August 15-16, Frauenau (and Zwiesel)

The manager at the hotel explained a different, less dangerous route to the train station.

Zwiesel is a 15-minute train ride from Frauenau, my real destination. It turns out that hotels have visitor cards, which means I can ride the train and buses in the area for free. It also includes admission to some museums, etc. — except I always forget about the card for them.

Before I go to the museum, I wander around Frauenau a little, visiting a couple of stores that sell glass. This is a religious holiday in Bavaria, so many of the stores are closed. The bus I was expecting also didn’t run.

My first stop is the Glass Museum in Frauenau. It’s a good-sized (relative to the other three museums I’ve seen on this trip) museum, glass walls, glass staircase. It’s on two floors, includes a café, is located in a park with a pond and many glass sculptures. It’s next to the Eisch facility (gallery / sales shop / glass-blowing facility).

Glasmuseum Frauenau

Ron Fischer, "Arche II", in the Glass Garden

Ron Fischer, “Arche II”, in the Glass Garden

Mosaic in the floor near the entrance of the museum

Mosaic in the floor near the entrance of the museum

The museum offers a well-done history of glass, with apparently a lot of original pieces. It also offers an overview of glass in the area, which is on the border to what is now the Czech Republic. This area has had glass since the 1600s — the Poschinger Glass facility is still in business. The glass place I visited on my first trip to Germany in 1969 has disappeared, but it must have been in Zwiesel, because of its name (Arber –and many businesses have Arber in their names).

I wander through the Glass Garden, which leads in part to the Eisch sales area.

The sales part of Eisch is open, so I wander through that, as well. Eisch was begun in the mid-1940s, after the war. Best known is the son, Erwin Eisch, now in his 90s. He, along with Harvey Littleton, was a mover and shaker in the modern studio art glass movement. He was also one of the founders of the glass museum.

On Thursday I visit von Poschinger, complete with a tour.

This is apparently the largest manufacturer in the area, as well as the oldest. It has a retail outlet, but apparently most of its production is fulfilling orders by other companies. The tour was interesting. One of the other participants was a woman whose father was American. The other part of the group is a couple with their daughter. It turns out the woman is a well-known Bavarian moderator/actress — I didn’t know who she was, but the other woman recognized her.

Back in Zwiesel I set out to explore and find the exhibit at the middle school. This is glass, ceramics, paintings, wood, metal… on three floors. With lots of windows, it’s great for glass.

Glass sculpture in show in Zwiesel

Glass sculpture in show in Zwiesel

Copper in glass - sculpture

Copper in glass — sculptural piece in a show in Zwiesel.

Included in the exhibit are some pieces that were winners in a competition at the glass school. Most of the pieces are by women and represent a variety of techniques.

I was actually looking for the huge church. Finding the middle school was luck. Tomorrow I’ll visit the exhibit by the church.



August 14, Zwiesel

My goal today is Zwiesel, in the Bavarian Forest. This is a glass area. The train, from Karlsruhe to Stuttgart, Stuttgart to Nürnberg, Nürnberg to Plattling and Plattling to Zwiesel, offered plenty of chances for delays — and we had them. We got to Nürnberg about 20 minutes late, so I missed the connection to Plattling. Since the train there runs about once an hour and we were so late, the wait wasn’t too long.

In Zwiesel I needed a taxi — and that was a trick, but I finally got one. The Aparthotel Zwiesel, which I found online, turns out to be a 15-minute hike to the train station — through a narrow underpass that’s used by cars and has no sidewalk. I hope to survive the experience….

It turns out that today, beginning at 6 p.m., is the 16th Zwieseler Glas Nacht (Glass Night), complete with a glass pyramid at Zwiesel Kristallglas, tours, a visit to the showroom, glass-blowing demonstrations at the Fachschule für Glas (a government-backed glassblowing school), a glass flea market, a glass chapel, and several music events around, mostly in parks. The pyramid is made up of 93,665 white wine glasses, stacked (but not glued) in 65 layers.

