dental, France, Germany

Reunited with France… and it felt so good to be back! Part two…

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.

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dental, trip planning

A dental appointment means we finally have actual travel plans!

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.

Moving on…

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.

And then, this morning, Bill decided to get doughnuts from our neighborhood bakery again, like he did last week. I think it’s because we finally have some Peet’s Major Dickason’s coffee to drink. We’re big fans.

The heart shaped Valentine’s doughnuts were especially yummy! Raspberry! And sweeter than usual. No, we didn’t eat them all. I look forward to a snack later, or maybe breakfast tomorrow.

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…

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laws

Word of advice… don’t call a German cop a “fascist”…

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.

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.

More than once, I have written about how insulting people is illegal in Germany. It’s especially true that insulting the cops is a big no no. All I can think is that this guy took complete leave of his senses, forgot to whom he was speaking, and lost total control of himself. I know how that feels. It happened to me a time or two when I was a teenager. This fellow looks to be well beyond the teen years.

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.

Some of these insults seem to have lost a little in their translations.

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.

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markets

Wiesbaden Christmas Market 2021

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.

A good time was had by all!

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Uncategorized

Wiesbaden vs. Stuttgart updated…

Last week, while Bill and I were in Alsace, I got a message from a reader thanking me for a post I wrote at about this time last year. He’s considering jobs open in Stuttgart and Wiesbaden and was having trouble deciding on which town to apply more of his efforts. When I wrote the piece he referenced, I had only been in Wiesbaden for a a couple of months. Since we’ve now been here for about 14 months, I figure it’s time for an update of things I’ve noticed after having lived in both areas. Here’s the top ten list I did last year, with more information.

10.  Wiesbaden is more “built up”.

I don’t know why, but I was under the impression that life was more bucolic up here in Wiesbaden.  Maybe it’s the name of the city, which translates to Meadow Bath.  To me, Wiesbaden is more crowded than the Stuttgart area is.  There are many narrow streets here– even more than down in Stuttgart– and they are crowded with cars.  I was thinking we’d be able to find a rural area in which to live, but just about everywhere we looked was very built up and crowded.  That may be because there are several good sized cities here as opposed to just one.  We have Frankfurt, Mainz, and Wiesbaden, all of which have at least 500,000 inhabitants.

Updated answer– I still think this area is a bit more “built up”, but that may be because both times we lived in the Stuttgart area, we lived pretty far away from the city. During both of our Stuttgart stints, we were at least 25 miles out, which resulted in lengthy commutes and many hours sitting in Staus. However, it was mostly worth it, since Bill and I both like country living. The reality is, you will encounter narrow streets and built up areas in Stuttgart, too. It’s just that the Black Forest is closer, which means you may find more opportunities to live in rural locales.

9.  People are more laid back in Wiesbaden.

Despite the area being more “crowded”, I have noticed people don’t seem as cranky in the Wiesbaden area.  Or maybe I’m just becoming German…  I remember being taken aback when we moved to Stuttgart the first time.  People seemed grouchy and “in your face”.  It seemed slightly less like that during our second stint there, probably because I was more accustomed to German bluntness.  Here in Wiesbaden, I wouldn’t say people are necessarily friendlier, but they seem less uptight for some reason.  Maybe I should spend more time in traffic.

Updated answer– I still think people in Wiesbaden are more laid back. It may be because this area is so close to Mainz and Frankfurt, which are very international cities– Frankfurt especially. We have wine stands in our neighborhood during the warmer months and Bill and I have found that people here are more interested in getting to know us, even if our German sucks. We have met Germans who have lived in America, and our next door neighbor, who speaks English, has lived in Spain. They seem to understand what it’s like to be an expat. This isn’t to say you won’t find nice people in Stuttgart. You certainly will. I did– in fact, I still have several German friends in Stuttgart. It’s just that, at least in my experience, it seems to take a little longer to break the ice down there. Call it a cultural difference.

8.  Traffic isn’t as bad up here.

I don’t know why, either.  It’s not that there isn’t a lot of traffic.  There is.  But for some reason, we don’t experience the legendary Staus we did in the Stuttgart area.

Updated answer– I still think this is true. We do have traffic jams in the Wiesbaden area, but they aren’t nearly as often or as onerous as the ones in Stuttgart are. However, depending on where you live in the Wiesbaden area, you may or may not be able to access the S-Bahn as easily as you can in Stuttgart. Where we live, there is no train stop, but there are several bus stops. When we lived in the Stuttgart area, we had closer access to both trains and busses, although our first town near Stuttgart had an actual train stop, while the second town only had a bus stop, but the train was only ten minutes’ drive. On the other hand, since we live so close to Wiesbaden, Frankfurt, and Mainz, we don’t really need the train so much. It takes maybe fifteen minutes to get to Wiesbaden, and about twenty minutes to get to Mainz or Frankfurt, give or take a few minutes. By contrast, getting to Stuttgart could take up to an hour from where lived, more if there were traffic jams.

7.  Wiesbaden is not as pretty as Stuttgart is…

Actually, I should rephrase that.  The city of Wiesbaden is very beautiful and posh.  Stuttgart is kind of industrial and homely.  In that sense, I’d say Wiesbaden is prettier than Stuttgart is.  However, the areas around Stuttgart are absolutely lovely, while Wiesbaden’s surroundings seem to have less beauty, natural or otherwise.  I really miss the beautiful views from our old house, as well as the charming towns that weren’t decimated during World War II.  Forgive me, but I’m not as well-versed in history as I should be.  Nevertheless, there’s not as much quaint charm in the Wiesbaden area.  It takes more effort to see the half-timbered houses one sees in BW.

Updated answer– I still pretty much think that the areas around Stuttgart are prettier than the areas around Wiesbaden are. It may just be a personal preference, though. I liked looking at the Schoenbuch Ridge in the Stuttgart area, and it seems like there are a lot more forests for walking in and contemplating life. I especially enjoyed living at the edge of the Black Forest. We spent a lot of day trips in the Black Forest, feeling like we were getting a one day vacation. I also saw a lot more hot air balloons in the Stuttgart area. However, Wiesbaden and its environs are pretty in a different way.

