Germany, restaurant reviews, wine

Seeing “stars” in Baiersbronn… Part three

Our Friday foodie extravaganza!

Friday morning, we enjoyed breakfast at the hotel, which offers a huge buffet with many choices. I won’t go into the breakfast details much, except to say that you can have fresh juices, eggs, sausages, cold cuts, breads, and even Cremant if you want it. I think it’s safe to say there’s something for everyone, although since it’s a buffet, things aren’t necessarily freshly cooked.

After breakfast, I did a little writing for my other blog, then we took a pleasant walk. No, it wasn’t a hike like a lot of the other guests were doing. Baiersbronn and its environs is an excellent venue for hikers and bikers. But we just took a little stroll, and I took more photos…

After a short break, Bill and I continued to make a loop, where we got a beautiful view of Obertal that wasn’t too taxing for us. We passed the Freibad, tennis courts, and the mini golf course, none of which were being used. And I took more pictures, this time with my digital camera.

Once the walk was over, it was time to head to our first of two gourmet restaurants!

The title of this series, “Seeing ‘stars’ in Baiersbronn refers to the fact that Baiersbronn has an impressive collection of restaurants with Michelin stars within it, especially when you consider that this is a town that many people have never heard of in their lives. I think I first heard of Baiersbronn from my German friend, Susanne, who told me about it when we still lived in Jettingen. I searched the Internet and found a fantastic New York Times Magazine article from 2013 about the tiny town with so many stars! The article is behind a paywall, but I happen to be a subscriber to the New York Times. Of course, others have written about Baiersbronn, where, at this writing, there are EIGHT Michelin stars. Two restaurants in Baiersbronn have three Michelin stars, which is as high as it gets. And two have one star.

As our trip was planned with relatively short notice, we were only able to get a table at one of the one star restaurants, as well as an up and coming restaurant which has earned a Michelin “Plate”. The Michelin Plate is kind of like an “honorable mention”. It means the food is very good, and the restaurant could possibly earn a star eventually. Unfortunately, as August is both a month in which many Germans go on vacation and there are also many weddings going on, we had to reserve both restaurants on Friday. I don’t recommend doing this if you can help it. We did it this way because it was the only way we could try the restaurants during the time we had. If there’s a next time we visit, we will try to arrange to try the really great restaurants on different days.

Lunch– Restaurant Meierei at the Gutshof Hotel Waldknechtshof— Michelin Plate recipient

Bill tried to reserve a spot at this restaurant for Saturday, but they had two wedding receptions going on. So we settled for lunch on Friday… and I have to say, of the two haute cuisine places we tried, I liked this one more. Yes, I liked it even more than the Restaurant Köhlerstube, the Michelin one star eatery where we had dinner. I liked the food more, and I liked the service and ambiance much more. Parking is free at the hotel, although the lot is small and has the potential to fill up fast.

When we arrived for our reservation at 1:00pm, we were warmly greeted by a tiny young woman who didn’t speak much English. There was just one other party in the Meierei when we dined, which allowed us to get impeccable service. This location also has a small casual bistro called Bistro Hofscheuer and a Weinkeller, which can be reserved for special events. There’s also a garden terrace for when the weather is good. More people were in the bistro, where a friendly bartender was taking care of a younger crowd.

I really liked the interior of the Meierei, which was decorated with rustic tables and interesting art on the walls. We had a comfortable table to ourselves by a window. As for the menu, patrons can choose from tasting options of 3, 5, or 7 courses. There is also a vegetarian three course option. Bill and I both opted to have the five course Das Genießer Menü, which was priced at 75 euros per person. We could have added a wine pairing for another 49 euros each, but Bill decided to order a bottle of wine instead. He chose a locally produced Landwein, which turned out to be “special”. The sommelier brought it out to us and explained that it was like two bottles of wine in one. First, there was the original pour, which came out clear and crisp. Then, once we finished the first glass, the bottle would be shaken and we’d see that the wine had become cloudy. My German friend reminds me that the Hofflin wine is a Bio-Wein/organic wine from the Kaiserstuhl. That was why Bill chose it.

I loved all of the courses on this menu, which is not an easy feat. You’d never know it to look at me, but I’m actually a picky eater and have quite a few aversions to certain foods. I was actually a little leery of getting this menu, since I don’t usually like lamb. It’s too “gamey” for me. But since the rest of the courses in the Genießer Menü really appealed to me, I decided to throw caution to the wind. I’m so glad I did. My tastebuds were exploding during this meal. It was amazing. I tried and enjoyed foods I usually don’t even like very much!

This meal ran us about 217 euros before the tip. We paid for the meal with a credit card and tipped in “Bar Geld” (cash). It was worth every euro, as far as I’m concerned. Not only was the food delicious, but the service was perfect. I also got the sense that everyone really cared if we enjoyed ourselves. With each course, our server would go to the kitchen and tell them how much we liked it. She also helpfully asked them to give us “pauses”, which was a big help. All of those flavors, especially after a year of no fancy eating, were a bit overwhelming. We also needed some time to digest.