Hundreds of people were out and about. The music events were often competing, but the listeners didn’t seem to mind. Würst and other stands were at the music venues — it’s too bad I’m a vegetarian. The potato puffers at one would have been veggie, but looked soaked in grease.

I wandered through some stores, especially the Zwiesel one, which is huge and includes a bakery, a condiment/wine shop plus all the glass. It would be a great opportunity to get really nice glasses (but not hand-made) at a great price — but shipping would be prohibitive and I don’t trust the postal services, since my other packages seem to be lost.

Zwiesel also seems to have a sculpture program – I found at least three that were labeled. Here are two:


August 11-14, Karlsruhe

Because of bad planning on my part, Hans and Maria expect me in Karlsruhe on Saturday. I arrive in early evening. The train is actually on time (German trains have been mostly late on this trip).

Sunday morning we take a walk around the park by the “Schloss” (castle).

In the afternoon Gabi and Wolfgang are coming for coffee. Hans and Wolfgang used to work together. I met Gabi and Wolfgang in 1978, when they were in Albuquerque. I was still married, my daughter was 13 months old, and we were planning a trip to Europe. The woman who was helping me refresh German and give me vocabulary for little-people things like “high chair” introduced me to Gabi. Hans and Maria came to visit Gabi and her husband and mentioned they would be living in Virginia for a year. As it turned out, we were moving to the same area about the same time.

I saw Hans and Maria a few years ago, but I hadn’t seen Wolfgang and Gabi for at least 30 years. It was really great to be back in touch. And Hans and Maria hadn’t seen them for some years either, so they seemed happy to have a reason to get together.

Monday was spent running errands. I found that my watch wasn’t working, I was trying to fix the jewelry I was planning to send to Longwy for the show on September 1, and I needed to get some more money at the bank. It turned out that the beads I bought didn’t work and the works in my watch were shot. The one success:  I was able to get money.

A second trip to the shopping area got my package to Longwy mailed, the beads that didn’t work returned to the store, my watch picked up and a new watch found at Karstadt (a relatively nice department store chain). It was a little tough finding a watch that wasn’t too expensive — no Timex or Swatch in sight. And I wasn’t up for Movado and the expensive brands. I finally settled for a Rivado, which is the Karstadt brand and which worked with my watchband.

After I packed, I watched the news with Maria and Hans. Maria and I then were up even later when a French film, dubbed into German, came on. She said it was supposed to be a good film. I started watching — until it ended after 2 a.m. It was a good film, but I’m not sure of the title. And it was a short night.


August 9-11, Reutlingen / Riedlingen

Thursday morning it was off to Reutlingen. Although the street car works well, I had the hotel call a taxi. My luggage is too heavy, though I haven’t figured out exactly why.

In Reutlingen, which is also outside Stuttgart but in a different direction than Plüderhausen, I visit Margot and her husband, Ulf. I’ve known Margot since 1994, when she was in Washington on a sabbatical. She and Ulf show me around the area, with dinner at the Stausee, where we’ve been before but which is always nice to see again.

The next day we visited the cathedral at Zwiefalten, which turned out to be under renovation on the inside.

Zwiefalten cathedral Zwiefalten cathedral

After that, we looked around Riedlingen, a picturesque town, while Ulf went to an “underwater circus”. Ulf is a circus enthusiast and expert who writes reviews for a circus publication.iedli

Afterwards, we had dinner at another excellent restaurant with a view.

Our walk by Reutlingen

Our walk by Reutlingen

Saturday Margot and I took a walk around her house, then went to lunch overlooking Reutlingen (with a great cherry torte) and then to the train station to go on.

It was a short visit, but it’s always good to see friends and catch up with what they’ve been doing.


August 8, Leipzig

Down the street, more or less, from the hotel is the Grassi Museum für angewandte Kunst. The building features an Art Nouveau pineapple on the roof, which I found interesting.

Grassi Museum für angewandte Kunst and the Art Deco pineapple

Grassi Museum für angewandte Kunst and the Art Deco pineapple

I planned to spend an hour or so in the museum. It turned into more like four… with lots and lots of glass, including Art Nouveau and newer artists.

