Category Archives: Activities, Travel, Vacations

My Trip To Germany: The Food

The Amazing Food

Last spring after I spoke at a software developer conference in Berlin Germany, I had the opportunity to take several personal days while there. I also ate some pretty amazing food, but I never got the chance to write a blog post about it. So here is that blog post.

Better late than never!

Hotel Buffet

I stayed at the Leonardo Royal Hotel Berlin Alexanderplatz, which was just a few blocks away from the Alexanderplatz plaza, and a short tram ride or bus ride from anywhere in the city. The breakfast buffet was pretty typical. I enjoyed it.

Since I was speaking at a conference, I tried not to overdo it at the breakfast buffet. That’s why there’s so much white space on my plate.

Street Food

I had to try some German street food while I was there! In the Alexanderplatz plaza, there are plenty of vendors to choose from. I tried the Currywurst which is pork sausage that is deep fried and then drowned in curry ketchup and served with fries. Notice the mayo and ketchup combination on the fries. The Europeans love their mayo and ketchup. It was absolutely delicious!

As if the Currywurst wasn’t enough of a light meal, I also had to try the Bratwurst. I mean, come on, You can’t NOT eat bratwurst in Germany! The bratwurst also had mayo and ketchup on it and it was yummy!

Another popular street food item is the laugenbrezel, or lye pretzel. Pretzels are also found in bakeries and food stores, and there are usually many different baked on toppings to choose from. Most commonly a variety of cheeses or seeds.

Deli’s and store fronts really like to show off their selection of processed meats. Especially those of the sausage family! Here is a short and informative tutorial on the most popular German sausages. And here is an exhaustive list on wikipedia.

Sandwiches in Germany are both simple and elegant at the same time. The breads used are often amazing. The meats and cheeses are usually fresh and tasty. As are the vegetables. I bought this one at a gas station and it was pretty great!

Schnitzel

Oh yeah, I tried some Schnitzel. And I loved it! Schnitzel is a thin pork or veal cutlet that’s breaded and fried. Schnitzels are often topped with a sauce and served with a starchy side. They were invented in Austria, but are very popular in Germany. But that’s not too surprising. That’s like saying that something was invented in Kentucky, but is very popular in Illinois. They share a border!

While in Plauen, I tried a couple different Schnitzels at Schnitzelparadies, yes that’s Schnitzel Paradise! This small local restaurant is just a bit up the hill from the shopping mall and the trolley station. They have a ton of Schnitzel to choose from! Pictured below is the schnitzel in tomato cream sauce with ham and cheese on top with a side of potato croquettes. It was delicious!

My second day in Plauen, I went back to Schnitzelparadies for more! Pictured below is the Karibik or Caribbean schnitzel. Um, wow! It was so good! I love seafood, so this was my favorite! It was topped with small shrimp in a crab herb sauce and fried “squid rings”, or calamari. On the side were parsley potatoes. It’s been over a year since I’ve been to Germany, and I still crave this dish.

Sauerbraten or Sour Roast

I wasn’t sure whether I was going to like Sauerbraten, but I had to try it while I was in Germany. Heinrich’s restaurant in the basement of the Altes Rathaus or City Hall seemed like a good place to try it. Sauerbraten, or Sour Roast, is a pot roast that’s been marinated for many days or even a week in a vinegar or wine solution.

The restaurant was very dark, so it was difficult to get a good photo, below. The roast was tender and quite tasty. If you’re not a fan of vinegar, then you probably won’t like Sauerbraten, though. The purple stuff is red cabbage, which I’m not a huge fan of. And the white balls are potato dumplings or Klöße. Potato dumplings are always a little too rubbery for my taste, though. Although I’m not a fan of these particular sides, I’m definitely a fan of Sauerbraten!

Solyanka Soup

I tried the Solyanka which is a traditional Russian or East German spicy and sour soup. I had this appetizer in Matsch Hotel and Beer Garden in Plauen which is just a block from the Altes Rathaus or City Hall. Their Solyanka is a tomato based soup containing fried sausage, bell peppers, pickles, onions, sour cream, parsley and dill. I’m not normally a huge soup fan, but this was amazing.

Dessert

The photo below was pretty common in shopping plazas and bakeries in Germany. So many little individual sized desserts to choose from!

