Farm Fresh Too…

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A couple of months ago, when we tried and failed to adopt a dog, I joined a bunch of local Facebook groups. My purpose for joining was to spread the word about the dog we tried to adopt who escaped from his pet transport taxi driver and later got hit and killed by a car on the Autobahn. Well… now we’re waiting on another dog to join our family in a few months, but I’m still a member of the groups I joined when we were frantically trying to recover the one who got away.

As a fortunate consequence of joining the local Facebook groups, I’m starting to learn about stuff in the area that I never knew about. One place that came on my radar is the Birkenhof Hofheim, which is a farm that offers fresh produce as well as a 24/7 refrigerator where one can purchase fresh food. Germany is wonderful about making fresh food available at relatively affordable prices. Although there don’t seem to be quite as many farms up here near Frankfurt as there were near Stuttgart, they do exist if you look.

Our last home, in Jettingen in Baden-Württemberg, was near several farms. I wrote about our first experience shopping at the farms a few years ago. Up here in Breckenheim, we’re not as close to so many farms, since it’s a more industrialized area. Still, at this time of year– smack dab in the middle of “Spargel (asparagus) season”, there are plenty of stands selling strawberries, blueberries, and all sorts of other delicious produce.

Thanks to the pandemic, the Birkenhof Hofheim isn’t fully open until May 29th. Under normal circumstances, the farm offers fresh delights that can be served at a table. They also have fun activities for kids. When the farm opens up again, special rules will have to be followed– masks worn when using the toilet and everyone has to provide contact information in case someone gets sick and you have to be notified. After three or four weeks, they discard the information.

I was happy enough to get out for a little while today and get some photos… as well as some farm fresh treats for our table at home. They had everything from corn cobs and charcoal for your grill to milk, flour, and eggs. There was paper and a pen for tallying up the cost of your goods, all of which were clearly priced. They had bags for packing your stuff, and a money box for you to put your cash. The whole thing is secured by cameras, so don’t think of taking anything without paying. We bought about 21 euros worth of stuff.

This trip was also handy because it turns out the farm is very close to the Tierklinik Hofheim, which our former vet in Herrenberg (near Stuttgart) says is one of the best veterinary hospitals in Germany. When Zane was having his first issues with mast cell cancer, the vet down there was telling me about this clinic and how she could refer us there if need be. I remember looking it up and thinking it was so far away. Little did I know, we’d eventually be living about twenty minutes away. So now I kind of know where it is, in case I have to take Arran or our next dog there sometime.

It was nice to get out of the house… only the third time since March! I’m getting braver. We’ll definitely be back to the Birkenhof Hofheim for more fresh treats soon! I love visiting the farms and am glad to find one up here near Frankfurt, the only German city with lots of skyscrapers.

Sometimes Sundays at home are best…

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The weather looked grim yesterday morning, so Bill and I decided to stay home. He bought a three pound rib roast that he planned to cook for dinner. Hebridean Island Cruises has gotten us in the habit of having “Sunday roast”, since they do that every Sunday on the ship.

We needed a few things from AAFES (our military exchange), so Bill went out to get what we needed… new toothbrushes (although mine wound up being defective), toilet paper, board games, and puzzles. He came home with all of that, as well as six bottles of wine from the French vintner who was hawking his wares at the Wiesbaden PX yesterday.

When he got home, I turned on some music and we put together the puzzle he found…

This 300 piece puzzle took a couple of hours to put together… AAFES didn’t have much of a selection.

We drank plenty of wine, though none of it was the wine Bill bought from the French guy. I loved that he got a wooden crate.

These will be nice as the weather gets colder.

And then, while the roast was cooking, we played a game of old school Scrabble. I play Words With Friends all the time, but I hadn’t played regular Scrabble in many years. Neither had Bill.

I won by a lot, though…

Finally, we had dinner, which was delicious. The commissary doesn’t always have the best meat, but we like them for some things because unlike the Germans, American butchers don’t cut off all the fat which results in more juiciness and flavor. Bill also made Yorkshire pudding for the first time. It turned out very well.

I know… I should be eating a salad. I wanted prime rib earlier in the week and was surprised Bill could find one. They aren’t always available.

All in all, it was a very nice Sunday. Yes, I like to go out and see Germany when I can, but when the weather is grim, cold, and wet, sometimes it’s nice to stay in and bond in our nest.

Arran likes it when we stay home, too… He’s eating up being the only dog.

I’m grateful I can hang out with Bill, and he actually enjoys my company. I know a lot of women whose husbands would rather hang out with their guy friends or worse, their girlfriends… Bill is a good family man and a great cook, to boot. We’re both very blessed to have each other. I hope we’ll have many more years to hang out and bond on rainy Sunday afternoons.

Wiesbaden’s fabulous Fasanerie…

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

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

Right at the entrance…

 

Plenty of fun learning activities for children…

A very insistent goat who wanted all the food.

I used to catch these in my yard in Virginia.

A tunnel where all of the nocturnal creatures live.

A fox.  I had to zoom in for him.

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

Bears.

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

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

I miss these views.

Bison.

 

 A wildcat… 

 

Nutria

Storks!

Pigs…


Raccoon!

