Anne Simms (with a little help from Myra Christie) reports on a successful trip to Falkirk’s twinned area in Germany.
Five members of the OA, Andy and Myra Christie, Walter and myself, and Terry Hunter, flew to Frankfurt and were picked up from the airport by Detlef Kuhn, Deputy Chair of the Schottland Vereinigung. We settled into our hotel, the Michelstadter Hof, then were taken out for a meal by Detlef to the Odenwälder Gut Stubb, a lovely family owned restaurant serving delicious traditional food such as Holzfäller Steak and a choice of dishes cooked and brought to the table in the Eisenpfanne.
We had a free morning on the Friday so wandered around the shops in Michelstadt before fortifying ourselves with coffee and cake in the Elefantenhaus, surely one of the most picturesque buildings in the town. Detlef then picked us up and drove us to the St. Killian distillery, a fairly new venture whose product is not yet old enough to be called whisky but which tastes delicious all the same. I had the bright idea of buying a small barrel for the future but, unfortunately, didn’t have quite enough euros to do so.
Detlef then drove us to Amorbach and treated us (again!) to coffee and cake in another lovely restaurant almost opposite the church, the Café Schlossmühle. We were joined by his daughter and wee grandson, and by Michael Reuter, joint Deputy Chair. The selection of mouthwatering cakes was outstanding and my own choice, Eierlikortorte (Advocaat cake) was simply delectable. Horst and Traudel Schnur had kindly invited us to their house for coffee and cake. We didn’t think we’d be able to manage more cake but it turned out that we could after all, once we saw the toothsome array that Traudel spread before us, accompanied by a glass of Sekt, and then champagne from Olfen’s twin town of Trevignin in the Savoie, and followed by some canapes spread with local goat’s cheese.
Then it was a quick turnaround at the hotel before Detlef drove us to the Gasthaus zum Löwen in Langenbrombach for a joint Board meeting and dinner. We also met up with two students from the Beruflicheschule who are very keen to come over to Falkirk next year to do work experience. We managed to iron out a few problems in the planning of next year’s Schottische Nacht as well as enjoy another lovely meal (though only soup for me after all that cake).
On Saturday, Franziska and Torsten Löw and wee Killian, of course, drove Andy, Myra, Walter and me to Aschaffenburg, while Terry bravely set off on his own by train to Heidelberg. We strolled around the town seeing the Johannisburg Palace, the Pompeiianum, and the Abbey before having lunch at the former Schlappeseppel brewery which is now a museum. There was time for a read on the balcony before getting ready for the SLV’s 40th anniversary celebrations at the Krone in Zell. The aroma of the suckling pig roasting on the spit in the courtyard greeted us as we arrived, as did the sound of the pipes played by Torsten. After speeches by Rüdiger Holschuh, Chair of the SLV, and Frank Matiaske, Landrat, Terry replied on behalf of the OA, and Walter presented Rüdiger with a commemorative quaich and a bottle of whisky. We then enjoyed the buffet with many traditional dishes, and music from Franziska and Torsten Walter, Andy and Terry, and Walter was joined by Jasmin Fritsch and Hanne Stuckert, then by Torsten for a number ot two. The evening finished with all the guests singing ‘Auld Lang Syne’.
The next day, we visited some of the Roman remains on the Limes, including the bath house near Würzberg and the Limesturm at Vielbrunn, in the company of Hanne and her father, Erich, who is also very knowledgeable about the history of the Odenwald and the Roman occupation. After lunch, we had to stop in the village of Würzberg to give way to a parade of decorated floats, however, as we were given goodies such as home made biscuits and Schmucker beer, we didn’t complain. As we’d had a big lunch, we just shared a Vesperteller of meat, cheese and bread at the Rathaus Bräuerei back in Michelstadt.
Hanne again collected us on the Monday, this time accompanied by her brother in law Michael and lovely baby Johanna for our trip on the first world wide Solar Dreisine Überwaldbahn. The unit seats 8 people and is powered by a combination of solar power, battery charger and is “topped up” with 4 “drivers” who use only pedal power. The open cart allows maximum views of the countryside as you pass through at a very leisurely pace. The car, which travels at a speed of 15 km/hr, goes over 3 historic viaducts giving magnificent views of the valleys below, it travels through 2 tunnels which are decidedly cool even on the hot day we were there and twists its way along the tracks through some beautiful woodland. A couple of roads controlled by traffic lights have to be crossed and the unit has to be brought to a standstill in time and set off again as the lights change which is a bit scary!
From the start at Wald-Michelbach to Mörlenbach, the track is around 10 kms. At Mörlenbach we walked across the road into town and soon found a restaurant with a sunny courtyard to have a light lunch. Martina arrived with baby Fynn, our first meeting and he is a lively, smiley wee boy who looks full of mischief and was interested in everything.
En route back to the hotel, we made a quick stop at Vinum Autmundis at Groß Ümstadt as we wanted to buy wine to take home. Back at the hotel, we had a quick turn around then were collected by Manfred and Jasmin to go to Family Fritsch’s in Otzberg for a meal. Andrea provided a delicious meal of Schnitzel in a creamy sauce and tasty Koch Kase (which is a speciality of the area and delicious), Spätzle (which was also great with the Koch Kase we discovered) and fresh cucumber salad. Then Manfred’s own liqueurs and Schnapps varieties were produced for tasting! We were being spoiled! This was followed by a tempting variety of fluffy desserts. It was all so good and very much appreciated and Martina arrived to say goodbye and with gifts for us! Then Manfred and Jasmin drove us back to the hotel. It was another very full, but enjoyable day.
We left on the Tuesday but there was time for another stroll into Michelstadt to shop and take photos, and to have a last coffee and cake, this time at Café Leyhausen, before Hanne picked us up to take us to the airport.
We had a marvellous time, the weather was very kind to us, and it was lovely to meet up with old and new friends. They all worked very hard to ferry us about and show us their favourite places in the Odenwald. We can now look forward to welcoming them to Falkirk some time next year, and to joining in the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the twinning agreement between the two regions in August 2019.