Tuesday, 13 August 2013

The weekend of... visiting, vandering und valking. {part 2} western wald

Still recapping our weekend away in the hills of the Western Wald. Yesterday in {part 1}, I told you about Saturday in Bonn and on the farm, and today I'll be sharing about Sunday!

We woke up on Sunday morning with a beautiful view from our room, and fresh, cool air through our window. We sat at the window watching a squirrel in the tree eating something (yep, we're still enamored!), until we saw Onkel Arno walking along the path outside and we knew they were up and we should go through to the living room.

The view from our window

sitting on the window-sill
We had the most diverse and delicious breakfast and were told to make sure we eat enough to sustain ourselves through a long walk and until lunch time. Orders were happily obeyed!

After breakfast, we headed off up the hills towards Hachenburg. We passed through quite a few little villages, each as beautiful and quaint as the next, and stopped in one which I don't know the name of! We parked the car and walked a little way to see the view over a lake...

Standing on the bridge looking at the view

The view. It's not really clear but on the hills to the right are some wind turbine - a source of much controversy because of their mark on the countryside. 

This church is from the year 900. There are slits in the tower, indicating how people would, in times of conflict, gather in the church for protection. 

From there, we hopped back in the car and drove on the Hachenburg. As we entered, we saw many people dressed in their traditional clothes - it was exciting that just by chance we were there on the day of a festival!
We walked up to the oldest part of the town, and had a look at the old shops, restaurants, hotels (there's one where Goethe apparently stayed a night), the church, the palace... everything was so picturesque!

the catholic church. Apparently they wanted to build a second tower but funds ran out. Still, it's beautiful! 

The castle, which was founded in 1180 and completed in 1212, used to belong to the counts of Sayn. It doesn't look as impressive from inside the village as it does from outside when coming up the hill - from there it looks really imposing! 
This is the Evangelical church, connected to the castle via that passage over the arch-way. I couldn't get a good photo from the front because there was a stage put up in front of it for the festival. 

I just love the streets, so narrow and pretty and full of colour. 

Some of these houses had dates on them, coming from the 1500s. 

The village square, lots of people standing around waiting for the parade to come through.

A parade came through, with the fire department's brass band playing in the lead.
The parade included teenagers smoking and drinking beer, pretty ladies with little kiddies, various brass bands, and even a dog with the traditional red scarf around his neck (but walking too quickly to get a photo!)

The Kirmes tree...
The festival was called Kirmes and is the town's biggest folk festival. Wikipedia wasn't too helpful here, but for more information check here or here. The German wikipedia page is a lot more informative, but basically, it seems that it's a festival to celebrate the establishment of the town, sometimes the first church that was built there. Though the English page alludes to a link to Jewsih history.

It's still haunting seeing these laid into the pavement where Jews who were removed during the war lived.
It's almost unfathomable that even in this quaint, pretty little village, Jews were found, removed and murdered. 

After seeing the village we went for a walk down the Marienstatt Kloster, a monastery. It was 3 km down the hills, sometimes on gravel farm roads, and other times on grassy paths. The scenery was breathtaking and it was just wonderful being out there.

Coming down the hill, overlooking another village.
We walked through a forest along a stream that eventually joins the Rhein. 
We arrived there and first went to have a look around, before having lunch.

The entrance to the Monastery, with the church at the end of the path.

The entrance to the school...

The tranquil gardens on the left hand side of the path
I would love to go back there, just for the garden!

Group photo!
(We asked somebody to take this for us, and then I felt too bad to ask them to take it again... so this is what we have! I still like it though!) 

After all the walking we had lunch there, Malcolm had his first real German eisbein. (and that's Apfelschorle in the glass, but its beer-like appearance does make him look more German, right?) 

After lunch we had to head back... which meant a 5km walk, and this time we had the uphill...

We'd already walked up a hill when I look this. We walked along the path on the left and looped around and up.

The farms we passed were beautiful and we could hear the cows in the distance. 

We were almost there, on our last uphill, and it was great to stop and look back on where we'd been. 

