Labor Day: Nine days and counting until “blast-off”. Just testing this new app.

Packing—unpacking— repacking—- for the sixth time. Take that out. \240Put that in. \240You know the routine.


Oh what a day! Left Milwaukee at 4, seven hours later in Zurich (had to buy Swiss chocolates at the duty free shop), arrived in Venice at 5 and took the public water bus to our hotel. \240Slept.....oh wonderful sleep until hunger drive us out into the plaza for a late supper of sea bass and gluten free pasta. Here are some photo highlights.

An overcast afternoon as we approach the island but the seagulls don’t mind. They are greeting us from the top of every pylon. The rule is one to a pylon it seems—- and since everything in Venice can be had for a fee, we think the best pylons lease for 15 euros. LOL

Intriguing architecture on the way to our hotel—- over an hour by water bus.

Wow. What a canal!

Bridges everywhere connecting the many small islands

Thursday must be wash day.

Then the sun broke thru turning the sea golden

Tourists everywhere. Out numbering the locals—60% are Americans!

Decorative architecture

Two British artists set up next to where I was waiting for Mitch to cart our luggage to the hotel. \240They work on oils and sell in their Sheffield gallery back home.

The sun is breaking thru now. \240Every painter’s dream.

Captureing gold on canvas

Virginia and the waiter celebrating dinner on the way. It is a local catch—-sea bass. See it in the following entry.


Delicious dinner in an outdoor plaza.

Mussels—-Mitch’s choice.

Pasta with seafood

Sea bass swimming in tomato and olive sauce for Virginia.

Perfect ending—and it was delicious.


Venice is an awesome city with amazing historic architecture and a unique culture developed over centuries. Venetians live on a group of mainly interconnected islands where they fled for safety during the desolution of the Roman Empire to \240escape the invasion of marauding tribes. Today they are overrun by tourists and invaded by shoppers which is the only source of their income. Here is a sample of our day as we walked the plazas streets and alleys of this amazing place.

Beer for breakfast?

Misty morning prelude to a sunny and hot day

Venice is a city divided by canals and connected by over 400 bridges.

Hmmmmmmm...I wonder what he finds so fascinating!

Yes you can even have a professional photo made of your family feeding the pigeons.

Crowds in the lovely St Marks Plaza in front of the Palace of the Doge.

Astrological clock.

Irish friends and that’s no blarney!

Gondolas everywhere.

Narrow alleyway where the real Venetians live....and escape the crowds.

A candle and a prayer for peace.

Maybe the ancients were a little shorter.

It’s a tradition....Mitch gets to test his courage in the lions mouth.

Amazing spiral staircase. But a long climb if you live on the top floor!

The guide shows the projected plan to save Venice from flooding during high tides. Still years away from completion.

A quiet piece of green recalls when Venice had fields and covered with concrete.

Waiting for the bride to arrive by gondola, the flower girl gets comforted.

Snow drifts? \240No, boat covers on the Grand Canal.

Moorish influence recalls when Venice merchants ruled the trade in Istanbul.

Our gondola ride.

What do \240off duty gondoliers do? Text, of course!

Our gondolier

The Rialto bridge

Masks for Carnival

At rest

Visitors from around the world.

In WWII the American soldiers found the bidets a useful foot wash. For me a great way to cool my burning feet after a long day of walking.


Our third great day in Venice. After an early morning thunderstorm Venice was washed clean and ready for our guided tour of the Palace of the Doge and the basilica of St Mark.

Venice is an $$$$ town to visit. After a $90 dinner the first night and an equally expensive breakfast the next morning we decided to live like the true Venetians and discovered the Super Mercado—supermarket. We had a great lunch back at our hotel. \240The evening saw us enjoying a water bus ride on the Grand Canal as the sun set and night came on with lights and a sliver of a moon.

The Rialto Bridge.

The inner courtyard of the Palace with the staircase of the giants: Mercury and Neptune.

Neptune: So, Mars you think you’re so great. But you can’t save Venice from my waves and floods. LOL!

Yeah, you tell’um Neptune! Hey who’s \240that dude with the red hat and UW shirt.?

Ha ha! Just a misplaced Badger wandering around Venice...getting lost most of the time!!!

Athena, goddess of War.

Goddess of Modesty? In the foyer to the Great Hall in the Palace.

View of Venice thru a window of the Palace.

His last look at Venice was through the window of the \240Bridge of Sighs as the prisoner was taken to the dungeon

The Bridge of Sighs led to the dungeons.

Mismatched marble columns on the facade of St Marks. They were stolen from Istanbul (Constantinople) when Venice conquered it in 1202.

Awesome mosaics cover the floor and walls of St Marks.

Looking toward the main altar.

Bell tower from the balcony of St Mark’s. Oh yes, a couple of familiar faces too.

Another bell tower seen from the balcony. There they are again😊

Glass mosaics. “Hey Georgie, we’ve been hanging here for a millineum. Let split and get some pizza.” \240“ My thought exactly Dominic.”

The famous horses of St Marks stolen from Istanbul are now thought to be from the Hypodrome in Istanbul and may \240be Greek in origin dating to the second century BC. Hmmm, stolen from the Greeks by the Turks then stolen by Venice.

St Marks. The body of St Mark was also stolen from Istanbul and hidden in a basket as it was smuggled out of the city. Now it lies in the basilica.

Shopping for lunch

\240Choosing bread and olives

Dried tomatoes in oil

Teddy bear balogna.

A true Italian lunch served on our bed.

Crime deterrant window

Another \240prickly surprise for a burglar!

The Grand Canal at sunset.

On the Grand Canal.

Grand Canal.

Grand Canal

The Rialto Bridge.

Grand Canal and moonlight

“Oh my aching feet😩😩😩😩😩!”


Talk about perfect weather for our last full day in Venice! \240Sunday and inspite of best intentions we slept in. By 10:30 we were on our way to Murano, the island where Venetian glass is made. We inadvertently took the first water bus that arrived that turned out to be the slow route, stopping at several islands and with two transfers on the way. Hiweber we got to see parts of the Venetian islands we otherwise would have missed. Maybe next trip we will stay on Lido or Murano away from the noise and crowds but a short water ride from the action. On our trip back we saw the Grand Canal again, this time by daylight and walked over the famous Rialto bridge. Early to bed as we must cart our luggage to the water taxi at 3am.

