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2017 Visit to Odenwaldkreis & Winzerfest

Odenwald Association (OA) members have returned from another fun filled trip to our twinning area, the Odenwaldkreis, with 2 couples staying in homes of friends and 4 others staying in Michelstadt at the familiar Michelstädter Hof. While an outline programme had been agreed with Schottland Vereinigung members, there were common experiences for the whole group and some unique experiences, visits and sightseeing, shared with friends, so this is only one of the stories.

We started with SLV friends Hanne and Susanne taking us on a guided walk around Michelstadt when Hanne shared some of her amazing historical knowledge with amusing anecdotes and Susanne contributed facts and stories with equal enthusiasm. Susanne managed to organise a visit inside the iconic and historic 1484 Rathaus, a wonderful backdrop for the 5 weddings there that day.

A visit to the Brudergrund followed for some but Andy and I were taken by our friend Ulrike to visit Schloss Reichenberg where a community, known as the Reichenberg Fellowship, bought the castle and converted it into an international meeting and conference centre with a palace café where the kuchen was mouth watering! The castle is being renovated but the small St Michael’s chapel with modern, softly coloured stained glass, is a gem. The views from the castle over the town below are outstanding.

A day using trains, buses and trams took us to the city of Darmstadt and the famous artists area of the Mathildenhöhe, to see the magnificent Art Nouveau buildings such as, The Wedding Tower and the brilliant gold and brightly coloured Russian Chapel. Through gardens, walkways, statues and the tranquil water basin, this unique area was created by a group of ‘Jugendstil’, Art Nouveau artists who lived and worked there. While our small group enjoyed this visit accompanied by Franziska and young Killian, a visit was made to the Eisenbahn (railway) museum by three enthusiasts and Anne, all meeting up later at the busy market place in Darmstadt.

Schottland Vereinigung (SLV) organised an evening at the restaurant Daumsmühle, in a beautiful rural setting. Here was an opportunity to meet dear friends and SLV and OA members shared an evening of superb food, musical entertainment by Scots and Germans and our group appreciated the excellent hospitality provided by our SLV hosts.

A highlight of this visit for the group was a visit to Gross-Umstadt for their Winzerfest, the annual wine festival and parade of floats. Community groups who participate, decide on a theme and dress in appropriate costumes. Some of these costumes and floats are extraordinary in imagination and creativity. This year, 80 groups were participating. Our members were spectators this year so were seeing it from the other side, having participated in the parade two years ago. It was a real spectacle. With each of us having a special glass in a holder around our neck, we were able to imbibe (or not) in the offered wine being distributed freely by the parade participants. A good time was had by all.

Trying to fit everything in, it was great to catch up with a visit with old friends at their home for kaffee und kuchen.

On a free evening, we were invited for a meal in Gammelbach at the Grūner Baum restaurant. We admired the lush rural landscape on the way and sitting over a traditional meal with friends, chatting, laughing, learning more about each other, developing our language skills and deepening bonds, we realised that, for us, this is the heart of twinning and partnership. It is a commitment developed over time; it is respect for our differences; a willingness to make it work and the satisfaction that in many instances, these exchanges have developed into deep rooted friendships. What's not to like about twinning?

Part of the group flew home but with our travelling companions, travelling by car and ferry, we had another day to enjoy. A drive to Hirschhorn, to see the magnificent views from the castle, followed by a meal at the Alte Deutsche Stube and a gentle stroll through the old town was like stepping back in time. Ancient Fachwerk (half timber buildings) are being sensitively restored to preserve the look and tradition. A tranquil way to end our very full and thoroughly enjoyable visit to our twinning partner area.

Towns Around the Odenwald

The Odenwaldkreis is a Kreis (district) in the South of Hesse, Germany. The area comprises of 5 towns; Bad König; Beerfelden; Breuberg; Erbach and Michelstadt.

Michelstadt is a town in the Odenwaldkreis in southern Hesse, between Darmstadt and Heidelberg. It has a population of around 16,000

Erbach is the district seat of the Odenwaldkreis. It has a population of around 13,000

Bad König is a town and resort in the central Odenwald in the Odenwaldkreis in Hesse and is one of the oldest settlements in the Mümling Valley.

Beerfelden is a town in the Odenwald in the Odenwaldkreis in Hesse, Germany, 28 km northeast of Heidelberg.

Breuberg lies 28 km east of Darmstadt, and 20 km southwest of Aschaffenburg.

2016 Snow hits the Odenwald

Our Odenwald friends posted photos of beautiful snowy scenes in the Odenwald with more snow due and temperatures falling.

What a wonderful sight it is to see and experience.

See other photos in the Gallery section under Snow! 

Report re German Student Workplacements in Falkirk

For several years, with the support of Falkirk Council and Falkirk Community Trust, Odenwald Association members have been pleased to arrange Student Work Placements within the Falkirk area for two students from the Beruflicheschule in the Odenwald.    Each year, two students have been given the opportunity to experience work in different locations under the supervision, guidance and training of Falkirk Council and Community Trust staff.    Members undertake the organisation of accommodation, airport transfers and social involvement, taking the students on trips to give them a flavour of Scotland and Scottish hospitality.   

In Summer last year, from 2nd July to 23rd July, the two students, Denice and Saskia, visited Falkirk for a 3-weeks work placement;  the first week they worked in the Provost's Office at Municipal Buidings, the next week they worked at Falkirk Library in the centre of Falkirk and the last week the girls worked at The Helix Park, where the Kelpies are located and also at Falkirk Stadium where Falkirk Community Trust have offices.

The Odenwald Association has received the following report from Denice about the visit in her own words.

"The work we did those three weeks was very varied and interesting.   We got a great experience of what it is like to work.   Beside the work, we also explored some interesting sights from the area, like The Pineapple house, the Airth Castle, the Trossachs, Glasgow,  St. Andrews, Edinburgh and The Highland Games in Balloch.

For us, the stay in Falkirk was a time to grow.  We grew with our tasks and the people we worked with.   We got to know ourselves better and we learned to asses ourselves better.   Furthermore, it was great for improving our language skills.

While staying in Scotland, we met many kind and different people.   Our stay was incredible and a memory for life.   We will miss Scotland and the people very much!

To conclude, we would like to thank everyone for turning this time into such a great experience.