just roaming around Rome

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We arrived last Friday night and the guys we rented an apartment loft from on Airbnb sent a car to pick us up from the airport. Much better than taking the Metro like the first time we visited Rome. It is really hard to roll luggage on the cobblestone streets here and if there are any hills it just gets harder.


The driver didn’t speak any English but was friendly and drove like a maniac (but it appears all of the other Romans do also) to our address here on Via Giovanni Lanza. One of the roads he cut down is the Via Appia Antica where I spotted some of the signs for various catacombs. We arrived safely but I swear there is no way I will ever drive in Rome. Walking and the Metro is good enough for me. Gabriele met us at the entry to the Colosseo – White Shadows Loft.


Bedroom down the hall is in the former brick baking oven. Nice and cozy with no street noise.


For those of you that have never used Airbnb it is a website that Kris and I have used since we first came to Europe in 2012. Our first rental through the site was a houseboat on a quiet little canal in Amsterdam where the swans swam up to our kitchen window every morning.  Since then we have rented a fabulous 2nd floor of a huge house in Vista, California with views of the mountains on one side and the Pacific on the other. You can set filters as to how much you want to pay, where, when, almost any type of amenities you require, and read reviews from previous guests. It is the bomb and we highly recommend trying it if you haven’t.

Enough of the free plug for Airbnb and I’ll get on to the post. We chose the Monti neighborhood because it is close to the Colosseum, The Roman Forum, and the metro is easily accessible. There is also a nice little grocery about 5 minutes away and with a kitchen we can have breakfast and coffee on our time in the mornings. We stayed in this neighborhood the first visit at a bed and breakfast and while it was okay we like this much better.

The weather was great on Saturday but I think Rome is as contrary as our part of coastal Texas. One minute the sun is shining and the chill isn’t too bad and the next minute it is “raindrops keep falling on my head” time. No matter, we have had a fantastic visit and haven’t melted yet. Not made of sugar!


Spanish steps. We walked to other side on the right and climbed very steep sets of stairs after we ate a nice lunch. Forgot about the elevator.


The Piazza del Popolo was packed with young people. Apparently, Metallica was in town for a concert Saturday night. They had to rock on without us…


Our view while walking down the Via Appia Antica. Not so sure about the title “Queen of Roads.” Makes for some hard walking…


It was an impressive stroll that afternoon.


Have a drink, the water is refreshing.


A girl in a swing sculpture


Sunshine on another sculpture in the gardens.





Noisy Ring-necked Parakeets in the trees on the grounds of the villa.


Ruins found on the site.


After our wanderings on Sunday we went to a weekend farmers market and picked up various salami’s, cheese, olive oil, and local wine.


Circo Maximo on our walk back market to the Metro.


Loving the shape of the greenery.


The ruins around the corner from our apartment at night.


Sweets for the sweet…


We went back to the Trevi fountain to throw a coin in since it worked last time to guarantee we’d come back to Rome.


Old and not so old mixes well together.


Rain in Rome is better than rain while at home


Our goal is to go see the moon shining through the Pantheon’s oculas tonight.


Thought one or two of our friends would appreciate this motorcycle carved of wood.


Only Pinocchio knows!


The beauty of an artichoke.


Alimento è amore.


Gelato at Palazzo del Freddo Giovanni Fassi- the oldest gelato factory in Rome.



A late night glass of the local vino with the monks on the shelf in our apartment.


The tomb of St. Sebastian is in the basilica but his original resting place was in the catacombs underneath it that we toured yesterday.


No pictures are allowed in the catacombs but that is okay. It was a gorgeous sunshiny day outside. Happy to be alive!


Porta Maggiore on the hunt for aquaduct ruins.


Santa Maria Maggiore is behind us in this picture. We went into the church last time we were here.

That concludes this post of pictures for now. Today we are going to see the ruins of Ostia Antica, ancient Rome’s seaport, abandoned when Rome fell. They say it is better than Pompeii with less crowds and only 30 minutes on the Metro from the center of Rome. We’ll let you know.

Till then-



a week in Terneuzen

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We were there and now we are gone. To Italy but I will get to that part of our trip in another post. The weather was chilly in the little DOW town because of the winds blowing in off the North Sea. It rained every day but not so much that I couldn’t get on my bicycle and ride for a bit to get some fresh air and get out of the hotel room. Not that I am complaining. I like Terneuzen and am familiar with my regular haunts there. It is a small enough town that I can ride from one end to the other in an hour or less depending on the wind. I figure when I am riding against the wind I am working off calories so I don’t feel too guilty about eating the delicious puddingbroodjes that are one of my favorite things to eat in The Netherlands.


Yes. I bought two of them. One for after my bike ride and the other for breakfast the next morning.


