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Cora, and the benefits of living right next to France

Parent Category: MagazineCategory: ShoppingPublished: Friday, 31 March 2017 12:39Written by Karin Stumph
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One of the great things about living in Europe is that you can travel from country to country in a matter of hours. Borders are open to the most parts, and while there are sporadic border checks, you are pretty free to transport bought goods for personal consumption.

Since the Kaiserslautern/ Ramstein area is located right along the border of France, it's super easy to just jump in the car and drive to one of the many stores near the border. The only thing you need to worry about is having an international driver’s license and your official passport and you are ready to go. One of the bigger store chains in France is Cora and well comparable to a Walmart back in the states.

If you are used to the smaller German grocery stores, it can be quite overwhelming at first, but the true American shopper in you will reemerge in no time and let you tackle the isles. The Cora in Forbach offers everything from clothes, jewelry, groceries, pet supplies and even gardening stuff.

The only issue I regularly encounter is that the staff at the store speaks neither English nor German, but they are willing to do broken sign and point language. Cora offers amazing baked goods sections, fresh seafood and the fruits and veggie tables are loaded with any kind of exotic fruit you can think of.

A cold cut and fresh cheese counter is also overloaded with fresh quiches and other savory specialties, whose names I can't pronounce.

You will notice many of the familiar German items, but also many of the goodies that you may have been missing from back home and then on top of that all the French items. Cora also holds wine markets in the spring and fall with a huge tent in the parking lot and bottles upon bottles of yummy French wine.

After an exhausting shopping marathon inside of the store, be sure to check out the small shops located across from the cash registers and stop for a snack at the bistro or restaurant inside. I had no issue using my debit cars or German giro card there, but if in doubt bring Euros.

They do have an ATM in there, but there will be withdrawal fees.

In the vicinity of the Cora store, you can find several fast food places like McDonald’s and KFC, and lots of other stores and shops.

Be prepared for a fun day of shopping and bring your own shopping bags; Cora only has the reusable bags for sale.

The address for Cora is: Avenue de l'Europe, 57602 Forbach, France

Happy hunting

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Wissembourg

Parent Category: MagazineCategory: TravelingPublished: Monday, 27 March 2017 12:32Written by Karin Stumph
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Located right on the French-German border is the picturesque town of Wissembourg. Wissembourg is only 45 miles away from Kaiserslautern or 75 miles away from Stuttgart.
Founded in the 7th century as an Abbey, the town had grown into a fortified city by the 13th century and is now a modern city with a rather big hospital complex and big wholesale places like the sparkling wine store.

The main street that takes you into the city will lead you along a beautiful drive along parts of the city’s outer walls and old watermills running into the many streams and canals that run through the town. There are plenty of dedicated parking spots in city center, and during the weekend parking may even be free, just check on the next ticket machine for prices and times.

Entering the old town is like getting out of a time machine; most of the buildings inside the city walls date back from the 11th to 17th centuries and are breathtaking. The charming old buildings with their crooked roofs and ancient timbers will take you back to a different place. Tucked in between the old houses are many side roads inviting you to explore.

The old town is built around many streams where little bridges and roads used to guide the horse carts and people to mills and storehouses.

The Abbey in the center of town should be on your “must see” places in Wissembourg and is absolutely stunning. Most of the old houses are outfitted with plaques that will tell you about the building in French, German and English. Many of them house stores and restaurants. For longer visits there are also several hotels located inside the city.

When we decided to visit Wissembourg last weekend, we actually were really lucky and came at an open shopping Sunday. When we hit town, we saw a little fair with rides and booths. Heading further into town I noticed that, to my delight, places like bakeries were stocked and selling wonderful treats. We strolled through the well visited streets and past busy bistros and cafes. One of the more impressive buildings is the Kugelhupf bakery; that we had to check out. Shelves of fresh croissants and pastries greeted us behind glass counters, and on the other side of the small sales area were glass counters with heaps of chocolates and pralines.

We also found a tiny antique shop that displayed some lovely old furniture and knick-knacks. The store also had several shelves with homemade soaps and scrubs.

Another place offered fresh cheeses, salami and wine. The aroma was overwhelming! We did lots of sampling and walked out of the store as proud owners of a large boar salami.

Most of the store owners did speak some English and German so it was not really an issue to communicate; people where friendly and made us feel very welcome.

If you head there during the week, be sure to check out the French grocery stores for some great food, or stop at the sparkling wine store “Caves de Wissembourg” to stock up for you next party. And instead of taking the car, they also have a train station; the walk to the old town is not too far.

We really enjoyed our day in Wissembourg and will be back for sure.

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Perfect furry companions

Parent Category: MagazineCategory: CommunityPublished: Tuesday, 21 February 2017 12:04Written by Karin Stumph
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One question that comes up all the time in any spouse or pet group is where to find a puppy or kitten in Germany.

Germany does not support the sale of cats or dogs in pet stores since they are viewed as animals that need to live in a social environment.
There are plenty of places to get puppies and kittens from; you just need to know where and how to look.
For many, the first place they look is the internet, and while most breeders do have websites, search engines don’t make it easy to really find a breeder or even just an ad for one.

Your first step should be to decide what kind of dog or cat you want and does it fit your lifestyle.
If you opt for a rescue, you have plenty of options to choose from; there are rescue groups that bring dogs into Germany from all over Europe or your local animal shelter.
A word of advice though, quite a few German ran shelters have decided against adopting pets out to US military members and families, because they were abandoned or left behind too often. Don’t despair though, there are plenty of shelters that still do adopt to Americans; it just may take some searching.

