Saturday, November 26, 2011

Family fun in Germany - August 2011

In August and September, I was able to visit my family in Germany.  Prior to moving to Europe, I had been to Germany six times and seen my family in the US a few times as well.  In the year I've lived in Prague, I've had the pleasure of visiting family five times - to include three trips to Germany and two visits to Prague by my family.  In August, my friend Cate visited and we stayed with my aunt and uncle in Kunzelsau (a small town near Stuttgart).  It is a beautiful city that is not a common tourist location, but is special to me, as we would often spend much of our month long visits to Germany in this area.  It was a treat to take Cate to all the local spots.  Then a few weeks later, my parents visited and we had a huge family reunion.  All four of my father's siblings and their families were all together for two days.  The entire family went to the farm where they grew up and enjoyed many great meals together.  The gathering was the first time in many years that my father and his siblings all visited the farm together.  It was also a celebration of what would have been my grandmother's 100th birthday this year.  It was a special time to have everyone together!

Uncle Armin and Aunt Margret on their patio

Cate and I with the flowers we brought from Munich

Pretzel fun

No, we're not at a bed and breakfast - this is the AMAZING breakfast my Aunt prepared for us.  It was heavenly!

Uncle Armin in his garden

The back of the house from the garden

Cousin Annegret and me
Bench on the farm where my father grew up
Aunt Margret and me near the farm she grew up on.

In Schwabisch Hall (town near Kunzelsau).  Anne and me are in front of  what our family calls: Cafe Sheisse Freundlich (Literal translation: shit friendly).  This place was known for being very nice to you when you came in, but then going around and gossiping about you and your business.  It is a very nice cafe now and just a bit of a family joke now.  :)

Schwabisch Hall statues

The farm at Messbach where my father and his family grew up.  We used to come here on EVERY trip as a kid and I never really understood why.  Going twice in a month - once with my aunt and once with my entire family was really cool.   My aunt told me a lot of stories about what it was like to grow up during a war and the nights the family would go into the cellar to hide.  My grandmother made each kid a backpack of supplies in case they got separated.  In each backpack, they had some clothes and a picture of the family with their names and address - again, in case anything happened and the family was separated.  Thankfully, they were not separated.

The gate to the farm.  This is where the Baron lived and my grandfather ran the farm while my grandmother did all the cooking and cleaning (along with my dad and his siblings who helped with all the tasks).  This entry and courtyard reminds me a bit of the Sound of Music - perhaps its why I love that musical.

Messbach farm

Messbach farm

Church next to the farm

The house my father grew up in

This is a shed where my dad and Uncle Ulrich would play cards in between the chore of bringing in wood to make it take a little longer.

Messbach farm

The house on the right is where my grandmother Ruth was born 100 years ago!

Stairwell next to where grandmother grew up

Sunflowers by the church my great-grandfather was a pastor

Anne does her part to add the breadcrumbs cooked in butter to the spaetzle - yum!

Cate is excited for dinner!

Sauerbraten, spaetzle, salad and wine - yum!

My favorite meal!

Dessert of ice cream and fresh raspberries from the garden

Anne and Aunt Margret

The castle in Langenburg (town near Kunzelsau)

Langenburg Castle

Castle garden

Castle Garden

We're close to Cafe Bauer - home of the infamous Wibele (which are shaped like this sign)

Ladies having coffee in Langenburg


Cafe Bauer - best cakes and coffee in Langenburg!

The view from the cafe.

Coffee at Cafe Bauer

Anne explains the story of the Wibele - a small odd shaped cookie made only at this cafe.  They are a bit of heaven!

Schwabisch Hall

Everyone needs some statue posing

Cool houses - still Schwabisch Hall

Anne is strong!

Schwabich Hall

Kunzelsau - where my aunt and uncle live and Anne works


Kunzelsau old Rathaus (city hall)

Frau Kolle - she owns a toy shop we ALWAYS visited as kids.  She still remembers me when I visit.  :)

Her shop

A stop at a butcher - just to look

Anne working hard at the pharmacy

My grandparents burial spot.  They are buried in the same spot.  Burial is different in Europe.  Family's rent a  plot for  a period of time (10-20 years) and at the end of the time, they can either renew the plot or pass it on to the next person.  A family is responsible for the upkeep of the plot as well.


Pretzels - best thing ever!

Cafe Heigold - where they make the best pretzels, hands down!

Cafe Heigold

My dad and his siblings: Martin, Margret, Ulrich, Dad, Gerhard

The uncles talking

The two great storytellers: Uncle Armin and cousin Peter

Uncle Gerhard, Ruben (Peter's son), Peter, and Mom.  Peter lived with us for  a year and is kind of like a big brother to me.  He took me to see Goonies in the theater for my 8th birthday.  He was 16 and had just gotten his driver's license.  It was an adventure for us both!

My grandparents burial spot


Uncle Gerhard

House at Messbach where my dad grew up

Inside church at Messbach

Inside church at Messbach

Inside church at Messbach

Dad by the entrance gate

Apparently tresspassing is a real issue.  Hard to believe in this tiny town.  Regardless, the building behind the sign is where my dad as a boy was found sleeping under a heat lamp with the piglets.  He was cold and wet from a day outside and thought it would be a great place for a nap.  Smart guy even as a young boy!  They said he was about 5 or 6 when he did it.

Messbach farm

Mom striking a pose

Dad with farm in background

Impromptu football match (and yes, I'm calling soccer football)

Farm where my grandparents met

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