High Lane Logo Forchheim : 'THE VISIT' in 2008
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A group of 12 U3A members from High Lane and Cheadle Hulme took part in this year’s exchange, staying with families in and around the picturesque little town of Forchheim, near Nuremberg.  As usual our hosts had organized an interesting programme of events.  We always assume it can’t be as good as the last time, but it always is!

We started off  with a visit to the “Keller”, a favourite with drinkers and diners, an open-air inn above the cellars where the beer is stored.  There you can eat good hearty food and sample the local beer in an area which has the largest number of independent small breweries in the whole of Germany.
We all had different experiences of the weekend as this was free time with our hosts: for some a trip to the nearby towns of Bamberg or Rothenburg; for some hiking in the countryside or even enjoying the spa towns of Marienbad and Carlsbad in the Czech Republic, not too far away.
Our first meal The collonade at Marienbad
Our spa hotel
Monday saw our first group excursion by train to Ingolstadt, the home of Audi cars but with some interesting old buildings still surviving despite the best efforts of the Allies to bomb the place to bits.

The Assam ceiling at IngolstadtThe old castle in Ingolstadt
We were all impressed with the amazing Assam ceiling with its optical illusions in the Jesuit discussion hall.

Other excursions during the week included Nuremberg, the spa at Bad Staffelstein, a boat trip through the Danube gorge to the Weltenberg Monastery.

Some of the group in Nuremburg The Golden Fountain Up in the castle One of the lovely bridges in Nuremburg
Sailing through the Danube gorge View from above the gorge

Everyone enjoyed the trip to Coburg, especially to the castle of Rosenau, the childhood home of Prince Albert.  Victoria loved this place and visited the castle many times even after the death of Albert.  It is reported that she said: ”If I were not who I am , this is where I would choose to be”.  After World War One the castle was taken over by the state and used over the years as a hospital, refugee camp and old people’s home. The restoration of the castle, started in 1990, was made possible when the Queen allowed copies to be made of water colours of the rooms in the castle which Victoria had commissioned as a birthday present for Albert so that he could be reminded of his beloved Rosenau.  From the water colours, the rooms could be restored to their former state. Often this just meant stripping off the whitewash over the original paper.

The Veste (fortress) in Coburg Another view of the Veste Prince Albert in the market square The castle at Rosenau
The garden The ballroom The group at Rosenau

Our final evening was spent in the garden of Ulrike’s house (June Gibbs’ hostess), with excellent food, entertainment and dancing.  We all have some wonderful memories of generous hosts, interesting and beautiful towns.  As always we learn a lot, not just a little bit of German but also some of the 
history .                                                                                                     
Our good friend Hans-Gunter Some of the High Lane contingent Ulrike's garden party Dancing the night away
This year’s hero was Ludwig I who built the impressive Befreiungshalle to commemorate not only the defeat of Napoleon but also the Greeks’ Liberation from the Turks.  He was also instrumental in modernizing much of Bavaria in the 19th Century and in making Munich a truly beautiful and impressive city.
Inside the Befreiungshalle Inside the Befreiungshalle
For many of the excursions we made use of the excellent and inexpensive public transport facilities which are usually extremely reliable and punctual.  This time, however, we had to leave the train twice in three days and take alternative transport and/or detours.  Still, there were good reasons: in one case a suicide on the line, in the other, a fallen tree as the result of a terrific thunderstorm.  On the whole, the weather was very good, if anything, too warm, resulting in many of us acquiring souvenirs we would rather not have had – very itchy midge bites!  The unpleasant things are soon forgotten and we look forward to our next trip to this lovely part of Germany.

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