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Traveling to London on a Budget

Parent Category: MagazineCategory: TravelingPublished: Monday, 20 February 2017 12:45Written by Pia Barney
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As I've mentioned before, living in Germany makes traveling throughout Europe just a little bit easier and a lot more affordable. Ryanair almost always has cheap tickets to London Stansted from Frankfurt-Hahn or Baden-Baden, and neither of those airports are terribly far away from Stuttgart, Wiesbaden or Ramstein. Parking at the airport isn't super cheap, so it's always best to get a ride. However, since you probably saved a ton on the plane tickets, dishing out 50 Euro for parking (for a week) isn't all that bad. A friend of mine had an extra ticket to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child last September, so I convinced my husband to let me plan a last minute, five day trip around the play (and on the cheap). The trip was a success, and so here are my tips for traveling to London this year!

First off, let me just say that you can find plane tickets to London for as low as 20 Euro round-trip if you go during the off season (Ryanair). The flight isn't terribly long either, and you can then catch a bus or a train into the city from London Stansted airport. I'd suggest buying your tickets for the bus or train online in advance, but it isn't too difficult to get them at the airport either. It's about a 45 minute trip. Personally, I'd recommend taking the train or the Stansted Express. Also, there is a money exchange at the airport that has a pretty good currency conversion rate. You can also use an ATM to withdraw British Pounds right away. 

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Hotel arcona LIVING SCHAFFHAUSEN

Parent Category: MagazineCategory: Hotel reviewPublished: Friday, 17 February 2017 13:14Written by Michael Franke
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Arrival:

The hotel in the center of Schaffhausen can be reached quickly, possibly without having to pay a toll fee. We drove directly into the underground parking garage leading straight to the reception. Not surprisingly, parking is an additional charge, as the hotel shares the huge garage with shops and for guests of the train station.

The elevator takes us upstairs and we go to the reception. We are already attracted to how modern and stylish the atmosphere is. The motto here is "Open and Bright." We were welcomed warmly with all of our questions answered. The receptionist even went above and beyond by doing research to give us the best possible information they could find. Foreign languages were, as we noticed with other guests, in no way a problem.

Rooms:

We entered our rooms (two identical double rooms each) and were equally enthusiastic. The rooms are large enough, and besides an open bathroom, the next highlight is the window sill to relax and chill - giving you time to switch off. From the basin, we can look over the sleeping area and also have the flat-screen TV in view. There are enough closets, a safe, a mini bar, a tea and coffee making station, as well as a desk, a sitting area and a bottle of water for free.

If you are thinking about the open bath, do not worry. The toilet is, of course, separate and the shower blends harmoniously between the bath and sleeping area. The shower is quite generous, lots of space and at ground level.

Wellness:

Hidden in the basement after the elevators, past the reception, is the spa area, which does actually not directly belong to the hotel. The Asia Spa is designed as a day spa and offers a modern fitness room, three saunas, a Hamman, a hot relaxation pool, a grotto pool, relaxation rooms, free tea and water, as well as a separate ladies' area with a sauna and steam bath.  Since the spa is an independent business and not owned directly by the hotel, there is an entry charge. Speak with reception for a discounted admission rate for hotel guests. 

After leaving the changing rooms you face a long, modern corridor with water courses and indirect lighting. High-quality materials underline the luxurious ambience. This is also where you will find the foot basins.

In order for everyone to feel comfortable, there is the grotto bath and the resting space only permitted in swimwear. The rear area is then exclusively reserved for nudist friends and accommodates the hot pool and the saunas (infusion / hot / herbs) as well as resting places and the resting room.

Who still misses a steam bath? The women are then lucky, because there is a steam bath in the ladies’ area. Men have to fall back on the Hamman but this costs extra. But here, too, we have to say that the little extra is worth it, especially since we still get a filled bag with the appropriate utensils. In two steam rooms, we can here hold our own Hamman ritual.

We have stayed a good three hours here and felt very comfortable, only an outside area would have been beautiful for in between.

Bar:

To end the day, we are off to the bar. Along with the normal barstools and tables is a chill corner with sofas, which we preferred to sit in. In keeping with Swiss tradition, the drinks were quite expensive.

Factsheet
Name: Hotel arcona LIVING
Adress: Bleicheplatz 1
CH-8201 Schaffhausen
Class: Luxury ****
Rooms: 47 Single
65 Double
6 Suites
13 Apartments
Web: www.schaffhausen.arcona.ch
Phone: +41 52 63100-00

Breakfast:

After a very good night on good mattresses, we go to the breakfast room which is nicely lit and, overall, also seems very friendly. The selection is sumptuous - with salmon, fresh ingredients, an assortment of bread rolls and also a show kitchen, which made the most delicious eggs around! With other sweet rolls, spreads, sausage and cheese in different variations, breakfast leaves little to be desired. The coffee is available for self-service at the coffee machine. Tidy and freshly refilled, it works very fast and also here the staff is very friendly.

Departure:

The staff is just as friendly on departure as it was on arrival. We were asked how our trip was and were wished safe travels home. This is the good life!

Conclusion:

Unfortunately, we only had one night at this lovely hotel. We would have loved to stay longer. The location makes the hotel definitely recommendable! And the rooms are more than a bargain!

Tip:

From the hotel, go straight over to the bus station and from there take a few minutes to visit the Rhine fall. The Rhine fall is impressive to watch and can be explored on various boat trips!

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