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 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. 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.

more photos to come

 

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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 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 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

July 29, Albi, Carmaux

After getting the apartment closed up, we set out for Albi. Passing through one town, we found a giant detour. Trying to get back on track, we stumbled on a small parade celebrating the wine harvest.

Then it was on to Albi, a little north of Toulouse in southwest France. Many of the buildings are made of bricks, including the cathedral, which is one of the largest buildings I’ve ever seen. The cathedral, in its size, is absolutely breath-taking.

After Albi, Jacqueline took me to Blaye l. mines, where her husband grew up. We just passed through the village when we found the glass museum of Carmaux.

The exhibit at Carmaux, Aujourd’hui et Demain (Today and Tomorrow) brings together 70 young designers and artisans who are French or have studied in France. I found out about the museum because I’m on the email list of Jeremy Maxwell Wintrebert, a glass blower who has a piece in the show:

Jeremy Maxwell Wintrebert, Cloud (blown glass)

Jeremy Maxwell Wintrebert, Cloud (blown glass)

The Glass Museum at Carmaux

The Glass Museum at Carmaux

Simon Muller, Sans titre

Simon Muller, Sans titre

more photos coming

July 27, 2018 – Halle de Verre, Claret, and more

We set out by the port of Sète, where we saw huge ships that apparently run between France and Morocco. Outside Sète is a huge saltwater “pond” (I would be more inclined to call it a marsh) that seems to have some low-growing vegetation.

The goal of my trip to France is to visit two glass museums, one in Claret, north of Montpellier, and one at Carmaux, north of Toulouse and Albi. Today is Claret, reached by some very back roads, but now I’ve seen a lot of the south of France.

The idea is to write an article about some of the glass museums for a Tucson publication, including “professional” photos. We’ll see. We arrived at Claret about 10:45. This gives us a little over an hour and a half before the museum has a two-hour lunch break.

Halle de Verre, Claret

Halle de Verre, Claret

After the Deutsches Museum für Modernes Glas in Rödental, Germany, plus some other U.S. museums, this is a let-down. I found it online, so I wanted to check it out. If Jacqueline hadn’t driven me, I would have been all day getting there — train to Montpellier, tram to somewhere, then bus to Claret, where I’m not sure there was even a hotel.

The museum is on two floors. We had a reduced admission because they were doing some kind of work. On the first floor there’s a very complete history of glass, along with reproductions of some of the old pieces, and information about modern glass techniques. These are explained through some short videos, all in French (of course — we’re in France…). There’s also a very nice gift shop, with local / French artists.

Piece in the current exhibit

Piece in the current exhibit

Upstairs is the current exhibit, which is made up of French glass artists, many of whom are connected to large educational facilities. This includes one at Vannes-le-Chatel, which Jacqueline and I visited a couple of years ago.

After Claret we stopped at the Abbaye of Vermagne, a vineyard to buy some wine, then the town of Marseillan, where we bought more wine, looked around and I had a cup of coffee. Then it was back to the Cap.

The Abbaye of Vermagne was pretty interesting.

Abbaye de Valmagne, built in 1139

Abbaye de Valmagne, built in 1139

I’m not “into” churches — this one is huge. The property is full of trees, so it’s much cooler than many other places.

Church at Valmagne, Jacqueline is front left

Church at Valmagne, Jacqueline is front left

Wine barrels in the church at Abbaye de Valmagne

Wine barrels in the church at Abbaye de Valmagne

The church has huge barrels for wine — it’s in private hands and has been for some 7 generations. It produces a regional wine, though we didn’t buy any. It dates from 1139. Its claim to fame was that one of the heads of the abbey decided, around 1575, that he wasn’t going to be a Catholic anymore, so he led a group to slaughter all the monks and the 80-year-old man who took care of the wine in those days. The abbey was pretty much destroyed. A modern piece of stained glass was made from fragments and two new stained glass windows have been created.

Small stained glass window created from fragments of an old window

Small stained glass window created from fragments of an old window

Stained glass window at Valmagne, one of two remaining

Stained glass window at Valmagne, one of two remaining

Detail from one of the existing stained glass windows at Valmagne

Detail from one of the existing stained glass windows at Valmagne

Second stained glass window at Valmagne

Second stained glass window at Valmagne

Fountain under grape arbor at Valmagne

Fountain under grape arbor in courtyard at Valmagne

Shaded road, this near the abbey, but we passed by many like this

Shaded road, this near the abbey, but we passed by many like this

We went to La Madeleine winery in Marseillan (my granddaughter is also Madeleine). It’s a picturesque little town, as are all the towns in the area, with narrow streets.

Then it was back to Cap d’Agde. I was disappointed not to see any flamingos after Jacqueline told me that they were in the pond between Marseillan and Sète.

After dinner (never before 8 p.m.), we took a long walk around part of Cap d’Agde. There was to be an eclipse of the moon, but the sky was covered in fog, so we didn’t see anything.

more photos to come

July 22, 2018, France

The train from Basel to Strasbourg via Offenburg, Germany, had a problem. This meant a delay, which resulted in an even longer delay in getting to my destination, Saverne.  I ended up arriving in Strasbourg with no train to Saverne for about 3 hours. With some effort the night before, i had purchased the ticket from Strasbourg to Saverne with the SNCF (French train system) app. However, the e-ticket was only good for that train, and I’d missed it. I explained this (in my best French) to an SNCF employee who gave me a note about the change in trains. No one checked my ticket.

In fact, no one checked passports going from Switzerland (non-EU) to Germany or France (both EU). The man sitting in front of me as we left Basel had his ID checked by two young women / German customs officers. I don’t know if he did something suspicious or if they were just spot-checking, but it was interesting to watch them work.

Jacqueline and her husband, André, picked me up in Saverne and took off for the town of Baccarat, home of the famous crystal. We were late, because of my train problems. We did get a chance to look at the Baccarat jewelry shop and the main shop, but we just missed the museum. On the way back to the car, we stopped in the church there St. Remy de Baccarat — an extreme opposite of Einsiedeln: stone, simple, gorgeous colored windows (created by Baccarat). The windows were for the most part just colored glass, not stained glass.

Then it was on to Seichamps, outside Nancy, dinner and conversation.