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A New Adventure Ahead

It was March 15, 2011, getting ready for my flight to Stuttgart, Germany. The start of the year had been so much on our family. My granddad passed away in January. It was a real shock. This was the first time that a really close love one had died. My grandparents raised me, so when he died, my mom, stepdad, and grandmother weren’t prepared for that.

With all of that, months down the road we knew more changes were going to happen. My stepdad knew something different was on the horizon, him and my mom were off to Germany. I was on the fence about going. I had never been to Europe. Besides random trips to Canada, had never been out of the country. I was working my job at a Hilton Garden Inn in Aberdeen, Maryland. It wasn’t the best job, but I was actually liking it. Though to be honest it wasn’t going well. I wasn’t a good manager. I had a hard time with my employees. I knew how to do certain things, but anyone that really knows me. I’m not a leader. I can do certain things, but leading isn’t my thing.

When it came time to finally make the decision, I knew what I had to do. Stuttgart, Germany was the place to at least give a try to for a few months. I landed late Wednesday afternoon on March 16, 2011. Can’t say really what was on my mind. The flight and layovers were a lot, I guess I was just happy to see my mom and stepdad. It was time to see what being in another country was all about. My plan was to stay from March to November. If I liked it, then I would stay a little bit longer. Fast forward from planning on just staying 8 months, to staying 8 years later, my life really has changed.

Living overseas really is something everyone should do. You learn so much about different things. You learn things about yourself and you can really figure out what is important, as well as who is important. I met so many people, got to experience so much as well, but still didn’t get as much done as I should have. Of course that is life. It’s funny when I would talk to my friends there, especially the American ones, being in Europe, being in Germany, it was like a vacation. To be able to enjoy picnics in front of a castle, that you walked past on a daily basis. Knowing that you are around hundreds of years of history and its not something overly special. Life was just different.

I would tell people that I met when I would come back to the states about the fact you can drink outside was this amazement to me. Mainly because almost everywhere in the United States this is illegal, but to be honest, it wasn’t just the drinking. It was ease of life. In Germany and in Europe you worked to live. You didn’t live, so you can work. In America, everyone lives to work. I learned that there was more to life. Everyday I was able to walk around, not worry about driving here or there, made my heart so happy. The moments I was able to just walk out of my apartment go and do my grocery shopping, then go back out and get a drink with friends. It made me happy.

Now, don’t get me wrong, living abroad wasn’t always the easiest thing. From awful customer service, various times the language barrier just left you frustrated, and the traffic, my goodness the traffic. Being overseas did make me miss certain things about the states. That however got fixed by the fact that it was still different. It oddly felt like home. I had a nice apartment in a decent area of town. I was able to just go out and run various errands without driving. I was happy!

However, with every good thing, it has to come to an end. My work became the reason that I was able to stay in Stuttgart for such a long time, actually longer than I should have been able to. I was going to move last year with my now ex-girlfriend, but again, life doesn’t always allow you to do what you are supposed to do. With the beginning of the year I knew it was time to make a move. That move was spurred on by other life changing events, which I have discussed here. It was time to come back to America and deal with a country that I was still aware of, I mean you have to know what’s going on in the states, you can’t block it out. If you think it’s possible to block it out. You are just fooling yourself. America is like a mob family, you think you are getting out, but you just get pulled back in.

I’m not back in the states, moved to Vancouver, Washington, yes there is a Vancouver in America. Randomly it is about 5 plus hours from the Vancouver everyone else knows. What does this new move mean. No idea, I have to tell you. I just know that right now. I’m missing my friends. I’m missing the Schloßplatz. I wish I was able to just hang out at the biergarten or just shoot the shit with people I felt like were my family.

I hope to one day be able to start another European/Germany vacation for another stretch. It won’t be like the first one, but you can at least try and make the best of it.

Now to get settled in this new life of living to work, but to tell you. I’m working to live a life full of fun. You only have one life, so you have to do what you can to make it great.

The Aftermath, Part II

It has been a very interesting time in the last few months since I wrote about the issues I had to go through in clearing out my grandmother’s house after her passing.  A lot has happened.  For one, I’m no longer in Germany.  Yes, after over 8 years, the time came to move.  This is the biggest thing of all.  Of course, leaving from a place that I thought of as home and now being back in the states is a big deal.

I have so many things to write about that deal with that move.  It’s going to be lot to go back through in my mind and put down.  I’m really looking forward to it all, I guess.  With all of that being said.  I need to recap and actually do a part II of the process of clearing out the house.  That means I get to do an Aftermath Part II, hence the title of this lovely writing. If you need a refresher, you can always go here.

First, let me say taking care of the house and getting the things that got I done wasn’t easy.  It really left me sad, frustrated, lost, and frankly I just wanted to say fuck it.  You really get to understand and find out what you are really made of in times like this.  You really get to bond and see who is there for you.  Who has good ideas.  You also are able to see what people you want to have on your side and those you can do without.

So what happened with everything, you may ask?  Well, I was able to actually get the house completely empty.  Let me tell you the best thing you want to do is have an estate sale.  If you don’t know what an estate sale is, well, it is the best thing you can do to free your soul and your house of things.  As I mentioned before my grandmother had a lot of stuff.  Way too much stuff.  The task of clearing it out and trying to sale things on my own wasn’t going to be possible.  Enter in the estate sale plan.

I found that my grandmother had a lot of cards.

