Celebrating 20 years of twinning with Bischofsheim - Oct 2011

The Twinning Association in Bischofsheim invited a delegation from CANTA to visit their town and celebrate 20 successful years of twinning. CANTA members were put up by host families.

On the first full day there was a stark reminder of why twinning began. In Mainz the guide showed the destruction of the historic city by British and American bombers. In the party was one lady who had lived through the Luftwaffe's bombing of Southampton and others who will have recalled the bombing of Crewe. On a beautiful Autumn day among German friends the tragedy of war strikes home.

Bischofsheim has made great efforts to reach out to its neighbours. Invited to the celebrations was a small delegation from Dzierżoniów in Poland, our friendship town and a twinning partner of Bischofsheim. These two towns have also managed to put the past behind them and celebrated 20 years of twinning last year.

Evening Wednesday 19th October

The visit started with the official welcome in Bischofsheim's modern Council Chamber. It was Ulrike Steinbach's first twinning duty as new mayor of Bischofsheim, replacing the long serving Reinhard Bersch.

Dietmar Zaia, the town council representative on the Twinning Committee, provided an excellent English translation of the German speeches.

Morning Thursday 20th October

Mainz is a big town on the other side of the Rhine and capital of Rheinland-Pfalz. The tour started with a visit to the Gutenberg Museum. It holds a collection of early Bibles and other Christian literature showing the transition from hand copied material on vellum to Gutenberg's revolutionary method of printing using moveable type. The group had a demonstration of the techniques used in the first days of printing and a CANTA member was able to print a page from the Bible on a Gutenberg press.

Then followed a walk around Mainz's reconstructed town centre. Luckily the cathedral escaped major damage. The facades of the buildings were rebuilt from photographs and pictures taken before the war. Behind the frontages modern airy shopping malls have been built. From certain angles it was possible to see the join between the two types of building.

In the Market Square students from the local medical university were operating a 'Teddyklinik'. This was a mobile hospital for injured teddy bears with the staff and equipment one would find in hospital. The clinic aims to help children of 4-6 years overcome their fear of doctors and hospitals. During the visit to the Teddy Bear Hospital, the children could have their teddy bears treated by medical students and experience the hospital situation, without being affected themselves as patients. The children were taking it all very seriously as they lined up clutching their bears waiting for a doctor to carry out an examination. They were fascinated by the surgery carried out in the operating theatre.

After the tour Goulash soup in a typical German pub was very welcome.

Afternoon Thursday 20th October
In the afternoohn it was back to Bischofsheim for the annual 'Bockbieranstitch'. Bischofsheim treats its senior citizens well and this event, held in the Bürgerhaus, is an important event in the calender. An afternoon of music, complete with German sausage, bread rolls and a considerable amount of dark 'Bockbier', started off with the tapping of a beer barrel. Once the tap is inserted the beer can start flowing! Clive Mosby, the CANTA Chairman, was given the messy job of knocking the tap in.

In case anyone was still hungry the Twinning Committee had made arrangements for a substantial 'snack' at a nearby restaurant, complete with more musical entertainment!

Daytime Friday 21th October

Koblenz was Friday's destination. The bus itinerary followed the Rhine on its journey north. There was a stop at the infamous Lorelei rocks, where the river twists and turns through a tight gorge and then one in Boppard further down the river. In Koblenz another guided tour was laid on.

The first stop was Deutsches Eck 'German Corner' the name of a spit of land in Koblenz where the Mosel (the Moselle as we know it) joins the Rhine. In 1897, nine years after the death of the German Emperor William 1st, the former emperor was honoured with a giant equestrian statue. The monument was badly damaged by an American shell in 1945 and was taken down by the French occupying troops. It was not until 1993 that the statue was recast in bronze and put back in position.

Luckily some old houses survived the Allied bombardments of World War 2. The group absorbed a lot German history that afternoon helped by a new statue that showed the history of Koblenz through times of trouble and tranquility. The statue was formed of wedding cake tiers; each tier representing a period of time.

Evening Friday 21th October
Just up-river from Koblenz the river Lahn flows into the Rhine. In the town of Lahnstein there is a famous brewery 'Maximilians' housed in a very ornate building. Here the group had a hearty German meal. In the Gents toilets there is a curiously placed toilet bowl high on the wall with hand grips at each side.

Saturday 22nd October

The Saturday outing was a full day in Wiesbaden, the state capital of Hessen, one of the new "Bundesländer" created after the Second World War. Wiesbaden means 'Meadow Baths'. During the 2nd World War the town was not bombed heavily. There was little industry to destroy and and the allied occupiers wanted to preserve such cities to house administrative staff. Even today there are still many American military personnel in the area.

The day started with the third of an excellent series of guided tours followed by lunch in the Paulaner restaurant. The group then had the afternoon free to explore the town further. A Viennese coffee shop was a favourite destination.

The Marktkirche 'Market Church', built in the neogothic style in the 1850's is Hessen's chief Lutheran Protestant church.

In Roman times the town was named Mattice Springs 'Aquis Mattiacis', the name now on the the 'Kurhouse'. This ornate building is used for everything from weddings to international conferences. It also houses a casino.

The state theatre of Hessen has its home in the town. It was built in the Baroque Revival style and opened in 1894 under the patronage of the German emperor William 1st.

The names 'Aquis Mattiacis' and 'Wiesbaden' relate to the thermal springs under the town. Hot water from deep under the Taunus Hills, north of the town, bubbles up throughout the town. Wiesbaden is one of the oldest spa towns in Europe with 15 hot springs. The thermal baths 'Kaiser-Friedrich-Therme' is decorated with ceramic tiles in the 'Belle Epoque' style. The group were only shown the exterior rooms. This was probably a relief to some as inside the baths nudity is the order of the day.

Evening Sunday 23rd October
Sunday was a free day to be spent with host families. Protestant and Catholic Services were available in town. In the evening the group had been invited to a 75th Jubilee Concert of the 'HHS', the Town's accordian band. The band had teamed up with the MSS Big Band from Seulberg to present a Swing Concert of exceptional quality.

Following this was the Official Jubilee Evening dinner celebrating 20 years of twinning. Speeches were made, gifts exchanged, many plates and glasses were filled and refilled and a good time was had by all.

CANTA would like to thank Joseph Heler, Cheesemakers of Nantwich, for their gift of a selection of our local cheeses to complement the excellent dinner provided by the Twinning Association. The cheese made a fine display and were much appreciated by our German friends.

During the exchange of gifts Councillor Brian Silvester presented Ulrike Steinbach, the mayor of Bischofsheim, with a Civic Award from the Mayor of Cheshire East, Councillor Roger West.

Councillor West said after the event: "Cheshire East Council is very pleased to see this friendship flourish as it brings a great deal of benefits to the Borough." We are delighted to present a Civic Award in the form of a framed certificate to show our appreciation."

A Civic Award was also presented to our friendship town, Dzierżoniów.

The Cheshire East press release for the Civic Award presentation can be found here.

Morning 24th October
An 8.30 am Farewell in the Council Chamber concluded a most successful few days. Everyone left committed to making twinning work.
CANTA would like to thank all concerned in Bischofsheim for the warm welcome and the excellence of the programme.

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