At the end of the meal, the proprietor, who spoke English, came out to talk to us. She said, “You’re not German?” when we spoke English to her. We laughed and explained when she asked us what the hell Americans were doing in her little town. As I mentioned before, I probably would not have ever visited Baiersbronn if I hadn’t lived in Jettingen first! She was very interested in what we thought of the food and, of course, asked me to write a TripAdvisor review. I will do that as soon as I’m finished with this series, because frankly, I think they really could use a good review. If this place were anywhere else but Baiersbronn, I think they’d be ranking higher than they currently do! I hope we can visit again, or at least inspire others to visit.

In the next part, I will write about our experience at the Michelin starred Restaurant Köhlerstube.

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anecdotes, animals, dog rescue, dogs, emergencies

Pet pandemonium pauses our promenade!

Today is Bill’s birthday, and we have wonderful weather this morning. Yesterday, it rained most of the day, and the dogs didn’t get their walk until the afternoon. I was going to take them for a walk this morning and actually got underway. But our plans were abruptly thwarted by other people’s pets.

It started with an unusually brave white cat, who was loitering on our path. I saw the cat first, as it was big as life clinging to the wall. The cat saw Arran and Noyzi, but didn’t seem to be afraid. Cats usually run when they see my dogs, but this one was pretty defiant. He or she pinned their ears, arched their back, and probably hissed. I couldn’t tell, because Noyzi had just noticed. Arran, super hound cat buster that he is, was a bit like Barney Fife this morning. He was the last to see the white feline, who was warily watching the boys.

And then, just as I thought we might make it down the hill, along comes our neighbor dog, Tommi, the friendly Labrador. He charged up to Arran and Noyzi, completely unattended, although he was at least wearing a collar. Hot on his heels was our neighbor’s mother, a slim lady I’ll call Oma. I’m guessing she’s in her 70s. She speaks English well and is very nice, but she’s probably not strong enough to be walking a rambunctious young Lab. And, in fact, she wasn’t walking him. She had treats with her, but no leash.

Naturally, the dogs went nuts. The cat did not go nuts. I kept waiting for it to run away, but it just kept staring down the dogs. Noyzi was facing the wrong way as I tried to lead him away from the tantalizing pussycat…

The funny thing is, I have been using two regular nylon leashes and a harness with Noyzi because he’s a rescue from Kosovo and still pretty afraid of a lot of things. I attach one leash to his collar and one to his harness, in case I drop one. I might then have a prayer of stopping Noyzi before he bolts for the Autobahn.

Noyzi’s walking manners have improved a lot; he’s become much less fearful and wants to run more. Last week, on two occasions, he tried the retractable tape leash I currently use with Arran and used to use with Zane. I waited a long time to try the retractable leash with Noyzi because he’s so much bigger and stronger than were either Arran or Zane, or both of them together.

We did have some success with the tape leash last week. Noyzi seemed to get the concept of running just a little bit ahead and not charging off so fast that he pulls me over. I was going to try the tape leash again today, but a little voice in my head told me to use the two leash system instead. It might have just been sheer laziness, since I already had the nylon leashes out and ready to use.

Well… that second leash was a God send this morning, because Tommi was completely out of control! First, he greeted my dogs with boisterous jumps, crotch sniffing, and tail wags, and Noyzi, of course returned the favor. Then he ran over to some guy working on his car. Oma grabbed for Tommi’s collar, but it somehow slipped off. She finally got it back on him and started trying to drag him away, yelling at him and spanking him all the while. Tommi was not at all fazed by the corporal punishment.

Meanwhile, that damned white cat was STILL defiantly sitting there, watching everything unfold, completely unbothered! A lady with a baby carriage was about to come down the hill, but thought better of it when she saw and heard all of the commotion. Arran was braying like a seal/donkey hybrid. Noyzi was yipping excitedly, dancing around like a whirling dervish. And Tommi, who has developed a full on Labrador bark, was telling off the cat and trying to give chase. He ran behind the bushes and Oma went after him, shouting in German, trying to grab his collar.

I suddenly realized I had that second leash, so I quickly unsnapped it and handed it to Oma, who thanked me profusely as she attached it to Tommi’s collar. The whole lot of us then turned toward home, because I had worked up a sweat and wanted the dogs to calm down a bit, and Oma wanted to get Tommi back to a place where he wasn’t running amok. I also obviously needed that second leash back! Arran helpfully took a big dump at the top of the hill, so he probably feels better. Oma was showing off Tommi to a group of school kids who had heard and witnessed some of the show.

Oma explained to me that her 18 year old granddaughter (whom Noyzi LOVES) has to study for exams. And the man and the lady of the house are on vacation. Oma’s son told her not to walk Tommi because he’s so strong, but she said there’s no one else who can do it. I don’t actually think she was trying to walk him this morning. I think he snuck out of the house.