I also found the post office and spent an hour filling out forms to send tissues to my cousin in Dallas and more stuff home to me.


August 6-7, Back to Germany / Leipzig

A few notes on traveling to and from Denmark:

If you’re going to Copenhagen by train, you have both German and Danish options. If you go straight north, as I did, to Aarhus, you have German trains to Flensburg and Danish after, more or less. I was told there are three trains a day, Denmark is a popular vacation area AND you must have a reserved seat on the Danish trains.

I managed to get around the reservation going up, primarily because the German trains were having mechanical problems and things were backed up horribly. But leaving…I went to the train station in Aarhus, expecting to be able to get on the direct train to Hamburg. No such luck. I was able to get a seat two hours later to Flensburg (Aarhus to Fredericia, Fredericia to Flensburg — the reverse of the trip up), with two changes of train. I should mention that I managed to have three pieces of small, but heavy, luggage.

This time the Danish train was a little late, but we still made the connection in Flensburg. In Hamburg I was able to continue on to Leipzig, and that train was on time, though it arrived at almost 8 p.m.

Because the Hotel Leipzig (formerly the Ramada) was not at the train station, I took a taxi.

An unfortunate sign was hanging in the building that housed the hotel (on the 7th and 8th floors). It’s dog food that’s supposed to be healthy for your pet:

An unfortunate sign advertising healthy dog food

An unfortunate sign advertising healthy dog food

The next day, armed with a small city map, I hoofed it to the train station – or almost – and found a city tour. Sixteen euros, 2 hours, and windows I couldn’t take much in the way of pictures through. It was useful for orientation, however.

Leipzig was a center of music and publishing as well as the fur trade and a giant trade fair in the good old days, a part of East Germany in the less-good old days. Wagner was born here, Bach is buried here. Among the better known musicians and writers who passed through: Mahler, Schiller, Goethe, Robert Schumann, and more recently Erich Kästner.

Deutsches Buchgewerbehaus front

Deutsches Buchgewerbehaus front, just down the street from the hotel.

Deutsches Buchgewerbehaus side with an architectural add-on that I found interesting.

Deutsches Buchgewerbehaus side with an architectural add-on that I found interesting.

Deutsches Buchgewerbehaus - side door

Deutsches Buchgewerbehaus – side door

A year or so ago, I was watching a TV series, Tierärztin Dr. Mertens, (Veterinarian Dr. Mertens), about a female vet at the Leipzig Zoo. I’m not particularly interested in zoos, but I was hooked on the series — and very upset when ARD decided it couldn’t be shown out of Germany and blocked it on my computer. At any rate, I spent almost four hours at the zoo — lost half the time because I was following signs and not the map. Because of the heat, most of the spaces were empty / occupied by hidden critters.TV

It’s a really interesting place, where many animals are separated by water and low fences from the people. I asked a zoo employee if the zoo had problems with people climbing into the enclosures. She said not so far, that Germans are careful about their children.

After that I walked back to the main train station, looked around the many stores. The train station has about three levels — one for the trains and two for shops. It looks fairly new in that it’s clean. It claims about 140 shops and eateries on two levels — including McDonalds, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, Burger King and Dunkin Donuts.

August 5, Ebeltoft and around Aarhus

After a quick (and expensive) breakfast at the hotel, I took myself to the bus station to catch Bus 123 to Ebeltoft. The clerk at the hotel the previous evening gave me a map and showed me where the station was. For 160 dkk (just under $25) round trip, I take off. The bus driver, not the youngest, understands me and speaks limited English.

Once in Ebeltoft, it’s a bit of a hike to the Glasmuseet. I’m there a few minutes early — it’s been so hot up to now. Today it’s rather cold and windy, a drop from the 90s to around 70 with a windchill factor. And I sent my down jacket home…Draw

The museum is pretty nice. The young woman at the reception desk speaks a few words of English. The exhibit has a flyer in Danish, in German and in English, so I’m OK on that. I wander through, taking lots of photos. The exhibit is modern Scandinavian glass artists, mostly glass blowers. It’s an interesting exhibit, including a short film by one and several light and sound pieces. On the top floor is more educational info and things for children to do with glass.