If you do a search of an estate sales, you will find out that there is a decent amount.  I even found out that friends of friends are doing these things.  When it comes to doing one of these, you really want to have the best.  I’m happy that my dad knows a lot of people.  He was able to get me in touch with one of his friends that is a real estate agent.  She then was able to point me in the right direction.  I do have to say, you still want to do the reading of what you want, but its good to have someone that also can give you more insight. This is not something you want to do alone. You need some sort of a team for this.

One of the main things that you want to do when dealing with the idea of doing an estate sale is interviewing multiple people.  My dads’ friend was able to get me in touch with a lady that she knew.  She was able to present me with her plan.  It was all very interesting, however, let me tell you.  When it comes to having someone sale the items that meant so much to you and your family.  You have to have the feeling that the person is the right person.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have that feeling.  I had heard that there was another person, that was the best of the best.  I wanted the best of the best. 

I should mention I did all of this in the last few days I was in the states.  Not something I really wanted to do, but it is what it is.  I just knew that we had to get rid of things in the house.  I went with Bernard Davis.  This is someone who has done estate sales for almost 20 years.  He came over the house, he walked through, then told me how everything works.  Unfortunately, there were a lot of hiccups in everything that was supposed to be done.  One of the main ones is the fact that being overseas and you are trying to move back to the states, not a great time to have your estate sale person cancel on you with a misunderstanding.  Its also not good to have your future renters try to mark way too many things as not being for sale, when you are supposed to be doing a full sale. 

With all of that, Bernard came through.  We were able to get the house completely empty.  Something I never thought could ever happen, but it did!  Now we are onto a new chapter.  This is the fact that I have a house to take care of.  I’m old enough to do this, but I still am amazed at the fact that this is something I’m doing now.  Luckily, I have my mom and stepdad to help me with a lot.  I frankly don’t know what I would do without them.  We have a lot to do down the road.

Now, I’m back in the states.  Its strange to not be enjoying everything German these past few months, but it is also somewhat nice to be back.  There are a lot of stories to come.  Not to mention a lot of lonely times and frustration.  I guess its all the fun you are supposed to enjoy when you are becoming and are an adult.  Have I mentioned, I really don’t like it.

The Aftermath, Part I

Let me just get this out of the way. When I get these done, these won’t be my normal mission statement of things I like to write, but this is a platform for me to get my thoughts out overall. Where do I begin, the last few months have had a lot going on. I’ve traveled to several countries, checked off a few boxes on things I should’ve done a long time ago, but just now got to doing them. Those stories and all of that fun are going to come at some point.

Currently though, I’m in the states, in Michigan at what is now my house. Do you know how odd it is for me to say, my house? I’m old enough to have a house, but still saying something like that is still odd. When my grandmother passed away in February, I knew life was going to be different. I knew I would have so many more responsibilities, but man, I have a lot going on.

I was prepared in some ways for an issue to come up everyday, but even with that, there is so much to do. My grandparents had a lot of stuff. I mean they did live in this house for almost 30 years, so the fact they have a lot of their stuff, along with the random things I left here, it is a lot. My biggest issue has been, where do I begin?

In any case, I’m still moving on with it. This entire experience has shown me how unprepared I am for basic life. I know how to do things, but dealing with a house, I got nothing.

I started with terms I’ve heard people use, why not do an estate sell. A friend of my dads brought someone over. A lovely lady who gave me information, explained her brand, my issue? She takes 35%, plus charges me a separate fee for her research and other stuff. Sorry, but 35% is a little bit much. I know they have a lot of work to do, but couldn’t they do 20% am I off on that?

The Learning Process of Random Things

My house is in Southfield, did you know you need to have a permit to sell things, like a yard sale, moving sale, etc.? That’s right, I can’t just go ahead and put up a sign and start selling my things. Now that means once I get said permit, I can just start selling things whenever I want, right. Wrong, you get that permit and you only are allowed to do a sale for 5 days, in a 6 month period. Yes, you get your permit, they give you a sign, if you want more than one sign, then you need to pay for the other sign, which can’t be put up by the street sign. If you do, the city can come and take it down. I know a lot of you are thinking, who cares. Does anyone really do a yard sale longer than a few days. No, they don’t, but why do I need to be restricted?

Now don’t get me wrong, I understand. Southfield is one of those cities, that when you go to the City Hall building, they have stuff up that talk about how awesome the city is. I mean 100 of the Fortune 500 companies do business there. I mean, that has to count for something.

What if you I didn’t want to sell the house, but rather I want to rent it out. I’m assuming, you can just rent it out without any issue. That would be another no go my friend. Yup, you need a permit for that. I won’t go into cost, but let’s just say, I understand how a city keeps themselves funded. Not to mention you need to get other inspections and so on. Which again I get, that’s how you don’t have horrible landlords and make sure the property is safe and ready to go. I just don’t know.

What to do with so much

My grandparents had a lot of stuff. I mean a lot of stuff. Clothes, books, VHS tapes, cassettes, oddly that many CD’s, that mess is mine in the house. Not that many, I took the majority with me, when I moved out in 2007. Though even without all of that, so much stuff.

I don’t know why I start with what I started with, but I started with the cabinets. I figured clean out the cabinets of all of the random lotions, cosmetics, keep a few cleaning supplies, etc., that should work out well. Let me tell you, that was an amazing journey. So many lotions, so many. Medicines, random cleaning things. The amount of stuff, would just make you glaze over so many times.

