As I stepped off the plane I knew that I was in a different world. The air was cleaner and fresher. I felt like I could actually taste the mountains in the air. Germany, I have arrived. I felt this great country wrap me in its arms and welcomed me. My uncle was getting married to a German woman in five days, and that was the purpose of our travels. We grabbed a cab and took a one hour ride to the little hotel we were staying in. Alfeld was the name of the little village we were privileged to spend a week in.
Seven hills circled around the small town, almost sheltering it from the outside world. Those hills actually inspired Robert Walser to write his book Schneewitchen, or better known as Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Every part of this town had some history or some type of story. Even the hotel we stayed in, Raeuber Lippoldskrug, was named after a well known legend. Apparently a long time ago a beautiful woman lived in the village. Every man loved her. Well the day finally came when a wealthy, young gentleman asked for her hand, she accepted. One day a robber rode through, and kidnapped her.
Outside of the town there’s a small mountain filled with deep caves that look as though they led to the center of the earth. He stole the woman from her husband to be, and hid her in these caves for years. She became his “wife and even gave birth to his children. The woman was miserable. After many years the father of the woman found her. His search party took the kids and the woman one night when the robber was gone. When the bandit returned they set the “cave home” on fire. The robber died and the woman was finally free.
The story was so bizarre and had me wondering if such a place existed. I was so curious I walked a good couple of miles down the road till I found the caves. They were remarkable. I was surprised they even existed. The tunnel system was amazing, but I was afraid to go too far. I felt as though I would get pulled into this labyrinth and never be able to escape. When my mini adventure was done I returned to our hotel.
The owners were benevolent in every aspect. They were warm and welcoming, even though they spoke very little English. This small village revolved around a giant factory in the center of the town. One could see the smoke stacks from miles away. This factory however was environmentally friendly so the air still had that freshness that I’ve only been able to find in Germany. I felt as though I had fallen into a fairy tale world. The sidewalks in the town were cobble stone, the countryside stretched for miles, horses dotted all of the fields, and about an hour away there was a large castle that sat proudly on the side of a mountain. The castle looked like an old, wise man that watched over his flock of sheep. Everything was beautiful and historic. The people even had that story book attitude. The villagers were kind and their smiles stretched across their faces like the Great Wall of China spreads through China.
Alfeld will always hold a special place in my heart, and I wait for the day that my children will be able to explore this wonderful village with me.
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