This is where you go to buy the best in Terneuzen. My opinion, of course, but I have tried 5 different places and these win hands down. It is next to the Albert Heijn grocery in case you ever visit.

Another of my favorite things- see pic below.


When you get back from riding your bicycle  in the frigid air you can take a swim in the bathtub. The Dutch seem to have the longest tubs I have ever seen.


I taught myself to crochet after Christmas and finally finished my first scarf in the hotel room. With the weather not cooperating for longer rides while in Terneuzen I started working on a second scarf.


I made friends. The ducks enjoyed the bread I brought to them at lunch time every day. This day turned out to be sunny until late afternoon.


One of my bike paths depending on how cold the wind is blowing.


Usually I eat sandwiches for lunch that I make myself at the hotel when in Terneuzen but on Wednesday’s there is a market in the town centre. I usually opt for fish caught locally, fired to order, and take it with me to go see my friends. This is two of the merchants at the fried fish stall in the market. I think they must be really nice people to put up with all my questions about the variety of fish in their case and to let me snap their photo.


I did not share my fish with my friends. They had to make do with bread.


I always have bad hair days when we are in Terneuzen. Can you guess why? Something to do with these funky hairdryers at the Golden Tulip. Otherwise it is a lovely place to stay.


Almost forgot. When we arrived Kris and I visited this store on Sunday. No- it is not what you think. It is a high-end furniture store and on the 2nd floor there were kitchen designs with SieMatic products. More good ideas for our remodel.


In case you have forgotten what I look like.


Reservations for our last night at De Tollebol. Kris, Eric, and I went on Thursday night. It is a small place, maybe 6 tables total with the best ribs in the world. I swear. The lady who owns it could give all the Texans I know a run for their money in cooking spareribs.

Here is the link so if you are ever in Terneuzen, go there but don’t forget to make a reservation- http://www.detollebol.nl/

So that concludes our week in Terneuzen. Not really very eventful but it was nice downtime for me. Not so much for Kris but she did get a lot accomplished work-wise with our favorite Dutchman.

We drove to Eindhoven to catch our plane on Friday. The airport is similar in size to Hobby in Houston but easier to maneuver.


At the airport getting ready to go through security so we can go to Rome.

So until I post again, Tot ziens!

Ina and her housemaid

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Just a little background for those of you that are late to the party. As many of you know Kris and I are owned by Bentley Beargrass Meyer-McGarvey, an Airedale that turned 11 in January. I also have to mention our Roux, an Airedale-mix that we saved from imminent death through the encouragement of fellow rescuer Ellana from Texas Airedale Rescue Team in Houston, Walter the consummate Chihuahua that thinks he is an Airedale, and Bridgette the oldest Basset Hound mix in the world. We love our dogs. What else can I say? No breed is better than another.

I love the Airedale breed and through this love I met Ursula and Ina in a fund raising project for Airedale rescue. People from around the world vote on a daily basis to win $1000 grants through the Shelter Challenge at the Animal Rescue Site. Ursula and Keith (from London) are two of the biggest cheerleaders for winning these grants and trust me they do a lot of work to drum up votes. Big thanks to the both of them!

Last spring when we were in Germany I got to meet and visit with Ursula and Ina twice. Same thing this visit but an added bonus was that Kris got to meet them also the first weekend we arrived. Lot’s of fun and wonderful food too!

Ursula jokes that she is Ina’s housemaid and if you spent any time with them you would understand. Ina is energy in motion. She never stops. I wish I had the amount of energy that Ina has. Ursula isn’t too shabby either. They go for walks through the local vineyards and explore the mountainside every day. Ina loves to eat apples and pears from the trees when they are full of fruit. She chases the field mice and sometimes it appears she just might dig down to China in search of one. Ursula and Ina meet up with lots of canine friends on these walks and have great fun together.

I took the train last Friday to go visit with Ursula and Ina one more time before we left the Deutschland for the Netherlands. It was a wonderful day and I look forward to coming back to visit with Ina and her housemaid!


A game that Ina plays is with her ball in the grass between the rows of vines. Well, she is also obsessed with field mice.


The great tunnel to china starts.




Whose chair is it? Not the housemaids!


I delivered presents of sketches that Cheryl did in her art class after meeting Ursula and Ina last spring.


Ina is a smart one…trying to pick up her basket of toys.


Ursula left me with Ina while she went to get cake. Ina wouldn’t leave the stoop the whole time Ursula was gone. She would look up at me on the stairs but she wanted her housemaid. I was a poor substitute!


Let’s play ball!

I am always sad when it comes time to leave from such wonderful visits with Ursula and Ina. Kris says when we come back to Germany next time we will stay longer in Bad Dürkheim. I can’t wait!

