September meant packed bags and jumping on a few planes to Germany, arriving into Munich in the late afternoon in time to unwind and catch up for a meal and drinks with the Mayor and Mayoress of Wagga. We sat and soaked up the live musical entertainment near Karlsplatz while enjoying bratwurst.
The following morning, I took a stroll through the city on foot soaking up the history and architecture of Munich, spending a little time in Marienplatz before heading back to the hotel to meet up with Community Princess and the remainder of the Wagga Delegation. David Wittner came to meet up and take us 2 hours away to our Sister City Nördlingen. The drive was perfect for Presslea and I to finally catch up on her incredible holiday through Europe prior to the Sister City visit.
A couple of short hours of settling into our hotels began what would be a full but SUPER itinerary of fun for the next few days. The Oberbürgermeister Hermann Faul invited us and the delegates from Markham to dinner giving us a chance to meet, mingle and be introduced to Real Nördlingen Hospitality.
The following day we were taken to a nearby castle, Castle Baldern and treated to a guided tour with a fabulous tour guide, including visiting the newly opened gardens for the Princess. The Castle history, and décor was incredible, but were mainly off limits to photography. One of the Markham delegates also tested out the acoustics of the ballroom with a bit of Waltzing Matilda on a mouth organ. We took a long stroll through the gardens followed by a light lunch before heading back to the City where the Markham town crier was able to call the ‘So G’sell So’ (All is well) from the top of the bell tower, as has been done between the hours of 10pm and midnight every night since the days of war. By the time we had returned to Nördlingen, the town had completely transformed and transported us right back to historical days of old. Every corner suddenly was unfamiliar, but with such depth and attention to detail.
The official Stadtmauerfest began with Ecumenical Evening Prayer, followed by the first parade of the ceremony. Simone was kind enough to stay with us and explain what was going on around us. The famous Nördlingen stork visited the nest at the top of the building that afternoon also. Simone explained that it is a sign of good fortune for the stork to visit, but that young women shouldn’t look directly at it as it might just bring a baby their way. We all had a chuckle. Walking around the streets afternoon was a bit surreal with nearly every person saying ‘that’s Miss Wagga Wagga’ and for those that mistook us for Miss Germany, Community Princess was quick to correct them.
Saturday morning I took a stroll through the city, and walked the city wall. The bell tower, the loving ‘Daniel’ really stands majestically in the middle of the city. From the wall I could see hidden pockets of the city I just couldn’t seem to find in the evening. Then the Oberbürgermeister invited all Sister City delegates to a formal welcome, where each was able to speak to their unique relationship with Nördlingen, followed by exchange of gifts. It was quite a beautiful welcome and in the words of the Markham Town Crier ‘peace doesn’t begin with politicians, it begins with people, and it’s what we’re doing here.’ He was spot on, that one-to-one relationship with people is at the heart of national and international peace. We were treated to lunch at Karl-Schlierf-platz followed by Presslea and I choosing to climb over 300 steps to get to the top of the Daniel tower. Then we went and watched the next parade before we roamed the historical streets of Nördlingen for the remainder of the festival with good food, entertainment and of course beer. There were so many laughs and so many new memories made.
Sunday began with mass at Sank Salvator with a local priest Father Benjamin Beck, the Oberbürgermeister and his wife, and a completely packed church, with songs accompanied by a local band. The singing of a full church was entirely uplifting. I then raced back to the hotel, taking a wrong turn on the way, quickly popped on my sash and crown, and was escorted up the staircase by a lovely gentleman to the formal reception hosted by the Oberbürgermeister. Presslea and I took some time to walk through the room and meet with some new people including city delegates from Stollberg (Germany), Riom (France), Olomouc (Czech Republic), city counsellors, and ministers of parliament, before heading off to the Festival Parade where we were able to participate to represent Australia with the entire city and neighbouring cities turning out, and special guests including the Prime Minister of Bavaria, Markus Söder. We took some time walking around before meeting up to witness the closing ceremony of the Stadtmauerfest. By morning, the city returned to it’s modern state, and again I was left feeling like it was unfamiliar once more.
