Puppentour™ - The Doll Tour Leaders

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Puppentour™ Journal of 1996
By Mary B. Lytle
Copyright © 1996-2014 by Mary B. Lytle. All rights reserved.

Shortly after our arrival in Munich, we boarded our deluxe, air-conditioned touring coach and were quickly on our way to the Chiemsee, Bavaria's largest lake. There, on the island of Herreninsel, we toured Mad Ludwig's majestic replica of Louis XIV's palace at Versailles. The day's final destination was the lovely Austrian city of Salzburg. That evening we dined on Austrian specialities on the terrace of our charming country inn as we gazed upon the late sunset.

Salzburg PanoramaThe next day began with a tour through the unsurpassed collections of wooden dolls and toys in the Spielzeugmuseum des Salzburger (Toy Museum of Salzburg.) We saw an old, silent "flick" documenting this cottage industry, and were then provided with materials to make our own wooden toys. That afternoon, we strolled through the old city with our guide, and rode the funicular to Hohensalzburg Fortress where we captured a stunning view of the Alps.

Glockenspiel in MuenchenIn Munich, we were charmed by the Spielzeugmuseum im Alten Rathausturm (Toy Museum in the Old Town Hall Tower.) Wonderful antique treasures are exhibited in rooms that radiate from the spiral staircase. On the Marienplatz, we delighted in the Glockenspiel, lunched in the open air market, and then boarded our coach for a tour of the city, including the elegant Nymphenburg Palace and Gardens. That evening found us dining in a famous Munich beer hall, complete with an "oompah" band and Bavarian slap dancers.

Next our coach brought us to Nuremberg for a trip through the Spielzeugmuseum der Stadt Nürnberg (Toy Museum of the City of Nuremberg) housing one of the most comprehensive collections of toys in the world. The museum was celebrating its 25th anniversary with a special show and sale. We were thrilled by the profusion of dolls, doll accessories, miniatures, teddy bears, and toys for sale - all antique!

Pegnitz View in NuernbergThe next day we toured the city, including the courtroom where the Nuremberg Trials were held, a fascinating medieval cemetary where Albrecht Dürer is buried, and spectacular landmarks in the historic and picturesque walled-city. The afternoon afforded ample opportunity to explore Nuremberg's multitude of wonderful shops.

The unparalleled Coburger Puppenmuseum (Coburg Doll Museum) was our next destination. Several hundred rare and beautiful dolls are exquisitely exhibited with period furniture and accessories. Among the items for sale in the museum shop, we found new Heubach character dolls whose exceptional bisque heads were cast in the antique molds.

It was a short ride from Coburg to the Christmas ornament factory where we saw a live demonstration of glass ornament blowing. In the factory outlet, we browsed through choice reproductions of old dolls and toys, and hundreds of old-fashioned Christmas ornaments.

Sonneberg's Deutsches Spielzeugmuseum (German Toy Museum) is the oldest toy museum in the now-united Germany. Among its exhibits of dolls and toys, detailed dioramas portray life in a Sonneberg doll-making family. We were fascinated by the contrast between this formerly East German town in Thuringia and its counterparts in Bavaria to the west.

Toy Bahnhof in SonnebergBack in Nuremberg, we visited the Germanisches Nationalmuseum (German National Museum), comparable in scope to America's Smithsonian Institution. Its collections span six centuries. Our tour included an orientation to the museum's extensive exhibits, and an intimate look at the home of a wealthy 17th century spice merchant, in miniature. We were surprised to learn that early dollhouses were not playthings, but rather were used to teach young girls the management of a household.

Toy Stove in Rothenburg odTAt the Puppen und Spielzeug Museum (Doll and Toy Museum) in Rothenburg, we were captivated by over 500 French and German dolls and their accessories. Rothenburg is an absolutely enchanting medieval town and the consummate shopper's paradise! We found wonderful bargains at the flea market.

Rothenburg Street SceneFrom Rothenburg, we made our way to Rudesheim, where we boarded a ship for our cruise down "Father Rhine." Twelve medieval castles and the Loreley provided lots of "Kodak moments." Later, our coach carried us to the top of the Loreley, the perfect vantage point for a breathtaking view of the Rhine Valley.

On our last evening together, we savored a banquet of Rhenish food and wine in the wood-paneled warmth of our romantic, half-timbered inn. It was impossible to say goodbye to our new friends, so we said Auf Wiedersehen instead, which means "until we see each other again."