anecdotes, Champagne Bucket trips, rants

Our 21st anniversary wasn’t unlike our wedding day…

21 years ago today, Bill and I got married at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia. On that day, we had rain, a bitchy florist, a caterer who packed things up before my mother-in-law could say goodbye to us, a fainting spell from my father-in-law right before our vows, a photographer who took pictures of the fainting, and an unlucky visit from Aunt Flow. The good news is, our marriage is thriving regardless… and it will continue to thrive after today’s craziness, too.

This morning, I told Bill I thought it might be a good day to visit the Hrazdan Gorge, and maybe the Genocide Memorial. I used to live near T’sitsernakaberd (Genocide Memorial), which is close to the Gorge and has a nice park around it. When I lived here in the 90s, I used to walk through the Gorge somewhat regularly. At least when I lived near the Genocide Memorial, anyway. Maybe not so much during the first year.

Anyway, our hotel is also near the Gorge, but from Mashtots Avenue, which is in a different part of Yerevan from where I lived. I thought we could walk through there from Mashtots and work our way to the other side of the Gorge.

We went to breakfast, and things got off to a good start. The food and beverage manager noticed I speak some Armenian and asked me about it. I told her it was our anniversary and I had come back to Armenia after 26 years. She sent us a bottle of red wine as a congratulations. It was waiting for us after our weird day. Maybe we’ll enjoy it today.

After breakfast, we got on our way. All was fine until we started heading down the crumbling steps leading to the Gorge. There weren’t many people there. Suddenly, a man wearing sunglasses and a hat showed up. He was right behind us as we started to descend. It made me nervous, so we stopped to let him pass. He passed, went down to the bottom of the steps, and turned left. We waited to see if he would keep walking, but he soon turned the other way, and kind of loitered for awhile, as if to see if we were still coming. It seemed kind of sketchy, so I told Bill I didn’t think it was a good idea to go down there. He agreed, and we made our way back up the steps. Later, we noticed the guy who was following us also came back up the steps. He wasn’t subtle at all, and seemed to be up to no good.

The Gorge is also near the Yerevan and Ararat Brandy factories. I thought maybe we could go take tours or something, rather than walk through the Gorge. We headed over to the Ararat factory, but thanks to a faulty light at the crosswalk, we weren’t able to cross the street safely. The light would turn green for us, but cars were still spewing through the intersection. So we decided to walk toward the stadium. That was okay, until some guy pulled over and urinated in front of us. That’s nothing we haven’t seen before many times, but we never relish seeing it.

We walked for awhile along the Gorge. I thought maybe we could figure out a way to get to the Memorial. But there was construction going on, and the sidewalk kind of ended abruptly. It didn’t seem like a good idea to keep going. So we turned around and said hello to a couple of very sweet and friendly looking street dogs. Then we walked back up toward our hotel…

I should mention, something not having anything to do with Armenia also happened today. I got a rude comment on my latest video.

I made this video last week for Bill, as part of our anniversary celebration…

Some random asshole left this comment (copied and pasted exactly as he left it)…

Don’t give up your day job

Joke’s on him, of course. I don’t have a day job. Nevertheless, I left him this response.

Thanks for the hit! 😉 In your profile picture, it looks like you’re taking a dump. That must be where you do your best work.

🙂 I will never understand what compels people to leave rude comments for those they don’t even know, on things they don’t have to read or watch. Especially when they, themselves, aren’t exactly any great shakes. Fuckwad, here, barely has any content on his channel and has just six subscribers, so I don’t know what qualifies him to harass me on my channel. In any case, I hope he falls into an open manhole.

I was still kind of ruminating about that comment– and no, it’s not that I care about the guy’s opinion, or even that it ruined my day. I’m kind of proud of my zinger, after all. I guess I just don’t get the psychology of such a thing. If I don’t like someone’s video or post on social media, I simply keep scrolling. But some people like to shit on others, and I’m afraid that’s what happened today. He didn’t even downvote me or anything. Just left a crappy, stale, and lame comment for my video on my wedding anniversary. I guess his time on the toilet has led to a creative block that has kept him from coming up with more original insults toward strangers.

We ended up at a restaurant called The Garden. It wasn’t a bad experience, although the service was kind of inattentive. We didn’t care, as we were just having snacks and beer, in anticipation for tonight’s meal, which we expected would be good. After we went to The Garden, we went back to the Opera House to see if the guy who sold us art the other day was still there. He wasn’t, and Bill really needed to pee. Fortunately, there is a toilet near the Opera House now. It costs 100 dram and is worth every luma. The unsmiling woman who tends it keeps it super clean and stocked. It’s a handy place to know about if you’re ever near the Opera House in Yerevan and need to pee (or whatever else).