This little treat is something that I had never seen before and I’ve never seen it since. But I’d like to see it again, because it was so good! I bought it in a little deli in the Alexa mall, in Berlin near the Alexanderplatz plaza. The store is called Butter Lindner and the product is Vanillequark, or Vanilla Quark. This stuff is magical. It’s smooth like yogurt and it’s sweet like ice cream.

Quark is actually a curdled milk product. It’s essentially a soft cheese. But this particular Butter Lindner product is like a cross between a cream cheese and a yogurt. It contains the soft quark cheese, sweet cream, sugar, cream cheese, whey, bourbon-vanilla, salt, citric acid, and finally a thickening agent. This stuff is so delicious and so fattening, it’s probably a good thing that I don’t have easy access to it here in America.

Beer Halls & Beer Gardens

Even though I’m not a beer drinker, I checked out a couple of Beer Halls and Beer Gardens in Berlin while I was there. The kitchen was closed at the Hofbräu Wirtshaus or Tavern in Berlin when I showed up, so I couldn’t try any of their food, but I checked out the place and saw this cool beer stein locker in the back of the restaurant. The regulars need only to carry a key, rather than carry their stein back and forth! Smart!

Obviously, I wish I could have enjoyed more German fare, but my time there was limited. So that’s all the food I was able to try and report on.

But wait, there’s even more Germany to explore!

Stay tuned because my final blog post from my April 2018 trip to Germany (yeah, I’m way behind on posting, I know) is going to talk about some misc things that didn’t fit into any of the previous categories! How’s that for a sales pitch?!?!?

Thanks for your interest!

Kurt

My Trip To Germany: Plauen (Part 3)

Plauen

Last spring, after I spoke at a software developer conference in Berlin Germany, I had the opportunity to take several personal days and I got to see some of the countryside!  It was pretty great!

Plauen Germany is where my grandfather, Kurt William Leucht, lived from about the age of 4 until he left for America at age 18.  Here are some more sights from Plauen as I explored the area and walked in my grandfather’s footsteps.

Johanniskirche (St. John’s Church)

St. John’s Church is located in downtown Plauen, right off the market square that’s adjacent to the Altes Rathaus or City Hall. It’s a big beautiful Gothic hall church sitting up on a rise. It’s been rebuilt and remodeled several times over its lifetime.

It’s the main Protestant church in town and it’s also the oldest church in town. It is one of 716 parishes which make up the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saxony.

It’s quite breathtaking inside. It feels very spacious and open. This photo was taken from the entrance looking towards the altar in the far chamber. The blue speaking pulpit can be seen on the left.

This photo is the reverse angle looking back towards the entrance and up at the organ in the balcony. The organ is steel blue and gold. This photo also gives you a good view of the intricate ceiling arches.

Here’s a close up of the speaking pulpit. It’s both simple and elegant at the same time.

And here is a close up of the altar and it’s detailed carvings and statues. In the lower left you can see a small opening in the back wall which represents the empty tomb of Jesus and the stone that had been rolled away.

Lutherkirche (Luther Church)

Luther Church is also located in downtown Plauen. It’s another Protestant church just a couple blocks from the Altes Rathaus or City Hall and at the top of the hill from the shopping mall and the trolley station. It’s a relatively small and quaint Baroque style church. The second oldest church in town.

Even small quaint churches in Germany are pretty amazing inside, though. The organ is beautiful. Wish I could hear it play.

This church sports a simple corner mounted speaking pulpit.

The altar room is very well lit and the Gothic winged altar is quite beautiful and intricate. It’s about 525 years old!

On the exterior wall, near the door, is this cool little peek into the historic construction of the Luther Church. The sign says: A look into history: Baroque plaster from the 18th century.

Pausaer Neighborhood

Even though I wasn’t able to prove it till about a year after my trip to Germany, I had suspected while I was there that Pausaer Straße 106 was the address of my grandfather’s family in Plauen. So I checked out that neighborhood while I was in town.

These townhouses or row houses remind me of the brownstone housing style in New York City and surrounding boroughs. 106 is the first one, the far right building with the giant Real Estate and Car Dealer ad painted on the side. Leichtkauf at the bottom of the ad means easy purchase.

