Sunday, August 13, 2017

Burgers at Corners in Sindelfingen... my kingdom for paper products...

I thought we were going to be homebound this weekend because of my dog Zane's surgery and subsequent stitches.  Fortunately, he's turned out to be a good patient who is healing nicely.  Bill and I had cabin fever after spending all day yesterday holed up in our house drinking beer.  I remembered the last time we visited Sindelfingen and passed an attractive looking burger restaurant called Corners.  Although I tend to be pretty skeptical when it comes to trying burgers in Germany, I have found a few places that do alright with our American favorite.  Corners looked like it had potential, so we decided to try it today.

Bill found a large public parking lot not far from the restaurant.  We ended up walking further than we should have and passed a Turkish place that looked and smelled wonderful.  As Bill consulted his iPhone for directions, I made a mental note to make another visit to Sindelfingen soon.  Then I started heading down the hill.  It turned out my sense of direction is quicker and more accurate than Bill's iPhone is.

The front of Corners...

Corners is located on a corner, very close to the ever popular Funzel Restaurant, which is where we ate the last time we visited Sindelfingen.  A few people were sitting outside under the generous awning Corners supplies.  We decided to eat inside and took up residence at a table in a corner near the front window.  After a quick look at the menu, which was in English, we told our English speaking waiter that we wanted two beers, a Hefeweizen for me and a Kellerbier for Bill.

Although Corners offers steaks and salads, as well as some interesting looking lunch specials, we had come to try the burgers.  I chose the Jack Daniels burger, which, along with 200 grams of beef, came with bacon, cheddar cheese, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and Jack Daniels barbecue sauce.  It was also supposed to come with a shot of Jack Daniels Honey, which I presume is some kind of booze.  I never got the shot, but that was okay with me.  Bill had the U.S. beef burger, which came with 200 grams of U.S. beef, onions, tomatoes, grilled peppers, pickles, house made burger sauce and lettuce.  We both had curly fries, which was a nice change from the usual pommes.

Bill checks out the menu.  The sound system in the restaurant was playing loud hip hop music that was slightly annoying because it was hard to hear the waiter.  Plus, I'm an old fart who doesn't like that kind of music.

This was my Jack Daniels burger.  Bill's burger was pretty much identical to mine, except it had a yellow burger sauce on it that he said tasted a little like it was mustard based.  This burger was pretty big, although it was more bun than meat.  I liked that there were packets of ketchup and mayo on the table for the fries.

We both ended up having to cut these sandwiches.  My burger had a bit more sauce on it than I would have preferred.  You see, I like to eat my sandwiches without a knife and fork.  That's the whole point of a sandwich, right?  But I find here in Deutschland, people tend to load up on condiments, which makes eating burgers with one's hands a bit messy.  Fortunately, I grabbed an envelope of silverware that had a napkin tucked in with it.  Bill was not as lucky as I was.  His envelope was napkinless.  The missing napkin turned out to be a recurring theme in absent paper products.

I liked the burger itself.  The beef was good, albeit cooked well-done.  It was fairly juicy and had a good flavor.  I even liked all of the toppings on the burger, including the tomatoes, which I usually remove.  But, as I mentioned in my caption, the buns (which did not appear to be house made) were larger than the burgers within them.  I was reminded of an 80s era Wendy's ad...

"Where's the beef?"

After I finished eating, I went to the upstairs level to use the restroom and wash my hands.  The first stall I tried was out of toilet paper.  The second one was adequately supplied.  Then I washed my hands, only to find the paper towel dispenser empty.  The restaurant appeared to be staffed with only men today.  I guess they weren't thinking of the ladies' room.  The upstairs toilets are something those with mobility issues may want to consider.  You have to climb steps to get to the bathroom.

The bar area is nice looking and there are a number of cocktails available.  Both the upstairs and downstairs dining areas are nicely decorated and inviting, although the music was a little loud.

We decided to stop at one beer and come home to check on Zane.  Our bill came to just under 26 euros, which I thought was pretty reasonable.  Corners appears to be pretty popular with the American crowd and obviously caters to us.  I enjoyed my burger, although I hope next time we visit, someone will have stocked the ladies' room and silverware with paper products.  Overall, I'd say it's a decent place to get a burger, though.  Just be sure to ask for extra napkins! 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Some kid friendly stuff to do in and around Stuttgart...

