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We stumbled upon a wine stand in Hochheim…

Because I run a food and wine group on Facebook, I often find wine fests, food fests, and other food and drink related stuff, which I share with people in my group. Last weekend, we went to Limburg, which we might not have done if not for that group and my realization that having it encourages me to go out and see Germany instead of sitting on my can at home. I was kind of hoping for a similar discovery today, as there are two wine fests going on that I know of, and probably more if I were to do a deep dive into the calendars of communities around us.

I knew that a couple of the wine fests looked like they would be open at 5:00, since that’s when they opened last night. However, this was not stated on Facebook, nor was it the rule last weekend. So Bill and I decided we’d go to nearby Flörsheim’s wine stand, mainly because it’s super close to us, but also because we had never been there before. I decided that because we’d never been to Flörsheim, I was curious to see if it was “cute”, especially since it’s on the Main River. Maybe we missed the cute part of town, but to me it looked boring and suburban, and aside from a few interesting looking churches, I saw no reason to hang out there, especially today. The weather today is PERFECT… almost no clouds, and about 77 degrees, with a pleasant breeze.

We ended up driving past where the fest was to be… and clearly later in the day, probably in about a half hour as I write this, they will open up and people can sit at a table overlooking beautiful vineyards and sip wines from the region. But we decided that it wasn’t absolutely imperative that we go to a wine fest, so we ended up in very cute Hochheim, which is a town just a few miles from where we live. We went there in late 2018, when Bill first arrived in Wiesbaden. His boss at the time lived in Hochheim, and had arranged a wine tasting and holiday dinner. The boss has since moved on, but the town is still adorable, as evidenced by today’s photos. We need to spend more time in adorable Hochheim, especially when they have wine stands. We stumbled on one today! Below are a few random shots of Flörsheim that I took from th

When I think of Flörsheim, I think of shoes. In the USA, that was a brand name of shoes, especially in the 70s and 80s. Google says Florsheim (no umlaut) is still around. I don’t know if there is a connection. If there is, I saw no obvious evidence of it.

Anyway, we went through Hochheim on our way home, and noticed there was a wine stand going on, so we decided to stop, walk around a bit, and later, try some wine… And now I know that we need to visit this town more often, since it’s very close to us, super cute, and full of wine tasting opportunities. Seriously… where has Hochheim been all my life? See below to see how cute the town is.

We spent probably a good 90 minutes or so, quaffing whatever. Bill was good, and had a schorle (wine and sparkling mineral water) and a glass of grape juice with sparkling water. I, on the other hand, decided to abuse my liver. I tried a lot of what they had. We left when it was getting closer to 4:00pm. The dogs needed to be fed, and it looked like things were winding down. Several people brought their dogs, and it was just a really pleasant day.

I got the sense that the people at the wine stand were locals who knew each other. I enjoyed how the biker ladies, all in matching t shirts, welcomed one later joiner. It was all fun, convivial, and I felt very safe and welcome there. Once again, I thanked Bill for bringing me to Germany to live. It really is a nice place to be, especially these days.

The Limoncello Spritz, by the way, is easy to make. One part limoncello, one part Sekt, finish with sparkling water, and rub lemon on the rim of the glass. Garnish with lemon. It was even served with ice, which is a rare thing here. Very nice!

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Who are the people in our neighborhood? Last night’s wine stand helped us find out more…

Although there were heavy clouds in the sky last night, and the air was decidedly muggy, Bill and I decided to attend last night’s wine stand in Breckenheim. It was the first one we’d been to in awhile, since the last one was scheduled due to dangerous weather, and the time before that, I didn’t feel like getting dressed. But we usually do like to attend the wine stands, because they are held for good causes– fundraisers for various local clubs, who host them. Also, it’s often a fun chance to meet new people who live in our little suburban burg.

Our local town square (the Dorfplatz) is usually where the wine stands are held. However, the stand was held at the town hall, because the square is currently undergoing renovation. They’re putting in a public toilet. I understand the toilet idea isn’t particularly popular, especially since the Dorfplatz has only existed for a short while– by German standards, anyway– and there’s a fountain that was only put in about ten years ago that might need to be removed. Prior to its becoming a Dorfplatz, the area was a parking lot.

I guess the toilet will be a good thing, though, since it will allow people at the wine stands to stay longer, rather than either going home, or using the toilets at the Rathaus. Also, there’s been talk about starting a weekly farmer’s market, which I’m pretty psyched about. I hope that happens before we have to move again.

