Saturday, December 5, 2020

Finding Family History and Christmas Again in Germany

Finding Family History and Christmas Again in Germany 

My Top Christmas Destination shares my family history, travel, and local communities engage with family owned businesses surrounded with amazing architecture - some reproduced. 

[My short story first appeared with eight other bloggers in a December 2016 collaboration article "9 Travel Bloggers Share Their Top Christmas Destinations" from Brian Ballman. The article is not online at this time.] 

I chose to visit Germany in December for these reasons – my family history – my Grandmother grew up 100 years ago in Ruhland, near Dresden, Germany, and after losing my parents a few years ago I needed an extra dose of our family, traditions, and festivities.

Dresden, Germany Christmas Markets 2014 Picture by Donna West

I love living in the California, I often miss this special time of the season of the outdoor lights, aroma and scents in the freezing cold night air, and festivities of the small communities when growing up in the Middle West USA. I chose this particular German Christmas Market Tour departing Frankfurt with the final destination of Berlin where I stayed an extra week with my cousins many who I never met before in person and walked the sidewalks beside my Grandmother's spirit of a 100 years ago. 

My Grandmother picture I carried on my trip. Donna West

In side our family church, Ruhland, Germany 100 years -
Picture by Donna West and Cousin

I had the opportunity to see the popular larger markets in towns like Frankfurt, Rothenberg, and Nuremburg. The special likeness about these is that each community has an individuality.  For example, Nuremburg is where I eat an unhealthy dose of Lebukuken (gingerbread cookies). I found the smaller communities like Eisenach may have a different regional type of Gluhwein recipe or German sausages.  I walked through Wartburg Castle that was decorated with a medieval Christmas setting and saw local merchants selling handmade wares like wooden string puppets and there were outdoor wood fires to keep warm by.

Architecture and String Puppet Merchant
Inside Wartsburg Castle Picture by Donna West

My favorite is the Dresden Striezelmarkt which is one of the oldest German markets. Perhaps it might be a favorite because I inherited a 1930s black and white postcard from Dresden, Germany looking across the Elbe River at the church and government buildings. I was entranced with the history of Dresden  – I enjoyed seeing the historical architecture of the Zwinger Palace, Semper Opera House and the Church of Our Lady even though most of these buildings were destroyed in war. Yet the buildings are now re-created for us to enjoy.  

The markets were scattered around these buildings. I discovered many of the small business merchants did not know how to speak English and I learned to use my sign language to communicate as I purchased small treasures and gifts. People were friendly and a kind gentleman who spoke German walked over and helped me talk to one of the merchants.  I saw a man, merchant, wind up by hand an old wooden merry-go-round for children to ride on and tasted my first hot white chocolate when I went inside a chocolate store to warm up.  

Wooden Merry-Go-Round, Dresden, Germany 2014 Picture by Donna West

My tip is don’t forget to check the schedule of Christmas pageant music in the newly renovated Church of our Lady. Our group sang holiday songs while riding on the cable car on a Funicular Railway to our dinner on a hilltop overlooking Dresden where we of course saw  fabulous views of the city.  My favorite memories was the tour of the regional Christmas cake bakery, a Dresdner Stollen bakery and talking with the bakers.

Tasting Chocolate in Dresden - Donna West

Warming up from the cold air - Donna West

I am inspired by both paternal and maternal Grandparents stories as my research and talks show how they moved to different locations in their own past life times. It is our personal history now we share authentically.    

Finding Family History 

Let's make a difference through our personal stories now and record them now.   

Be a part of our complimentary exclusive Lighthouse traveler group and receive deep insights by email into your personal heritage journey and local community history globally.  Each personal heritage journey trip you go on you will receive a family group sheet of your ancestry family tree.  Tap and join today

Fröhliche Weihnachten  and  ~ My  Familienwurzelnand (Family Roots)  Stories ~ The Fun Guru Tour

Highlights of the
Family History Trip

Monday, November 23, 2020

Record Your Gratitude Stories 2020

Embrace the past, create your new stories. Downtown Santa Clara

What are you Grateful for? 