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

I loved the nutria.  They were so busy looking.

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

He posed for me anyway.

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

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

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

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

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

I had never seen one of these before…

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

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

Hessian lion…

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

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

Beautiful Burg Eppstein!

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Last fall, when Bill and I were househunting, we happened to visit a home in a place called Lorstein, which is very close to the cute little town of Eppstein.  As we were passing Eppstein, I noticed castle ruins that looked beautifully preserved and inviting.  For months, I’ve been wanting to go back and check out the ruins.  Well, today we’ve had beautiful weather.  The sun is out.  The temperatures are agreeable.  I suggested visiting another nude spa, but Bill was quite happy to go along with my alternate suggestion of visiting Burg Eppstein, castle ruins that have some fame for being the place where ABBA’s video for “Waterloo” was filmed in 1974.

Burg Eppstein!

Not the whole song or the whole video, but now having been to Eppstein, I can see where they were.

 

Eppstein is easily reached from where we live.  It’s maybe fifteen or twenty minutes away via country road, but since it’s in the Taunus hills, it has a totally different landscape.  I was sorry we didn’t find a suitable house in the Eppstein area because it’s very charming.  They even have half timbered houses up there.  We easily found free parking and had no problem finding the town’s big draw, its castle ruins.  Here are some photos from our visit!

We parked next to an old “Friedhof”– cemetery.  Then it was a short walk to the Burg.

 

Walking down the cobblestone road to the ruins..

 

Right in front of the somewhat gentle slope up the hill to the Burg.  On Saturdays, the museum doesn’t open until 2:00pm, but you can still walk around the grounds and climb the tower.  It’s 4 euros per adult to enter, 2,50 for kids.

 

Information… 

 

View on the way up the path.

Don’t be put off by the closed door.  It’s unlocked.  Just open it and and pay the lady who takes admission fees.

 

A little maze, where kids were playing.  There is also a playground near the castle ruins.

 

The playground.  We had no reason to approach it, but if you come with children, maybe they’ll enjoy it.

Beware of the dog!

 
 

The climb is worth it.  There are nice views at the ruins, which date from 1122.

 

It appeared that some kind of play rehearsal was going on today.  We saw many people dressed in medieval costume, including several adorable kids and one guy who bore a striking resemblance to Sting.  They seemed to be rehearsing lines for some kind of production while we visited.  I almost ran into a pint sized guard, who wore a helmet and carried a sword.

Old style cooking?

Rehearsal time.

“Hark!  Who goes there?”

Several dogs were up there, too.  One Labrador Retriever was snoozing happily in the sun.

 

A little vineyard and more medieval stuff… but we couldn’t get any closer.

 

No thoroughfare.

 

 

But you can read all about it.  All of the stations have explanations in German and English.  You can also get an audioguide if you want one.  We didn’t bother.  We also didn’t go into the museum because we’d seen the whole grounds in about 40 minutes and didn’t want to wait for the museum to open at 2:00pm.  We were hungry and it was almost time for the dreaded restaurant pause… dreaded only for hungry people, right?

An herbal and tree garden.

A toilet hole.  This was fenced off, but I managed to put my camera through the bars to get this shot.

Another shot of the vineyard.

 

Yep… another narrow, winding, spiral staircase.  We climbed up the tower to get some nice views of Eppstein.  This wasn’t nearly as exhausting as climbing the tower at the Frankfurt cathedral was.  I did lose my breath, though.

A good excuse to rest for a minute before climbing the last bit.  The stairs weren’t as scary as the ones at the Mandelburg Ruins near Freudenstadt were, either.

An example of how the tower was defended back in the day.

And a flag at the top of the tower.

 
 

Someone’s little dog joined us at the top.  He was very cute and friendly.

I zoomed in on this… I noticed it during our fall trip to Eppstein, too.  Will have to find out what it is.

Nice views!  Worth losing my breath!

 

I think this is my favorite shot!

 

Once we were finished visiting the Burg, we stopped by a local hotel for lunch.  Since the weather was so fine, we ate outside.

We found good food and a warm welcome here

 

This was our view from where we were sitting.

I can’t post without a shot of Bill.

 

I had the Salmon Mediterranean, which came with a salad and two sides.  This was a nice salad– I shared it with Bill.  I liked how it was artfully accented with balsamic vinegar.

My salmon came with noodles and a mustard sauce.  The noodles had a different sauce that had the slightest essence of horseradish.  The mustard sauce on the salmon was mild and comforting.  I probably wouldn’t opt to use so much sauce left to my own devices, but I liked the way this fish was cooked.  It was perfect.

Bill had the housemade tagliatelle with spinach and gorgonzola cheese.  He really enjoyed it.

Bill waited for me to finish my beer, then we settled up with the waiter.  It was about 41 euros before the “Trinkgeld”.  Bill gave the guy a good tip, which made him beam and use the word “Ihn”.  I don’t know the significance of that, though Bill has studied German and said it was kind of cool.