Yes the bell tower is leaning, like most tower in Venice it is on unstable foundations.

Colorful shops and houses on the island of Burbano

Public wells offer tourists a place for a cold refill.

Main Street/Canal in Murano.

Fine glass sculpture on the island known for its glass

Glass goat in one of the many glass shops.

Darn! More tourists on the Murano Bridge!

Mailing our postcards.

Lighthouse marking the Murano port.

Grand Canal by daylight.

Some houses and shops have become uninhabitable due to sea rise and flooding.

The flag of Venice. The are Venetians first—- for over 1000 years before they were made to join Italy in 1866.

Scenic Grand Canal.

View from the Rialto bridge.

On the Rialto bridge.

Gorgeous jewelry.

Enjoying lunch on the Grand Canal.

Lovers padlocks. They throw away the key.

Fish display at a restaurant.

Waiting for his laundery to dry?

Canal restaurant

Church of St Maria de Salute. We arrived just in time for the doors to be slammed in our faces. No pleading softened the heat of the custodian so we will never know the inside.

This will begin on September 17 and our journey from Venice to Dubrovnik, Croatia.

3AM Two dark figures emerge from a narrow alleyway dragging their booty with them. Along the waterfront the night was still except for the occasional complaint from a passing seagull. Harnessing a local sea serpent they claimed on board and headed for the distant mainland where \240flock of pigeons flow them to Vienna. Changing to swans our adventurers flew to Zagreb where they mounted a propeller driven airbaloon which parachuted the fugitives into Dubrovnik exhausted at 5PM

. “Why did we carry so much booty?” one asks the other. “How else am I going to become famous artist. Half of this is my art supplies,” replied the other.

“And what is the other half?” replied the other weary spelunker?”

Dark alley September 27 3AM

Booty \240Waiting for the sea serpent.

Oh Vey! \240Look at all that booty.

Air balloon to Dubrovnik

Villa garden in our overnight lodging.

Overlooking Cavtat near Dubrovnik.

A lovely dinner at a local reservation revived us.

Alls well that ends well. End of September 17


The real September 18 begins here

Sunny skies and a day of travel and exploration awaits. After a country breakfast we walked to Cavtat harbor and caught a local boat to the old city Dubrovnik. It dates back to the 7th century founding by Romans and the arrival of Slavic Croat tribes who eventually integrated and formed a strong govern and defense against the Venetians who were dominating the Adriatic Sea.

The main cathedral. It is built on top of an 8th century church and on top of the 1600’s church destroyed by an earthquake. I

Old City harbor

Want to rent a boat to cruise the harbor?

The main cathedral. It is built on top of an 8th century church and on top of the 1600’s church destroyed by an earthquake.

Inside a church grotto.

Plenty of sun to tan (Does that look like Mitch and Virginia?)

Fruit market in the Square.

The Spanish steps where people from around the world gather.

Maybe even some Buddhist monks?

Narrow streets yes, but this was the Main Street.

Backpack meets ancient stonework.

Poster showing the destruction of the town during the war with Serbia in the 90’s.

Public water fountain

Icy cold water from the nearby mountains.

Astronomical clock on the main tower.

King of Thrones was filmed here.

“So you want to look like Lord Snow? How about I cut your throat!”

The official measuring stone of Dubrovnik.

The measure was the length from the king’s elbow to his index finger.

The oldest pharmacy in Europe is still in operation since the mid 1300’s.

This marriage really started on the rocks. Just outside of Dubrovnik.

Lunch appetizer with olives, cheese, and prosciutto.

Next course is octopus followed with calamari. This is a seafood country.


Next nine days are on the island of Korcula in Croatia where we are attending a pastel workshop with Steven Hill, an artist from Seattle who I studied with last summer in Bayfield.

The afternoon of September 18 we left Dubrovnik and traveled two and a half hours by bus and then by ferry to Korcula. It is one of the largest islands in the Croatian archipelago. We will then do all day workshops at a different location on Korcula or a nearby island each day thru September 26

I will send you some of the highlights as time permits.

Mussels and oyster beds

Gorgeous scenery


A quiet hamlet

Fortification at the town of Stone.

The town of Stone had to fortify themselves from the Turks arriving from the east and from invading Venetians from the west.

Stone fortifications

Stone is grape country. The grapes are used in wine

More grspyards. It is harvest time.

Our first look at the town of Lumbarda where our villa is located

Wonderful accommodations. A big king sized bed.

Convenient kitchen.

Our private patio

Dining area where we have breakfast and dinner.

Master chef fires up the grill every night to cook fish, chicken and here, zucchini.

End of a lovely day on September 18th. View from our villa.

We are on Korcula island for 9 days painting with pastels. Steve Hill is our instructor. The first day of painting was in the town of Korcula which is the largest on the island—several hundred people. The town is ancient and said to be the hometown of Marco Polo who lived about 1200 AD. We visited the Marco Polo museum there, had a guided tour of the town and the next night we returned to see a traditional sword dance that dates back to medieval idle East. Korcula is the only place where the dance survives. It has been performed here in the same arena four over 400 years.

....and for us to go wadding on the stony beach. Wear water shoes for the stones and the spiny sea urchins. E

Narrow streets branch off to each side of the one Main Street like the bones of s fish.

Korcula church

Balconies connect buildings owned by the same guild.

Ancient cistern was once the main water source.

We take over a cross street to watch our teacher demonstrate a pastel painting.

Steve Hill painting. A couple houses down two elderly ladies kept up a running commentary about us on their cell phones and various neighbors dropped by to view and critique Steve’s progress

His finished pastel painting. Mitch served as the human model.

Old walled Korcula was circular.

Scene from the Marco Polo museum. Marco bids farewell to Korcula and leave on his joiuney.

Lookout over the city where we met a group of bicyclists from.........,

Sheboygan, Wisconsin. It’s a small world.

Our villa is at the top of the hill.

Second day painting on the nearby island of Vrnik. Is has an ancient stone quarry that produced stone for Venice and also for our White House.

Our painting group.

A great place for Mitch to enjoy the waterfront.....

....and for us to go wadding on the stony beach. Wear water shoes for the stones and the spiny sea urchins.

The Moreska Sword Dance is done in an ancient arena part of which is the city walls.