I thought when I started cleaning things out in February when it came to the food was amazing, 7 or 8 different boxes of pancake mix, plus so many expired things. That was nothing in comparison. To be fair, my grandmother had skin problems. She struggled for years, when it came to finding good lotions, moisturizers and all, but I just know the move was, she tried it a few times. It didn’t work out, so she just put it in the cabinet, where it stayed for who knows how many years.

Did you know that lotions, or certain moisturizer will actually separate and when you use them, they are just watery crap? OK, that might just be and my lack of knowing how the world works. My point is, there was so much in the one bathroom and our hallway closet. You would’ve thought a lot of people lived there. Not just one lovely lady.

So much more

If you missed the Part I at the beginning, then yes, this was just part 1. I am still cleaning out things. Remember almost 30 years, OK 27, but who’s really counting after 25? Why am I writing about this? Simple, we have too much stuff in our lives. If the fact that over I don’t know how many of these I get done, make someone realize they need to start getting rid of things. I might have done something good.

I will get back to my mission of writing about travel, but to be honest this is about travel in a way. It is about traveling through someone who you loved and knew for years. My grandmother lived and is missed everyday, she just kept way too many things.

See you when I get the next lovely tale of what I am going through in terms of cleaning things out in the house.

Goodbye

When you get a call from your mother close to 4am on a Sunday morning, you know it can’t be a good thing. Especially when you aren’t at home in your place. I was sleeping in a multiperson hostel with friends in Freiburg.

When I was able to call my mom, I was given the news, I never wanted to receive. My grandmother was gone. She was 84, so she lived a good life, it’s one of those ages where you really can be happy to get to. However, it doesn’t stop the tears, it doesn’t stop the pain. It doesn’t stop the regret.

My grandmother was an interesting person, born in the great depression era, not to mention at a time, when racial equality wasn’t a thing. She made major strides in her life to raise a family with my granddad, have my mom and my uncle. After doing all of that, she raised me.

Just like with any parent, there were conflicts, because she had her way of doing things, she was old school. When I look back, I remember the annoying things that happen. I remember the times she made me upset, didn’t want me to do various things. Wanted me to say a certain thing, but I decided my way was better. I remember the hell I took for not doing it the way she wanted. In hindsight once I got to a certain age, I realized, that’s just the way people grow up and that’s how they learn to do things.

With all of that, her love, her spirit, her guidance are the things that my mom, stepdad, uncle, aunt, and I will miss. My grandmother was tough. She didn’t take anything from anyone. She had a style that today would rub a lot of people wrong, but I have to say is what a lot of situations need. It makes me sad my little sister won’t be able to really know her. My sister is 5, she knows grandma, but as a lot of I know, she doesn’t know her. I wrote a friend that I in some way think it’s better that way. She doesn’t feel the hurt or pain. She’s just a happy little girl, she knows grandma isn’t around anymore, but I know she doesn’t really know what that means. Won’t understand or feel anything until years later.

I know I’m probably really off in this thought, but it’s one thought in my mind. Now life is different. It’s way different. I feel like an adult. Weeks before I told my colleague that because of various work things, I really felt like an adult. I also said I didn’t like it! I just want to be a kid! With no responsibilities or anything. Is that so wrong? I know it’s not real, but that’s what I want.

This last little bit has been a lot on us. I have cried almost everyday, it’s so crazy. My stepdad has told us the torch has been passed on. That is true, in some ways. In others, my grandmother was one of a kind. To do her proud, we have to be kind like her. We have to be friendly like her. Not to mention, we are going to speak our minds to certain people, because even though certain people won’t want to listen to us, they will just have to listen. You might not like what you are going to hear, but you will hear it.

I’ve dealt with the death of loved ones before, my granddad passed away in 2011, another tough moment, but this time is different. This time, I have to stepup, though I really don’t want to. I just want to hide and never come out. It’s not realistic, I know, but that’s what I want. Too bad the clicking the heels thing doesn’t work for real.

Now that would be great.

The Christmas Markets are Here!!

To say it’s the most wonderful time of the year might be a little bit much.  The most wonderful time of the year for me is when the weather is warm and I’m enjoying a beer or some other cold beverage outside.  

The very close wonderful time of the year is clearly when the Christmas Markets open and we are able to enjoy a nice Glühwein (mulled wine) and some other delicious food for about a month.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Christmas Markets (Weihnachtsmarkt), first of all, where have you been?  Second, I’m really sorry for you, and third, there is no third.  I just wanted to make it seem like I might be making a list.

Christmas Markets are exactly what they sound like.  They are an outdoor market, full of really awesome Christmas items.  Would you like a really traditional ornament for your tree?  You can get it there.  Would you like chocolate, pastries, household goods, warm socks, etc?  They have all of that.  To tell you the truth, I’m not really sure what you can’t find at the market.  I live close to the Stuttgart market, so I go almost every day for some reason.

With all of that, what is the best thing about Christmas Markets?  Well, to me its that every city has one and every cities market has something unique to it.  Take one of the favorites in our area in Esslingen.  They have a medieval market, where they have hot tubs, flamethrowers, and so much more.    

My second year here, I decided to do a tour of several markets.  I went to almost 10 different markets.  It was fun, I was able to see what every city had, experience some unique food.  Met some interesting people, and had some really tasty warmed beverages.  Interest anyone in a tasty warm Gin and Tonic?  Yes, that was a thing, and yes, it was really good.  Not to mention, even got an online spot in the Nordbayern photo gallery for people coming to the markets.

