Monday, November 4, 2013

European Adventure- Part 2

Fabian, Gudrun, & Friedbert Schehl
When I left off last time, we were enroute by Eurail from Nürnberg back to Stuttgart. Upon arrival in Stuttgart, we headed back to the Hansa Hotel which is the same place we had stayed at the first time in Stuttgart. It’s not far from the train station, it’s in a quiet neighborhood, and it’s inexpensive! I called our cousin, Friedbert Schehl, who lives only eight blocks from our hotel. I had found Friedbert in my genealogy search and this would be our first face-to-face meeting. By the way, he is our seventh cousin. Our common ancestor is a sixth great grandfather. We were to go to Friedbert’s apartment for dinner that evening. He came and picked us up and I have to say, his English was not bad! At least, we were able to pretty much understand him. His English is a lot better than any German I knew. He had invited his son, Fabian, over to join us and act as translator, if needed. His wife, Gudrun, was preparing kasespätzle for dinner. It’s like a cheese and noodle casserole and was very good. Friedbert and my travel partner hit it off very good; both are big Bob Dylan fans! After a lot of talk and filling in details of our lives, it was time to head back to the Hansa. Tomorrow would be VERY exciting. Friedbert and Gudrun were going to drive us two hours to the west to Erfweiler, the Schell/Schehl ancestral village.
Schloss Solitude

We left midday for Erfweiler. Just outside of Stuttgart is a place called Schloss Solitude; it was a palace built by a noble as his hunting lodge. Some lodge, huh? Next it was on to one of those famous autobahns. We were traveling along at about 85 mph and cars were zipping by us. After crossing the Rhine, we entered an area that had many vineyards. We actually took a little side trip and crossed the French border to the town of Wissembourg. It’s another very charming medieval-style village. Gudrun went into a bakery and got a loaf of French bread and we just walked around town looking at the sites while tearing off pieces of bread! After spending about an hour, it was time to head off to Erfweiler, a mere fifteen minutes away.
House in Wissembourg


Erfweiler is a very small village of about 1,200 people. I would call it a bedroom community as most people work outside of town. There are only small businesses in town. We went directly to the home of Gerhard and Bärbel Zwick. Gerhard is the first person I was able to contact in Erfweiler over the internet. And it so happens that he was a boyhood friend of Friedbert’s. They had grown up together in Erfweiler. It was Gerhard who put me in contact with Friedbert.
Gerhard & Bärbel Zwick
Gerhard has a doctorate in chemistry and actually works in Karlsruhe, about an hour away. They live there during the week and are in Erfweiler for weekends. Gerhard speaks very good English because his job takes him all over the world and English is a common language for businessmen in Europe. We weren’t at the house very long before Friedbert and Gerhard took me on a hike through forests and up to the top of some rock formations that overlook Erfweiler. These forests had been their playground in childhood. The next day when we took a walking tour of Erfweiler and, today, on the forest hike, it was an indescribable feeling walking the same streets, hiking the same roads, and seeing some of the same buildings that my ancestors had seen. This would definitely be the highlight of my trip. Once we got back to Gerhard’s house, we had a little rest...a glass of beer and
Friedbert & Me above Erfweiler

Forest going to overlook
Gerhard showed me some of the photos of the town that he had on his computer. After about an hour, it was getting to be dinner time. Steve M had gone to our guest room located down on the main street in town. We all walked down town to get him and then go the a wonderful little German restaurant in town called the Jägerhof. I decided to get adventurous again and have something I had only heard of but had never had....sauerbraten. I was not disappointed! I decided this is something I would attempt to make back home (and I did!) That evening was so much fun. It was fun sitting back and
Jägerhof Restaurant
listening to the two families chat back and forth in German. I had no idea what they were saying but it was so much fun just listening. And they were so kind as to stop ever so often and include us in some English conversation. We wound up being there very late.....actually the waitress had left for the night and the proprietor (a friend of Gerhard’s) allowed us to stick around. There were more drinks to be had and I had the chance to experience something else for the first time.....I had never had schnapps! Finally, it was time to head back to the guest room and get some much needed sleep. Tomorrow would be Sunday and time to head back to Stuttgart before making our final train trip back to Amsterdam and our flight home. That will be in my next post.

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