We didn’t spend a lot of time in Eppstein today.  It was a bit rolled up, even for a Saturday.  I didn’t see any businesses open or other open restaurants other than the hotel.  There was another place that opened at 5:30pm.  I still really enjoyed our visit today.  It’s hard to believe this little town is so close to where we live, yet has such a different landscape.  It kind of reminds me of Nagold vs. Unterjettingen.  They are only a few kilometers apart, but they look so different.

Anyway… I’m glad we made the time to see this well-preserved ruin.  Now that the weather has finally improved, we will have to get busy seeing other sites up here.  Monday, we are headed for Cologne for the first time since May 2012– however, we’re going there to see The Eagles.  Should be fun, anyway!

My very first visit to the Corso Kino in Vaihingen…

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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.

Ten Stuttgart area places we’re glad we visited…

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A couple of nights ago, I was sitting in my living room talking to Bill about how glad I am we made an effort to see more of Baden-Württemberg during our second Stuttgart stint.  As our time in the Stuttgart area grows ever shorter, I thought I’d make a list of the places we managed to see this time that we didn’t know about the first time we lived here.  These are places we’re really glad we visited and would recommend to newcomers.  Maybe they won’t be “must see” places for everyone, but they made our time here better.  As usual, this list isn’t ranked in any particular order.

10.  Allerheiligen Wasserfällen (All Saints Waterfalls)

Hope you’re in shape!

 

We discovered the All Saints Waterfalls this past summer when I happened to read someone’s blog post about visiting there.  These falls are in the Black Forest, about an hour from where I live and probably about 90 minutes from Stuttgart.  I had never heard of them before 2018, but I’m so glad we visited.  We spent several hours enjoying the beautiful scenery and getting lots of exercise!  I liked them even more than the Triberg Falls, which everyone visits.  If you have a free Saturday or Sunday and don’t mind a drive through the Black Forest, I’d highly recommend a trip to these falls.  Admission is free!

9.  Rottweil

Super cute town with several things to do!

 

I don’t know how we missed Rottweil when we lived here the first time, but I really wish we’d discovered it sooner than we did.  This beautiful town not only has some gorgeous architecture, but it also has the distinction of being the place where Rottweiler dogs were first bred.  The area is scenic and you can get a great view of it when you visit the Thyssenkrupp Testturm, an elevator testing facility that currently has the highest observation deck in Germany.

8.  Blautopf

It’s true… I had never heard of this place when I lived here from 07-09.

 

Blautopf isn’t close to where I live.  It’s kind of on the way to Ulm.  However, though it only takes a few minutes to see this natural wonder, I think a trip to Blaubeuren to see this marvelous blue pond is well worth the effort.  Blaubeuren has a few other activities available to make your trip worthwhile, as well as some good restaurants.

7. Tiefenhöhle

One thing you can do before or after a visit to Blautopf is visit Germany’s deepest show cave!

 

Although we visited Tiefenhöhle and Blautopf separately, I would recommend combining these two activities.  Tiefenhöhle is Germany’s deepest show cave and visiting it will wear you out… but then, once you’ve journeyed deep beneath the Earth’s surface, you can come back to the surface and see where this cave system ends… at beautiful blue Blautopf!

6.  Wildpark Pforzheim

I love to visit animals… and the Wildpark Pforzheim is probably my favorite of all of the animal activities in the Stuttgart area.

Stuttgart and its environs is richly blessed with a lot of places where one can indulge their inner animal lover.  My favorite of all of the places I’ve visited animals is Wildpark Pforzheim.  There’s no admission fee to visit it, although parking isn’t free.  We spent several hours wandering around this park, feeding animals and watching them interact with each other.

5.  Nebelhöhle

Nebelhöhle is my favorite local cave…

 

Last summer, Bill and I visited several local caves.  My favorite one is Nebelhöhle, which is not only beautiful, but is much less taxing to visit than Tiefenhöhle is.  You can combine a visit there with a visit to Lichtenstein Castle or nearby Bärenhöhle, which is a much smaller and more kid friendly cave.

4.  Lichtenstein Castle

I don’t know how we missed this the first time we were here!

 

Although we did make it to Hohenzollern Castle the first time we lived near Stuttgart, we somehow missed out on Lichtenstein Castle.  I’ve now seen a lot of German castles and I think so far, Lichtenstein might be my favorite of all of them… and yes, that includes Neuschwanstein!

3.  Burgbach Wasserfall

The Burgbach Waterfall was yet another lucky find!

 

The same blogger who alerted me to the presence of the All Saints Waterfalls also clued me in on finding lovely Burgbach Waterfall.  It costs nothing to visit this pretty waterfall in the Black Forest, which also happens to be conveniently located near the Bear and Wolf Alternative Park.  It’s a great thing to do on a sunny spring or fall day!

2.  Der Schönbuchturm

Herrenberg’s tower!

 

In June 2018, the city of Herrenburg got its very own tower, overlooking the lovely countryside.  This tower costs nothing to visit and offers unobstructed views of the area.  There is another tower much like this one in Stuttgart at the Killesberg Park.

1.  Bad Wildbad

The “tree walk” is just one thing you can do when you visit Bad Wildbad.