Yep. This is where my grandfather grew up! Well, technically I can’t be sure that this building is over one hundred years old. But it looks about right to my untrained and unprofessional eye. If anyone out there among the InterWebs knows the exact age of this building, please let me know. It’s Pausaer Straße 106, Plauen Germany

Looks like 5 mail slots, so I guess there are 5 separate apartments inside. Which is a bit strange to me. Why wouldn’t it be an even number? What is the layout inside? Is one apartment twice the size of the rest? Is there a Zillow equivalent in Germany that can show me interior photos?!?!?

Here is the rear of the building. Very modest.

This is the row of apartments directly across the street. Very similar styles.

This church is only 2 blocks from the apartment that my grandfather grew up in. It’s called Markus Paulus church or parish. It’s an Evangelical-Lutheran church. It was originally called St. Mark’s Church when it as built back in the early 1900s. The building was not open the day I was exploring the neighborhood, so I was not able to see the interior, but there are some photos on the Wikipedia page.

Just a stones throw from where my grandfather grew up, I came across this garden park. It’s laid out into walking paths with a gazillion small land plots off the path where owners put sheds and gardens and trees and such. It’s pretty amazing. On google maps, this little garden neighborhood looks like a bunch of residential houses, but these roofs are actually small garden sheds and small cottages and the roads are actually mostly walking paths.

According to the Internet, where everything you read is true, these little garden neighborhoods, or Kleingarten, are technically called allotment gardens. They are also called community gardens or garden plots or garden colonies. They are designed to allow families who live in cities to grow their own food and to allow children to enjoy a larger outdoor space and connect with the world outside their four walls. Pretty cool idea!

Misc

Remember back in my earlier Zaulsdorf post where I ran into a cool planetary statue thingy in a small village nearby? Well the Uranus statue is located right there in Plauen. Kinda cool that I ran into both Neptune and Uranus in my travels there.

Okay, this is a reconstruction of a common postal course/milestone marker monument. It basically tells you the distance to a whole list of cities and towns. And which direction they are located. Pretty cool. Apparently these things are all over Europe. Technically they are called “post-Electoral Post Milestones“. Which sounds a bit redundant. And also repetitive.

This was a really cool and really old looking well in downtown Plauen. Basically in the private back yard/patio of a house or apartment. It looks a hundred years old to me, so I took a photo of it. It’s just a half a block from the market square that’s adjacent to the Altes Rathaus or City Hall.

Plauen has quite a rural feel especially with the rolling hills just outside of town. This photo shows some hills but I mostly took it because of the playground. I love the three-dimensionality of it. I mean check out that slide mounted on the side of that little green hill with the steps going up the side of the hill! And I bet the kids roll down that hill too!

This is the Malzhaus or Malt House. It’s just a couple blocks from the market square. You can see the Johanniskirche (St. John’s Church) towers in the background. The Malzhaus is both an old historic cellar-bar and a modern entertainment venue.

The Malzhaus has an outdoor concert stage.

Here were a few of the upcoming shows being advertised outside the Malzhaus building.

While in Germany, I kept seeing lots of these little fences mounted on all the roofs. I had no idea what they were, but I assumed it had something to do with snow. My later research revealed that they are called Snow Guards. They’ve been used for hundreds of years to prevent avalanches of snow and ice from falling onto people’s heads. Snow avalanches can also rip the gutters off a building. These snow guards allow the ice and snow to drop off in small amounts, instead of sliding off all at once. Or alternatively they just hold the snow pack there on the roof until it melts away.

This is something interesting that I noticed while inside Johanniskirche (St. John’s Church). The wooden pews are all installed on top of a raised wooden platform that is a few inches up off the floor. And there are vents running along the entire length of each pew. They actually run heat through this raised wooden platform and heat the underside of the pews! What a great idea!

I’m not sure what kind of tree this is, but it is very common in the area …

… and it was in full bloom when I was there last April.

And there was quite a bit of pollen in the air while I was there. It bothered me quite a bit. This photo shows the pollen buildup on my car after parking it near one of these trees all day.

Somebody please tell me what this is. It’s a plastic box with what looks like cat-box litter inside. Is it for melting snow on sidewalks? The label says “Building and facility management of the city Plauen. Municipal construction yard.”

This is just a cool view looking down a Plauen street with the countryside in the background.

But wait, there’s even more Germany to explore!

Stay tuned because my next blog post from my April 2018 trip to Germany (yeah, I’m way behind on posting, I know) is going to be all about the amazing food I experienced! And you don’t want to miss that!