Outside is a separate building where the glass blowers work. Today a young man and woman are the team — it turns out they’re French. The man spent time at Cerfav in Vannes-le-Chatel (where I was in 2015 to visit) and worked at Baccarat (where Jacqueline took me two weeks ago). Small world. I talked to him in a break, but he wasn’t too impressed.

The good thing here is that people were coming to the museum. Several had quite young children (as in high chairs necessary), but at least they’re out and visiting (in Claret, Jacqueline and I were the only people in the museum; in Carmaux I was joined by a family with three children).

The museum has a little restaurant, very modern and nice. The menu was in Danish and Danish, so I told the young waitress that I was a vegetarian, no fish or meat. She pointed me to a potato and cheese dish that she said was typically Danish (as were all the dishes on the menu). I could pick out words here and there from German — in this case Kartoffel… I just wasn’t sure what went with the potatoes.

Lunch at the Glass Museum in Ebeltoft

Lunch at the Glass Museum in Ebeltoft

It started as a slice of bread, covered with sliced boiled potatoes and a soft cheese, with radishes, tomatoes, carrots, onions, a couple of asparagus spears and lots of various greens. It was quite good — just a surprise.

I had been there for about three hours and that was enough, so I set out to find the bus stop. I decided to take a different route and see if I could manage not to get too lost. In the process, I found the heart of Ebeltoft, which is quite old and quite picturesque.

A lot of little cafes were open, along with a fair number of stores. I didn’t see a lot of glass, though what I did see seemed to be a lot of the same artists as the museum gift shop offered.

Eventually, I did find the bus stop, no thanks to my phone, which was going to send me to Thailand (I asked for Bus 123 stops…apparently that’s a big deal there).

On the way back, a whole group of teenagers — maybe 25 — got on the bus with their camping backpacks. It was full, full, full.

Back in Aarhus, I wandered back to the hotel, noticing a giant church (the Aarhus Cathedral) in the area. After dropping my stuff, I set out to look around. I could not have picked a better location for a hotel. It’s around the corner from the Aarhus Theater, close to the pedestrian shopping area, around the corner from 7-11, McDonalds and Starbucks (my grande latte here would cost about $7.50, instead of $4.80). I wandered through Magazin, a large, upscale department store that’s open every day from 10 to 8 (10 to 20). Depressing to see how much clothes cost… These included Hugo Boss, DKNY, Tommy Hilfiger and a few other brands I’ve heard of and several that were unfamiliar.

Just a note: I keep hearing that everyone in Europe speaks English, especially the young people. I have not found that to be the case. I did get a brownie and a roll at a bakery in the  department store, and the young guy there did quite well. Otherwise, it seems that in out-of-the-way places like Ebeltoft, English is less common, though I did hear quite a bit from visitors.

Tomorrow it’s back to Germany and a few days in Leipzig.

more photos to come

August 3, Hamburg

My goal is Ebeltoft, Denmark, and the glass museum there. Looking at a map, I realized that this would be better reached via Hamburg / Aarhus and bus to Ebeltoft rather than via Copenhagen. I’ve never been to Hamburg, so this is my chance.

I picked the train that left at 11:24 and had no changes between Stuttgart and Hamburg. Thank goodness! We had to take the tram from Bad Cannstadt into Stuttgart, as opposed to my getting on the train at Plüderhausen, because there was a problem with the track between there and Stuttgart. Several of the trains in all directions were cancelled. Fortunately, the train was an ICE, which requires a reservation, so I had a place to sit. People were standing in the corridors throughout, because of the cancellations. One young woman came in our compartment (my reservation was for a seat in a compartment rather than in the regular area). She was trying to get to Bonn, but her train had been cancelled. She got out at Frankfurt airport — hope she got home, because she was due to leave the next day for London with her husband.

