get the TV in the RAV 4 with no help from anyone.  However, I did almost lose the receipt.  It was very windy on Saturday and the receipt blew out of my hand.  I went chasing after it, looking like the fool I am.

A very nice teenaged girl helped me chase it down as it skittered in front of AAFES.  Every time we thought we had it, a gust of wind would blow it just out of our reach.  Her reflexes were faster than mine were and we finally captured the receipt after a few minutes of chasing it.  Normally, I wouldn’t worry so much about a receipt, but for $799, I figured it was important to keep it in case the TV didn’t work out.

One thing I noticed at AAFES in Wiesbaden is that there is no Turkish rug store there.  I’m kind of sad about that, since I would like to buy a couple more rugs for our house.  Another thing I noticed is that people are completely oblivious at AAFES.  As crowded as the one in Stuttgart is, the one in Wiesbaden was more so, and has a different layout.  And the aisles were packed with products and people who weren’t paying attention.  This was especially true in the food court area, which is where we entered the building.  Next time we go to AAFES, I’m going to skip walking through the food court.  Not only is it very crowded, it’s also packed with people with a one track mind.  I almost got run over by a woman on the way to the fountain drink machines.

We decided not to eat at AAFES, although as we were gassing up the car, I did notice that Wiesbaden has an Asian restaurant on site.  It looked like it gets good reviews, too.  But we decided we’d rather eat in Wiesbaden, so off we went in search of lunch.  More on that in my next post.

Shots of the outside of our new home…

The license plate on our SUV is now different.  We are Wiesbadeners now…

Nagold’s Fall Fest and another lunch at Osteria da Gino’s!

Advertisements

Today was one of those days when I am really very thankful to live in Europe, and Germany in particular.  Most days are like that for me, but some days I’m even more grateful than others.  Today was one of those days.  It was just glorious.  I’m writing this post, not just for myself and for those who already live here, but also for those who are planning to move to the Stuttgart area or even somewhere in Europe.  I hope it will excite a few readers, especially those who have never lived in Europe.

It started with an enchanting sunrise…  One thing I will miss about where we live.  I hope our next house has such a view.

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about the Mix-Markt chain, which is a European grocery store that specializes in goods from countries in the former Eastern Bloc and Soviet Union.  We visited the one in Böblingen, mainly because I figured that location was most convenient for a lot of my local readers.  Today, we tried to visit the one in Nagold, but unfortunately, the parking lot behind the store was absolutely jammed, as was our usual parking lot that is close to the store.  We ended up parking on the other side of town, which would have made hauling a large booty of groceries an exercise in difficulty.  So, instead of visiting the Mix-Markt and picking up some more eastern European wines, we decided to check out Nagold’s Fall Fest which is happening today and tomorrow.  Tomorrow is a shopping day in Nagold, so not only will this fest be going on with lots of food and music, there will also be shopping.

Lots of pretty fashions were on sale.

Damn.  I knew I forgot something.  Should have gotten some quarkinis for tomorrow!  They smelled heavenly!

Alsatian pizza anyone?

Fun for kids.  I would have liked this when I was a youngster.  Looks like it’s akin to bungie jumping.

Before we went shopping, we stopped by another one of our favorite local restaurants, Osteria da Gino, and had a sumptuous lunch.  Gino was there today, just as jovial and hilarious as always.  He shook Bill’s hand and delivered his trademark warm and friendly service.

We started with a lovely Primitivo, chosen by Gino’s second banana… who also happens to speak English.  That’s handy, because Gino isn’t an English speaker, but he still manages to be very entertaining.

 

We split this absolutely heavenly Vitello Tonnato– veal with tuna-caper sauce.  I usually try to stay away from veal, but I made a rare exception today.  This is truly delicious.  It sounds like it wouldn’t be, but it is…  

A pause before the pasta arrived.

We both had homemade pasta and tomato sauce with meatballs and Parmesan cheese.  I saved half of mine for later, because I wanted dessert…

Yet another piece of Gino’s wonderful tiramisu, which we shared.

 

I know I gush a lot about the restaurants in Nagold, but they truly are delightful.  I’m going to miss this town for all it offers.  I hope we find a similarly lovely town near Wiesbaden.  Total for lunch, which lasted about two hours, was just under 90 euros.

