Prost!

I am so glad that in July, Jen and Tricia coordinated a trip to the Drindl and Lederhosen factory outlet in Stuttgart so we would be properly attired for fest season. And somehow, we all ended up with matching outfits. Big D wasn’t in town for the shopping venture and as it turns out, he’s away now, too. So, I am technically the fifth wheel, though my friends would never make me feel like one.

As luck would have it, this year was Wiesbaden’s first ever Oktoberfest, which provided a chance to take our new gear for test run last weekend. After just a few hours in the tent that night I realized that chinching my dirndl A.) is painful and B.) makes ‘the girls’ look huge (they are not.)

Despite the fact that breathing was difficult, I had a great time. We laughed, drank, ate chicken and danced (on the table!) to songs you’d never expect like Smoke on the Water and Sweet Home Alabama.

I know it looks like a permanent structure, but trust me – it was a tent!

Untitled

This weekend in Stuttgart was so much fun – We had two large reserved tables and I think there were fourteen of us! We never got a big group photo but there are tons of fun pictures like these:

Tricia, Jen & me

me & Gary

Jen & Lee

The tent had chicken decorations throughout:

Stuttgart Volksfest

This post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the song that is sung between every second or third other song: ein_prosit

The whole crowd sings the lyrics:
Ein Prosit, ein Prosit
Der Gemütlichkeit.
Ein Prosit, ein Prosit
Der Gemütlichkeit!

Followed by an invitation to keep chugging:
Eins, zwei, drei, g’suffa!

And then everyone chants:
Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke!
Hoi, hoi, hoi!
(As it turns out, it’s not just from The Man Show!)

I Googled around to see what Gemütlichkeit meant after our first weekend’s adventures – it seems you can’t translate it directly to English but the closest words are “coziness”or “good cheer.”

Thanks to our matching outfits Jen kept saying, “We look like we’re getting the band back together!” So when we ran into this group of matching guys, we stopped them for a photo.

Stuttgart Volksfest

I commented that if we were a band, we’d be like the singing sisters on Saturday Night Live, and I’d be the one with the tiny hands…and then I thought of this all day:

After I posted pictures on FaceBook, my friend Ed said we looked like a missing scene from National Lampoon’s European Vacation and offered this:

I keep trying to think of reasons why the five of us need to get our gear on again since it’s so much fun!

Tricia, Lee, Gary & Jen

More photos from Stuttgart Volksfest are on my fickr page.

Stuttgart Volksfest

A toast, a toast
To cheer and good times!
A toast, a toast
To cheer and good times!
One! Two! Three! Drink up!

Adventures with Angie: Everything Else

One of the reasons Angie visited during August was to attend Rheingauer Weinwoche – the annual Wiesbaden Wine Festival. And attend we did!

Our first visit on Saturday, August 11th, was with a heap of friends – some old, some we met as the night progressed. It goes without saying, but for the record: We had a great time, lots of food and a ton of wine.

Wiesbaden Wine Fest

The Rheingau Wine Festival has turns the centre of Wiesbaden into the “longest wine bar in the world” – and represents an attraction for more than ten thousand visitors. At about 100 stands, winegrowers present their wines and bubbly sparkling wines.

Angie & Christian

All of the travel and wine caught up with us and Sunday, August 12th marked the start of our new preferred schedule: We’d sleep until about 11:00am, play too many rounds of Scramble With Friends on our iPhones, drink coffee, (maybe have an Advil or two?) and watch Downton Abbey before getting on with our day (i.e. more wine.)

The two of us hit the fest that afternoon (and spent most of our time people watching. We texted Jen: “We are at the corner of Snarky McStrasse and Passing Judgement Weg. This is better people watching than an airport!) and were home in time to watch the Olympic Closing Ceremony, which ended much later than we anticipated. Staying up late helped cement that new schedule, by which I mean I turned off the alarm and slept much later than we planned the next morning.

So… Monday, August 13th had us revising our itinerary. After we finally rallied, we took the train to Frankfurt to tour, shop, and… you guessed it: enjoy a glass of wine on the river banks before returning home for more Downton Abbey.

Frankfurt

Frankfurt

We were finally rested (sober?) and got up early Tuesday, August 14th, to head to Soufflenheim, France to shop for pottery, have lunch, and visit a Cora “hypermarket.” Think SuperTarget, but rather than regular grocery items, it’s full of French wines, cheeses, baked goods, etc. YUM.

And now that I think of it… in the non-YUM department: A guy seated at the table next to us ordered a tartare dish including an elaborate table-side display of beating a raw egg and mixing it with raw ground beef and herbs, which was mounded into a giant patty and served to him with a big spoon. We were equally intrigued and grossed out, and I’ll spare you the photos. Your mental image is probably accurate, though.

Soufflenheim, France

On the way home that afternoon, we wondered just why Angie would leave on Thursday, since I was convinced she wouldn’t be productive at work on Friday. She agreed and after a few phone calls to her office and the airline, she changed her ticket and extended her visit. I was thrilled!!

