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The Forchheim BloggForcheim on our one rainy day!

Visit to Forchheim, Franconia  6th-17th July2006

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 Bavaria).

During our stay we visited many of the beautiful towns in the region including Bamberg, Bayreuth, Munich and Nuremberg.

The Fountains at the Eremitage, Bayreuth At Wagners house in Bayreuth In Bayreuth in front of the old palace
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 group:-
From Jim and Margaret McDermott:
Franconia – Impressions and perceptions from a 10 day visit.
The strongest impressions were those of space, cleanliness, neatness and rurality. It is truly rural and strongly reminiscent of that idealised (and Nuremburg - our next destination in Decembermythical) 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.
In the Medieval Town of Berching Group photo near the walls of Berching Inn sign at Berching

From June Gibbs:
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 beer but 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.

At The Bierkeller in Forcheim Prosit! At the Bierkeller in Forcheim....again!

From Lesley Edwards:Monday in Munch
Inspirational architecture, carefully constructed buildings, built 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 family’s desire to please and involve us in their daily lives – we feel cocooned by their hospitality.
Sausages & SnitzelThere 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 encouragement 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, IAt Plankstetten Monastery 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 own region, 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 from produce farmed by the monks from the grounds surrounding the monastery.
On the Mai-Danube CanalThis was 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.

A real Black Forest GateauMy 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?”. Fortunately she 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.

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