The Dillmans of Notasulga, Alabama

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Frank's Germany Trip

Leaving Atlanta Airport I was very excited about visiting Germany. However, the people I met and places visited gave me a trip I will never forget. My days were either full or a means to recover from touring - my trip timeline. I could not contain frank and frank myself in sharing the many highlights with my wife during our two hour ride home from Atlanta Airport including meeting Frank Dillmann, whom I share his birthday, and seeing the world's largest wine barrel and cuckoo clock.

Flying to Frankfurt, Germany on Delta flight DL14 I was among the 207 passengers who flew about a ground speed of 602 mph at an altitude about 34000 feet.

It all started with my arrival to Frankfurt and taking the shuttle to Ramstein USAF base for accommodations. I had previously made reservations for three nights with Ms. Roxie. The KMC complex contains the exchange, all sorts of shops, bank, credit union, travel eiffel toweragency, restaurants and of course the hotel. I was told that President Obama stayed in this hotel during his visit to Germany.

Immediately getting settled in and notifying my wife of my arrival via my blackberry, I "cased" the base with my daily walks. My first tour was to Paris. It was a very long day, mona lisaleaving at 0230 Saturday and returning 0430 Sunday. My first visit to Paris (Best viewed in a browser other than Internet Explorer. If using Internet Explorer when file opens click on the 3rd of three very small icons immediately below the lower left corner of the 5th slide in the left column.). My Paris trip was accentuated with making a friend with whom we toured the city together during our free time. We simply hit it off right from the start of the long bus ride. Honestly I didn't know an E-9 could be as cute. Touring the Louvre Museum, which began as a fortress built in the late 12th century, Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, Notre-Dame de Paris, other historic and beautiful landmarks, shops, lunch in a French restaurant with no French beer, wine yes but beer no.

Not to be outdone with the cancellation of a tour to Trier I took a cab to Landstuhl and walked about town and Burg Nanstein, a castle built around 1162. I was again introduced to the fine flavors and texture of German ice cream.

Thursday, October 1, traveled back to Frankfurt Airport to meet my DFA members and tour guide for the DillmanFamilyAssociation two week tour. Uli, our tour guide, had us sprinting from the start. His tour booklet was colorful and very well organized. We covered some turf! The first four nights we stayed at the Hotel Am Schiffstunnel ("hotel by the boat tunnel") in Weilburg. Each of hotel stays served as a hub for day traveling and to return to an outstanding German Louisedinner and generous buffet breakfast to start the next day. "Click" – right Uli?

Friday started with a visit to the beautiful Weilburg Schloss built as a residence for Count Johann I of Nassau in 1355. A Schloss is a large beautiful complex for living and show whereas a similar structure in size for defensive measures is a Burg. Onto Wetzlar with lunch in the Ristorante Pizzari and a visit to the Evangelische Domgemeinde, der dom zu limburgwith shrapnel scars from WWII.

The Romanesque Der Limburg Dom was inaugurated in 1235 following more than 300 years of church presence on this site. The many beautiful and purposeful murals all convey a religious story, such as reaching to the ceiling as going to Heaven, before literacy. A genealogist hunting for headstones in Germany is a daunting task. Because burial space is extremely limited a grave is leased between 20 and 30 years. Embalming is generally not performed, caskets are constructed to decompose marksburg castle food preparation area quickly, and headstones are "recycled" if unwanted.

And we actually met a German witch. She deliberately locked our DFA tour group inside the Marksburg Castle. Yep, 'tis true - locked inside a stately castle built in 1117 with the distinction of being the only castle spared of damage. German award winning wine makers What a surprise Uli had for us... having the opportunity to meet Karlo and his lovely wife, Annette, and provided a German greeting with assorted breads and their fine Rhein wines. Yes, their wine was recognized as Germany finest last year.

Sunday was one of only three rainy days during our tour yet we made the most of it. The local outdoor fair near Dillenberg included an opportunity to plow a field with horse drawn plows, take a horse ride, watch wood saw milling, splitting of firewood, and shredding huge logs for livestock bedding, purchase fine liquors, wines and cheeses. You all know me so when I saw a Great Pyrenees dog being walked I had to go up and hope the owner spoke English and he did. We then went to beautiful Dillenberg and the Dill River. Saw a neat antique shop with old photographs that we as a group could have caused the owner to have his best day of sales but it was Sunday and he was closed.

Our day started as usual with an outstanding breakfast and then onto Bad Schwalbach and Heidelberg before checking into Dillmann Strasseour second hotel, Hotel Scharfes-Eck in Muhlacker.

Onto Illingen, which has roots to our Dillman genealogy and the home of three famous German Dillmanns, who dedicated their lives to education; Elias (1794-1877) and his two sons, August and Christian Heinrich. Herr Kurt Schmidt (in below picture centered in blue sweater), a resident of Illingen, treated us to a tour the city's historic and Dillmann landmarks, including the still standing and in use school Elias had built and was its school master. picnic beneath elias oak treesHerr Schmidt also treated us to a German picnic of wine and bread beneath three large oak trees planted by Elias in 1871 as a commemoration of victory over France. The hill with these trees were once a small vineyard of Elias' family and overlooks Nussdorff. Our van, occupied by Andrew, Chris, Hearshal, Louise and I, on a side excursion discovered Werner and Marga Dihlmann's bakery. Again we were treated as royalty by the Dihlmanns who showed us the most impressive family tree I have ever seen. Werner and Marga accepted our invitation to dinner where he presented us with his last bronze family crest wall medallion.

