Pigtown, Germany

We spent the past weekend in my hometown of Hambach, a village near the city of Schweinfurt in northern Bavaria. We sometimes refer to Schweinfurt as pig town, but its literal translation is pig crossing.

As soon as we get off the Autobahn and drive into the countryside, there are rolling hills, vineyards, and wheat fields.

Franken

Having grown up on a farm, I have a special appreciation for combines (German: Mähdrescher) in August. I do remember the dust and the dry heat (unlike nowadays), and the itchiness from the chaff and straw. August was also the month my dad knew whether his farming work had paid off for the year or not.

Mähdrescher

Mainberg Castle (Mainberg being another village outside of Pigtown) has been in the news recently. The castle is in bad condition and the owner lacks the funds for a complete restoration. If approved, the public gets to finance this hefty charge.

Mainberg Castle

Mainberg Castle

I like going to Pigtown, but I have stopped calling it going home many years ago. Both the area and I have changed over the thirty-some years.

The German word Heimat translates to hometown, whereas Zuhause is your current home. Meine alte Heimat ist Schweinfurt, mein Zuhause ist Oberursel.

 

Good Beer Area and the Wireless

We spent the past Easter weekend in the heart of Germany, namely the region Franconia in northern Bavaria.

As usual, we met my siblings over dinner in one of those rural guesthouses, where local cuisine and often home brewed beer is served. When I opened my iPad, this popped up:

Good Beer Area

We had a good laugh on this one – the guesthouse on main street in this small village of Hausen with a population of 636 residents – uses English. Quite modest is its claim of Good Beer Area. They should call it Best Beer Area.

A typical pub interior

 

Brauerei Martin in Hausen

Quoting Frank Zappa:

“You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline. It helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.”

 

Vineyards in Beautiful Franconia

Another drive to my hometown area of Lower Franconia had us stop along the way. Not to smell the flowers this time, but to admire the beautiful hills, men at work, and the progress on the Weinlese (grape harvesting).

Weinberg in Franconia

The colors around this time of year are just superb.

A very narrow tractor works its way through the rows of vines.

Winzer Traktor

As we were driving around wine-making country, I’d suppose this tractor is part of the wine-making process too.

Franconia is home to the Bocksbeutel bottle.

For a place to stay overnight, visit this link on which I left a review for Barockschloss Zeilitzheim. By the way, this same castle has just added wine making to its repertoire of goods and services.

We will get to taste the first wine sometime soon (May 2013).

Funny Franconian Hats and German Culture

This video clip shows the annual country fair (German style) in a small village in Lower Franconia. Traditionally, the two neighboring protestant villages of Sennfeld and Gochsheim have a proud display of local costumes.

This one is from Gochsheim, a village just about 12 km from my catholic hometown village of Hambach. After all these years of living somewhere else, I get to see the much talked about celebration on YouTube.

I enjoyed listening to the brass brand, but what got most of my interest are the unusual hats the guys are wearing. Those guys come into the clip at about 1:30.

The participants are wearing the Volkstracht (national costume; national representing Franconia in this case) and the significance of the hats is: rigid top hat with many colored bands, a.k.a. love bands or rosemary sticks, representing fertility and loyalty.

A bit more about their costumes in German at the Gochsheimer Plantracht.

A Shepherd tending his Flock

Yesterday afternoon, while driving around the Schweinfurt area in Lower Franconia, we happened to see a flock of sheep grazing on the roadside.

Sheep on a German hillside

This is a rare sight, even in the country side such as Northern Bavaria. We pulled up, so I could take a few pictures against the dark skies.

Shepherd with dog

Beautiful moment. Peace on Earth. Lonely traveller. Loyal friend.

Happy New Year!