To the Wagga travel delegates, Mayor Greg Conkey and Mayoress Jenny Conkey, Deputy Mayor Dallas Tout and his wife Jeanine Tout, the Tanner Family and Community Princess (and unofficial Bobby), thanks for such an incredible time, you were all such great company to travel with. I’ll be returning with a lot of new memories.
The entire Stadtmauerfest, and my time in Nördlingen really made me realise just why we're sister cities. The people of Nördlingen are so optimistic, and have such admirable commitment and dedication to their foundations, their history and their culture. To someone who comes from a historically young western culture in Australia, this was so eye opening. Outside of the formal duties and functions were all the conversations we had with the various people we met from entertainers, to council members, to stall holders to people who were born, raised and returned to live in Nördlingen. At the heart of us, we’re the same. the People of Wagga and Nördlingen are generous, kind, and entirely welcoming.
As most of the other delegates left Nördlingen at 5am, I had a much needed sleep in until 8 and left for Frankfurt meeting up with a friend, prior to heading to Norway for 2 weeks to spend time with my family, and meet my 10-and-a-half-month old Nephew. I spent my 2 weeks just slowing down, resting, and having quality time, but I also took the opportunity to reflect and make decision about where I want to head personally, career wise, and spiritually as I head back to Australia.
Having arrived back into Wagga, our formal duties started up the same afternoon for me with a Citizenship Ceremony giving us a chance to catch up with Mayor Greg Conkey and his wife once more. These ceremonies are always such a privilege to attend, hearing the stories of new families with much and many years hardship pledging to make Australia their home. The ceremony set in the art gallery brought back a flood of memories of Crowning Day, which is less than 5 weeks away now!
- Stina, your local Queen
My travels began late August, I left Wagga Wagga and travelled to Turkey, Greece, Switzerland and my final destination Nördlingen, Germany.
I met up with the Wagga Wagga delegation and my Miss Wagga Wagga where we had a beautiful lunch before jumping in our car to Nördlingen where I got to fill everyone in on my travels.
We arrived in Nördlingen and let me tell you, add it to the bucket list to travel to, I was just amazed at the beauty of this city, surrounded by its wall and filled with small old houses all different colours! We had a wonderful dinner that evening, I have never had so much food in my life but it was just delicious, all of it! We took a stroll back to our hotel and the weather was so just beautiful! (A little better than our cold winter back here).
Now I know you’ve been reading about our trip for a while and you have all of the details so I’ll add in what I can.
The following day we took a trip to Baldern Castle, with a guided tour. Have you ever wanted to be a princess in a castle? I mean I didn’t stay the night but it’s as close as I’ll ever get to this, so it was like something out of the movies, I think the highlight for me was the garden and it’s chickens, every colour flower you could ever imagine!
That evening was the opening ceremony of the Stadtmauerfest festival, something I will never forget! To think we are related (sister cities) with Nördlingen is crazy because the people of Nördlingen and the people of Wagga Wagga have a lot in common, not many cities can pull off a festival or event with full community participation and open hearts. It’s one of those fuzzy warm moments that you’ll always remember. The ceremony was great and so exciting to see everyone taking part in the festival. Did I mention I did quickly buy a costume so that I could really embrace the whole festival? It made it so much more fun!
As the festival continued, Stina and myself continued to meet as many people as we could, take part in anything we could and eat everything we could! (I definitely had tight jeans by the flight home).
I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to represent Wagga Wagga, walking through the parade slightly behind Miss Wagga Wagga and watching the eyes light up of so many people “ah WAGGA WAGGA” waving! Was just surreal!
My travels home began early in the morning, leaving Nördlingen and spending the day in Munich before jumping on my flight home. As soon as I got home I was straight back to work the following day.
Awaiting the return of Miss Wagga Wagga, I had a busy few weeks at work and then was finally able to catch up with Stina at the Citizenship Ceremony last week.
It was definitely a busy month! But just such an amazing experience!
With crowning just around the corner (yes I’m getting very emotional about it) I’m excited for the final month, October and our 2020 entrants' last event!
- Presslea, your local princess.