Now that some of the main markets are open.  You might not know where to go.  I’ve put together a list of the ones I would suggest you need to see.  Also, before you ask, Germany isn’t the only place that has Christmas Markets.  If it’s a cold climate country, they most likely have one.  Take Prague for example, though I still haven’t been.  I’ve heard their market is pretty cool.  Take the time this season, drive, catch the train, get a flight, whatever works for you, and go out and see these awesome places.  It will be worth it.  Even if you aren’t into Christmas stuff. Go for some food and drinks, everyone likes something warm and delicious, right?

Stuttgart Weihnachtsmarkt (28 November – 23 December 2018)

Some of you might think because I live in Stuttgart, I have to put it down.  Well, some of you are kind of correct.  However, hear me out, the Stuttgart market is pretty good.  You have countless stands, around 300, to buy a wide array of items for Christmas gifts.  Several stands where you can be inside in the warmth.  Not to mention the various extensions of the regular market.  One of the extensions is the Finnish Market.  This market is awesome.  You are able to get some smoked lachs (hot smoked salmon) right off of a nice fire.  Not to mention the glühwein, they have the Finnish version called glögi.  The biggest difference between the two is the spicing, dried fruits are added, instead of just sugar, for one primary difference.  The glögi is also able to be paired with some very nice and shots, which enhance the mulled wine experience.

Last, but not least in all of this, is the fact they have tippees, where they have a nice fire going.  Yes, you can get your drink on, but be nice and warm.  To go along with these things.  You also have the Wintertraum, where you can get a few drinks after the main market has closed, oh if you feel like it.  You can go ice skating.

Der Esslinger Mittelaltermarkt & Weihnachtsmarkt (Medieval Market and Christmas Market (27 November 2018 – 21 December 2018)

What is considered to be one of the best markets.  The Esslingen medieval market is a mix of your standard fair market, but another side all to itself.  You have your standard stands, with all of your standard Christmas items, plus a lot your standard food, sausages, käsespatzle, various types of stews.  Once you leave from the normal and go into the medieval, you see people carving things.  Medieval clothing, plus some of the most tastiest food you will ever find at a market.  They have venison gulasch, along with some amazing pizzas with lamb, venison, and what my friend calls the best käsespatzle.  For reference, käsespatzle is the German version of mac n’ cheese.

They have also have some flamethrowers, you can throw knives, axes, do some bo and arrows too.  You might wonder what these things have to do with Christmas.  Frankly, I have no idea, but they are some pretty cool activities to see.

Munich Weihnachtsmarkt (Varying start dates, some ending on 24 December 2018)

The Munich market isn’t just one market.  They have markets.  If you are familiar with Munich and the various places to see there, then you won’t be surprised to know, that there are way more locations to go and see things.  If you really want to get a true feel of everything they have.  You can read about my trip there several years ago when I did one of the best trips with a group when it comes to seeing a market.

In short, they have a market in the Marienplatz area, there is a gay market, called Pink Christmas, where they have a daily cabaret show.  There is also a medieval market as well, oh, they also have a pretty cool one in the English Garden.  We did several in one day, but you should probably give yourself a few days.

Strasbourg and Colmar (23 November – 30 December 2018)

If you start early enough in your day, you can do both the Strasbourg and Colmar markets.  I’ll be honest, going to a French Christmas market isn’t exactly like going to the German markets.  However, you aren’t that far away from the German border, so you will see a few similiarities.

You can start in Colmar, spend several hours there, see the town, then drive the hour to Strasbourg and see their several markets.  Colmar has 6 Christmas markets.  Each is its own little village, the 6th is the newest one this year, which is for gourmets.  I think I’ve found my new favorite one.  The best thing I found about Colmar was the setup.  As you walk, it was like a new discovery.  Like I said, you can do two of these in one day, but you might get caught up and not want to.

The Strasbourg market has a lot going for it, with 300 different stands, full of amazingness.  When you walk in you are greeted with the true feel of Christmas.  You have stands, with ornaments, clothing, wine, cheese.  You know, things that make France, well, France.  Like Colmar, you have several markets, or little villages with things going on.  You really need to walk around and try not to miss anything.  

The great thing about each of the French markets is that they are open after Christmas.  In Strasbourg, they won’t have everything open as far as every area, but as I found out several years ago, they still have a lot for you to see and do.

Der Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt

I have to say there isn’t a list of markets that won’t list the Nürnberg Christmas market.  Though to be honest, it wasn’t my favorite when I did my tour years ago.  In the main square, you had a lot of repetition of items.  I lost count of how many mini bratwursts stands I saw, but there were a lot.  I can say that the market in full though was very nice.  One of the big draws is the largest Feuerzangebowle (fire tong punch), a better description is that it’s mulled wine that has a rum-soaked sugar cube dripping into it.  Now that the technical explanation is out of the way.  It’s deliciousness in a cup!  

You have hundreds of stands, that will definitely openup  your eyes to one of the best markets in Germany.  Things you will need to get, so you’ll know you did it right.  Get a few Lebkuchen (Gingerbread cookies), get a few mini bratwursts, you can find them at a lot of places.  Lastly, like I said above, Feuerzangebowle, you gotta do it.  Even if you aren’t a rum fan, you can deal with at least one of these.  

First off, if you made it through this list, thank you!  You deserve a glühwein on me.  You just have to come to Stuttgart to get it.  There are a lot of wonderful markets all through Europe if you live in a German city, that city will have one.  It might not be 6 weeks long, like your bigger cities, but you will at least have a good weekend or longer to enjoy one.

If you can’t make it to Europe or Germany, a lot of countries are starting to have markets.  Get in the spirit and enjoy the season.  Thank you for taking the time and stopping by!

