Bill and I had made some tentative plans to get out of the house today. Mother nature had other plans. It started to snow last night at about 5:30pm or so… I had noticed a little snow in the afternoon. I hadn’t seen it actually falling, but I saw the evidence on the ground. Still, I was unprepared for the dumping of white stuff we got last night. I think we got about four inches or so, which is significant.
When we still lived in Jettingen (near Stuttgart), we typically got at least one good snowfall every winter. Usually, it snowed even more often than that, with the ice and snow hanging around for weeks sometimes. Up here in Breckenheim, it rarely snows. When it does snow, it’s not much, and the stuff melts quickly. Not so this time…
According to The Weather Channel, it’s possible we’ll get a little more snow this evening, although it’s kind of sunny and cold today. Tomorrow, it’s supposed to snow more. They’re calling for “snow showers”, because it’s not that cold outside. I think that’s what we were supposed to get last night, but as you can see, Mother Nature had other ideas. Don’t want to go out in that!
Arran has never been a fan of snow, so he’s just been going out to do the bare minimum. He got a walk today, too. Noyzi, on the other hand, seems to enjoy snow as much as his predecessor, Zane, did.
I enjoy snow. I think it’s pretty. I don’t necessarily want to go out in it, though, so that means I’ve been finishing up my latest book this afternoon instead of venturing out, like we’d hoped. SIGH… I don’t really enjoy this time of year in Germany. But, at least with each passing day, we get closer to spring. And our next trip, which could be as soon as next month, gets closer as each chilly, damp, and cloudy day passes. We’ll see what happens. It depends on Arran, and whether or not he can be boarded safely.
It’s always fun to have snow for a day or two, if only because it’s unusual… and it gives me a reason to wear the new coat I spent a boatload of money on last month.
Thursday morning, it was time to try breakfast at the Hotel Bareiss for the very first time. As it was our first time, we weren’t sure what the process was. A huge, full, breakfast buffet is available in the hotel restaurant, but a few folks also took advantage of the small, continental breakfast in the pool area. We didn’t do this on any morning we were at the hotel because we were staying in the Landhaus. If we stayed in the main hotel, I might have enjoyed eating down there.
On the first morning, the staff told us to sit where we sat the night before. Like other resorts with board programs, the Hotel Bareiss has assigned seating for meals. There, on our table, was a basket for picking up bread. We ordered coffee, and then tackled the enormous selection in the buffet. I counted over 20 kinds of bread, plus pastries, fruits, vegetables, shrimp, smoked salmon, smoked trout, and a huge meat counter, where there were many different cold cuts and sauces. There were lots of juices, sparkling and still water, and of course, Sekt! There were cereals, crepes, heart shaped waffles, and sausages. Eggs can also be made to order. I took advantage of that option on two of our five mornings at the hotel. Most days, my eyes were bigger than my stomach… which is quite a feat!
After breakfast, we decided to make our way to Stuttgart, figuring we would be arriving in time for lunch. Our dentist has an office on Calwer Strasse, which is a pretty nice address downtown. It so happened that the Historic Volksfest was going on. Bill and I had attended this fun little festival in 2018. Like the Cannstatter Wasen, the Volksfest has rides and attractions, but it’s much smaller and tamer than the big fest is. It’s located in downtown Stuttgart, rather at the Wasen grounds, which are in another part of town. Don’t get me wrong. We love the Wasen, but I prefer the calmer, more sedate, and less hectic mood of the Volksfest. An added bonus is that it was taking place within walking distance of the dentist’s office.
Before we hit the Volksfest, Bill and I both needed bathrooms. He took a chance on one of the pay toilets in the city. I was smarter, and used the much cleaner and better equipped toilets near the Markthalle that were also FREE of charge! I did get some funny footage in the video below… plus some footage from the Volksfest. We went there for lunch– half a chicken each, plus potato salad and Festbier!
Below are some photos from Stuttgart and the Historic Volksfest.
After lunch, we went to see our dentist and got our teeth cleaned. Our dentist, who is probably the best one either Bill or I have ever had, saw issues for both of us. In my case, I have a remaining baby tooth that needs a new filling. Six years ago, our dentist in Stuttgart placed an implant for another baby tooth that he had to pull, because it was abscessed. The matching bottom tooth, also a baby tooth, will probably also have to be pulled and replaced with an implant. But, he’s willing to try refilling it to see if it will continue to work. In Bill’s case, there’s a tooth with a crack in it that needs to be repaired. So, when we visit in the spring, we’ll probably just stay in Stuttgart, because I expect we’ll want to go to the hotel and relax after we get the work done. We do have a favorite hotel in Stuttgart, so hopefully we will be able to book it. Last year, when we wanted to go there, it was totally full!