Just like his Labrador predecessor, Levi, used to do, sometimes Tommi comes over to our house. We can see him through the glass. The dogs go nuts! It might do them all well to have a play session and wear each other out a little! Tommi is very sweet, but I think he might need a trainer. But I’m not about to suggest it, because I’m sure they don’t need me to tell them that… I did notice that Oma petted Arran, who was the calmest of the lot, which is really saying something, if you know him. On the other hand, Arran is old and rather petite, so it’s not too hard to keep him in line.

Anyway, I guess that incident was a sign from God to keep using the two leash system on Noyzi for a bit longer… if only so Oma can wrangle Tommi when he gets loose! And you’ll be proud to know that I managed to get some video footage of all of this, too.

And now that I’ve cooled off and calmed down, maybe we’ll try again.

Edited to add: We just had our walk. It was much less chaotic.

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coronavirus, Germany, staying home

Moderna and more spring photos…

Poor Bill had his second Moderna shot yesterday. The installation opened up some walk in slots for the second vaccine, so Bill went so he could spare himself a long drive to Landstuhl today. He went to Landstuhl for the first shot, back in late April. It’s not such a bad drive to get there, but it does take about an hour just to get out that way. Then he’d have to get through the process and drive back. It’s much easier to get the shot locally, which is what I plan to do myself in a couple of weeks.

He was feeling okay after the shot, but by about 3:00am, he started feeling like he did when we both got swine flu in December 2013. Today, he’s taking it easy, lying in bed. Luckily, the sheets are nice and fresh, since we washed everything yesterday.

I just took the dogs for a walk. I didn’t mind, since my new Apple Watch gives me pep talks about exercising. Bill usually walks the dogs if he’s home, but he’s not up to it today. So off I went, and I managed to get some photos of the flowers blooming in our neighborhood, along with some meddlesome nettles. No, they aren’t particularly exciting pictures… and I look forward to when we can get out and see and do more. Hopefully, that won’t be too much longer, as COVID-19 infection numbers continue to drop here in Deutschland. I think it’s partly due to the weather, and mostly due to people becoming vaccinated, at long last. After a slow start, Germany has kicked its immunization program into high gear! Hooray!

I meant to get a picture of this one lady’s tree, next to her well-tended house. Under the tree is a carpet of beautiful purple flowers. I noticed it the other day and thought it looked so pretty. I feel fortunate to live in a safe, clean, country where people work to beautify the surroundings, especially in the spring. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll get a chance to take a photo of that pretty flower adorned tree. Perhaps Bill and I can even take a walk together, like we did in the old days.

The elderly lady who lives in that house has a little female dog who does NOT like other dogs. We run into her quite frequently, and her little dog always acts like the proverbial bitch, wanting to take a piece out of Arran and Noyzi (and Zane before him). Her dog barks, shows her teeth, and strains against the bright orange leash the lady uses to keep her in check. It’s a myth that all German dogs are perfectly trained. But the lady is nice enough and always says “Guten Morgen” when we pass each other.

The featured photo is the rainbow that appeared after it rained all day and the sun came out. The rainbow only lasted for a couple of minutes, so I was lucky to catch it. I hope it’s a good omen that means better days are coming soon. At the very least, Bill should be feeling better tomorrow. And then we can look forward to when shot number two knocks me on my ass.

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advice, dogs, Germany, takeout

“Be welcome here…”

Tomorrow, Bill and I will celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary. Normally, we travel for our anniversary. This year, we can’t go anywhere, thanks to COVID-19. I decided to buy a few new attachments for the air fryer I purchased at the beginning of the pandemic. We don’t use it very often, in part, because the noise from it seems to bother Arran somewhat. But we have discovered that we can use it in the laundry room and Arran doesn’t mind.

Last night, Bill made air fryer brownies that turned out great. This morning, we had a sausage, egg, spinach, sun dried tomato and cheese casserole made in the air fryer. Noyzi is getting braver and now hovers near me at mealtimes, hoping I’ll share with him. I don’t mind doing that because he’s so polite, and it does help him be less fearful.

After breakfast and starting another load of laundry, Bill and I put leashes on Arran and Noyzi and started on our walk. The sun is shining and the temperature is mild. It’s the perfect day to enjoy fall weather. As we were heading down the “Weg” to the main drag, a tall, slim, older German woman approached. She was wearing black slacks, a purple blouse, and a big black sweater. I noticed she also wore black gloves. Bill and I had just been talking about how Germans seem to bundle up a lot more than we do, even when the weather is nice.

I noticed the woman’s face as she looked at Noyzi, who is a very handsome and striking specimen. Noyzi was shying away from her noticeably. He was nervous enough that he dropped a single nugget of poop, but then he calmed down while Arran hung nearby, eager to keep walking. I fought the urge to pick up the poop as the German woman started talking to Bill. She quickly ascertained that we weren’t German when Bill opened his mouth to speak. She switched to careful, halting English, asking if we were the “new Americans”. It so happened that we were standing right next to a house that reportedly contains Americans. I guess native Breckenheimers talk about who’s who, and who’s new.