The sword dance performance was preceded by Women’s choral group singing traditions folk tunes.

The plot of the sword dance: the black night has stolen the bride of the red knight.

The red knight challenges black knight.

Both armies prepare for battle. The following frames are video clips. You can click in the arrows.

A folk song by a women’s choir

The black knight accepts the challenge and begins the first of the seven dancers.

The red knight joins the challenge dance.

More knights join the dance

The second dance

The armies begin combat in the third dance. Each subsequent dance is faster and more violent. The lights in the ancient arena were dimmed do that we could see the sparkes flying from the live iron swords. Those dances were to dark for me to film. In the final dance the black knight surrendered the bride.

Almost a full moon for the Equinox.


After several lovely hot and sunny days a storm blew in yesterday mid afternoon. By 5pm \240there were five foot waves on the sea and waves crashing over the docks threatening boats in the harbor. The temperature dropped rapidly. The sky would have made great paintings but we headed indoors. This morning the temperature in Lumbarda where we are staying is 56F—-colder than Bayfield 58F or Milwaukee 68F. The wind is still kicking up the surf.

The ferry we took over to Korculs heads toward Orebic where the fire started F

The wind kicking up waves and spray.

A sky to paint later

Boiling clouds

The same harbor under sunny skies

Taking a dip before dinner.

The local products are grapes, olives and fish. Detail from a centuries old carving.

Many villas have grape arbors

The grapes were being harvested at our villa. They are wine grapes.

Our villa has a grape press

A vineyard down the road

Ripe olives line the sidewalk

Sea bass, a harvest from the Adriatic.

Calamari for dinner—squid.

Octopus caught by a local fisherman.

The mouth of the octopus.

Local boys trying their luck.


.....comes in all sizes. This fish is about 12 inches long but only a half inch wide. But the boys are very happy with it.

My dinner plate. Sea bass is delicious but full of bones.

The storm wasn’t the only excitement. A forest fire broke out on the mainland across from our island. People were evacuated.

For a while smoke totally obscured the land.

The ferry we took over to Korcula heads toward Orebic where the fire started.

A fire fighting plane tried to assist but the wind was too strong. Since there are no roads up the mountain the fire will have to burn itself out. We am see the fire at night on the mountain in several places.

And as Monty Python said....Now for something completely different........

A tourist being a tourist.

The stone is hanging from a string above the sign.

Handmade filigree jewelry


Mitch smoking a Croatian cevapci—sausage.

St Maria’s church bells.

Homemade jams and jellies in an organic produce shop. \240I chose fig and bitter orange jams.

Dried flowers

Dry weeds

Who wants the last piece?

Sunny cat look alike.

Our beautiful daughter Caitlin in Bayfield.

As we leave Korcula by catamaran to go to Split, Croatia, here are a few highlights from our stay on the island.

Marina at Lumbarda.

Adventures of Marco Polo.

16th century carving on the guild hall of the ship builders.

Gorgeous flowers everywhere.

Money laundering. Mitch sent his pants to the washer with his wallet in his pocket.

Mo, the friendly cat gives his critique as he watched us paint.

Steve Hill’s demo painting.

Virginia’s painting

Mitch’s painting.

A town where we got a lesson in painting boats.

Virginia’s boat

Two boats and the town backdrop painting by Mitch.

Interesting cemetery markers.

Cemetery marker.

Beautiful stone carving resembling waves on an old warehouse doorway.

Herbal vinegar steeping in the sun of a rooftop garden.

Drying tomatoes in the sun.

Scenic corner.

Virginia’s interpretation of the scenic corner

Blood moon is red from the smoke of the fires.


I am a bit behind in this Journo because the last few days we were without reliable internet connection. This entry will cover from September 27 to October 1.

After leaving the island of Korcula on September 27 we traveled by catamaran to Split, the largest Croatian city on the Agean. This is an ancient town first discovered by the Greeks, then a Roman colony and finally the retirement villa of the Roman emperor Diocletian who built the largest Roman structure of its time. The Palace of Diocletian is now the heart of the old town center. It would be a lovely place to explore if it were not crowded with tourists and not filled with wall to wall shops and kiosks. We stayed at a convenient small family run hotel just off the harbor and easy walking to the Palace. On the third and last day of our stay (September 29) we took a bus to the small nearby old town of Trogir.

We arrived st our lodging at noon. It was a climate shock to step out of the car and feel the cold crisp mountain air—-so different from the heat and humidity of the coast. H

Roman pillars hold up \240the grocery store infrastructure located in the Palace cellar.

Nearly run over by a bevy of Roman munchkins.

Roman guards in the esplanade before Diocletian’s mausoleum and his private living quarters.

Diocletian was the biggest persecutors of Christians. In a twist of divine justice, his mausoleum was turned into a church.

Always an opportunity for lunch on the run.

Roman columns in a face off with Medieval architecture.

A small chapel in a tiny alley.

Roman columns in a cafe courtyard.

Knock knock, who’s there?

Gorgeous pomegranates in the green market.

Smoked pork ribs unrefrigerated in a meat market.

Sauerkraut anyone?

Mitch called this a \240“butt” melon.

Pomegranates, tomato’s, beets, and parsnips make a colorful still life.

Central altar in the main church........

.......surrounded by Pagan Roman motifs near the ceiling. Maybe Diocletian gets the last laugh?

Time out for a gelato.

The old Roman wall and gate.

Hmmmmmmmm.......I think we just got turned around again. \240


The Palace at night was magical and fewer crowds.

In case you forgot where we were. .

Mitch hamming it up with Simon, the hotel proprietor. He will carry the Croatian flag in a friend’s wedding—a tradition.

The fort at Trogir.

Self assassination. \240How can you shoot yourself with an arrow?

Inside the fort.

View from the top. Looking out over the city of Trogir.

View of the town.

Einstein has the last word!!!!!

Sorry to leave Split but NOT sorry to leave the centuries old paving stones polished into slippery “glass” by billions of feet.

On the morning of September 30 we headed inland and to a very different landscape. The coast along the Agean was rocky and mountainous. We climbed up and over the mountains in a terrain that at times reminded us of southwestern USA—parched and long stretches without signs of habitation except for occasional sheep or goats.

Finally we were on a high plateau that was green and alpine looking with fields, cattle and little villages. Gone was the Mediterranean style architecture and instead were flat tiled roofs and chalet style architecture.