At about four o’clock, we started making the journey back to the Hotel Bareiss. It was bittersweet, driving back through the same area where we used to live. Because of construction going on in the route from Baiersbronn to Freudenstadt, we went through a few towns we hadn’t seen before, and one or two that we did visit, back in the day. It’s definitely true that we liked living in the Stuttgart area, in spite of everything that happened when we left there in 2018.
Dinner on Thursday night was Italian themed, so the huge buffet had Italian salads. The menu was Italian themed. I was feeling a bit irritated after our dentist visit, so I decided to order a rib eye and steak fries, with Bearnaise Sauce instead of trying the themed meal. Bill did try some of the dishes… which I may or may not remember! There was just so much offered! We had the same waitress as we did on Wednesday, as well as a very sharp young man who is likely up and coming. I liked him so much that I took note of his nametag and mentioned him positively in the questionnaire I filled out on exiting this morning.
Below are some photos from dinner…
We decided to skip drinking at the bar on Thursday night, so that meant we got in before turn down was done. We figured out that they do turn down at around 9:00 or 9:30pm. It consists of closing the drapes, setting down mats by the bed, and turning down the split duvets. They also leave programs for the next day, and delicious chocolates! We found the programs and the chocolates hanging on our door the next morning. More on that in part four.
Bill came home yesterday morning, after having spent most of the work week in our old stomping grounds, Stuttgart. We were all glad to see him, especially Arran, who looked pretty pissed off when Bill dropped off his bag and headed to work. I wish I’d had the camera with me to take a picture of Arran sitting there, staring up at Bill with his big eyes, as if to say “And just where do you think YOU’RE going?”
It wasn’t so bad, though, because he came back home early, and then we decided to go to the wine stand in our village. It was being held in the parking lot between the Rathaus and the little elementary school that I’ve heard is going to be torn down in the next year or so. A new school is being built on the other end of town. I don’t look forward to that, since it will bring noise, construction, and more traffic to our already congested street. But as I am just an American, and not even an ordinary resident, at that, my opinion is pretty irrelevant.
I’ve mentioned before that our Dorfplatz, which is where the stands are usually held, is unusable right now, because a toilet facility is being erected. It seems strange to put a public toilet in the Dorfplatz, especially since the Rathaus is just up the hill, and there are toilets there. We live so close to the Dorfplatz that when we have to pee, we just go home. Nevertheless, the powers that be decided that a new toilet facility is necessary. So that means the wine stands had to be moved. The good thing is, they’ve been moved even closer to our house! It’s even easier to stumble home!
We don’t always attend the wine stands, mainly because they get crowded, and it’s just as easy to drink our own wine in our backyard. I wanted to go last night, though, because I could hear the lovely dulcet sounds of a pop choir called Die Weinseeligen. I’m wondering if the people who performed last night were the ones who were supposed to perform a couple of weeks ago. The wine stand was canceled then, because several of the members had COVID. They sounded healthy last night, as the tennis club hosted the biweekly fundraiser, which also offers a great opportunity for the community to come together and mingle. The wine stands weren’t allowed during the height of the COVID mess, so it’s been great having them again.
We saw one of the American ladies we met at the last wine stand. She said her partner was quarantining, because she had gone back to the USA to drill for the National Guard, and came back just in time to catch the virus. Apparently, she’s now recovered from the sickness, but still faintly tests positive. My guess is that she’s simply more introverted than her partner is, and would rather hang out at home. I can understand that. Not everyone wants to hang out in a big crowd. I feel that way myself a lot of the time.
I did take a few videos and photos, which I’m sharing below. Bill and I had a great time breaking my alcohol fast. The weather was wonderful; the wine was good; and although we didn’t partake of the food, it looked like they had some good offerings. I saw a guy walking by with smoked salmon sandwiches, which is a departure from the usual pretzels, brats, and broetchen that are usually offered at these events! The video isn’t the best, because it was crowded, and I was drinking. But it does offer an idea of how the choir sounded, and the atmosphere of the event. We love the wine stands, which we never had in either of the towns we lived in near Stuttgart. Down there, we had more Biergartens, and they weren’t standing events, like they are up here in Wiesbaden.
