Ostheim, Germany

 Ostheim, Germany
 Hometown of Anja  Wanner


Welcome to Ostheim, a tiny place in the Northern part of the German state of Hesse. 300 people and about as many cows coexist peacefully in this village that boasts one pub, one grocery store (where the cashier asks you if you expect company when you buy a packet of chips), a post office that is open on Friday mornings, two bus stops, a Fiat car dealership, and zero linguists.

Ostheim is not exactly known for its touristic infrastructure. In fact, people refer to the second bedroom in their houses as the "foreigner room" (Fremdenzimmer). But don't despair, the area has some attractions to offer: The city of Kassel is home to Europe's first public museum, the Fridericianum, today the venue of the "documenta," an international exhibition of contemporary art. Kassel was also home to a famous pair of linguists in the 19th century, today usually known better by their secondary occoupation, as storytellers - the Brothers Grimm

Brothers Grimm


Oaks more than 600 years old grow in the Reinhardswald. Here, one finds the Tierpark Sababurg, one of the oldest zoological gardens in Europe. It's not your typical countryside zoo. The Tierpark is committed to the (re-)breeding of animals that were indigenous to the area or that were considered extinct in the wild, such as the Przewalski horse. A New York Times journalist wrote about her visit to the area that "the animals here have it about as good as it gets. The verdant fields where red deer and reindeer mules and bison graze extend as far as one can see, interrupted infrequently by weatherbeaten wood fences." I once spent a night camping outside the Tierpark and in the early morning we thought it would be cool to climb over those weatherbeaten fences and say hello to those grazing animals that looked very peaceful in the morning mist. Let's just say that there are moments when you wish that a zoo would focus on penguins and pet rabbits.

For many people, the main attraction of the area, however, is a young lady known for her issues with thorns and spindles. The Sababurg, a castle (now a hotel) is known as the true home of Sleeping Beauty -- take that, Disneyland! And guess who, as a highschool senior, regularly donned on a princess gown on weekends to hand out roses to overseas tourists on their honeymoon?

Alas, the pull of linguistics was stronger. These days, I take my daughter to Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, Wisconsin, where she visits the otters and I look out for interesting words.



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