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Hagerstown holds surprises for German embassy members

October 15, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

Guten Tag, Hagerstown.

Nearly 100 members from the German embassy in Washington, D.C., left the hustle and bustle of the nation's capital Thursday in favor of an afternoon in the Hagerstown area.

A group of 93 employees from the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany spent Thursday traveling around Washington County for its annual social outing, said Martina Nibbeling-Wriessnig, a minister counselor at the embassy. She and her husband, fellow minister counselor Thomas Wriessnig, said the city was chosen because several people from the embassy enjoyed the brief time they spent in Hagerstown on independent day trips.

Nibbeling-Wriessnig said the group tries to choose a destination within driving distance that has offerings in art, history and German culture. Groups from the embassy have visited Harpers Ferry, W.Va., and Frederick, Md., for the annual outing.

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Nibbeling-Wriessnig said she visited Hagerstown soon after moving to the Washington, D.C. area from Germany a couple of years ago. She said the city was familiar to her because of its status as the sister city of Wesel, Germany, which is adjacent to her native Isselburg, Germany.

"When I arrived, I came to Hagerstown and ate right here," she said while standing outside of the Schmankerl Stube. "I really wanted to get out here because it was the sister city."

Thursday's outing began with a tour of Antietam National Battlefield near Sharpsburg and a festive lunch at the Bavarian-style restaurant, before they split up for a few hours.

"They (the Stube staff) knew that a radler was half-beer, half-lemonade," said embassy employee Ralf Mildebrath, who has been living in the U.S. for about a year.

"You can't take that for granted," he said with a laugh.

The smaller groups later broke off for destinations that included the Jonathan Hager House, the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts and shopping at Prime Outlets at Hagerstown.

Guests from the embassy said they were surprised by many of the things Hagerstown had to offer because of its small size. Among aspects surprising the group were the amount of historic buildings, the use of bicycles by police in downtown and the selection of works at the museum at City Park.

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