After we ate, we visited the bustling market.  I took some photos.  As you can see, the produce was well loved by other shoppers.

Chestnuts are a big hit.  There are several trees near where I live and I often see people picking up the ones that are on the ground.

I was attracted to this beautiful display of heirloom tomatoes.  I love all the colors.

Bill laughs as I swoon to the musical stylings of an accordion player…

He was really helping the mood.

At this point, I noticed a woman selling chocolate.  She spoke Spanish, German, and English.  It turned out she’s from Ecuador and lives in Calw and she operates her own chocolatier that uses less sugar.  We ended up talking to her for a few minutes and bought some of her truffles and chocolate shavings.  I found myself getting a little sad, realizing that we’re going to be leaving this town and the area around it.  It’s really been a pleasure to live out here in BFE.

After we bought the chocolate, I spotted a “Nette Toilette” sign.  I have written about this program before.  It basically allows people to use the restrooms in public facilities, free of charge.  Gino’s is a designated Nette Toilette, as is the municipal building I found on the way back to the car.  If you spot a red sign that says “Nette Toilette”, it means the business is getting money from the city to allow people to use its restrooms.  That’s pretty handy to know.  It definitely came in handy today.

Next, we stopped at a stand where a man was very animatedly telling a couple about his olive oil.  He was also selling wine, so we stopped in…  I ended up tasting two wines.  He gave me a piece of very strong cheese to try with the wine, which I passed to Bill, who is much more of a cheese person than I am.  I told the guy that Bill eats cheese and I drink.  All of the English speakers cracked up.  Then the guy gave me ham and sausage to try with the wine.  I don’t think I’ll need dinner tonight.

German gin.  We didn’t buy any… but I was tempted.

 

A moose passed while the guy was telling us about his 1000 year old olive tree in Italy.  It just occurs to me that the women who are passing look a little pissed…  Wonder if they were giving me the stink eye.

Bill makes a decision about the oil while I look on…

The overall mood of this fest was very “festive” and convivial.  Everyone was enjoying themselves… lots of people were eating, drinking, being friendly, and loving their community.  I will really miss Nagold.  I have come to love it.

  
If you’re looking for something to do tomorrow, I recommend visiting Nagold and checking out this festival.  Gino’s will not be open tomorrow because Sunday is his Ruhetag, but there will still be food, shopping, live music, and kids’ activities.  As for Bill and me, I think we we finally visit the Cannstatter Fest so I can get some use out of my dirndl and he can try out his new kilt.  Hopefully, no one will throw up.  Just kidding.  I intend to do more observing than drinking.

Just another Saturday morning in Unterjettingen…

Advertisements

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.

 
 

Paul Simon or bust… Our Dublin getaway! Part six

Advertisements

Saturday morning, we woke up feeling pretty free, since the thing we’d come to Dublin for was finished.  Paul Simon’s concert was truly amazing and wonderful, even if being in such a large crowd and sitting in cramped seats wasn’t as comfortable as it could have been.  Still, Ireland was a great place to see Paul Simon perform, if only because a lot of the people in the crowd could actually sing. I don’t know what it’s like for other people, but I am unusually sensitive to bad singing.  I don’t know if it’s because I have perfect pitch or I’m just a perfect bitch…  It’s probably a regrettable combination of both conditions.  Anyway, I was glad that a lot of the people who were at Friday night’s show were decent singers.  If I have to listen to people singing along, I prefer them to be on key and most of the people in Friday’s crowd were.

We had no plans for Saturday, so we got up and went to breakfast.  I went with Irish buttermilk pancakes and a side of sausage.  Bill had French toast made with cinnamon brioche.

We also tried tea, which I probably ought to have more of.  

The pancakes were also offered with blueberry compote or apples, I think.  One of my British friends said I was going to gain “stones” if I kept eating like this.  My response?  “Who cares.”

But I did make sure to have some fruit, too.

My back was hurting a bit, even though we had a pretty good bed.  I think it’s because I’m used to having a feather bed.  Because my back was aching, we decided to try out the Merrion Hotel’s pool.  We found it empty and very inviting.  I appreciated that it was nice and deep, too.  We also tried the steam room.  I usually can’t stay in them for very long, but I managed to do a couple of cycles in there lasting a few minutes each.