Malaga, ​the destination, you have to visit

Are you looking for somewhere really nice to go, but isn’t the normal tourist place?  If so, let me tell you about a nice trip my girlfriend and I took to Malaga, Spain.  This fabulous city located in the Costa del Sol (sun coast) region was a great trip, especially since around that time Stuttgart was doing what Stuttgart and various parts of Germany do.  It was starting to be freezing out.

Malaga might not be on your list of places to see in Spain, frankly, it wasn’t top of my list either.  We all know the main places, Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia.  I should probably mention, I’ve been to those three, though Madrid was only like 6 or 7 hours, but I’m still counting it.  Spanish cities have a charm and chill nature that just make you want to see what they have to offer.  I mean they take siestas, what can be better than that?

Now if you look it up, you’ll notice something pretty convenient about making Malaga your starting point.  This is the fact it’s a central location for seeing other fascinating cities in the southern region of Spain.  You are able to travel to Granada, Seville, and Gibraltar.  Not to mention other smaller cities that have so much to offer.  If you have ever have seen pictures or know anything about white towns, those villages where the buildings are just white, these are good to see.  You won’t be sorry at all.

You can do a lot in a European city within several days.  We were there just under a week, landed on Sunday, left on a Friday.  One thing that we found to be really cool, especially for the fact that we are beer drinkers, is the fact that Malaga has a lot of craft beer bars.  Yes, the country that is known for sangria, along with really amazing wines, has some really nice, affordable craft beer places.

I’m happy to say that we tried out a good amount of those places, along with really awesome finds not beer related.  Of course, there are a lot of places people who have gone to Malaga enjoyed.  Here are a few of those really cool places, I think you should go and see for sure.

Craft Beer  Bars

Central Beers

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Central Beers is a nice craft beer bar and restaurant.  Honestly, what is better than traditional Spanish dishes, with tasty craft brews.  They have several beers on tap, along with countless bottles of beer from around the globe.  This included a nice selection of my favorite beer, which is Belgium beers.  For food, they have a good selection of burgers.  We had ham that was stuff with cheese then deep fried, so pretty much a very large croquette.  This was a perfect meal to share and enjoy.

La Madriguera

One of the more interestingly setup places was La Madriguera.  When you walk past this place, you wouldn’t think much of it, but once you walk in, you are greeted with a board full of beers, Spanish, Belgium, Scottish, plus many more.  The Bartender for our visits, yes, visits were always really good.  They could give a lot of recommendations.  Here unlike Central Beers, they have more bar food selection of items, with a few unexpected things.  Like  Poke bowl, not something I would normally be getting, but they have it there for you.  It’s obvious that a few American inspired things made their way onto their menu.  Depending on your plan for the night, you should go here and get a few drinks.

Arte & Sana Craft Beer Cafe

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This was one of the best places that we went for sure.  Their selection of beers definitely impressed and made us wanting more for sure.  Out of these three places listed, this by far looked like a dive.  Though, what they didn’t provide in a hipster like setup, you were welcomed with so many delicious varieties of beers.  Unlike the other places, there aren’t any food options here.  There are a few places nearby that you can go to for a quick snack, then come back for another beer, but nothing on site.

Cafes, Restaurants, Good drinks, and Eats

Gloria Hoyos

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We stayed in an apartment that wasn’t very far from Gloria Hoyos.  Every day, we walked past here, looked in and said, “It looks good, we should go.”  It took until our last evening to finally do it.  If you want your fill of tasty traditional Spanish Tapas, this is your spot.  The decor is a little eclectic, but still fun and interesting to see.  They have a live DJ, along with other live music that happens too.  If it’s you and a group of people, or just you and your partner, then order up a variety of things, then go to town.  Lastly, they breakfast, yes, we went back there for breakfast on our last morning there.  Go there for breakfast too, it will be worth it.

La Tranca

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Buen domingo, trancosos!! #latranca #dominguito

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Listen to me here, you need to go to this place.  Out of the bars, restaurants, other things I’ve mentioned and will be mentioning, La Tranca was pretty neat.  This smallish cafe has so much going on, it’s just great.  We were big on drinking beer during our trip, but you have to drink wine here or try one of their aged Vermouths.  They are serving you directly from the barrels.  I had one because, why wouldn’t I have one?  What I found to be pretty cool was the singing of the bartenders.  The night we were there, the bartender was a guy, that was just doing his thing.  They also have some tapas, which if you want to do it in true Spanish style, get a little something there, then start your tapas tour of other places.

La Recova

The best way to describe this place, simple.  Several days for breakfast, I would see people eating bread with olive oil, and thought how cool that was.  At La Recova, you get some toast, homemade jams, and spreads, some tomatoes, plus some other random things you can also order separately.  Some fruit, other vegetables, etc.  This place doubles as what I would say is an antique shop as well.  The food, coffee, juices are pretty good, and again, simple.  Something that I have come to enjoy and love about Spanish food, the use of simple ingredients, that create tasty flavorful dishes.

Sights and Places to See

Mercado Central de Atarazanas

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Do you like markets?  Do you like a market where you can see a lot of different things under one roof?  If you answered yes to either of these things, then the Mercado Central de Atarazanas is a must.  I’ve been to several markets like this in Spain and this one definitely ranks high on the list.  You are able to find some really awesome Spanish Chorizo sausage, various amounts of fruits, vegetables, nuts, dried fruits, etc.  What’s another thing that makes this place interesting?  There were a few stands where you can order various types of croquettes.  They are sold by weight so you can mix a lot of different types of things.  I’m happy to say that we had a few different things.