Our reservations were for 7:30 PM. As the time went on, I yawned a bit, and wasn’t really in the mood to go out. But since it was our anniversary, I put on makeup and a dress. I curled my hair… and I even shaved my underarms. Off we went, and the whole dinner experience was a disappointment from start to finish. They had to search for our reservation, and sat us next to the kitchen, which was loud, and put me in the line of heat from the kitchen and a draft from outside.

The sommelier was a bit oily, and upsold the wine to Bill, then went through an elaborate wine service. We ordered dinner, with the anticipation that we’d have dessert. But as we sat in the restaurant, I noticed people having wedding and anniversary celebrations. Even a waiter got a flaming dessert. I didn’t care so much about having a flaming dessert, but when we mentioned it was our anniversary, no one even wished us a good one. They were playing super loud music and setting cakes on fire for other people. Did I really shave my armpits for THIS?

And when I finally went to pour my own wine, because the wait staff was weeded (or fucking around), a young man suddenly raced over to me, grabbed the decanter from my hand, and poured the wine. Bill thought maybe he was afraid I’d break the decanter, but I think this was supposed to be his idea of “good service”. It was anything but, and I was extremely annoyed, especially when the guy poured the wine, but didn’t bother to clear the table of dirty dishes. I finally scraped my plate clean and moved it to the other side of the table, after he poured the last of the wine.

Adding to the chaos was the very loud music, later provided by a female singer and what sounded like backing tracks. She was a good singer, and the tracks weren’t terrible, but her singing made it impossible to have a conversation, and it was not a whole lot better than karaoke.

I finally said to Bill, “I’ve about had enough of this shit. Let’s get out of here and have dessert at our hotel.” So that’s what we did. Bill paid for dinner and we got the hell out of there. We went to the restaurant in our hotel, had lovely desserts, fine brandies, and listened to much better jazz music played by real musicians and another female singer (who seemed to be channeling Adele). The excellent staff at our hotel restaurant saved the evening, so we made a dinner reservation for tomorrow night.

We have two more nights here until we get up in the very wee hours of Sunday morning and head back to Germany. I think we will still enjoy the rest of our time in Armenia. It has, overall, been a magical trip. But today was definitely a bit weird…

On the other hand, no one died, no one got robbed or raped, and when I get home, I can make even more videos for people like the fuckhead who told me to “keep my day job.” Too bad that guy’s mama wasn’t, instead, working at her day job on the day he was conceived. 😉 And the people at the hotel restaurant really did help us save our weird ass anniversary.

Time to close this post. Got to go to bed. Here’s to 21 years. Tomorrow will be a better day.


Halloween 2023 is now in the books…

Ever since we first moved to Germany in 2007, and again in 2014, we’ve noticed that Halloween has become progressively more popular. We’ve also noticed that some areas celebrate it more than others do. Up here in Hesse, we’ve seen more German kids trick or treating than we did when we lived in Baden-Württemberg, but it’s always a crap shoot as to how many will ring the doorbell looking for candy. Last year there were twelve kids. This year there were only five, but it was a little rainy last night. I did get to hear the kids say, “Süß oder Sauer!”

Bill had to go to Bavaria on Sunday, so I was left to handle our crowd of five alone. He did carve a jack o’ lantern before he left, but it was already starting to rot. It’s a good thing today is November 1, because I don’t think it would have lasted another day. It was turning to mush this morning when I tossed it!

He made a classic face for his pumpkin, but I decided to put diamonds in mine. I’m not very good at making mouths on my jack o’lanterns. Actually, I’m not very good at carving pumpkins at all! But we just wanted something to cast an orange glow on a dark night…

We had plenty of candy last night, and lots leftover today, even though I’ve been sneaking it all month. One of the bags Bill bought came with strawberry Twizzlers. I noticed the flavor of the Twizzlers bled into the chocolate candy. It’s not too offensive, though… and besides, American candy is expected to be too sweet and low quality. Some Germans seem to like it, anyway. I would rather have German chocolate myself, except for the odd Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

I turned on the porch lights and lit the jack o’lanterns at about 5:00 PM and kept them on until about 8:00 PM… I thought maybe some of my neighbors were joining in on the festivities, but I guess not… 😀

Anyway, I did my duty. Halloween is over now… My German friend shared this funny video about Halloween in Germany. It’s in English and pretty damned funny. I recommend that you view it.