Stuttgart is a great place for donkeying around with your kids...

First thing's first.  I am not a parent nor do I play one on TV.  I am, however, a bit of a big kid.  I usually update this blog on weekends because that's when my husband, Bill, indulges my big kid proclivities.

I often see people in our local Facebook groups wanting to know where they can take their kids on weekends and holidays.  While I am sure there are many other people in the community who are even more in the know than I am about kid friendly activities, it's a rainy Saturday and we're stuck at home because my dog just had surgery and I don't want to leave him alone.  I figure a blog post about the kid friendly stuff I've found offers some one stop shopping for those who are looking for a convenient list.  This is not intended to be an "end all be all" list.  I'm just offering a few ideas for those who need inspiration.

Here's my list of what we've found so far.  I'm not ranking them in any particular order and I'm generally only going to include places I've actually tried myself.  For that reason, I'm not going to list attractions like Europa Park, Legoland, or Sensapolis because I haven't yet had occasion to try those places (I'm trying to convince Bill to go to Europa Park, though).  With a few exceptions, most of these places are close to the Black Forest because that's where we happen to live right now.  In most cases, I will link to my first blog post about each place listed.  


The Stuttgart area happens to be blessed with a number of museums, many of which would be interesting to young people.  Bill and I have visited a few places that we thought were interesting to kids and adults alike.  Here are just a few.

Schweine Museum- The pig museum in Stuttgart is a fun place to kill a couple of hours and learn about all things swine related.  The museum's owners have created a bizarre and fun little tourist attraction that includes many kid friendly areas within it.  Parents should be advised that there is a room that has exhibits that are definitely more adult related and include sex toys.  The room is easy to spot because it's red.  Each room has explanations in English.  An added bonus is that the museum has a really nice biergarten out back that offers good food.

Experimenta- Experimenta in Freudenstadt (and Heilbronn, though we haven't been to that one) is a hands on science museum intended for kids.  I have heard the Heilbronn location is pretty extensive.  The one in Freudenstadt is fairly small and offers old school, no frills science fun for youngsters.  The  activities include German explanations, but are not hard to figure out.  I'd say it's good for a couple of hours of fun, after which you can find a restaurant or take a walk around Freudenstadt's pretty center.

Welt der Kristalle- This is a small, but cool, museum in Ditzingen (south on A81) that features fossils, rocks, gems, and petrified wood.  I was delighted by the enormous amethysts they had as well as the different fossils from places around the world.  Again, it won't take all day, but it's an interesting place to spend an hour or so.  Afterwards, you can get the staff to open an amethyst for you.

Ritter Sport- Aside from offering a great little cafe for breakfast treats, the Ritter Sport factory in Waldenbuch also has a museum and a "Schokowerkstatt" for kids.  If you visit the Berlin location, you can also have your own chocolate bar custom made.  This is not the same thing as the "chocolate workshop", which is just for kids.

Fernsehturm- Stuttgart's awesome TV tower is well worth a visit.  You take an elevator up to the top, where you can see splendid views of Stuttgart.  Then you can enjoy refreshments at the Panorama Cafe!  I have heard Stuttgart's TV tower was the inspiration for Seattle's Space Needle.  Having seen them both, I will say I like Stuttgart's tower better, if only because no one forces you to pose for a picture.

Other possibilities include any of the car museums in Stuttgart.  Bill and I have only been to the Porsche museum to eat dinner at Christophorus, but we have visited the Mercedes museum.  I have not blogged about it because we went during our first tour here, before my blogs existed.  I would like to visit the Mercedes museum again, if only so I can see the Popemobile one more time!

Outdoor fun

It's not hard to find outdoor fun in the Stuttgart area.  This place is chock full of gardens and parks where you can work off all the beer, broetchens, and brats.  Some of the stuff around here is pretty cool, too... You wouldn't find it back home.