I have written a couple of well received blog posts about the differences between life in Stuttgart versus life in Wiesbaden. I think this is one thing I like about Wiesbaden. Folks seem friendlier and more social here, and it’s easier to get to know people. Or, at least that’s how it seems. That’s not to say that there aren’t friendly people in Stuttgart. There are. It’s just a different culture. There’s actually a lot I really miss about Stuttgart… but I am glad we had the opportunity to move to Hesse, because it gives us a whole different experience of living in Germany, and that’s a beautiful thing.
When our bladders had enough wine, we went home and hung out in the backyard, where we could still hear the choir a little bit. The temperature was perfect, and it was just so nice to have Bill home again. I even gave my German friend from the Stuttgart a thrill by posting in German on Facebook, without any help from Google Translate! Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
On Wednesday, March 2nd, we loaded up the Volvo with our bags and our pooches. I can’t say “beagles” anymore, since Noyzi is definitely NOT a beagle. Our first stop was the Tierpension Birkenhof, where the dogs stay when we leave town. I dug out a FFP2 mask for the brief time we would be inside, settling up with the Hunde Pension. Noyzi was absolutely delighted to be back at the doggy hotel. He barked almost the whole way there. Arran, on the other hand, was pretty cranky and kept barking back at Noyzi, probably telling him in dog language to STFU. I was doing the same.
Once the dogs were taken care of, we made our way to Stuttgart, with one quick pee stop at a rest station. I noticed they already had their Easter display up. I wasn’t able to get a picture, which may be a blessing. On the other hand, I don’t remember ever seeing an Easter display put up by a rest stop in the United States.
I had to pee again as we arrived in Stuttgart, so we decided to go into a McDonald’s. As I was making my way to the restroom, I heard someone behind the counter yelling “Entschuldigung!” Ahh… she wanted to check my COV-Pass to make sure I’ve gotten jabbed. The restroom in that McDonald’s was on the second floor, so it wasn’t like I could just duck in and out. I showed my credentials, did my business, and Bill handed me a very small Coke that he bought me for the privilege of using the can.
We got to downtown Stuttgart a couple of hours early, so we decided to have lunch at the Paulaner am alten Postplatz, a German restaurant on Calwer Strasse, the chic street where Dr. Blair’s office is located. Ever since COVID hit, I’m never quite sure of what I should be doing. We went inside, and a waitress checked our COV-Passes and IDs… a step further than what the lady at McDonald’s did. I was shocked, since the first floor of that restaurant is for smokers, and plenty were doing that when we visited! Fortunately, there was a non-smoking area upstairs.
Bill and I both opted to have daily specials. I had duck leg with red cabbage slaw and a bread dumpling. Bill had pork goulash. We had beer– the only beer we had all weekend. It was our first restaurant visit in months, and, I must say, it was great. The food was good, as usual, and it was kind of nice to be around other people. I especially got a kick out of the lady with a large puppy she carried in.
After lunch, we headed over to Dr. Blair’s office for our cleanings and waited, dutifully wearing the oppressive FFP2 masks. Bill got a stern lecture about his flossing habits. I got a lecture about my hesitancy in seeing doctors. I have an area of chronically red gum tissue under my front teeth. Dr. Blair always asks me about it. Then he ribs me about being anxious. He’s a very good dentist, and I think he truly cares about his patients, but I also think he takes my anxiety personally. He really shouldn’t. I had a terrible experience with a physician years ago that has left me very reluctant to see medical people. Dentists are, generally, an exception. I do get nervous before procedures, though. He has never forgotten it, even though it’s been years since he put in my implant.
After our appointments, we made our way toward Sessenheim, which is located just inside the border of France. Even Dr. Blair knew about Sessenheim, correctly identifying it as very close to Baden-Baden. But once you cross the border, everything changes! From the beginning of our trip, checking into Auberge au Boeuf, until the end of our stay, COVID rules were much less inconvenient. We walked into the hotel wearing FFP2s and immediately removed them for the rest of our stay after we were confirmed vaccinated. The same conditions applied at every restaurant we visited. We showed our passes, and it was like 2019 again. The FFP2s were also not required. Regular surgical masks were perfectly okay.
Auberge au Boeuf only has four rooms, and each one has a name. We rented L’Idylle, which is one of the larger rooms. It has a balcony that overlooks the beautiful church next door, it’s own private sauna, a jacuzzi, a rainfall shower, and an impressively stocked minibar. Below are some photos of L’Idylle.
We were still full from lunch and pretty tired from the day’s events, so we decided to stay in. We watched French news, drank wine from the local Aldi, and went to bed early. We were off to a good start.
On March 2, 2022, Bill and I have an appointment to go to Stuttgart to see our dentist, the venerable Dr. Blair. It’s time for our cleanings, which we forewent for two years before we finally went to see him last August. Some readers may remember that we combined our last trip to Stuttgart with a visit to the Black Forest.