Thanks for your interest!

Kurt

All the Leucht’s living in Plauen Germany in the early 1900s

When I visited Germany last year, I was able to explore my grandfather’s home town of Plauen. But I wasn’t completely certain of his old street address while I was there exploring . Even though I even had access to an old 1900s Plauen address book.

The reason for my uncertainty was because my grandfather was a minor and his name didn’t show up in the address book. And also because his father, Otto, had a pretty common name back then which showed up several times in the address book!

It took me a while and it was kind of tedious work, but I was able to pull all the Leucht’s from all the Plauen address books from 1903 till 1936 and map out all the households into a relatively simple spreadsheet.

Here is where I found all the old Plauen address books. They have been scanned and loaded into a German library website. Awesome work, German library website folks!!!

Here is the link to the spreadsheet that I created:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1HwCxxsztr4dIgrO6Mj9_70-jbNg46D5v

The spreadsheet is kind-of sort-of alphabetical by first name. Although when multiple Leucht’s end up living in the same household, the alphabetical order breaks down in favor of keeping households together.

I tried my best to group or section off people that were related or were roommates at some point. The light blue and the light green colors are there to show how I grouped folks together.

Let’s start by looking at Albert. In 1903, Albert lived at Pestalozzistr 22 and his trade or occupation was listed as “hdlgsgeh” which is an abbreviation, so Google Translate had trouble translating it for me.

And then between 1904 and 1914, Albert was living at Wettinstr 86 and his occupation was listed as accountant. Then Albert moved away from Plauen sometime after 1914.

Both of these Albert spreadsheet rows are colored light blue because they are showing the same person. At least in theory. There is, however, a chance that these are two different Alberts. But until we get more information, let’s just assume they are the same Albert.

Now let’s look at a more complex living situation. Jump down to Ernst’s row. In 1903, Ernst was a clerk living at Krausenstr 5. Now look in the next row. In 1904, Ernst moved in with Louis the material merchant at Wettinstr 8. Even though Louis and Earnst are not alphabetically adjacent, they lived together so I put them next to each other and color coded them in order to more easily visualize their household relationship.

Looking forward in time, Paul (another hdlgsgeh just like Albert) lives with them for a couple years. And then another Louis shows up. This second Louis is very likely the first Louis’s son! Louis junior sells potatoes for his dad, because by now the address books say that Louis senior is now a potato merchant! Some years later, Karl and Kurt both show up in the address book too as working for Louis senior. Possibly two more sons! Then as time moves forward, these sons each move out on their own. Although it looks like they continue to work for their dad. Also, they live only 2 and 3 doors away from their dad. That’s kinda sweet.

See how it tells a story of this family! Pretty cool, huh?!? Until I put this data into a spreadsheet like this, these relationships and this entire living history were both really difficult to see!

Now jump down to Gustof the weaver! Did that guy like to move around or what?!?!?

Now let’s get to the whole point of this entire exercise. My grandfather and his family’s address!!!

There were 4 separate Otto’s living in Plauen in the years that my grandfather would have been growing up in Plauen. One was listed as an embroiderer. One was listed as a “recipient of agent”, whatever that means. One was listed as a citizen, or no occupation, which could mean retired or just not working at that time. And the 4th was listed as an agent and also listed as a dairy merchant.

By mapping out all the names that entered and exited each household I was able to figure out which of these 4 households was actually my grandfather’s. It was the 4th Otto who was listed as an agent and a dairy merchant, living at Pausaer StraBe 106!

The first reason I know this is his household is that my grandfather’s mother’s name, Ida, showed up in the address book as a dairy merchant during 3 of those years. There aren’t a whole lot of women’s names showing up in these address books at this point in history. I suppose they had to be working in order to be listed. So my great grandmother must have taken up a career for a few years to help out the household. This was about the same timeframe that my grandfather left for America. I wonder if that timing is meaningful.

The second reason I know this is my grandfather’s household is that my grandfather wrote in his journal, titled My Journey To America, that his family moved to Plauen around 1900. Well, the 4th Otto didn’t actually show up in the Plauen address book till 1904, so grandpa was a few years off in his 1900 estimation. But he wrote that forward to his journal later in life so we will have to give him a pass on knowing whether he was 4 years old or 8 years old when his family actually moved to Plauen.