Rocky terrain and few signs of habitation.

Ever taller mountains.

Jagged peaks.

Two mile tunnel.

At last, trees and fields. Western European architecture.

We arrived st our lodging at noon. It was a climate shock to step out of the car and feel the cold crisp mountain air—-so different from the heat and humidity of the coast.

House Izvar.

Our host welcomed us with coffee and a kitchen warmed by his woodburning cook stove. After lunch we headed to the Plivice Lakes National Park.

In the parks miles of walking trails and boats lead to seven lakes and amazing waterfalls.

A view from the heights.

Notice the boardwalk in the background. That’s where we went next.

Yes the lakes are that turquoise.

Waterfalls upon waterfalls.

Picture perfect.

And an unforgettable day.


On October 2 we flew from Zagreb Croatia to Munich Germany. There we rented afar and drove to Bayreuth to visit our Fürstenau cousins Peter and his wife Christel. We are all descendants of our great grandparents Jozef and Wilhelmina Angermann. Gustav Hirsch, Natalie Smith and Richard Angermann were first cousins. Peter Fürstenau, John and Virginia Hirsch, Ralph Smith and Kristin’s father are second cousins. Peter’s children Holger, Lydia and Julieanne are third cousins to Mike Hirsch, Janet, Chris, June, Larry and Carol and to Kristin Angermann and her sister.

We arrived at their beautiful house built in 1856 and lovingly restored by Peter.

A lovely house in rural Bayreuth.

We exchanged gifts including a pastel painting Virginia made of their home.

Mitch gets schnapps and Virginia a Bavarian style shawl.

Breakfast prepared by Christel is always elegantly served.

The whole family takes a hike to an old church in the countryside.....

......and then poses for s photo b

Holger with his wife Ruth snd baby Annika.

Lydia and her husband Stefan Merkel.

Lydia and daughter Heidi.

Peter and Christel.

Christian and Michael Merkel, Frederik Linhardt, Marie Merkel, Cosima Linhardt, and Heidi Merkel all cousins.

Annika snd Ruth Fürstenau.

Lorenz Linhardt.

Michael Merkel with an Irishfest T-shirt.

The whole Furstenau \240gang with Mitch and Virginia at a local restaurant.

Virginia snd Mitch go Bavarian.

Virginia, Peter snd Christel at a haunted fortress.

Holger and Virginia share family photos.

Typical Bavarian dinner.

Mitch snd Julianne’ husband Martin Linhardt make a toast.

Discussing family Genealogy.

Goodbye to Bayreuth and onward to Auma Germany birthplace of my great great grandparents Karl and Julianna Hirsch.


On October 6 and 7 we spent two incredible days in the little \240town of Auma in east central Germany. This town founded in 1331 is the origin city of my great great grandparents on the Hirsch side. In 1840 they immigrated to Zdunska Wola Poland except for their two eldest sons who stayed behind and in 1852 immigrated to Greenfield Wisconsin just outside of Milwaukee.

We were met in the town square by Astrid Adler, a German researcher who has been assisting me with Genealogy, Liane Steinhoff and her husband who manage the local historical society, and Frau Widowit whose maiden name was Hirsch. They gave us a tour of the highlights of the town of 2900 people including stopping at several residences formerly owned by families named Hirsch. All of the Hirsch family today are dead or moved away.

We spent some time in the historical museum looking at their collection and there I shared the family tree I had made and also photos of the Greenfield Hirsch family from the 1800’s. They gave me a book of Auma history (675years) postcards and other memorabilia. Afterward we took everyone to lunch at a local restaurant featuring local specialties.

Zur Goldenen Aue was the hotel in Triptis where we stayed.

Meeting our guides in the town square of Auma beside the 1772 “triptik”..

The “triptik” tells the distance from Auma to \240various German towns. The measurement is in “stunde” hours. In other words the hours it would take on horseback to travel to that city. The monument was erected by the Duke of Saxe Weimar who was also the King of Poland at that time. His coats of arms are on the monument.

Beautiful view of Auma from the park with Virginia, Herr and Frau Steinhoff, Frau Widowit and Mitch.

The evangelical Lutheran church of Auma.

Church seen from the Square.

It made me tear up to attend Sunday service in the same church where my ancestors were baptized, married, and their records are kept.

The minister—on the right—and the brass band provided the music for the service. Only about two dozen parishioners attended—all very elderly. The minister serves several churches in the area on a rotating basis—three each Sunday. He welcomed us as guests. We could only understand the Apostles Creed and the Lord’s Prayer and a few words here and there. The congression were warm and greeted us with handshakes and blessings.

The baptismal font......

......and the church were decorated with the fruits of the harvest including homemade jelly and fruit juice. Afterward a lady gave us grapes from her garden.

Part of the old town wall of Auma.

Auma coat of arms. Yes that is a red squirrel on the tree.

The ancient roots of the town are a Slavic tribe called the Wends. The Germans arrived in 1331. For generations they lived as separate cultures and communities, the Germans inside the city walls and the Wends on the outside. Today most of the wall is gone and only marked on the streets in different colored paving bricks.

Old graves in the cemetery.

Napoleon marched down this street in 1806 after conquering the Duchy of SaxeWeimar Eisenach. Then he slept in a inn on the town square.

Auma’s Main Street.

Here Steinhoff and Mitch celebrate with a local beer.

A Russian inspired soup from the time Auma was part of East Germany under Soviet control.

Weinerschnitzel. A true Getmsn dish.

Evening view of our Triptis inn.


Our first day in Weimar, Germany and again we were blessed with warm and sunny weather. Weimar was the cultural center of central Germany in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was not bombarded in either of the world wars so its lovely palaces and scenic houses remain. It is especially known as the city of the great writers and poets Schiller and Goethe

The Arms of the Duke Of Saxe-Weimar Eisenach.

The Duchy Of Saxe-Weimar Eisenach in town Palace.

Goethe’s garden house.

Shakespeare in the Weimar park.

A pleasant scene in Weimar Park.

Sheep “mow” the lawn in Weimar Park.

Grand piano in the Franz Liszt house.

Belvedere Summer Palace on the outskirts of Weimar.

Belvedere Palace.

Russian garden at Belvedere.

The hedge garden.

