Friday, April 25, 2014

Bad Krozingen and ...

Good Friday, nothing open; Saturday it’s a madhouse in the grocers because Sunday and Monday nothing will be open again until Tuesday. People have family over, cook a good meal and celebrate Easter the way they do Christmas. Carts and carts of goodies went out the door of our local mart today. The cashiers were flying goods through the checkouts. Have I mentioned before that in Europe all the cashiers sit. Makes perfect sense to me, must be hard to stand all day, in fact I know it is, especially in one place. Sitting allows them to slide the product across the scanner easily and it’s faster.  Lineups were probably ten people deep when we went through but it didn’t take long. No impatient people either, sort of the look “well I know it was foolish to come now, but …” It won’t make sense to shop early on Tuesday either, best to give them time to re-stock.

Hope everyone had a great Easter! Ours was quiet and we didn’t even cook, lazy us. Weather was great Thursday but the entire weekend was either windy or rainy or both, Tuesday dawned nice again. Felt sorry for the kids Easter egg hunts, yes, they do that here too, and people attending services. Oh well it’s typical spring.

So we went to a restaurant, (hah, not uncommon for us) the waiter was a newbie I think, being very careful with his trays of drinks.  I ordered a half portion of flammkuchen. It is sort of like a very thin crust pizza, good, but again, too much. So finished about half and asked in German to take away. The server answered in German which I didn’t get and ordered me a complete new one. Did wonder what took so long to wrap it up. I got a bit upset and said no and left. Then I felt bad! Really bad! This restaurant hires many college going kids to serve and I could just envision that this 4.90 euro would come out of his pocket, so it just didn’t feel right at all. We’d just gone down the street so I went back and paid for what is hopefully his dinner tonight. He said in perfect English “I’m so sorry” so probably with my German being terrible and his at the level of being able to serve but not understanding too much different, we didn’t have a hope of truly communicating in German. So came home with no dinner, there is much in the larder so that’s okay. Now, at least, we can go back to the restaurant without any guilt on my part and I didn’t totally ruin his day, or mine!  

While travelling or living in a country where the native language is not English, we need to learn enough to communicate in that language. Bruce and I call it “restaurant lingo”. Although today Bruce was looking for pickling spice, didn’t know the name so went to the pickle aisle and gleened it off a bottle to ask a clerk. It’s sometimes amazing how inventive we can be to find out the right word(s) to use! I know, if I had a smart phone instead of a “dumb” one I could use a translator app off the web. After today’s incident maybe I should get into this century and get one.

We took the regional train to Bad Krozingen, only 15 minutes south of Freiburg. It’s a small spa town and we have been there before but the last time it was raining, this day was sunny.  We had a great walk around the town and lunch. 

They observe the close up shop for German "siesta" around 13:30 so we window shopped. In this area of Germany the shops close to allow the workers to have their main meal - lunch. The large stores do not close, the smaller "mom and pop" stores do.

Yes, it is a pottery shop
Yes, it is a hat shop
No, not a joker shop but a painting on the door going to the toilets, well done in my opinion.
I liked his smile and eyes, maybe her's?
Wooden cat sculptures in a store window, I was tempted! Good timing, the store was closed.
Wow - sunset view from the flat.
There is a big garden show happening at the Mundenhof today so we're going. Last year we took advantage of the bus they put on route, skipped the show and saw the zoo located there. This time we're going to the show because Bruce wants to get a lemon tree with a branch or two of grafted orange. Yah, right, you're not in Sevilla anymore hon! But here's hoping... will let you know.

Cheers, Bx2 & Lexi Cat

Friday, April 18, 2014

Happy Easter!

Yes, you may have seen this before, this was my Happy Easter from Heidelberg 2012, thanks to my blog editors  at the time B & R!

The colds we have/had are certainly overstaying their welcome. Different strain in Europe but we’re getting there.

So glad I asked Christoph about which train to take to Breisach because for this week there isn’t one from Freiburg! They are doing track maintenance and so we were bused to Gottenheim and trained from there. Very crowded coming back on the bus. We’ve been to Gottenheim before, in August, 2012 for a wine and dance festival. Pretty town but didn’t see much of it this time wanting to catch the train or bus.

We had a lovely lunch with Christoph in Breisach and caught up with each other.  He’s Austrian by birth, has a very good handle on speaking and thinking in English where he can discuss religion, politics, philosophy, Bruce and he banter all about. 

Beautiful sweets they do so well at this restaurant.

The restaurant has very high quality food and Easter decorations are everywhere, so colourful!