The kids who were old enough to speak did not say “Trick or Treat” to me… And since I don’t speak German very well, I didn’t say, “Nice outfit. Happy Halloween!”

Maybe if we’re here next year, we’ll hang up some festive orange lights or something. Or take a trip somewhere else. 😉

Today is All Saints Day, so some folks are home from work. In BW, it’s a holiday, but I don’t think it necessarily is in Hesse, where there aren’t as many Catholics or religious people, in general. The weather is crappy, as it usually is this time of year. What a change from a month ago! If I were the type to play tricks on people, I might have used Bill’s rotting jack o’lantern to make a mess somewhere. But I’ve become very respectable in my old age, so I just dumped it in the brown compost bin.

In one week, Bill will be home, and we’ll be packing to go to Armenia. I look forward to it! Because after that, it’ll be time for Thanksgiving, which is my favorite holiday.


Noyzi the YouTube star… now starring as a “tramp”!

My “street dog”, Noyzo from Kosovo, sitting on the rug next to my computer, striking a pose…

First thing’s first. I’m happy to report that my left eye is back to normal now. It only took a few days, rather than the couple of weeks predicted in the articles and videos on the subject of subconjunctival hemorrhages.

I was going to make one of my usual music videos yesterday, having discovered the wonderful Peggy Lee last week. Well, I shouldn’t say I “discovered” her, per se… I had heard of her. I just never bought much of her music and listened to it intently. That changed last week, when I covered her version of “Blue Moon”, a song I never really had much affection for, until I heard Peggy do it.

One of the three songs I did last week… I ended up buying a big a Peggy Lee album.

After I did a version of Peggy Lee’s cover of “Blue Moon”, I came across her song “He’s a Tramp”, from Lady and the Tramp. I haven’t seen that move in decades, but I am a committed dog lover, and I loved Peggy’s sultry purr. I decided to try it yesterday… and since my eye was only about 90% healed, I had Noyzi from Kosovo star in the video. I happened to have a few candid Noyzi clips from around the house… I thought it would be easy to throw them in a movie made on my new computer. Well… I was wrong. But I did manage to make the video on my older laptop. Below is the end result.

There’s a long instrumental intro… but it’s a short video.

It was sheer luck that his wiggly butt matched the tempo of the song. It was hard to manipulate the clips on the laptop, since I don’t have a magic mouse for it. I need to research how to fix the settings on my computer so I don’t have the same issue adding clips to my videos on the desktop machine in the future. I think it has something to do with permissions. Whatever it is, it’s a highly annoying problem, especially when I just want to make a quick video without a lot of fuss. I wish I were more of a technical guru.

Here’s a fun factoid. Noyzi loves watching videos, especially if they have any type of animal in it. He will watch animals of any species whatsoever, but he especially likes watching other dogs. When I played the animated version of “He’s a Tramp” just to hear how Peggy Lee did it, Noyzi came in and stood next to me. He was watching the video of Peg, the shelter dog, singing about the Tramp who broke doggy hearts with no compunction.

I wouldn’t say our Noyzi is really a “tramp”. He’s actually the best behaved dog we’ve ever had, in spite of his being a “street dog”. He’s clean and very quiet, and never has accidents in the house. He doesn’t get into the trash or break into the basement. Most of the time, I barely know he’s here. He loves people, car rides, other dogs, and seeing and doing new things, and he doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. I just thought his cute little tail wag would be perfect for that song! And it gave me an excuse not to put on makeup for my weekly music video.

By the way… my guitar playing is coming along. I might even be ready to do a guitar video soon. I just have to iron out some technical issues first.


Really fun wine stand last week…

I didn’t get a chance to write about last Friday’s wine stand, because I was too busy blogging about our big trip up north. It was an unusually fun wine stand, though, so I figure I might as well offer a quick post about it.

Last Friday night (July 7th), it was really hot outside. We got there early, having brought Noyzi with us. I was thinking we’d have a couple of glasses of wine and go home and have some of the cake I baked for Bill’s birthday. We managed to snag a seat under the tent, which was really nice.

After a short while, our landlord’s wife showed up with some friends. We ended up hanging out with them for awhile. I like our landlord’s wife. She’s a very nice person, always friendly and kind, and she refers to us as her neighbors, rather than her tenants.

