Homecoming – Down Memory Lane (Part 3)

A TALE OF VISITING A UNIQUE MUSEUM IN A PALACE AND A WALKABOUT ACROSS THE TOWN OF MY BIRTH ON A BRIGHT SUMMER DAY

(Posted 04th of July 2018)

Thanks to frequent reminders by readers as well as trying to beat the clock ahead of my next visit in late summer this year, here finally comes the final part three of this homecoming tale.
I had not been back to the old country, other than in transit, between 2000 and 2015 but when the bug finally bit me, I just could not resist and had to return six times since.
At every visit was I trying to retrace childhood steps, in the city and outside across the country side – in Westerly direction the flats leading to the Rhine River and in Easterly direction into the hills of the #Kraichgau – though with a detour or two sprinkled in between into the foothills of the Black Forest.
Though I think I mentioned it aplenty before, my visits always start with an intercontinental flight on Brussels Airlines, nonstop out of Entebbe into the European capital.
At times stopping over, at times flying on to an airport near my home town, Strasbourg to be precise – much closer than Frankfurt, much more user friendly and much less congested – or at times by InterCity trains does the journey then go on to Bruchsal, a city of about 50.000 inhabitants today.

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(Bruchsal’s high security prison, in the olden days called ‘Zuchthaus‘)

The city is well known for its high security prison where many of Germany’s Red Army terrorists were and are incarcerated, for its frequent mention of major traffic jams on the Autobahn leading to Karlsruhe and beyond but also for its monuments and history, the annual Chamber Music Festival and a Music Instruments Museum second to none. Both festival and museum are located in the palace and after a recent restauration a tourist magnet in its own right.

And it is there that I will start the narrative today. The ‘Schloss‘ or palace, described in earlier episodes of this article series, is home to not just one but two museums, while the interior itself is a museum in its own right and worth a visit any time.

For many years I only admired the Bruchsaler Schloss from the outside and saw the extensive exterior renovation unfold – in fact, some of the outbuildings and the tower of the adjoining church are still undergoing renovations as are some of the statues in the so called Schlossgarten, in English referring to the extensive gardens of the palace.

One of the museums, allowing visitors to take in the history of Bruchsal and surrounding areas, will be on my visiting agenda in a few weeks time, for another story to be told and of course allowing the Musical Instruments Museum to take pole position today because during my most recent visit I finally got around to check out the inside of the Schloss and in particular the Musical Instrument Museum.

Notably, when entering the palace through the front door, is the dual staircase not just imposing but a masterpiece of its kind, named as the ‘Crown of all such staircases during the period of Baroque‘. The ‘Bruchsaler Schloss‘ is also the one and only of its kind along the upper Rhine valley, belonging (formerly) to the breed of ruling cardinals and archbishops who combined in those days spiritual and administrative supreme leadership.

A guided tour for that costs just 8 Euros, while a guided tour through the main Schloss sets one back some 10 Euros, not too much but I noticed the lack of a senior citizen rate which should be resolved, in line with many other museums I visit during my travels.

The ‘Deutsches Musikautomaten-Museum Bruchsal‘ offers visitors a collection of over 300 items to see – and in part also hear during demonstrations given by the guide – dating back into the 17th century.

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(The oldest exhibit dating back to the mid 17th century)

All of them are lovingly restored and presented alongside other time period items, which include for instance the (automated) piano owned by Germany’s first post war Chancellor Konrad Adenauer.

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One of the exhibits was destined for the Titanic’s maiden voyage but missed the crucial delivery date – subsequently to be installed when the ill fated ship came back to the UK – but as we all know, that never happened. The Titanic sunk, the order was cancelled and the instrument eventually made its way into the museum as a survivor of sorts.

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What impressed me personally – perhaps a sign of the generation I belong to – was the extensive collection of Wurlitzer jukeboxes, at one period of my life used in ‘Diners‘ and ‘Ice Cream Parlours‘ across the Western World.

Radio, leave along television in those days did not play the kind of music we wanted to hear and the Wurlitzers and other brand jukeboxes were, for a few coins, giving us the latest hits.

It was a fascinating afternoon in this museum and the pictures shown only provide a little glimpse into what is on display, perhaps an incentive for some to actually make their way off the Autobahn when passing and spending time in my old home town to take in sights, and ancient sounds, in the museum and beyond and catch a glimpse of such little treasures as shown below …

Bruchsal, my old home town, may not be as fancied a destination for tourists as many other larger cities but this architectural marvel, together with the ‘Sommerresidenz’, aka ‘Waterschloss’ further up the hills, certainly make a stopover visit worth one’s while.

A guided tour for that costs just 8 Euros, while a guided tour through the main Schloss sets one back some 10 Euros, not too much but I noticed the lack of a senior citizen rate which should be resolved, in line with many other museums I visit during my travels.

What else was there to do last summer? Food needless to say did play a role and an open air weekend food festival caught my eye and tickled my palate to a point I wanted to share those impressions too but with pictures, rather than a broad narrative, as a picture, the right picture, says more than a thousand words.

On offer were local specialities, like right proper ‘Maultaschen‘ but also other street food and a variety of ethnic offerings, covering Europe and beyond, and not to forget one of Germany’s ‘staple diets‘ aka beer, draft beer to be precise.

The temperatures in the high 20’s on the day brought out the crowds and sitting spaces were at a premium, as soon as one was getting up the seat on the benches taken by another. Needless to say that the festival was held at the Schloss too with the entire parking area converted to an open air food fiesta.

And in closing today, and bringing the three part series to a close, a few more impressions from Bruchsal’s twice a week farmers market, perfect to stroll through on a bright summer’s morning and perhaps more challenging in winter when either driving rain or snow, ice and minus temperatures only allow for a quick dash.

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(NOT for sale I was told when I asked about the price)

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(A wave from my partner in crime, aka my sister)

Be it fresh produce, home made pasta, aka Nudeln, home made spirits and oven hot speciality bread, flowers, cheeses, mustards and anything else one’s palate craves for, one can be sure, well almost, to find it every Wednesday and Saturday morning.

I wrote an extensive article about an earlier visit to Bruchsal, available on my website, links to the articles shown below, which gives a detailed history of the Schloss and many other buildings designed by and then built under the supervision of Balthasar Neumann, a Baroque architect of absolutely superior qualities.

For now, I hope to have inspired some of my readers to take a detour to the stomping grounds of my younger days when in Germany and paid appropriate tribute to the city of my birth and its many attractions.

Links to previous articles:

https://atcnews.org/2016/11/18/down-memory-lane-germany-in-three-days/

https://atcnews.org/2018/02/11/homecoming-a-tale-of-going-down-memory-lane-part-1/

https://atcnews.org/2018/02/18/homecoming-down-memory-lane-part-2/

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