Bunnies made in the restaurant
The exciting thing we learned is that he is hoping to start up a guiding business, sort of along the lines we had with Ivan in Sevilla.  We’ve offered to become his “guinea pigs”.  Since he doesn’t have a car we’ll use the excellent train system in Germany and may hire a car a couple of times when it makes sense. To us this is wonderful news, it’s always better to see a place and hear it’s history from a local guide, again, like we did with Ivan.  We might even learn a bit more German along the way, also good. 

Breisach church, Christoph works there and attends
You may remember we injured a car in Cornwall. We sent the credit card company all the documentation last week. Bruce got an email from them requiring a phone call to get a claim number. They were very good on the phone and helpful. So now we’ve done, got, and I had to send all the documents again via email.  Here’s hoping they can reimburse us for at least some of the money. It wasn’t too much in GBP (Pounds) but when converted into Canadian dollars turned out to be a lot.

We’ll have to get a Euro credit card to avoid this kind of situation. Conversion from Canadian dollars to Euro or any other currency is expensive and only requires the use of a Euro credit card to make the difference.

Also went to the place I bought the train tickets from Calais to Paris. Wrong date on the ticket as reported in long ago previous post were we were almost kicked off the train. Waited quite a while for what turned out to be the wrong agent, oh well, all resolved, they refunded us what we paid on the train. 

So my point in this is to say we’re getting some of the monies back that cost us extra while away.  I guess what is a little surprising to me is the cordial way we’ve been treated in doing so. We haven’t come on strong and demanding, after all I still think it is my responsibility or anyone’s to check a ticket purchased before leaving the store to ensure it is correct. The insurance company for the car was also very accommodating on the phone, we’ll see what they come back with.

I follow a travel blog(s) of a couple that are from the US now living in Freiburg, hope to meet them one day. I had a meal from a Taco truck at our local market, walking by the smell just hit me – Mexican! Yeah! A change of food, so bought a meal from them, yum. The bloggers from the US wrote an entire post on the experience so I had to go back. Now this is one fellow who does everything, cooking, taking orders, taking money and he has a regular line up of a lot of people! It takes him time to cook and assemble the food but no one seems to mind the wait. The only problem is he regularly runs out of quacamole and his is good! He hasn’t been doing this long so has some teething pains but he has a winner. His site is His logo is a heart with the slogan “You are the salsa on my taco” which I think is pretty much perfect. Here is Ali’s site and the explanation of his food You might enjoy her site if you have time, both her's and her husband Andy’s. They are truthful, read sometimes blunt, about challenges and joys of travel and living as expats. 

Enjoy your Easter! Cheers, Bx2 & Lexi Cat

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Mostly pictures this post

It’s funny to both of us how diffferent our diet changes as we move country to country. Bruce has twice bought foods to bring back, once anchovies from Portugal, shipped to Canada and not eaten.  Loved there, lost the desire for them back in Canada didn’t even open the packaging. Now from Spain, the Jamon Iberica, not eaten either so far. He lived on these things in the time we were there! But out of physical context has no desire for them. We haven’t bought oranges either although they were a staple in Sevilla.

Have bought food products we are used to having here in Germany. For me, Kartoffel salat, potato salad and they have a new one I like with lots of veggies and a tart dressing at our local shopping mart.  I guess it’s a … actually I don’t know how to describe it. Better to eat local produce where it is generated from? Once away it doesn’t have the same ambiance, not the right word either, so looses taste factor? Although it’s the same as where it was bought from… Puzzled on this one. Will sum it up as “when in Rome”.

We’ve both got colds. Trying not to let it slow us down too much but haven’t made it out of the City yet. We're just walking around and taking in the sites. So, with content a bit light this post, I'll put in more pictures from our wanderings.

Bishop's manse behind the Munster

Lots of detail, looks Moorish to me...
I spent a considerable amount of time hunting up accommodation for August and September in Zurich. The usual sites I use didn’t offer much, but finally found a nice flat (I hope!). It's always a bit risky choosing accommodation for a long stay. Most of the sites I use are on the "up and up" meaning pictures are true to the space and reviews are real people who have actually stayed there.

Yes, it is a store selling spectacles, didn't realize the faces were there until viewing it.

This bear blows bubbles onto the street, it's a toy store of course.

Easter is a large celebration here in Germany. We went downtown and viewed the very colourful Easter market. Some very nice product on offer, much of it was hand crafted.  A form of decoration is brightly coloured eggs tied onto trees or branches.

Like this

Zoo Burkart had the display of chicks for viewing. They are a large pet produce store that carries absolutely everything for any kind of pet, even horses.

