Archive for germany

Heartfelt Thank You For Care Package 67 Years Later

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

August 21

Dolores Petit is on the Trip of a Lifetime back to her roots in northern Germany. On the second day of her visit with relatives in the hamlet of Steinfeld, she suddenly came face to face with a woman whom she has never met. However, she gave that woman something so special, so important and yet so vital more than 67 years ago. She gave her a used dress.

That dress was in a care package sent by Dolores’ grandparents to relatives in Steinfeld in the hard years after the end of World War II. The relatives had no young girls at the time, and so they gave the dress donated by a 9 year-old Dolores to their neighbor’s daughter. That little girl, now all grown up, came to thank Dolores in the home of Fritz and Ursela Schmätjen.

Gerlinda Schwelgin remembers clearly the impact that this dress had on her growing up years in a country that was short on everything. She wore it to school in the warmer months, and a second garment she called a ‘uniform,’ also from Dolores, to school and special events in the cooler months. Tears were shed at the happy reunion. Hands were clasped and they did not want to let each other go.

To insert the writer into this little story for a moment. I have witnessed countless family reunions over the past 25 years, but this was absolutely the most heartwarming meeting. There was not a dry eye in the house and the lump in my throat appears whenever I think of this exceptional meeting.

Dolores Petit, left, meets Gerlinda Schwelgin for the first time. A dress donated by Dolores' family in the hard years after World War II made a huge impact on Gerlinda and she came to thank Dolores.

Dolores Petit, left, meets Gerlinda Schwelgin for the first time. A dress donated by Dolores’ family in the hard years after World War II made a huge impact on Gerlinda and she came to thank Dolores.

The address labels from one of the care packages has been kept all of this time by the Schmältjen family.

The address labels from one of the care packages has been kept all of this time by the Schmältjen family.

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August 16

This morning a long-awaited journey finally started for Dolores (Braun) Petit, who has deep roots in Germany but who never had the chance to come due to hard feelings resulting from World War II. Her husband was a fighter in the French Resistance as a young teenager and his father was kept in a concentration camp. So, Germany was always off the table as a destination, although she has visited relatives in France several times. Now a widow, her journey began with arrival this morning at Frankfurt’s Airport after a ride on ‘the biggest airplane I have ever been on in my life.’ (A stretch 747 from Washington DC)
After a long day of rain the sun came out so that Dolores could enjoy the views as we traveled north to our overnight stop in Hannoverisches Münden, about two hours north of Frankfurt with a stop on the way for ‘Zweite Frühstuck,’ or second breakfast of a fresh plum tart with a tall latte macchiato at a bakery in Kirchheim, Hessen.

Her first cousin should have also been arriving today but illness prevented her from making the trip. (A testimonial to the value of Trip Insurance)

Dolores Petit has waited at least 50 years for this trip and today it started. We will be visiting cousins in the Steinfeld (Zeven) area as well as some tourist highlights on her Bucket List.

Dolores Petit has waited at least 50 years for this trip and today it started. We will be visiting cousins in the Steinfeld (Zeven) area as well as some tourist highlights on her Bucket List.

Already Dreaming of 2016 Adventures

Monday, August 11th, 2014

August 11

Steve and Debbie plan ahead. Their April, 2014 trip came as a result of their meeting us in Chicago at the January, 2013 Travel and Adventure Show. Now they have just locked in their April-May, 2016 trip to Germany and Austria. We will be visiting Berlin, Dresden, Rothenburg, Nürnberg, Berchtesgaden and Salzburg and the Rhein River Valley with Bacharach.

For the Trip of a Lifetime – it is never too early to start planning. Then you have the fun of thinking about the trip as the calendar pages float on by.

Steve and Debbie arrived in style to their Venice, Italy hotel via private water taxi soon after landing from Chicago this past April. Now they have their sights set on Deutschland, brats, great beer and alpine majesty plus the little back roads that we know and love. Their trip for spring, 2016 is already reserved.

Steve and Debbie arrived in style to their Venice, Italy hotel via private water taxi soon after landing from Chicago this past April. Now they have their sights set on Deutschland, brats, great beer and alpine majesty plus the little back roads that we know and love. Their trip for spring, 2016 is already reserved.

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Visiting Cousins in Grafshaft Veldenz, Germany

Monday, August 11th, 2014

August 11

Family history enthusiast Carl Tiedt stands in the doorway of his great-grandmother's house in Burgen, Germany.

Family history enthusiast Carl Tiedt stands in the doorway of his great-grandmother’s house in Burgen, Germany.

Give us 11 months to prepare for a family history trip and you just never know what you are going to experience. How about stepping foot into the house where your great-grandmother lived as a little girl? What about wine tasting with cousins, who by the way, also make that wine? What about seeing a church that dates back to the 10th century? Meeting the last remaining member of your ancestral line in this part of the world?

All of that, and more, were experiences enjoyed by Carl Tiedt and his wife Barbara during a whirlwind day, August 7, when we spent most of the day with his cousins and other family in and around the hamlet of Burgen, tucked away in a quiet valley just off the Mosel River of Germany.