The third reason I know this is my grandfather’s household is that my grandfather also wrote in his journal that his dad was an insurance salesman. And one of the occupations listed in the address book for the 4th Otto was “agent”.

The fourth reason I know this is my grandfather’s household is that my dad told me that grandpa’s parents, Otto and Ida, came to America in 1926. And the 4th Otto just happens to disappear from the Plauen address books at that same time.

Any one of those reasons, or even any two of them might be arguable as coincidence. But when you take into account all four of these pieces of evidence, I think there’s a pretty high likelihood that this is the right household. Now we just need to get to the bottom of this whole dairy merchant thing. That’s news to us!

Please email me using the link at the bottom of the website or leave a blog comment below if you see anything wrong with my spreadsheet or anything wrong with my logic or if you have any more information that might be useful. Or let me know if this spreadsheet I created actually helped you track down your own Leucht ancestors in Plauen! Also, please help me with the translations that I was unable to accomplish and help me fill in the unknowns, like several of the occupations.

Thanks for your interest!

Kurt

My Trip To Germany: Plauen (Part 2)

Plauen

A few weeks ago after speaking at a software developer conference in Berlin Germany, I had the opportunity to take several personal days while there and I got to see some of the countryside!  It was pretty great!

Plauen Germany is where my grandfather, Kurt William Leucht, lived from about the age of 4 until he left for America at age 18.  Here are some more sights from Plauen as I explored the area and walked in my grandfather’s footsteps.

Friedensbrücke (Peace Bridge)

The Peace Bridge (Friedensbrücke) is a stone arch bridge built in 1905.  The longest span is 90 meters which is nearly 300 feet.  It’s one of the largest stone arch bridges in the world!  There are no older bridges in the world containing this long of an arch span!

My grandfather was 9 years old when the bridge construction was finished, so I’m certain he would have marveled at this monster.  He lived less than one mile (1.6 km) from this bridge, so he must have at least walked across it and under it as a teenager.  Here’s what the bridge looked like in 1906.

And here are a few photos that I took of the bridge while I was there.  It’s really quite impressive.  Especially when you consider when it was constructed.

It’s quite difficult to get a photo of the entire bridge.  It’s really big and there are lots of trees in the area.

The bridge is quite beautiful.  The design is very organized and geometrical, but it also has some random elements mixed in.  The bridge was badly damaged during the war, but it was restored quickly, even though that took a lot of the limited resources that were available to Plauen after the war.

Alte Elsterbrücke (Old Magpie Bridge)

The Old Magpie Bridge (Alte Elsterbrücke) near downtown Plauen is the second oldest stone bridge in Saxony and one of the oldest in Central Europe.  It was first mentioned in documentation from 1244.  The bridge has gone through many restorations over these many years.  You can definitely pick out some sections that are more modern than others.

My grandfather lived about 2 miles (3.2 km) from this old bridge.

It’s a pretty neat bridge and it’s amazing how old it is and that it’s still standing.

Old Castle Looking Structure On Hill

Just one block from downtown Plauen and one block from both town squares, overlooking the entire town, sits this old fort or castle.  I’m not sure which.  It’s obviously under restoration right now.  But I didn’t see any signage and I can’t find any information on the Internet about it either.  Strange.

Whatever it is, it looks pretty awesome.  And some of it is buried in what appears to be a hillside.  But underneath that dirt, looks to be some really old walls and rooms.  This was all completely fenced off for construction, so I couldn’t explore.  I’m interested to find out the history of this structure and what exactly tourists in the future will be able to see and explore.

Spitzenmuseum (Lace Museum)

In my previous post, I mentioned Plauen’s textile and lace manufacturing revolution in the early 1900’s.  My grandfather wrote this in his journal:

After graduating [high school], I obtained a job with Otto-Baum & Son, who manufactured and exported lace.

I’m not exactly sure what type of work he did or how long he did it, though.  While I was in Plauen, I was unable to find any listings or address for this Otto-Baum & Son company, but I’m guessing that in 1913 or 1914, when my grandfather was 17 or 18 years old, small family run lace businesses were all the rage.  The population of Plauen actually peaked in 1912 due to the textile and lace industry there.

So it would have been an absolute crime for me to skip the official Lace Museum (Spitzenmuseum) in town!  The museum has on display, under glass, beautiful antique lace pieces such as these delicate gloves and scarf:

And some amazing clothing items too.

