customs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Rheingauer Weinwoche in Wiesbaden, Part Zwei…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wiesbaden’s fabulous Fasanerie…

I really needed to have some fun today, so Bill decided we’d visit the Förderverein Fasanerie, which is a lovely animal park in a wooded area near downtown Wiesbaden.  This park reminds me a lot of the Wildpark Pforzheim in the Stuttgart area, only you don’t have to pay for parking.  Entry is free, unless you want to pay two euros for animal feed.  The park isn’t quite as large as the one in Pforzheim, but it’s a good size and you will definitely get your exercise strolling around the gentle hills.

Here are some photos I got from today.  We saw all kinds of animals, from goats to wildcats, with plenty of bears, deer, and wolves in between.

Right at the entrance…

 

Plenty of fun learning activities for children…

A very insistent goat who wanted all the food.

I used to catch these in my yard in Virginia.

A tunnel where all of the nocturnal creatures live.

A fox.  I had to zoom in for him.

Wolves… we did see one who appeared to be on a mission.

Bears.

This bear was very chilled out.  The water hole was full of golden fish.

I really enjoyed the deer.  They were very friendly and hungry.

I miss these views.

Bison.

 

 A wildcat… 

 

Nutria

Storks!

Pigs…


Raccoon!

So many majestic deer with antlers!  They were very tame and hungry for food.

I loved the nutria.  They were so busy looking.

This poor dude kept getting edged out of handouts by the female.  I guess that’s just how it goes.

He posed for me anyway.

We had to go back to the goats and unload our food.  We still had a lot left.  I wish I’d given more to the deer.

A lot of people brought picnic lunches and we heard one group singing “Happy Birthday” in English. We decided to stop by the Biergarten for a snack, where a very kind waitress  took care of us.

Bill had pommes with ketchup.  They were better than usual… nice and hot.

I went with Spundekäs and a pretzel, a treat I only recently discovered.  It comes from Mainz and it’s delicious… a nice rich quark cheese spread with paprika and garlic.  I had forgotten how good this is…  I don’t usually do cheese, but this is an exception.  I’m definitely a fan.  

For the children…. actually, there is a very nice playground for kids at this park.

I had never seen one of these before…

A swing for people in wheelchairs!  I didn’t see anyone in a wheelchair today, but how cool is it that they have a special swing for them?

I’m not sure what to make of this… looks like some kind of naked creature who needs to pee.

Hessian lion…

 I really needed a fun day today, and I got it.  After we were finished at the Tierpark, we bought some fresh cherries from an adorable old lady selling fruit out of the back of her car.  She threw in a few plums for us after letting us try her cherries (perfectly ripe and very sweet).  I got to ride in the new car, too.  I’d say today was a resounding success. 

Tonight we’re going to try a new restaurant, which I’ll probably review tomorrow.

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Spundekäs!

We had another wine stand last night.  I didn’t take very many pictures because, at this point, that would be boring and redundant.  However, I did want to make a quick post about the local delicacy I tried for the first time last night.

This is Spundekäs.  It’s a local speciality and great drunk food!

 

I don’t usually eat cheese dips, mainly because unless the cheese is very mild, I often find it offensive to my palate.  I also don’t like the texture of many cheeses.  I was persuaded to give this a try last night when I kept noticing little kids eating it.  Kids often have very sensitive tastebuds, so I figured if they liked it, I probably would too.

I sent Bill to get some, although he was reluctant at first.  Usually, with anything involving cold cheese, he’s on his own.  I promised him I’d try it, reminding him that I’ve successfully tried Burrata more than once.  I also like pretzels, so if need be, I could eat it plain.  He fetched a pretzel with Spundekäs, which came topped with sweet paprika and raw onions.  What can I say?  I loved it!  In fact, we had some left over, so I even sent Bill to get another pretzel.

Spundekäs is a Mainz speciality.  It’s cheese spread made with quark and seasoned with sweet paprika, salt, and pepper.  It’s often served with pretzels, crackers, or other breaded delights, and paired with Riesling wines.  It went very well with what people were drinking last night.

I was wondering if this snack was related to Handkäse, which I was first introduced to at a beer tasting party in Stuttgart.  The hostess was from Hanau, which is in Hesse.  She said she loved her hand cheese and didn’t mind if others didn’t, since it meant there was more for her.  Evidently, the raw onions served with these cheeses cause people to fart, which is why Handkäse is served “mit Musik”. The music comes from your ass.

Spundekäs is evidently much milder than Handkäse, which is often marinated in vinegar and has a pungent aroma.  I admit I haven’t tried Handkäse yet, and based on its description, I probably wouldn’t like it much.  However, I do like Spundekäs!  I found a recipe for it here.

We had a great time drinking wine with our neighbors last night.  That’s one thing I really like about our new community.  They have these awesome wine stands where people can chat and get to know each other.  It’s very friendly and communal and quite different from our experiences in Baden-Württemberg, where you’re more likely to find a fest involving beer.  Not that I mind a beer centered fest, either!  But neither of the towns we lived in in BW had these regularly scheduled wine stands hosted by different groups raising funds for their club activities.  They’d have other events like onion festivals or Schlachtfests.

I’m grateful we’ve had the chance to experience another part of Germany.  I don’t know how long our adventure is going to continue, so I’m trying not to take it for granted.  I suppose the next thing I need to try is green sauce, which is a Frankfurt speciality.  I have tried some Bill made, but it might be fun to get some at a restaurant made by a local… or maybe even attend a festival surrounding it.

Last night’s wine festival was a success, despite the stormy weather and everyone crowded under the umbrellas despite the wind and rain.  We also ran into our landlady, who was very happy to see us!  She’s a really nice lady, always cordial and welcoming.

I don’t know what we’ll do today.  We’ll see what turns us on.

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