Monday, July 24, 2017

Partying with Germans!

Last night, the neighbor two doors down from us held a party for the neighborhood.  They planned this gathering several weeks ago.  I found an invite in German with a handwritten note in English asking us to join them.  We were asked to bring something to grill and a salad.  Bill cooked ribs on the grill at home and made a minted cucumber salad, which was really good.  He also brought a few of his homebrews.

Quite a few of our neighbors speak English, so we weren't without people to talk to.  Bill speaks some German and I understand more and more every day, although I still don't speak it.  It was nice to hang out with these people we've been living among for the past three years.

Bill bonded with the host when he shared his latest homemade beer, a red ale.  The host liked it, although his daughter tried it and I don't think she was all that impressed.  I have a feeling Bill will be teaching him how to brew beer.  We learned that the host and his wife and kids lived in Boston for a few years, so they are quite familiar with us Yanks.

Unfortunately, Bill got to talking beer with the host while we were heating up the ribs, so they got a bit overdone.  Next time, we'll bring wurst or something.

It was actually kind of interesting talking to the neighbors, especially the lady who lives next door to us.  I learned that she was a nurse for years.  She doesn't speak much English, though she speaks more English than I do German.  I learned that she was athletic as a youngster and likes to sing, as I do.  And another neighbor is an opera singer.  I've been known to sing a few arias myself.

Having great neighbors is a huge plus.  I haven't gotten to know the people in our neighborhood, but they've been tolerant and respectful of us.  And now that we've partied with them, I think the mood will be even better.  It will certainly be better than it was in Texas.  Every day in July, when I look at Facebook's "On this day" feature, I am reminded of the hell that was July 2014, as we were planning to move to Germany and I was recovering from my dad's death.  I must admit that it was absolutely worth it to move back here.  

This was one of the beers our hosts offered us.  It was an excellent dark beer.  We'll have to find it sometime.

Bill starts a new job today... well, it's not a new job in that he's working in the same office with the same people.  It's just a new company.  So this week, he and his other colleagues who are joining the new company will be doing all of the administrative stuff that comes with starting a new job.  I will need a new ID card, which is always a pleasure...  NOT.  But at least I'll get to see Bill during the day sometime this week.

As we were socializing last night, I was reminded of how glad I am we didn't have to move this year. Germany is really feeling more and more like home, which is sad, since I know I will someday have to leave.  Oh well... for now, we will enjoy our good fortune.  

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Kelten-fest! Nagold, July 2017

Today, Bill and I decided to go to Nagold and visit the Kelten-fest.  Seems to me Kelten-fest is held every other year, but I could be wrong.  We were here for the one in 2015, but we never managed to get there when it was happening.  Since we are of Celtic origin ourselves, we made a point of going this year.  The fest is held in a large area near the river in Nagold.  One area is host to tents where crafts are made and sold.  Another area is where Highland games are held and musicians play.

In order to take part in the fun, you have to pay an entry fee.  A regular daily ticket is 6 euros, though if you buy the "Festkarte", it's 10 euros.  Go after five o'clock, and the price drops to 4 euros.  Kids under age 18 who are with their parents are free.

After we paid and got our blue wristbands, we wandered around and checked out the sights and scenes.  Celtic music played on a sound system as lads and lasses in kilts and other Celtic garb took part in the games, drank beer, ate food, or otherwise cavorted.  I kind of wished we had kilts.  Next time we go to Scotland, we'll have to get outfitted.

The "kasse", where you purchase your tickets.  If you go now, you won't pay full price for today.

Helpful map points, not that it's easy to get lost.

I was feeling too shy to pull out my good camera at this point, but it finally came out later.  These folks were participating in the Highland Games.  They had several different ones going on...

A pig was roasting nearby.  There were also people smoking salmon on wooden planks.  Those who preferred wurst and sauerkraut were also in luck! 

They were carrying this pole and running through a maze of trees...

And in this area, there were folks tossing poles.  Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to watch much of this event.

Across the way, there were craftsmen and women creating and selling their wares.  There were even a few animals.   

Chilled out goats and a cow.

Blacksmith, doing it old school style.

Chickens!  There was also a very lazy pig in the next pen, but I didn't manage to get a shot.

As you can see, lots to see and do and plenty of people dressed the part.

I had to take a couple of wildflower shots, too.  Time to update my Facebook cover.

Bill buys us a couple of black beers made by Hochdorfer, the local brewery.

We got larges.  Be warned, the pfand for these beers is very high...  five euros!  If you get a small beer, it's only one euro.  Bill gave this guy twenty euros and when we turned in our glasses, we got ten euros back.  

Cool glass, though...

This was a "steak" sandwich.  I think it was pork and it had ketchup on it.  It was pretty good and not too much.  It pays to remember that steak is actually a cut and not necessarily a hunk of beef.

Now this was the culmination of our fun...

Obviously still photos wouldn't do, so I took a video.  See below.

And a video of the Battle on the Water!

If you have young kids, you might enjoy taking them to Nagold's playground.  It's pretty cool.  Literally, it's cool...  There's also mini golf and a really awesome public pool that wasn't too crowded and looked really inviting.  Hmmm... maybe we should go back!