I ended up telling her that I am a singer, and she heard a couple of my songs, including one I did for Bill on the occasion of his 59th birthday. She warned me about the upcoming dust we would be experiencing this week, as all of the windows were replaced in our house.

Indeed, this week was a real challenge. I wrote about it in the main blog, and because it was largely a negative experience, dealing with local craftsmen who were very ill mannered, I’ll leave that part out of this post. But anyway, it was a nice time bonding with our neighbors, all of whom are very nice.

The wine was good and the company was excellent… and best of all, Noyzi had a blast. He’s really getting the hang of the wine stands. Below are some photos of Bill’s favorite– Blackout Cake. I think we still have some left. Maybe I’ll have some while he shops for a new battery for my car. He’s finally getting around to fixing it today.

And below are a few photos from the wine stand… They’re pretty much the same photos I always seem to take. But not all wine stands are created equally. Last week’s was very good! COVID-19 has made me realize how much we enjoy the community events in our village. We sure did miss the wine stands during the pandemic.

I may not be good for much… but I can bake a mean cake, and sing a nice song. Below is the song I did for Bill’s birthday. He loved it!

I wasn’t expecting to do this song for Bill… learned it on a whim. You can see our old windows. Those have been replaced and are now white. They’re great windows, but I hope I never see those craftsmen again.

It’s kind of overcast today, so I’m not sure if we’ll get out and do anything. I’m just hoping we can get my car running again. Maybe we’ll be able to drive it somewhere. 😉


Milking MLK weekend for all it’s worth…

I can’t believe we’re already in the middle of January 2023. Time sure is flying. Ordinarily, we would have used Martin Luther King Day weekend for a short trip somewhere. But we haven’t been living in ordinary times for awhile now. Last year, we had COVID to deal with. This year, it’s Arran’s cancer.

Actually, we probably could have gone somewhere. He’s not so ill that he can’t be boarded. All he needs is Prednisolone every other day, a vet visit every other week, and Endoxan twice a week, every other week. This week, he just got the Prednisolone, which would have been easy for our regular boarding facility to manage. I just don’t want to board him if I can avoid it, because I know he’d rather be with us.

Noyzi loves being boarded, but I don’t want to drop him off and take Arran with us. That’s a hassle. Taking Noyzi with us is also difficult, because takes up the whole back end of our car. It’s better if he gets boarded. It’s hard to shop when the dog takes up all the cargo space. At this point, we have plans to go to Stuttgart at the end of March. The dogs will be boarded for that.

It was a lot easier to travel when we had Zane, as he and Arran could share the back seat. Zane also didn’t mind going to the potty on the leash. We did manage to get Noyzi to poop on the leash when we took him to France, but it took awhile. On the other hand, Zane was a lot louder and naughtier than Noyzi is. We were more likely to get yelled at by locals when we traveled with Zane.

The weather in Germany was pretty gloomy this weekend. We’ve had rain every day. While it’s not super cold, it is pretty windy and blustery. I still have a touch of cabin fever and would like to get out and do something fun. Then I look at the depressing weather and decide to hibernate.

It’s not all bad, though. I used the fireplace last night, which is always nice. I wish we had seating in the living room that makes the fireplace easy to enjoy. I like this house a lot, but the downstairs layout could be better. The living room is like two rooms that open into the dining room.

I was thinking the other day… I’d like to turn the dining room into an extension of the kitchen. Put in a pantry and a wine fridge, and move our spare fridge upstairs. Maybe install a kitchen island. and more counter space, and put in a door to block the kitchen from the living room. Too bad this isn’t my house and I don’t have tons of money. 😉

Bill and I spent the weekend watching movies, listening to music, drinking wine, and talking. He tried out making calzones with the empanada makers I got him for Christmas. They tasted good, although his presentation technique needs some polish. I’m sure he’ll get a chance to practice. He also tried a couple of new recipes from one of the cookbooks I got him.

I have been giving some thought to places we’d like to visit this year… I know Bill wants to go to Spain and/or Portugal again. I’d like to go to the Baltics, or maybe Finland. I’d also like to visit Brno in the Czech Republic. There are more exotic places we’d like to go, as well. They would require flying, which I’m still not sure I want to do unless I have to. I do know, however, that I’d like to venture out beyond the usual countries… France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, and the like.

