Martina and her partner, Thomas, invited Walter and me to stay with them in Gross-Zimmern for the last weekend in November 2016, when the Christmas markets spring up in every town in Germany (writes Anne Simms).
Unfortunately, the Lufthansa pilots chose that week to go on strike so we had to fly out with British Airways via London Heathrow. Martina collected us from Frankfurt Airport, then we had time for a quick cup of tea before going to the Hotel Dornrös’chen in Annelsbach. Martina had been invited to join some Odenwald chefs for a Swiss Cheese Fondue Night, and had managed to get us invited too. This turned out to be a wonderful evening with lovely food and great company. The dessert of ice cream with Toblerone sauce, and the Apfelwein brewed on the premises will live in my memory for a long time.
The next morning we went along to the Vinum Autmundis winery in Gross-Umstadt which had a fantastic selection of Christmas gifts as well as the tempting array of wines. We were wishing we’d taken a bigger suitcase! Lothar Eckmayer joined us in the afternoon for a trip to Mainz and the Gutenberg Museum, which houses a fascinating collection of items detailing the history of printing around the world, including of course several of the original Gutenberg Bibles. After that, we wandered around the Christmas market and sampled some of the Glühwein.
On the Sunday, Werner Geidel collected us from Martina’s and took us to the Heimatmuseum in Bad König which only opens on a Sunday morning. The museum contains objects relating to the many industries that Bad König once supported including pottery, pipe making, cigar making, weaving (one of the looms belonged to Werner’s grandfather), and bee-keeping. There was also an exhibition of mousetraps from all over the world collected by a former volunteer, and information about famous sons of the area, the polar explorer Carl Weybrecht and the painter, Georg Vetter. Gertrude had prepared a lunch of soup and Apfelkuche, after which we visited the Christmas market in Michelstadt, sampled more Glühwein, and managed to have a quick drink in the Rathaus Brauhaus.
We finished off the day with a meal in the Berghof, a family-run farmhouse restaurant near Bad König that only opens at the weekend. We were joined by Martina and Thomas, Hanne Stuckert, the Fritsches, Lothar, Barbara and Ulrike for another evening of good food and lively conversation.
Our return flights were on Tuesday so on Monday morning Martina printed off our boarding passes then drove us to the Baumann Lebkuchenbäckerei in Beerfurth, the oldest one (1785) in the Odenwald, where visitors can see the lebkuchen being made then purchase some in the shop. We were then going to go to Amorbach but received a text telling us that our flight was cancelled due to the strike and the only option was the afternoon flight that day, so it was a quick dash back to Martina’s to have lunch and pack. It was rather an abrupt end to our stay but the memories of meeting up with friends, enjoying lovely meals, and visiting a wealth of interesting places during this magical season will live longer than the minor inconveniences of travel.