And also this incredible 1936 wedding dress.  Sorry, I didn’t catch the dates on any of the other clothing items.  I’m a dude.  That’s my excuse.  🙂

I’m guessing that this is a tablecloth.  Very cool.  And the display case is also quite impressive!

As a dude, and also as an engineer, I was most excited to gaze at the old antique lace making machinery, as opposed to looking at the actual antique lace samples on display.  But I believe that guys and gals alike can both appreciate this historical local museum.

So this machine apparently pumped out copy after copy of the same small lace pattern segment.

Here are some examples of the small lace pattern segments so you can see what the machine above produced.  These examples are about 6 inches tall or so.

This is the same example, but much closer so you can see the detail.  Basically this detail area contains two leaves with decorative honeycomb-like ribbing.  Each leaf is about 3/4 of an inch.  Pay close attention to the very short ribs on the right that are spanning between the two leaves.

This is the hand-drawn pattern that the operator used to “program” or to drive the giant machine.  The leaves which are actually less than an inch long in real life are about 8 or 10 inches long on this pattern.  And the tiny little, just a few millimeters long, ribs that span between the two leaves are an inch or more long on this pattern.

This display shows an example of how some of the lace products had to be stitched together by hand from numerous smaller sections, like a puzzle.

Here is a smaller and portable automated lace making machine.  You can see the “programming” of this machine was performed by the long roll of punched paper tape.  Surprisingly, this punched tape programming technique had been used on looms for over a hundred years.

The punched tape has holes in it that tell the machine which needles to move up and down and when to do so.

Here is a close up shot of the linear array of sewing needles on this portable machine that were programmed by the punched tape.

I thought this photo was cool so I took a picture of it.  This photo shows the prevalence of factories in Plauen at the height of the textile and lace manufacturing boom.

This display was pretty neat.  This particular lace example is very very textured and even three-dimensional.  Amazing.

And here is an example of an antique and automated embroidery machine.  From this angle, it looks basically like an old sewing machine.

But from this angle, you can clearly see the punched paper tape roll that is fed through the machine to move and control the stitching action.  I think the sewing machine stays stationary and the hoop with the fabric gets moved around.  Pretty cool.

And here is the final product from the automated embroidery machine.  Very nice.  Especially for the time period that this technology was invented and used.

Antique Store

I passed a nice looking local antique store on my way to the town square and I thought it would be fun to check it out and to look for some items that were from the time my grandfather was living in the area.

I considered buying a piece of lace from the early 1900’s, but they were all out of my price range.  This antique store had several beautiful samples, though.

I think they were from the worlds fair or something like that.  Check out the cool lead seal with the crown embedded in it.  That dates it before the first world war, I think the store owner told me.

There were some really cool items in this antique store, but I eventually landed on a vintage harmonica.  Apparently my grandfather came over to America with a harmonica in his pocket.  On July 22nd of 1914, my grandfather’s first day on the ship that took him to America, he wrote this in his journal:

We arrived at 9:00. We were invited to board the ship “Vaterland”. […] We noticed that hundreds of people were waving their handkerchiefs and shouting farewell greetings to us. We did the same.  […]  The German homeland disappeared in the distance. […]  At 3:00 the call to coffee came.  After that, there was more activity on deck. Music was made with an accordion, while some Bohemian country people were performing their dances.  […]  At 7:00, the bells chimed for the evening meal. It became stormier and the ship swayed a little. Despite the disturbance, there was still dancing on the deck. I added to the concert with my harmonica. I went to bed at 11:00.

So I thought it might be cool to own an authentic German harmonica from that time period.  Here’s the one that I purchased.  It’s not quite as old as my grandfather’s, but it’s still very cool.

The case says Liebchen’s Gruss which means Sweetie’s Greeting.  And it has a brightly colored sticker showing “sweetie” waving something in the air.  Possibly a harmonica.  The case also says Made In Germany and “Ges. gesch.” which means registered or patented.

The actual harmonica is pretty basic.  It’s in good shape, with just a couple spots of rust and no wear marks to be seen.  “Liebchen’s Gruss” is etched into both sides.  I’m happy with my purchase and I’m glad I noticed the antique store and decided to check it out.

But wait, there’s even more Plauen to explore!

You haven’t quite seen all of Plauen yet!  In my next post, we’ll explore some churches and we’ll also explore the neighborhood where my grandfather grew up!  So stay tuned!