This year, Thanksgiving will be different. Many of us will not be able to gather with all of our loved ones in person. Many elders will feel isolated and alone, and need to find ways to connect while remaining socially distanced.

Let's begin by sharing our gratitude stories.  

These are short stories of us and our families and what we grateful for and giving thanks for each us.  

Please join me and thousands of people telling stories we are grateful for.  I have my StoryCorps account and I will support you in recording, uploading and sharing your story  with thousands of others. 

You may record your own story or purchase a recording for a love one.  All you have to do is talk in the microphone.  

Begin with our Gratitude Story 

What:  Record your gratitude story or what you are grateful for.  This is 15 minutes for $47 audio interview, from today to November 23 to December 30, 2020.

1) Email me to schedule a time for our recording.  The information I need is your name, email, and city/state you live in.  Or complete send me your name and email at Contact Us, Lighthouse Travel & Tours.   Direct mail me on Instagram @MeetDonnaW.  Payment is through Venmo or PayPal. 

2) We will talk for 10 minutes before the recording choose 1 / 3 questions to prompt you during the story. We may determine the privacy setting for you at this time. I will email you the link to the platform to record the story.  

3) Record your 15 minute gratitude story that you may share as a gift this year with family and friends. Stories may be between 15 to 30 minutes. 

4) Email me a choice of picture to share with one picture you choose and gratitude story will be recorded with me. 

5) I take care of the details and upload the audio story and picture and manage the platform for you.  

Project Stories are a part of my Gratitude Community that I created and archived with StoryCorps nonprofit and American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.  

Email me to set up an appointment.

Why me? I am Donna West, a 20 year woman business entrepreneur, a business and community historian with 20 years of corporate and tourism experience who listens deeply to people’s needs and supports everyday people in our communities seen, heard, and valued with their personal stories. I am changing the way our history appears by recording these authentic stories with truths and positive impact to our society with my launch of Project Stories to do this.  

I share my own 2017 interview conducted by two Santa Clara University students.  Discovering Family History with Family History

Do you want to purchase my photography prints?  Tap here to see. I am adding new pictures weekly. 

In Gratitude from the Fun Tour Guru ~ Stay safe and healthy during COVID-19  everyone!

Join my small collaboration groups - Helping Women Document Their Stories   Revel Gatherings

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Street Art and Sweet Tea

Why is Street Art so Popular?

My recent research of downtown best practices provides the opportunity to appreciate local street art murals.  I plan my trips around visiting street art.  

I am grateful Santa Cruz, CA has many artist works around their community.  It was fun to explore the street artists on my past trip in Berlin, Germany. 

Every Picture Tells a Story

Street art is an important part of history and identity for many downtown's and sometimes even has the ability to breathe life into communities.  It is a mystery and expression of the community.   

Street art may tell the story of the local downtown community  

If time be sure to look up the artists and talk to them about their stories. People are becoming more open-minded to urban and street art and appreciating where this art form has come from. 

Please ask about virtual history walks and educational insights of Downtown Santa Clara, CA.  

What is the difference of Street Art and Public Art?  

I learned how street artists get inspiration from graffiti art. Every picture and artwork has a story to tell. This is a street art mural from my 2014 trip visiting Berlin, Germany.

Dive into the history behind street art, tracking the story from prehistoric cave paintings to the present day Black Lives Matters murals.  A virtual tour and field trip includes a look at the connection between street art, public art, and graffiti, and how street art connects with politics and social justice.

Berlin, Germany 2014 Courtesy of Meet Donna W

This is a Street Art mural in Downtown Santa Cruz I love driving past. 

Street Art, Santa Cruz, CA Courtesy of Meet Donna W

Every picture has a story to tell. It is about people seen, heard, and valued in local communities.   

Sincerely thank you. ~ The Fun Tour Guru

Pictures taken by Meet Donna W.  This is an link tour  purchase of our Virtual History Walks and Talks.  Please join me. 

If you want to dive deeper into street art, read Top 5 Reasons Street Art is Important.   I do not have a relationship with this blogger, I found it on Google as a anonymous source to share.