I have come to appreciate our neighborhood with its friendly residents, wine stands, and plane spotting opportunities. We love being so close to the Rhein, which can also turn one day trips into mini vacations. And there are places to go if I need a walk in the woods, although it’s not as close to me as it was in the Stuttgart area. A big bonus is that I have yet to encounter the air smelling of shit the way I did regularly in the Stuttgart area during the spring and summer. If you haven’t experienced it yet, and you’re moving down there, you will probably soon know what I mean. I also haven’t seen as many fields of rapeseed up here, which is a blessing, since I am allergic to rapeseed.

6.  Wiesbaden is more international than Stuttgart is. 

I come from Virginia and sometimes, when I compare Wiesbaden to Stuttgart, I think of what it would be like to move from, say, Richmond, to northern Virginia.  Stuttgart feels very much like the state capital it is, while Wiesbaden, being so close to Frankfurt, feels more like the national capital it isn’t.  A lot of different kinds of people come through Wiesbaden because it’s close to Frankfurt.  Consequently, it feels somewhat more cosmopolitan, although I’ve read that if you really want to party, you need to go to Frankfurt or Mainz.  Wiesbaden apparently has a reputation for being “stuffy” and “snooty”, thanks to all the money up here.

Updated answer– Yes, this was a correct assumption on my part. There are all kinds of people living up here from all over the place. The bonus is that there are a lot more culinary delights here. We’ve found several restaurants that serve exotic cuisines like Georgian food, Afghan food, and even southern U.S. food. There are also a couple of American chain outlets up here that you won’t find in Stuttgart. Hell, if we wanted to, we could go to Hooters or Chipotle Mexican Grill (not that I want to). Both have locations in Frankfurt.

5.  There’s more money in Wiesbaden.

Swabians are reputed to be tight with their money.  Nevertheless, I thought Stuttgart was an expensive area to live in.  That was before I went looking for a house in Wiesbaden.  We pay almost twice as much (including Nebenkosten) for our current home than we did for our house in Unterjettingen.  However, our new house is also much nicer than our last one was.  Our landlord lives next door, but never bothers us… and when something needs to be fixed, he doesn’t freak out.

Updated answer– I still think this is true. I have noticed that housing is more expensive in this area, although I’ve also noticed that it tends to be more up-to-date. Also, the attitude regarding money seems to be different. I can count on one hand the number of times our landlord has rung the doorbell, even though he lives next door. He gives us free firewood, and has outright told us that he wants us to be happy in our home. He let a previous tenant put up a privacy fence and didn’t care that we installed a robotic lawnmower.

Yes, it’s his house because he owns it, but he doesn’t act like we should be grateful to be living in his house. He’s grateful that we rented his house. It seems to be a different mindset, which I really appreciate. I also noticed that same attitude when we were looking at other homes up here. Prospective landlords were quick to tell us that the house we rented would be our home, not a house that someone deigns to let us rent. Maybe it has to do with there being more money here or people being less frugal.

4.  There’s more farming in Stuttgart.

One thing I miss about our old area is that we lived near several farms where we could buy produce on our honor.  I won’t say this doesn’t exist in Wiesbaden, but it’s harder to find it.  I’m not sure we’ll find a 24 Milch Tankstelle up here, either.  On the other hand, up in the Wiesbaden area, there are wine stands.  They should be cranking out Federweisser soon.

Updated answer– It’s true that there aren’t as many farms as where we lived when we were in the Stuttgart area, but then, like I said, we didn’t actually live that close to Stuttgart. We have found some local farmer’s markets and farms near where we live, though I’m still searching for the Milch Tankstelles and vending machines that sell lentils and pork products, which are more plentiful in BW. An added benefit, again, is that I have yet to smell the essence of manure in the spring air, either.

3.  The food is kind of different and there seems to be less emphasis on beer.

In the Stuttgart area, the emphasis was on heavy, hearty German fare in the Gasthauses and there were many different breweries, all putting out beers that pretty much tasted the same.  Up here in Wiesbaden, the emphasis is more on wine.  I thought Stuttgart was wine country, and it kinda is, but it’s even more wine country near the Rhein.  I suppose if I want a good Volksfest, I’m going to have to pack my dirndl and pay Stuttgart a visit.

Updated answer– Yes… this is definitely wine country. If you want beer, it’s probably going to be from Bavaria as opposed to a local brewery. However, as many German beers are excellent but taste the same regardless, this isn’t a huge issue. Since we moved to Wiesbaden, we’ve discovered local delights such as green sauce, spundekaese (and handkaese), roasted goose (which for some reason seems to be more popular here), and apple wine. We have also run into the hearty stuff one finds in BW and Bavaria too, like schnitzels and sausages. As I mentioned before, you can find a lot of culinary options in the Wiesbaden area.

2.  Wiesbaden is growing on me…

It’s nice to have a change in scenery.  I’m looking forward to spring, when the weather will be better and we can take some day trips on the weekends.  The weather up here, by the way, seems to be less cold and snowy.  When I read about snow in Stuttgart, I look out our window forlornly and see nothing but rain.  But maybe it will be somewhat milder all the way around.  Like, in the summer, I won’t bake.  One can hope.

Updated answer– We still have yet to have a decent snow up here, whereas down in the Stuttgart area, we always got at least one good snow a winter. It could be that winter is just generally milder this year and was also last year. As for the summer, it was also pretty hot up here last year, although the house we’re in has Rolladens on every window. That made the house cooler. Also, I have two portable air conditioners and doors with windows. I lower the Rolladens all the way to the top of the air conditioning hoses and rest the top of the Rolladens on top of the hose, eliminating the need for hot air stoppers. If you don’t know what a hot air stopper is, you’ll probably soon find out. Basically, they’re fabric pieces with a zipper in them that can be attached by velcro to windows and allow for exhaust hoses to extend outside of the window, while keeping a seal to prevent hot air from coming in through the window. I had to use them in our Stuttgart area house, but don’t need them in this house.