To Ursula,  Ein herzliches Dankeschön. You are a wonderful lady and friend. And Ina, you are my other favorite Airedale in the world. Till next time…




Design of die Küche

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I figure most of you must think that I have lost my mind when you read the title of this post but let me assure you it is still intact. Overwhelmed but intact. Kris and I have been discussing remodeling our kitchen for awhile now and have decided to do the deed this spring. We have been in awe of the kitchen designs we’ve seen here in Europe at various friends homes. Efficiency rules. Storage and more counter space. Appliances hidden away but easily accessible. I have actually veered away from the homey style to a more modern look. Not completely minimalist though.

So Wednesday last week in Karlsruhe I decided to catch a taxi to a part of town I know nothing about to check out the kitchen design stores. The walk would have taken me an hour and half to reach my destinations and a taxi seemed smart though I spent more euros than I intended. The part of town the kitchen design stores are in is fairly industrial- not too many sidewalks and the train/bus schedule confused me. I had also found a large pet store in this area where I wanted to pick up something fun for Ina for when I saw her on Friday. After the pet store I walked to my initial destination. A kitchen design store with a great name- Grimm Küchen. The store associate at the Grimm Küchen was very helpful and allowed me to take pictures for later on when Kris and I need inspiration for our kitchen design style. In my wanderings, I found the equivalent of a German Home Depot/Lowes but as the afternoon was growing old quickly I decided to check out the German’s version of an Ikea style store called MOMAX. Yep- almost an Ikea which we have in Houston. I did get a few pics of their kitchens also.

Here are a few pics of my wanderings that day:


My German wasn’t sufficient to chat with the employees so we made do with pantomime and minimal words. Nice store!


Can you see the “Slow the hund down when he is eating bowls” on the two lower shelves? I need one of these for the Roux.


Also a few of these Bionic toys…


Seriously strong hund crates. I think you could keep the incredible hulk in one of these babies.


Grimm Küchen way over there. No pedestrian crossings nor sidewalks but I was determined.


Liked this a lot. It has my corner cabinet that comes up and out for easy access. The neutral color is nice too.


Not too shabby either.


I don’t care for the flowers but the color of the cabinets caught my eye. The question is- will we get tired of it after a while?


Nice contrast with not too much white.


MOMAX store


I keep going back to the grey. Do you see the vent hood and how it is tilted? That is for the tall person so they will not bump their head. Hmm…


My camera couldn’t get a clear picture of this one but it is the nicest blue.


Rug selection at MOMAX similar to IKEA.


Contemplated trying to catch a train or bus back but in the end decided another taxi would do.

I won’t bore you anymore with my kitchen fantasies but I just had to share. Till next time!

Back in the Fächerstadt (fan city)

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Things that I notice when I come visit the city of Karlsruhe.

There is the never ending construction still going on all over the city.


This is the market square in the city centre where the construction is intense. The only good thing about the construction is the trains aren’t running where the work is being done. No chance of getting smushed there…

I always hear lots of the emergency vehicle sirens with their special hi-lo pitch that is distinctly European and much different to what I hear back home.

It does appear that Alfred Hitchcock could have filmed his cinema masterpiece “The Birds” right outside our hotel window. This is what I see every morning:


This was pretty cool until I decided to open the window on our top floor hotel room. Suddenly I had a vision of a few hundred birds flying into the room. Didn’t want to end up like poor Tippi Hedren in the movie…

I always make a trip down to the local laundromat so on Monday I visited my favorite place, the Waschsalon down from our hotel. It’s a nice walk and I always meet interesting people there. And these days I don’t piss off the lady who runs the place. I always check the pockets of our clothes for tissue, etc. She, the one who rules, gave me really dirty looks when I somehow missed the tissue in the pocket of something the first time I was here. I still feel the eagle eye watching my every move. And even though I have been in this particular Waschsalon the last four trips I still get nervous. Well, you know. Everything is in German. I did okay with a little help from a nice gentleman that showed me how to divide up my detergent properly. I had forgotten that there are two divisions in the detergent container and stared at it for a few minutes before I decided I needed to enlist help. Not from the one who rules. It takes about an hour and one half to complete the wash and dry cycles so I brought along my new hobby. Crochet. Now don’t laugh- I am almost finished with my first attempt at a scarf though it is rather crooked since I forget to count my stitches in each row. My friend Ursula said to just call it a piece of modern art. I say it falls in the category of abstract. You have to use your imagination to realize it is a scarf. Kris says she will love it and wear it with pride.