Anyway, because a large portion of the square has been cordoned off for the construction of the toilets, the wine stand has been moved, and that’s a good thing for us, because we live even closer to the town hall than we do the Dorfplatz. So, even though Noyzi and Arran protested loudly, Bill and I walked down the street to have a couple of glasses of wine. It started to sprinkle, but we decided to let the locals have the tables under the shelter.

After about ten or fifteen minutes of sipping Riesling and telling jokes, we met two Americans who live very close to us… Actually, they live even closer to the town hall than we do, since their house is just behind the parsonage for the church. They heard our American accents and came over to introduce themselves. It turns out that the two women have two kids, and they’re living here as ordinary residents. I was really fascinated, as one did have ties to the military, but is in the Reserves and drills back in the States. The other is a lawyer and a pastor! She told us the combination isn’t as unusual as one might think! Right now, she works as a pastor, but will soon start a new job as an American lawyer for a bank. I’m assuming it’s an American bank with a branch nearby, but I didn’t ask about the details.

They told us about the process of getting new German driver’s licenses, and what is required for that. Unfortunately, they didn’t come from a state where they could simply exchange licenses. Some US states do have a reciprocity agreement with Germany. Texas is one of those states. And their kids go to the local schools, one of which is within sight of our house. Both speak German, too, even to their kids.

We really enjoyed talking to them… I do hope I didn’t come off as too forward, though. Not everyone knows what to make of me, especially when I’ve been socially distanced for two years. But I thought they were a nice couple, and I’m sure we’ll see them around.

We won’t be at the next wine stand, which will also be held at the Rathaus, because it will take place just before my 50th birthday. Bill has plans to whisk me off to Antwerp, Belgium for the weekend. I look forward to it, since I love Belgium. There’s great beer, delicious frites, exquisite chocolates, and dirty humor… Any place where one of the country’s symbols is a little boy peeing is alright with me. 😉

Here are a few random photos from last night’s activities!

I think we’ll go out for awhile today… See if we can find anything fun to do.

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When the village comes together for WINE!

A few days ago, I noticed someone in our local Facebook group had posted that there would be a wine stand this week. I immediately told Bill, who was delighted by the news. He loves going to the wine stands. I like them, too. Our village used to have them every other week in the warmer months as a fundraiser for local clubs. But then we had COVID-19 to deal with, and for over a year, there were no wine stands. We did have one last fall at the very end of the season, but COVID restrictions were still pretty heavy at that time. They are now loosening somewhat, even though a lot of people in Germany are still getting the virus. We were supposed to have “freedom day” last weekend, but Hesse and a number of other states have decided to prolong the measures until at least April 2. Last night’s shindig was delightfully rule free. No one was checking for vaccines, and not many people bothered with masks. We’ll see if Bill and I get sick in the next few days (knock on wood). We stayed away from the crowded areas.

Nevertheless, we did manage to attend last night’s wine stand, in spite of Noyzi’s protests. I think he was just confused because I wore my blue Longwood sweatshirt, which I usually wear when I walk the dogs. He was insisting on trying to come with us. It’s not that he wouldn’t have been welcome, either. The wine stands are very kid and dog friendly. It’s just that he’s still so skittish around people he doesn’t know… and it’s not fun to drink wine while dealing with a restless dog his size. As for Arran, he just gets cranky when he’s around a lot of people, even though he’s friendly.

Noyzi is making some progress in the friend making department. We ran into the proprietor of the local Italian restaurant, pictured in the photos below. The guy likes dogs, and Bill later told me that he worked with a dog rescue. Noyzi could tell he was a friendly and kind man, so he let the guy pet him and even tried to engage in play with him. It was so cute! I love watching Noyzi turn into a confident, happy pooch.

Last night’s stand offered brats and lots of local wines from Hochheim am Main, located very close to Breckenheim. Everybody seemed to be in a good mood… the atmosphere was even friendlier and congenial than usual. I think it’s because the wine stands used to be so much more frequent than they are now. People were definitely ready to mingle. The sign for the stand went up early this week– earlier than usual. And, as you can see, it was well attended! We stayed for about 90 minutes or so… long enough to try all of the wines. Then we came home– it was about a five minute walk. The boys were very happy to see us.

I hope the wine stands are back to stay, even though I usually have a headache on the mornings after!

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We finally made it to another local wine stand!