Playa de La Malagueta

Malaga Beach

The Playa de La Malagueta is one of the closest beaches to Malaga’s city center, about a 10-minute walk.  This is a beautiful beach and definitely one of the first places you have to go and see, that is after you’ve had your sangria, beer, or that glass of wine.  I mean Spain, beaches, can you really go wrong?  Up and down the beach are various restaurants and cafes to get a quick bite or a cold drink.  We stopped, got some seafood, along with a nice pitcher of sangria.  You can’t go wrong with whatever it is you decide to do on the beach.  If you just sit on the beach, go for a swim, or walk around the area.  You will enjoy and just want to stay and enjoy more.

El Teatro Romano

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The El Teatro Romano is a pretty different site.  This outdoor theater has the traditional Roman tier seating, not to mention is still used from time to time for special events.  What makes this spot pretty interesting as well, is the fact you can just walk down the Calle Alcazabilla, then turn your head and see this amazing landmark.  It is located near the Alcazaba, which is another must-see landmark.  All in all, this entire area should be on your list while in Malaga.

There is so much more to write and mention, but I think we all have enough to ponder and think about.  There will be more, look out for Granada and Nerja, which were so good, they deserve their own separate story.

Thank you for taking the time and watch out for more.  So many more trips and stories to tell.

Stuttgart’s​ Best Burgers

In my 7 years of living in Germany, mainly here in Stuttgart, there are various meals I really do miss from the states.  Now I can easily cook these things myself, but as we all know, there is a time, when you don’t want to have to go and buy the ingredients for whatever.  You don’t want to have to go and have that random jar of this or that, then a month later think, “What am I going to do with this?”

Over the years I have become resourceful.  That big bottle of tahini, well you can make a dressing, use it for a crumble topping, even make a dessert, I should say desserts.  I digress, those meals I really miss are those things that even though I can fix it, you want someone else to make it for you because that’s how you learn to taste food differently, figure out how something was made, then go back home, make it myself.  That, in turn, saves me about €20 ($23), when I really want to go and fix that meal myself.

With all of that, what do I miss?  First has to be Mexican.  I really never thought I would miss a good Mexican meal, but once you have been burned several times here in Stuttgart, then the closest good place is in Munich.  You figure out what you are missing.  The second thing, which if you just didn’t just scroll down and miss the title, is a burger.  Who knew that a city could mess up the humble, simple hamburger.  Stuttgart is always right there saying, “Hold my beer.”

The bright side is that Stuttgart over the last few years has improved their burger game.  I have tried a good amount of the burger places here, even did a little Facebook poll last week, just to see what some of my friends thought about a few places too.  With all of that, I’m going to be going over what I feel are Stuttgart’s Best Burgers.  Yes, there are more new places.  I have tried a lot of them.  Of course, I might do another list, but these are the ones I think everyone should try.

Let’s look at a few of the places Stuttgart has to offer, in no particular order:

Triple B

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Triple B came on the scene several years ago and they raised the game in Stuttgart in a major way.  One of the problems that you find a lot of the time in Stuttgart is that they add a lot of unnecessary extras in their “burgers”.  As one friend described it, the burger in Stuttgart is meatloaf.  At Triple B you are getting a true beef burger that is cooked correctly.  You have a lot of options for burgers too.  You can get a standard cheeseburger, have a little spice, with some jalapenos, or if you are feeling really fancy, you can get some gold on your burger.  Yes, that’s right, editable gold on a burger.

Now let’s talk about the extras, like fries.  The fries are pretty good there.  They compliment the burger perfectly.  Unfortunately, another sign that you aren’t in a burger eating cultural, fries aren’t included.  You have to order them separately.  You can either get a space portion or a large, which is enough for two people if you are dining with someone else.  Lastly, when you order a burger here, remember to get the bigger burger.  One more time, because I know, a lot of people won’t know what I’m talking about.  They have a 100-gram (around 4 ounces) burger and a 200-gram burger (around 7 ounces).  Go big!  It fits better when it comes to eating it and let’s be honest, bigger is better when it comes to a burger.

Prices:  The price range for a burger here goes from a standard burger at 200 grams (remember, go big, I’m not steering you wrong) €8.50 ($10) up to the 23 karat gold burger at €19.90 ($23).  If you want to add fries, then add €2.90 ($3.40) to the total.  You are spending around €12-€15 ($14-$18) for a normal burger, drinks not included.

Locations:  Triple B has a location in Stuttgart, their newest one, along with the original in Zuffenhausen.  Try both, The Stuttgart location is in the center of town, always very busy.  Not a lot of space, depending on when you arrive.  The Zuffenhausen location allows you to move around a little bit more, but still, both get very busy.  Lastly, the Stuttgart location is closed on Sundays.

The Burger House

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The Burger House comes in as another good burger place that I normally like to try.  First, they are a chain, I know some people don’t like chains, but they aren’t a McDonald’s like chain.  Though they have a Burger House in Kuwait City, which is amazing to me.  A chain from Bavaria, with one location in the Middle East, not bad.

Getting back to the burgers though.  The Burger House has a very good burger, that is juicy and cooked to order.  You want medium, you can get medium.  Frankly, medium is the best way to go.  I’m not a hockey puck fan.  Their burgers are 125 grams (5 ounces), yes a little small compared to Triple B, but the flavor is there.  You can get a double burger, but you can stick with regular size.  Fries are extra, but they also have sweet potato fries, if you want something different.  Not to mention they have hand cut fries, pretty much wedges, but they are good if you are in that mood.