I wasn't the only one with my camera out!
This is our third Easter in Germany! First was in Heidelberg and if you’ve been following the blog since the beginning you’ll remember we lived on a hill overlooking and hearing churches and their ringing bells. That took a bit of getting used to and we came to miss it afterward. Here in Rieselfeld we have one church so it’s not as loud. We were in the Munster square yesterday, a Saturday, and the bells there rang for some minutes, nice to hear again.

In the bachle, outside another toy store.  Bachle boats don't usually have duckies on them.
Hand puppet store, sorry, didn't mean to include the lady
I don't edit the photographs I take, only size them. Bruce knows Photoshop well but I've never bothered to learn.

Twice we’ve run into Christoph, a fellow we met last year in Freiburg who teaches English at the local high school.  We had really lost touch with him due to him being ill. So it was great to see him and we’re planning to meet him in Breisach, a short train ride away, next week.

At an Eis Cafe (ice cream) down the street and three boys about 10 -12 years bought themselves cones and then proceeded to pour sugar from the table on top after spilling some they got cups to dunk the ice cream into the sugar. Guess ice cream isn't sweet enough for them! They were all giggly and looking at us laughing at/with them.

That's all for now, been out enjoying the weather, too much, I burnt the top of my head! Stupid thing to do. A hat? Don't like wearing them... but will be walking in the shade this week.

Cheers, Bx2 & Lexi Cat

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Check, Check, We can Play now ...

We’ve been shopping for food etc. with the cart, resting some, all being a bit travel weary. Every day here so far has been lovely warm and sunny. You don’t get the brilliantly blue skies as in Spain but it is a wonderful Spring.

We were at a local cafĂ© in Rieselfeld where there seem to be a  large population of physically challenged people, Bruce fits right in with his wheels. We had a glass of wine and a woman came to sit next to us with a beautiful, obviously older, aide dog. She wasn’t in a wheel chair, she wasn’t blind or deaf and I had trouble thinking of a way to ask her why she needed the dog. So I said, does the dog help you to reach for things? She wasn’t a short person either but I thought that might be the least offensive thing to say. Her English was good, she said no that she has Diabetes and Epilepsy and the dog can tell about half an hour early before either affliction attacts her so she can take her meds. Since her lovely dog is getting on in years she is getting a puppy this week to help take over it’s duties and the older one won’t have to work 24x7 – her words. Very friendly lady and I hope we meet her again with her dogs older and younger.

I don’t know why this neighbourhood has so many physically and mentally challenged people in it. This day we were surrounded by people out to enjoy the sun and most of them had challenges. It is flat, a park close by, good transit, not crowded, perhaps these are reasons why. Doesn’t matter, I’m just glad they have found a place to be comfortable in, as we are.

We made an appointment with City Hall to register ourselves as residents. I’m still not really clear why this needs to happen but does, so we did. I had anxiety about it due to previous experience in Heidelberg. Here in Freiburg it was easy,  and only needed a passport, they didn’t care which one, so we used the Irish ones. Anxiety going because I’d tried to get a temporary residence permit in Heidelburg and never achieved it even though providing scads of documentation, I clearly didn’t fit into one of their pigeon hole categories. So when we left Germany, two months after supposed leaving (yes, we’ve done the "let’s stay" before) the Boarder Guard said “You’re not supposed to be here” and I explained as well as I could. He winked and said ah, vacation, always delays things, go ahead. We left September of that year, 2012. Wow, just made me realize we’ve owned the flat coming up two years!

Stork in the pasture, later he flew over us, magnificent!

We needed a few household items not available in the stores downtown or our neighbourhood. Knowing they would be rather heavy we cabbed to a big box store we’d been in with our partners. Wandered and wandered, a person needs to leave a bread crumb trail to find their way in that place, so large! Think of an Ikea and almost double it. Anyway they had what we wanted so that was very good since the cab ride was quite pricey.

Our usual mode of transport - the tram, which circles our building before heading back downtown.

Bruce says you can tell a DIY (do it yourself) type of person by how many allan keys in the drawer. Well we bought towel racks that needed assembly. No workshop bench so used the dining room table, oh what fun, NOT, but they are together after a bit of blue air coming from me.

We’ve been downtown to the Munster Market a couple of times and I finally introduced myself to an English lady retailer that we often talk to. She sells olive wood products and we’ve bought a lovely salad bowl from her.

It’s raining and cloudy but we can hear the robins loving it and singing. Lexi sits at the window and runs to the other end of the apartment to see them. She sticks her head under the sheer curtains – you can’t see me!

Unpacking and laundry done, check; business and bills taken care of, check; now we can have fun and get out to other places! 

Cheers, Bx2 and Lexi Cat