Baumwipfelpfad Schwarzwald- I might as well start with everyone's favorite tree walk.  This very cool and solidly built structure is located in Bad Wildbad.  It's fairly new, having been constructed as of September 2014.  On a really pretty day, you can spend a few hours enjoying nature and the kid friendly activities on the tree walk.  Be advised, dogs are not allowed on the tree walk, but there are kennels where they can stay until you're done sliding down the spiral slide!  Just a heads up-- the city of Herrenberg is currently building a structure that appears to be somewhat similar.

Barfuss Park- Ever been to a park where you're expected to walk barefoot?  Here's your chance!  You can visit Dornstetten and take your shoes off, then walk the trails where your feet will encounter everything from pine cones to glass shards.  You can walk through mud, wade in icy water, and bounce on a trampoline.  Bill was surprisingly enchanted with our visit to the Barfuss Park and wants to go again, probably even more than I do.  This activity would make a great accompaniment to a trip to Experimenta in Freudenstadt, since the route to Freudenstadt can take you past Dornstetten.

Ropes Courses- I haven't actually tried any of the ropes courses in this area, but there are a number of them and they tend to be located within or next to other activities.  For instance, there is a ropes course near Lichtenstein Castle.  There's one at the Wildpark Pforzheim.  There's also one right next to the Tiefenhöhle.  After you check out the main attractions, you can burn off some steam before heading home for the night.

Bärenschlössle- This is a huge park in Stuttgart with many miles of trails and a castle dedicated to bears.  It's also within walking distance of Schloss Solitude, but you may not want to try walking there with very young children.  There's a serene lake, a nice biergarten, and plenty of opportunities to people watch and stretch your legs.

Monbachtal- Lovely park in Bad Liebenzell that offers tranquil walking trails and a chance to glimpse nature.  Just the drive there is pretty.  Then you can take a walk along a flowing river and maybe spot a heron or two. 

Hohenzollern- This is another place Bill and I visited the first time we lived here and haven't been back to yet.  You can hike up the steep hill to see the castle and its grounds or take a bus.  We walked up and it was quite a workout.  The beautiful views are well worth the effort. 

You might also want to check what the cities in your area offer.  We are near Nagold, which happens to have an excellent Freibad park, as well as a fabulous playground for kids, mini golf, and proximity to Hohennagold.  I know Esslingen also has nice play areas for children.

Waterfalls, mines, and caves

If you feel like chasing waterfalls or exploring caves, you're in luck.  This part of Germany offers a number of great places to visit.  

Triberg- Triberg is home to Germany's tallest waterfall, delicious Black Forest cake, and cuckoo clocks galore.  It's a very touristy town and tends to be crowded.  However, I think it's worth a visit to see the waterfall, try the cake, and maybe visit the world's biggest cuckoo clock.  

Silver Mine-  Near the cute little town of Neubulach, there's an old silver mine where you and your young ones can see where azurite, malachite, and silver come from.  Although the tour is in German, the mine itself is pretty interesting.  Afterwards, you can visit the small museum, check out the outdoor exhibits, or take a walk on the Fledermaus trail.  Or you can venture into the town for a round or two of mini golf and lunch.

Bad Urach- Bad Urach is a really nice area where visitors can climb up a waterfall or visit castle ruins.  Besides being kid friendly, Bad Urach is also very dog friendly.  It also happens to be convenient to a couple of other attractions on this list...

Blautopf- Want to see really blue water that's not in your toilet?  You might want to check out Blautopf, which you can visit after you see Bad Urach or save for another day.  Blautopf is the end of a cave system-- indeed, Germany's only publicly accessible vertical cave, Tiefenhöhle, which is also in the area.  I would also recommend a visit to the Hammerschmiede Museum, which is directly adjacent to Blautopf.  Your kids can see how an old fashioned blacksmith works!

Tiefenhöhle- Really cool vertical cave near Blautopf.  Be advised that visiting this cave is pretty strenuous.  I would not recommend it for very young kids or those who don't listen to directions.  To negotiate the cave, you must climb up and down steep ladders.  I recommend good shoes, long pants, and plenty of stamina.