We went to the Black Forest for a few reasons. First, our usual go-to hotel in Stuttgart, the Wald Hotel, was fully booked when we needed a room. Second, it occurred to me that we’ve been to Stuttgart enough times that it’s no longer a very exciting place for us to be, even though we both love staying at the Wald Hotel. Third, we used to live at the edge of the Black Forest, and went there many times for day trips. We loved going there, and I thought it might be fun to stay a few days. And finally, it was a great opportunity to spend a long weekend in Baiersbronn, where there are several excellent Michelin starred restaurants. It beat hanging out in Stuttgart, where we’ve been many times.
Well, we did have fun in Baiersbronn last August. It was so much fun that I thought maybe we’d go back to the Black Forest and stay in another area we visited for a day and loved. I looked at visiting both Oppenau and Wolfach, both picturesque places that are in different parts of the Black Forest. But then I read about the strict COVID-19 requirements in Baden-Württemberg and decided that it wouldn’t be that much fun to hang out in a hotel, or even a guest house, dealing with those rules. Plus, I just want to get out of Germany for a few days, since we have that capability. When I searched for properties in Oppenau, I noticed that I was also getting results for Strasbourg, France. I didn’t want to go to Strasbourg, though. Our last trip to France was to Strasbourg, exactly two years ago this month. February is usually when Strasbourg hosts an annual wine expo. Last year, it was canceled. This year, it was postponed until late March.
Then it occurred to me that we’ve never been to Soufflenheim, which is a town near the German border, famous for its pottery. I went looking for a place to stay in Soufflenheim, and noticed that one of the choices was a small hotel in nearby Sessenheim, which is known for a museum dedicated to the German poet, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The hotel, Auberge au Boeuf, has a restaurant by the same name with a Michelin star. The place gets rave reviews, especially for the food, but also for the rooms. They had one room open for the time we were visiting. It would cost substantially less than the room I was thinking of booking at the Wald Hotel in Stuttgart, and, as it’s just inside the French border, does not impose the same onerous COVID rules and restrictions that Baden-Württemberg currently has.
It’s not so much that I’m an anti-vaxxer, or anything. I have been triple vaxxed, and I wear masks when I have to. But I HATE the FFP2 masks with a passion, and while they could be required in France, at least if we go there, it’ll be a change of scenery. At this writing, masks and vaccines are required in France, but they have done away with the rule requiring people to wear masks outside, and it’s my understanding that a simple medical mask will do. And we have MISSED France so much! Bill and I didn’t visit France much when we were here the first time, from 2007-09, but this time, we have gone a bunch of times. We have come to love it. It’s almost like a second home, since it’s not far from where we lived near Stuttgart, nor is it that far from Wiesbaden.
Yesterday, I made reservations at the hotel’s restaurant for dinner on Friday AND Saturday nights during our visit. It looks that special. Also, Bill and I have been to Alsace enough times to know that it pays to make reservations. Otherwise, you could end up having a really terrible time at a poorly rated restaurant where the waiter asks you if you’re pregnant. Of course, that happened to me in October 2014, when I still colored my hair and wasn’t as nearly close to menopause as I am today. It’s doubtful that would happen to me in 2022, even though my face is still pretty smooth and, in fact, still occasionally has zits. Thanks, hormones. On another note, damn, we have really been here a LONG time.
I think we’ll have a great time in France. I suspect Noyzi will be delighted to visit the Hunde Pension again. Arran will be annoyed, but it’s only for four nights. Then, we’ll come home, and he’ll be pampered again. Poor guy used to love going to France with us, when we still had Zane, and it was easier to travel with the dogs. Noyzi is a good traveler, but he’s huge, and takes up the whole back compartment of the car. And hotels and rentals aren’t as keen to rent to people with big dogs… although I’ll bet Yannick in Ribeauville would be cool with it. We’ve stayed at his place many times; the latest was in January 2020. Alsace never gets old, but we do want to see other areas than Riquewihr and Ribeauville, and the like. Sessenheim is also a little closer to Nancy, where we visited in 2009. Maybe we can go there on this trip. Nancy is a beautiful city. It’s about a two hour drive from where we’ll be staying, but what the hell? We have no agenda, other than eating at the hotel twice. Based on what I’ve read, we could end up eating there even more times.
I’m looking forward to our trip. Hopefully, nothing will fuck it up for us. That includes anything that happens because of Putin.
