Hotel Löwen

The Joint

Klosterhof 41, Ulm-Söflingen, Germany, 89077
+49 (0) 731 388 588 0

Heading further South and East from Burg Hohenzollern towards, we stopped in Ulm for the night at Hotel Restaurant Löwen. Sarah found it through booking.com. Our expectations were rather low, since we just wanted a place to sleep, and initially didn’t plan on eating there or exploring Ulm (native Franks and Bavarians had warned us that Ulm is not worth exploring), but I guess we were just lucky because this place was super. The price, at 112€ a night for a double with breakfast the next morning, was a little more than we like to spend, but just having cheaped out at Hôtel Aux Trois Roses, we could afford it. And it seemed like it was worth more than 112€ anyway.

Our room was very modern in design — lots of ultra-euro shapes and angles and surfaces, including a solid glass sliding door for entry into the bathroom, a fixed glass sprayguard half enclosing the shower cabin. When we asked about the WiFi network, the reception clerk apologetically handed us an ethernet cable (haven’t seen one of those in awhile!), because the signal wasn’t strong enough in our room. I thought that was a nice touch; usually you just get “well, it works in our Lobby…”

We ended up eating there that night and were very impressed with the atmosphere and attitude of the staff and quality and value of the food. This was my favorite breakfast spread of the road trip; a waitress came around to ask if we were sure we wouldn’t like some individually prepared eggs. And when I said “yes, thanks, one over-medium for me please,” she whispered in a mock-conspiratorial tone “Two is customary…are you sure you wouldn’t you like two?”

I like that. I’d stay there again for sure.

My location
Get Directions

Hôtel Aux Trois Roses

The Joint

7 Rue De Zurich
67000 Strasbourg
France

http://www.hotel3roses-strasbourg.com/

The location of this hotel is pretty great – right across one of the myriad bridges leading into the heart of the old town. The gentleman at reception was very patient with our questions and even let us check in early, as our rooms were already prepared. I find in French city hotels, the rooms tend to be very small, and Trois Roses lived up to my expectation. Our double room was dominated by the double bed. Affixed the wall at the foot of the bed was a set of two large shelves – one high for the TV and one low for a small suitcase. Given the tightness of the room, the suitcase shelf was an absolute necessity. My brother’s single room down the hall was similarly cramped. When I walked in, he said “It feels like an airplane.” He wasn’t wrong. Here’s the kicker – the bathrooms were of normal size!

The stay was comfortable enough and the breakfast and parking were NOT included in the room rate (69€ for the double, 51€ for the single). Which was fine – what fun is it to stay in France and not go croissant hunting? I would consider staying there again if we go back to Strasbourg due to the price – but a little more elbow room might be worth a little more cash.

My location
Get Directions

Hotel & Boarding House Deutscher Kaiser

The Joint

Hotel & Boarding House Deutscher Kaiser
Mühltalstr. 41
69121 Heidelberg
Germany
+49 (0)6221 71495 00

We were immediately intrigued by the logo. Who wouldn’t want to sleep over at Snidely Whiplash’s grampa’s house? As we rolled up into the Innenhof, the innkeeper, greeted us warmly from smoke break porch perch. She was extremely friendly — the kind of friendly that normally makes me suspicious, but this was genuine — and helped us out with some tips for getting to the Hbf to meet CN&D. There was apparently a SNAFU regarding our booking.com request for a third bed; she was only aware of two guests, but it all worked out swell in the end. I think we even got a sort-of-free room upgrade out of it.

The room itself was spacious and comfortable. I noticed it could have used a touch-up paint job in a few places, but for 120€ total for three adults per night, I can overlook that. The breakfast spread the next morning was nice. I’d stay there again the next time we arrive in the Heidelberg area by car (kind of out of the way for a train trip, but it’s still doable with the #5 or #23 trams out to Handschuhsheim).

My location
Get Directions

Mesopotamia

The Joint
Mesopotamia Homus
Happily, nothing remains of the homus appetizer. So just take our word for it.

Restaurant Mesopotamia
Inhaber: Sinan Coskun

Fröhliche Türkenstraße 12
93047 Regensburg

Telefon: 0941 / 5839513
http://www.restaurant-mesopotamia.de/

Cliff

ZOMG! After the big let-down that was Exil about a year ago, we’d kind of given up hope on our once-awesome Kurdish food hookup in Regensburg. But while walking through the city on our way to Kaufland at the Arcaden on Friday, we spotted a new (to us) Middle-Eastern restaurant and walked closer. Sarah let out a shriek as she recognized echoes from our culinary past in the names of the main dishes and we both remarked that the font on the menu was like an old friend — yes, our old friend Exil.