As for fun day trips, yes they are certainly possible. We have several appealing Rhein towns we can get to, like St. Goar, Bacharach and Eltville, as well as other charming towns like Idstein, Eppstein, and Rudesheim. And if the pull of BW gets to be too great, we can be there in about an hour. Heidelberg is also not far. I do still miss the Black Forest, though.

1.  But I kind of miss Stuttgart a little, too…

If the weather has to be cold and yucky, I like it to snow.  We have yet to have our first decent snow up here.  I know the town where I used to live has gotten some white stuff.  I miss having a nice area to walk my dogs, too.  We were literally next to the Black Forest down in the Stuttgart area.  Here, they get walked by a grocery store near the Autobahn.  On the other hand, we do have a fenced in backyard, which is great.  Still, I was thinking wistfully about how beautiful the rural areas near Stuttgart are.  I do miss them.

Updated answer– We lost one of our dogs a few months ago. He had cancer. Prior to his passing, I found a new walking route that was better than where we were walking the dogs a year ago. One time, I was picking up some crap and a German man approached me. I expected him to yell at me, but instead, he had a look of amazement on his face. He thanked me for cleaning up after my dogs. That might have happened in Stuttgart, too, although it often seemed more like I’d be yelled at down there than up here.

So… while I do still miss some things about living in Stuttgart, I think, overall, I like Wiesbaden more at this point. I could also comment on the way the garrisons are run, but that might be risky, especially since it would be mainly from the perspective of a spouse. Suffice to say that my husband has a much shorter commute, there seems to be a lot less chaos in terms of the work he’s doing, and I think contractors get treated better. For instance, if you’re a contractor, you can get help from the housing office in finding a place to live. In Stuttgart, you have to go it alone. We didn’t need housing either time we moved here, but Wiesbaden was helpful when Bill approached them about a general housing issue we had. In Stuttgart, they would have told him to pound sand. Wiesbaden is a lot closer to Ramstein, Kaiserslautern, and Sembach than Stuttgart is, which can be handy if you have special “American” needs, like medical care.

There’s also a whole lot less social media drama in the Wiesbaden area. Stuttgart has a lot of Facebook groups that most everyone winds up joining. The groups are useful for spreading information and making friends, but the by product is that people can get kind of rude and shitty to each other. By contrast, there’s a lot less of that in Wiesbaden… or maybe I’ve just been wise enough to steer clear. I don’t know very many people in Wiesbaden, but met quite a lot of folks in Stuttgart… some of whom I regretted meeting, and some of whom probably regretted meeting me.

Weirdly enough, I actually miss Stuttgart’s airport, which was smaller and a lot easier to use than Frankfurt’s huge airport is. However, it’s a lot easier to fly directly to more places from Frankfurt, so there is that trade off. And I miss our very friendly and easily booked vets in Herrenberg, although the vet we currently use is a bit more modern and we’re close to a really excellent emergency veterinary facility. So again– many trade offs. I’m just grateful we’ve had the chance to live in both areas and experience the best and worst both places have to offer. Really, I don’t think you can go wrong in either place, especially since individual preferences and circumstances will certainly color each person’s perspectives. We don’t know how much longer we’ll be here, but we intend to enjoy as much as we can for as long as possible.

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Welcome back to Stuttgart… part 3– clean teeth, The Gardener’s Nosh, and kids who can’t tell time

Friday morning, Bill and I had appointments to see our dentist.  We got up and enjoyed Waldhotel’s buffet breakfast.  It costs extra, but I booked it with the room.  At about 10:00am, we headed for the U-bahn (Waldau stop) and made our way to Stuttgart Mitte. (ETA: My German friend says that Stuttgart has no “U-bahn” as in “underground”.  The U stands for unabhängig– “independent”.  Stuttgart’s trains are all technically “Stadtbahns”.)  I had a big bag of wine corks to be delivered.  It so happened that the lady who was taking them for her crafting projects had an appointment in Stuttgart, too.

I really like Dr. Blair.  We started seeing him in January 2015, after I read many good reviews of his work in local Facebook groups and on Toytown Germany.  When we first started using his services, I had an upper baby tooth that had abscessed, and needed to be pulled and replaced with an implant.  I was very nervous about the whole experience, but he did a tremendous job.  I’ve had my implant for three years and it feels and behaves just like a natural tooth.  I still have another baby tooth that will probably need an implant.  If we’re still in Germany when the work needs to be done, I’ll probably have him do it.  If you’re interested in the whole implant saga, you can read about it in this blog.  I got the tooth pulled in September 2015 and the implant was finished in June 2016.

Dr. Blair was having a hard time on Friday.  He was working on a little girl who was wearing braces that had been applied with extremely strong cement.  The poor girl was crying as he was trying to remove one of the appliances.  How do I know this?  Well, I could hear it… but he also told me about it.  It’s always interesting to me how the concept of patient privacy differs in Germany than it does in the United States.  Germany is very big on privacy in general, but I guess, not when it comes to healthcare.

I heard Dr. Blair apologize to the girl’s mom as they were leaving.  I also heard him rather sternly tell the little girl that the trauma “wasn’t his fault.”  I guess it technically wasn’t, since he didn’t use that super strong glue on her braces, but she was still pretty upset.  This seemed like another incidence of “blame shifting” and “fault claiming” that appears to be a cultural thing here in Germany.  I notice that as a whole, many Germans seem to be very averse to accepting fault and/or blame when things go wrong.  I’ve written about it before, because as an American, it’s interesting to me to observe the differences.  This isn’t to say that Americans are any more willing to accept fault or blame– just that German culture seems especially against it.  Maybe that’s why lawsuits are so prevalent here.

