German cruise ship travelers visit Middlefield

Albert and Gerti Graetz, who live near Frankfurt, Germany, soaked up sunrises and sunsets from around the world.

Albert and Gerti Graetz, who live near Frankfurt, Germany, soaked up sunrises and sunsets from around the world.

On September 29, their cruise ship MS Hamburg, with a 17-day voyage itinerary, docked in Cleveland following severe weather conditions that forced them to depart a day late from Montreal, Quebec.

However, the weather improved and a group of about 50 travelers landed in Middlefield by bus for a tour of Amish Country with Destination Cleveland.

“Part of their interest in visiting Geauga County is to meet some of our Amish community members and see how well they can relate to the Amish, and learn a bit more about their culture,” said the Director of Destination Cleveland, Lynda Nemeth, of Discover My Cleveland. .

Nemeth met the ship at the dock in the morning and after clearing customs the party headed for Geauga County.

“The visit was very impressive,” said Albert, fluent in English. “We could talk to the Amish, get a sense of their way of life and even see a school where the students were singing for us in the Amish language. We could even understand a lot because of the German roots.

Upon arrival, the German guests toured the Middlefield Original Cheese Co-op and then the Nauvoo Family Market.

They then arrived at the Heritage Marketplace event center for homemade ham and cheese sandwiches on fresh rolls, sliced ​​potato medley and fresh fruit, with time to explore various shops , take a buggy ride and visit the historic Geauga Amish Library.

The library houses books and bibles dating back to the 1500s, as well as clothing dating back to the 1800s from Geauga County and other colonies.

According to the history of Middlefield Township, in 1866 the Amish of Holmes County, in search of fertile farmland, began migrating north into Geauga County, settling in Middlefield Township – the second largest settlement in Ohio and fourth largest settlement in North America.

“It’s exciting,” said GAHL board member John Gingerich, who led the tour and is currently working with a German TV station to make a documentary about the Amish. “Great to show off Geauga County.”

He said he enjoyed watching the transformation of the group – who spoke mainly German, but were accompanied by a translator – from being somewhat calm and subdued when they arrived to becoming very engaged, chatty and full of energy by the time. of their departure.

“We had many great conversations at the Geauga Amish Historic Library and they seemed impressed with how the Amish have preserved their heritage, beliefs, language and culture,” Gingerich said. “People from different countries, different cultures and different belief systems still share common values.”

Albert, a retired financial manager, and his wife began visiting America in 1988.

Throughout their lives, they have visited more than half of the countries of the world.

“I live in a world and I want to see the world,” he said. “We saw a lot of things.”

This time they wanted to see where some of their Amish ancestors had migrated from their country.

Victoria Henkel, 22, from the Bergisches Land region along the east bank of the Rhine, is a law student in Germany and said she found it interesting that the Amish were originally from Germany and came to places like Geauga County and become part of the Culture.

“It’s cool,” said Henkel, who also completed undergraduate studies in the United States. “We have cultural ties.
Nemeth said the guests really enjoyed the day, especially the Amish school.

The children even sang for them.

“It was beautiful,” Nemeth said. “I hope they take away fond memories of their visit to Geauga County and a better understanding of the Amish community that they will share with others who may visit us in the future.”

Before embarking on their return trip from Montreal to Germany, tours include Detroit, Traverse City, Chicago, Milwaukee, Mackinac Island and various stops in Canada.

Nemeth is happy they chose to visit Geauga County.

“We worked with this cruise line in 2018 and 2019, but their Amish Country Tours were already set to visit Holmes County,” Nemeth said. “We have worked very hard to bring them back to Geauga County. We have so much to offer and I love being able to share our beautiful county as a destination and bring those tourism dollars back to our county.

The Graetzs said they were delighted with their decision to visit the Amish country of Middlefield.

“Overall, it’s fascinating to see how two very different cultures live side by side, but also together,” Albert said. “It was definitely worth coming to Middlefield.”

James R. Rhodes