Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

En Route to Apalachicola

We’ve been so good. We haven’t traveled. We haven’t gathered with our friends, with our book clubs, with our church, well, not very much. We stay masked, most of the time, even with our grandchildren. We’ve had zero colds and zero flu this year, while trying to avoid COVID.

And we needed a break.

How can we do it safely, we asked ourselves. If you are reading this blog, which is a resource for travelers, I am imagining you ask the same questions. How do responsible people travel in this time of COVID?

First, I have to be frank. We are not entirely responsible. I swim at the Y three days a week. If I walk in and there are too many people, especially young people, in there, breathing, I turn around and walk out. I’ve only had to do it twice. Most days I feel safe, and another truth is, I really need to swim for my physical and mental health.

We are also risk takers, always have been, but we try to calculate our risks. So, you’ve been warned, we are not entirely safe all the time. We calculate our risks. We balance our risks.

We really needed a getaway, and we have recently sold a house so we needed a getaway and a celebration.

We usually go to Apalachicola once a year, but we haven’t been for three years now. Apalachicola has a very low rate of transmission, on the COVID map, and the place we stay is more like a residence, and very clean. I call our visits pilgrimages, because we “worship” at the nature parks of St. Marks, St. George Island, and St. Vincent. (I am making a little joke, here.)

We love Panama City beach, and I have a yen for a schnitzle, but when we get to the German restaurant, it has become a seafood restaurant. We decide we want grilled oysters, and we know another really good restaurant, but when we get there it is closed for renovations.

So we stop here:

My husband went in to ask if we can eat there if we are not bikers, and if they have grilled oysters. The very kind waiter said we could eat there, but he would recommend our going to another nearby place if we want oysters.

Dat Cajun Place is near the little Mom-and-Pop hotel we love, the Sunset Inn, but we’ve never eaten there. Today is the day. Another first for us, we are eating in a restaurant . . .

It’a big inside, so although no one is wearing a mask – NO one – we find an isolated table.

Our waiter did wear a mask. He was very kind, very gracious.

We decided to share a dozen grilled oysters. I adore grilled oysters, and they are so rich that six is always mre than enough for me. AdventureMan could eat more, but he defers to me for his own good health. I barely remembered to take the photo before they were all gone.

I had two sides; the Cajun Potato Salad and the greens. O M G those greens. Maybe it was really grilled bacon with greens . . . they were spicy and a little vinegar-y and full of bacon and with the oysters and potato salad, my life was complete.

We thought we had asked for jalepenos as a side for the oysters, but we got a big platter of deep fried jalepenos. I would NEVER order deep friend jalepenos, and they were fabulous, served with remoulade, oh heaven.

AdventureMan found his own bliss with a gorgeous Oyster Poor Boy, one of the best ever, he claims.

This was a great stop.

February 4, 2021 Posted by | Adventure, Cultural, Eating Out, Food, Health Issues, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , | Leave a comment

Dinner at Hofbrau Haus in Panama City Beach, FL

We lived so many years in Germany, and one of the phrases that would drive me crazy is people exclaiming about schnitzles that “were so BIG they were hanging off the plate!” (said with big googly eyes). Big and schnitzle do not necessarily go well together. Schnitzle can be tough, it can have too much fat, it can be gristly. Living there for so long, I’ve had some really bad schnitzles, big and small. During our later years in Germany, we avoided schnitzle altogether; there were so many other alternatives, more refined dishes – pumpkin raviolis, white asparagus soups, St. Martin’s goose, venison ragout, duck breasts . . . (drooling in a very un-refined way . . . )

But lately, I had tiny hankering for a plain old schnitzle, and here we were in Panama City Beach, where there is a HofBrau House.

When we lived in Heidelberg, there was a HofBrau House nearby. Growing up in Germany, it seemed to me HofBrau House was everywhere, sort of like a German version of McDonalds. Now, you don’t see them so often as you used to, except for the original one in Munich.

