Sunday, 12 July 2009

Finsterau Museum of Sumava Architecture

As I think I said a while back my husband and I have had fun behaving like tourists. As any one who, like us, is doing up a house will tell you, all your spare time is taken up by home improvements, so much so that one forgets what brought you to this country in the first place. So after three years of working on the home, we decided to spend a fortnight going to all those places we kept saying we would go to and never did.

One such place is the open-air museum in Finsterau just over the German border. Here we found a wonderful collection of farms and farm buildings (including a smithy, inn, woodworking workshop) drawn from the German part of the Sumava Forest (Bohmerische Wald). These are kitted out as they would have been in the earlier part of the last century. It is a fascinating museum and gives an insight into a way of life that was devastated by the sudden fall of the Iron Curtain, which split the Sumava in two and destroyed communities.

It of course had particular interest for us, as it gave us some idea about how our house and its outbuildings would have worked. There was not a house exactly like ours, perhaps partly because ours is entirely made of granite, while the majority of the Sumava houses are of timber. Of particular interest was to see the barns in working order and not covered with the debris of neglect as ours are. It gives us an idea that under the layer of earth and compacted manure are stone-floored stalls. We were also particularly interested to look in the cellars. Perhaps we too had a stone trough which held the spring water for use upstairs at one time. Then there were the design of the doors and their furniture etc.

We had lunch in the restored inn – a bowl of goulash soup eaten at a long table that we shared with a family of Germans. Interestingly the waitress, as with the man in the ticket office, did not speak English. We had rather assumed that they would. However, I thought, I have A level German I will understand. Not a bit of it, my German teacher was from Berlin, these people were from Bavaria, the accents were as different as say Glaswegian and Zumerset. The vowel sounds were transformed, something akin to being spoken by a cow.

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