 

A lot of newcomers to Stuttgart visit the spa town of Bad Wildbad to climb the famed “tree walk”, otherwise known as the Baumwipfelpfad Schwarzwald.  But there’s more to this town than just cool “tree walks”.  By the way, there are other tree walks in Germany and the Czech Republic.  Bad Wildbad also has the distinction of being the first place Bill and I ever experienced a nude spa.

I’m really going to miss living near the Black Forest, but I’m excited about the prospect of getting to live in another part of Germany for awhile.  I also plan to visit Stuttgart at least once next year, since we’re coming down to see Elton John in concert.  I have no doubt that we could also end up moving back here someday.  If we do, maybe we’ll live on the other side of Stuttgart for a change…  or maybe not.  We do like being near the Black Forest!

We visited Wiesbaden for the first time last weekend and I can now say for certain that this blog is not going to be neglected.  Wiesbaden and Mainz are extremely beautiful cities and there’s still so much to see and do.  But a piece of my heart will always stay here in Baden-Württemberg, where we’ve been so lucky to spend a total of six great years.

If you’re new here, I highly recommend getting out and seeing everything you can before you have to leave.  Time in Germany tends to fly by and not everyone will get the opportunity to return.  These last four years have really shown us what we missed when we were here the first time.  I feel so lucky that we got to come back and see more of what this area has.  And now, we have learned just how very much BW offers to its residents!  I hope today’s post will inspire a few intrepid souls to get out and enjoy this beautiful part of Germany!

Street food fest in Tübingen

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We had absolutely beautiful weather today, as well as a range of things we could do to spend our time.  The Cannstatter Volksfest has just started, as well as the historic fest in the Schlossplatz in downtown Stuttgart.  I wasn’t in the mood to put on a dirndl and face the crowds, though, so we decided to go to the Street Food Fest in Tübingen.

Before we left the house, Bill went to the store to pick up some essentials.  He came back about an hour later and I noticed he was standing outside.  I opened the door to ask him what he was doing.  He looked very amused as he told me our elderly German neighbor had just driven up in her car while blaring 70s era Van Halen.  She sat in her car and listened to the whole song before finally exiting her vehicle.  I must admit, even though I didn’t want to share walls with anyone, it’s been a pleasure living next to this lady and her husband.  I’m going to miss them.

This Street Food fest, which started at noon today and runs until 10:00pm tonight, will have the same hours tomorrow.  It’s being held at the fairgrounds in Tübingen.  Last time we went there was for Afrika Fest 2016.  Having now attended a few Street Food fests and Afrika Fests, I think I like those grounds the best.  There’s plenty of free parking and it’s nice and open, so there’s room for tables and crowds are less of a problem.  Below are some pictures from our visit today.  We managed to enjoy some really great food in a nice environment.

We parked next to this classic Fiat.  I had to get a picture for all the car buffs.

 

The line to go in.  It costs two euros per person.  The toilets are outside of the gates, so if you need to use them while you’re enjoying the food trucks, get your hand stamped.  A security guy checked my purse to make sure I wasn’t packing heat.

 

I got a kick out of the art on the portalet truck.

 

We took a stroll around the grounds to see what was being offered.  I saw a lot of burgers and barbecue sandwiches, but I also saw some more exotic stuff.  There was a food truck offering Ecuadorean food, for instance, as well as one selling ostrich sandwiches.  There were also quite a few trucks offering sweets.  One truck was specializing in cocktails, too.

Cocktails anyone?

This was where I got my “sanduche”– basically a delicious pork sandwich with either spicy or peanut sauce.  Bill and I both agreed it was better than his “smoky bird” ostrich sandwich.

 

My delicious “sanduche”… This was a real hit!  They were also selling ceviche.

 

Ostrich is actually pretty tasty…

Laf Laf, the awesome Middle Eastern restaurant we tried a few weeks ago, also had a truck and was offering chicken shwarma, which we split.

 

This guy was selling “deer burgers”…

And he was roasting the deer carcass there for everyone to see.  I don’t eat deer meat, but I think Bill would have liked it.

 

Lots of people brought their dogs.  I couldn’t help but notice this adorable little girl who looked like a fox.  I looked her up online and I think she might be a Finnish Spitz.  She was so cute and well-behaved!

I told Bill I wanted to try a chocolate pretzel.  He brought it back and told me to be prepared for a mess.  I looked in the bag and said, “Holy shit…” a little louder than I meant to.  A German guy sitting nearby overheard me and started cracking up as I looked at this messy treat.  I must admit, it tasted delicious!  But they didn’t even give us napkins.  I heard a German woman say, “So lecker!”  I turned to see her and a friend struggling to eat one of these things.  It was worth the mess.

 

They did have other flavors, too.  We brought the rest of it home for later.

 

For once, I decided to have a non alcoholic beverage.  This was a cola, lemonade, and orange drink.  It was surprisingly good.

 

Donut truck!  We picked up six for tomorrow morning.

After a couple of hours, we decided to head home.  Our route took us near where we used to live when we came to Germany the first time.  Below are a few pictures of the Wurmlinger Chapel, which I used to be able to see from my backyard.

You can walk to the top of the hill and look in the chapel.  We never did that when we lived near the chapel, but we did go up there a few years ago.  The view is lovely.  