We didn’t do anything special yesterday, except for use our new fondue/raclette grill. I got a few photos. It really is fun to use this grill, and it offers a nice change of pace at dinner. Bill is quite the gourmand.
So things are looking up. It’s nice to look forward to a dentist appointment. I think we’ll have a great time in France. Knock on wood, nothing will screw this up… I’m looking at you, Russian dictator wannabe Putin. I think the Georgians sang it best…
It’s another cold, grey, drizzly weekend in Germany. Christmas will arrive next weekend. I suppose I should be more into the spirit of celebrating the season, but I just can’t seem to find my mojo. I don’t really like going out in yucky weather even when there isn’t a pandemic. The spiking COVID numbers aren’t inspiring me to get out there and mingle with the masses.
But not everyone feels the way I do. My German friend, Susanne, shared with me some news out of Reutlingen. It seems there was a riot/protest there last night, consisting of Nazi sympathizers and COVID deniers, most of whom weren’t masked and ignored the rules against congregating. Things got pretty out of hand in some places, so the Stuttgart police showed up to maintain order.
Germans are usually pretty tolerant of peaceful protests and strikes. They’re usually scheduled ahead of time and announced, so people can choose not to be involved… or, if they’re into it, they can participate or observe. I believe one has to get a permit to protest legally. I have no idea if this group followed the rules. The protests I’ve seen are usually pretty chill… afterwards, everybody breaks up and has a beer or something. But every once in awhile, people do get their hackles up. Such was the case last night.
Ein Verschwörungsideologe tritt mit einem Polizisten in Dialog und bezeichnet ihn an „Faschisten“. Daraufhin wird dieser festgenommen. #b1812pic.twitter.com/sLJ5hHUul2
This video was shared on Facebook by Matthias Kipfer in the public group, 99,99 % (Filder) vs. R.E.S.T.. I’m not sure where this particular incident involving the man screaming about fascists took place. It might not have happened in Reutlingen, although I can see by the photos and videos in the group, there was plenty of action there last night. I see the guy screaming about fascists was originally posted on Twitter by Stadtrand Aktion. As you can see, the cops weren’t amused. This guy was promptly arrested. I suspect he will get a nice big fine, as outlined in the trusty 2022 Bussgeldkatalog. Edited to add: Susanne thinks the fascist cop incident might have happened in Berlin, since the cop has a B on his uniform.
I think it’s funny that there’s a catalog of fines people can consult to find out about laws and fines. I especially get a kick out of the section on the fines for insulting people in traffic. When they are translated into English, they are both hilarious and nonsensical. Below is the list of fines as of 2022.
In all seriousness, these protests were pretty bad. Apparently, some people were using children as human shields against the water cannons cops tried to use to disperse the agitated crowds. I was impressed by how the cops managed to keep their cool. German police officers don’t seem to be as violent as American police officers often are. But then, they probably pay better and offer more training.
My German still sucks, but I do find myself picking up words and understanding more, especially when my friend shares interesting German articles with me that include juicy tidbits about current events. If I have gained anything from the past seven years, besides a massive beer gut, it’s a rudimentary understanding of basic German. My Armenian is still better, though. That isn’t saying much.
The above photo basically translates to “People who think vaccinations change their DNA should consider it an opportunity.” Who says Germans aren’t sharp witted? Not I!
In other news… I hope the new blog design is welcomed by the few regular readers who have been keeping up with me during these COVID times. I decided to play around with it a few days ago, and when I went to change it back to the theme I was using, I discovered that the “wandering” theme was retired. So now I have a new but similar theme, and a new color scheme. I think it’s easier to read.
My friend Priya, her husband Ron, and our new friend, Heather, came up to Wiesbaden from Stuttgart yesterday. They asked Bill and me to join them at the Wiesbaden Christmas Market. The markets down near Stuttgart have mostly been cancelled, due to rising COVID-19 infections, but there are many towns in other states that are having smaller versions of their markets. Priya and Ron have been making their way to a number of them.
I was glad they invited us to join them. I had been wanting to to go the market, but was having trouble with motivation. The weather hasn’t been nice lately, and the COVID rules can be onerous. But thanks to our friends from Stuttgart, we managed to have a great time. It was quite a shock to hang out with people again. We were all laughing about the erosion of social skills that has happened since March 2020.
After a few hours and too much wine and beer, we said our goodbyes. Priya, Ron, and Heather went on to visit the market in Mainz. Bill and I went home to feed the dogs.
For some reason, the connection on this site is excruciatingly slow today. I’ll have to keep the commentary to a minimum. I also can’t delete the photos, so there are a few that look like repeats. I’ll try to fix these glitches later.