Sunday, August 21, 2016

Last minute getaway to Ulm: Part one

A few days ago, I was feeling really stir crazy in our little village.  I really wanted a change of scenery.  Bill is going on a business trip next weekend, so I knew that if I wanted to go somewhere, we probably needed to do it this weekend.  Bill was game when I mentioned the idea of taking another quick trip with our dogs, Zane and Arran.

Originally, I was planning a weekend in Strasbourg, France.  Bill and I have been there before, but it was several years ago and only for a quick walk around the downtown and lunch.  Now that we live so close to Strasbourg again, I thought it was time we went and spent a night or two.  But then Bill told me that he didn't have his passport because he was getting a visa for his trip next week.  So I turned my attention to Germany and started looking for places we could visit that wouldn't require a lot of time on the road.  I finally settled on Ulm.

A friend of mine who just left Stuttgart was in Ulm a few weeks ago.  She posted some photos on Facebook that made it look like a beautiful place.  Ulm is also not very far from Stuttgart, yet it offers a different vibe.  It's one of those cities Bill and I have passed many times but never managed to stop in for a visit.

I wanted to find us a hotel that was pet friendly and offered parking.  It didn't have to be free parking;  I just wanted a place where we would be close to our lodging.  I booked us at the Lobinger Weisses Ross, a hotel in a suburb of Ulm called Langenau.  It offered free parking, free breakfast, free Internet, and was very pet friendly.  It got good reviews on Trip Advisor, too.  Friday evening, after Bill got home from work, we set off for Langenau and our getaway near Ulm.



Traffic on A8 headed toward Ulm was light.  Headed toward Stuttgart, things were a lot busier!

We got to Langenau at about 7:30pm.  Parked in front of the hotel was a large tourbus.  I also saw many SUVs.  This Weisses Ross hotel is popular because it's not far from Legoland.  Indeed, there were a lot of people booked at the hotel and many folks had their kids.  I happened to catch a glimpse of the playroom the hotel has for little ones.  It was very impressive.

Bill checked us in to the hotel and we headed up to our room, 350.  The hotel is pretty huge and initially, I went the wrong way.  The guy who checked us in had to redirect us.  He did not speak English, but it was no big deal since Bill can speak some German.  

We got to our room, which was right next to the elevator.  It was tiny with a bed that I think was probably just a full.  I eyed it warily, knowing that it was going to be a tight squeeze.  The bathroom, by comparison, was kind of big.  It had a small shower that got good water pressure.  We had a rather unimpressive view of the church next door and the rooftops of adjoining buildings.  There was a small refrigerator that was so well hidden that I would have missed it if Bill hadn't pointed it out.  There was also a pretty good flatscreen TV. 


Little bed.


Little shower, but it got good pressure.


Our view.

Bill and I were hungry, so we decided to search for some dinner.  On the way out of the hotel, the dogs caught sight of a huge Irish Wolfhound who was parked under a table in the hotel's restaurant.  They both went nuts.  I endured the shame of their superloud barking as they pulled me out of the lobby to the outside.  We walked the dogs around town to give them a chance to burn off a little steam and calm down enough so we could have some dinner.  

Finally, we sat down at the Italia Restaurant, which was located right next to the hotel.  At first, things were okay.  The dogs sat down and relaxed.  We ordered some wine and water.  I decided on grilled salmon and potatoes for dinner, while Bill ordered a veal dish.


High hopes for a peaceful dinner!



The dogs tried to relax...


I think the tables and chairs were in what serves as the restaurant's parking lot during the colder months.


Bill tries the house red, while I enjoy a white...

For some reason, service was pretty slow at the restaurant.  It took a very long time for us to get our food.  Although we tried to relax and enjoy the pleasant summer evening, we were constantly on edge, worried about Zane and Arran making a scene.  They were doing pretty well until a scraggly looking stranger with extreme body odor and lots of Jack Wolfskin camping gear sat down at a table next to us.  

My dog, Zane, is everybody's friend and paid the hairy man no mind.  Arran, on the other hand, took an immediate disliking to the stranger and started barking furiously at the guy.  I have to admit, I kind of couldn't blame Arran.  The guy seemed kind of shifty.  He spoke Italian to the wait staff, although he appeared to be German.  He kept trying to pet Zane and was making faces at the kids sitting behind Bill. 


My grilled salmon was pretty good, even though it took awhile to get to me.


Bill was a lot less satisfied with his veal, which he said was full of gristle.  Veal is one of those foods I don't eat, so I didn't try it myself.

Once we were finished with dinner, we had to wait a long time for the check.  I was getting agitated because of our aromatic neighbor, who kept trying to disturb the dogs rather than just petting them once and leaving them alone.  He was giving both Bill and me the creeps; he seemed like the kind of guy who might be up to no good.  The wicker chairs had also left painful imprints on the backs of my thighs.  I should have worn pants!

Although we'd had a fairly short and uneventful drive to Langenau, I really just wanted to pay the bill, take a shower, and go to sleep.  Finally, once we were presented with the check, Bill paid and we walked back to the hotel.  Things were still in full swing there, with lots of people eating dinner outside.  In fact, the hotel was pretty packed with what looked like a fairly geriatric crowd.  Maybe we should have tried to eat dinner at the hotel, although the dogs might have made things interesting.  We did manage to get them back to the room without them making a huge ruckus.


Bill picked up a nice Spanish red at the hotel.  Priced at 32 euros, this was probably not a bargain.  However, Bill did say that the hotel had a pretty good wine list.

The room was a little stuffy, so Bill used the small fan that was in the schrank.  Had it been hot outside, we could have rented a portable air conditioner from the hotel.  I thought that was pretty novel.  I've never seen a hotel that rented air conditioners.  

Sadly, I never did get the WiFi to work.  I ended up having to use my cell phone the whole time we were in Langenau.  Bill said the WiFi did come on sporadically.  They gave us a code to use, but it turned out it wasn't required for getting the signal unrestricted.  Bill managed to use it in the wee hours of the morning, but I had no luck at all. 

We all finally crowded into the full sized bed.  I slept fairly poorly because I had to contort my body around Zane and Arran.  Then, bright and early at 6:00am, the church bells started ringing and sent a surge of adrenaline through my body.  


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