SDC10317Practically holding our breath, we strolled in, sat down, and ordered a Homus appetizer. Imagine our delight when it turned out to be the reddish homus variety we’ve never seen anywhere else (not even Dearborn!). This was a really good sign. I ordered the Pir Kebab — my default Exil dish (back when Exil was good) to really give this new incarnation of our favorite restaurant a proper control group. Then, as now, it came with grilled seasoned lamb chunks on skewers, lightly-fried potatoes faintly spiced with paprika (or some other magic red stuff), the standard salad, zatziki, and the one true spinach/feta side dish (our attempt at recreation pales in comparison…gotta work on that some more now that the source material is available for reverse engineering purposes again). The result: as good as it ever was.

Sarah

It’s back, baby!
SDC10318
This was our JOINT, our fall-back, our favorite place to go and enjoy good food with friends. When Exil changed owners and overhauled the menu, they didn’t start serving bad food, they started serving indifferent food, which might be even worse. So imagine our delight, after going without for over a year and a half, at walking into Mesopotamia and recognizing the cook! The plates were the same, the way food was arranged was the same, the bread was the same and (most important!) the flavor was the same. Cliff had his old standby and I had mine – the Beritan (formerly Aras): thinly-pounded chicken breasts, marinated and grilled, turkey rolls stuffed with the divine spinach and walnuts with a white-wine/turmeric sauce, salad, potatoes, tzaziki and bulgur. It was everything I remembered! Incredibly flavorful and delicious.

When it was time to settle up, the waitress asked if we lived in Regensburg, we replied that, yes, we did and we used to go to the old place all the time. She delightedly told us that her father was the chef and he recognized us, as she set down complimentary shots of ouzo. She also filled us in that the first Saturday of every month is a buffet night with entertainment. We will be going back. And we will probably ask you to join us.

My location
Get Directions

Volksboutique Microresidence

Some friends in Berlin passed on an ad they’d seen for a rental apartment in Prenzlauerberg — a part of town that intrigued us and we’d liked before in November 2005, when we stayed near Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz. The landlady was helpful and informative via email as we were finalizing our plans, and we were pretty worn out when we arrived in Berlin, so we were thankful that her directions from Tegel Airport to the apartment were spot-on.

The first impression the apartment makes is a good one — just like the pictures she’d sent us via email upon our request. But that’s about where the satisfaction stopped.

We saw short and curlies in the tub greeting us upon our arrival (so they couldn’t have been ours…). The WLAN connection was extremely weak — so unreliable that it really shouldn’t be counted as an amenity. The bed — something typical from IKEA — would have been fine, had it had a normal mattress. I suspect it was Jaren. This was the hardest surface I have ever paid to sleep on.

Speaking of paying — when you book accommodations somewhere, do you expect to pay by day or by night? The Volksboutique Microresidence charged us by the day:

  1. arrival late Thursday night (as planned and communicated well in advance)
  2. Friday
  3. Saturday
  4. check out Sunday

…at 40€ per day, not per night, that meant 160€. Well, the price was still pretty good (by normal accouting it would work out to 53€ per night for Thursday night to Sunday morning), so we didn’t complain about that part.

When I found the door to the “tea kitchen” padlocked shut though, I managed to send her an email inquiring and the response was

I’m sorry for the misunderstanding…and that I forgot that was still listed in the Berlin Scholars posting. A small kitchenette is planned, but we’ve had so many guests that I haven’t been able to install it! I had been making interested parties aware of this fact, but in reviewing our correspondence, I realize I forgot to address it with you both. My apologies. I hope your stay is enjoyable all the same.

A place to eat donuts or something and have coffee in morning and — especially during the heat wave they’d been having in Northern Germany at the time — keep some cool bottled water at the ready was a big part of the reason we opted for a vacation apartment instead of a hotel stay.

Unfortunately, that’s not all that was wrong. The tub didn’t drain properly, so soap and shampoo scum (and aforementioned hairs) always await the next user. The bathroom had some bare wiring in place of a lamp over the mirror.

The price would have been great had it not been for all the the above points. The area is trendy and there is good access via the M2 tram line.

But I will be looking elsewhere for our next Berlin trip.

My location
Get Directions

Casa Garzotto

P6061607Casa Garzotto
Via Garzotto 8
52210 Rovinj, Croatia
Tel: +385 52 811 884
Mobile: +385 98 61 61 68
Fax: +385 52 814 255
caragarzotto@gmail.com
http://www.casa-garzotto.com

This was a great find by our traveling buddy Jul for our Istrian Road Trip. We were a little disoriented upon arrival — the Altstadt confused us, and our GPS, and we were unsure parking in the big city lot outside the the old town was a good idea or not.