Back to the Waschsalon story. I am sitting in my corner for about 10 minutes into my wash cycle and I notice a young man come in. He drops his backpack and stuff in front of the pay machine and stares at it as if it is an alien from another planet. Most of you know that my theory about talking to strangers is it can’t hurt to try so I thought to myself maybe he speaks English and I can help. You know, pay it forward for all the help I have received from kind locals in my travels. Well, the young man is French and all I can remember of my french class way back in 8th grade is “Merde.” The young man’s English is minimal so I pantomime what he needs to do using my few German words for the Waschsalon and English.

As the conversation came to an abrupt halt, it became clear that I needed to enlist the nice German gentleman’s help. Of course, the one who rules, watched all of us to make sure we didn’t leave any tissues in any pockets. Giggle.

The whole Waschsalon experience is always fun and I learned a lot from the young French man backpacking around Germany. My motto- don’t be afraid to talk to strangers in a foreign country. You just might enjoy yourself. And you will always learn something new.

Later that day after returning with my clean clothes to the hotel room, I walked down to the Ettlinger Tor shopping centre to find a SIM card for my phone. I also needed to visit the dm, it is a local store similar to Walgreens or CVS but much better with prices and selection. In the basement of the mall is REWE, a grocery store with good prices on classic/ naturelle water (you can also say no bubbles), a fantastic German yoghurt selection, and inexpensive German chocolate.

After I purchased what I needed I realized how hungry I was as it was 2pm and my breakfast was long gone. Last visit I had followed a group of students to the food court and discovered an Asian carryout with a daily deal on a noodle box for about 2 euros. Usually it is a nice mix of chicken and various vegetables. There are the various hot sauces and soy to add to your noodles on the counter so I purchased a takeout, stashed it my handy grocery bag I always pack when traveling and with all of my favorite German purchases I walked the many blocks back to the hotel.

When Kris and cohorts came back from their first day at Siemens Monday evening it was decided that room service sounded like the best option. We all give a thumbs up to the hamburger served at the Renaissance hotel in Karlsruhe. Almost as good as a burger from Texas.

The next day- Tuesday:

I decided to visit the grocery across the street. It is called the Scheck-In and I thought I might take pictures of some of the grocery items I always see there. After a few pictures into my visit I was told pictures were not allowed by a stern looking woman in the produce department. I think she is the daughter of she who rules at the Waschsalon. Her co-worker spoke English and gave me a tour though. Here are some of the pics I got away with:


Beautiful tomatoes.


Gorgeous berries and fresh rhubarb.


Funky looking mushrooms that fascinated me. The guy in the produce department had fun practicing his English with me and told me how to cook them.


Overall, the produce is just really nice.


My lunch that I made for myself with my purchase from the Scheck-In. The people at the meat and cheese counters were very helpful and offered all kinds of stuff for me to sample. Good German Schinken and a local Käse makes a good sammy!

I didn’t do much else that afternoon except work on my modern art in the hotel room and read some of Stephen King’s “Doctor Sleep.”

That evening when the DOW/ Siemens gang returned from their work day we had a drink in the hotel bar and decided to head over to the Der Vogel for dinner. This is one of my favorite places in Karlsruhe not just because I am familiar with it from previous visits but because of the beer and local food items served. And during the day if I visit for lunch the friendly Stefan always greets me with a taste of the monthly beer style.

After we arrived at Der Vogel (Vogelbräu) and ordered our beer- bottom-fermented, malty, with a subtle smoke flavor,  our friend Eric (the favorite Dutchman) decided to try a hamburger from the menu. All of us- Kris, Eric, and me are always on the lookout for the best burger wherever we are visiting. Sadly to say, the burger did not meet the requirements for one of the best. Strange is how I would describe it and Eric would say more honestly (he is Dutch) that it was awful. I have to say that my noodles similar in taste to gnocchi covered with a mushroom sauce were delicious and I love the salads that are served in Germany. Kris ordered her usual schnitzel which is always tasty. A few of the other dishes ordered in our group were Käsespätzle (cheesy noodles), sausages with pretzels, and a daily special of turkey filet Hawaiian style. Everyone except for Eric enjoyed their meal.

Next we popped into an Irish pub, The Brayhead, situated next door to Der Vogel, to sample the beers that are brewed by the Der Vogel brewmaster. A stout and an ale were sampled by our group and we all agreed that the brews were quite tasty. Kris and I left the group at about 10pm as it was getting close to sleep time. Some of our group stayed behind and discovered to their great dismay at the end of the evening that the pub did not accept credit cards. Since none of them had any cash in hand one of them had to make a quick jog back to the hotel for euros. So for future reference, always carry some cash. I always do but alas I was asleep snug as a bug in a rug. All in all, it was a fun evening.

I think I have probably bored you enough for now so until next time-


Till next time,