Mitch performing “Mein Hut es hat kein Eche” on the garden stage.

Weimar produce market.

A street cafe is a common sight.

Yes the wurst really was that long!!!

Martin Luther preached in Weimar.

Schiller snd Goethe in front of the Weimar theatre.

On our second day in Weimar Germany we visited the Buchenwald concentration camp located only a short distance from Weimar. I would rather not have gone but it was important to Mitch. A very depressing and terrible experience to see all the the suffering and death there.

Afterward we visited a lovely summer palace built as a retreat by the 18th century duchess who encouraged the cultural development of the city.

My image for Buchenwald: a half dead tree surrounded by concrete struggling to breathe and survive—located at the visitor center.

The Goethe oak. Almost all of the trees in the Buchen forest were cut down to create the concentration camp. But this ancient oak was left standing. The prisoners called it the Goethe oak and said it was where Goethe courted his lover and noble patron. It survived until shattered by a US air raid towards the end of the war. The stones are added by visitors as a token of remembrance.

The Duchess’s country retreat......

.......still with a view through the valley to see Weimar in the distance. She was obviously keeping an eye on things even on vacation.

Garden at the palace.

Painting on this porcelain beer mug reminded me of what agriculture must have been like for my ancestors. Were they always happy farmers or only after their beer? The Dukes of S-W promoted the production of porcelain.

Their depiction of an 18th century peasant girl in porcelain.

How is it that German parks always look like a Durer engraving? \240This park is at \240Belvedere palace.


Last day in Weimar was spent in Wartburg Castle in Eisenach and a visit to the birth place of Johann Sebastian Bach also in Eisenach.

Eisenach castle from a 18th century painting.

Set on a high hill of solid rock it dominates the surrounding hills and valleys.

Legend says that in the 11th century the first Duke of Eisenach found the hill when he was hunting. He immediately wanted to build a castle it. The problem was that the land belonged to another noble who did not want to give it up. So Eisenach imported some soil from his own land and built the castle anyway.

A model of the castle.

View of the valley below.

The castle was not built for defense but to dominate and inspire awe.

Many fairytale elements.

Capital from the 12th century. “Hey, if you guys can’t see eye to eye, stop fighting and help me with the monster eating my cap!”

The castle suffered from great neglect and in the 19th century was restored and reimagined in a Gothic Revival style. Murals on the walls center around the life of St Elizabeth who was married to the duke. She disobeyed her husband and spent her time and money helping the poor. When he caught her with bread for the poor she lied and said it was roses under her cape. \240A miracle turned the bread to roses.


A four hour drive due east \240from Weimar brought us to the border town of Gorlitz. There are many reasons we chose to spend the afternoon and overnight here. The first reason was because my great great grandfather August Angermann on my father’s mother’s side of ye family was born here. Another good reason is that it is halfway between Weimar and our destination in Poland: Zdunska Wola. But a third good reason is that it is a wonderfully quaint and scenic town frequently chosen as a background for movies: “Inglorious Basterds” and” Hotel Budapest” \240among others.

Germany had a goal to become totally green energy in the next 20 or do years. This is a common sight as are large banks of solar panels along the roads and on the roof tops of even rural homes.

Germany does not allow commercial billboards along the highway. Instead it promotes the attractions in the town you are. approaching.

Join u

One of the main squares holds the Rathaus—City Hall 1387 tower. We took a tour and yes we climbed the ancient stairs all the way to the top!!

One of the five tower clocks. At nigh the eyes in the skull in the low clock light up every 60 seconds.

Some one is watching just the “eye” window in the roof!

Magnificent view from the top. We forgot to count the stairs but it must have been over 200.

View on the way up.

Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral from the 1600,s. The town is 95% Evangelical Lutheran.

The” Sun” organ from the 1700’s and recently restored.

An astrological sundial that also told the day and month.

Loving some of the beautiful northeast German fashions

For men and women.

Delicious looking apple cake n

And apricot tort.

Mitch chose a pork entree. At the restaurant at our hotel.

Our cheerful waiter Thomas.

Smile. Yes the Germans also say “cheese”.

Mitch and German “Irish” musician Ulle play a duet on the bridge to Poland.

So do we!

Zdunska Wola

Today we drove from the German border town of Gortitz into the heart of central Poland- the city of Zdunska Wola where my great great grandparents immigrated to about 1840 and where four generations of my Hirsch family lived. The countryside is mostly flat with occasional small rolling terrain unlike the high hills we left in Germany.

We crossed several rivers and I tried to imagine what travel was like in 1840 as they traveled due east on foot or by farm wagon and how they felt leaving behind the place they had known perhaps for generations and that was so very different. Hardly anything is known about their travel or their expectations. Certainly they must have hoped for a better future than in Auma, Germany but I think they may have gone from one poor situation to another.

I found out that the town was founded in 1824 by the grandson of Polish noble family. He had served in the Russian army and as a reward for his service he received a grant of land that included the small village of Zdunska Wola. He then proceeded to bring industry into the area. Using founds he received from the Russian government he sent invitations into communities in Saxony, Bavaria and Silesia for craftsmen to come \240and settle there. He provide each family with a half hectare of land, a wood lot for fuel and money to build a house.

Weaving became the major industry of the area with the weaving of fabric, rugs, curtains, brocades much of it for export to Russia. Cotton, wool,silk, and \240linen were woven and wool felt was pressed for hats and pants.

At first things must have looked promising for the new immigrants. They lived in colonies and maintained their language,music, foods culture and religion. Many were ethnic Germans and some were Czech. \240It first they were promised freedom from taxes and military service but that disappeared after the first generation. Eventually The nearby city of Lodz established weaving factories and with machines were able to out produce hand loom weavers and at a lower price.

Many families like my family who were independent weavers were being forced to work in the horrible conditions of the factories which also included child labor. Instead, like my grandfather they chose to immigrate, usually to America but some back to Germany or to Australia or to South America. My grandfather left with his wife and five children in 1903 and settled in Milwaukee Wisconsin close to his cousins who lived in Greenfield Wisconsin.

On the road to Poland.

Flat countryside must have seemed strange to my ancestors who immigrated from the rolling hills of Saxe-Weimar.

Fields and more fields.

An overhead causeway is provided for agricultural access and to help wildlife movements without crossing the dangerous highway.