For now, though… we’re at home. At least Bill got lots of sleep, which he really needs. Below are some photos… The first, second, and fourth are of the calzone experiment. The fifth is of some Bearnaise Sauce Bill tried to make using a new recipe out of a Michel Roux cookbook I bought him.

The last photo is a bottle of wine a friend bought that comes from, a winery in the Pfalz. They have lots of wines with funny names. There’s one called Bullshit, and another called If You’re a Terrorist, Racist, or Just an Asshole, Don’t Drink My Wine. I could list more, but some of the names are really long and I have another blog post to type. I’m thinking of ordering a bunch. If we’d had nicer weather, maybe we would have paid them a visit. Their outfit is about 80 minutes away from us.

I’d really like to kick the travel blog back into gear in 2023, although I don’t have plans to publicize it much. I can see there are a lot of people who are better at this than I am… and make YouTube videos, and shit. I just put songs on YouTube. 😉

laws, trip planning

Firenze, Italy sends Bill New Year’s greetings…

Some of my regular travel blog readers might recall that Bill and I took a trip to Italy last spring. I blogged about the trip in sixteen parts, which also included stops in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. We visited Parma, Modena, Florence, Pisa, Viareggio, and several adorable towns in Tuscany, as we visited several Chianti Classico wineries. That was the most recent of our more epic European trips, and I’ve found myself looking back on it wistfully. I am REALLY in need of a trip somewhere. But other events are in the way, to include our dog Arran’s chemotherapy, which is still going surprisingly well.

I’ve even been giving some thought to visiting Italy again in 2023. I follow the Meet the Wengers YouTube channel, which is a family vlog run by an American woman named Katie, who married a German man. They have three adorable and apparently well-behaved children. Recently, she posted some videos about the family’s fall trip to Verona, a city I haven’t yet visited in Italy. Her videos make me want to go there and explore.

One of a few videos the Wengers have done about Verona… Now I want to go, too.

Well, yesterday, Bill got a reminder of our most recent trip to Italy. It came in the form of a traffic ticket. We drove to Florence, mainly because we wanted to bring some food and wines back to Germany, and because I didn’t want to deal with flying, due to the pandemic. Having a car makes travel in Europe a little bit more liberated, as it means not being dictated by timetables or established routes. However, car travel comes with its own hazards, which include traffic cameras that take photos of those who break the rules.

In our case, the infraction occurred on April 27, 2022, when Bill mistakenly drove our Volvo through a restricted area. It seems that many towns in certain Italian cities don’t allow non-residents to drive on certain streets. We had a bunch of bags, since we were on a long trip. The hotel we stayed in was on the third floor of a building and kind of hard to find. Bill was disoriented as to where we were supposed to go, although it turned out there was a very large parking garage near the hotel.

Long story short, the cameras caught Bill driving where he wasn’t supposed to go. Naturally, we were both completely oblivious to the infraction. Some Italian cities that have these rules against non-residents driving on restricted streets, will allow travelers to register their vehicles before their arrival. I think the city of Bologna is one of those places. Bologna is another city I haven’t yet seen. Maybe we’ll go there next time and avoid Florence! 😉

Yesterday, Bill had to sign for a letter at the post office on our local military installation. It was in a window envelope, and came from the city of Firenze. Inside the envelope was the notification of the driving infraction, written in both Italian and English, and a complete rundown of the law that was broken. There was also a schedule of the fines to be paid. It’s 68 euros if Bill pays within six days. If he delays payment between 6 and 60 days, it goes up to about 95 euros. If he doesn’t pay within 60 days, it goes up to 176 euros.

At first, Bill thought the ticket read that he would have had to have paid within six days of the infraction, but obviously he hadn’t been notified at that time. Upon closer examination, he read that he can still pay the reduced fine, since he just got notice. It’s done via bank transfer, as most things here are.

We’re just glad this didn’t happen in Switzerland, as the fines are probably a lot higher there… but they probably also come within a couple of weeks, rather than several months, routed through The Netherlands. I don’t know why the ticket went through The Netherlands. Maybe it’s because the ticketing agency is outsourced.

I just took down all the Christmas decorations. I’m glad to have that yearly chore done. It’s a lot easier to take the decorations down than put them up; and for that, I’m grateful. However, I always find it a little sad to see my living room in its normal state. I like the homey look created by the Christmas lights. On the other hand, it’s less to have to deal with, and I also look forward to more daylight and better weather. I’m definitely ready to have some fun! So now, on with making some travel plans for 2023! We’ll be more careful about where we drive and park, next time!