After our teeth were cleaned and the wine corks were delivered, we decided to have lunch at The Gardener’s Nosh.  This is a restaurant on Calwer Strasse that I heard about in the food and wine Facebook group I run.  I wanted to try it when we were still living near Stuttgart, but never got the opportunity.  I think they recently expanded their hours.  I seem to remember the reason we couldn’t try it was because they closed in the afternoons and we were always in Stuttgart too late.  Now, I see they serve dinner, although the restaurant focuses on healthy breakfast items served all day.

Nice to finally try this place.
 
 

Breakfast all day.

We happened to get there right after a hen party had departed.  I think a couple of the “hens” remained.  I noticed that the noise level in the restaurant was rather energetic.  We might have sat outside, but the weather was kind of iffy– we’d have a few minutes of sun, then the rain would start.  It was also surprisingly chilly outside.

Delicious mint tea!

 

Pretty Eggs Hemingway!  Next time, I might try the French toast.

 

Bill’s turkey bacon and cheese sandwich.  I liked the avocado creme around the plate.

 

A nice spot for lunch downtown!

I decided to have Eggs Hemingway, which consisted of poached eggs, fresh spinach, Hollandaise Sauce, and smoked salmon on bread.  You get your choice of breads– toasted Brioche, “farm” bread, or whole wheat.  I chose the “Bauern” bread.  I wish I had chosen Brioche instead, but other than that, I really liked the dish.  It was almost too pretty to eat!  I also had Moroccan mint tea, which was served in a fancy golden pot.

Bill had a grilled turkey bacon and cheese sandwich.  I think I might have liked his sandwich even more than I did my Eggs Hemingway.  They used a mild cheese, kind of reminiscent of Swiss, on hearty farm bread.  He paired it with iced tea with fruit.

We used public transportation to get to and from the dentist’s office.  Getting back to the hotel was kind of exhausting, since we got turned around in the train station.  I spend a lot of time alone these days, so being around so many people kind of wore me out.  We had plans to visit the Frühlingsfest, but by the time we got back to the hotel, I wasn’t sure I still wanted to go.  It was cold and rainy.

But I gamely got dressed anyway…

And Bill liked it.  I think the dirndl brings out the animal in him.

Since we were going to the concert on Saturday, Bill preferred to go to the Fest on Friday afternoon.  I relented and put on my dirndl.  While I was getting dressed, a Waldhotel staffer dropped by to give us a gift because I left positive feedback on Expedia about our check in.

Should be interesting to try this!  It has Jalapeno Chilis in it.  Seems dangerous for German tastes!

We took public transportation back to Bad Cannstatt, where it promptly started raining.  By the time we got to the tent, I looked like a drowned rat.

Not the best look for me.  Glad I didn’t waste time fixing my hair.

Our one and only Krugs, thanks to the inconsideration of kids who can’t tell time.

We sat at a table that was reserved for 6:00pm.  It was about 3:30 when we arrived, and the table was completely empty.  There was no music, and we were too late for lunch, although we didn’t really want to eat, anyway.  I took some photos and we started enjoying our first Maßkrugs.  At about 4:00pm, a large group of kids showed up and took over the table.  After about thirty minutes, before we were finished with our beers, one of the “kids” asked us to move.  The guy said they had a reservation.

Bill was way too nice to the boy, who was admittedly asking us nicely, but still being a self-centered little shit.  The kid suggested that we sit at one of the other tables, all of which were also reserved, and mostly for times earlier than 6:00pm.  I was really pissed, though.  I looked at the kid and said in a really bitchy tone of voice, “It’s not six o’clock yet.”

The kid looked rather horrified at Bill, who then looked at him sternly.  I probably looked like I wanted to kill him.  I have one of those faces that says a lot more than what comes out verbally.

I probably looked even meaner than this.

In retrospect, maybe I should have said, “Young man, you can wait ten minutes while I finish my beer.  Your reservation starts at 6:00pm.  If you needed the table sooner, you should have reserved it for earlier than 6:00pm.  You don’t get to claim the table for all day.  Didn’t your parents teach you how to tell time?  And didn’t they teach you basic manners?”

But I could tell Bill didn’t want me to make a scene, and I knew that if I did, it would ruin the Fest for all of us.  So we moved to another table.  I finished the beer and we left the tent to frequent some of the outdoor Biergartens we usually miss at the Fests.  I think I’m getting too old for the Fests, anyway, but I wanted to get more use out of my pretty dirndl.  I don’t think they wear them up here in Hesse.  Germany is definitely wearing off on me.  I’m not as laid back as I used to be… not that I’ve ever been laid back, but I’m even more uptight now.  Just wait until I go through “the change”.

I should have tried this.  It might have improved my mood.

 

Germans are serious about their rides.  I probably would have liked to try this twenty years ago.  Bill doesn’t like rides, though, so I was content to watch.  

Interesting sign…  I think I took this after I used the WC, where the Klofrau beamed at me for leaving a euro instead of 50 cents.

We eventually switched to wine.  I think when it comes to the Fests, the wine tents are more my speed.  Unfortunately, they weren’t running one at the Frühlingsfest like they do in the fall.

We should have just gone to this place instead of trying to hit the beer tents.  You can see the ambulance passing… probably to go pick up one of the little Scheissers at the Wasen.

It’s amazing how it wasn’t as crowded on Friday afternoon as it always is during the fall and yet, thanks to some obnoxiously self-centered kids, I had a worse time.  Well, it wasn’t all bad… At least I didn’t end up kissing anyone, like I did a few years ago.  We took a cab back to the hotel, visited Angelo at the bar, and then retired to our fancy suite and tried out the humongous bathtub behind the bed.  That experience saved the evening!