Bill explained that no, we weren’t “new” here. We moved to Breckenheim in late November 2018, and we live at the top of the hill. The woman wore no makeup. Her straight, silver hair was pulled into a ponytail. I don’t know how old she is. She appeared to be older than we are by some years, but she was very fit looking. In her hand, she held a bundle of some type of herb– perhaps thyme. I’m not sure, because I stood farther away from her than Bill did.

The woman didn’t wear a face mask. Neither did we. It’s probably a good thing, as she was very soft-spoken and I’m not sure we would have been as able to hear and understand her. She was very intent on sharing a message with us. She told Bill that today is a special worldwide holiday. She didn’t know how to say it in English. Bill thought maybe she meant it was like Remembrance Day, but having looked up holidays for November 15th, I don’t think so. I have no idea what she was talking about. She said it was a worldwide holiday, but is especially recognized in Europe. It was the first I’d heard of it after living here for several years.

Edited to add: My German friend Susanne tells me that today is Volkstrauertag (people’s day of mourning), and the lady was probably on her way to the cemetery or church, both of which we have in our area. I kept thinking maybe she was referring to Advent, but it’s a bit early for that. Volkstrauertag happens two weeks before Advent starts, and it commemorates members of the armed forces of all nations and civilians who died in armed conflicts, to include victims of violent oppression..

Regardless, of what the actual holiday is today (now I know– Volkstrauertag), she seemed very keen to talk to us about world peace. She spoke about how there’s no such thing as an enemy. We’re all people and we all deserve peace. Bill told her that he’d been to Iraq. I heard her say, “And you survived.”

She went on some more about having regard for our fellow man, avoiding war, and remembering those who died at war. And then, as she started to walk away, she said “Be welcome here.”

Bill turned to me and I could see the tears in his eyes. He was clearly moved. He said, “Well… that was a message.”

It’s not the first time we’ve run into someone who has imparted a message to us in an unusual way. Five years ago, I was stunned into peace and calm by a Buddhist monk we happened to run into at an Italian restaurant near Munich. It turned out he was a famous Japanese peace crusader named Toyoshige Sekiguchi. He was traveling the world, promoting peace and nuclear disarmament. I didn’t even speak to him, and yet he had a profound effect on me just by being who he is and being in my presence.

We lost Bill’s father a week ago and, naturally, Bill wasn’t able to attend his dad’s funeral on Friday. He was emotional about that last night. We spent some time talking and I was doing what I could to assuage his guilt and soothe his grief. He was still pensive and a little moody this morning. Perhaps that’s why got our special message as we walked the dog.

Bill is normally a very approachable person, but he was especially open-hearted today, which may have been why that woman felt the need to speak to us. Or maybe she stops everyone to talk about peace and loving everyone. It was a good message, though, and seemed kind of appropriate under the circumstances. Maybe she wanted to tell us her message because we represent Americans and most Americans around here are with the military. She might have thought Bill was a war monger, although he’s definitely not your stereotypical military man. In fact, I’d say Bill is not even like the typical guy. He’s unusually in touch with his feelings about most things. Maybe she figured we support Trump, though we definitely don’t.

I think a lot of people, with good reason, think that everyone in or affiliated with the military is a war monger. Most servicemembers I know want war less than anyone does. And anyone who knows Bill knows that he’s a gentle, caring, considerate, and kind man. I, on the other hand, graduate of social work and public health master’s programs and a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, tend to be a bit feisty. Go figure that!

Anyway, we had a good walk. Noyzi has really come to love the daily walks. He still won’t let Bill put his leash on him, but he will let Bill walk him. And today, since I came along, I got a special treat in the form of butts. As I was putting on my shoes, Noyzi came up behind me and stuck his big nose right in my ass, as if he was greeting a new canine friend. Then, he came around as I was tying my laces, stuck his butt in my face, and backed up, swinging it side to side as if he wanted to use my nose to scratch his behind. He didn’t actually reach my nose, thank goodness, but he did seem to offer me his butt for sniffing. I guess he’s getting more comfortable here. I may have to teach him not to goose me in the ass when I’m tying my shoes, though.

A couple of nights ago, we ordered Greek takeout from Akropolis Restaurant in nearby Delkenheim. Bill wasn’t feeling like cooking, probably because he’d lost his dad and couldn’t go to the funeral. I was tickled because they sent him away with a small bottle of ouzo! I’ve had better gyros, but the rest of the food was pretty good. We had plenty leftover for lunch yesterday, too.

I wore my favorite dog walking shirt today. On the back, it says in German “Life is too short to drink shitty beer.” I was kind of glad it was covered up with a sweater today, after talking to that very deep and spiritual lady.

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dog rescue, dogs, Kosovo, reviews

Noyzi’s new walking skills! And booze free treats!

Here’s another update about Noyzi, the street dog from Kosovo. He’s really come such a long way since four weeks ago. For the first couple of weeks in our home, Noyzi was terrified of leashes and harnesses. He was so scared he’d actually submissively pee and run away in fright. But, as you can see from the video below, he’s come around.

He loves to explore the neighborhood and is probably calmer than ever when he’s walking on a leash.

