The Story Behind Opa’s Home-Distilled Schnapps

For the past 18 years, I have been trying to pass on this homemade Schnaps to my friends. Whenever they come for a visit, they have to have a little shot of schnapps to help me get rid of it. It is from the 1960s, and its alcohol content is around 60-65%.

When my father passed away in 2005, I was given this demijohn wrapped in packing straw and a metal basket. I guess it holds about 50 liters. When we first got it, I did not check to see how much schnapps was left. Instead we filled some into a jam jar, and stored the demijohn in the basement.

Since then, my husband has taken frequent trips to the basement, where he needed a second pair of hands to pour it into the same jam jar. Every time he came back up, I asked him, if it were empty yet. He always replied, “Not yet.”

Demijohn of German Schnapps

18 years later… we still have some, and I have stopped asking. Instead, we brought it upstairs, so it can spend its final years in good company and daylight.

Back then, when I took it off my brother’s hand, I imagined to use this little artifact sometime soon for an up-cycling project. Well, I use it now for decoration. As is. 🙂

When I was a young girl, I had to help with collecting the fallen plums. We did not have protective gloves either, when we reached into the nettles to retrieve most of them.

Then the plums were taken to a neighbor, who was the only one with a distillery in the village.

In the 1960s, we had no dentist in the village. When we kids had a toothache, we were told to rinse our pain away with schnapps. When our live-in aunt had a fever, her room smelled like schnapps because of the leg compresses she made from soaking them in it.

Growing up, I had never actually seen anybody drinking this stuff. I only thought of it as a pain reliever.

Now it has become a family joke. “You want to come for a visit? You know you have to have some of Opa’s schnapps!” Once, we actually used it as a pain reliever. One of our American friends arrived from Amsterdam with a bad toothache in tow. While he was here, he used schnapps to tie him over before he could see his dentist in Croatia a couple of days later.

Another time it became a study object of a former student of mine, who, at the time of his visit, studied history at university in Korea.

This schnapps has provided us with so many funny moments to share and remember. For that, I’m forever grateful.

Maria’s Beer Balcony in Germany

In late October, I got an email from one of my friends in the States. Her son, who also happened to be our son’s former playmate at FIS (Frankfurt International School) many years ago, was coming to Oberursel on a business trip.

Of course, we managed a friendly get-together on the Beer Balcony. Can’t leave town without a pit stop here. It was fun having you here, Seth.

Seth in Oberursel

I’ve decided to let my Beer Balcony get taken over by vines. Time for a change. But our spirits remain the same.

Franconian Switzerland in the Heart of Germany

Franconian Switzerland, located in northern Bavaria, can be reached by car from Frankfurt in three hours. In the summer, I imagine, it is overrun by tour buses, but we went there in late November, which made it perfect for us: few people, quiet, and no lines anywhere.

When you first enter the small town of Gössweinstein, you see its castle on top of the hill. The same castle, Burg Gößweinstein, is said to have possibly been the inspiration for Richard Wagner’s opera, Parsifal.

Gößweinstein Castle

We were there in late November, and it was quite foggy at times.

November fog in Franconian Switzerland

But nature also displayed its colors.

November Nature

This shepherd and his herd were a rare sight to see.

A shepherd and his flock

We also visited the town of Pottenstein.


We spent most of our first day in Pottenstein, and the first sight next to the church was the Scharfrichter Museum (Executioner Museum). I was tempted to pay it a visit, but my husband didn’t want to. Instead, he dragged me to an antique shop across the road.

In Pottenstein, we also had lunch at a place we will never forget. I will not mention its name, though.

The restaurant floor was dirty, and the waitress immediately told us of her chore of sharpening the knives in the kitchen. She had just previously bought a Wetzstein (whetstone) on sale, and it was not working properly for her… She was going on and on about these dull knives, and how the owner could not dispose of them, because they had belonged to his dead wife. There were moments I thought either we are on Candid Camera, or next time the waitress comes out of the kitchen, she will appear as the witch from Hansel & Gretel.

Of course, I imagined another scenery too, from having read so many mystery and crime novels.

She was also the cook with black dirt under each fingernail. She talked to herself, or the knives, loudly in the kitchen. I really had doubts what kind of food we would get, but I did not mention this to my husband (he told me afterwards he had thought the same).

We promised each other not to leave one sitting alone at the table, not even for going to the loo. We ate very quickly, and agreed, that if that ever happened again, we would pay for our meal WITHOUT touching any of it. And we would leave immediately.

We finished our meal (decent actually, and we detected no other flavor…), and paid right away. The waitress kept talking and talking on our way out, and my husband just closed the door behind us in her mid-sentence.

We both took a deep breath when we stepped outside. This lunch-scare is starting to become a family joke, such as when the question comes up, where we should go for dinner next… 🙂

Frosty and Foggy November Day in Franconia, Germany

When I saw my friend’s frosty photos on Facebook earlier today, I was so enchanted by them, that I completely overlooked the initial posting date of 10 November 2021. Nevertheless, I immediately asked for her permission to post them here, and so… a big thanks goes to the photographer, Christine Seger.

I love frost, the fall season, and Franconia – which also happens to be my hometown area in northern Bavaria.

This was taken from the village of Stammheim towards the village of Wipfeld.

View onto Wipfeld in Lower Franconia

The Main River, the color of the vineyards, the wafts of wog, blue skies and quite a few contrails… where the latter is the only man-made phenomenon.

The Main River in November 2021

I wish I could be there right now with some typical mulled wine (German: der GlĂĽhwein).

Frog and Frost in Lower Franconia

Early frost covers the ground.

Soon, I will get to visit there again.

“The magic thing about home is that it feels good to leave, and it feels even better to come back.” – Wendy Wunder

U.S. Army Halloween Parties at Mainberg Castle in the 1980s and 1990s

The Mainberg Castle historian, Thomas Horling, is looking for any information, photos, and keepsakes, relating to Halloween parties held by the U.S. Army back in the time of the late 1980s up to early 2000.

If you have anything to share, this would be great.

You can do so here in the comments, or write directly to Mr. Horling at:

Mainberg Castle near Schweinfurt

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