Edited to add: The day after I posted this, Bill got a second ticket from Firenze for the same offense. He drove through that historic area twice! I’m glad he moved to a different area after dropping me off. Both tickets, paid at the lowest rate, were about 60 euros each– so, 120 euros for driving in the wrong places in Italy. Expensive lesson learned.


Farewell to 2022… hello to 2023!

Bill took the featured photo today, after walking the dogs. Apparently, there were a bunch of people in the Dorfplatz, making merry as the year changed…

Well, well, well… another Silvester is now in the books. Thanks to the loosening of COVID restrictions, the locals were allowed to set off fireworks again last night. It started here as the sun set We could hear them popping in the distance. Poor Noyzi was pretty scared, although Arran, as usual, wasn’t bothered at all.

At about 7:00 PM, we tried to convince Noyzi to pee outside. I knew it was going to get really crazy later, so I wanted him to go. But people were setting off fireworks even at that hour, which really spooked him. Bill tried to talk him into going, but he refused. He finally relented when I put him on a leash and took him to a corner of the yard where he usually goes. I stood outside with him, and listened to the popping. Finally, after about twenty minutes, he relaxed and did his business. Good thing he did it, too, because he really needed to go.

After that, we sat at the Eckbank Gruppe and listened to music. Noyzi curled up under the table a couple of times, but spent of the evening in his “room”, where his bed is. That’s where he spends most of his time. Arran, as usual, stayed with us. He’s our Velcro dog, and seems to get energy from snuggling… especially with Bill.

When it was midnight, there were fireworks going off everywhere. Our new neighbors were in the street with their kids, setting off all manner of explosives. I videoed some of their antics, although at some point, the video went into slow motion. That was definitely unintentional. I was surprised it wasn’t more crazy than it was. I’ve seen rowdier New Year’s Eves, although they were further to the south, where people are a little more provincial. 😉

We had pretty warm weather last night, too, which is unusual for Germany. I was able to comfortably be outside barefoot and without a sweater. That should probably concern me, but it made for easy viewing of the fireworks. I think people in Hessen are a little more sensible about fireworks than people near Stuttgart are. I may be wrong, though… It probably depends on the neighborhood.

My attempts to take still photos of the fireworks weren’t very successful or interesting, or else I would share them here. But below is a video…

This was the scene in our neighborhood last night!

Well, that about sums up our New Year’s Eve. I’m always kind of glad when the holidays are over, even though I dread taking down the decorations. I find the holidays kind of exhausting, even though it’s just Bill and me and the dogs celebrating. I also think I get kind of tired of how dark it stays here at this time of year. In any case, I’m just glad there’s no drama over here… just lots of food, drinks, music, and loud popping.

Bill is now preparing our New Year’s Day feast. I think he gets tomorrow off, so we’ll probably take care of some more chores. I think he’s going to put together my new office chair, which comes equipped with heat and massage functions. He sure is good to me.

I hope you had a very nice New Year’s Eve, and I wish you the best during this new year… health, wealth, safety, and happiness.



Here’s a quick post for this week, which I have mostly spent alone, because Bill has been on his latest Bavarian TDY adventure. We got snow yesterday, and the temperatures have been wicked cold. In the four years we’ve lived in Breckenheim, we haven’t really had a proper snow… until yesterday, that is. And it wasn’t a lot of snow, but the temperatures are so cold that I think it’s going to stick around at least for today. That’s unusual for this area, at least during this era of global warming.

When we lived in Jettingen, we usually got a lot more snow in the winter, and sometimes it would hang around for weeks. But up here, when it snows, there isn’t a lot, and it’s usually gone by the end of the day. I know that’s not how it’s been historically, but that’s how it’s been since we moved here. In fact, it’s so cold that I’m actually considering buying myself a new coat. Of course, it might turn out to be a waste of money, since it really doesn’t get cold here as a general rule. On the other hand, there are a lot of other places in Europe that get cold, and we can always travel.

Arran doesn’t have to go to the vet this week. For the first time since mid October, he gets a break from IV push cancer meds. He doesn’t get any “cancer” drugs this week, other than his regular steroids every other day. He’s still taking Prednisolone, though, which makes him kind of a pain to deal with, due to the side effects of the drug. Still, he’s plugging away. He didn’t get a walk yesterday, but we just took a short one this morning to give him a chance to poop and Noyzi a chance to stimulate himself. I took a few photos.

