We've been calling this month "no school November". Between Thanksgiving and the end of quarter teacher work days, the kids have had a lot of time off. We advantage and drove about 3 hours northeast into the Erzgebirge or Ore Mountains that are outside of Dresden. There's a town there called Seiffen that is known for their woodworking - they produce quite a bit of the stuff that you see in Kathe Wohlfahrt stores and stuff. So even though it was only the middle of November, we came away from that trip feeling like it was the Christmas season already! The shops were so much fun!!
Several shops had large carvings out front
These figures move apart and come together and kiss at the end. The kids thought it was gross. It was very sweet!
So my dad served his mission in Germany and when I was a girl we had a few decorations that he had brought home with him. One was this little wooden German village with singers, church, houses, and curly trees. All of us kids LOVED that village and we were not allowed to touch it (we did anyway). I remember begging to be the one to be able to put it up and of course it was mangled a bit over the years. One of the first shops we went into had them! I had to buy myself one, plus some extra wooden houses, especially with the half-timbered details. I bought a few for my dad too to make up for childhood accidents . . .
Then as we begin walking around this town we find the church! Not just the town church THE CHURCH FROM THE VILLAGE!! I can't tell you how excited this made me! I didn't know the villages were based off of a real church (although that totally makes sense right?)
Now we certainly haven't seen every church in Germany but they do not typically make them like this which is partly what made it such a thrill to find. It isn't Catholic - I think most of Saxony (the state in Germany where these towns are located) are primarily Lutheran. The inside was very simple with pews on 4 sides facing the center and a very simple altar and all painted blue and white.
But then as we were walking around outside the bells began to ring and they had such a sweet sound! I love bells (and I know I say that ALL the time).
There are several artisans workshops up there but they were all pretty much closed. The town was also in the beginning stages of prepping for their Christmas market and so between that and the shopping it really felt like Christmas. We even got a slight dusting of snow!
We stopped for bratwurst and then had to take a picture with the Canadian moose . . . in Germany . . .
Our hotel had NO ONE there. I think most of their tourism is either summer or winter skiing. We had a small suite with kitchenette and they had games in the hallway. Chutes and ladders doesn't need a translation!
William with game pieces on his hands.
This is a Christmas pyramid and while we didn't buy this one (too big!) we did come home with one. It's actually not a traditional pyramid so there may be another in our future . . .
We did buy our annual nutcracker here though - and he's dressed as a local miner so it's a perfect souvenir!
Our second day was going to drain our bank account if we shopped some more so we left and drove down to Annaberg-Buchholz. This whole area on the border between Germany and Czech is known for their silver mining but most of that has been mined out and so they've turned to crafts - wood carving and lace making primarily. This is the Frohnauer Hammer, an historic but fully working hammer mill. When we arrived the next tour wasn't for another hour and a half and it was horribly cold with wind so we didn't want to wait around to see the inside. We went to McDonald's instead.
Because of the silver mining, there are several mining museums and we had seen a brochure for one where you ride a mining train but we couldn't find it! So instead we walked downtown to find another mining museum and ran into this guy:
I think this is the German mathematician Adam Ries, only because the statue looks like his picture and underneath the counting thing (what are those called again?) there's an equation thing that is also on his commemorative stamp. He is famous for his algebra books apparently.
Then we went to St. Anne's Church which was built in the early 1500s. It is huge and all made of stone and looks pretty plain on the outside although the way they've done the stone over the main entrance is really beautiful.
But inside - oh my. It's light and large with some amazing detail without being overdone.
Look at that gorgeous ceiling!
Carvings all the way around a gorgeous organ.
Everything is dedicated to miners, in fact I think St. Anne is the patron saint of miners.
Across the street is a mining museum with a part of the mine you go in. It surprised us because I think of mining as something outside the town but literally these mines are under the town.
There are different miners costumes/outfits according to rank I believe. The tour was in German, we understood some but not all.
We had to dress in capes and hard hats to go in. They actually weren't hard hats though, I think they were more for fun.
The mine was really narrow. This one you wouldn't have been able to have carts or trains in, in fact, most of the statues of miners show them carrying the ore out in long shallow bowls.
These are the ladders they would climb into the mine on! That will probably fit one foot. And the rungs are curved on the bottom to help the water drip down rather than collect and make the ladder slippery.
On the left are the stairs we went up (they had a spiral staircase installed to go down that was much easier) and on the right are the ladders. I could not have been a miner!!
We did it!
After the mine tour we went into the museum. I don't think these were used in the mine but maybe for trees to cut the braces and supports?
Another ladder, slightly wider.
The miner's lamps they would wear on their belts
So much talent in carving!
Carved figures wearing the various forms of the uniform.
Bobbin lace is a big deal although we didn't run into any shops because we didn't wander too much. I love bobbin lace and would love to learn!
The kids loved the miniature wooden fest
Wooden carved and painted chandelier
A better view of the church -- I couldn't get it all in!
This area is part of the former East Germany and there are small signs of that. A fun one is the street crossing lights. They don't look like the ones in the west! Some people say they look like spies.
We had a cold but really fun trip up there. I love the fact that we are able to explore these places that are out of the way. Hardly anyone spoke English but Chopper and I managed to get by! And I'd love to go back and do more of those tiny towns. That's the problem, every time we go somewhere new we want to go back and see more but then we also have places we haven't been! There's just no way to get it all in!