The hotel has nicely appointed changing rooms with lockers, showers, and even a machine that wrings all the excess water out of your bathing suit.  Supposedly, they even sell bathing suits if you need one.  

An oasis of calm!  Felt great on my sore back.  The mural was painted by a Brady… Simon Brady, to be exact.

Lots of weights and machines for those who insist on truly working out.  There’s also a fully operational spa, which I probably should have made time to try.

After our swim, we went back to the room and got changed.  The weather was lovely, so we decided to take a walk.  As we were passing Merrion Square, we noticed a military regiment and an Irish piper.  We stood by to watch.  Apparently, during the summer on Saturdays, a different Irish regiment does a memorial service for fallen members of the Irish Army.  Family members are on hand to lay wreaths as their loved ones are honored.

A sign explaining… they were also passing out brochures.  Bill was interested, so we watched the whole thing, which took about 45 minutes.

Officers prepare for the start of the program.

 

Family members stand by.

The guards were giving orders in Irish.

I was more interested in the musicians.

The piper played several pieces, including “Highland Cathedral”, which was what I marched down the aisle to on my wedding day.

More than once, I caught Bill standing at attention.

The memorial after the wreaths were laid.  Behind it are several flags, including Ireland’s flag, which was lowered to half mast, then raised again.

Across the street from parliament.

And there were also dancers nearby, though they had nothing to do with the military ceremony.  They were also attracting attention.

A playground nearby.  I liked that there was a sign posted that read the area was only for adults accompanying children.  No creepers allowed.

 

Oscar Wilde again.  You can’t miss him in Dublin.

 

By the time the military ceremony was over, it was time for lunch.  We ended up at what appeared to be a nice looking restaurant but turned out to be a hotel restaurant with little character.  They also played some very annoying dance music that kind of spoiled the ambiance.  Oh well….

We were told the fryer wasn’t working, so there was no chance for fish and chips.

My burger came with a salad, which was probably better for me anyway.

 

Bill had a club sandwich.  Not bad…  and this was also the only place we had Guinness during the whole trip.  Guinness is really a winter drink, as every Irish person instinctively knows.  But you can’t come to Dublin and not have a Guinness, right?  It makes you drunk, as noted by Ireland’s greatest drinker with a writing problem, Brendan Behan.

The rest of the restaurant.  Lots of cutesy stuff written on the walls.

 

After lunch, we went across the street, where I proceeded to buy three cheap t-shirts with obnoxious sayings on them.  I’ll probably only wear them at home, although they pretty much express my sentiments perfectly.

 

After we bought the t-shirts, we passed this all purpose walk in clinic.  Apparently, they have something for everyone…  Reminds me of an old George Carlin routine–  Bud’s!  Where all the sick people go!

They have you covered!

Just around the corner is the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.  I had to take a picture of the sign because about thirty years ago, I read a book called The Intern Blues by Robert Marion, MD.   Dr. Marion didn’t get into an US medical schools at first, so he spent a year in Ireland studying medicine before he was able to come back to the States and finish his training.  His book was about first year interns circa 1985. 

And we also found where Bram Stoker lived.

At this point, we decided we wanted to find a pub with good music and character, so we went in search of one… but not before we stopped into a couple of grocery stores to see if we could find some Irish chocolate treats to bring back to Germany with us.  We were successful at a Tesco, just around the corner from our hotel.

Rothenburg ob den Tauber: Part three– Shopping, sausages, Schweinshaxe, Schneeballen, and strolling the wall…

Advertisements

Saturday morning, I woke up with a red wine headache.  After taking some Advil, drinking some fluids, and eating a little breakfast scored at the very closeby Edeka, I was ready to go see this famous town I’d heard and read so much about over the years.  Since my purse strap broke, I decided to simply bring along a few bare necessities.  I have to admit, it was weirdly liberating not to carry my big purse with me.  I tend to overload it with all kinds of junk and it rarely gets cleaned out.  That’s probably why the strap broke.

This tower is located very close to Anno 1499.  You can climb the stairs and walk along the wall, which will pass the back of the house.  You get a bird’s eye view of the little courtyard.

 

This archway is to the senior assisted living center where Anno 1499’s hostess works as a nurse.  It’s just across the street from the rental house.