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Welcome back to Stuttgart… part 2– back to the fabulous Waldhotel and dinner at Finch

Back in the summer of 2016, Bill and I discovered Stuttgart’s wonderful Waldhotel, a four star property in Degerloch.  It’s located in a beautifully forested area in Degerloch, right next to the TV Tower, and a Sportsplatz.  We stayed there the first time because we wanted to see Van Morrison in concert and didn’t feel like trying to come all the way back to Unterjettingen from Stuttgart late at night.  We enjoyed the experience so much that, counting this past weekend, we’ve been back four times.  They’ve hosted us for Van Morrison in 2016, Sting’s March 2017 show at the Porsche Arena, The Rollings Stones’ June 2018 show at the Mercedes-Benz Arena, and now for Elton John’s show.

So far, we’ve only gone to Waldhotel when we’ve had concerts planned downtown, but I can see us staying again whenever we have business in Stuttgart.  Waldhotel is very convenient to the U-Bahn, yet in a quiet, scenic area.  The staff is friendly and service-oriented, and the facilities are beautiful.

I booked the hotel via Expedia.com a few months ago.  Since we had stuff to do besides seeing Elton John, we stayed three nights.  I usually book their Superior rooms, but I decided this time, I wanted to try something different.  I upgraded us to their Junior Suite.  The Waldhotel used to be smaller than it is now; the superior rooms are in the new part of the hotel.  The classic rooms and the junior suite are in the older part.  Although the price difference wasn’t insignificant, I really wanted to see another part of the hotel, and let’s face it.  I’d rather upgrade than downgrade.  Waldhotel also has a suite, but I thought that would be overkill.

We were warmly welcomed as we checked in.  A staffer showed us the suite, since it’s a bit unique.  To reach it, you open a door that is common to room 500 and 502.  502 is the junior suite and, to reach it, you have to climb a small staircase.  I think the room also connects to room 500.  There was a mysterious stairway in the junior suite, but since we didn’t rent room 500, we didn’t have access.  It looked like a really small bedroom comparatively speaking.  I’ll admit I only got a peek when the housekeeper was cleaning it.  Edited to add: my German friend says that room 500 is a little room connected with the junior suite that can be booked for children.  I guess they don’t rent it to people not in the junior suite.

Anyway, here are some pictures of our fabulous room!

Room 502… at the top of a small staircase.

 

As the receptionist was showing us the features of the room, I mentioned that we’d been to the hotel a few times and this was the first time I hadn’t booked the superior room.  It was strictly because I wanted to see another room.  The superior rooms are excellent… I especially love the showers in them, which I think are even better than the one in the junior suite.  They have this large “square of water” and mood lighting.  On the other hand, they don’t boast an enormous bathtub that can accommodate two adults…

This bathtub was the bomb!  Bill and I were both able to enjoy it… at the same time!

A view of the suite from the behind the tub.  It’s very comfortable.

Nice bed!  I missed the headboard, though.  The superior rooms have them.

In the sitting room.  Two couches, a little desk, a full sized mirror, and a credenza for tea and coffee.

 

One of the views from the windows….  All of the windows are shaped the same and, to be honest, the views aren’t great because the windows are small.  They each have covers on them that can be used to block out light.

The TV emerges from the console.  Just push a button.  There’s also a small fridge with apple juice, orange juice, water, and beer.  It’s free, even in the lesser rooms.

The WC.  It’s a bit of a walk from the bed, but very comfortable.  I scowl at the square toilet seat.  We are replacing the one in our house and those things are expensive!  If I ever have my own house, I will not have a square toilet seat!

 

The shower room.  It’s large and the shower is nice, but it’s not quite as awesome as the showers in the newer part of the hotel.

 

His and her sinks.  There’s another sink just like it on the other side.

 

A nice vanity for the ladies.

 

Mysterious stairway.

 

They brought us a lovely welcome treat.  Riesling, fruit, and chocolates!  That will win me over every time!

 

We never did turn on the TV.

 

The receptionist kindly made reservations at the hotel’s restaurant, Finch, for 7:00pm.  We’ve eaten at Finch a few times.  It’s always a lovely experience, albeit somewhat expensive.  Here are some pictures from our Thursday night dinner.

We started at the bar, where the Waldhotel’s awesome Italian bartender, Angelo, was waiting for us.  Every time we’ve stayed at the Waldhotel, he’s been there.  He makes a mean cocktail, and he’s very charming too.  I had a gin and tonic.

Bill had a Campari and soda.

 

When we were finished with our drinks, we went to the restaurant and sat in one of its very impressive and private booths.  The food is nice at Finch, but I have to admit to loving their booths, which are totally enclosed and offer a view of the terrace.

Deciding on dinner.  

 
 

Bill selected this lovely Chilean red, made from grapes that came from vines imported from France.  The French version of these grapes are almost “extinct”, due to an infestation of phylloxera, but have become one of Chile’s most important grape varietals.  After the infestation, French vintners opted to grow grapes that were easier to tend.  I really enjoyed the Carmenere, which had a distinctive peppery flavor that somehow also reminded me of very fresh Concord grapes, minus the sweetness.  I would order this again.  It’s considered a “cousin” of Merlot, but it didn’t remind me of Merlot.

 

Out came the bread and butter…

 

Then the amuse.  This was very fresh salmon.  Since we both opted for lighter fare, the waitress asked if we were vegetarians!  I don’t get asked that very often!

 

I started with a delicious vegetarian Thai-Curry-Asparagus soup.  It was garnished with peanuts and passion fruit. 

Bill had marinated burrata, which was creamy cheese, green asparagus, mango, pine nuts, balsamic vinegar, and plum tomatoes.  He loved it!  I am getting braver about cheese lately and even I enjoyed a taste of this.

 

For my main course, I had risotto with saffron, white asparagus, half dried potatoes, and grilled prawns.  The risotto was perfect, but I wanted to save room for dessert.

Bill had the asparagus tart, which was vegetarian.  It was made with soy yogurt, smoked tofu, and cashews, as well as a wild herb salad.  He really enjoyed it.  I was feeling pretty virtuous about dinner, but then it was time for the happy ending.

 

I had semi-sweet chocolate mousse with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, raspberries and meringue.  It was a generous serving, but I managed it.

Bill had the passion fruit cheesecake with coconut praline and passion fruit ice cream.  He said it was just the perfect size and very delicious.