But it all worked out for the best. The location is ideal. The price was reasonable. The staff was extremely helpful and friendly, and never steered us wrong with recommendations for gelato or restaurant meals. We had a nice breakfast in the main area, just around the corner (≤10 second walk) from our rental apartment and were charmed by the apartment’s old-world, multi-level design (kitchen and one bath on the ground floor, loft bedroom up the right-side staircase, 2nd bedroom and bathroom up the left-side staircase).

I’d stay there again in a minute.

My location
Get Directions
My location
Get Directions

Wannaburger

The Joint

Wannaburger
217 High Street, Royal Mile
Edinburgh, EH1 1PE
Tel: 0131 2258770
Email: info@wannaburger.com

Cliff

We’d been craving some burgers (ideally not from beef which had also had beef for dinner, but who knows?). We tromped up and down the Royal Mile a couple times over the course of our stay in Edinburgh and the Wannaburger seemed outwardly exactly the kind of place at which I’d be ashamed to tell anyone we dined (sorry, Mom). “Chainy” in appearance (you’d think there’d be many other franchises elsewhere, but according to Wikipedia, there aren’t), cheaply decorated, with glossy, infomercially menus.

But my stomach was growling louder and louder and a few of the other places we’d been wanting to try (among them Chocolate Soup) were jam-packed or pretty pricey, and when Sarah said she thought she’d heard they actually served a pretty good burger. Whomever she heard it from was right. That was the best hamburger I’ve had since making Germany my home.

I had the “Cheese” and an Irn Bru (that’s pronounced “iron brew,” I learned as I asked the waitress what an “urn brew” was). Turns out, Irn Bru is essentially a slightly less sweet version of Faygo brand Rock’n’Rye — kind of cream soda flavored, with a color similar to Orange Crush. The burger itself was quite large. Not the biggest I’ve ever had, but it sure tasted like the best. Thoroughly cooked but not overdone, still juicy and dressed in tomato relish (I saw “relish” in the description on the menu and assumed cucumber pickle relish). It was great, and reasonably priced. Swallow your pride the next time you want a burger and happen to be near Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. Wannaburger didn’t disappoint.

Sarah

So we were at Edinburgh Castle, debating whether or not to pay the exorbitant (14GBP per person) entrance fee. We came down on the side of ‘cheapskate’ (mostly me) and, tired of nearly getting blown off of the hilltop, took off down the Royal Mile to find some lunch. After bypassing a couple of grody looking chip shops and not wanting to wait for a free seat at a friend’s recommended spot, we cried uncle and decided to get a cheeseburger. And I am so glad we did!

The initial appearance is pretty “chainy,” but the location we were at has a full bar and surprisingly nice seating in the back. We were in the front which is more fast-foody in appearance. I had the bacon bbq burger and fries. The burger was pretty much ideal – juicy, but not bloody, substantial (1/4 lb or more), but not obnoxious. And the fries were a guiltly pleasure: deep fried thick crinkle cuts! After the fact, we found out that that Wannaburger is a local chain and that they use Scottish beef in the burgers. Tourist-sellout guilt thus alleviated, I heartily recommend Wannaburger!

My location
Get Directions

Henderson’s Bistro

The Joint

Henderson’s Bistro
94 Hanover Street
Edinburgh
EH2 1DR

Cliff

We kind of stumbled onto this place as it was not far from the apartment we rented in the New Town and the only restaurant we managed to try for dinner in that part of town. Obviously, there’s still lots to explore. And that’s a good thing. There were a few things we liked about the place, not the least of which was the friendly service, but on the whole, I am sure I’d avoid it in the future, knowing what I know now. First and foremost, we didn’t realize until we’d sat down that the whole place was vegetarian. Maybe we should have; I don’t know — I’m a sucker for falafel and my eyes are always drawn to that word and I tend to ignore everything else.

First, the positives: We each tried a Westons Premium Organic Cider and were quite happy with it. It washed the “Spicy Nachos” we ordered as an appetizer to share down very nicely. And the nachos really were quite tasty. It was great to have the right kind of jalapeños again for once (they always seem wrong somehow in Germany). And our waitress had some good ideas on how to spend our last full day in Edinburgh, which proved relaxing and interesting.

“Opportunities for improvement” (as we like to say in the corporate world): it seemed, for my Spinach & Lentil Falafel main course at least, that all of the flavor had been used up on the spicy nachos appetizer. It was beyond bland and a pretty severe let-down. It didn’t even seem to be fried (kind of my minimum requirement for falafel) — if I had to guess, I’d say they’d been baked or maybe even frozen and then thawed.