After we walked around a bit more, we headed to Der Weinladen and picked up a few bottles of wine for the weekend.  Then we had some ice cream at Panorama.  While we were eating these ice cream sundaes, which were loaded with liqueur, by the way, we ran into a lady who always walks her pug along the same route we do with our dogs.  I felt like a total native as we said hello!  And tomorrow, we've been invited to a neighborhood party... our first in three years of living here (and in fact, we were not invited to any parties last time we lived here, either).

These hit the spot!

On the way out of Nagold, we stopped by the Edeka and I ran in to get some tequila and ice cream.  While I was standing in the "schnell line", which wasn't actually very "schnell", I had the chance to check out the cigarette packages.  I noticed that here in Germany, it's not enough to put warnings on the labels.  And it's not enough to make the labels huge.  They have to put pictures of people with stomas, cancer, and other cigarette induced maladies on the packages.  I must say, it make me laugh ruefully.  People will still buy their cigarettes.  Seriously, if you live in Germany or have a chance to visit, check out the cigarette packs.  Crazy stuff!

I think Denis Leary says it best about smoking, right?  Although I am not a smoker myself...  Just so you know, this video is probably NSFW.  

We had a great time at the Kelten-fest.  I'm glad we went.  I hope we'll be around for the next one.  Maybe then, we'll even wear kilts!  

Sunday, July 16, 2017

We're through being cool... a silver mine in the Black Forest

Bill and I are always looking for new things to try on our Sundays.  Recently, one of Bill's soon to be departed co-workers passed along a tip for us.  Not far from the cute little town of Neubulach is a silver mine, which also has an "asthma treatment" area within it.  I happen to suffer from asthma, which means recovering from colds and flu is a real bitch for me.  Unfortunately, the asthma treatment is not operating during the month of July.  However, from May to October, one can visit the silver mine.

Good mood music for this post...

Since I love walking into mountains, I figured it would be good fun to visit the silver mine today.  It's not far from where we live in Unterjettingen-- maybe twenty minutes, tops.  After a short drive through some pretty forested country, we arrived at the mine.

The grand sign.  We parked near here, but you can actually drive a bit down the road and park closer.  Parking costs nothing.  The walk down to the mine takes about ten minutes and is downhill.  That means when you come back, it will be uphill.  Keep that in mind as you decide where to park.

There are actually a few things to do in the area, as Bill is discovering.

If you want to, you can hike up the hill to the town or a mini golf course.

Or you can take a 45 minute walk on the Fledermaus (bat) trail.  We skipped the trail because I didn't feel like climbing hills, but I might try it on another day.  Looks like there's a nice creek you can wade in.

Helmets and capes are waiting for visitors.

I was a bit hungry on arrival, so we had a snack.  While Bill was ordering, I took a look at what was on display.  The shop has things for sale as well as exhibits.

Not a bad little museum!

We had beer, wurst, and broetchen.

Then we walked around the grounds as we waited for our guide.

Something for the kids to check out.

Finally, it was time to don our helmets and capes for the tour.  You might not think the helmets are necessary, but I'm here to tell you; all of the red helmets for adults were pretty scuffed up.  It's not from falling rocks as much as it is from low ceilings.  I'm only 5'2" and I had to duck a couple of times.  Bill hit his helmet a few times, too.

Bill reacts to my quip when he puts on his helmet...

"We're through being cool!"  (You probably either need to be a certain age or a big geek to get this joke...)

The cape is handy for keeping your clothes from getting wet.  Or for completing the Devo look.

On our way...

The mine has silver, but it also has azurite and malachite.  I should mention that this tour was done in German.  Our guide was a young lass who spoke perfect high German and enunciated very clearly.  I still only caught a small percentage of what she said.  That was a surprise, though, because I wasn't expecting to understand even that much!

You can spot these little guys throughout the tour.

I got a kick out of this one.

The silver mine tour runs for about 40 minutes.  I enjoyed it, even though it was in German and my German sucks.  On the other hand, I recently started doing Duolingo again and the word "tief", which is used a lot during this tour, was one of the vocabulary words.  So I will probably never forget that word because it was used in a practical instance.

Since we decided not to try the bat trail, we headed back to the car...  It was an uphill jaunt to get there, but at least my muscles weren't sore.

Very close to the mine is a the cute town of Neubulach.  Bill managed to find us a Brauhaus.  Because of our snack before the mine tour, we weren't wanting any food.  But we did stop in for some beer, which is apparently brewed on the premises and is very good.  Since we live close to the Brauhaus Roessle, we'll have to come back.  They have live music sometimes, too.

The bartender was friendly and efficient.  We sat inside, although there is a nice biergarten area outside.  Food is offered without pause.  

Bill checks out the choices.

They offer seasonal beers, but the one for July wasn't available today.

Halloween maybe?

I had a Kellerpils...

and a hefeweizen.  Bill had a fest beer.

I was charmed by this cute little town.  It reminded me of rural France.

We'll definitely have to go back and discover more about it.

They even have this...

The silver mine was very interesting.  We learned that this area actually has a number of mines, some of which are evidently open to visitors.  While the tour was in German, it was still pretty neat to see the inside of the mine and the surrounding nature.  I can't believe we've been living in the Stuttgart area for a total of five years over two tours and just heard of this place last week.  Kudos to Bill's buddy, Tim, for pointing this attraction out to us.

If you're looking for a kid friendly activity for a Sunday, the silver mine might be a good bet, even if you have to exercise your budding German skills.