A month ago, prior to his adoption, his rescuer, Meg, sent me videos of Noizy’s first stabs at leash training. She described him as a big child and sent me a couple of videos showing him lying down while on the leash, completely shut down from the concept of being led. When we got him to our house, I spent about a week leading him around the fenced backyard. He didn’t like the leash at all and would rear up or backpedal.

I started taking a few minutes to brush him before our lessons. He liked being brushed. I’m sure it felt good, both because of the personal attention and because it scratched his itches. Noyzi had never had a bath before and was shedding something fierce. The brushing helped with that, too.

As you can see at the end of the video, Noyzi now walks like a champ, although he still needs the harness because he startles easily. I have a feeling it won’t be long before walks are old hat. I took a walk with him and Arran alone, too. It wasn’t as easy to walk them together without Bill, but we’ll work on it. Below are a few fall photos from our area. It’s not quite as pretty as Jettingen is, but it’s not bad.

I sure do miss traveling, but having Noyzi around is very rewarding and fun. It’s been great to see him progress over the last month. Every day, he gets more confident and adorable. Below is a video of him almost playing with Arran. Arran is still trying to get used to sharing us, but I notice that Arran has already taught his little brother a lot. For example, Arran taught Noyzi that treats are a good thing.

They aren’t too rowdy yet.

Moving on…

This week, Bill ordered a couple of alcohol free treats he saw advertised on Facebook. One product he ordered is called Lyre’s Dry London Spirit, a type of alcohol free gin. Lyre’s is an Australian company, but they have an outlet in Europe and specialize in producing alcohol free versions of libations. Bill likes gin, but is wanting to cut back on alcohol for health reasons.

We tried the gin, and while it didn’t taste exactly like the leaded version, it wasn’t bad at all. It has no burn, but it does have sort of a citrusy flavor– bitter orange peel and a hint of lemon. There is no taste of juniper.

He also ordered a bottle of Gimber, which is an alcohol free cold pressed ginger based mixer. It consists of ginger, lemon, herbs and spices and can be mixed with spirits or alcohol free beverages like sparkling mineral water. The Gimber is very spicy, but you can dilute it until it suits your tastes. Gimber also has a classic dream story behind it. Its inventor, Dmitri, was tired of sugary sodas and bad wine. He sank his last euros into buying a ginger press. Now he’s got a product he can sell on Facebook to bored Americans like us!

And finally, last night, I took a few photos of the “blue moon” as it appeared in Germany. This was supposed to be an especially rare moon, since it was visible across all time zones. I took several of these pictures with my digital camera, which I don’t get to use very often these days. For some projects, it’s better than my iPhone.

Well, that about does it for today. We don’t have much going on, thanks to the pandemic. I miss going on trips, eating in restaurants, and hanging out at naked spas. But maybe someday we can get back to it. For now, we have new products to try and a new dog to teach how to enjoy being a pet. Things could be worse!

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Christmas, France

Our first French Christmas, part six…

We slept late Christmas morning, mainly because we didn’t bring presents to open. Audra and her family exchanged gifts while we had breakfast in our gite. Then we went to their house for lunch, which was being hosted by Cyril’s charming and very French parents. I had made a couple of baskets to give to our hosts. One was for Audra and Cyril and had some German, Polish, and southern/Virginia delicacies in them. The other was for Cyril’s parents, in which I skipped the Virginia delicacies.

Cyril’s mom’s face lit up as she uncovered the little gifts in her basket. I included a couple of star shaped bottles of liqueurs from Wiesbaden, a wine stopper and beer stein bottle top, gingerbread in a pretty tin, a Polish pottery magnet and Christmas ornament, and a few other things. It was so sweet to watch Cyril’s mom open those gifts and genuinely appreciate them. She gave me a big hug, and even though I don’t speak French and she doesn’t speak English, I felt like I had made a friend.

Then we had lunch… and there on the table were salads loaded with mushrooms. I had just told Audra and Cyril about my “mycophobia” the previous night. Being phobic of mushrooms has caused me so much embarrassment over the years. But Audra handled it perfectly and made me a salad without any fungus. It was delicious, too… with quail eggs, bacon, and a light vinaigrette. I’m going to have to learn to make that salad at home. It’s not the first time we’ve had it in France, and it’s always a hit with me. I need all the hit salads I can get. We also had foie gras, which I gave to Bill. Next, there was rice, and monkfish served with a delightful lemon sauce. And, of course, there was also plenty of wine.

After lunch, we took a walk through the neighborhood, and once again, I was reminded of Texas. Audra says it gets very hot in Nimes during the summer. Maybe it even gets as hot as Texas does.

Cyril made a delicious pot of French onion soup for dinner, minus the usual cheese and bread. It was just what we needed to come down from Christmas Eve’s big spread. I noticed that the meals we enjoyed, except on Christmas Eve, were very simple and served with lots of love and companionship. Bill and I usually eat together when we can, but I get the sense that Audra and Cyril enjoy a lot of fellowship with his family. It’s nice to see and something that more Americans should embrace.

