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.
(Scroll down for a gallery of images from the trip.)
While an outline programme had been agreed with Schottland Vereinigung (SLV) 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 Grūnen 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.
A taste of my experience in the Odenwald. Take a peek round Michelstadt; come into the historic Rathaus where weddings are performed; enjoy the Winzerfest parade; admire the Art Nouveau buildings of the Mathildenhoehe in Darmstadt; gasp at the stunning views from Reichelsberg Schloss and wander the streets of Hirschhorn with its ancient Fachwerk, the half-timbered buildings so typical of the area and meet SLV and OA members enjoying an evening at The Daumsmuehle restaurant. MC.