Finch’s food is usually very good and Thursday night was no exception.  They change the menu routinely, so it’s worth repeat visits to see what they have to offer.

After we ate, we went back to the room.  I found a nice letter from the manager thanking me for staying again.  The housekeeper had kindly left us some very soothing tea and cookies and turned down the bed for us.  All in all, it was a nice way to start off our visit.

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Welcome back to Stuttgart… part 1– lunch at Mikomi in Vaihingen and rug shopping

About six months ago, Bill and I moved from the Stuttgart area to Wiesbaden.  We’ve lived in the Stuttgart area twice during our marriage– from 2007-09 and 2014-2018.  It has the distinction of being the place where we’ve, so far, spent the most time during our married life, followed closely by the D.C. area.  It’s starting to feel a little like home.

We wouldn’t ordinarily go to Stuttgart for a fun trip, especially since we just left there a few months ago.  On the other hand, it’s absolutely possible to have a lot of fun in Stuttgart, especially if you know where to go.  We needed to go down there for both business and pleasure.

On a whim, back in February 2018, I bought tickets to Elton John’s “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” concert, which took place last night at the Hans-Schleyer Halle in Bad Cannstatt.  It was the first of a string of tickets I’ve bought for concerts in 2018 and 2019.  I think I’m trying to make up for all of the years I didn’t have enough money to go to shows.  That, and a lot of my favorite artists are retiring and this is the last chance to see them.

I was really looking forward to last night’s concert.  Not only did I buy the tickets over a year ago, I actually had to wait a year to get them.  Although I have loved Elton’s music ever since I was a tiny child many years ago, this was the first time I had ever seen him perform live.  I’m glad we made it to the show.  Last night, I was beginning to think it wasn’t going to happen.  More on that later.

We also needed to go see Dr. Blair, dentist extraordinaire, to get our teeth cleaned.  I know we should probably find a dentist in Wiesbaden, but we really like Dr. Blair.  He’s the best dentist either of us have ever seen.  Besides, there’s every chance we’ll one day wind up living near Stuttgart again.

I had a bunch of wine corks to unload to a lady in the food and wine group I run on Facebook.  I always like to offer them to crafters before recycling them.  I also wanted to buy some more rugs for our house with the brand new floors.

The spring fest was also going on, and while I’m probably getting too old for festing, we decided we’d try to hit that, too.

On Thursday, May 9th, we loaded up our two dogs, Zane and Arran, and took off for Stuttgart.  On a good day, it takes about two and a half hours to get from Wiesbaden to Stuttgart.  Thursday wasn’t a good day.  The weather was crappy and there was a lot of traffic.  It ended up taking us about four hours, and we were racing against the clock, because Max at Dog Holiday closes his doors at noon to have lunch.  He’s pretty strict about time and Bill likes to be respectful of other people’s time, so he was getting pretty stressed out as we hit Stau after Stau.  There’s a good reason Stuttgart is often referred to as “STAUgart.  Traffic is often a nightmare there.  I had forgotten how bad it is, even though we haven’t been gone that long.

I really haven’t missed this shit.

After we dropped off the dogs at Max’s, we headed for the Schwaben Galerie, the mall every American affiliated with the U.S. military gets to know intimately.  We were hoping to find lunch before we went to Panzer to purchase our rugs.  Once again, I was feeling whimsical as we decided where we were going to eat.  I went to see if the pseudo Mexican restaurant “Chilli’s” was still there.  I reviewed it once in 2016, right after it took over the space from the defunct Neuer Ochsen restaurant that was there for years prior.  I had liked the Neuer Ochsen and was sad to see that it was supplanted by a pseudo German Mexican place.  If I recall correctly, I didn’t hate our meal at Chilli’s, but it definitely wasn’t authentic Mexican food.

As I turned the corner, I noticed that Chilli’s was gone.  In its place is a new sushi restaurant and grill called Mikomi.  Bill and I love sushi, so we decided to stop in and see if the new place was any good.

I learned that this restaurant has only been open for about a month.

 

A very pleasant Asian lady invited us to sit down.  I was taking note of the new decor in this restaurant space.  It’s been interesting watching it go from the Neuer Ochsen to Chilli’s to now Mikomi.  I like what they’ve done with it.  There are lots of comfortable booths and the ambiance is calming.

I really liked the look of these booths.  You could host a good sized party there.

 

They have regular tables, too.

 

Bill tries to figure out the menu.  There were a lot of choices.

A young English speaking waiter explained the restaurant’s Bento Box deal, where you can get a main dish, two sides, a drink, and a dessert for a low price.  Or, alternatively, you can order one of their sushi deals for an equally low price.  I was really thirsty, so I ordered a beer.  A small beer would have been included in the price of the Bento Box, but I ordered a large.  I ended up drinking both.  Bill went with a Japanese brew.

“Goldilocks and the three beers?”

I went with one of the sushi Bento Boxes.  This was very satisfying.  The salmon was especially fresh and tasty, as was the spicy tuna roll.

Bill’s Bento Box was a good deal.  He got noodles with vegetables, pickled cucumbers and carrots, and shrimp skewers.  I loved the noodles and had to steal a couple of bites.

After we finished, we were invited to partake of the dessert buffet.  They had little cakes like this or fresh fruit.  I also saw donuts.

All of this was priced pretty reasonably.  I think we got out of there at under 30 euros.

 I think Mikomi will be more successful than Chilli’s was.  I didn’t hate Chilli’s as much as some Americans did, but I definitely didn’t need a second visit.  Mikomi, on the other hand, I would dine at again, given the opportunity.  I would recommend it to those who like Asian food– especially sushi.

