We picked the destination from a map because it seemed to be closest to the towns where our possible Sinzinger relatives were born Old Town Oehringen and married. Oehringen was reachable by the little S-Bahn, a train that looks a lot like the Cleveland streetcars from my childhood. Our plan was to figure out a way to get to Zweiflingen, the site of the marriage, about 6 kilometers from Oehringen. We knew nothing else about the town or the area. Here are some things we learned:
We learned that sometimes you have to wait for the bus. In our case, the bus from Oehringen to Zweiflingen, where the marriage took place, wouldn't be coming for about an hour and a half. Well, good, that gave us time for coffee and pastry and a walk into town.
We learned that sometimes you will find yourselves in the middle of an event. There we were, drinking our coffee, when we heard banging. The employees of the local Huber company were marching through town to protest the company's plan to outsource its labor. It was a A workers' demonstration wonderfully amiable protest march with many flags (the union?) and people handing out flyers to watchers. The group would walk a couple of blocks, then stop and a man with a bullhorn sketched out the situation. Then they would start up again.
We learned that sometimes you find extraordinary art. In this case it was a gentle watercourse just perfect for toddlers and us. It began as a trickle of water from standing stones and then continued along a path lined with cement. At a couple of place, scoops gathered up the water, elsewhere a fish-shaped sculpture suggested the possibiity of sailing a piece of paper, and in another place Watercourse with fountain the water flowed through a stone sculpture. Nearby, a statue of a mild-mannered man holding an umbrella and a watering can watched over the area.
The town has a wonderful old section. Even though most of the buildings have been restored, just as in the rest of the cities we have seen, the restoration has preserved the designs and architecture and even the colors of the original buildings.
We learned that sometimes you find memorials. In a side street parking lot we noticed four small brass plates. They listed the names and dates of the Westheimer family, father, mother and two daughters, all Jews, killed by the Nazis.
We learned that sometimes you watch the children. We took our bus up the hill to Zweiflingen, possibly the smallest village we have yet visited. We walked down the street to the church, came back to the bus stop/Rathaus/Pastry shop and grabbed a roll and bottle of Memorial plaques water for lunch. There would be two buses in about a half hour; both would arrive at virtually the same time, and return to Oehringen. We decided we wanted to take the route we had not taken before.
Suddenly children began to appear. The smallest must have been three or four years old, the oldest perhaps eight or nine. They came pouring out of the next-door school building, trailed by a trio of teachers. The children settled down at the bus stop, some to play their game of pounding one rock against another, some girls to sit together and giggle, some boys to chase each other. One boy tried to push Bob's legs aside -- he wanted to put his back pack where we were sitting.
Then the buses drove up and stopped. The teachers gathered the children to the correct bus and watched them climb aboard. We managed to convince the driver that we were not interested in the fastest return trip to Oehringen: we wanted to see the scenery. He Zweiflingen church shrugged and acquiesced. By now the children were all seated -- the littlest ones were so small they probably couldn't see out the window.
Off we went on a twisty turny narrow road through wooded hills. Soon we had reached a village. The bus drove to the stop and four or five tiny bodies climbed out, to be met with hugs by mothers. This process continued through perhaps four more little villages, each with a clutch of adults waiting for their children.
There were no teachers on the bus, and no mothers. It seems to work. We thought about social structure and customs.
We learned that sometimes you finish the day and say, What an extraordinary adventure we had!