Suddenly a familiar sign.

The price of diesel per liter in Polish zlotych.

Well at least the menu looks familiar.

Miitch chooses strawberry cheesecake and I took a brownie. The McCafe offered delicious bakery.

Almost there!!!!

The Zdunska Wola History Museum

Founder of Zdunska Wola.

In the museum collection, decorated panel from the weavers guild document chest.

Card for matching textile dyes.

Examples of some of the finest weaving produced in Zdunska Wola.

A page from the Theory Book illustrates weaving techniques \240

The Theory Book had to be mastered in order to become a master weaver.

Complex patterns in the Theory Book

A typical weavers house in Rosemysl, a German colony within the city of Zdunska Wola. This one in bad condition on the outside but still in use as a residence.

. Side view and garden of a weavers house now a museum.

Bedroom in the weavers home.

Spinningwheels and yarn winders.

The kitchen cook stove. Note the oven on the side and the door to add wood for the fire.

Kitchen table and dining area.

Another weavers house now a restaurant.

A weavers home converted to a law office. These former homes may date to the mid 1800’s

Zdunska Wola

Another wonderful day in Zdunska Wola. First we had a prearranged visit to the parsonage of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. The congregation dates from 1827 and the church was founded by the immigrants from Germany and it is where my ancestors worshiped.

Pastor Caesar Jordan and his wife Christine welcomed us to their home and treated us to an assortment of delicious baked goods and their son Luke did the English-Polish translation. Then a great mystery was solved when Victor and his aunt Theresa arrived and we can finally say that there are still members of the Angermann family living in Zdunska Wola.

Victor brought out their family tree and we brought out ours and we found that six generations back we have the same great great great grandparents. It was very emotional and there were almost tears when the pastor’s wife suddenly discovered some of her ancestors on our Hirsch family tree—the parents of my great grandmother. We shared family photos and stories and then the pastor and his family treated us \240to lunch at a local restaurant.

In the afternoon we were given a walking tour of the cemetery where we found some Angermann graves and then we went to a museum that was formerly the home of a weaver— the same profession as my grandfather’s family and probably the same kind of house they lived in with the weaving rooms and kitchen on the first floor and the bedrooms up above. Daniel our guide is the archivist for the history museum of Zdunska Wola.

Lukas, Christine, Virginia and Pastor Jordan

Poppyseed delight.

Apple kuchen.

Pastor Jordan presents Virginia with a Lexicon of Poland.

Christine, Virginia, Victor and Aunt Theresa study family trees.

Victor and Mitch enjoy lunch.

Virginia, Aunt Theresa and Victor.

Lukas, Victor, Christine, Pastor Jordan, Aunt Theresa, Virginia and Mitch.

An Angermann grave in the Zdunska Wola cemetery.

Mural of Zdunska Wola depicting the city about 1900.

Pastor Jordan delivers the Sunday sermon.

Mitch and Pastor Jordan compare bellies.....

........which leads to the belly bump.

After the service in front of the church doors.

Evangelical Lutheran church of Zdunska Wola

Looking toward the organ

Commemorating the 150th anniversary of the church.

Pastor Boerner signed many of the birth, marriage and death certificates of my ancestors. He was well respected in the community and his wife founded a hospital for physical rehabilitation which is still in use today.

We spent our nights at a resort in nearby Lask because we did not like the hotels in Zdunska Wola. But if we go back we could spend three nights in Hades, the city’s newest hotel. You wanna bet????


Today is our transition day from Zdunska Wola to \240Krakow.. We decided not to take the main highway to Krakow but instead to take a more rural route due south that would allow us to visit Czestochowa. It was a lovely route in spite of the narrow road and one very challenging sudden deadend for road repair. (Mitch improvised and we literally climbed a curb and cut through a couple of farmer’s yards to get around the construction. I have a feeling that is quite acceptable in \240rural Poland).

Czestochowa was lovely and very dramatic. We were lucky enough to arrive shortly before the three pm Mass. The presentation was preceded by a trumpet fanfare and a parade of white clad priests. After the covering was lifted from the painting we joined those who went behind the altar and thus got a closer look. Some made the “pilgrimage” on their knees! (Oh those aching knees!).

Every little village had its shrine freshly decorated to celebrate the anniversary of the end of Russian rule over Poland.

A “forgotten “shrine on our unexpected detour.

Shield on the church wall.

Church at Częstochowa

Mitch lit a candle and left a prayer.

The Black Madonna revealed.

The cathedral next to the Madonna chapel.

Trusting little lamb looks up at a saint.

Commemorative plaque—a forest filled with candles.

Last view as we depart Częstochowa.

Leaving behind the flat land of central Poland for the hills approaching Krakow.

That night we went to a small shop in search of a bag of ice. Found no ice but some very amusing beer labels on local Krakow beers. Want to try it??

Sacred grape beer????



Our first day in Krakow. Lucky us; my friend Roma and Andrea, both from the Milwaukee Polish club Polanki, are also there. Roma went to the university in Krakow and she gives us two wonderful days of guided tours.

The four adventurers. \240

This historic building dominates the square and was once the center of textile trade.

A visit to the university where both Roma and Copernicus studied—-but in different centuries.

Historic astronomical instruments at the university museum.

Unique wooden staircase in the antique professors dining room.

The university church.

The university church.

Timeout for a lunch break at Grandma Kuchnia’s.

The rustic restaurant is in the cellar and is popular with students.

They look like they enjoyed Grandma’s cooking.

It’s Mitch’s birthday and we sang to him in English and Polish.

Famous St Mary’s basilica was under renovation do we didn’t see its amazing wood carvings.

Krakow square carriages.

Town hall in Krakow square.

Mitch tried his hand st blacksmithing in the history museum.

Three moonstruck girls in a painting in a small art museum.

The court jester—the Jimmy Fallon of his day, a detail from a painting.The jester was allowed to poke fun at the king.

Another lunch and Mitch has a knack for finding pretty waitresses.

This restaurant is decorated with real vegetables and preserves.

The oldest synagogue in the Krakow Jewish getto.

Former Jewish getto.

Former Jewish getto.

Andrea and Mitch ham it up!!

Tai rolled ice cream, Oreo mango.

Krakow Warva—the historic fortress on the hill.

Dragons figure prominently in Polish legends. This one has been enchanted into a waterspout.

