Though this past weekend was not as sunny or glamorous as my last week touring Greece, my weekend spent in a small German village provided me with a different kind of experience: one filled with family history, apfelkuchen, and hard game called skido.
Plech, Germany is a small village of 1,300 people (that’s the same size as CMC!!!). There is one intersection, a small church with a cemetery, a family owned restaurant run by four generations, and a lot of history. My great-great-great-great grandfather George Schramm, grew up in a classic A-frame home in Plech across the street from the restaurant and immigrated to the United States in 1837. He kept a diary documenting his journey to the New World, his settling in Farmington, Iowa, and the opening of his family’s general store. My grandma studied his diary and in the early 2000s visited Plech with my grandpa. This was when they met Hienz Stark.
Heinz is the city manager of Plech and knows the ins and outs of the town like the back of his hand. He agreed to meet my grandparents for lunch and the very same restaurant he and his family took me to this weekend. This was the beginning of a lasting friendship that brought Heinz, his wife Monica, and their children Andreas and Anna to our house in Colorado in 2002. Other than some penpal-ing when I was little and hearing about my grandma’s recent phone conversations with Heinz, I hadn’t seen them since. But George’s history is so core to my mom’s and my ancestry that I knew I couldn’t come to Europe and not go back to where it all started, so I reached out to Heinz and when I arrived, he and the rest of the Starks welcomed me with open arms after almost 15 years. George was 21 when he left Plech, and I was 21 when I returned.
I was welcomed into their 16th century, 4-story barn house to the smell of coffee and homemade apfelkuchen. (I love Europe and its midday coffee break, definitley coming back with me to the States.) Then we walked the entire village in about an hour on the first and once the sun went down, Heinz, Monica, Andreas, and I had dinner at the (now-seemingly famous) restaurant just up the street. After, we drank wine and played a couple rounds of an American card game I had previously never heard of called skido. The next day Anna and her fiance Florian joined us on a day trip to Nuremberg and more coffee and apfelkuchen to follow. I left the third day after visiting the family cellar on the hill and meeting Heinz’s mother who lives just 2 houses down the hill on the corner. Quaint, simple, and reflective weekend.
The Stark’s home, where I stayed –
The Schramm House –
Our trip to Nuremberg –
Heinz and Monica and me outside their cellar –
And some picturesque apfelkuchen and coffee –
Next weekend I am off to Italy, ironically enough where my dad has family! Unfortunately they didn’t keep a detailed diary of their day-to-day life, I guess that’s kinda uncommon haha, so looks like I’ll just have to go back to being a tourist.