If you like street food from food trucks, I would definitely recommend visiting the festival in Tübingen today or tomorrow.  It’s worth the trip!

Sometimes Stuttgart can be a real zoo!

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Today, Bill and I decided to visit Wilhelma Zoological and Botanical Park, the only state owned zoo in Germany and second only to the Berlin Zoo in its collection of animals and plant species.  This zoo is Europe’s only large combined zoo and botanical park.  It’s been in operation since 1846 and features some really cool Moorish architecture that brings Morocco and southern Spain to mind.

Today wasn’t our first time visiting Wilhelma.  When we lived in Stuttgart the first time (2007-09), we visited.  I want to say it was in the spring of 2008, not long after a polar bear cub was born at the zoo in Stuttgart.  I remember there was quite a line to see the cub.  I believe it was around the time Knut the orphaned polar bear was very popular at the Berlin Zoo, so the polar bear exhibit was very popular in Stuttgart.  About a year later, a depressed woman visiting the Berlin Zoo decided she wanted to be one with the polar bears and climbed over the barriers to swim with them, where she was promptly mauled.  Fortunately, everyone, including the polar bear that attacked her, survived the incident.

Sigh… I love the flowers.

Today, I saw neither hide nor hair of bears of any kind, but I did see a lion, a tiger, zebras, gorillas, camels, and huge cockroaches, the same kinds people used to be forced to eat on Fear Factor.  I saw a crocodile, Burmese pythons, donkeys, ostriches, and adorable ponies.  I also saw an enormous Schwäbisch-Hällisches Landschwein.  We spent about four hours at the zoo and could have stayed longer, had we not been worn out by the heat, the crowds, and walking.  The zoo is adjacent to a public park, which can be accessed from an entrance near the petting zoo.  Keep your ticket if you want to venture into the park and come back into the zoo.

We got an earlier start this morning, arriving at the zoo at about noon.  Bill parked at the garage adjacent to the zoo, although we could have also taken the train, which has a stop directly outside of the zoo’s entrance.  He paid 32 euros for two adult day passes and off we went.  Below are some pictures of today’s fun.  Bear with me… there are a lot of them!

Today’s line at noon.  Not too bad.  There are lockers right next to the box office, as well as toilets.  I think you’re supposed to start in the botanical part, but it was kind of warm and I was enjoying the fresh air…

So we visited the flamingoes, first.  Then we went into the greenhouse.

They had a lot of chili plants on display.  I couldn’t help but laugh, remembering my original German neighbors from our first time here gifting us with hot peppers because they were too much for them!  

I kind of wanted to take one of these home.  My German friend Susanne says there are days during the year when Wilhelma sells some of its plants and/or cuttings.  They have a booth at the Slow Food Festival in April and they also sell plants on Wilhelma Day, which this year is on September 30th.  

Colorful fish… just a few of many I saw today.

We went into the first part of the greenhouse, which featured cacti.

Our first German landlord was a cactus fan and we had a few in our house.  I was reminded of him as we checked out the exhibit.

More beautiful flowers.  The first time we visited, those flowers were tulips and were just as lovely.

We saw a few kids riding these things… I see it’s 2 euros for a 10 minute ride on these big stuffed animals.

A few more beautiful flowers…  Germans are so good with plants.

 Just before lunch, we went into the insect house.  There, we saw some pretty awesome bugs…

I never saw roaches like these in Texas.

Horseshoe crab, which I used to see a lot of in Virginia.

One photo of one butterfly.  The others weren’t quite as cooperative.

 

The biggest millipede I’ve ever seen.

A tarantula.  Yikes!

You could get pretty close to the pelicans.

Some equipment for other “wildlife”…

Last time we visited Wilhelma, we didn’t eat there.  Today, we did opt to have lunch at the cafeteria style restaurant closest to the entrance.  We stopped for a drink at the one closest to the petting zoo area, on the other side of the park.  I noticed a marked difference in the two places.  The restaurant closer to the entrance seemed cleaner, calmer, and had more shady areas.  It’s run by Marche, the same people who bring us nice rest stops in Switzerland and France.  I was somewhat impressed by what they had.

Salads with fresh looking produce that smelled great.

Vegetarian cuisine.

Coffee…

 

They even had fresh squeezed juices.  In the inside dining room, there’s also a play area for kids.

I went with a currywurst and pommes, which ordinarily wouldn’t have been my first choice… but I didn’t want a schnitzel and we’re having salmon for dinner tonight.  The pommes were awesome!  They weren’t all dried out and tasteless.  I could have just eaten a plate of those and been done with it.

A man and his hefeweizen… and penne pasta with pesto.  It was really good.

Just after I took this photo, a man pushed a trolley full of dishes by.  A beer glass fell off, shattered, and sent shards everywhere, including my shin.  Fortunately, it was a pinprick sized flesh wound.  No harm done.

After lunch, we found our way to the sea lions, who were a lot of fun to watch.  I got a bunch of photos and some video footage.  Here are a few of the best pictures, starring one sea lion with particularly good showmanship.

I was kind of jealous of their pool, too.  It looked refreshing.

Next, we went into the aquarium/terrarium… we saw lots of creatures there.