Mitch and Roma discuss quantum theory and astrophysics with Polish Noble prize winners.

Some funny signs show Polish sense of humor: the Poles call nuns “penguins”

Write your own caption here.

The cat was out when we arrived!!


Today we visited the famous salt mines near Krakow. They have been productive since the 12th century and still provide salt. Tourists now vastly outnumber miners. The biggest attraction are the statues carved from the salt.

That evening the four adventurers met again for a program of Polish foods, music and folk dancing.

Entrance to salt mines.

It is seven levels deep and includes thousands of kilometers of shafts.

We began by walking down 380 wooden steps nonstop. Oh my aching knees!!!

Legend says that the mine was part of the dowery of Queen Hedwig of Hungary when she married the Polish prince.

Mitch helps turn the machine that lifts the salt.

Good King Wenceslas points the way.

The cathedral room is the largest and filled with religious carvings.

Even the chandeliers are made of salt.

The flight into Egypt in the cathedral room.

Even the Krakow dragon made an appearance.

An ancient miner with his lantern of salt waves goodbye.

Greeted by folk musicians at the restaurant.

Roma and Andrea enjoythe cherry vodka welcome drink. (We all did!).

Two wouldbe gallants from France join our table.

Polish folk dancing.

Polish cuisine includes chicken aspic, piroggi, and a sweet buttery cookie.

As always Mitch mugs for the camera.


Greetings from the Czech city of Olomouc. We are halfway between Krakow and Prague and we began as a comedy of errors. I thought this was the city with the bone church. Wrong that’s 150 kilometers north west of here. Then the hostel we booked is on the 4th floor; no elevator. We got lost trying to find the cathedral. We would see the spires from a distance but could not find a street leading to it.

Finally success and a visit to the archdiocese museum and a good dinner to end the night \240happily.

Olomouc cathedral.

Lovely interior.

The painted columns were a refreshing change after seeing so many churches with marble interiors. So very cheerful.

Inside the archdiocese museum a most wonderful gilded carriage for the archbishop. (Did he feel like Cinderella?)

The inner courtyard garden and tower.

Garden view from the tower. Yes we climbed the narrow winding stairs to the top.

Interesting symbols here: the Madonna stands on a crescent moon that is crushing a dragon with an apple in its mouth. Hmmmmmmm!

Time for a good traditional Czech dinner with garlic dumplings and \240braised beef and a Pilsner for Mitch.

The dolphin fountain in the town square.

Our last full day in Prague we took a six hour walking tour of the town that included lunch and a boat trip on the river. Here are some of the sights we saw.

Our last full day in Prague we took a six hour walking tour of the town that included lunch and a boat trip on the river. Here are some of the sights we saw.

Our last full day in Prague we took a six hour walking tour of the town that included lunch and a boat trip on the river. Here are some of the sights we saw.

Our last full day in Prague we took a six hour walking tour of the town that included lunch and a boat trip on the river. Here are some of the sights we saw.

Our last full day in Prague we took a six hour walking tour of the town that included lunch and a boat trip on the river. Here are some of the sights we saw.

Our last full day in Prague we took a six hour walking tour of the town that included lunch and a boat trip on the river. Here are some of the sights we saw.

Our last full day in Prague we took a six hour walking tour of the town that included lunch and a boat trip on the river. Here are some of the sights we saw.

Our last full day in Prague we took a six hour walking tour of the town that included lunch and a boat trip on the river. Here are some of the sights we saw.

Our last full day in Prague we took a six hour walking tour of the town that included lunch and a boat trip on the river. Here are some of the sights we saw.

Our last full day in Prague we took a six hour walking tour of the town that included lunch and a boat trip on the river. Here are some of the sights we saw.

Our last full day in Prague we took a six hour walking tour of the town that included lunch and a boat trip on the river. Here are some of the sights we saw.

Our last full day in Prague we took a six hour walking tour of the town that included lunch and a boat trip on the river. Here are some of the sights we saw.

Our last full day in Prague we took a six hour walking tour of the town that included lunch and a boat trip on the river. Here are some of the sights we saw.

Our last full day in Prague we took a six hour walking tour of the town that included lunch and a boat trip on the river. Here are some of the sights we saw.

Our last full day in Prague we took a six hour walking tour of the town that included lunch and a boat trip on the river. Here are some of the sights we saw.

Our last full day in Prague we took a six hour walking tour of the town that included lunch and a boat trip on the river. Here are some of the sights we saw.

Our last full day in Prague we took a six hour walking tour of the town that included lunch and a boat trip on the river. Here are some of the sights we saw.

Our last full day in Prague we took a six hour walking tour of the town that included lunch and a boat trip on the river. Here are some of the sights we saw.

Our last full day in Prague we took a six hour walking tour of the town that included lunch and a boat trip on the river. Here are some of the sights we saw.

Our last full day in Prague we took a six hour walking tour of the town that included lunch and a boat trip on the river. Here are some of the sights we saw.


Our last full day in Prague we took a six hour walking tour of the town that included lunch and a boat trip on the river. Here are some of the sights we saw.

Zodiac clock

Astronomical clock.

Morgue in the Jewish Quarter

Puppets are a popular souvenir from Prague.

In a city of fountains this pigeon takes a bath.

On the river banks.

Swans thought this wedding photo op was a sleeper.

The dancing building inspired by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.


We left Prague at noon on October 23 and drove to Munich. It was strange that we could almost see and feel the difference when we crossed from Czech Republic into Germany. The day was overcast and cold.

On the road again—leaving Prague for Munich.

The last of Czech Republic on an overcast day.

Gently rolling countryside.

Hills and German village.

Huh!!!!!! Coming into Munich. Translation please.

Thank goodness for our car’s GPS.

Mercedes Benz tower.

Our first day in Munich (October 24) we took the luxury of sleeping in. It was cold misty and bet windy. Since we had to give up our parking spot anyway we drove to Nymphenburg Palace and spent the whole afternoon there including a great mid afternoon lunch in the Palmgarten restaurant. Our only disappointment was that the Amalienburg hunting lodge was closed for renovations.

Nymphenburg Palace is s huge complex of buildings and gardens.

Amalienburg is a “rustic “ hunting lodge with a mirrored ballroom.

Acres of formal gardens.