We had several delays along the way, with trains running in both directions on one track and a locomotive that had mechanical problems.

Anyway, the train was fairly comfortable to almost cold. When we finally arrived in Hamburg about half an hour late, the train station was packed with people. I was ready to go elsewhere…but I’d made a reservation and paid for the hotel.

The hotel, Boutique Hotel 056, was supposed to be right across from the train station. It was — but the sign was not obvious and I took a small tour of Hamburg before I arrived. Amazing that people have no idea what’s in their own city three blocks away…. The hotel is nice — but has no elevator and a long stairway up. I was hot, tired and in a rotten mood when I arrived. The clerk picked up on that right away and upgraded my room. It’s bigger, which doesn’t really matter, except that many rooms are so tight you can hardly fit yourself and luggage in. Anyway, it’s nice.

Wandering around, I found a parade, Lesben gegen Rechts — I guess that means lesbians against the rightwingers and not against rights…. I would say there were at least a hundred marchers, if not more.

"Lesbians against Rights" march

“Lesbians against Rights” march

Marchers protesting the Right

Marchers protesting the Right

Tomorrow I plan to take a city tour, then go on to Aarhus, where I’ll spend two nights.


August 4, 2018, Getting to Aarhus

Because this is probably the only time I’ll get to Hamburg, I decided to take a city tour quickly. Of course, the hotel’s checkout time is 11, and the 1.5-hour tour starts at 9:30. This means I have to check out and schlepp my bags downstairs to the reception. The woman at the desk is less than friendly and helpful.

The tour– on a blue bus–takes us through the upscale homes along the water. There are some really wonderful old mansions. Unfortunately, shooting through the window is pretty hopeless.

We make a couple of longer (5 minutes or so) stops to pick up new passengers, one by the Rathaus and one by the harbor. If I were going to be here longer, I’d take the harbor tour, especially since it’s discounted with this ticket.

Then it’s back to the train station, where we began. Now I know where Karstadt is, so I dash back to take a look at the department store. The tour guide mentioned that there’s a parade that will start anywhere from noon to 2 p.m. I see lots and lots of rainbow flags and people, mostly young, headed out. I hope to miss it, but the Hamburg train station seems always to be crowded.

I had hoped to get the nonstop train from Hamburg to Aarhus, but it requires a seat reservation and it’s fully booked. The train person suggests I just go on the next train, leaving at 12:48,  with a change in Flensburg and see if I can’t just get on.

I grab a cheese sandwich and a bottle of water at one of the quickie places (next to the Dunkin’ Donuts) and wolf them down before I get on the train.

Lots of luck. I end up sitting with a couple of young guys who turn out to be Gymnasium (late high school) students from Berlin on their way to some area far north in Denmark. Our paths coincide to a certain extent, so I “attach” myself to them.

In Hamburg, we left about 20 minutes late. We had 6 minutes to change in Flensburg. Of course, the Danish train didn’t wait, so we’re left for a couple of hours. We chat with a woman and her 6-year-old daughter, also stuck.

At the Flensburg train station

At the Flensburg train station

Since it’s Saturday, the train station employees only work till 3 p.m. and then they’re gone. The little food place — pizza, ice cream, Wurst — is open but it’s pretty clear the two who work there wish it weren’t. The women’s restroom is out of soap and toilet paper — and probably was hours earlier. Dinner for me is an ice cream bar and two cups of coffee.

A train finally comes, about 100 people try to pack on. The employees on the train get quite frustrated and tell us all to leave, because it’s already pretty full. The woman with her daughter doesn’t, so I guess she made it.

The rest of us were told that a bus had arrived and would take us. However, by the time we got to the bus, it was also overly full, so it was back to the track area to wait another couple of hours for the next train. At least, when it came, it was empty, so we all had a seat. A Dutch woman started talking to me, and it turned out we were on the next train (from Fredericia) together. She got out one stop before Aarhus. The two teenagers had a different connection in Fredericia.