We walked just a short way down Spitalgasse when I spotted a shop that had a few nice looking men’s sportsjackets on display.  Upon closer inspection, I recognized the jackets as being from Scotland.  Since I am a sucker for all things Celtic, Bill and I decided to go inside the shop, where we were helped by its proprietor.  I don’t know for certain, but I think he might have been a fellow American who now lives here in Germany with his wife and their kids.  He certainly spoke like an American.  The name of his shop, which he said he and his wife took over a couple of years ago, is Der Schottenladen.

Der Schottenladen… great Scottish goods in Germany!

It’s not so often that I go crazy shopping in retail stores anymore.  Like so many other people, I tend to buy a lot of stuff online.  But it wasn’t long at all before I found myself fingering a beautiful wool sweater.  I didn’t actually need a new sweater, but I am a sucker for certain shades of blue.  I also picked up a handmade purse made by an artisan in Aberdeen, and a pair of earrings (again, not something I needed, but simply couldn’t resist).  The proprietor turned out to be interesting to talk to. He said he goes to Scotland at least once a year.  His small shop was crammed with authentic fashions, bottles of whisky, kilts, and lovely gifts.  Almost everything was on sale, too!  Although it was a little weird to be buying Scottish stuff in Germany, I have to say I enjoyed that shop very much.  Bill also tried on a few jackets, but unfortunately, they didn’t have any in his size.  Maybe next time.

Scottish loot from Der Schottenladen in Rothenburg.

We decided to take my new duds back to Anno 1499, even though the proprietor kindly offered to hold them for us.  Afterwards, we walked back toward the Marktplatz.  I happened to notice something that looked promising– a view of some sort.  We turned down an alleyway and within seconds of encountered a lovely pastoral view, we were joined by a huge group of Chinese tourists who seemed to have a distinct herd mentality.  They all kind of crowded in and didn’t seem to want to yield so Bill and I could get out of the group.

Once we got to the Marktplatz, we hung a right and walked down another busy street full of cute shops.  We walked until we encountered what was probably the eastern edge of the impressive wall that surrounds Rothenburg.  You are allowed to climb the steps and walk the wall.  It costs nothing and offers some great views of the city, as well as the names of people who donated to the cause.

Every time I see this town advertised, I see the famous building to the right.  It’s now a brewery.  We didn’t have a chance to stop in.  Maybe next time.

I managed to take a few pictures before we were enveloped by a large tour group…

Bill looks amused…

As I sneak a shot of the big group of tourists who overwhelmed us…

 

Here are a few more scenes from Rothenburg on Saturday.  I could have spent a couple of days just checking out the cute businesses everywhere.

A view from on the wall.  It’s covered and protected from winds coming from outside of the town.

I imagine these people donated money to repair or restore the wall…

This is the courtyard in the house we rented.  Too bad the weather didn’t lend itself to sitting out there with a beer.

We followed the wall all the way to the tower that appears first in this post.  That was the one located just outside of our rental house, Anno 1499.

You can’t come to Rothenburg and not notice a local specialty pastry called “Schneeballen”.  There are a number of Konditoreis that make these.  We picked up a couple of mini versions of them so we could try them.

Schneeballen (snowballs).  Speciality in Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

 

After we walked the wall, it was time for lunch.  I was wanting German food for some reason, so we decided to stop in at Roter Hahn, which is also a hotel.  The restaurant is kind of quaint, with stereotypically charming Bavarian decor.  As soon as we sat down, it became obvious that we were not the only Americans in the place.  A couple of American ladies, also evidently living here in Germany, were at the next booth having lunch.  One of them apparently never learned about using her indoor voice.

In the course of an hour, I learned all about the house she owns in San Antonio, her decorative preferences, how much the house cost, her favorite San Antonio communities, her husband’s nursing job at Ramstein, her many travels in Europe, and her request to split the check, which was apparently denied.  Seriously, people, I don’t mean to be bitchy, but please have a little situational awareness when you go out to eat.  Voices can carry.  Besides being rude, that kind of inconsideration for other people can put you at risk by making you conspicuous to those who are up to no good (like obnoxious bloggers, America haters, or petty thieves).  On the other hand, we did move here from San Antonio, so in a way, hearing about that town was kind of nostalgic.

Bill listens to the American ladies who lunch talking about their design choices…

I decided to have my pork knuckle.  It tasted okay, but I paid for it later…

And a little potato salad on the side… more than I could eat.