At some point during our trip, I developed an annoying cough that is still plaguing me now. I am hoping we can get home sometime today so I can do some laundry and sleep in my own big, warm bed. Here’s hoping for a phone call from ADAC.

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Uncategorized

Jettingen who? New discoveries in nature and more Breckenheimer rock n’ roll!

Last night turned out to be unexpectedly awesome.  After we came home from Idstein, we decided to hang out with the dogs for awhile.  Then, at about 6:00pm, the Breckenheimer Bikers were back to continue their fest.  I asked Bill if he wanted to go.  He said “sure”, so we walked to the area where they had set up their booths and tables.  The weather was better, so there were a lot more people.  It looked like they had different food, too.

Then Bill wanted to see if there was anything going on at the Dorfplatz, which is where they always have the wine stands every other Friday night.  Nothing was going on there, but we decided to keep walking.  I’m ashamed to say that in seven months of living in this town, I haven’t explored it much.  I don’t know why.  When I was younger, I’d always walk around my new neighborhoods to make new discoveries.  I usually have the dogs with me, though, and our new town doesn’t have very good sidewalks, since it’s very densely populated.  I guess I figured the area was too congested for them, making it hard to dodge cars.

We walked down Dorfgasse, which is the main drag, passed the antiques dealer, a Kurheil practitioner, a pension, a bakery, an architect, and a druggist with a gynecologist’s office attached to it.  Aside from the bakery and the druggist, I had no idea the other stuff was even there.  We also passed a bunch of guys sitting in their garage, drinking beer, and having a party.

Then we saw a country road on the edge of the neighborhood.  Yes… Breckenheim is on the edge of the country, and we discovered a large park where we can take walks with the dogs.  Perhaps my days of walking them in the poo and dildo infested fields near the Autobahn and the Rewe are over.  Here are some photos from our walk.

This looks familiar… our old town of Jettingen had a similar sign asking people to pick up their dogs’ crap.

Turns out there’s a pretty big walking area, complete with orchards.

There’s even a woods!

 

After a few minutes of walking, we came across a small paddock where a group of ponies were enjoying some hay.  I call them ponies, but they might have been miniature horses.  I mean, they’d be ponies because of their height alone, but they had the more delicate features of horses, with a lighter bone structure. I don’t have much experience with minis, although I have plenty of experience with ponies.  Whatever they officially were, I was delighted to see them!  I spent most of my childhood around horses and even used to have my own pony.  It’s been too many years since I last had a horse in my life.  They are wonderful company.  I even miss their wonderful aroma.

 

One of the mares had a colt by her side.  It looked like a couple of the others might also be expecting, although it’s a bit late in the year for that.  They might have just been fat.

They were very friendly, although I didn’t dare try to pet them.  I have a lot of experience with electric fences, too.  I’m glad we walked up this way, since my dogs go nuts when they see horses.  Now, if I try to walk them here, I’ll be forewarned.

The further we went down the road, the quieter and more bucolic the views were.  I was reminded of the more country areas where we’ve previously lived in Baden-Württemberg.  I’m really a country girl at heart, so finding out our new Hessian town has country scenes did my heart good.  The one thing I’ve been missing about Jettingen are the beautiful wooded areas where I could walk my dogs.  Now I’ve found Breckenheim’s version.

 

The church on the other side.  I think there’s a concert there today.  We might have to check it out.

 

On the way back to our neighborhood, we happened to pass by a tree as several birds of prey had engaged in what appeared to be a violent attack.  I grabbed my camera and tried to film them in action, but was just a little too late to capture the fight.  But then I saw something strange.  A bird was hanging upside down by one talon.  It hung there for an agonizing minute as we looked on, wondering if it was just stunned.  I filmed the bird and my German friend told me it was an Eichelhäher, otherwise known as an Eurasian Jay.  It bore a slight resemblance to our blue jays.  Just after I turned off the camera, the jay lost its desperate grip on the branch and dropped to the ground.  It was still alive when we left it, but I doubt for much longer.  I was a little sad about witnessing that scene, but unfortunately, it’s the way of nature.

By the time we got back to our street, the fest had exploded.  Most of the tables were full of people drinking beer, Sekt, Aperol spritzes, and Jack Daniels.  There were several bands, all of which were quite good.  Our landlord and his wife were there, having a good time.  I like them both, although I haven’t really spent much time talking to them.  Our new landlady doesn’t speak much English, but she’s always very friendly and seems happy to see us.  The landlord seems to like Bill, and he speaks more English– likewise, Bill speaks more German than I do.  We said hello and watched a few acts.  The landlord said they usually do this fest every year, although some years they’ve skipped it.  I’m glad we were around for it this year.

The bikers put on a hell of a party!  I remember Jettingen had events too, but none like this.  A lot of the fests in Jettingen were religious or agricultural.

Cheers!