AdventureMan is a great sport; he likes schnitzle less than I do, but off we go to HofBrau House, and actually, we have a great time.

I order a pretzel, it is huge and it is very hot, and served with a mustard dipping sauce. (This is nothing like we ever had in Germany; pretzels were mostly street-food.) It was salty and the sauce was delicious. I loved it.

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The pretzel went great with the beer – very good beer – and the accordion music. The atmosphere in the HofBrau house is festive. The beer is VERY good.

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When my schnitzel came, it covered the plate. I was aghast, but . . . it was crisply fried, not any fat, not any gristle and lots and lots of lemon wedges to squeeze onto it. We cut it in half and took half home for a late Thanksgiving snack the next night. We cut the remainder in half and enjoyed every bite. It will be a long long time before I feel a need for a schnitzel again, but this one did the HofBrau Haus proud.

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Service was the best. All the wait staff looked really happy to be there, even those who had to wear the serving wench costumes. It is located in Pier Park, a great place to go walking after a schnitzel dinner, great shopping and a kid’s park with rides and a huge slide.

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December 6, 2014 Posted by | Cultural, Eating Out, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Food, Germany, Restaurant, Road Trips, Thanksgiving | , , | Leave a comment

Thanksgiving at the Sunset Inn

Back in Panama City for our annual gathering with our sweet daughter-in-law’s family, we check in at the Sunset Inn on a glorious day in late November. The view that greets us thrills our hearts:

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There aren’t too many people staying at the beach, go figure, it’s Thanksgiving and families are gathering, but this is a GREAT time to be here. We have a full kitchen, so I can still roast my garlic-broccoli, make my Mom’s Cranberry Salad and make the topping for the Soused Apple Cake all while having the door wide open and listening to the waves roaring to the shore. This is one of my happiest places on earth.

These small surf boards give a lot of pleasure on smaller waves:

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I thought I was back in Kuwait, overlooking the family park in Fintas:

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I can see things slipping a little at the Sunset Inn, carpets not being replaced, linens getting thinner from so many washings, small repairs not being made – and I know our days there are numbered. Sigh. What they can’t replace in the personal character of the management – I can run down and beg a couple pieces of tinfoil to cover my broccoli; it is their motel, they manage it personally. There are countless soulless condos and motel rooms in Panama City Beach, but only one Sunset Inn.

December 6, 2014 Posted by | Cooking, Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Florida, Food, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Quality of Life Issues, Road Trips, Thanksgiving, Travel, Weather | , | 2 Comments

Schooners For Dinner

We usually start our stay at Panama City Beach with dinner at Schooners, a very local beach bar with a aid back atmosphere. It is a cold cold windy night, the bar is packed, but there is a table for us.

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We start with the smoked tuna:

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AdventureMan has a Cuban with so much meat he can’t even eat it all:
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I have the seafood gumbo, perfect for a cold night; sticks to your ribs kind of food, LOL:

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December 1, 2013 Posted by | Community, Cooking, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Restaurant | | Leave a comment

Sunsets at the Sunset Inn, Panama City Beach, Florida

“I love this place,” I sighed, as AdventureMan and I sat out on our balcony at the Sunset Inn, a little Mom and Pop motel hidden between the towering condos of Panama City Beach. We were watching the sun go down. Little does it matter that as I sat out on the balcony watching the sun go down, or watching the pelicans in the morning, I was probably increasing my quota of mosquito bites, mais tant pis.

“I know you do,” AdventureMan replied, sipping on a cup of hot Christmas punch and sharing the moment with me. We’ve always loved sunsets. Or sunrises. We think of them as one of those great gifts, so wonderful that it is hard to believe they are free.