These are our aching feet happy faces!

We were all pretty exhausted by the time we got back, and I have loads of respect for Tante Ursel and Onkel Arno who have always loved walking and do this quite often! We still needed to get back to Cologne, so we said goodbye to Hachenburg and went back to the farm to pack up our things.

We had such a great time on the farm and it was so special being there, walking on a piece of family history.

the old sign at the entrance to the farm.

Having packed everything up we drove an hour back to Bonn, where we still had coffee and cake. Tante Ursel also gave me this...

If you were at our wedding or saw our photos, you'll remember that pots like these were our table centre pieces. They're typical of the Western Wald and I LOVE them, and now I have one of my own! And 3 of these beautiful tea-cups!

We still cannot believe how, once again, we were so spoiled. Tante Ursel and Onkel Arno took such good care of us, showed us amazing places, fed us til we could eat no more, opened their home to us, were patient with our slow speaking and often thoroughly confused sentences (like Malcolm understanding "these herbs are for ducks" as meaning that they ward ducks off, as opposed to one uses the herb when cooking the poor duck.), and just went over and above what they ever needed to. They've even invited us to go with them somewhere else in September, and are going to pick us up and drive us to Marburg when we move there in October (Yay! No lugging our lives through trains again!).

Blown away at how God blesses us through others...
Our whole journey to where we are now seriously just reflects God's goodness and provision, yet it still astounds us!


Linking up to the Travel Tuesday today,
Thanks, Belinda and Bonnie Rose!



  1. I said this in your last week's post but I'm a huge history lover. WWII history might be one of my favourites, especially as my father's father faught in Italy so close to where we eventually lived twice with the my dad being in the military too. My favourite part of your post was the memorial stones for those who lost their life for their faith. Such a sad part of history. I would love to go there to see that and just see that whole town. With the festival and the beautiful bunting it looks like such a great place to see in person. Thank you for linking up with Belinda and I for Travel Tuesday!

    Bonnie Rose | A Compass Rose

    1. I love WW2 history too, for similar reasons... my mum's uncles were all killed fighting in it, and my grandfather was a POW for a few years. It makes me so sad, but I love how Germans acknowledge it... here's another example - (http://thebartlettsabroad.blogspot.de/2013/06/11-june-contrasts.html)
      These brass stones are inlaid all over the region in front of houses or shops formerly owned by Jews, even here in Cologne.
      I loved this town though, and it was my first taste of the Western Wald villages :)

  2. Looks like a day well spent! :) There's something so utterly 'typical' German about the places you visited and I love that because it reminds me of home! The more I travel around Europe, the more I realize that while all the countries are so close together everyone does have it's own identity - and that's so easy to see in the architecture! :)

    1. That's so true! I definitely felt like I was in Germany when I was there - often when I'm just sitting in our flat I forget where I am!

  3. Holy cow, this place is gorgeous! So lush and green! I could get lost in those hills for hours just taking in everything. I love your photo of your shadows. So fun!

    1. It is right? Unfortunately I could also get lost in those hills for hours... which is great in the romantic sense, but not so much the literal ;)

  4. What an absolutely gorgeous getaway!!! :-)

    1. Oh yes! It was just wonderful :)

  5. What a beautiful church!! The detail on the buildings is to die for- so amazing!

    1. The churches here never cease to amaze me! :)

  6. Everything is so gorgeous, and the history behind it makes it even more beautiful! I recently got some cups and bowls similar to those and I feel so fancy drinking out of them haha. Very pretty.

    1. It's a pity that often I only find out the history when I'm home and check wikipedia, but this time having somebody to tell us about it really helped us to appreciate it right then and there. :)

  7. Hi Erica, what a marvelous day you had. Thanks for virtually taking me on your wonderful walk. I love you photos, especially the reflection on the bridge. I enjoyed the architetures and the festival! You're truly blessed to have such wonderful people to open their homes to you and to show around. And thanks for sharing that blessing with us.

    1. Thanks so much! It really was so amazing, I'm so glad I could share it!