Bärenhöhle- This is what I'd call a "kid friendly" cave, especially for little kids.  Located in Sonnenbühl near Schloss Lichtenstein, it's rather small and easy to walk through, with no steep stairs or ladders.  One can see this cave system in about twenty minutes or so via guided tour (in German) or on your own.  Be advised that if you go on your own, you will probably end up in a tour group.  Printed English explanations are available on request.  When you're finished in the cave, you can have lunch at the biergarten on site and stop by Traumland, which is a kiddie amusement park.  Or you can visit the Easter egg museum.

Nebelhöhle- is another cave system, a bit more challenging to navigate, located very close to the Bear Cave.  It's my favorite of the three caves we've been to so far because I think it offers a good combination of things to see and ease of navigation.  It's a bit more interesting than the Bear Cave, but not nearly as physically demanding as the Tiefenhöhle.  There are also playgrounds on site for after your visit.


I could probably write a very extensive section on animal related activities, but in the interest of keeping this blog post from getting too long, I will offer just a few ideas.

Naturally, you can visit Stuttgart's awesome zoo, Wilhelma, which Bill and I saw the first time we lived here.  I have not been back to the zoo in the eight years since our first visit, but I do remember really being impressed by the animals there.  I would love to go back and spend a day.  Maybe we'll even do it next weekend, if Zane is recuperated enough to be left home alone.

Wildpark Pforzheim- If you have kids who love animals, you should take them to the Wildpark Pforzheim.  Besides having a whole lot of "wild" animals that kids can feed and observe, this park also has a whole lot of play areas for kids.  I kind of wished I was under twelve so I could play on some of the imaginative structures there.  The park is large enough to wear your little ones out, guaranteed!

Tierparks- I have linked to my blog post on our trip to Der Kleine Tierpark Göppingen, which was the small zoo we visited last Sunday.  However, I think it's fair to mention that this area is home to a number of Tierparks, some of which are probably closer and move convenient than Göppingen is.  If you look around, you can find places where kids can learn about animals and interact with them.  

Fischzucht Zordel-  This is a trout farm where kids can feed trout caught in the brook running past the property.  Afterwards, they can enjoy some fishy delectables.  I'll leave it up to parents to decide if they want to teach their kids that the trout they feed will eventually be consumed.

Okay... this is a pretty good list of kid friendly stuff to do.  If you read this blog regularly, you have probably already been exposed to these ideas.  Sorry for the rerun!  I am mostly intending this list for newcomers who are looking for ways to combat cabin fever.  If people enjoy this post, I may write a sequel or two on the next rainy day.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

A visit to Der Kleine Tierpark Göppingen and Alte Statione in Rechburghausen

Continuing the animal theme Bill and I started yesterday when we visited Wildpark Pforzheim, today we visited Der Kleine Tierpark in Göppingen.  When Bill and I lived near Fort Bragg, I had a German friend from Göppingen.  She had married a guy from the tiny rural county (Mathews) next to where I grew up in Virginia (Gloucester County).  I have since lost touch with my German friend and I have a sneaking suspicion that she and my former "neighbor" have split up, though I do have her to thank for helping me acquire my dog, Arran, from Triangle Beagle Rescue.  Anyway, long story short, I had been curious about where my friend was from and, when I heard Göppingen had a Tierpark, decided I wanted to see it.

Göppingen is not that close to where Bill and I live.  While Pforzheim is a bit northwest of us, Göppingen is east... well past Esslingen and a bit on the way to Bavaria.  It took about an hour to get there from Unterjettingen.  If you're on the other side of Stuttgart, it will no doubt be much more convenient for you to get there than it is me.  I knew going into this trip that the tierpark in Göppingen was not going to be as large or impressive as the Wildpark Pforzheim is.  Having now seen the park, I can now say that I found Der Kleine Tierpark Göppingen a little bit depressing in comparison.  I see similar comments on their Facebook page.

Entrance to the Tierpark.

We arrived at the park just before one o'clock.  A lot of people were there with their small kids.  We parked on a rather poorly maintained access road and walked to the entrance, stopping to say hello to some ponies on the way there.  Parking is free at the park, but there is an entrance fee.  It was 3,50 euros per adult.  Bill also sprang for a box of food for the animals that were allowed to be fed.  As soon as we walked into the park, we were immediately met by a couple of eager goats.  Seriously, they were like dogs!  They saw us coming and were there to greet us with demands for food.  The goats were housed in an enclosure with a pig or two.