Professional researcher Roland Geiger, far left, shows members of Carl Tiedt's extended family in Veldenz plots of land where their ancestors grew grapes more than 125 years ago.

Professional researcher Roland Geiger, far left, shows members of Carl Tiedt’s extended family in Veldenz plots of land where their ancestors grew grapes more than 125 years ago.

Planning started for Carl and Barbara’s trip in late August, 2013. Soon after, Carl was put in touch with Roland Geiger, a professional genealogist based in St. Wendel, Saarland. Roland has been doing consulting work for European Focus Private Tours for more than a decade, with a super track record of success. Roland did not let anyone down this time, either. Not only did he find two ancestral houses, but he also located exact plots of land owned by Carl’s ancestors before they emigrated to America. A highlight of the day was toasting those ancestors, and current cousins, with wine made by the Müller family on the edge of a vineyard once worked by Carl’s ancestors before their emigration in the 1880s.

Martin Müller pours Barbara Tiedt a glass of wine and Carl drinks to his ancestors with cousin Jörg Müller, Martin's father, at his side.

Martin Müller pours Barbara Tiedt a glass of wine and Carl drinks to his ancestors with cousin Jörg Müller, Martin’s father, at his side.

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The hamlet of Burgen has a population of 600. Many of them are involved in the production of wine.

The hamlet of Burgen has a population of 600. Many of them are involved in the production of wine.

Thanks for Third Time with European Focus Private Tours

Friday, August 1st, 2014

August 1

Tim S. and his family just returned to Arizona after their third trip with European Focus since 2005. We appreciate our return guests! Here is a small selection of photos from their epic journey, which covered more than 3,000 kilometers in four countries over 12 days. (Not our normal pace, but necessary in order to fit in everything on their wish list)

At the historic Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin, the former crossing place for allies into East Berlin.

At the historic Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin, the former crossing place for allies into East Berlin.

Amazingly beautiful and getting better with each passing year as they rebuild following the devastation of World War II and then four decades of neglect under Communists. Dresden is one of our favorite places. The view from our usual hotel is inspiring.

Amazingly beautiful and getting better with each passing year as they rebuild following the devastation of World War II and then four decades of neglect under Communists. Dresden is one of our favorite places. The view from our usual hotel is inspiring.

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The best way to see Prague if you are limited on time is by one of the 'classic' jalopies which run around the city. We had a nice tour on the morning of our departure, including a ride up to the castle.

The best way to see Prague if you are limited on time is by one of the ‘classic’ jalopies which run around the city. We had a nice tour on the morning of our departure, including a ride up to the castle.

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We spent three nights just chilling out in Berchtesgaden, where the scenery is spectacular.

We spent three nights just chilling out in Berchtesgaden, where the scenery is spectacular.

We took a break from the dark side of Nürnberg with a lunch break at the Guldenen Stern, one of the oldest sausage kitchens in Germany. Lindsey did her best to try and like the beer. The other three sure didn't mind it!

We took a break from the dark side of Nürnberg with a lunch break at the Guldenen Stern, one of the oldest sausage kitchens in Germany. Lindsey did her best to try and like the beer. The other three sure didn’t mind it!

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Lunch in a special spot above the Mosel River and a visit to Germany's best castle wrapped up the adventure.

Lunch in a special spot above the Mosel River and a visit to Germany’s best castle wrapped up the adventure.

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More than half of the trips that we design and lead each season are with guests coming back for another adventure. We love to spoil our guests! Come and see for yourself and experience the European Focus difference.

Last-Minute Tour Opportunity in Glorious September

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

This has not happened in more than a decade – we have an opening in the beautiful month of September! Tour Germany, or Ireland, or Austria or France during this lovely month. Dates of availability are between the 5th and the 21st. Don’t wait! Take this last-minute opportunity and fulfill your European travel dreams now.

Explore historic towns in Bavaria for example

Explore historic towns in Bavaria for example

Welcome Back Third Time

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

July 16

We make coffee stops special. We stopped in the half-timbered town of Alsfeld, Hessen for coffee after leaving the airport this morning.

We make coffee stops special. We stopped in the half-timbered town of Alsfeld, Hessen for coffee after leaving the airport this morning.

Tim S. and his family along with new wife Mary just arrived from Arizona to begin their 12-day adventure in Germany. Mary has never been to Germany, and she has roots here, so this is an extra special trip. Tim and his family last traveled with European Focus in 2005 and 2006. We are very happy to have this wonderful family back on this side of the Atlantic, and look forward to our adventures in Berlin, Dresden, Prague, Berchtesgaden, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Regensburg and the Rhein Valley around Bacharach.

Germany Small Group Tours Available for Booking Now

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

June 24

Thinking of a small group tour to Germany, Austria or the surrounding areas? Book now through our easy online form. It only takes a few minutes!

We take you to the places that the big bus tours skip.

We take you to the places that the big bus tours skip.

Guiding tours in European for over 20 years