Thursday, October 3, 2019

Thermal pools from Stuttgart

After 4.5 years in Germany, we continue to enjoy our favorite thermal pools and try new ones from time to time. When we lived in Rhineland-Pfalz (near Landstuhl/Ramstein), our go-to place was the Saarland Therme. We haven’t been there since moving to Stuttgart but have new experiences and recommendations.

No photos of the thermal baths to share with you, due to privacy and courtesy inside. German “thermalbads” are usually built over natural hot springs, the oldest of which are located in towns starting with the word “Bad” = bath. Before moving to Stuttgart, we had already been to Baden-Baden, where we went to the thermal pool WITH BATHING SUITS. The famous Friedrichsbad is “textile free” so we did not go there. The Caracalla pools in Baden-Baden are not as large compared with other locations, but they make for a nice break if you want to keep your bathing suit on. There were a lot of kids when I popped in for the 1.5 hour ticket to warm up during a day trip from Stuttgart for the Christmas markets. It was sooooo cold that day, and it was glorious to warm up in the water, watching the steam rise from the outdoor pool, which you can get to from the indoor pool by swimming through a short passageway with plastic flaps over the exit.

Our favorite close-to-Stuttgart place is in Beuren, about 45 minutes down the A-8 towards Munich. The Panorama Therme has LOTS of pools for bathing suit clad people, and also a sauna area for textile-free. There are 3 indoor pools, one of which has massage stations around the sides where you stand for a minute or so and jets are aimed at your legs, back, etc. There are 3 outdoor pools, one of which is COLD, but that makes some people happy. With your bathing suit on, you have a choice of 3 steam rooms, 2 with a fragrance in the air, 1 salt steam. 2 saunas and 2 relaxation rooms complete the choices (with bathing suits). I don’t use the heat lamp room and the whirlpool is too hot for me except on the coldest winter day, but they are there for you. The restaurant is being renovated, but the snack bar has a few hot lunch/dinner choices and many Germans bring a picnic to be consumed in the picnic room. There are loungers out on the lawn, with umbrellas or without. There is a nice restaurant on the other side of the parking lot with the best home-made ice cream in Germany, according to Jeff.

We also recommend the Franken Therme, a sold 2 hour drive north-east from Stuttgart, near Rothenburg ob der Tauber. You can do it in a day, but it would be a nice weekend, too, either at a hotel next to the baths, or in Rothenburg or Nuremberg, another 30 minutes or so further. The Franken Therme features salt water pools, several of which offer a foam flotation device to put around your neck so you can float freely and gaze at the sky. What an amazing experience! Two of the indoor pools are lightly salted and slightly floaty, one of which has massage stations. One outdoor pool is very salty and under a clear, rounded canopy, with plastic flaps to the outdoor salt pool. There is another slightly salty outdoor pool, a restaurant, and a textile free sauna area. We got the 4.5 hour pass for 15 Euros, and when you purchase at least 9 Euros of food while inside the pool area, you get an extra 30 minutes in the pools for free. There are plenty of chairs outside, a good number inside, and a pleasant relaxation room that is supposed to be quiet (excepting those relaxed souls who are snoring!). Lots of folks brought picnics and ate bakery items right on the indoor lounge chairs. 

Saturday, September 21, 2019

The PCS ring binder (episode 3)

