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Spielzeugpferd „Grete“ im Streichelzoo der Historischen Mühle Eberstedt

Christian Hill, F: Christian Hill

Family outing – quite colourful for all

'Let me be a kid, be one too!', Friedrich Schiller once wrote, and probably meant that you're never too old to be a child. Let's follow his advice and watch the adventures that 'Grete', the bright red toy horse, has on her way back to Lani, her five-year-old owner.

Erfurt - all the animals are already there!

This would not have happened if curiosity had not got the best of Grete. Everything began with a trip to the Thuringian Zoo in Erfurt, which Lani and her family had planned long ago, of course not without their beloved Grete. The bright red toy horse dawdled slightly too long at the maras’ enclosures, and suddenly her family was gone. Desperate, Grete roamed through the vast grounds of almost 63 hectares. No wonder, the Erfurt zoo is among the largest in Germany and boasts 800 animals and 120 species as a 'zoo of large animals'. In her wanderings, Grete walked past the African elephants and rhinos, peered at the giraffes extending their long necks as if they had never seen a red horse. After trembling briefly at the lion's roar, she decided bravely: fate had placed its bet on the wrong horse. She would find her way back to the children’s room at home and do it alone. But first she needed accommodations. From stories she knew of a place where all animals peacefully gathered together on a boat. In Erfurts street, Große Arche 14, the Museum of Natural History shows such a situation like with Noah shortly before the flood. The local stuffed animals – the Erfurt specialists enjoy an international reputation for this art – accepted the red horse quickly in their midst. It was good for Grete that it was the first Tuesday of the month when admission to all Erfurt museums is free. She snuggled up close to the skin of the lion Ramses, who once passed away from old age in the zoo, and dreamed of home. The next few days would fill their very own story, as she got hopelessly lost in the Erfurt corn maze, ventured a little dance at the 'koCOLORes' festival in the Brühl garden, and explored 'Foxfarm', the nature discovery garden, together with a group of students. The nice children took Grete right off to the next adventure.

Hohenfelden park – the forest of big jumps

While the class headed for the snack terrace meeting place and conquered the playground, adventure golf course and climbing wall, Grete was drawn to the petting cage with the West African dwarf goats and bungee-trampoline. She had never taken such leaps! She jumped eight metres high. 'Maybe I'll become a famous tournament horse!', she dreamed. But the day dreams came to a close when the joyful cries of the children on the dizzyingly high wobbling beam, the monkey swing and suspension bridge wafted over to her. She also couldn't miss the fun the adults were having in the climbing park, with seven courses and over 100 elements for everyone. It was clear to Grete – she had to come back here with her family. Maybe for Lani's birthday, since birthday children gain free admission if they are in a group of five of more.

Weimar – education for all!

Grete decided that if she's going to travel, she also wants to learn. In Weimar, there was finally an opportunity to study when the connection between man and horse began. Unnoticed, she slipped through the large blue gate at the Museum for Prehistoric and Early History, posed with the primitive people around the campfire, studied the spectacular collection of brooches, which also included a horse, and discovered a bone chisel with the image of an ancestor. She couldn't believe the findings and discoveries documented by archaeology over a good 1,000 square meters of exhibition space. Grete was most interested in the testimonies from the Palaeolithic Age, with the caves of the wild horse hunters near Döbritz and the discovery that Thuringians were first mentioned in a textbook about horse medicine by the Roman author Flavius Vegetius Renatus around 380: 'The Toringi have good horses!' Proud to belong to the best horses in the stable, Grete would have liked to watch the children as they tried out old techniques such as pottery, spinning and stone drilling. But she was preoccupied by the question of how valuable a horse is. The theatre pedagogical staff at the German National Theatre in Weimar (Deutsches Nationaltheater) gave a precise answer to that. William Shakespeare wrote in his play 'Richard III': 'A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!' So they took the inquisitive horse along with a school class to explore behind the scenes. Grete was amazed by the history of theatre and the creative work of the makeup artist. To please the students, she got a real mane extension and would have passed easily for Rosinante in Don Quixote. In a good mood, she trotted to the next stop, 'Golden Swan', the old country inn in Oberweimar. The place where travellers, horses and carriages once rested is today the German Bee Museum, the oldest of its kind in the German-speaking world. The museum teacher did not tire in answering all the questions about the history of beekeeping, bee meadow gardens and sweet products from the farm shop. Respectfully and viewed from a safe distance, Grete watched the diligent work of the beekeepers. The funniest parts for her were the bee cartoons – which explained the content so that children and horses could understand – and the entry in the guestbook: 'Beam for the bee! Greetings, Sa-bee-ne'. And the icing on the cake were the homemade honey sweets. A grin spread from ear to ear, and our Grete laughed like a honey cake horse!