The snakes were cooperative at the zoo…

There were so many fish… and just as many people, so I just got a few shots of the more colorful ones.

Alpacas and Schweine…

I told Bill this fancy bird reminded me of Diana Ross… complete with feathers and long legs.

A gorilla who was outside… the others were inside.

I loved the zebras.  They were very chill.

And the giraffes, too…  

This ostrich had an attitude.  S/he came over and gave a guy with a camera what for…

I got several shots of the ostrich snapping at some guy with a camera.  It was kind of funny to watch. The other ostrich wasn’t as interested.

 

At this point, we decided to stop for a drink.  We were at the other restaurant, which appeared to be smaller, much more crowded, and offered less seating than the other restaurant, particularly in the shade.  Although it looked like they had a lot of the same kind of food, the first location near the main entrance was a lot more pleasant.  I noticed it was also less crowded and shadier on our way out of the zoo.

 

Look closely for camel butts.  They were of the two humped variety.

This Shetland pony was in the petting zoo area.  I remember the last time we visited, there were machines where you could buy food and feed some of the animals.  This time, both machines had signs on them that said they were broken.  Kids were putting some of the goats, though, and this pony let me pet him for a minute.  I could have hung out with him all day.

This pony was having a good laugh…  no, actually, I think he was yawning.  Lucky catch with the iPhone.

Pigs!

And an enormous Schwäbisch-Hällisches Landschwein!  He was huge!

These two were sharing a moment…

The elephants were putting on a show.  Up the hill, we noticed another World Wildlife Fund tent, like the one we encountered yesterday.  Bill was determined to avoid it.

A majestic Asian lion, who was proudly posing for photos…

It was dinnertime for the tiger, so I wasn’t able to get a really good shot.

These two were friendly!

I got some great video footage of these monkeys!  I’m going to see if my old computer will cooperate, so I can put it up on YouTube.  

Peacocks minus plumage!

 
 

And more monkeys!

Some rather chilled out kangaroos who weren’t very social.

And penguins!

Wilhelma Zoo is worth a stop if you love animals.  Both times we’ve visited, it has been crowded and some people seem to think the enclosures are too small and outdated.  That may be true, although I can’t deny that we had a nice time yesterday and that is my focus as I’m writing my post.  Are there bigger, nicer, and snazzier zoos?  Probably…  but the animals we saw yesterday appeared to be well cared for and basically happy, and we did enjoy seeing them.  I was especially impressed by the insect exhibit, which was more interesting than I was expecting it to be.

I think to do a proper visit, you should come somewhat early, wear comfortable shoes, be prepared for climbing hills and big crowds on nice days, and plan to stay awhile.  We were there for four hours today and I don’t think we saw everything.  There were some enclosures that appeared to be empty.  I noticed a few animals I saw in 2008 were missing this time.  I would have liked to have gone back to the sea lions, but was too tired by the time we’d done the loop.  The explanations on the exhibits are pretty much all in German, although I understood a lot of what I was reading.  I noticed it was fairly stroller friendly, too, although there are some hills.  The animal houses that had steps in them did have ramps, though, which was nice.

All in all, we had a really nice day.  I love visiting animals, although I tend to like zoos less than Tierparks.  I don’t like crowds and the zoo on a day like today is bound to have lots of crowds.  But Wilhelma is open almost every day–  It might be worth visiting when the temperatures are a little cooler.  On the other hand, the flowers are so pretty this time of year!  If you enjoy zoos, Stuttgart’s isn’t a bad one.  And with the train stop right outside the gate, it couldn’t be easier to get there.  In fact, the parking ticket machine is apparently broken right now, so taking the train might be better, anyway.

Our visit to Rottweil, land of towers and Rottweilers!

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The mighty Thyssenkrupp Testturm, towering over Rottweil and its environs.

This morning, as we were enjoying breakfast, Bill asked me what I’d like to do today.  I suggested a few things, then mentioned the Thyssenkrupp Testturm.  Bill kind of got a look of dread on his face.  He doesn’t really like heights and wasn’t sure the huge tower near Rottweil would be worth a visit.  I told him it might make for a fun blog post, so he relented.  He likes me to earn my keep, after all.

We could have discovered Rottweil last year, but didn’t.  For Mother’s Day 2017, Bill and I visited the tiny town of Dietingen, where there is a rock museum called Welt der Kristalle.  I remember really enjoying the museum and the lovely countryside that surrounded it.  Off in the distance, I noticed a strange looking tower surrounded by scaffolding.  I wondered what it was, but since rain was threatening, we didn’t venture closer.  Instead, we went to the nearby village, ate Greek food, and went home.  Because of the rain, we didn’t venture into nearby Rottweil, which is destined for a spot on my next top ten cute German towns list.  We discovered today that Rottweil has a lot going for it, and it’s less than an hour’s drive from where we live in Unterjettingen.

We got in the car at about noon and headed south down A81, arriving at the tower at about 1:00pm.  It’s a pleasant drive, with some pretty scenery and, as long as there are no staus, the time passes quickly.  Before long, you’ll see the tower looming over the landscape, looking curiously like a giant cigarette, minus the smoke.