Bill went with the Frankish sausages.  They were very good and came with fresh bread and sauerkraut.  I think I liked his sausages better than my Schweinshaxe, which was a bit overdone and tough.

We split a “Schneeball” for dessert.  Unlike the local pastry, this was simply vanilla ice cream with a cookie topping, forest fruits, and a little whipped cream.

 

I had an okay impression of Roter Hahn until I got up to use the restroom.  The ladies room reeked of stale urine, which I found very off putting.  I had to go into the hotel lobby to get to the bathroom and it smelled of stale cigarette smoke.  Also, when we asked for a box for my inevitable leftovers, the waitress acted like it was an imposition.  When she brought it to us, she said it was the last one they had (and this is my problem?).  I don’t think I’d eat at Roter Hahn again, especially since we apparently missed the best restaurants in the city.

The outside of Roter Hahn.  Directly across the street is the Criminal Museum, which we visited on Sunday.


We thought about visiting the Criminal Museum, which is across the street and is open daily from 1:00pm until 4:00pm during the off season.  Unfortunately, lunch was sitting kind of heavy on my stomach.  It was also kind of cloudy outside, which makes me feel like hibernating.  So we made our way back to the house, with a few stops on the way… 

First, we went inside this sign shop because I had to have the sign directly over the Corn Flakes sign. It says in German, “In Heaven, there is no beer.  That’s why we drink it here.”  

Next, we stopped at a bakery to get some Schneeballen and a piece of cake, which I still need to eat.

 

After we bought our pastries, we stopped at a wine shop and bought some locally produced wines as well as a pretty stoneware wine pitcher.  Right after we bought the wine, we were treated to a surprise performance by a group of Cuban drummers.  I took a video.

They have the beats down…

Finally, we stopped to pick up some local beer.  I am drinking one right now.  Not bad!

That about did it for Saturday’s adventures.  Unfortunately, the heavy lunch made me feel kind of bloated and icky and I didn’t eat or really drink anything for the rest of the day.  Fortunately, I was much better on Sunday and we had a great sunny day.  More on that in my next post.

Afrika Fest in Böblingen, 2017

Advertisements

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.

Denn’s Biomarkt… where have you been all my life?

Advertisements

I know, I know…  I’ve been living in Germany for awhile now and Denn’s Biomarkt is a chain with locations all over the place.  I kept meaning to stop at one, but never got around to it.  Today, Bill and I decided to go to Nagold to shop for groceries.  We usually go to the Real or Aldi in Jettingen, but I felt like a change.

Although we were planning to hit the very nice Edeka in Nagold, I spotted a Denn’s Biomarkt location.  It had a huge parking lot that allowed free parking for up to 90 minutes.  Plenty of spots were open, so we pulled in and had a look.

I was immediately impressed by how quiet the place was…

There was lots of fresh produce and the lighting was very pleasant.  It was much nicer than the harsh, depressing lighting at the Real.

I was intrigued by this product for kids, although I didn’t pick any up.

They had a cheese counter, as well as this case of nice cheeses from around Europe.

And there was also plenty of wine from around Europe, including some enticing ones from Spain and Italy.

The wine of the month!

Fresh eggs!  

And, if the need arises, you can even buy socks, t-shirts, and underwear made of organic cotton.  They had a nice cosmetics area with a lot of natural products, as well as a small selection of organic pet foods and treats.

They even had fair trade chocolate eggs with toys in them.  I got one and will have to see what the prize is.  Hopefully, I won’t choke on it.  😉

And there’s a bulletin board advertising everything from rental properties to pets looking for homes.

I really enjoyed shopping at Denn’s Biomarkt today.  They offer some very nice products.  I noticed the store was particularly vegan friendly, which may be useful for some readers.  I also liked the fact that the store wasn’t too big or chaotic the way the Real is sometimes.

Unfortunately, we still ended up visiting the Real when Bill decided he wanted to make some hummus for lunch.  We also had a rack of empty water bottles to offload.  Many people who read this blog live in Germany and no doubt already know what is involved with returning racks of bottles at a German grocery store.  For those who don’t, I took a couple of pictures.

You put the rank in the bottom part.  It gets read.  A receipt for the “pfand” is printed…

You take the receipt and hand it in to the cashier when you check out.  The money you paid for the pfand is refunded.

