Stuttgart, Germany… it’s as lovely as ever in the springtime… part five

Finally, it was Monday, the day we’d kind of been dreading. It was the reason we’d come to Stuttgart in the first place. At 3:00pm, we would be visiting our dentist, Dr. Blair, in downtown Stuttgart, for repairs and cleanings. After breakfast, we went back to the hotel room for a chat, and finally decided to go downtown at a little after 11:00am.

There was another reason to be a little worried about the day. Monday was the day transportation workers were on strike, protesting for more pay and better working conditions. That meant a lot of trains and planes would either not be going or were delayed. Since we were just going downtown, this issue didn’t affect us too terribly, but we did hear a lot of warnings about it.

We parked in the public garage close to Dr. Blair’s office and went searching for lunch. Stuttgart has a number of good restaurants, but not all of them are open for lunch, and quite a few of them take Mondays as their “Ruhetag” (quiet day off). I was wanting to try a different restaurant, too. We often end up eating in places near Dr. Blair’s office. I wanted to go somewhere else for a change, if only so I could report about it in my Facebook food and wine group. I like to be useful whenever possible.

After some time walking around downtown, we finally ended up at the Nesenbach Brauhaus, not far from the Stuttgart Markthalle. Although Bill and I have visited the Markthalle many times, we had never before dined at the Nesenbach Brauhaus. I wasn’t really wanting German food again, but time was getting short before our appointments and we needed to have lunch. Below are a few shots of beautiful downtown Stuttgart, including the festive Stuttgarter Markthalle…

The Nesenbach Brauhaus has a decent sized menu, which did include a lot of local Swabian inspired dishes. Naturally, there was beer, too, and other libations. We sat down at a corner table by a window, near a large group of ladies who were lunching. For lunch, I chose the “filled avocado”, which promised chicken and vegetables in avocado halves, drizzled with nuts and sweet chili sauce. I was a little hesitant about ordering the avocado, since sometimes “mixed vegetables” include mushrooms. But then, I reasoned, who puts mushrooms in avocados?

Bill ordered a “salad from the land and sea”, which included a small piece of salmon, a small piece of beef, Parma ham with melon, white asparagus, and greens. We were reasonably assured that his choice would be fungus free.

Well, the food came, and wouldn’t you know it? The avocado had mushrooms in it… We had to switch plates, because I can’t eat mushrooms. Fortunately, I liked the salad Bill ordered, even though it was quite an array of different things. I wouldn’t have necessarily thought to put melon and Parma ham with salmon and beef, for instance. Bill didn’t mind the avocado, although he said the mushrooms didn’t really go well, and the chili sauce was a little too cloying. Seems to me they should have paired the avocado with bacon or citrus, or something more like that. Oh well, at least it was an attractive presentation.

When we were finished eating, the waiter asked if we wanted anything else, like sweets or coffee. I just sort of smiled at him and, reading my mind, he said “Another beer?”

“Yes!” I enthused. “We have to see our dentist in an hour, and I want to be relaxed!”

The waiter laughed and brought me my suds, which I happily drank, then we paid the bill and walked to Dr. Blair’s office.

When we arrived, there was still a sign on the door requesting that everyone wear a face mask. However, most of the staff didn’t wear masks, and I noticed a number of patients weren’t wearing them, either. I suspect that by the time we see Dr. Blair again in the fall, the masks will be long forgotten. I know not everyone feels this way, but frankly, I hope that is what comes to pass.

After a short wait, I was invited to the treatment room. The assistant left me alone, and I decided I’d better go to the restroom before things got started. That was a good decision, even though she was waiting for me when I got back. I apologized, and Dr. Blair came in and commented, in German, that my filling was “kaput”.

“That doesn’t sound good.” I said.

He laughed and reminded me that the “kaput” filling was why I was there. Then, somehow, we ended up talking about our ancestries. When I told him I grew up near Williamsburg, Virginia, he said he had many relatives buried near there. I asked him if he was related to James Blair, who was a rector at Bruton Parish Church in Colonial Williamsburg, and whose name is on a number of public buildings there. He said he didn’t know, but his grandmother– last name of Warren– was from there. And then I realized that he was named for his grandmother, as his first name is Warren.

So then, they put a dental dam in my mouth, which is kind of a foreign experience for me, as most dentists don’t seem to bother with it unless the work is extensive. I mentioned that I knew about dental dams, since I used to study public health, which naturally led to a brief discussion about how gay men used to use them during the height of the AIDS era to protect themselves when they engaged in oral sex. 😀 I swear, I’ve never had this kind of talk with any of my American dentists! But Dr. Blair is not constrained by American conventions! He did mention that back in the late 80s, he worked in San Francisco and knew a lot of gay men who had lost people to AIDS. It was definitely a challenging time for his career.

As I tried to hang in there during the repair of my baby tooth, it occured to me that I am lucky to have such a skilled dentist. And I’m lucky that we can afford to see him on a regular basis, even though using a dental dam was vaguely kinky. It was a big relief when he was finished. Then, after another short wait, I was invited to get my cleaning done by the hygienist. She did an especially thorough job. I left the office with a noticeable brighter smile, although half of my mouth was very numb.

