Sunday, May 23, 2010

Cuckoo Clocks in Furtwangen

By Claire
We are feeling so at home here at Camping Hirzberg. Turns out it is not only a 3-day holiday weekend, but also a 2 week break from school. The campground is packed but somehow manages to feel like we are living in a wonderful community of like-minded souls. People are hanging out in the sunshine drinking beer or wine, kids are happily playing, and some are getting their breakfast cappuccino and rolls from reception and enjoying it at the outdoor seating. Chuck picked up our previously ordered fresh rolls early this morning.

Once again, Rick Steves came through for us. We wanted to do a Sunday drive through the Black Forest today and not only did he have a nicely laid out plan but he even mentioned the Deutsches Uhrenmusem (Clock museum), €4, in the small town of Furtwangen. The drive was beautiful, even through Höllental (Hell Valley). The narrow, dark valley apparently made people think of it as Hell. We found it beautiful on this sunny day, wishing we were in a convertible.

Better than billboards

We arrived in Furtwangen, parking easily. As I was pointing out the parking permit dispenser, a nice man walking by stopped and assured us in his limited English that today was free parking. How nice. We noticed tulips blooming all over town.

I stopped dead when I saw this very interesting vehicle, part bicycle, part electric car. It's called a Twike. There are far better photos on the web site.

The Clock Museum was wonderful, beginning with the smiling woman who sold us our tickets and gave us each a booklet in English to help us understand the exhibits. She also mentioned that there would be a demonstration of a musical clock in a few minutes. While we waited, we examined this monumental clock with automata, calendar, organ and carillon. It was built from 1859 to 1866.

The demonstration was a delight. Various figures popped out and walked around, death rang the bell after a baby, then a young man, a man and finally an old man appeared. This fantastic "clock" from the 1880s did just about everything.

Later, while I was studying a clock that mimicked a man slaughtering a cow every hour on the hour, a woman came over and asked if we spoke English. Apparently there was now going to be a demonstration of the musical instruments which had been announced in German. She went out of her way to find us and inform us, then led us downstairs.

She apologized for not speaking English very well and we agreed that music is music. She did fill in with some English when she could. This coin-operated juke box was really impressive.

It was almost outdone by this elaborate 1925 player with movable parts including the woman's flexible arm tapping the bell pole up and down and the xylophone playing beneath her.

Looks like these kinds of instruments went on the road.

There was even a player piano that included a mechanical orchestra. What fun!

We headed back through the 4 floors of this small museum (I think there were 20 people in the museum) and I noticed some children carrying a sheet of paper while searching out clocks and checking them on the list. We also saw a couple of teenage girls playing with some large blocks with pictures of clocks on all sides. There really was so much to see.

The clock industry of the black Forest had been organized as a cottage trade for some time. Although division of labor began on a broad scale from the 18th century, there still were no factories. Every master artisan, and that included women, remained independent, working in her own workshop.

Early world clock, just what we need inside Homer

Maybe this would be more convenient

In the Black Forest it was customary, especially in the 19th century, to give the bride and groom a clock for their wedding. (I wonder what they did when they received duplicates? I mean, how do you exchange it for a blender?). With their names on the dial, that of the groom at the top (of course), the bride’s name below, the clock became a personalized gift. This clock would show both good and bad times in marriage.

I thought this was interesting--early marketing on the road.

How about this alarm clock?

They even had a cute video of an old ad for a "modern" alarm clock, exclaiming the advantages of the new style.

This American ad for cuckoo clocks was fun to see.

And here in the home of cuckoo clocks, an entire wall of them.

Hourglasses and candle clocks were used to set time limits. When the sand had finished flowing through an hourglass or a candle had burned itself out, a sermon would have to end, a classroom lesson would be over, or a verdict would have to be reached.

The ever-present threat of disease and war were constant reminders to people of the fleeting nature of human life. In popular paintings, ornately decorated tabletop clocks on one side, candles and hourglasses on the other, depict the contrast between the pursuit of temporary pleasure and the certainty of death.

We finished up with a room full of modern and space age clocks.

Returning to the front desk to turn in our English booklets, I asked the woman if there was a good place to get Black Forest Cake. She happily offered to take us there since she was headed in that direction. We walked out together and when we complimented her on the museum and the town she told us that it has a population of 9,000 with 4,000 international students. The museum was right next to the University of Applied Sciences and they have a very strong exchange program and partner universities. We said goodbye in front of the local Konditeri, entering with a smile on our faces. What a great town this is!

Nice fountain near the local Konditeri

We felt it was our duty to taste test another version of Black Forest cake; it is our gift to you so you'll know exactly where to go to find the best. Because we did. Everything about this day made us smile, including our cappuccinos.

And the winner is:

This cake was even lighter than yesterday's, but had more of a sour cherry presence. Notice the wide layer of whipped cream. We were audibly moaning and didn't even miss the lack of Kirschwasser (the clear liquor distilled from tart cherries).

We recovered back at Homer in the warm afternoon, then made our way about 100 feet to the Gasthaus next door (with an entrance from the campground) for draft beer and currywurst with pommes frites.

Currywurst with pommes frites

Second beer--ummmm gut!

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? ~ Robert Lamm, from the rock band Chicago


Bob said...

Hey Guys,
I shared this one with JoAnna and she remarked,"I've been there.
We are set for a Mediterranean cruise in Sept. starting in Barcelona. I expect you still might be there. No need to come back here. Chicken Little was right.

Chuck and Claire said...

Hi Bob,
It's a small world, after all. Did she try the Black Forest Cake?
We will want to hear about the cruise; but, we will be back by the time you leave.
We are returning to put our very full suitcases under the sky, for support; hopefully, Chicken Little can be denied.

Pat in Santa Cruz said...

This trip to the Clock Museum has been great fun!! Thank you for sharing so many photos. I have a friend whose boyfriend is a "master clock guy" -- he had to hit every clock place in Spain on our trip. I copied and pasted your blog w/comments and photos for him. I know he will really enjoy it!
The black forest cake looked sooooo yummy.
And now you are in France....yikes, time is marching on.
I've seen something like that "twike" here in SC but didn't realize there was an electric component to it. Interesting.

Carol said...

Only 1 word to describe the clock museum...COOL!!!