After we finished having lunch, we went to Panzer and loaded up on new rugs for our house.  Our new landlord just put in brand new floors, so we’re doing our best to keep them as nice as possible.  Also, I like having rugs on the floors because they help cut down on echoes and are nicer to walk on than cold parquet.  The Turkish guy who runs the carpet shop was playing Rabiz– a type of Turkish pop music.  I was telling him about my adventures in Turkey and Bulgaria back in the 1990s, and how I had gotten used to hearing it in Armenia.  He said I had been to more parts of Turkey than he has, probably because my trip took me through the east.  The northeastern part of Turkey is truly some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen.  It rivals Switzerland…  or, at least it did in 1996.  I’d love to go back to Turkey again someday, when it’s safe.

Once we dropped some euros on new rugs, we headed to our favorite Stuttgart area hotel, the Wald Hotel.  More on that in my next post.

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Life in Wiesbaden vs. Life near Stuttgart… ten things I’ve noticed

Bill and I didn’t go out yesterday.  The weather was horrible.  It was dark, cold, and rainy, and a lot of stuff is closed on Sundays in Germany, anyway.  If we’d put our minds to it, maybe we could have found something to do, but I wasn’t in the mood to go out.  Instead, we stayed in, watched a lot of TV, and drank cocktails.

I do still have a work ethic, though, despite having long ago given up the working woman’s lifestyle.  I felt kind of guilty for neglecting the travel blog yesterday, since there are a handful of people who follow it and look for new posts.  I usually update on the weekends if I haven’t gone out of town.  Saturday, I was successful, but yesterday I was not.  So… today, I decided I’d write about the differences I’ve noticed between living in Wiesbaden and living near Stuttgart.

Bear in mind, I’ve only been in Wiesbaden for two months.  And our lives have been affected by the weather, the holidays, and the fact that we’re just now getting used to the area and finding stuff.  As it is every time we move, I’m having to get used to a new rhythm.  Yes, Wiesbaden is still Germany, and some German stuff is universal to the experience.  But just as it would be in the United States, there are some differences.  So with that idea, here are ten differences in life in Wiesbaden versus life near Stuttgart.

Stuttgart…

Wiesbaden…

10.  Wiesbaden is more “built up”.

I don’t know why, but I was under the impression that life was more bucolic up here in Wiesbaden.  Maybe it’s the name of the city, which translates to Meadow Bath.  To me, Wiesbaden is more crowded than the Stuttgart area is.  There are many narrow streets here– even more than down in Stuttgart– and they are crowded with cars.  I was thinking we’d be able to find a rural area in which to live, but just about everywhere we looked was very built up and crowded.  That may be because there are several good sized cities here as opposed to just one.  We have Frankfurt, Mainz, and Wiesbaden, all of which have at least 500,000 inhabitants.

9.  People are more laid back in Wiesbaden.

Despite the area being more “crowded”, I have noticed people don’t seem as cranky in the Wiesbaden area.  Or maybe I’m just becoming German…  I remember being taken aback when we moved to Stuttgart the first time.  People seemed grouchy and “in your face”.  It seemed slightly less like that during our second stint there, probably because I was more accustomed to German bluntness.  Here in Wiesbaden, I wouldn’t say people are necessarily friendlier, but they seem less uptight for some reason.  Maybe I should spend more time in traffic.

8.  Traffic isn’t as bad up here.

I don’t know why, either.  It’s not that there isn’t a lot of traffic.  There is.  But for some reason, we don’t experience the legendary Staus we did in the Stuttgart area.

7.  Wiesbaden is not as pretty as Stuttgart is…

Actually, I should rephrase that.  The city of Wiesbaden is very beautiful and posh.  Stuttgart is kind of industrial and homely.  In that sense, I’d say Wiesbaden is prettier than Stuttgart is.  However, the areas around Stuttgart are absolutely lovely, while Wiesbaden’s surroundings seem to have less beauty, natural or otherwise.  I really miss the beautiful views from our old house, as well as the charming towns that weren’t decimated during World War II.  Forgive me, but I’m not as well-versed in history as I should be.  Nevertheless, there’s not as much quaint charm in the Wiesbaden area.  It takes more effort to see the half-timbered houses one sees in BW.

6.  Wiesbaden is more international than Stuttgart is. 

I come from Virginia and sometimes, when I compare Wiesbaden to Stuttgart, I think of what it would be like to move from, say, Richmond, to northern Virginia.  Stuttgart feels very much like the state capital it is, while Wiesbaden, being so close to Frankfurt, feels more like the national capital it isn’t.  A lot of different kinds of people come through Wiesbaden because it’s close to Frankfurt.  Consequently, it feels somewhat more cosmopolitan, although I’ve read that if you really want to party, you need to go to Frankfurt or Mainz.  Wiesbaden apparently has a reputation for being “stuffy” and “snooty”, thanks to all the money up here.

5.  There’s more money in Wiesbaden.

Swabians are reputed to be tight with their money.  Nevertheless, I thought Stuttgart was an expensive area to live in.  That was before I went looking for a house in Wiesbaden.  We pay almost twice as much (including Nebenkosten) for our current home than we did for our house in Unterjettingen.  However, our new house is also much nicer than our last one was.  Our landlord lives next door, but never bothers us… and when something needs to be fixed, he doesn’t freak out.

4.  There’s more farming in Stuttgart.

One thing I miss about our old area is that we lived near several farms where we could buy produce on our honor.  I won’t say this doesn’t exist in Wiesbaden, but it’s harder to find it.  I’m not sure we’ll find a 24 Milch Tankstelle up here, either.  On the other hand, up in the Wiesbaden area, there are wine stands.  They should be cranking out Federweisser soon.

3.  The food is kind of different and there seems to be less emphasis on beer.

In the Stuttgart area, the emphasis was on heavy, hearty German fare in the Gasthauses and there were many different breweries, all putting out beers that pretty much tasted the same.  Up here in Wiesbaden, the emphasis is more on wine.  I thought Stuttgart was wine country, and it kinda is, but it’s even more wine country near the Rhein.  I suppose if I want a good Volksfest, I’m going to have to pack my dirndl and pay Stuttgart a visit.