On Mittwoch (Wednesday) we headed to Stuttgart, the capital of the surrounding land of Baden-Wurtemberg. Our first stop was to the Dillmann-GymnasiumWerner and Marga where we met and interacted mercedes and mewith an English class of Juniors. Graduating students are generally 19 or 20 years of age. Gymnasium in German is a school of higher education for students advancing from Realschule. Gymnasium schools generally accept only the top 6% of students from the Realschule and prepares them for university studies. The students we met at the Dillmann-Gymnasium were very well mannered, intelligent and very aware of world events. I enjoyed speaking with them. On to the Mercedes-Benz Museum. I am one who places more value in an automobile (pickup truck) for its usefulness as opposed to its beauty. That said I could have spent hours in the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart.

A stop in Neureut, the birthplace of Hans Georg Dillmann, was first on Thursday's agenda before heading to Lembach, France and back to Muhlacker. Uli made sure we took different routes back to the hotels even though "Grace", his GPS, took us on a few real country roads a few times!

Friday, 9Oct09, was my favorite day of the tour even though I am not genetically related to the wonderful and gracious families we met in Wurmberg. Wurmberg Dihlmanns and DFA Dillmans We were greeted with musicians, open hearts and big smiles, outstanding home made cakes (wow if you have never had a home made German Black Forest cake it would be worth the trip to Germany to have just a slice) genealogical charts, records, and a tour about town, including apple juice we watched being pressed. All of us, from high school students to retired gem stone jewelers and homemakers and the DFA members were on a "high" all day.

We are beginning to feel that our two weeks are German housesrapidly coming to a close. The DFA tour may end but these memories will live on.

Saturday's rain did not deter us from enjoying the outdoor museum in Gutach, seeing the largest Cuckoo Clock in the world as documented in the Guinness Book, and the interesting clock museum in Furtwangen. You would not imagine the number and types of clocks in this museum. We checked into the Rococo Birnau Church Hotel-Gasthof Rossle in Ravensburg for the next two nights. Heather, a friend of Andrew, joined us for dinner and told us of the violent storms that can build suddenly spewing hail through the towns and damaging the extensive apple and grape plantations. She answered my question as to why the acres and acres of apple trees were under protective covers - protect the trees from hail.

The next day we put some kilometers on the vans by touring about Lake Constance into Switzerland and Austria. Before crossing rothenburg holy blood altarLake Constance by ferry into Konstanz, Switzerland I was taken back by the beautiful murals, stained glass, and art in the Rococo Birnau Church near Meersburg. We then traveled up to the highest mountain in the Austrian area, the Pfander, to an elevation of 3,490 feet. There is no way I would have navigated those steep twisted narrow roads - thank you Chris!

We packed our bags and headed out on our last day, which was chilly, windy, and wet. I was chris and uli singingtaken in by the wall about Rothenburg ob der Tauber and the beautiful town and church, containing the Holy Blood altar.

We spent our last night and dinner at Gasthof Zur Sonne in Schollbrunn. I am very happy for the opportunity to meet Frank who joined us for dinner, wine, song and merriment.

The following day we all scattered with excitement spilling from us. Hearshal and Louise drove north on a successful hunt for Hearshal's ancestry through Hamburg and as far north as Bremerhaven. I caught a shuttle back to Ramstein USAF base for week of recovery and more sight seeing. Andrew spent an extra day returning the vans with Uli before heading to his London flat. Chris KMC night picturecaught her early flight back to Alberta, Canada, Robert and Carol to North Carolina, and Toby, Don and Joye headed to the west coast.

The next available tour on Saturday, 17Oct09, afforded me a few days to rest. During this period I was sending an email using the KMC's business office when a man walked in whom I immediately recognized. Within a few minutes we determined we had been assigned together to the 2/25th Marines in Garden City, NY in - get this- mid 1970's. The Gunny was hopping around Europe with his wife - oh the benefits of military retirement.

Another rainy day tour. This time the tour was to Munich. (Best viewed in a browser other than Internet Explorer. If using Internet Explorer when file opens click on the 3rd of three very small icons immediately below the lower left corner of the 5th slide in the left column.) The big plus for that day was meeting, touring, and sharing many issues of today with a Navy Nurse. As a retired Hospital Corpsman I enjoyed hanging out with a Navy Nurse. We had a great lunch and German dark beer in the Hard Rock Cafe. It rained until the tour took us to Dachau concentration camp. The museum was very depressing learning of the many types of medical experiments and the insensitive loss of human life, and seeing how people were forced to live. I have to wonder what positive advances this man could have Luxembourg town statuel created with his energy, leadership, and attention to detail.

My final tour two days before flying home was over the highlands of Lorraine, France into the Mosel valley to Metz, France. Luxembourg is a beautiful city in the country of Luxembourg, where the European Union's Supreme Court is located. The tour guide provided us with time to pay our respects to the thousands of US soldiers, including General Patton, buried in the Military Cemetery of WWII. On our way back to Ramstein USAF Base our guide got off the beaten path to show us a portion of a Roman villa recently discovered and restored in the middle of a vineyard.

My made German pretzelGetting through the Atlanta Airport from an international flight was a ZOO. I am sure the hassles were well intended to protect us but no fun after a 9 hour flight. But all of it put little damper on one hellva great trip. And having met the many gracious Dillmanns and Dihlmanns as I did, I feel comfortable stopping by for more Dillmann baked kuchen, time in the pretzel marking area, Dillmann wine, or some of the good - I mean good - Munich wheat dark beer. There are also many base and USO tours to most major European countries and a Berlin area castle owned by a Dihlmann calling out to me. There is also Uli with his many tours. And of course there is always my cousin Frank.

What a trip! Time to get back to the farm chores! Later.....