Twinning Visit to Pirmasens 2014

Thu, May 29th 2014 at 10:00 am- Sun, Jun 1st 2014 - 8:00 pm

This was another chance for Rotarians and Partners to enjoy Fellowship with our twin Club members on a home stay in Pirmasens

Partners in Pirmasens

The weather in the UK was dire for the week before our party flew out to Frankfurt to begin the twinning visit with our friends in Pirmasens. But as we emerged from Customs to be greeted by three Rotarians from the host Club, the sun broke through as a welcome.

We were driven back to Pirmasens and a reception at Hotel Kunz, owned by Herr Kunz, a member of the Pirmasens Club. Some of us were then taken away to the families who were hosting us whilst others stayed at the hotel. The evening was spent with our various hosts and, by all accounts, was very convivial!

Friday morning, the majority met at the Schuhmuseum, which really does what it says on the tin.  Two guided tours, one in German and one in English, gave us a fascinating insight into the history of shoemaking in Pirmasens and we saw the displays of shoes from around the world.

One of the most interesting sections was the tiny Chinese shoes of women who had their feet bound so that they did not grow very big (remember the description in “Wild Swans”?).  Rather less exciting were the shoes donated by sundry (to us) insignificant German politicians.  Michael Pearson and Philip Saunderson excused their absence from the visit by saying they did not want to dominate the guides!

After a group photograph, we had a short walk in the forest to an outdoor restaurant for a “light” lunch, where many of us were introduced to Flammkuchen, a paper-thin kind of pizza. Others discovered that schnitzels are large! The beers seemed to help it all down.

Following lunch, we all went separate ways with our hosts. In our case, we went for a walk in the Palantine Forest and climbed a tower which gave fantastic views all round.

In the evening, a gala dinner was held at Hotel Kunz. The food was particularly good and we were entertained by some members of ex-semble, a group of lady singers who are a national treasure (or something like that!). Hans Joachim Schuttpelz gave a speech, translated by Knut Schmengler (why was his English version much shorter than the German? Was it censored?), and our President responded with some German as well as Ulsterish.

One of our party commented that Evan’s German delivery was somewhat softer than John Lawrence at the Pirmasens 25th anniversary dinner! Hans Joachim presented Michael Pearson with the leather document wallet which we had presented to him in the Guildhall ten years ago, but now engraved with the names of all the Presidents of the two Clubs since the first twinning visit.

Saturday morning was sunny and we boarded a coach for the visit to Mainz. The party was augmented by other members of the Pirmasens Club, and Bernd Knoerzer and I gave a very poor impersonation of trolley dollies, dispensing sweets and biscuits.  

On arrival at Mainz, we drank Mainz “Champagne” and ate pretzels on the steps of St Stephan’s Cathedral before going in to see the fantastic Chagall stained glass windows.  Then, on board the “Bimmelbahn” which can best be described as a little train, which toured the streets of Mainz with a commentary in three languages.  Unfortunately, we were somewhat crammed in, it was hot and the windows were not entirely transparent!

At lunchtime, we wandered around, found a light lunch, and returned to the main cathedral to meet our guide for the afternoon.  The cathedral was quite austere but we learnt how to tell whether a wall memorial was formerly a grave covering! Then to the Gutenberg Museum to learn all about the Gutenberg press and the bibles produced thereon.

Finally, we strolled along the Rhine to a beach bar for refreshments and then back onto the coach.  By this time, updates on the Saints Premiership final were being relayed and the tension rose as we drove to Rhodt for dinner.  

On the way, we briefly visited a villa with wonderful views.  Just before we arrived there, the news of Saints victory was shared and a rendition of “O when the Saints...” was delivered across the countryside from the terrace.

The restaurant in Rhodt was excellent and a good time was had by all (not least the one vocal table which sang not only “O when the Saints” but also the English National Anthem. The latter was actually initiated by Klaus-Dieter Uelhoff, who claimed that he wanted the Queen back!  Jorgen Romose was remembered and

Vibeke gave a short speech in German. The coach journey back to Pirmasens will probably not be remembered by most people judging by the number of closed eyes and open mouths.

Sunday morning was free and Elspeth and I took the opportunity to be taken by our hosts, Bernd and Sigi Knoerzer, to Frankfurt and the Salter Gallery to see some very impressive modern art.

We then had a late lunch in a typical Frankfurt bar where we sampled apple wine and green sauce (not together!). It was better than forecast.

The flight back was uneventful, although some of our party seemed to have some difficulties with the checking in and security at the airport.

So once again, we celebrated the twinning of our two Clubs in splendid style. The friendship remains strong and everyone had a great time. Our hosts were formally invited back to the UK in two years’ time and plans are already underway to ensure

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Our Twin Rotary Clubs

back We have been twinned with two other International Clubs for many years and enjoy regular visits to each others countries.