Those of you who have been following this blog for awhile might remember that a couple of years ago, before the COVID-19 plague began, my currently adopted town of Breckenheim would have wine stands during the warmer months. Naturally, that tradition had to pause last year, as the threat of the coronavirus among unvaccinated people was too great. We didn’t have them for most of this year, either, and the local powers that be even dismantled the permanent kiosk that used to be set up in the Dorfplatz.

In August, the wine stands finally started again, although not with the same regularity that they were held in 2019. We had to miss the first one in August, because we were in the Black Forest visiting the dentist. 😉 They had another one two weeks ago, but I got sick with my cursed stomach bug and we couldn’t attend. Finally, last night, the stars aligned, and Bill and I managed to make it to the wine stand, located just down the hill from where we live.

I was wondering what the stand would be like in the COVID era. I brought my purse with me, just in case masks were required. As it turned out, they weren’t. I also thought to wear warmer shoes and a wrap, because I had a feeling it would get chilly as the sun set. Here are a few photos!

Last night’s wine stand turned out to be especially interesting. At one point, a lady came up to us and asked in German if she could sit down with the two adorable children with her. Bill answered in German. She continued speaking German, but Bill misunderstood her. She wanted to push in the bench so the kids wouldn’t get soup all over them. He thought she was just asking to sit down.

It turned out she was American, and had moved to Germany over forty years ago when her father was in the Air Force and stationed in Wiesbaden. She married a local and is now a very convincing German Oma to the two kids, who looked to be about 4 (boy) and 6 (girl) and were absolutely charming, with blond hair and blue eyes. They had these little bags of what looked like puffed rice cereal that they poured into the pumpkin soup. They reminded me of Trix, only they weren’t colorful. The American lady said they were salty. I had never seen them before, but I was curious. It looked like maybe she got them at a bakery. I’m not sure they were puffed rice, either. She said they were a type of grain.

I never did learn her name, but we traded a few stories. Her family is back in the United States, but I could see that she was totally integrated here– and I would have imagined so, after forty years! The folks at our table knew her and she was chatting easily with them. In fact, the locals were even friendlier than usual to us, too. Oma asked where we were from, and we told her– Arkansas for Bill, and Virginia for me. She didn’t know either state… although she does know Texas, and Bill spent a lot of time in Texas. I got a sense that maybe she kind of missed the US a bit, but that was only due to a fleeting look of wistfulness on her face.

Oma and the grandkids left, and the very friendly lady across the table, who didn’t really speak much English said she wanted us to meet someone. She kept mentioning that he was a gardener. Next thing we knew, a British guy was standing near us, chatting. The guy’s name was Steve, and he came from the northwest of England, which gave me a thrill. It turned out that before he had moved to Breckenheim, he had lived in Nagold, down at the edge of the Schwarzwald (Black Forest). Nagold is, of course, the town that was closest to us when we used to live in Jettingen! Bill and I used to go there all the time before we moved up to Wiesbaden! It was one of our favorite places in our old stomping grounds.

Steve said he’d lived in Nagold for about fifteen years. We sat there and talked about all of the little restaurants we visited, and Steve told us about how, back from 2008-2010, the city of Nagold did a massive beautification project because they were hosting a garden show there. We lived in Germany from 2007-09, also near Stuttgart, but that time we were in a little town called Pfaffingen, which is closer to Tubingen. We never discovered Nagold during our first German stint, although I do remember hearing it mentioned.

For all of the crap we went through in our last home near Stuttgart, I am still glad we lived there, because it did afford us the opportunity to visit a lot of places we would have missed if we’d lived closer to the military installations. I still miss Nagold a lot. It had a lot of what I love about cute towns, without the huge crowds and obnoxious traffic. If we ever move back to that area, I wouldn’t mind finding a home in Nagold… as long as the landlords are fair and respectful.

Steve was telling us that he really missed living in Nagold. I could relate. Wiesbaden is a nice area, and there are things about it that I enjoy, like wine stands. But I find the area near Stuttgart to be more authentic and interesting. It offers more of a pure German experience– or, actually, more of a Swabian experience, which is something else entirely. Up here, people are friendlier and more laid back, and there’s not as much thriftiness, but housing costs more and it’s a bit more built up. Curiously, despite being more built up, the traffic is much less terrible up here. Steve explained that a lot of the people in Breckenheim are politicians or are involved in finance. I can tell this neighborhood is kind of well-heeled. It has a different feel than either of our previous German towns. Down in BW, the atmosphere is more agrarian, although that doesn’t mean the standard of living isn’t high.