Bill’s cleaning went similarly well. Then he went in to get his filling repaired, as it had a tiny sliver missing. Dr. Blair said, “I don’t even need to numb you for this. It won’t take twenty minutes to fix this.”

Bill thought to himself, “Sez you…” but really, he didn’t require any novocaine. Dr. Blair worked his magic, and we were soon on our way back to the Wald Hotel’s bar. We’ll be back to see. Dr. Blair in early October. I will have to find a fun place to visit in the fall! We don’t need to stay in Stuttgart for that visit, since there’s no work planned.

While we were sitting in the bar, the lady from Vermont and her son came back. She said they’d buried her father that morning. They had a taxi coming, as she had plans that evening. During the day, they went to Ludwigsburg and visited the palace (a place I still haven’t seen), and her son, who is an arborist, found a reflective jacket that isn’t available in the United States. He said he managed not to buy the matching pants! The duo said they’d be flying back home on Wednesday, after a day trip to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a place we last visited in January 2018.

We decided to have a light dinner, so we wouldn’t be starving on Tuesday morning. I had a burger and fries, and Bill had soup. In retrospect, I probably should have had the soup, too. The burger came huge, on a pretzel hamburger roll. I liked the roll and the fries, but the burger patty was “machine molded and compressed”, which seems to be what Germans prefer, as opposed to hand formed. Hand formed patties are not so tightly packed, so they are juicier and lighter.

The patty was also seasoned, so that it kind of reminded me more of sausage. I like my ground beef “natur”, as the locals would put it. And finally, there were tons of condiments on the burger! Like– a really thick smear of mayo, a bunch of onions and tomatoes, and lettuce. My mouth was still pretty numb, but even if I hadn’t been, I couldn’t open it wide enough to bite into the burger, which was dripping mayo all over the place. I ended up having to eat it with a knife and fork, and finally gave up about halfway through.

Ah well… it wasn’t the worst burger I’ve ever had. And it did the trick of preventing me from getting hungry before breakfast.

We went back to the room and watched some German TV. We landed on a show called First Dates, which was about Germans who went to a hotel near Amalfi, Italy, where they had dates with strangers. There were several contestants, but it looked like the gay couple was the only one that found love. They were sent to Mallorca for water sports, too. I’m guessing the specific water sports they enjoyed didn’t just involve Waveriders and surfboards. 😉 I do like how German shows are less about violence, and more about love. 😀

On Tuesday morning, we got up, packed our bags, hauled them to the car, and had breakfast. Bill had to park in the “Tiefgarage” (which costs money), because the free outside lot was full of expensive cars for the businessmen who had converged on the hotel Monday afternoon. I was admiring my new white smile as Bill settled the bill, which was about 2500 euros. Yes, that’s a lot of money, but consider that we were staying in the suite, and we ate and drank a lot at the hotel. It’s still less than what we spent at Bareiss last fall, too.

Now that we’ve stayed in the suite, I can also say that I don’t really think I’ll need to book it again. I might go for the junior suite, which I think is a better room for us. Or, I might just go back to the superior room, which is a lot cheaper and has a really fabulous shower with mood lighting. 😀

Our drive home was kind of frustrating. There was an accident, so of course there was a lengthy Stau. But we managed to get home by the early afternoon, even after enjoying lunch at a NordSee in a rest stop. I resisted the urge to buy one of those obnoxious signs I noticed on the way down to Stuttgart on Friday. But maybe I’ll see if I can find one on, which would spare me some embarrassment. One other byproduct of our trip is a nasty cold sore, which I think was caused by stress. Either that, or Aunt Flow is about to visit for the first time in months.

As for Noyzi… he came through our short break just fine. Bill said he had to wait a bit before the clients ahead of him were finished getting their dog. When Noyzi finally came out of the pension, he almost knocked Bill over with a literal hug. I almost wish I’d been there to see that!

Anyway, so ends my latest series… Now it’s time to plan a real vacation in a country other than Germany! We might have to bring out the champagne bucket to help us make our choice. I look forward to making the decision soon!


Part one of our Hamburger Saga…

Bill and I arrived home tonight at about 8:00pm.  I should probably just cool it and wait until tomorrow before I start writing up a storm.  But the dogs are still being boarded, so I have nothing to distract me.

Things got off to a somewhat rocky start on Friday morning as I was waking up.  I checked Facebook, as is my habit most mornings, and Stuttgart Friends was abuzz about the strike at the airport.  Bill and I knew nothing about this strike, which involved the security people.  I don’t know what they were striking for, only that my fellow Americans who were also flying were talking about how backed up the airport was in getting through security.  Some people were reporting lines that were taking 3 hours to get through.