Our weekly market is going on today, even though it’s cold and icy. I probably won’t visit it, though, because the landlord is having a new dishwasher installed for us this afternoon.

Today is my last full day alone, as we’re expecting Bill back tomorrow. He will be a sight for sore eyes. I’ve been lonely… and Arran gets me up at least twice a night to go outside and to beg for treats. 😉

I made a new video, too… this one was inspired by my former shrink, who loves this song. As I am about to celebrate yet another Christmas far from my home in America, I’m reminded of my family. I do miss them.

I would have done it live on camera, but decided to redo the vocals and couldn’t be arsed to film myself again. Arran’s face looks weird in that still. That’s not how he looks in person.

Below are some pictures from today’s walk. The fiberglass internet guy came by the other day, rudely waking me from the nap I really needed and was about to take. I don’t think I looked very friendly when I answered the door. 😀

trip planning

Chasing lakes and waterfalls in Aus-cro-slo-aus… part one

So much natural beauty… almost all to ourselves…

I may live to regret titling this particular trip series as I have. At the moment, I’m having trouble coming up with a snappy name for my latest vacation blog series. It might be because my brain is still scrambled by the whirlwind of four countries Bill and I have traversed since October 26th. It could also be because the time has changed. Additionally, I’m still a bit peeved about today’s lunch, which I’ll probably bitch about on my other blog, since I like to keep the travel blog somewhat “PG-rated”.

People who regularly follow this blog may know that Bill and I finally took our 2021 vacation. It was not a small undertaking to plan this trip, or even decide where to go. Gone are the days when we could just choose a destination on a whim. These days, we have to pay attention to COVID-19 rules and regulations, which seem to change daily, as well as infection trends. I feel like I’m back at South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control, working for the Bureau of Epidemiology, where it was once my job to translate the results of chronic disease trend statistics into laymen’s terms. Thanks to my current career as an “overeducated housewife”, those days are long behind me… or, at least I don’t get paid to do them anymore.

As of about an hour ago, our vacation ended, as we walked into our house and I caught a whiff of the rotting avocado and mozzarella cheese in the refrigerator. At first, I was afraid someone forgot to flush the toilet before we left town! The dogs will be picked up in a couple of hours; hopefully, they are both fine. I sure have missed them… I really mean that, even though taking them with us on trips isn’t exactly easy to do, especially now that we have big Noyzi, and Arran has become a cranky old codger.

So how did I choose a trip to Austria, Croatia, and Slovenia, then back to Austria? At first, it wasn’t in the plans. Originally, I had been looking at going to The Netherlands. I kept getting enticing ads on Facebook, particularly for a very upscale looking property in Zeeland. I must admit that the prospect of enjoying some legal weed was also somewhat appealing. But then I started thinking about how much I’d like to go to France and Belgium, too. I started trying to design an itinerary that would allow us to get the most bang for our bucks and the time Bill got off from work. I kept getting bogged down in and frustrated by minutiae, as I realized that the places I wanted to go weren’t all that convenient to each other. Accommodations were also kind of pricey. And then, I had a sudden flashback to 2015, when our return to Europe was still new and exciting…

Several years ago, when COVID-19 was a mere nightmarish fantasy in the back of a mad scientist’s or Hollywood screenplay writer’s most warped mind, I saw an enticing video on YouTube made by a user who called herself heyannalise. She made entertaining clips about traveling in Europe. Back in May 2015, she made one about her visit to the Krka National Park in Croatia. I was enchanted by the scenery in her video, which I am sharing below…

No… this is not where we went. I tried to get us tickets to the Krka National Park, but was unsuccessful. You have to buy them at least a day in advance, and all of the tickets were sold out for when we were in Croatia and had time to go… We will try to come back for an experience like Annalise had.

Somehow, even though I was enthralled by Annalise’s video, Bill and I never got around to visiting Croatia, even though we’ve now been in Europe for ages… I kept meaning to go, and we did once take a “joyride” to Pula, Croatia while we were visiting Trieste, Italy in May 2016. But we never managed to actually book a real trip there that involved staying overnight. Time moved on from 2015, and I pushed thoughts of Croatia to the back burner, even though my Croatian friend, Boris, who organizes trips to Croatia, kept wanting me to go and blog about the experience. The timing just never seemed to work out for us, or there was somewhere else I wanted to see that was more pressing or convenient.