I thought this dinosaur was funny.  Reminded me of a reverse Barney.  Of course, I always hated Barney…  Baby Bop perhaps?  

I must admit, I got a little sad walking through the store in Nagold, thinking about how much I enjoy that town and realizing that I may have to move again soon.  Or, maybe not…  I suspect I will mourn the missed opportunity of moving to Italy, too, if it turns out we stay here.  What a ridiculous problem to have.

Good intentions and the Golden Arches…

Advertisements

I’m not really loving it, but it’s fast, cheap, and easy… 

I had every intention of trying out a new restaurant this afternoon.  Bill and I talked about it last night and he even did the research to see when it would be less crowded.  But then we got hung up with mundane Saturday chores.  First off, my dog repeatedly stealth pissed all over the inside doormat.  I guess he’s been sneaking down at night while we’re asleep and secretly unloading for a long while, because I suddenly smelled a strong essence of ammonia and noticed the thing was warped.  So we had to visit the local Real to get a new doormat and pick up a few other things.

I was actually surprised by a few items I found at the Real.  It’s always fun to see German style marketing at work.  But after visiting there, I felt kind of overwhelmed and tired.  I spend so much time alone that being in a crowded store on a Saturday is exhausting.  At least we found a brand new version of the old mat Arran whizzed all over.

Star Wars fans take note!  There’s a special drink for you!  Forty years after its debut, I still don’t think I’ve yet seen the whole film!

 

Nor have I tasted Duff beer, Homer Simpson’s favorite brew.

 

One enterprising German brewery is offering a free Beer Pong set with a rack of brews.  I would wonder about the quality of a beer that needs Beer Pong to help it sell.

 

Absolutely hideous…  jean style leggings.  Here, they’re called “Treggings” instead of “Jeggings”.  

 

And finally, here’s your ticket to getting buff.  I don’t think I wanna look like this guy, though.

Then we had to go to the dump to unload boxes and other assorted stuff.  That didn’t take long, but it did push us closer to the dreaded mid afternoon time span when things shut down.

After that was done, we went home and I changed into lighter clothes, since the temperature warmed up.  I put on a little makeup so I didn’t scare anyone.  Then we headed off to Sindelfingen for what I heard was great Turkish food.  Unfortunately, Bill missed the turn for the restaurant and had to do some fancy maneuvering to get to where he needed to go.  And then it was clear that parking was going to be more of a challenge than we wanted to deal with.

So we went to Breuningerland intent on having lunch there after we picked up a couple of vignettes for Switzerland.  There were people ahead of us, so I was looking at what they had for sale in the ADAC store.  Then a young couple reeking heavily of cigarette smoke came over and enthusiastically said something in German I didn’t understand.  Bill told the guy in German that we speak English, so he switched to perfect English and asked us where we were headed.  We told him we were going to Switzerland.  He said they were going to Austria, where they hoped the weather would be better.

We had sun when we walked into Breuningerland, looking for Swiss vignettes.

We looked for something to eat at the mall.  Truthfully, there are plenty of eateries there.  But it was very crowded with people and I was starting to feel overwhelmed.  I was also getting hungry.  When I get hungry, it’s not long before I turn hangry.  So we left the mall and Bill was trying to think of alternative places to go.  He suggested the Schwaben Galerie, which I am assuming would have been just as crowded.

I finally said, “You know what?  Just take me to McDonald’s.”

But the clouds were out as we headed to McDonald’s.  Maybe it was an omen.

Bill balked at first.  He hates McDonald’s.  I will admit, it’s not my favorite place to eat, either.  But I was in no mood to search for lunch.  My blood sugar was rapidly dropping and I was getting really testy.  So we went to McDonald’s, which was also packed.  I went outside and got us a table under one of the umbrellas.  Good thing I did, since it started raining.

I sat forlornly, waiting for Bill as the tables filled up.  I also watched some guy in a station wagon peeling out as if he was driving a Porsche.  He was about as cool as a heating pad.

Grumpily, I waited for Bill to get lunch and gazed at people passing by.  It seemed like the outside area was empty when I sat down, but it quickly filled up.  It seemed like everyone was staring at me, taking up a table, yet without any food in front of me.  After about twenty minutes, Bill appeared with our Royales… and he noticed the same couple we ran into at ADAC were also dining at Mickey D’s.  Actually, I think European McDonald’s are nicer than the ones in the States.  They have those McCafes, complete with real cups as opposed to paper products.

