One mid-April Saturday morning, we set off on a journey to Germany for an Erasmus+ project, which deals with sustainable tourism and we met in Biedenkopf with our partners from the school there and a school from Chateaudun in France.
We left Krumlov, with images and sounds in our heads of all the world’s faces and languages. A fast bus took us to Passau, which is located on the Austrian-German border, and is often the first German city for people travelling from the East, tourists and refugees alike. We had about 2.5 hours’ time before our train departed, so we went for a pleasant walk along the streets of this beauty, built on a narrow strip of land between two rivers of different colours, the blue Danube and the green Inn (there is also a third one, the black Ilz).There were some tourists in the streets but we had the impression that most of the people we met were locals enjoying Saturday lunchtime in their city. True enough, we did hear some English, but much more German.
In the early afternoon, we took a high-speed train to Frankfurt, formerly called the Donauwalzer, as the tracks run along the Danube and cross it from left to right bank and back to left many times. Towards the end of the train journey, there was a feeling of nervosity among the students, as they were going to stay with the family of a German participant for a whole week.
Sunday, being the do-nothing day, was ideal for exploring the small town of Biedenkopf, which is about the size of Krumlov, with a centre built of half-timbered houses nicely set on the sunny side of the hill leading up to the castle. Great was our surprise to be the only souls walking the streets of this lovely town: not a SINGLE tourist and hardly any Biedenkopf people, of whom we met a few up in the castle café, which offers a view of the half-wooded surrounding hills and the Lahn valley. What a contrast with the town we live and work in.
Later on that week, we visited Marburg, a nearby university town mostly known for two things: first of all, Saint Elisabeth spent the hardest years of her short but sacrificing life there (all Alžběta’s and Eliška’s, check out her story, it is after her that you were named) and secondly, there was a historic meeting of Luther and all the Protestant leaders of his time up in the castle. This was a weekday, and compared to Passau, we saw even less tourists, and again it was surprisingly pleasant to notice that life in the city centre is mostly “lived” by the Marburg locals, many of which are students.
Work on the project was focused on how visitors of Biedenkopf can spend their time in and around town in a sustainable way. We also had a meeting with town officials, who seem to be happy with the current state of having very few tourists. About half of the visitors staying overnight in Biedenkopf arrive for job- or business-related reasons. Strictly speaking, also we were no tourists as we had come on a project-related visit.
In October, students from France and Germany will come and stay in Krumlov to see what mass tourism can do to a small town like their own and in May 2019 we are all going to Chateaudun in France.
Prepared for you by Filip, Veronika and Michaela from 4.O, Pavla, Natálie, Michal, Matyáš and Jakub from 6.O and Eva, Tereza, Bára and Vojta from 3.S.
After writing this text we checked if our impressions fit the reality. All the numbers are approximate estimates.
Krumlov (13,000 inhabitants against 2 million visitors per year)
tourists stay 1.18 days on average
Chateaudun (14,000 against 40,000) other numbers not yet available
Biedenkopf (14,000 against ? exact numbers not yet available)
Passau (50,000 against 300,000) 550,000 overnight stays (1.8 per tourist)
Marburg (75,000 against 73,000) 172,000 overnight stays (2.3 per tourist)