Sarah

It looked like this place is kind of a complex. There seems to be a lunch counter/deli/bakery/market in the front and then this sit-down restaurant iteration in the back. If we hadn’t had our minds boggled by the public transit system in Edinburgh, we might have tried one of the other sections, but alas. I also didn’t notice the vegetarianness of the place as we looked on the menu outside – Cliff saw falafel and it was all over.

The service was great! Our waitress was really nice and took the time to help out a couple of hapless tourists. Cliff didn’t want to get drawn into the banter, but I still remember how to do that, so I went ahead and accepted the chat-up. We came out of it with a neat field trip, so yay me. Anyhoodle, the pear cider was a lovely experience and the nachos were very nice – the flavors were pretty accurate and in the right proportions. Any chance for fairly correct Tex-Mex that I don’t have to make myself is welcome.

My main course was the curry of the day, eggplant and tomato on basmati rice. It was pretty good, but it lacked a certain depth. I have the same problem when I make all-vegetable curries myself, but I expect a little more from a restaurant. The pricing at Henderson’s was actually pretty affordable – one of the more economical meals (outside of Marks & Spencer) we had in Edinburgh.

My location
Get Directions

Urban Angel

The Joint

Urban Angelhttp://www.urban-angel.co.uk/
121 Hanover Street
Edinburgh
EH2 1DJ
0131 225 6215

Cliff

This was a cute little restaurant on the outside restaurant half a flight of stairs down from the street level in the New Town section of Edinburgh, along our daily path downtown. The white paint job on the outside in contrast to the mostly gray buildings surrounding it made it seem extra “cloudy” — because that’s where the angels hang out (presumably). The inside had a much more rustic flair to it, with exposed beams and big, old, heavy looking cast iron hardware. The menu seemed focused on organics, a theme we saw repeatedly in Edinburgh. They even had free-range bacon! I’d not heard of that before. (Tasted good, too.) It seemed kind of expensive though, at £7.90 for just french toast and bacon. Lots of seafood items offered in the non-breakfast specials.

Sarah

I love how vertical space is used in Edinburgh. This place was a few steps below street level, but it didn’t feel subterranean. The decor used the old elements (exposed stone walls, beams, old-fashioned stove/fireplace), but kept it light and airy. As Cliff said, there was a serious organic bent to the place and that was reflected in the prices. But my french toast and bacon was really well prepared and the quality was very high. Maybe not high enough to warrant that kind of pricing, but I’m not much a breakfast person. The service was super-friendly , but the coffee was nothing to write home about.

My location
Get Directions

La Terre des Lauriers

The Joint

La Terre des Lauriers
Pont du Gard – Rive droite
30210 Remoulins


Cliff
La Terre des Lauriers

We stayed in one of their two gîtes — cottages — available alongside their B&B offerings. As you can see here in the pictures, the grounds are beautiful. I think clearly the best aspect of La Terre des Lauriers is its location — proximity not only to the Pont du Gard, but also within easy driving distance to large and small towns more than worthy of exploration, like Aix-en-Provence, Nîmes, Uzés, Castillon-du-Gard, and of course Avignon. The air conditioning was effective for the main bedroom, and that was nice on the hotter nights, but it would have been much better to equip all the windows with screens so that we could open them for cross-breezes without fear of bug attacks. We had to change the refrigerant for our air conditioner, we used the TDX 20, you can learn more about switching to tdx 20 here. Le Chalet might have been suitable, size-wise, for 2 adults and a couple of kids (in fact, that looks like precisely the configuration they were expecting) but for four adults, it was more than cramped.

Sarah
La Terre des Lauriers

The location was really ideal. We could be at the Pont du Gard in 15 minutes on foot. We were about the 10 minutes from town, as well, but the area we were in was very quiet and isolated. And, as Cliff stated above, the grounds were really lovely and our host, Gerard, was very kind.

Here’s the but: the accommodation left something to be desired. Given how immaculate the b&b and the other gîte were, our “cottage” looked and felt like a hasty add-on. We decided to stay in self-catering accommodation so that we would have access to a kitchen, but the kitchen was difficult to use – the stove consisted of a double hot-plate, there was no oven and the pans were falling apart. The bathroom was tiny but adequate, and the beds were comfortable with enough storage space for our clothes in the bedrooms. Overall, though, that unit is too small for four adults. We were constantly dancing around each other while getting ready in the mornings. If we were to return, I would not stay in this particular unit again.


My location
Get Directions