Historic Eberstedt Mill - the place for springing trout and goats

There were very different flavours to discover in Eberstedt, where Grete secretly travelled in a bicycle trailer on the Ilm valley bike path. The historic water mill was impressive, and her nostrils swelled as the scent of freshly prepared trout with mill honey wafted through the air. The eventful day ended with an overnight stay in Hüttendorf, the unique floating village. Gently cradled to sleep by the waves, her dreams drifted to the old cart in the playground and smooching a goat in the adjacent petting zoo. The last detour should be tomorrow, to Tirica, the adventure zoo in Vippachedelhausen.

Jena – home of light phenomena

The cheering and neighing in the children’s room at home caused a huge racket when Grete unexpectedly showed up at Lani's. The heart of a child and horse pushed firmly together and countless hugs sealed the joy of reunion. They kept an eye on Grete over the next few days, galloped together to 'Vorhang zu' (Curtain shut) – the afternoon reading in the Ernst-Abbe library – and listened to the exciting fairy tale hour in the House of Romanticism, as 'The goose girl' with the talking horse Falada captivated the little listeners. She took advantage of an unguarded moment to give heed to the intelligent museum teacher at the art collection of the Jena City Museum and learn something about 'Der Blaue Reiter' (The Blue Rider) group and the artist Franz Marc with his famous blue horses. At home, a big trip to the Imaginata, the Experimentarium for all senses, was already planned for next weekend. Since she was now much more informed, Grete could explain the one or other phenomenon in the correct technical way. The two of them were most excited about the vortex cannon with the smoke rings, the bicycle with vertical dizziness and the view to infinity in the mirror and lens cabinet. They had experienced something similar last year in the Optical Museum during the tour called 'Lenses that won't make you feel full, but are very useful nonetheless'. – And the red toy horse knew one thing very well, this time she would listen very carefully to her family!

The longer a person remains a child, the older he will become.

Novalis



Zoopark Erfurt

Zoopark Erfurt, F: Mario Fuss

Zoopark Erfurt

Zoopark Erfurt, F: Bianca Werchan

Kletterwald Hohenfelden

Weimarer Land Tourismus e.V., F: Kletterwald Hohenfelden

Museum für Ur- und Frühgeschichte Thüringens, Weimar

TLDA, F: Hauke Arnold

Museum für Ur- und Frühgeschichte Thüringens, Weimar

TLDA, F: Hauke Arnold

Ilmtal-Radweg, Deutsches Bienenmuseum, Weimar

weimar GmbH, F: Ralph Kallenbach

Historische Mühle Eberstedt

Christian Hill, F: Christian Hill

Stationenpark Imaginata – ein Experimentarium, Jena

JenaKultur, F: A. Hub

Optisches Museum mit historischer Zeiss-Werkstatt, Jena

JenaKultur, F: A. Hub

Knowledge to go

Idol

Stale? By no means, Bernd the Bread from KiKA – ARD and ZDF children's channel based in Erfurt – has been a star for a long time. The depressed pan bread even received the prestigious Grimme award in the category of 'Special' in 2004.

The textbook work

The signature work for modern child psychology comes from Jena. For Professor William Thierry Preyer, the subject matter for his book on 'The Soul of the Child' was his son Axel, born in 1877 in Jena.

Bags of sweets

Today, it sweetens up the start of school in many places. In Jena, the bag of sweets was handed over 'as a symbolic sign of the benefits to be expected from diligence' as early as 1817.

Fairy tale hour

The diverse Thuringian Open Air Museum in Hohenfelden also shows a so-called 'one-room school'. The children of Hohenfelden were told that the sugarplum tree grows in the basement and is guarded by a donkey. Today, there is a very official 'Fairy Tale Day in the Open Air Museum' every year.

Colourful bonus tips

Weimar

Weimar for children with the gooseherd – a children's guide is available at Tourist Information Weimar

Jena

Jena colourful. City discovery for little explorers. A city map for children and families, available at Jena Tourist Information

Weimarer Land

Mechanika da Vinci in Leutenthal – learning the laws of physics with games

Erfurt

The nature and discovery garden 'Fox farm': Family days and creative workshops promote the environmental awareness of children and adults www.fuchsfarm-erfurt.de

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