Although the Testturm offers an awesome deck for birdseye views, it does has a practical purpose.  The tower is used to test elevators, some of which even travel horizontally.  But with true German efficiency, the powers that be came up with the idea to also offer the observation deck for paying guests and conference rooms for businesses looking for an inspirational place to conduct business meetings.

Thyssenkrupp’s signage.

 
 

Some information about the tower.  It’s in English and German.

Just one of the views from the tower.  Keep reading for more.

Thyssenkrupp Testturm has intrigued me ever since I first noticed it being built on the horizon as we passed on the way to Switzerland.  I didn’t research what it was until this past May, when Bill and I visited Annecy, France.  On the way back from France, I pulled out my trusty iPhone, took a photo, and looked it up.  I discovered that the tower, which was completed in 2017 and opened in October of last year, soars 807 feet (232 meters) over the landscape.  It currently offers Germany’s highest observation deck.  Yes, it’s higher than the Stuttgart TV tower and the Berlin TV tower.  On a clear day, you can see for miles.

It turns out going to see the tower was a fine idea for today, despite the few clouds in the sky.  We had a great visit, and I don’t think Bill is sorry we went.  The huge tower is really an engineering marvel, and the town of Rottweil is absolutely adorable.  What’s more, while the tower offers awesome panoramic views, it’s very safe.  The deck is surrounded by a very tall glass wall, which kind of sucks if you want to take clear pictures, but does make one feel very secure.

For most of the year, the tower is open to visitors on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.  During the month of August, it’s also open every other day of the week except for Mondays.  Tickets for adults cost 9 euros each.  Kids under age 5 get free entrance.  Kids aged 6 to 16 pay five euros each.  Family tickets are available and cost 26 euros.  The family ticket covers two adults and a maximum of three children.  Our visit to the Thyssenkrupp Testturm took less than an hour.  There’s plenty of parking; Bill says it’s two euros for an hour.  Tickets for the tower can be purchased online, or you can buy them at the box office.

Having now visited the top of the tower, I can vouch for the jawdropping views available from high in the sky.  The ride in the super fast elevator takes about a minute.  If you understand German, the operator will give you the specifics.  The one who was running the elevator today spoke English, so he also filled us in on trivia about the elevator and the huge tower.

Here’s where you check your bulky stuff, if you didn’t leave it in the car.  There’s a list of stuff you can’t bring to the deck.  My guess it’s because bulky purses, musical instruments, dogs, and vuvuzelas (yes, they actually specify “no vuvuzelas”) take up precious space in the elevator.  Self-brought food and beverages are also prohibited.

We happened to arrive at a good time.  It wasn’t crowded at about 1:00pm, so we were able to just walk in, buy tickets, and go.  Before you take the elevator up, be sure to use the restroom if you need to.  There isn’t one at the observation deck.

Below are some photos I got from today’s visit.

The conference area, where you can watch an ad about the tower and the city of Rottweil.  I must admit, it kind of made me decide to go there for lunch instead of eating at the snack bar by the tower. Rottweil is adorable!

 

This is what the deck looks like.  There is no roof, so when the weather is bad, they close it.

Need to pee?  Go before you ride up the shaft.  The toilets are on the ground floor.

We got to the tower at just the right time.  We did not have to wait in line, but when we left, a large group was in the queue.

 

Small snack bar in the parking lot.  There’s also a tiny souvenir hut, where they have everything from sparkling wine to aprons featuring the tower.

My attempt to get the whole tower close up.  It was pretty much impossible.  It really is massive.

 

As you can see, there’s a glare on some of my pictures.  Unfortunately, there’s no way to avoid that, as the whole area is glassed in.  I did try hard not to catch my reflection in any of the shots.  That would have spoiled everything!

After we finished at the tower, we headed into lovely, charming Rottweil, the very same town from where the famous dogs hail.  There are tributes to the dogs scattered around the town, along with a couple more museums, some good shopping and an array of restaurants.  Plan better than we did.  We arrived at just about the time most of them closed for their pause and ended up having pizza at a cafe.

We also got snagged by a guy collecting donations for the World Wildlife Fund.  Actually, the guy snagged Bill.  I think I was giving off bitch vibes, because he dragged Bill away while I continued to take photos.  Although I wouldn’t mind giving a cash donation to that cause, this was one of those deals where they want a monthly bankdraft.  I wrote about my run in with another charity, Die Johanniter, last winter.  Apparently, this is a common way to collect donations in Germany and it’s highly annoying.  Fortunately, Bill was not hooked into a monthly contribution.  I got more photos, which I’m sharing below.

As you come into lovely Rottweil.  We managed to find free street parking (after 2:30pm on Saturdays).

These are all around the downtown.

Another Rottweiler!

These fountains were everywhere, too.

 

We walked down an alley looking for a restaurant.  We were unlucky in our search, but I did get some beautiful shots of the valley and the tower in the distance.

There was a wedding going on today, so I didn’t hang around to take too many photos.

 

We had lunch at Onkel Rudi’s, which is a bar/cafe on the main drag.  It had a nice outdoor area and was offering small pizzas and flammkuechen.  It wasn’t much, but it did the trick of chasing away my resting bitch face.

Prost!

