Fri 13th September 2019 at 09.00 -
Club visit to Rotary Club of Bensheim Heppenheim
VISIT OF ROTARY CLUB OF AMERSHAM TO BENSHEIM
25 Rotarians and their partners made the trip to Bensheim, which is roughly 30 miles south of Frankfurt and where we were royally hosted and entertained by the Rotary Club of Bensheim-Heppenheim. On the first night, we joined them at their Club meeting at the Hotel Felix, where toasts and speeches were exchanged. SVP Derek Brown even had an opportunity to practice his German on our hosts, which was well received! The tone of the evening was well and truly raised when the Rotary Club of Amersham ad hoc choir took to the floor and sang their version of “Mein Vater var ein Wandersmann”, otherwise known as “I love to go a wandering”. Our hosts thought this was hilarious and we trust that this was for all the right reasons.
On the second day, we enjoyed a scenic drive along the Bergstrasse and the delightful Neckar valley, which was dotted with pretty villages, river scenes and hilltop castles. Our destination was the Guttenberg Castle, where we were greeted by one of their Rotarains who was dressed in medieval garb. What did he have in store? Well, the fun then began, in the form of competitive “medieval” games. These included archery, axe and horseshoe throwing and even cherry stone spitting. This was followed by a medieval lunch in the castle’s restaurant, interspersed with medieval games which required various Rotarians to make a complete fool of themselves.
The afternoon culminated in an excellent bird of prey talk and demonstration, which included many low-level flypasts by birds including eagles and vultures. A number of Rotarians had to hold onto their wigs!
That evening was spent having dinner with our hosts at the delightful Walder Hof restaurant in Bensheim. The building, though restored, dated back to the 14TH Century. Here, we were joined by pupils from Doctor Challoners’ Grammar School Amersham, who were coincidentally involved in a town twinning trip with their German hosts.
On the third day, we were invited to walk off our expanding stomachs by taking in the history of Bensheim itself, on a conducted walk through this charming half-timbered town. This was followed by a steady climb through the Kirchberg Hauschen vineyards up to the highest point. Here, we were entertained by the Traditional Blutenweg Jazz Band, led by Rotarian Bruno Weiss. What a show they put on, to be joined later by Elaine Brown, who played a ragtime number on the keyboards. This was accompanied by a light lunch of bread, cheese and pate, followed by more wine and scrumpy. Care had to be taken not to drink too much of the latter, given that we had to find our own way back to the hotel.
The final evening, we enjoyed private dinner parties in the various homes of our German hosts. Their generosity had no bounds.
Monday was our final day in Germany where, after some free time, we loaded up our coach and drove the short distance to the Blue Monkey (Blauer Aff) Restaurant and which had been specially opened for the occasion. Here, we were greeted by the Mayor of Bensheim who appeared to be enjoying his tenure, given that Bensheim is twinned with five towns! Various farewell speeches were followed by yet another excellent meal. Sadly, all good things come to an end and we began our various journeys back to the UK or onward in some cases to southern Germany and Italy. We left with some wonderful memories having made some new friends too. Our visit had been superbly planned and executed by our very generous hosts. The only downside is that some of us are now undergoing punishing diets!