If you want to get something other than your standard bacon, cheese, or just a regular burger.  Burger House throws you some interesting toppings.  The Chorizo burger, a slice of deli-style chorizo, gouda cheese, and a basil sauce.  The Big West, a fried onion ring, bacon, and bbq sauce.  Not to mention the Vato Loco Burger, guacamole, jalapeños, and bacon.

Prices:  The prices for the burgers here range from €4.99 ($6) for a small cheeseburger, 75 grams (3 ounces) up to €15.99 ($19) for a jumbo burger, 500 grams (around 1 pound).  Add fries to that, €2.99 ($3.50).  If you are going to get a classic burger that’s €7.49 ($8.80), with fries, you are at about €11 ($13).  The other burgers, like The Big West, are €9.99 so you could be spending €13 ($15), again, drinks not included.

Locations:  As stated before, The Burger House is a chain, the original in Stuttgart is in the center of town.  They have a location in Stuttgart-West as well, along with Ludswigburg as well.  They are open every day which is a plus for sure.

Burger.Place

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Burger.Place, that is the name of the place and the website, FYI.  This a Canadian style burger.  I know for many Americans, you would think what do they know about burgers, but this place is good.  They serve up a 175 grams (6 ounces) burger, that has good flavor is all beef.  They have a new location in Zuffenhausen, their original was in Feuerbach, which is where I originally found them.  Not a complete cooked to order burger, so no medium for you.  Though they don’t cook it until the cows come home.  See what I did there?  The people who run it, are German, who spent several years in Canada, learning the ways of the burgers, probably also picked up some hockey skills too.

Just like other places and the trend nowadays, you can get your burger with a lot of stuff.  Can I interest you in a Pulled Pork Beefty-Boy?  That’s a burger topped with pulled pork, bbq, along with the normal toppings, lettuce, tomato, and mayo.  You can even design your own burger if you would like.  Fries are extra, but they also have onion rings and poutine for our Canadian friends.  I’m not sure if they are real cheese curds, or they are using mozzarella, so be cautious there.

Prices:  The prices range from €6.50 ($7.65) for the kids and senior burger, that is 110 grams (almost 4 ounces) up to €19.95 ($24) for a burger that is pretty much man v. food style of a burger.  4 patties, a lot of cheese and bbq sauce.  Add fries €2.95 ($3.50), you are spending about €10-€23 ($12-$27).  Drinks as is normal, aren’t included.  Though, at Burger.Place, they have root beer, plus a few other interesting beverages, not just beer.  If you are interested.

Locations:  Burger.Place has just one location.  They are closed on Sundays, so Monday through Saturday are your times to go and get a tasty Canadian style burger.

Final Thoughts

I didn’t mention it for all of the places, but each one has a veggie burger option, not to mention a chicken sandwich, or as they call it, a chicken burger.

The Bun Game

I am a big bread person.  I like my bread to be a certain way.  With that being said, don’t look for the perfect bun with any of these places.  Just go in and taste the burger.  The Burger House has a decent bun, the rest are OK, but it’s not like what I know a lot of you are looking for.  On the other hand, the buns are locally made in a lot of cases, so that is something for you all.

Please comment, share, and definitely try out some burgers!  Stuttgart has a burger place on like every corner nowadays.  Cheers!

 

 

 

Peach Moscow Mule

It’s all coming to an end.  Sadly, it always comes to an end.  You look at reports, you look outside, things just aren’t the same anymore.  You know it has to end, but why?  Can’t it last forever?

Unfortunately, nothing last forever, so yes.  We have to say goodbye to summer.  Oh, I can only wonder what you might have thought I was talking about.  Anyhow, yes, it is Labor day weekend.  The unofficial end to summer, well, for America that is.  Here in Germany, labor day was several months ago.  This week we have seen various temperature swings.  A glorious 80℉ (27℃) plus day, with a few days on the outside, where I’ve seen people wearing heavier than normal jackets.  Yes, it is coming to an end.

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I, however, will not allow summer to leave without a nice seasonal cocktail or two, maybe three.  Say hello to the Peach Moscow Mule.  A lot of us think of the peach being the star of your peach cobbler, peaches and cream of course too, maybe even a peach jam or jelly.  I look at a peach and think, how can I put this into a cocktail.  I mean, when you have a lot of peaches, you need to do something with them that’s different, right?

Now, normally I have ginger beer in the frig.  I also always have vodka, throw in a lime, you have the traditional Moscow Mule.  I just need the copper cup and I would have all of my bases covered.  The good thing about the Moscow Mule is that you can add different flavors to it.  Adding the peach really provide a unique flavor that elevates this drink and gives it that summer feel.

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When making this, make sure you have a nice ripe peach.  If it doesn’t feel soft in at least one or two places, don’t bother making this drink.  Let the peach sit on the counter to ripen a day or two more, and make something else.  You need ripe fruit so that you get the proper flavor for this drink. Give this drink a try, it’s construction is simple, which means you can make a few and really enjoy your Labor Day weekend.  Be safe and enjoy the weekend!  I know I will be, with a few of these, plus some other really awesome creations!  Cheers!!

Peach Moscow Mule

Prep Time: 10 Minutes             Total Time:  10 Minutes      Yield: 1 Drink

Ingredients

  • 1 Peach, unpeeled and sliced
  • 1/2 oz fresh lime juice (about the juice from one 1/2 lime)
  • 1 1/2 oz Vodka
  • 3 oz Ginger
  • Peaches for garnish

Directions

In a rocks glass add your sliced peaches, reserve two or three slices for garnish.  To the glass add your lime juice and muddle until you have a nice looking paste.  You want it to be pretty much liquefied.