I quickly realized that this park, while it did allow for feeding and petting some of the animals, was more of a zoo.  It houses monkeys, exotic cats, snakes, kangaroos, a couple of camels, as well as a few more pedestrian animals like rabbits, guinea pigs, alpacas, llamas, and goats.  It's also working on a smaller budget.  The park itself is compact and rather cramped.  It's built on a hill and not particularly stroller friendly.  The walkways are a bit narrow and the pavement is not that even.  There are also some steps.

Cute ponies/mini horses on the way in.  I stopped to say goodbye on the way out.

A *very small* play area that looked to be somewhat poorly maintained.

This friendly billy goat was the first to greet us.

This one was also clamoring for food.  I obliged them, but then went searching for the bathroom.  There is a small one in the park's very petite gasthof, which has a small selection of snacks and drinks.  That's also where the snakes and fish are kept.  I can't comment on the food or beverages at the park, because we didn't try them.

Dogs are allowed, as long as they are on lead.

I checked out the fish on the way out of the tiny bathroom.

They also have a corn snake who wasn't feeling very social during our visit.

Lop eared rabbits.


These information signs, along with signs informing whether or not the animals can be fed, are on the enclosures.

There was a bit of a crowd around one of the more active primates, so I got pictures of the ones who were not as popular.  The one in the picture above appears to be multitasking...

Colorful birds.

A couple of cute bunnies.

I was pretty charmed by the camels...  They were surprisingly friendly.

Like the Highland cow I met yesterday, these two figured out how to be fed...  The bigger one just opened his mouth and waited for me to throw food in it.

They shared a pen with a couple of Jacob sheep.

This one followed me to an area with a lower fence and really laid on the charm.  I got several photos.

I think this picture may be my favorite.  She was totally posing for me and, at this vantage point, I didn't have to toss food into her mouth.  I offered some from my palm and she took it gently.

More birds...

More monkeys...  these guys were pretty active.

Clipped wings.  

I got a huge kick out of this donkey...  I could have visited all day.

The white donkey was a bit crankier and greedier.  She kept bullying the other animals.

Spotted kitties...  ;-)

A pig.

The ponies/mini horses were happy.

The whole tour took about 40 minutes and that was only because we were going slowly.  It was a little hard to get around the park, since there isn't much room.  We were held up for a few minutes by a family that was enchanted by one of the monkeys.  And when we did get past them, they didn't necessarily give us a chance to check out the animal ourselves.

I don't think I would necessarily recommend making a special trip from Stuttgart to see this park.  Moreover, although I got the sense that some of the animals did not stay in their enclosures 24/7, the pens did seem a bit small to me.  On the positive side, the animals did all appear to be healthy, well fed, and mostly contented.

The tierpark itself looks like it's outgrown its environment.  There are a lot of different animals packed into what seems to be a rather small place.  I did see some attempts at teaching, with small signs informing visitors in German what they were looking at and including information where the animals come from.  I know this park relies on donations, but if I'm honest, I found it a little sad... especially compared to the Wildpark Pforzheim, which has a lot more room for their animals to move around.  It does appear to be a popular spot for young kids, though, and if you happen to be in the area, it may not be a bad place to stop.

After we visited the animals, Bill and I went into the adjoining town of Rechburghausen and had lunch at the Alte Statione Pizzeria and Restaurant.  It has a nice terrace, as well as a pleasant indoor area.

Bill decides on lunch...

We had a couple of beers that appeared to be special at the restaurant.

I had tagliatelle with rose sauce and smoked salmon.  This was very good, but filling.  I brought half of it home.

Bill had the paprika schnitzel with chips.  This was the "small" portion, which was plenty!  I noticed the pizzas coming out looked and smelled great.  Service was good and prices were very reasonable.  Parking was also easy, since there's a big grocery store across the street.  I noticed people parked there to take walks or bike rides on the nearby nature trail.  

Good lunch stop.

All in all, it was a pleasant enough afternoon, but I would definitely recommend the Wildpark Pforzheim over Der Kleine Tierpark Göppingen.  On the other hand, I did enjoy interacting with the animals and feeding them... even if I did get a little bit closer to the camels' teeth than I wanted to be!