Thanks for your interest!

Kurt

My Trip To Germany: Plauen

Plauen

A few weeks ago after speaking at a software developer conference in Berlin Germany, I had the opportunity to take several personal days while there and I got to see some of the countryside!  It was pretty great!

After visiting the tiny little village of Zaulsdorf Germany near the Czech border, I traveled about 30 minutes northwest to the town of Plauen Germany.  This is where my grandfather, Kurt William Leucht, lived from about the age of 4 until he left for America at age 18.

Coincidentally, driving from Zaulsdorf to Plauen is very much like driving from Allentown to Peoria, which is my old stomping grounds growing up.  Plauen actually reminds me of Peoria in several ways.  But it’s a smaller, less industrialized version of PeoriaPlauen has about 80% of the landmass of Peoria, but only has about 50% of the population of Peoria.  So it’s smaller and the population is way more spread out than Peoria.

In the early 1900’s Plauen actually peaked in its population.  In 1912, when my grandfather was living there at age 16, the population grew to 128,000 people, due to the peak of textile and lace manufacturing there.  That population of 128,000 in Plauen in 1912 was more than Peoria’s population is today!  Amazing!

Downtown

Plauen feels very safe and friendly.  The downtown area of Plauen has modern shops and malls.  There are many rolling hills in the area and the downtown strip, where cars are not allowed, is on quite a slope.  It gives this strip a unique character.

Here is the reverse angle, looking downhill.  I felt quite at home in this downtown strip.  I walked around for a while checking out all the stores and shops.  I imagined my grandfather walking around this same strip about a hundred years ago.  Several of the buildings appeared to be over a hundred years old, so they were in place when my grandfather lived here.

This cute little British phone booth stood out like a sore thumb.  It’s called Alice’s Book Box and it’s a free book exchange system.  The idea is that if you take a book, you replace it with a new book.  Very fun.

This photo is just a close up of some cool architecture detail that caught my eye downtown.  I tried to find a date plaque on this building but I came up empty.  The address is Rädelstraße 2, 08523 Plauen, Germany.

Town Squares

This unique old building is the Altes Rathaus or City Hall.  The building has been restored several times over the years, but it’s been around since the late 1300’s.  It overlooks a town square or market.

Here is one of the markets or squares in the middle of downtown.  They contain lots of small businesses and shops and outdoor eateries and cafes.  A very nice area to hang out.

This statue is pretty famous to the area.  It’s called Vater und Sohn or Father and Son.  This statue memorializes the local famous comic strip creator Kurt Erich Ohser, who created the popular Vater und Sohn comic strip in the 1930s under the pseudonym e. o. plauen.

Here is another market or square that actually had local vendors set up and selling goods when I walked through it.  You can see the old city hall at the far corner of this market.

Misc

This photo/camera store in downtown Plauen caught my eye because it claims to have been in business since 1856.  It also caught my eye because my grandfather was into photography and especially videography in his later years.  Did this photo shop in downtown Plauen get him started in that hobby, I wonder?

Sadly, this family owned photo business closed just a few months ago.  But apparently they ran from 1856 till 2017, which is quite an impressive run.  Especially for a small family run business.

The local theatre building in Plauen is pretty impressive.  It hosts musical theater, drama, ballet and symphonies.  It opened in 1898, right before my grandfather and his family moved to Plauen.

I wonder what shows or events my grandfather saw in this theatre while growing up here in Plauen.  My parents and my sister and I are all very much into musical theatre and I wonder if any of that interest started right here in this building way back in the early 1900s.

My grandfather was very artistic and also quite musical.  In his journal, he mentioned that he had become a good tenor singing in his church in Peoria.  At age 20 he took a job painting scenery at a theatre in Peoria.  His scenery painting gig also allowed him to act on stage occasionally for the troupe.  And he acted quite a bit for the Peoria Cinema Club that he became very active in later in life.  This Plauen theatre could have sparked some of that creativity and theatre interest in him.  Although I’ll never know details like these until I talk to my grandfather in heaven, it’s always fun to imagine and to speculate.

But wait, there’s more Plauen to explore!

You haven’t seen all of PlauenMy next post will focus on some pretty cool old stuff that I came across in my travels!  So stay tuned!

Thanks for your interest!

Kurt