As I was planning our most recent trip, thinking about France, Belgium, and The Netherlands, I couldn’t help noticing a nagging thought in the back of my head, reminding me how much I had been wanting to visit Croatia to see waterfalls and lakes. Since I managed to nag Bill into taking a lot of days off work, I realized that we finally had enough time to really enjoy ourselves and see a lot, and that meant it made sense to finally take the plunge and go to Croatia. I also knew I could break up the trip into manageable and affordable blocks, and that was a real plus. My days of wanting to drive eight hours straight to cram in life experiences are long done, and I don’t need much encouragement to overspend on fancy hotels. I also have no desire to fly during the age of COVID-19 unless it’s absolutely unavoidable.

By the time I was ready to go to Croatia, I had forgotten where Annalise had actually gone. I went on Google and started searching… and somehow, instead of Krka National Park, I wound up finding the Plitvice Lakes. Now… there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with going to Croatia just to see the Plitvice Lakes. They are stunning and mesmerizing, and you will definitely get plenty of exercise and fill your camera with exquisite photos of magical scenery. But we were down there for four nights, and Krka National Park is only about a 90 minute drive from where we stayed. It would have been nice to combine the two experiences, although now we have a good reason to visit Croatia again and do a LOT more exploring. It really is a beautiful and easy to travel country, especially for English speakers. And… we haven’t been to the coast yet, to see all the towns that tourists flock to during the summer months. We have a good reason to go back to Croatia, now.

Anyway, once I’d decided on Croatia, it was time to plan for a visit somewhere else within proximity. I recalled that while we were visiting Trieste in 2016, we also visited Lake Bled in Slovenia. I remember being totally enchanted by beautiful Lake Bled and the other areas in Slovenia we visited on that trip. I also specifically remembered Slovenians telling Bill and me that we should visit Lake Bohinj, as it was even better than Bled is, and less touristy. Realizing that Bohinj was maybe 4 or 5 hours from the Plitvice Lakes area, I determined that it would be a great second stop on our trip. We could spend another four nights there.

The cities where we chose our visits in Austria were mostly down to being practical. We decided to stop in Wels, Austria on the way down to Croatia because it was about halfway to where our final destination would be, and Bill and I didn’t want to stay in Linz or Passau, which are cities we’ve both already visited. Ditto to our stop in Salzburg. Every time we’ve gone to Slovenia– we also went to Kranjska Gora, Slovenia last year to pick up Noyzi— we’ve stopped in Salzburg, because it’s convenient. It’s also a great town to visit, although on our other two trips, we’ve only spent a night there and neglected to properly enjoy the city.

We did take a day trip to Salzburg in May 2012, when we did our very first military hop, and we got to see the city on that trip. But we visited Salzburg from Munich instead of staying there overnight, and that sharply limited our ability to see a lot. I also remember getting caught in a sudden late spring thunderstorm that day, so we ended up ducking back into the restaurant where we had lunch (ham and asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce), and drinking lots of beer and Schnapps! I remember the proprietor was quite pleased with us giving him more business. I think that restaurant has since closed down, which is a pity. We sure enjoyed going there.

Ever since that day trip in 2012, I had been wanting to go back to Salzburg. Russian buskers had made me cry there, and I saw some beautiful Friesian horses… But every time we’ve stayed in Salzburg overnight, we’ve been rushing to or from somewhere else, so this time, I decided we’d spend two nights.

With all of the cities chosen, I went looking for places to stay. Wels, Austria, it turns out, is a very pleasant and attractive city, but it’s not particularly exciting or noteworthy. I noticed they had catfish there. There are museums to see, and the downtown area is nice. But I didn’t find any cute places to rent. Consequently, we ended up booking Hotel Ploberger for two nights, which is supposedly the best hotel in town. I was amused by their very aggressive sales tactics, right on their own Web site. For the other three stops, I booked homes privately managed by hosts I found on Not only was that safer in terms of COVID-19, it was also more convenient. Lake Bohinj and the Plitvice Lakes areas are both chock full of apartments and homes to rent. I would say there are more private residences for renting than hotel rooms, although they do exist. And in Salzburg, I chose to rent a place owned by a musician/music producer. That was mainly because I am myself a musician. I will write a lot more about all of the properties as the series gets underway… and as we were gone for twelve nights, it’s bound to be a long one.

We had a fantastic time on our trip, and I look forward to detailing the blow by blow, even if Bill and I are the only ones who read it. So, now that the introduction is done, on with my blog series on the trip down to Aus-Cro-Slo-Aus. Hope you enjoy the ride.