Well, at least at McDonald’s, you know what you’re gonna get.

I haven’t seen this movie, either… but I sure did have a Royale with cheese today.

 

I didn’t see McC, though.

After we were sufficiently fueled, we headed to Panzer, also totally mobbed with people.  The food court was overflowing with everybody and their brother.  I just wanted to pick up some face cream, but naturally, I ended up with a few more items.  At least Zane and Arran have new toys to play with!

Now I’m at home, digesting food from the Golden Arches and drinking one of Bill’s homebrewed chocolate stouts.  When I was a kid, I loved McDonald’s.  It was my favorite place to eat.  Now I’m not much of a fan, except when I’m desperate for food quickly and don’t want to have to think too much about what I’m eating.  I have a feeling we’ll make up for today’s restaurant fumble when we’re in Italy next weekend.  It’s hard to have a bad meal there, even if you’re eating at a truck stop.

Last night’s sky show.  I doubt we’ll see this tonight.

 Hopefully, tomorrow, we’ll be more successful on our outing.  But then, tomorrow is Mother’s Day and both years prior, we’ve ended up in crowds.  So we’ll see…

Chinese food and high end grocery shopping in Stuttgart!

Advertisements

I had fleeting thoughts of attending the Spring fest in downtown Stuttgart today, but Bill and I are getting too old to enjoy big crowds and really loud music.  Besides, for a long time, we had been wanting to shop at Feinkost Böhm, which is a really nice (and very expensive) food store.  When Bill realized that Feinkost Böhm has a sushi restaurant, we decided that was where we were going to spend our Saturday afternoon.  It’s been ages since we last had sushi.

We parked the car in an adjoining garage.  My Mini Cooper convertible, which we bought on the way back to the States in 2009 and which still has under 30,000 miles on it, fit very neatly between a Porsche and a BMW.  Sadly, my car is currently filthy, so it looked pretty sad between those sexy sports cars.

When we got to Feinkost Böhm, we found it teeming with people.  The sushi restaurant was packed and I was dangerously approaching hangry mode, thanks to a high carb breakfast this morning.  We walked back outside.  Bill asked me if I felt like going to a Turkish place near where our dentist’s office is.  I said no, which disappointed him.  But then, as we turned onto the main shopping drag in Stuttgart, we spotted China Garden’s huge sign on Königstraße.  It had also been ages since we last had Chinese food.  We walked up two flights of stairs and were promptly welcomed to sit down at a freshly vacated table by a window.

The big sign… you can’t miss it!

I see on Google that this particular restaurant does not get good ratings.  That’s a pity.  Today, we had a pretty good experience.  We both had hefeweizens and I had a bottle of mineral water.  Then we both ordered specials.  I had the crispy duck with asparagus and Bill had spicy chicken with peppers and onions.  The service was pleasant and the food got out to us quickly.  It also tasted good.  I felt a lot better in no time at all.

Bill checks the menu.

My crispy duck arrived quickly and was kept warm on a heater.  It came with white asparagus, bamboo shoots, carrots, and peas.  

Bill’s chicken was very tender, though not really that spicy.  I enjoyed both dishes, which came with a big pot of rice.

 

Total damage for this lunch was about 47 euros.  We left there full and contented.

The decor is very traditional looking.  It’s surprising to find this place on a higher level of an office building.  I happened to notice the music, too.  At one point, they were playing an odd Asian inspired cover of James Taylor’s classic “You Can Close Your Eyes”.

Fortified by lunch, we headed back to the Feinkost Böhm, which was still teeming with people.  Bill grabbed a cart and we started taking in the scene.  Lots of people with expensive tastes were walking around the place.  It was like Whole Foods on steroids.

We stopped for cheese first.  I’m not a cheese lover, so I let Bill do the choosing.  He left with goat cheese and a hard mild cheese.

I was tempted by the champagne bar… sadly, I didn’t wait long enough for my camera to focus.  There’s also a very impressive wine and liquor area.  Some wines are available for tasting.  We ended up getting a couple of Rieslings and a Gruener Veltliner, as well as a Sangiovese.