I got video of a couple of them, which maybe I’ll turn into something I can share here.  I did think to take a few pictures, especially of an enthusiastic gentleman who danced to several well covered classic rock songs.  The group before the rock band consisted of four very talented men singing a cappella in surprisingly good harmony.  I am myself a singer, so I know how hard to can be to stay on pitch when you sing unaccompanied.  They did a really good job of it.  I was especially impressed by their version of “The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond”.  For some reason, Germans seem to love Scotland, just like I do…  I got some raw video, which I might turn into something sharable at some point.

This guy was dancing his ass off.

This dude sounded like a mix of Bon Scott and Meatloaf.  He was singing songs by Foreigner, Billy Idol, and Bob Seger, among others.  His female partner covered a Bryan Adams song and Pink.  They were surprisingly good.

They brought up a young girl… a family member, perhaps, who joined them on the Bryan Adams number, “I Need Somebody.”

This guy was awesome.  He was inspiring people to cut loose.

We went back home and Bill cooked burgers on the new grill.  The party went on down the street.  At about 10:45pm, they set off some fireworks– maybe a minute or two’s worth.  At about 11, the party was over.  All in all, from Idstein to party time, our Saturday was amazing.  I’m not sure what we’re going to do today, but we sure did have a great day yesterday!

Fireworks!

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Germany

Things aren’t bad in Baden-Baden… Part two

As I mentioned in part one, after we had lunch at the Wintergarten Restaurant at Brenners Park Hotel and Spa, we decided to take our first of many walks through ritzy Baden-Baden.  If you like high end shopping, this is definitely the place to be.  I was amazed by all of the very expensive clothing, shoes, and jewelry for sale there.

The gorgeous Lutheran church near the hotel.  I would have liked to have walked through here.  I noticed how beautiful the stained glass windows were last night as they were lit up from inside.

The park next to the hotel and spa.  Brenners Park also offers medical treatments, most of which seemed to be for cosmetic purposes.

They were preparing the ice skating rink for opening night, which was on Saturday.

This outfit could easily set you back about 3000 euros.  It’s at times like these I’m glad I don’t have a figure for high fashion.

A testament to all of the Russians in town…  This travel bureau specializes in trips to Sochi, which is in Russia near the Black Sea coast.

The world famous Friedrichsbad.  

The Roman Bath ruins.  These closed for the season on November 15th.  If we’d been a little more on the ball, we could have taken a tour, but we were passing by just as the lady was locking up until March 15, 2019.  Oh well.

If you like Segways, you can take a Segway tour in Baden-Baden.  Bill and I did that in Antigua and that was enough for me, especially since I fell off and nearly busted my head.  Fortunately, I was wearing a helmet.

The Aqua Aurelia Hotel, where I almost booked a room.

The entrance to the Caracalla Spa, which is the more modern of the mineral baths in Baden-Baden.  At the Caracalla, you can wear your bathing suit.  At Friedrichsbad, you have to be nude.  More on that in a subsequent post.

I took a picture of this yarn shop in homage to my mother, who used to own and operate a knitting and needlepoint shop in Gloucester, Virginia.  I did not inherit her gift or patience for needle crafts.  Instead, I got her gift for music.  😉

A lovely Turkish market near the baths.

We probably should have bought this artwork in honor of our anniversary.  I was a little afraid of how much it would cost, though.

Like… check out the prices of the outfit pictured below…

It’s not even real fur!

The Christmas market will open next weekend, so they’re setting up.  I bet if we’d visited next weekend, we wouldn’t have gotten an upgrade.  Sometimes it pays to have your anniversary during the “off season”.

A look at a map of the Baden-Baden area.

And a few shots of the river, as well as a club of male mallards.  The river was looking a bit low.  We need some rain.

I was impressed by the playground, which allows kids 14 years old or younger and closes at 8:00pm.

 

After our walk, we decided to visit the bar and its accompanying lounge and have a few drinks.  I really enjoyed the lounge area, which was pleasantly lit and had books, a fireplace, comfortable couches, and after 5:00pm, a pianist playing jazz.  Prior to 5:00pm, they play pre-recorded jazz, mostly sung by sultry torch singers like Jane Monheit and Diana Krall.

A view from near the bar.

Bill waits for his Negroni.

They brought out some “free” lavish snacks for us while we waited for our drinks.  I noticed they did this on Thursday night, but not on Saturday.  Maybe it’s because we came later on Saturday.  I put “free” in quotes because although we weren’t charged for the nibbles, the drinks were very expensive.  But then, you only live once, right?  

 

The hotel was kind of lightly populated on Thursday night.  Consequently, there weren’t too many people in the lounge.  The piano player didn’t seem too enthused as he played for the half dozen of us in the lounge, but brightened up when I reacted to a couple of the songs he played that I especially liked.  I noticed he was more animated on Saturday, when there were more people to entertain.

We were too full to eat dinner, so we decided to head back to the room.  By 9:00pm, Bill’s eyes were fluttering and I was turning off the light.  It’s surprising how exhausting relaxing can be…

We drew the curtains the first night.  Fancy!

