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Once Upon A Time… On Germany’s Fairy Tale Road

Once upon a time there was a little girl by the name of Anna, who loved fairy tales. She would beg her parents to read her all the stories and liked nothing better than to read about the adventures of beautiful maidens and noble knights, enchanted creatures and strange adventures. She would spend hours daydreaming about her favourite stories and wished and wished that she could be in a fairy tale too.


A dream of fairy tales

One day, Anna’s parents decided to go on holiday to Germany the following year and Anna became very excited. She asked her parents to take her to the northern region of Hessen, where some of her favourite fairy tales had taken place. She begged and pleaded with her parents and said that she would be a very good girl for the rest of the year if she could only go there. Her parents agreed and so Anna cleaned her room and did her homework and took care of her chores and finally, on her very next birthday, her parents agreed to take her to Germany to see her fairy tales.


Wasn’t she excited! She could hardly wait to go. After a long, tiring plane flight, Anna and her parents landed in Germany. They landed in Frankfurt and Anna was disappointed at how modern and sophisticated the city looked, because it didn’t seem like a fairy tale setting at all.


Anna’s parents rented a car and drove straightaway for the northern region. They said they would be driving down the route known as Fairy Tale Road, which stretched from Bremen to Hanau and would take them through all the famous sights from the fairy tales. Anna didn’t pay any attention because she was too busy looking out the window. As they drove through the countryside, Anna gazed out of the window and cheered up. She liked the towns they passed, where many of the houses were black and white, with steep roofs and little windows, just like in the illustrations of her books. They drove by wide, rolling meadows, covered with beautiful meadow flowers of red and yellow and little sheep with white fleece and funny faces. They passed through deep pine forests, dark and mysterious. Yes, it was just like in her storybooks!


The animal musicians


The first town they came to was Bremen. Anna gazed around as they got out of the car because the town was like nothing she had ever seen before. The buildings around the busy square were beautiful and very old, with many stories of little windows looking out from under steep red roofs. In front of the Town Hallstood a bronze statue of a braying donkey. Atop the donkey was a barking dog. Standing on the dog was a hissing cat and crowing mightily atop the cat was a rooster.


Anna was a little upset to see that the square was filled with tourists, all clicking away with their cameras, but as she stood in front of the statue she saw a small group of men wearing strange, old-fashioned clothes. Anna almost cried in joy when she realized they were going to perform the story of the Bremen Town Musicians right in front of her! The men said they held this open-air performance every Sunday during summer and Anna was very glad she had come at the right time to see it, even though she couldn’t understand the German words.


After the performance, Anna clapped for as long and as loud as she could and wanted to climb up on top of the rooster, but her parents firmly told her no, so she asked for a picture of the funny statue. Then it was time to go on the next part of their journey.

The Pied Piper and his mice


The next town they came to was called Hamlin. Anna stood in front of the beautiful Hochzeithaus(Wedding House) and looked up at clock that shows the sinister figure of the cheated piper, who leads away the figures of little children as the clock tolls twelve. Anna looked at it and felt a little scared, because she’d always been a little bit afraid of the Pied Piper. She knew that in the story, the Pied Piper had been good and led away the rats that had been plaguing the town; it was only the town fathers refused to pay him for his service that the Piper played on his pipe again and led the town’s children away. It had all happened a long time ago and the Pied Piper had never returned. All the same, Anna felt a little frightened and held on tightly to her mothers’ hand.


Her parents decided to get some food and they went into a bakery. The little store was warm and smelled wonderfully of freshly baked breads. Anna wandered around the store. All at once, she laughed out loud and held up a little biscuit — it was in the shape of a cute little rat! The lady behind the counter smiled and said that the biscuits were a town specialty. Anna’s parents bought her a packet of the biscuits and she munched happily on them as they went on their way.

The castle of Sleeping Beauty


As they drove through the forests, Anna glanced out the window and gasped. ‘Look, look, its Sleeping Beauty’s castle!’ she cried and pointed. Her parents smiled and said that the beautiful castle in Sababurgwould be their home for the night and yes, it is supposed to be the place where Sleeping Beauty took place. Anna was so excited she kept jumping in the seat.


When they reached the castle, Anna saw that its name was Dornröschenschloss and laughed because she couldn’t pronounce it. She fell in love with the room she was to sleep in, which seemed like it was straight out of a fairy tale. Then she looked out of the window and almost started jumping again. There was a performance of Sleeping Beauty going on in the courtyard! Anna rushed down to watch it and later, when she went to bed, she slept with a smile on her face and dreamed about being Sleeping Beauty.

A festival with Little Red Riding Hood


The next day, they set off again and came to a town called Schwalmstadt. Anna looked around at the townspeople and gasped in surprise — they were dressed just like the people in her storybooks! The women were wearing long full skirts and beautiful embroidered blouses, while the men were wearing lederhosen. Anna clapped her hands as she saw little girls go dancing in beautiful dresses and red topknots on their caps. ‘Little Red Riding Hood!’ she cried and laughed in delight. A group of girls walking by heard her laugh and turned to smile at her as they went by. Anna’s parents said there was a folk festival going on and that was why everyone was wearing traditional clothing.


They walked through the beautiful, old-fashioned streets until they came to a square, where it seemed like everyone was dancing, drinking and making merry. Anna never found out what the occasion was, but she soon joined some of the friendly town girls, humming along when they sang in German, dancing with them and enjoying herself. She had never been so happy in her life! It was like she was in her very own fairy tale and she didn’t want it to end. She danced and laughed and ate all day long.

Finally, Anna’s parents said it was time to go, it was getting dark and they still had a long way to go. Anna was sad to leave, but was so happy that she had come and had had the chance to live in her own little fairy tale, even for a little while.

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