I got out the PCS ring binder today! Why, oh, why is this move thing called a “Permanent Change of Station” (PCS) when it’s going to last 2-3 years and then happen again? Oh well, I have more important things to do than argue about a poorly-named situation.
It feels like we are in a "doorway moment" in life
Does anyone else keep their PCS ring binder tucked away as-is for next time? Ours sat in our first home in Germany for nearly 3 years, and has rested here in Stuttgart for 1.5 years now. Why reinvent the wheel when it’s the same thing again?
We went to Mainau AGAIN... stop and smell the roses amidst the uncertainty
Task #1 = clean out leftover paperwork from the last move, such as old utility close-out bills from our former place. Ensure empty plastic sleeves and fresh lined notebook paper in every tab.
Recent trip to Indiana
Task #2 = make notes of what is going to be different. Some tabs are the same, such as “current home” and “new home”, while other tabs need adjusting. Our last move within Germany was door to door, and we loaded the cats into our cars that we just drove to the new place. Moving across the ocean involves 2 different shipments: everything in our house, and a smaller load of things we need more quickly. We are considering not shipping a car, since we are  moving to snow land, thus needing a vehicle more sturdy than the beloved Prius.
Another painting class at the arts'n'crafts center
Task #3 = start filling in sections as feasible. For example, a list of items to give away or sell before we move. Give away house plants, an older carpet, etc. Sell IKEA glass-fronted cabinet that will never survive the move. Make veterinarian appointments for the cats. Phone numbers of temporary lodging (military hotel) in all locations. Research housing options in the new location. Rent or buy?
One of three pools at our local community "Freibad" (outdoors)

Not in the ring binder: begin clearing out our belongings more ruthlessly than before. Donate, throw away, shred, or keep? We are in the “hurry up and wait” phase, which will drag out seemingly forever, and then lickety split we’ll be in zooming around mode. Stay tuned! Any PCS ring binder tips?

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

2019 update from the cats

Whew, what a year it has been! Sebastian turned 19 years old and is doing great despite a diagnosis of kidney disease last year. He is guzzling water out of a new plug-in fountain recommended by the veterinarian, and takes lots of naps. He still likes to go in the yard on his leash. The German veterinarian admired Sebastian for doing great in his old age!
Sidney missed Jeff so much during the deployment, and she is happy that he's home. She is the only cat who sits in Jeff's lap while he is working on the computer at his desk. Sidney supervises the birds and squirrels in our yards, as they chirp, build nests, and carry around peanuts and walnuts from somewhere else in the neighborhood.
Ida spent very little time hiding during the deployment, spending most of her days on top of the bed. She is getting used to Jeff being back. Ida follows her routine faithfully: waking us up in the morning to be petted, breakfast, nap, and petting again at night before bed time. She doesn’t go outside like the other 2 cats, but knows what’s going on by watching out the windows.
All 3 cats have loved their regular cat-sitter, whose mom drives her over every day while we are traveling. We recently went to Israel and the cat-sitter was on the same trip, so the cats got to know another cat-sitter from the Chapel service.
The cats visit the basement briefly but don’t hang out there as much. Sidney likes the windows, with great views of the front and back yards. Our permanent cats were glad to hear that our almost-4th-cat is living the high life at the home of friends where we used to live. They were exhausted from being mad at him before we moved, and say that 3 cats is enough!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany (ON the beaten path)

How is it that I’ve been to Rothenburg 3 times in the past 4 years but haven’t written a post about it? Another time as a kid, but no digital photos in the olden days. The first time in Rothenburg we were on the way “home” from Vienna, and stayed for one night. We walked around the following morning, then completed the drive to Kaiserslautern. Last year I attended a women’s Bible study retreat, and didn’t take many photos, though the experience was wonderful.
This year I returned for the same retreat, and participated in a guided city tour. Learned some new things, so the tour was worth it despite the SNOW in May. There were tons of tourists (ourselves excluded, since we live in Germany) all 3 times, so Rothenburg is absolutely a popular place to visit. The typical cobblestone paths are surrounded by walls you can climb on and walk along.
There are still some hotels with antique features, and a good German common-sense umbrella holder in the room!
Restaurant food is standard German fare; plenty of shops are filled with toys, books, clothes, Christmas ornaments, and souvenirs. I didn’t care for the “snowball” desserts, so cannot recommend them.  
The cathedral is beautiful, and I’m glad that I participated in a daytime tour. Just keep exploring the little alleys and make interesting discoveries as you stroll around.