I think a big reason why the Frankfurt area seems less charming and authentic is because a lot of historic buildings were destroyed during World War II. And the ones that were rebuilt don’t have the same old world quaintness that the destroyed buildings had. But, I am glad we moved up here, if only because I can compare and contrast my German experiences, now. And wine stands are one nice tradition that Bill and I really enjoy.

Hopefully, this weekend, we will continue to have some fun, especially since it’s technically a holiday weekend. I think Bill is going to work on Monday, though, so we can take a trip soon.

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Beautiful Biergarten (and wine stand) weather!

Ahhh… I love September in Germany. The first time we lived here, it was from September 2007 until September 2009. We were in the Stuttgart area. I remember flying over here from Virginia, where it was still hotter than four hells, a warning from a former neighbor still in my head. She’d told me it would be much cooler in Germany. Sure enough, I soon found myself on Panzer Kaserne, at AAFES, buying a cheap suede jacket that made in China. It lasted five years before I tossed it out in Glasgow, Scotland, because it had a big rip in it.

Seven years ago, we moved into our second German home, located in lovely Unterjettingen. I still remember the smell of fermenting apples and the sight of the trees gently turning gold as the month progressed. And now, here we are in Wiesbaden, where the weather is just PERFECT. It was about 80 degrees today, with lots of sunshine and a cool breeze, promising that very soon, the weather would be more like it is in Germany the rest of the year. 😉 Although, I have to admit that global warming has changed things here, even since 2007.

Anyway… I might have been tempted to vegetate and drink in the back yard. Bill decided he wanted to go out. So at about 12:30, we dog proofed the house and set off for Wiesbaden. Bill wanted to check out the park behind the Kurhaus. I don’t know how we’ve missed it for the past almost three years we’ve lived here, but we have. Today, we discovered a lovely oasis, where paddle boats can be rented, picnics and sunbathing can be enjoyed, and beer can be consumed at the 1907 Lounge, a Biergarten that is affiliated with Benner’s Bistronomie, where we had lunch a few weeks ago.

Below are many photos from today’s outing. I think they mostly speak for themselves!

It was getting close to 4:00pm, which is when Arran and Noyzi eat their dinner. I was loving the weather, but not the cigarette smoke. Also, because Wiesbaden’s COVID cases are on the rise, new restrictions are in place. Everybody has to show that they’ve been vaccinated, tested negative, or recovered from the virus. Of course, medical masks are required, too. They’re a bummer, but people cooperate.

That’s one thing I like about Germany. Nobody enjoys wearing masks, but people do it without causing a ruckus. And, when the threat is no longer, they won’t require masks anymore. Nobody pretends they’re more or less virtuous for complying with the health measures. The masks aren’t political, nor are the vaccines. People accept that this is about health, not politics, and there’s a minimum of fuss. I expect that if and when the pandemic peters out, Germans will enjoy being mask free if they want to be. But until then, people simply do what they’re supposed to do, mostly without getting violent or obnoxious. It helps to have a lot of cops around, of course… and here, the cops are generally not belligerent or violent unless they have to be.

On many levels, I’m so glad we’ve been able to be over here for this particular time in history. I will always be grateful to Germany for being kind to us Americans who don’t want to raise hell and just want to get through this crisis with our lives and health intact.

I’m glad we went out. It’s nice to see Germany functioning again, and people out and about. It would be a crime to miss this wonderful weather. I’m sure we’ll do something similar tomorrow.

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Hofheim

Gay pride in Wiesbaden… wine in Hofheim…

I had heard a couple of wine events were going to be happening in Wiesbaden and Hofheim this weekend. Bill and I decided to check them both out. I must have gotten confused about the Wiesbaden event, because we never did find it. Instead, we ran into a gay pride parade, and had lunch at a Greek restaurant called Kavos. Below are a few photos I took of what we could see of the parade. I was sorry we hadn’t gotten there a little bit sooner, but we did see many dressed up people walking around the city with gay pride rainbow flags.

Yesterday was the second time we visited Kavos. I was in the mood for Greek food, and they had a nice lunch special going. I had pork “Spiess” (skewer) and Bill had a lamb skewer. They came with kraut and potato medallions. We also had t’zaziki, garlic pitas, and beer. In retrospect, I probably should have had water, given the wine market we attended in Hofheim.