Molly on the Main

Day 12 - Tuesday, June 4

Today was a welcome rest day, and we did not do much except walk around Lohr, visit the museum, window-shop and take naps. The weather is quite warm here - in the upper 80's - and the forecast calls for more of the same tomorrow. There is even a possibility of some severe weather tomorrow night, but I believe (hope) that it is forecast well after we are off the road and in the area northwest of our location.

This morning, we had breakfast at our hotel, the Hotel Bundschuh, in a cheery all-season room which looks out on the garden in the back of the hotel. During the breakfast hours, the sky was still overcast, and when we set out to walk through town after our breakfast, the temperature was still fairly pleasant.

The village of Lohr am Main was settled as early as the 8th century, and in the middle ages, it became the principal town for the Counts of Rieneck, who built a fortified castle here in the 14th century. The castle originally had a military purpose, but after a few generations, it primary purpose was to serve as a residence for the noblemen. In the 1700's, the castle was home to the baron Philipp Christoph Freiherr von Erthal. He was an administrative official for the Electorate of Mainz. It was his daughter, baroness Maria Sophia Margaretha Catharina Freifraeulein von Erthal, born in Lohr Castle on June 19, 1725, who is one of at least two historic figures who are considered to be a model for the central character in the Grimm Brothers' fairy tale of Snow White. (The other woman was Margaretha von Waldeck, a German countess born in 1533.) Each of them had a stepmother reputed to have treated them unkindly.

But the local historians who theorized that Snow White was actually born in Lohr point to circumstantial evidence - e.g., that Lohr was for centuries the home of some glassworks and metalworks industries (they were famous for making mirrors), the Spessart forests cover the region, a nearby town was home of a mining industry where child-labor was common (ergo, the dwarfs who went off to work in the mines), and the Grimm brothers, who were born in nearby Hanau, published several of their books in the mid-1800's, could have been familiar with some of these details. In any case, Lohr am Main has very successfully promoted this possibility and - it even has the "mirror, mirror on the wall" in Lohr Castle.

Another bit of lore in the region is the infamy of the highwaymen of the Spessart forests, who preyed upon travelers and relieved them of their riches. The stories of the robbers were told in a novel, "Das Wirtshaus im Spessart" ("The Spessart Inn," by author Wilhelm Hauff (who also published a book of fairy tales familiar to most Germans.) The story was made into a film in 1923, and in 1958 was redone as a musical parody.

While we were visiting the Spessart Museum in Lohr Castle, we asked about the name of the region. "Spessart" refers to a geographical region as well as range of low, forested mountains. As the woman at the museum told us, the name is derived from "Spechtshardt." Specht is the German word for woodpecker and Hardt is an archaic word for "hilly forest."

We saw all sorts of interesting artifacts and items in the Spessart Museum, which was arranged on four floors of the castle. The final exhibit featured the mirror that Baron von Erthal gave his second wife (the stepmother.) It is considered a "talking mirror" only because its design features two scripts in the upper corners. (But Steve and I thought it would be extra creepy if the museum director would hook it up to a connection with Siri or Alexa, just for kicks.)

One item of interest in the museum was a stuffed European wildcat, Felis silvestris, an endangered species with a shrinking population in various places in Europe. This particular specimen lived in the forests outside Lohr until it died from injuries after being struck by a car in 2013. Either this was a unique-looking example of the species or the museum object is the work of an amateur taxidermist because Steve and I both thought the face of the cat looked like it had the eyes and nose of a domestic cat grafted onto a lynx. The proportions just looked odd to us, especially after we compared it to images we found on the internet when looking up information about the European wildcat.

Other interesting sights on our walkabout in Lohr were some whimsical graffiti along the town brook and a glimpse of the Insulator Museum. We stopped for lunch at a beer garden which was actually a sushi bar and Asian food restaurant so it took us a little while to decide on what we wanted for lunch. We thought perhaps a dish of noodles and/or a dish of fried rice, and we wondered about the portion sizes. (This was because a couple of days ago, when we each ordered a small mixed salad, we were served up with two mountainous salads which could easily have fed six people.) So we asked the waiter how big the portions were, and he just gave us an odd look and said they were "normal portions." Trying again for any information regarding the relative size, I asked how big "normal" meant. He looked a little miffed and didn't reply. I guess he thought we were regular customers and should already know what a normal portion meant.

On the way back to our hotel, we did a little window shopping and stopped and bought of couple of postcards. By now, it was quite warm and were glad to be able to retreat to our hotel room to put our feet up and nap. The hotel does not have air conditioning, but like most buildings here, it is a substantial stone building, and if one does not leave the windows open, the temperature inside can remain fairly comfortable. Besides this, our hotel has very thoughtfully placed an oscillating fan in our room, and it provided a perfect cooling breeze. We each took an afternoon nap....

Right now, Steve and I are sitting in the garden of the hotel, sipping glasses of cool white wine (a dry Silvaner Kabinett.) We have a shady spot with a table, and a cheery little bird is singing his soul out for us. Later, we'll walk a few blocks into the center of town and find a place for dinner. Then we'll start thinking about tomorrow - when we head south around several big bends in the Main River for a planned route of about 37 miles.

Graffiti along the town brook in Lohr am Main - these figures recall the dwarfs in the Snow White tale


Graffiti along the town brook in Lohr am Main

Graffiti - that's not a real cat

Graffiti along the town brook in Lohr am Main

Graffiti cat

A side street in Lohr am Main

street in Lohr am Main

Another hotel in Lohr am Main (not the one where we are staying)

Hotel in Lohr am Main

The Insulator Museum in Lohr am Main

the insulator museum

The Insulator Museum in Lohr am Main

the insulator museum

Lohr Castle encased in scaffolding for ongoing renovations

Lohr castle

Geological specimens from the region near Lohr - in the Spessart Museum in Lohr Castle. The description says that some of these are geodes.

Geological specimens

Geodes - specimens from the region around Lohr. The immediate area has an abundance of red sandstone.

Redstone, geodes

A European wildcat which, up till 2013, lived in the woods near Lohr am Main

European wildcat

Glass eyes. For many years, Lohr am Main was a center of glass manufacture.

glass eyes

Steve looks into the mirror which once belonged to Snow White's stepmother. This is found in the Spessart Museum in Lohr Castle.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall

As a center of glass production, Lohr am Main glass companies produced fine mirrors which were sent all over the world. These examples come from the early 18th century.

antique mirror

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