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December 5 , 2008

Written December 7

Dear Friends and Families,


Today, after some necessary barn-finishing activity, we headed out on our second Christmas Market Tour. We were heading to Dinkelsbühl, less than a couple hours southwest of our Pommersfelden home. Maybe we're getting old or maybe Bavaria just has too many destinations, but it seems like we don't feel the need to go long distances to "be away".


About a half hour from home, we stopped at the Windsheim* museum, a "living history" park that is the home to a range of old buildings brought here from throughout the Frankonia part of Bavaria. In summer, the park is filled with parents, kids, and assorted tourists. Now, in the cold and gray, we had the place almost to ourselves. I had seen a local advertisement for some sort of Christmas display and, since Windsheim was on our way, we stopped.


* For English speakers: Say "Winds.......heim." "S" and "h" are treated separately in German (but "sch" is pronounced together. Go figure.)

After paying our five euro entrance fee, we passed through the old red gate house, past the empty beer garden, and wandered down to the collection of medieval buildings.

This was an impressive display of large and small farm buildings, mostly done in the "Swedish" style, with high, thatched roofs. We learned that the basic walls of many of these old buildings still stand, but the roofs have been made more rectangular and converted to red tile. At Windsheim, the tallest of these buildings was found as a five-story farm house, before it was deconstructed and rebuilt in it's original form. Naturally, we thought about how much THAT must have cost!

After our bit of old history, we went to the Ausstellung( "display?") building, where we were told there was an exhibition of old "Krippen" or creches. This turned out to be on the second floor of the Ausstellung and, on the ground floor,the exhibition was decidedly less cheerful. It told the story of Polish temporary workers in the 1930's and 1940's. This part of Frankonia had used imported labor on the local farms, first as paid seasonal workers and later, under the Third Reich, as forced labor. The somber side of the story is obvious, but the good side may be that the story is being told at all.

After all this preparation; the detour from our basic trip, the cold walk to and from the Middle Ages, and the glimpse of more recent difficult lives, the crech display was disappointing. This old bas-relief was the most interesting piece, but the rest of the displays seemed like most remnants of grandmother's attics: quaint, but not remarkable.

We saw only a fraction of the Windsheim museum because it was just too cold and blustery for any further wandering. We did, however, go into the town of Windsheim and discovered yet another cute and colorful Bavarian village ...
  ... with goodies to try.

So, that was stop #1 on our weekend. Now we would hit the road to Dinkelsbühl, taking the opportunity to tell our GPS-navigator, Gertrude, to avoid freeways. This may have doubled the trip, but it forced us off the beaten path and we were treated to an hour tour of the farmland of "High Frankonia".

Then, Dinkelsbühl, as cute a Bavarian town as one can find. But that's another story.

John and Marianne.


-- Windsheim park (German, but pictures work): http://www.freilandmuseum.de/

-- Bad Windsheim (the village):http://www.bad-windsheim.de/



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