The security line from hell…

In the distance, you can see the flag waving strikers…

Bill and I gave some thought to canceling Hamburg and just driving somewhere.  I had purchased optional trip insurance and would have been allowed to change our plans.  But then we decided to tough it out and see how bad it was at the airport.  It turned out the lines were still pretty long when we got there, but as strikes go, the one on Friday was pretty civilized.  Airport employees were handing out free juice and water.  One guy was even given a chair to sit on.  And those who had flights that were about to board or small children were escorted to the front of the line.  Even still, we did hear of some people missing their flights.  It took us two hours to get through, though the process of getting through the line wasn’t too bad.  People were mostly lighthearted about it.  Even the lady who screened me was nice when she realized I wasn’t a German speaker (I’m working on it, though).


A handy stop in the Stuttgart Airport. 

It was good that we got to the airport when we did.  We allowed three hours and got through the security line in two.  By the time we were done with security, I was really hungry.  We had a snack of beer, a pretzel, and weiss sausages.  The sausages were very fresh, but kind of bland.  Still, I felt restored after our little repast.

Our flight to Hamburg on Air Berlin was supposed to be 75 minutes, but actually lasted less than an hour.  It was a very pleasant flight, if not a bit crowded.  No nickel and diming on luggage (one bag can be checked free) and a beverage and snack, even though the flight was very short.  And once we landed, I felt like I was back in Raleigh, North Carolina.  The Hamburg Airport, at first blush, reminded me a lot of RDU.

The cabbie who took us to the Sofitel Alter Wall was very friendly and talkative.  He was from Sicily and even showed us the beachside town where he came from as he was driving.  He held up an iPhone with a photo.  I was kind of glad Bill is such a safety fanatic, since the guy was talking on the phone and using an iPad while driving as well as showing us pictures of Italian beaches and playing U2’s latest album and music by some Italian guy named Vasco Rossi.  Actually, I liked the music the cabbie was playing.  He had good taste.  His driving, though, was a little scary.

Check in at the Sofitel was a breeze.  We were given a room on the first floor, though it was actually on the second floor and was even numbered with a two.  Our room was very nice and I got it for a great price on  Unfortunately, because I was so focused on the strike at the airport, I forgot to pack a bathing suit.  That was a real bummer, since the Sofitel in Hamburg has a really nice spa and indoor pool area.  Worse yet, Bill remembered his bathing suit.  Usually, he’s the one who forgets.  Anyway, if we ever go back to Hamburg, I would happily stay at the Sofitel.  It’s a very nice hotel and the employees are super nice and very professional.



We ate dinner at an Italian restaurant past the shopping district.  But before we got to the restaurant, we were accosted by a tall woman who asked in German if she could “ask us a question”.  I got the heebie jeebies, especially since I don’t really speak German and had only been in town for an hour.

Bill peruses the English menu…


Our entrance at “Ponti“, the Italian place where we had dinner on Friday night, was memorable.  Somehow, we managed to knock both sets of silverware to our two-top onto the floor.  The ladies at the table next to us were amused and said something I didn’t quite understand.  That’s probably a blessing.  Ponti is in a charming old building and our waitress was very beautiful and friendly.  Her English was perfect, too.  I thought the food was pretty good, though I did notice they were turning people away for some strange reason.  Based on the way the waitresses were talking to people, I got the feeling maybe they ran out of something.  It looked like they were telling people something and they were deciding to leave, rather than being told they couldn’t be seated.  But the issue didn’t affect us, so we didn’t ask about it.

Bill had penne pasta with mushrooms and chicken and I had cannelloni with spinach and cheese.

After dinner, we were tired and I was dying to try out the very nice rainfall shower in our room.  It was also very cold outside.  We made our way back to the hotel.  On the way there, we ran into another woman– perhaps the same one who tried to talk to us before.  She had another woman with her and I got the sense that perhaps she was a prostitute, based on her aggressive behavior and the way she was dressed.

We got back to the room.  I took a shower; and then we collapsed into the very nice king sized bed.  One weird thing about the Sofitel was that there were colored “spotlights” over the bed.  There was also a photograph of a man and his toddler aged son posted in a frame on the left side of the headboard.  I have no idea who the guy was.  Maybe he’s the Sofitel head honcho or something?  It was weird, though.  And so was the staff’s insistence in greeting us in French and German.  The desk doubled as a vanity, too.  You could lift up the top of the desk and there was a mirror under it, as well as a bunch of German magazines and an ethernet cable in case you needed one.  WiFi is free, though they also have a paid Internet service that supposedly offered faster speeds.

Note the weird framed photo…

I liked that egg shaped ottoman thing… it was like a very firm pillow covered with felt.

Spotlights… and they put off red and pink lighting.


The TV welcomed me.  And the little drawer on the right had a split bottle of pinot noir in it… obviously way overpriced.  Leave it to Sofitel to make a special drawer for a bottle of wine.  The cabinet above it was the minibar.

The rainfall shower rocked, though… once I figured out how to turn it on and adjust the temperature.

Nice tub.  We didn’t use it.

And a nice sink with a cool trash can that folded out from under it.  

Near the Rathaus…