This year 10 members of
High Lane U3A, together with 5 members of Cheadle Hulme U3A and 4 others spent a
very enjoyable 10
days in the mediaeval town of Forchheim in Franconia (Northern
stay we visited many of the beautiful towns in the region including
Bamberg, Bayreuth, Munich and Nuremberg.
We sampled the local
specialities including the excellent wine and beer and enjoyed the
hospitality of the local people.
Highlights for me personally were;
seeing Kiss Me Kate in German in a spectacular open-air theatre;
enjoying the spa water treatment at Bad Staffelstein (£5 for
3 hours compared to £20 for 2 hours in Bath);
the “ecological” meal at Plankstetten monastery and
receiving a yodelling diploma (as did all the British guests) at a
social evening organised by the adult education centre.
Here are some comments from other members of the
From Jim and Margaret McDermott:
Franconia – Impressions and
perceptions from a 10 day visit.
The strongest impressions were those of space,
neatness and rurality. It is truly rural and strongly reminiscent of
that idealised (and mythical)
England of yesteryear. Agriculture seems to be the dominant activity
closely followed by tourism. The roads are well maintained, easily
negotiated and a pleasure to drive upon, i.e. not choked with other
vehicles. Cycling is hugely popular in the towns. The number of
apparently clean, well laid out quiet villages throughout the
countryside is impressive. The people with whom we came into contact
were, generally speaking, polite, obliging and generous to a fault,
particularly Toni and Irmgard who provided us, the hotel guests, with
our own private taxi service. On two occasions we were invited to their
houses for evening meals. The houses were typical of the area and were
extremely attractive and spacious with large gardens. We were
entertained by members of the local adult education college; they
organise courses for people who may wish to pursue non-vocational
subjects at a cost which is both reasonable and acceptable. Eating out
is not a problem as cafes and restaurants are there in such numbers
that a vacant table can always be found. A wide choice of reasonably
priced food is on offer, well prepared and lots of it. The locally
produced wine is also available, inexpensive, palatable and strong.
The small, perfectly preserved, mediaeval towns and villages
exude a gentle and romantic charm and cosiness.
Splendid castles, glorious baroque and gothic churches, many
breweries and “Keller” (with numerous varieties of
no sign of drunkenness and vandalism) : all of these set in a beautiful
varied landscape, centred around the wide valley of the Main, giving
way to gently forested foothills.
Cities are brimming with art and culture, up-to-date but still
tradition-conscious. Houses are much larger than here, set off by
beautiful gardens and balconies bedecked by colourful floral
arrangements. The roads are wide and largely uncongested with many
cycle paths for the numerous cyclists.
There is a feeling of prosperity in the area, but the people appear to
be very modest. The lasting memory will be of the extraordinary
kindness, hospitality and politeness of our friends in Forchheim, never
to be forgotten.
Inspirational architecture, carefully constructed buildings,
in an orderly fashion – each town unfolds another little gem,
hidden like a surprise Christmas present. Guides relate
interesting tales of bygone days of romance, culture and
conquests. All this is enriched by our host
to please and involve us in their daily lives – we feel
by their hospitality.
are new culinary delights to try: Kaffee und Kuchen, potato
salad, horseradish, Sauerkraut, Schnitzel, sausages and bread washed
down with a fine selection of Franconian beer served with the locals in
the Bierkeller. As we listen to the background of a new and yet
familiar language, we can now understand snippets of conversation and
we have the opportunity to join in and feel part of this new culture.
The richness and variety of the tales and conversations in our group
add to an unforgettable experience of our time in Bavaria. Added to all
of this, our mentor, Marlene’s continued words of
just give us a thirst for more of the same. We are so thrilled to be
part of the U3A German group.
In praise of the exchange visit (Rona White)
Having recently returned from an exchange visit
to the beautiful region of Franconia in Southern Germany, I have nothing but praise
for the organisers in both countries for making our trip so memorable
and hugely successful.
Unlike a package holiday, with an exchange trip
you are given the opportunity of meeting a wide variety of
local people in their own homes and to sample their very generous
hospitality. You are able to enjoy authentically cooked regional food
provided by the host families rather than the type of meals a
restaurant might provide especially for tourists.
Because our German hosts are familiar with their
we are able to visit lesser known places that might not be available to
us had we been on an organised tour. In particular, I am thinking of
our visit to the monastery at Plankstetten where a sprightly 84 year
old monk gave us a very interesting and amusing tour. We enjoyed a
tastily prepared “ecological lunch” made entirely
produce farmed by the monks from the grounds surrounding the monastery.
followed by a tranquil walk along the canal, and a short boat
trip to a very pretty nearby village, which included more walking with
a local guide. The day was rounded off by a huge meal in a local
hostelry and back to base by coach.
Our days were very busy and reasonably energetic, and I am delighted to
say that despite eating copious amounts of food and drink, I came home
2 lbs lighter in weight.
On the whole, the weather was superb, apart from the first day or two
where we experienced one or two heavy showers, one of which naturally
occurred during our visit to an open air concert of classical music. In
true English fashion, we all remained seated uncomplainingly, but one
has to say, so did the Germans. So we are not the only stoics.
overwhelming impression of the local people is their friendliness. Any
effort to communicate in German is enthusiastically appreciated.
However, I am not sure that I did much for Anglo-German relations when,
in my halting German, I said to one lady on a train who was carrying a
rather frail but very cute-looking dog, “Are you
old?” rather than , “Is it old?”.
understood what I meant and was not offended.
My wish for the future would be that exchange trips could be extended
to other countries, in particular France and Spain, and although my
knowledge of both languages is minimal. I am willing to assist anybody
who wishes to accept the challenge.