Fredericia apartments or condos

Fredericia apartments or condos

I finally got to Aarhus about 10 p.m. I had no Danish money and no Danish language. I was able to get a taxi –the nice driver was originally from Lebanon and spoke English. He also took credit cards, so I got to the CabINN hotel without problem. If my luggage had been lighter, I would have walked — except I also noted that the GPS in my phone is often confusing.

The young guy on the reception desk was quite helpful about pointing me to an ATM machine, etc. The room is pretty minimal — bunk beds (I only need one) and the tiniest bathroom ever — with shower, toilet and wash basin in about a 5-foot space.

Hotel room in Aarhus

Hotel room in Aarhus

It works, but I wouldn’t want it in my house. The hotel seems to be quite quiet, although I’m on the top floor at the very farthest end. I don’t hear doors slams, etc., so I guess it’s a solidly built building.

Aarhus, according to my travel guide for Denmark, is the country’s second largest city.


August 1-2, Stuttgart

Wednesday Sylvie had to work. I went with her into Stuttgart — she went to the Planetarium, I went shopping. But first she took me to a crafts store so I could get some pierced earring backs. It was a neat store — I spent about an hour, checking out everything. I found some purple ribbon in different shades than I get at home and a butterfly shape to use for designs.

On the way I saw Kaufhof. My daughter asked me to get some Schulmappen for the kids — those are cases that contain all the pencils, markers, pencil sharpener, etc. I also got a box and some tape. Wandering around, I found a post office where I could buy a couple more boxes and a drug store to get some of my favorite Saptil stain remover in a tube. I wandered around the castle area…

Schloss (castle) in Stuttgart

Schloss (castle) in Stuttgart

Tents around the square by the Schloss, apparently for an event

Funky building with panels that look like crinkled aluminum foil

Funky building with panels that look like crinkled aluminum foil

Then it was back to meet Sylvie to go home. The planetarium used to be in the middle of a park with lots of trees. Then came “Bahnhof 21”, the train station that will probably be finished in 2100… The trees were chopped and replaced by this…

Construction area by the train station

Construction area by the train station

Construction of the new train station

Construction of the new train station


The planetarium is now behind a fence and not so easy to reach as it used to be.

The planetarium is now behind a fence and not so easy to reach as it used to be. 

In the evening, I put the boxes together and filled them up — two to my daughter and two to myself in care of a friend. My luggage was way too heavy — I had my down jacket and lots of socks, expecting to find some cool weather. Since it’s anything but, I decided to send the things home instead of dragging them around. I also had gotten some documentation at Claret and Carmaux and, of course, Jacqueline gave me some things.

Thursday I read while Sylvie went swimming in a local lake. Then she took me to a post office in a local store, where I spent a small fortune sending packages. After that, we went to visit her 90-year-old mother. We took her out to lunch — mom kept saying she wasn’t very hungry and was tired. However, at the restaurant she scarfed down her senior lunch and part of Sylvie’s as well. It was a really nice covered patio. Sylvie and I had spaghetti with a nice tomato and vegetable sauce, mom had a smaller portion of a local specialty with meat patties.

Interesting colored glass windows at Sylvie's mom's house

Interesting colored glass windows at Sylvie’s mom’s house

We went back to Sylvie’s mom’s. Sylvie goes a couple of times a week to help clean there. Then we stopped at a friend of hers who was celebrating her birthday. Michaela is an artist working with clay who restores old porcelain ovens, among other items. She’s also working with some Syrian refugees. One family arrived while we were still there: dad, who’s got a German driver’s license despite not being able to read and who works taking care of parks; mom, an attractive young woman in a head scarf who speaks rather good German and who will start training as a dental assistant in September; and a cute daughter without front teeth, so I’m guessing she’s six or so. They represent a success story for refugees — able to fit in pretty well.

Then it was back to Sylvie’s and packing to leave in the morning.

View from the balcony at Plüderhausen

View from the balcony at Plüderhausen

Morning glory vine working its way up to the balcony at Plüderhausen

Morning glory vine working its way up to the balcony at Plüderhausen