Monday, September 27, 2010

Ansbach Tours

Today we had 2 tours planned, a city tour of Ansbach in the morning and a tour of the Margrave Palace in the afternoon. It was a little bit overcast but off we went. We met our guide and started by visiting St, Gumbertus Church, the former Court church of the Margraves Brandeburg-Ansbach. This is built in the Romanesque style and is dominated by its Wiegleb organ. Next to the altar is a chapel called “Chapel of the Knights of the Swan”, built between 1501 and 1523 you see many shields of the Knights and an altar of the 14th century. We also went to a cellar or tomb next to the church which was the burial place of the Margraves and their families from the 17th & 18th century.
The 25 ornate coffins were made of tin and some displayed much detail and some were very simple.

We also visited a Jewish synagogue. This was built in 1744/46 and is one of the most significant original preserved synagogues of Southwest Germany and still is in good condition. It was not destroyed in 1938 on Kristal Nacht, as they were afraid that the location of the building being in a row of other buildings they would not be able to contain a fire. It was also used as a storage space for a leader in the Nazi party who lived next to it. Ansbach no longer has a Jewish community.

Moving along we stopped in time to hear the carillon play a traditional Bavarian tune. This is located in the Herrieder Tor or Clock Tower. This is a baroque tower built in 1750 and originally part of the town gate. The town itself was first mentioned in 700.

Lunch then in the afternoon then we went to the Margraves Palace. Of the 520 rooms we saw 27! You can get lost. Of course huge, ornate rooms but with very high ceilings, large ceramic stoves that were fed with wood or coal from rooms behind where the servants took care of it and did not disturb anyone in the main room. They had fireplaces in most of the rooms but just for decoration. In some of the restoration work they found beautiful inlay wooden floors that contained 27 different kinds of wood. Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed in there so I can’t show you. In the main reception room, which is huge and where they entertained and met with heads of state, there was a balcony overlooking the room and this is where the musicians would sit and play to entertain the dignitaries. It was a beautiful place and interesting history.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bavaria 2011

Off again to Bavaria and Eastern Wuerttemberg:

Arrived in Germany, beautiful sunny day. After getting out of the extremely busy Frankfurt airport, made it to the airport hotel for one night to wait for the group arriving on Sunday. TIP: if you stay at the Holiday Inn Express (Mohenfeld) by the airport because it is close and has a shuttle, you may want to try a couple restaurants near here. You are kind of stuck on the outskirts of town and I was debating on eating micro waved pizzas at the hotel or taking the shuttle back to the airport to eat at the food court when I noticed a sign for an Italian restaurant nearby. Across the street, you walk down a country lane
heading towards a campground and there you find Tommasa’s Italian restaurant and very close to it is a German restaurant with bier garten (didn’t see the name). I chose Italian this time, great food, reasonable prices and close to the hotel. Just an FYI.

Sunday – Back to the airport to meet group, which I eventually did and we were off for our 2.5 hour ride to our hotel in Ansbach. This was another gorgeous day, sunny and mild temps. The ICE train from the airport was crowded but once we changed trains in Wurzburg, we had open windows and a beautiful breeze. The further we travelled east into the Franconia countryside, the terrain was lush green, rolling hills and farmers fields. Near Wurzburg the vineyards stretched up the hills in orderly rows. Beautiful introduction to Germany.

We made it to Ansbach; the group getting very tired after the long plane and train ride so when we made it to the hotel and saw the unbelievable rooms and beds it was well worth the ride. This hotel is located in Old town Ansbach and the building had originally been a residence for the clerks of the Margraves (rulers) of Ansbach. Of course it has been renovated but still contains the charm and richness of a higher class. Spiral staircase (sorry no elevator, but small price to pay) lead to the rooms with high ceilings, large windows with beautiful draperies and soft beds under crystal chandeliers and a marble floored, gold handled bathroom with a very large (by European standards) deep bathtub. That is a rarity in German hotels. Incredible! I was then shown to my garden suite. This hotel has a charming cafĂ©, breakfast room where they serve freshly made kafee und kuchen daily, past this outside is a bier garten set in the small garden and past this is a separate building with the garden suite. I felt like the Princess of Ansbach! Really, really luxurious. I will definitely be spoiled for anything else. I probably should not go on and on, because was just a lucky find for us, I sure can’t promise this everytime, but we will enjoy it while we can. Quick walk around town or a nap for some, good filling dinner and early to bed to get ready for the week ahead.