 

Feinkost Böhm is loaded with pricey goodies from all over the world.  You can find everything from escargot to mango flavored vinegar there.  I had to laugh, though, when I saw them selling things like Pepperidge Farm chocolate chunk cookies for over 6 euros a bag.  As I noticed the American goods, I was reminded that they were probably loaded with high fructose corn syrup.  Someone must buy them, though.

Your escargots…

Lots of meats…  Bill bought us a Scottish roast for about 30 euros.  It’s big enough for the two of us.

Very fancy vinegars.  I took this shot because the colors were so pretty.

There’s a sushi bar apart from the restaurant.  We picked some up for tonight’s dinner at home.  You can also sit at the bar and have wine with your raw fish.

Fancy oils abound…

And fancy desserts, too.  We came home with a small Sacher torte and an “American” chocolate cheesecake.

And there’s lovely produce, though we didn’t get any.

 

All in all, I believe Bill spent about 180 euros on our small order of food, although it’s very nice quality stuff.  We like trying different things from around the world.  We found Spanish tuna, bierwurst, Italian butter, fresh squeezed orange juice, and some exotic cookies from Scotland and Switzerland.  This store also has some beautiful food baskets that would make nice gifts, although they probably cost a fortune.  Luckily, Bill was able to use his credit card with no problem.

A less frilly shopping experience in downtown Stuttgart is the Markthalle, which also offers exotic goods, but for seemingly less money.  Every once in awhile, we like to splurge… although I don’t know if I’m going to want to go back to the Feinkost anytime soon.  There are way too many people in there at any given time and shopping there is as nervewracking as it is expensive.

After driving past a protest attended by polizei in riot gear, we stopped by Patch on the way home.  I had a good laugh when I noticed one of the security guy’s shoes.  He had silhouettes of curvaceous women on the sides of his sneakers.  They reminded me of the silhouettes of women one sees on the mudflaps on trucks.

All in all, it was a nice day downtown.  It was good to have Chinese food again.  And tonight, we’ll enjoy the sushi we were craving.

A pet friendly Columbus Day weekend in France… part three

Advertisements

I don’t usually try to do a lot of “stuff” when I have my dogs with me on a trip.  They are just now becoming seasoned travelers and still react to other dogs and cats easily.  We usually try to eat in at least one restaurant when we travel with the dogs.  This time, we never did manage to dine out.  I think it was mostly because we used the little kitchenette in the Tower.

On our first night there, Bill and I were too tired to go hunting for dinner.  He went to the grocery store and picked up a roasted chicken and some side vegetables, along with a very nice chocolate dessert.  Naturally, he also bought lots of wine.  Semur En Auxois is in Burgundy, which is a big wine growing region.  Although I had originally wanted to visit Champagne, Burgundy is definitely not a bad place to be if you are an oenophile.  Bill was able to pick up many good bottles at reasonable prices.  Buying wine was one of our missions for this trip.

After we ate dinner, we watched a little French TV and then went to bed.  The next morning, it was bright and sunny outside.  After breakfast, we took the dogs for the first of many long walks!  Louise had told us to follow the disused train tracks near the Tower for a lovely walk that offered views of Semur En Auxois.  Here are some photos from our first look at the town.

A lovely view as we crossed over a viaduct that passes Semur En Auxois.  

A couple more shots.  I had no idea of how pretty our walk would become.

 

Once we crossed the viaduct, we got off the tracks and walked through a neighborhood that led us down to the river.

At the bottom of the hill…

 

Charming Pont Pinard.  My next post will have better pictures of it.

A kind man said “Bonjour” as we passed.

That bridge leads to someone’s private property…

A church in the main square, which we reached after climbing some steps.

These little dog stations were everywhere.  I was glad to see them, though not everyone used them.

A view of the tracks across the viaduct.

Semur En Auxois has a very charming downtown area, complete with lots of shops, a few museums, and some restaurants.  Sadly, because we had the dogs with us, we didn’t try any of the restaurants.  It’s not because they weren’t dog friendly, but because our dogs are still learning how to behave.  They’ve gotten much better since we started taking them with us, though.

Our first walk lasted a good solid 90 minutes or so.  That’s more than twice what our dogs usually get, so they were pretty tired.  We had such pretty weather, though, that we decided to have a quick lunch at the Tower and go for a drive.  We proceeded to take two more walks, which I will detail in the next post.