We were back to our regular sleep in / coffee / Downton schedule on Wednesday, August 15th. We visited Schloss Johannisberg for a late lunch where the scenery, food and wine (yes, more wine) were all equally fantastic.

Schloss Johannisberg

lunch view at Schloss Johannisberg

Schloss Johannisberg vineyard

That evening, we grilled out with Jen & Gary, who had just returned from Ireland.

And speaking of Jen & Gary: Wine Fest visit number three was with them on Thursday, August 16th.

Guess where we are...

Wiesbaden Marktkirche

One of the factors weighing into Angie’s decision to stay longer was that Big D arrived home from a few months in the States on Friday, August 17th. He napped to get over the jet lag while Ang and I… you guessed it: drank coffee and watched Downton Abbey. And that evening, we hit the fest a fourth and final time.

It’s particularly rare for Big D and Gary to be in town at the same time. And apparently, even rarer still for them to both smile in the same photo.

Wiesbaden Wine Fest

Wiesbaden Wine Fest

Big D & me

But after the drinks flowed, the jokes were told, and general craziness ensued, the whole night looked like this in our fuzzy brains:

final night at the Wine Fest

And I loved every minute of it.

I was so sad when it was time to take Angie to the airport the next morning. Thankfully, as soon as Jen & Gary have New Years plans inked in, we’ll crash them. Or we’ll figure out something to do on our own. And I’m positive more great times are in store.

In Bruges

Angie’s first of three visits (with hopes for more) was quite an adventure. She was brave to trek around with us as we were new at just about everything European back then.

A review of old e-mails shows the itinerary I planned out for us, and I must say: Dang, I’m good! I’ll just paste it here, and add photos and comments…

Saturday, May 2
Soccer game – Nap for jetlaged tourist…followed by a walk through Wiesbaden and yummy Italian dinner at a favorite spot.
Sunday, May 30
Drive to Brugge (about 4 hours)

Brugge, Belgium
Here’s the view from our table, where we enjoyed snacks and Belgium beer.  My husband and one of my very best friends, in Brugge, drinking beers on a sunny day, with three more years of European adventures awaiting us – I’ll admit it: I was so happy I cried.

Kwak - a local brew

Beer, waffles, chocolate… Belgium is delicious!

Big D and Ang ready for boat tour

Neither of them will love this picture, but I do. Big D is only kind of joking when he says he “doesn’t like people.” It’s obvious how much they love goofing around and making each other laugh.

Brugge, Belgium

Brugge was breathtaking and we had a blast. The trip was marred by a weird situation during which Angie snapped a fantastic photo of guy in a full length leather coat riding a bicycle down an alley. The coat was blowing back behind him, the scenery was beautiful, the picture was outstanding. Sadly, the dude (whose attire should have been a giveaway) was… well, let’s just say unstable. And he was not pleased that a stranger took his photo. It’s funny how one 90 second incident can have an impact on a trip. Anyway: we recovered and made our way to the North Sea for lunch.

Monday, May 31
Return home; Dinner at Big D’s favorite pub (vow of secrecy required!)

Big D, me & Angie

Tuesday, June 1
(We did not stick to the plan but went to Mainz to tour around and got food poisoning instead. Lesson learned. Next time: stick to the plan!)

Wednesday, June 2
Wiesbaden Farmers Market in the morning followed by…a day at the Spa.
(There are no spa photos. You’re welcome.)

Thursday, June 3
Tour around Heidelberg

Heidelberg

view from the castle

Entirely too much food!

Tricia’s friend Christy and her mom were visiting from Georgia at the same time Angie was visiting from Alabama. We joined southern forces and toured Heidelberg together. And ate entirely too much food.

Friday, June 4
Wiesbaden Wilhelmstraße Festival
Wilhelmstraßenfest

Wilhelmstraßenfest

stinky cheese bread

Flaming stinky cheese on thick bread. So fantastic!

Saturday, June 5
Drive along Rhein River w/ stops at towns like Rudesheim, Bacharach and more.

GPS and Rick Steves book = ready for touring!

I’m only including this goofy photo because it shows all of the necessities: Rick Steves tour book, GPS, black shirt (everyone’s uniform here) and my Reisenthel bag. I take that thing everywhere.

Harley Rally

We had no idea we were wandering into a Harley festival along the river. Not really our thing, but great for people watching!

Rhine

panoramic from Bacharach Castle

Sunday, June 6
Eltville Rose Festival

Rosenstadt Eltville

Rosenstadt Eltville

Big D, Angie, me, Jen & Gary

Opa! Jen & Gary joined us for the afternoon and we rounded out Angie’s visit with a great Greek meal. This might be the first picture ever taken of all five of us together. If only we knew what great times really did await us…

More photos from Angie’s first visit are on Flickr.