Germany – Coburg, Rödental, October 14-16, 2014

From Heilbronn I took the train again to Coburg, with several changes, to get to the old city of Coburg. My goal was actually Rödental and the Europäisches Museum für Modernes Glas.

I arrived about 7 p.m. in Coburg. Since I wasn’t sure where the hotel, The Square, was, I took a taxi (8.30 Euros) to the hotel. The reception is only open from about 7:30 to noon, so I had a code for a key box. I entered the code, and the key to my room dropped out. Then it was through a locked door, up several flights of narrow stairs, to the third floor (in German, the 2nd floor). The room was unusually spacious and overlooked the market square. I had an Eiskaffee (cold coffee with ice cream, topped with whipped cream, served in a tall glass) at the nearest restaurant.

The Square, Coburg hotel

Coburg’s old square, with The Square hotel

Market place in Coburg, early morning from my hotel room in The Square

Market place in Coburg, early morning from my hotel room in The Square

The hotel cannot have an elevator, I’m told, because it’s an historic preservation building — no changes inside or out. Exceptionally for Germany, breakfast is not included in the price. However, a standing-only bakery is just outside, and a couple of nicer places are around the square. For whatever reason, The Square was the only hotel I found online with a room available. I was quite pleased with it, except for having to lug my heavy suitcase up.

Wednesday: The engineers of the Deutsche Bahn are going to strike, beginning in the afternoon until something like 2 a.m. the next day. I set out to find the museum. The kind assistant in the hotel looks with me at the website, which says a bus to some town I don’t know. The assistant is shocked and says it’s far from Rödental and suggests I go around the corner to the tourist information office, which I do. The women there aren’t too helpful. They do print out a train schedule to get me to Rödental. A call to the museum isn’t helpful, either — the woman gives me reference points that are meaningless. When I get to Rödental, I ask at a little travel agency next to the train station. The woman there is more helpful — I need to go past the pizzeria and turn left across a stream and then right through the park. I can ask people in the park.

Park in Rödental

The stream in the “park” between the train station and the European Museum for Modern Glass

The park goes on forever, and is more a field than a park. I finally see a man walking his dog and ask if I’m going in the right direction. I am. Eventually, when I’m almost there, I see a very small sign. In fact, I see a bunch, to a castle, museum, museum shop, orangerie, etc. I head for the museum shop, only to find it’s the wrong museum. The women there point me to another place, again not very well marked. Eventually, I find the museum, a glass building. The woman there is the one I had talked to earlier when I called. She called the travel agency and suggested someone would be by looking for her. Anyway, she was quite nice. The museum is absolutely worth the trip.

Europäisches Museum für Modernes Glas, Rödental

Front entrance to the Europäisches Museum für Modernes Glas, Rödental

Europäsches Museum für Modernes Glas, from the side

Europäsches Museum für Modernes Glas, from the side

Having just seen both the Corning Museum of Glass and the Chrysler Museum, I can say this is better. The usual suspects were represented: Dale Chihuly, Lino Tagliapietra, Toots Zynsky, Yan Zoritschak (suddenly everywhere), Eun Sun-Choi (recently in Tucson at the Sonoran Glass School)… Some artists I’d seen at the other two museums were also there, plus a lot of Europeans and Japanese I wasn’t familiar with (that’s not necessarily too meaningful…). At any rate, the museum is two floors, glass stairs, glass walls to the exterior, easy to see what’s there (no map required once you get to the museum).

Glass staircase at the Europäiches Museum für Modernes Glas

Glass staircase at the Europäiches Museum für Modernes Glas

I took many photos, but — since this was glass and some odd lighting for photos — many ended up just as reminders of the wonderful pieces I’d seen. Some came out OK:

Bernard Dejonghe, of France

Bernard Dejonghe, of France

John Zinner, Germany

John Zinner, Germany

Klaus Moje, now of Australia

Klaus Moje, now of Australia

Paula Bartron, USA

Paula Bartron, USA

Herbert Bessel, Germany, stained glass

Herbert Bessel, Germany, stained glass

Dafna Kaffeman, Israel

Dafna Kaffeman, Israel

I spent a long time there, plus had lunch in the restaurant nearby, since the museum closes from 1 to 1:30. When I came back, I quickly visited the ceramics collection downstairs. The helpful woman at the front desk gave me a tip on the book I was going to buy: 15 euros for it, or 20 euros for it and another book about a collection they had. The books weigh about 10 pounds, but never mind. I now have two to show glass artists at home what wonderful pieces this museum offers.

It seems that Rödental, to preserve its beauty, decided no signs of any kind could be provided to help visitors find the museum. You can drive there, and I guess that’s how most people get there. While I was there, perhaps six other people visited the museum. The restaurant had a family of four when I entered. They left and I was alone. As I left, a couple arrived for lunch. This is a real shame — the restaurant was good (but fairly expensive and didn’t take credit cards), and the museum is an absolute MUST-SEE for anyone interested in glass.

Getting back to Coburg in the afternoon with the train was no problem at all. Apparently, strikes tend to be somewhat local. As it turned out, the strike, ostensibly for a little more money, etc., was really a political move by one of two unions that represents train employees. The other union struck on the weekend, one of the busiest of the year with ending and beginning fall school holidays. The second was more localized in Berlin, Hamburg, Mannheim and Munich.

The "Vesta" in Coburg

The “Vesta” in Coburg

Thursday: I didn’t get to the Vesta, the giant castle on the hill. The museum is a branch of this — I would say the unwanted stepchild. The Vesta is supposed to have a large glass collection, too — but ‘old glass’. Another time…

Another taxi (5.30 Euros) to the train station, and then on to Karlsruhe (via Stuttgart).

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