For some reason, some of the best sunsets we’ve ever seen have been from this motel. Here is the first sunset, the day we got there, Tuesday:

I am not kidding, I haven’t done a thing to that photo. I haven’t cropped it or enhanced it in any way. Who can improve on a sunset like that? I liked it so much I will show you another, again, untouched. This is using the telephoto, but no enhancements:

The next morning, we were greeted by pelicans. I adore pelicans, those throwbacks to prehistoric times, so primitive, and so dramatic, plunging beak first down into the waters and then flying back up with a fish in their beak. These ones aren’t plunging, just floating around letting breakfast come to them:

We missed one sunset, and here is what we caught on Thanksgiving after the feast:

Here in sunset on Friday night, our last night at the beach:

Drama drama drama!

All quiet at the Sunset Inn . . . .

November 25, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, ExPat Life, Florida, Hot drinks, Living Conditions, Photos, Sunsets, Travel | | Leave a comment

Sunset in Panama City Beach

We’ve been putting in so much time around the house that when it came time to go out of town for a family dinner, we went a day early so we would have some goofing off time.

We had a lazy drive down, checked in to our favorite hotel on Panama City Beach, The Sunset Inn, and then I asked AdventureMan “do you want to take me to the quilt shop today or tomorrow?” I have an old friend from quilting days in Germany who owns Quilting-by-the-Bay, one of the most wonderful quilt shops I have ever visited, and if I’m in Panama City, it’s a MUST visit. 🙂

On our way back to the hotel, AdventureMan said “Hey, didn’t you want to do a sunset cruise?” Yes, but I had forgotten, LOL. We drove to the dock, checked on tickets and their was a boat leaving in just a few minutes, so we bought tickets for the Sunset Dolphin Cruise and boarded the ship.

What a lovely way to wind up a day! They played hokey Caribbean music that can’t help but put you in a good mood, and they knew just where to find the dolphins:

They were playing all around the boat! It was delightful!

Back in the car, AdventureMan remembered a great beachy restaurant where all the locals go to celebrate the sunset. As the sun still hadn’t set yet, but was getting ready to, we headed to Schooner’s in Panama City Beach. If you click on the blue type, you can see the restaurant, the menu, AND the live beach cam. 🙂

The parking lot is packed and we think we will go somewhere else, we can see crowds waiting to get in, but just as we are giving up, a car pulls out, it must be a sign we are meant to stay, and we take the spot and walk toward the restaurant.

Special parking for Harleys:

The place is packed on a Friday night, but we get in with only a 15 minute wait. Everyone is visiting, having a little beach drink, and then BOOOOMMMM! I think it is a cannon! There is a countdown, and as the sun sets, the cannon (or something) explodes!

We ordered drinks – iced tea for me, a beer for Adventureman:

And a smoked tuna appetizer – yummmy, especially with the jalepenos:

AdventureMan ordered the Mediterranean Salad and a side of hush puppies:

And I had the Schooner’s Tuna BLT – it had a wasabi sauce and oh, total wow. Who would think a tuna sandwich could have so much taste?

May 18, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Cold Drinks, Community, Cultural, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Florida, Food, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Sunsets | | 6 Comments

Breakfast at Andy’s Flour Power

We love this place, a local bakery where everything served is fresh cooked. No matter what I order, I always love that it smells of cinnamon when it arrives, because of the home baked walnut-raisin toast on the plate. Normally, I can pass on toast, it is just filler. When it is Andy’s Flour Power walnut-raising toast – I groan, and eat every bite.

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After Thanksgiving Dinner, we thought we would never eat again. But after fasting from afternoon until the next day, we find that, after all, we are hungry for breakfast. Here is what we had for breakfast – I had a spinach – swiss cheese omelette:

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AdventureMan’s biscuits and gravy were to die for (he says):

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Law and Order Man’s Ham and Cheese Omelette:

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EnviroGirl got the most beautiful dish of all – a vegetable frittata:

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It was thundery and a little rainy on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving:

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November 30, 2008 Posted by | Eating Out, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Florida, Food, Living Conditions, Weather | | 13 Comments