2.  Wiesbaden is growing on me…

It’s nice to have a change in scenery.  I’m looking forward to spring, when the weather will be better and we can take some day trips on the weekends.  The weather up here, by the way, seems to be less cold and snowy.  When I read about snow in Stuttgart, I look out our window forlornly and see nothing but rain.  But maybe it will be somewhat milder all the way around.  Like, in the summer, I won’t bake.  One can hope.

1.  But I kind of miss Stuttgart a little, too…

If the weather has to be cold and yucky, I like it to snow.  We have yet to have our first decent snow up here.  I know the town where I used to live has gotten some white stuff.  I miss having a nice area to walk my dogs, too.  We were literally next to the Black Forest down in the Stuttgart area.  Here, they get walked by a grocery store near the Autobahn.  On the other hand, we do have a fenced in backyard, which is great.  Still, I was thinking wistfully about how beautiful the rural areas near Stuttgart are.  I do miss them.

I may have to revise this post after we’ve been here a bit longer.  I’m making a list of places to see on the weekends, once the weather is nice.  I look forward to day trips to the Rhein, at the very least, and new castles.  I miss the mountains, though.  Maybe I’d feel differently if we’d lived in Wiesbaden first.

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My very first visit to the Corso Kino in Vaihingen…

I don’t go to the movies very often anymore.  Before this afternoon, I had not been to a movie theater since June 2011, when Bill and I visited a theater on a whim while vacationing in Portland, Maine.  I recall we saw Midnight in Paris because my back was hurting and I didn’t want to walk anymore.  It was a good film, but it didn’t make me want to go to the movies again.  For whatever reason, I just don’t enjoy them that much… at least not in a theater.  I’d rather watch movies at home on my couch, where no one blocks my view, talks too much, or gets mad when I need to get up to pee.

The place to be if you want to see movies in their original language…

Still, even I couldn’t help but notice all my friends gushing about Bohemian Rhapsody.  I happen to love Queen and am very grateful that I was born at a time when there were still so many legendary bands in their prime.  Freddie Mercury was a genius.  I remember when he died, just one day after he told the world that he was suffering from AIDS.  I grew up at a time when a lot of great people were dying from AIDS.  He was just one of many beautiful souls who died much too young.  Bohemian Rhapsody is the story of Queen, and how Freddie Mercury made that band his family, creating amazing music that was distinctly its own.

The official trailer…

 

Bill loves to go to the movies, so he was only too happy to reserve tickets for us at the Corso Kino, which is a movie theater in Vaihingen that shows original versions of films, sometimes with English or German subtitles.  I had heard a lot about the Corso Kino over our time living in this area, but today was the first time we ever actually saw a show there.  I must admit, although I still don’t necessarily love the movie experience, I’m glad we paid a visit today.

Before we went to the movies, we stopped by The Auld Rogue for one last Sunday lunch.  The Auld Rogue is an Irish pub in Vaihingen, very popular with Americans because the staff all speaks English, the menus are in English, and the food is not German.  They also offer music, whiskey/whisky and beer tastings, and sports.  When we first moved to this area in 2007, The Auld Rogue was a Greek restaurant called Taverna Faros.  We used to love eating there during our six week stay at the Vaihinger Hof.  Taverna Faros didn’t last, though, because the proprietor didn’t pay his taxes.  It later turned into a club, then became the Irish pub we all know and love.

It had been awhile since our last visit to the popular pub, but we managed to have a decent lunch, even though they were unable to make me a Black and Tan.

Bill was still full from breakfast, so he had nachos with cheese.  They were a lot more than he was expecting.  I went with the chicken Caesar wrap.  It was the first time I ever ordered it and I mostly enjoyed it, although it didn’t taste like it had any Caesar dressing.  It kind of needed something to jazz it up a little.  Still, it wasn’t bad.  I’d get it again.  Not sure why my camera is suddenly sporting lines on my pictures.

Bill and I each had a Fuller’s London Porter and a Guinness.  I probably shouldn’t have bothered with the Guinness, but I kind of got it on a whim when the waitress said she couldn’t make me a Black and Tan.  The London Porter was awesome.

My favorite veteran.

 

We parked at the Schwaben Galerie and walked from there to The Auld Rogue, then from the Auld Rogue to the Corso Kino.  A lot of people came to see the matinee of Bohemian Rhapsody, but it wasn’t a sold out crowd.  We didn’t have to reserve our tickets, after all.

It’s not the most user friendly cinema.  To get to the two theaters, one must climb down a couple of flights of stairs.  The bathrooms are small, cramped, and not sparkling clean. The concession stand shares its space with the box office, so the line has a tendency to be a little obnoxious.

But the popcorn smelled wonderful and there was beer to drink.  We even noticed that if you weren’t sitting in the front row, you could put your stuff on a little ledge anchored to the seats in front of you.  We chose to sit on the front row on the left side.  It probably wasn’t the best choice to sit there, since people had to pass us to go to the bathroom or get snacks.  Still, at least I wasn’t sitting behind someone tall, like I usually do when I go to the movies.  I also enjoyed the jazz they were playing before the show started.

I took this photo from my seat before the show started.  

 

Our view before the movie began.  The seats reclined a bit and were quite comfortable.

As for Bohemian Rhapsody, I thought it was an excellent and entertaining movie.  It will be one I add to our personal library.  The story is very poignant; the soundtrack rocks; and there are a lot of great lines in the script.  In short, I laughed; I cried; it became a part of me…  A friend told me that I would probably cry watching it.  I didn’t cry, but I will confess that I came a bit close toward the end.  Tears don’t come as easily for me these days.  I think it’s because I’m getting old.

Here’s a picture of our dog, Zane, before he got his morning walk.  As you can see, the tumor removal he had during his dental the other day hasn’t slowed him down a bit.  He’s obviously the king of our household.

 

I enjoyed our visit to the Corso Kino, and if we ever have the chance to go again, I will gladly go… as long as they’re showing something I want to see.  This is yet another nice way to spend a Sunday in Stuttgart.

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