In Search of Wieses: Fehmarn, Germany

Since it has been awhile since I’ve done any international travel, I decided it was time to start exploring again. This also seemed like an opportune time since I recently finished my year-long internship in Hillsboro, Illinois, graduated with my MS from Western Illinois University, and am currently in the middle of a fruitless job search.

In talking to my mom, she mentioned again how she always thought it would be neat to go to Germany – and I said, “OK, let’s go.” Fast forward a few months and here we are in Germany, trying to find our roots. Using FamilySearch and other genealogical information, we were able to find out where exactly(ish) our ancestors came from in Germany and began to plan our trip around those places. The first place we visited was the island of Fehmarn, the ancestral home of the Wieses (my maternal grandfather’s family).

Fehmarn is an island located just off the northeastern coast of Germany in the Baltic Sea. This island is a popular summer destination, and its claim to fame is that it was the site of Jimi Hendrix’s last concert. Looking through the available information on both our family history and the island in general, we decided to stay in Burg auf Fehmarn and make a day trip to Puttgarten and Bannesdorf, where several of the Wieses were born, married, and died.

 

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Fehmarn countryside

We arrived in Hamburg and easily got into the town center and the main train station. In order to get to Fehmarn, we needed to transfer at Lubeck. We got to Lubeck no problem but ended up getting on a train going to Copenhagen that only made limited stops – and Burg auf Fehmarn was not one of them. So we got off this second train at Oldenburg in Holstein and hung out at the train station for a while before catching a train the last 20 minutes to Fehmarn. The countryside around the area was very peaceful, and in many ways reminscent of Iowa: flat and dotted with small towns and farms. It also looked like Iowa in an unexpected way: large numbers of huge, modern windmalls. Finally, we arrived in Burg and realized why there were so many windmills that always seemed to be turning. The weather was cold but not unbearable, but the wind made it seem that much colder.

 

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Fehmarn Weihnachtwochen

After a late lunch at the Pfannkuchenhaus (roughly Pancake Houseand had our first real
taste of Fehmarnsche food. After checking into our hotel and freshening up, we headed out into town. Luckily for us, unlike most German Christmas markets, the Weihnachtswochen in Fehmarn was still open for the season. We stopped by the market and shopped a bit, including drinking a cup of gluwien, the tradtional German hot spiced wine. The Fehmarn Weihnachtswochen is smaller than many Christmas markets, but featured a good variety of booths, the majority of which were selling food and drinks from Germany, Finland, Denmark, and Sweden.

Since we ate a late lunch, we decided to stick witha light supper at the market and tried our first taste of currywurst. Currywurst is incredibly popular throughout Germany, and consists of a bratwurst sliced into pieces coated in a spiced ketchup sauce and curry powder. It was pretty good, but not something I am eager to have again. However, currywurst vary a lot by place and by creator, so I might have to give it another try before leaving Germany.

After a long day (two days?) of travel, we decided to call it an early night and went back to our hotel in order to be ready to start our next adventure in the morning.

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