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German products, Germany, Health, pets

Holistic healthcare for your pets in Germany…

Every once in awhile, I write about things I see when I walk my dogs.  Bill and I happen to live right next to a large nature park.  It’s a great area to live in if you have dogs.  There are a lot of dog owners in our town and they’re pretty friendly and helpful.  Case in point, about a month ago, my dog Arran escaped from our house and several locals were instrumental in helping us bring him back to safety.

Lately, I’ve noticed a woman parking a car advertising holistic medicine for pets.  I don’t know her and have never talked to her, but I see her and her son walking their Maltese dogs several times a week.  She drives a SUV with decals on it advertising her services as a naturopath.  I’m actually kind of interested in what she does, since I have been exploring natural approaches to veterinary care with my dogs, Zane and Arran.  Both of my dogs have had mast cell tumors since we’ve been in Germany.

I already belong to a great Facebook group that offers advice for natural approaches toward caring for dogs with mast cell tumors.  In that group, there’s information about how to feed dogs with mast cell cancer, hot to use CBD oil and other essential oils for healing tumors and lesions caused by the cancer, and nutritional advice for overall wellness.

To be honest, I’m not as much into “woo” as some people are.  I do think natural approaches can be helpful and are often not harmful.  I can personally attest to how much CBD oil has helped Zane and Arran, but I also give them Benadryl to discourage the histamine release that can cause tumors to develop.  I give Zane Tagamet or Pepcid to help him with the upset stomach he gets sometimes and also to help discourage new tumor growth.  It’s been over a year now and this approach seems to be working well for both of them.

Still, I wonder if there’s more I could be doing.  That’s why I took notice of the SUV advertising holistic services for pets.  The other day, I looked up the woman on Facebook.  Her name is Sylvia Fiedler, and according to her official Web site, we were born at around the same time in 1972.  She charges 60 euros an hour in cash for her services.  It appears that she comes to your home, although I see she’s located in Oberjettingen, which is just up the road from where Bill and I live.

It appears that most of Fiedler’s training is very recent, although she started in the field in the late 80s.  I can relate, since my very first job was working for a veterinarian, too.  I quickly determined that as much as I like animals, I didn’t want to work in the veterinary field.  However, my dogs have pretty much demanded that I learn more about how to take care of them.  Our local vets have been surprised by what I know.  One of them thought I was a nurse, but actually, I have a master’s degree in public health and used to work as a technical writer for a public health agency.  I think that’s why I know more than the average person about some of this stuff.

Anyway, it looks like Fielder’s practice centers around feeding a raw diet, laser therapy, acupuncture and acupressure, Bach flowers, and even leeches.  I’m not sure if I’ll ever be calling her… although it may get to a point at which I might decide to give homeopathy a whirl.  Some people do swear by it and it’s kind of cool to know that it’s available in my current “hometown”.  It’s also kind of cool to know that the lady who offers it walks the same routes I do with Zane and Arran.

I’m mainly just writing this post because I know I have some local dog lovers/owners who read my blog.  Perhaps some of them are looking for a naturopath/holistic practitioner for their dogs.  Hopefully, this information might be helpful.

Jettingen is a great place for dog owners… not just because there are so many trails, but also because we have a resident naturopath.

 

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Germany

Giftköder (poison)… possible sighting in my neighborhood this morning…

I spotted this on my walk this morning.

Sometimes I see strange things when I walk my dogs.  Most of the time, the things I see are benign.  I’ve seen discarded bras, half empty bottles of Jack Daniels, abandoned children’s desks, kids sucking face… even someone’s glasses.  This morning, I saw something very strange and kind of frightening.

Pictured above, perched atop the “Robidog”, which is where we discard our dog crap, was a board with pieces of what appeared to be schnitzel.  There are two dead mice among the pieces of pork.

I don’t know if someone found this and put it on top of the poop can or if this was originally put on the can and the mice found it.  Either way, it was very creepy.

Unfortunately, there are people in Germany who put out poison.  The poison is usually intended to kill rodents, but some people also do it to kill or injure pets.  Regardless of the intention behind putting out Giftköder, it has potentially lethal consequences for animals.  If a pet eats the poison or manages to catch and kill a mouse that has eaten it, there’s a good chance the pet will become sick and even die.

It’s enough of a problem that there’s even a “radar” for tracking poisoned areas.  There are a bunch of fields near where I live and, yes, I’ve seen mice out there.  However, I’ve never seen any poisoned bait before today.

I posted the picture above on Facebook and my German friend, Susanne, was concerned enough to contact the police in Gäufelden, the village next to ours.  The police actually went out and found the dead mice, then contacted the police in Jettingen, which is the town where the above Robidog is.

I generally love the area where we are for walking the dogs.  There are lots of trails and other dog walkers are friendly.  But this business of dead rodents near what looks like poisoned bait gives me the creeps, especially since my dog Arran has a habit of eating mice.  More than once, he’s caught one while on his leash.  I don’t like being scared to walk my dogs, but a dog that eats a poisoned mouse can end up in trouble.

I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled in the meantime.  Hopefully, there aren’t a bunch of these little “gifts” spread throughout the area.

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