Add vodka, then ice to the glass, stir to combine this part of the drink.  Pour ginger beer on top, give it another light stir to combine this portion of the drink.  Add peaches to your drink on top for garnish.  Serve immediately.

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Gin Blackberry Smash

Oh look, it’s the weekend again.  I have to say, when I get up to start my Monday, I kind of think how fast or slow will this week go?  Next thing you know, it’s Thursday and I’m trying to figure out the weekend plans, praying that Monday doesn’t come too quickly.

With all of that, just like I wrote about a few weeks ago, a cocktail has to be in the mix.  This week I got to go to the farmers market, where I saw some awesome looking blackberries.  Over the years I have learned to enjoy various berries.  The one issue I always run into is finding ripe, sweet berries.  Finding strawberries, not a problem, while blueberries, raspberries, leave a lot to be desired.  However, these blackberries were good to go.

Along with the love for berries, I have also found a love for gin, not to mention my girlfriends help too.  The variations that are available really mix well with a lot of different cocktails.  Just like my Gin Blackberry Smash.  A blackberry smash might not be something a lot of people are familiar with.  I wasn’t really familiar with a smash cocktail until I was at one of the bars in my neighborhood and I had a Gin Basil Smash.  I think this is what really opened my mind up more to gin.  Before I associated gin with the taste and smell of a pine tree.  With years and more experience in drinking, I’m a gin fan now!

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Now for this fabulous drink, the components aren’t exotic.  They are however seasonal.  For me though, these are things that I always like to have around.  I think everyone should have mint and limes around, especially in the summer.  Making a simple syrup is well, simple.  You just need sugar and water, bring it to boil, let it cool.  You are good to go.  I should mention the gin too, but I think if you got this far, you know gin is a prerequisite.

I hope you take the time this weekend, or anytime really to make this blackberry smash cocktail.  You won’t be disappointed!

Gin Blackberry Smash

Prep Time: 10 Minutes             Total Time:  10 Minutes      Yield: 1 Drink

Ingredients

  • 8 Blackberries
  • 7 Mint Leaves
  • 1 oz lime juice (about the juice from one 1 lime)
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • 2 oz Gin
  • Garnish of Mint sprig, and 2 to 3 Blackberries (optional)

Directions

In a rocks glass add ice and set aside.  In a cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients except the gin, and your garnishes.  Muddle the shaker ingredients until you can smell the mint and the blackberries are completely liquified.  Add the gin, followed by ice, put the cap on.  Shake vigorously for about 30 seconds, or until shaker is extremely cold.

Strain cocktail into your prepared rocks glass and garnish with mint and blackberries if using.  Serve immediately.

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Cherry Jam Margarita

It’s the weekend!  The weather here in Stuttgart has had its moments.  a few moments of sun, followed by it going away for a while, then you get some rain mixed in there.

With the weather being nice at points, here Stuttgart, that is anything over 72 °f (22 °c), I start going out for more walks in my neighborhood, as well as to the farmers market.  Not to mention you see really nice seasonal fruits and vegetables come about.  When I start seeing strawberries, blueberries, cherries, etc.  I can’t help but just want to make a nice cocktail.  Normally, if you follow my instagram, you know I love a Friday cocktail.  I come home after work, hit my liquor cabinet and decide what I’m in the mood for.  My Friday rule is pretty clear, nothing too simple, because I deserve something tasty as a reward for finishing a week of work.

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This time I was in the mood for a margarita.  I enjoy the taste of a margarita, if you can find a nice tequila that goes down smooth and mixes well, then you have a great drink.  A problem that I’ve run into here in Stuttgart is finding a tequila like that.  That’s why when I get a visitor, OK, when my mom comes, or a friend,  I ask for a nice bottle.  This time it was Milagro.  This is a wonderfully smooth tequila, that you can shot and not feel horrible the next day.

With my love of cocktails and also because I live in a neighborhood that has some of the best bars in the world, seriously I have a bar (Schwarz Weiss) that was voted as one, I’m constantly inspired to learn from them, then come home and make a great drink, for way less of a cost.  This time it is a cherry jam margarita.  Yes, if you never thought about it, you can make a great drink using that jar of jam or jelly in your frig.

If you want to try out different flavors, go get a jar of jam, you will be amazed.  It works in many ways.  You have something, which will impart the flavor you are looking for from that particular fruit, along with the sweetness you might also enjoy.

If you are looking for that first cocktail to make tonight, or really any night in general, then make this Cherry Jam Margarita.  Once you do, make sure to tell me about it.  I know I can’t be the only person who enjoys a nice Friday drink to start the weekend.

Cherry Jam Margarita

Prep Time: 10 Minutes             Total Time:  10 Minutes      Yield: 1 Drink

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon cherry jam
  • 1 oz lime juice (about the juice from one 1 lime)
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 1 1/2 oz Silver Tequila
  • Dash Angostura Bitters
  • Garnish of a lime wedge, or a cherry (optional)

Directions

In a rocks glass add ice and set aside.  In a cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients, except for garnishes.  Fill shaker with ice and put the cap on.  Shake vigorously for about 30 seconds, or until shaker is extremely cold.

Strain cocktail into your prepared rocks glass and garnish with lime wedge or a cherry if using.  Serve immediately.