Interior decoration.

Beautiful table \240

A beauty from the king’s wall of beautiful women. This lady was a shoemakers daughter who was a seamstress in the palace.

Potato cakes with apple sauce and fruit.

A coronation coach covered in real gold leaf.

Sleigh lead by a mermaid figure with globe torches.

Lion details on a carriage.

On October 25 we took a bus tour that to mad King Ludwig’s castles Lindenhof, Hohenschwangau and the fairytale castle Neu Schwanstein.

Could not ask for a more perfect day.

Our first glimpse of the Bavarian Alps.

Into the Misty Mountains—just like Froto.


Idyllic villages.

And farms.

Alpine chalets.


Today we are exploring central Munich. We slept in after yesterday’s trip and then headed to Marienplatz.

One of the lovely fountains in downtown Munich.

St Michael’s church. A church with very interesting marble statues about 25 feet above the floor that seem to have no relevance to religion.

“If that stupid cock crows I’m going to drop this pillar”. One of the amusing statues in the church.

“I don’t think this ladder is going to reach the ground.”

The beautiful and amazing city hall.

City hall clock tower.

View from the top of the clock tower. Yes there is an elevator. That is theFtsuen Kircke below.

Another view.

The real thing!

Inside the Hofbrau Haus.

Mitch ended the day with toast to Munich and our trip.


After seven weeks of almost perfect weather I guess we can’t complain about a rainy day. We ate on a bus tour to Salzburg, Austria and into the nraylake country. Lovely scenery but everything looks grey in the drizzle.

Church steeple and Austrian Alps.

Austrian villages have their own look.

Farms snd mountains.

The palace and gardens in Salzburg.

Salzburg fortress above the city.

Narrow lanes \240show a street pattern from the Middle Ages.

Typical Austrian dress for parties and special occasions like weddings.

And for children.

Pigeon-eye view of Salzburg along the Salzriver.

Just enough time to mail the postcards we bought at Mozart’s birth place.

On the road again into the Austrian lake county

Home of Red Bull beverage

Boarding the boat at Salzkammergut on Lake Wolfgang for a ride to St Wolfgangsee.

Lake home.

Lovely scenery.

Someone’s lake getaway.

St Wolfgang’s church founded in 976. He threw an axe and built the church where it landed.

Zum weissen Rossl am Wolfgangsee. The hotel from the opera of that name.

A scenic town passage way.

More typical Austrian trachten (folk heritge garb)

Folk inspired clothing for every day wear.

A martini party for geese? \240


Our last day in Munich we spent at the Residence Imperial Palace in the center of town. Eight centuries of the same family ruled Bavaria until 1918. The huge complex has over 170 rooms that have been restored starting with rooms from the 16th century. That is a range from late Middle Ages through Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, and Neoclassical. The gilt and lavish furnishings soon became overwhelming. “Conspicuous combustion” as my friend Barb would say. We spent over four hours there and saw also the treasury and the beautiful Cuvilles-Theatre.

The Imperial Coat Of Arms of the same family who ruled Bavaria for eight centuries until 1918.

Engraving of the Residence Palace with it’s courtyards and gardens.

Earliest ancestor of the imperial family from the 11th century as found in the Ancestrial Hall.

17th century grotto inspired by Roman fountains.

The Antiquariam.

A Neoclassical imperial bedchamber. The wall paper is hand embroidered.

French style furnishings in the bedchamber.

A detail of the embroidered wallpaper.

A mirrored salon for parties and refined conversation.

Plaster wall detail.

A small mirrored “cabinet”ie s private room.

“Whoa” put on your sunglasses. Part of the collection of silver serving pieces. They not only displayed the wealth of the imperial family but served as a “bank account” and could be melted down for quick cash. For that reason most of the early silver has not survived.

An awesome English crown for a queen in the Treasury room brought to Bavaria through marriage in the time of Henry II.

Jewel encrusted St George and the dragon.

The 18th century theater is part of the Residence Palace.

View toward the stage.

View from the stage.

Lion detail on a theatre box. (Yeah, I’m feeling that tired myself after \240four hours in the palace.)

Back at our Airbnb our host treated us to his homemade hazelnut bundt cake. (And he shared his recipe too.)

Goodbye Germany, goodbye Europe, so long to friends and new acquaintances. We have had a wonderful time.

You shared your culture and traditions. \240We loved your food, your music and your art and architecture. Your warmth and friendship remain in our hearts.

Auf wiedersehen. We hope to see you all again.

Thank you to all of you who have followed our trip through Journo. I hope to soon fill in the gaps in our trip. Your encouragement helped a lot to keeping the diary going.

Virginia and Mitch

Our Fürstenau Cousins

Before I close out this Journo it seems appropriate to make a photo gallery of our Furstenau cousins as they were on our visit to Bayreuth in October 2018. Peter snd Virginia share the same great grandparents Joseph Angermann and Wilhelmina Jelonek. His grandmother and Virginia’s grandmother Wanda Angermann were sisters so Peter and Virginia are second cousins.

Peter is married to Christel and their children are Juliane, Lydia, and Holger.

Juliane is married to Martin Linhardt. Their children are Frederik, age 11, Lorenz age 7, and Cosima age 3.

Lydia is married to Stefan Merkel. Their children are Christian age, Michael age 16, Marie 13, and Heidi age 3.

Holger is married to Ruth. Their daughter is Annika, age 10 months.

The whole gang celebrating German Unification Day a national holiday on October 6, 2018. Left to right: Holger, Ruth, Annika, Christian, Michael, Lorenz, Mitch, Virginia, Christel, Peter, Frederik, Juliane, Martin, Cosima, Marie, Stef, Lydia, and Heidi.

Peter and Christel Fürstenau.

Holger Fürstenau.

Annika and Ruth Furstenau

Heidi Merkel

Christian, Michael, Frederik, Cosima, Marie and Heidi

Lorenz Linhardt

Marie Merkel and Frederik Linhardt

Cosima Linhardt

Juliane and Frederik Linhardt and Marie Merkel

Michael Merkel

Heidi and Lydia Merkel

Heidi and Lydia Merkel

Lydia and Stef Merkel

Michael, Heidi, Lydia and Stef Merkel

Lydia Merkel, Cosima and Juliane Linhardt

Heidi Merkel

Mitch and Martin Merkel