Bill had the Pizza Diablo, which came with salami, red peppers, and green peppers.  I liked his better than mine…  

Pizza Mozzarella…  it’s cheese, sauce, and red peppers.  

 

Service at Onkel Rudi’s was good and the price was right.  Each pizza was 5,50 euros and our total bill was about 18 euros.  They only had three types of pizza and one type of flammkuechen, but I liked that the pizzas really were single sized.  And they were fine for lunch.  Next time we visit Rottweil, we’ll get there earlier.  There is more to see there, including several beautiful churches and another tower.

I would absolutely recommend Rottweil for a day trip.  It’s probably about a 90 minute drive from Stuttgart, less if you’re further south, like we are.  It’s basically a straight shot down A81 and really has a different feel than some of the other local towns.  You could probably fill up most of the day here if you plan right.  Visit the Welt der Kristalle in Dietingen, visit the Testturm, have lunch, hit a couple of the museums in the town– there’s a city museum and a toy and puppet museum that I noticed.  By that point, you might be ready to brave the traffic back toward Stuttgart.  I say give it a shot!

The 2018 Böblingen Afrika fest… and back to Sindelfingen’s street fiesta!

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I posted yesterday about how Bill and I visited Sindelfingen’s Street Fiesta.  This weekend event was a first for us, and we had a great time.  Last year, I remember very well visiting Böblingen’s Afrika Fest, which is one of several local Afrika fests held in the summer.  In the four years we’ve lived in the Stuttgart area for the second time, we have also attended Afrika fests in Stuttgart and Tübingen.  By now, I know it’s a great place to enjoy African products– clothes, food, music, furniture, dishes, and art.

Today, we decided to visit Böblingen’s 2018 Afrika fest.  Afterwards, we went back to Sindelfingen, because if I’m honest, there was more food, more entetainment, and more beer.  But if your aim is to shop, I will admit that Böblingen is a good place to be during the last weekend in August.  Below are pictures from both events, along with my usual comments.  I have been drinking… 90% of which was done in Sindelfingen.  I’m sure it won’t be hard to determine which fest I liked better.

This guy was on stilts, entertaining everyone….  I got a lot of shots of him.

 


 I bought one of the plates in this photo…  The salesman was Tunisian, which meant something to me. I visited there over New Year’s 1977-78.

More Tunisian wares!  I want one of those birdcages!

Another salesman.  We didn’t stop in.

You had to buy a coupon to get beer or wine.  It was a pain in the butt.  We did it anyway.  I had a glass of wine from South Africa. 

Lots of people were enjoying African cuisine, German beer, and Cuban cocktails, along with a mashup of Cuban and African music.  

Set up for the afternoon’s performance by an orchestra from Senegal.  We didn’t stick around for it, but I bet it was lovely.

Another shot of the guy on stilts.  He was very engaging.  Bill says this is an West African thing.  Wikipedia tells me this is called “Moko jumbie“.  “Moko” means healer and “jumbie” means ghost or spirit.  He watches over his village and guards it from evil spirits!

Lots of clothes to be had.  I’m not a fan of the deep crotched look.

Bill got a turkey shwarma, which was full of turkey, grilled onions, and a “light sauce” with a kick.

He brought me a plate of stuff… this was West African and had chicken, lamb, and possibly pork or beef.  I couldn’t tell.  It also had cous cous, rice, and peanut sauce, which I loved.  And there were two fried dough rolls that were kind of like hushpuppies.

 

Longer lines for food at the Afrika Fest.

He was everywhere and wanted to be photographed!

 

 Böblingen is quite nice, if you know where to go.  This is the Marktplatz, which, in six total years of living in this area, I will admit I have spent very little time.

We left Böblingen at about 2:00 and decided to go back to Sindelfingen.  I wanted to try some of the craft beers we missed yesterday.  Once we found a place to park, it proved to be more our speed.  There’s was more live music, played by the band pictured below…

They were playing good songs and their arrangements were great, but the lead singer was lacking vocal range.  Sorry, I really am a snob when it comes to music.  But they played stuff by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Golden Earring, AC/DC, and Black Sabbath.  Not bad.

Good beer.

Plenty of stuff for the kids to do.

Plenty of food, too… everything from fish n’ chips to burgers, along with some vegetarian selections, sweets, and beers.

We spent a good portion of the afternoon talking to an American guy named Zach who came here from America to get his master’s degree and is now helping to launch Germany’s craft beer scene.  I asked him to join my wine and food group, mainly because even though there is a local beer group, I am not in it and I like my beer.  Anyway… if you also like your craft beers, you are invited to check out Cast-Brauerei, which has operated since 2010 and has a Web site.  You can visit, buy beer, and talk to Zach, who is friendly and knows about Saved By The Bell.  Zach’s colleagues recognized us from yesterday, when we were accosted by the drunk guy who was having a very good time trying everything.  See my previous post for the story on that.

These fests are now over, but the good news is, they run every year.  So if you missed them this year, you can probably catch them next year, if you’re around.  And if you come back every year, chances are good you’ll see a lot of the same people.  Talk to them.  They don’t bite, and will teach you a little something about what is here in Germany.  And who knows?  You might even make new friends.