Thursday, June 30, 2016

THOUGHTS WHILE TRAVELING-THE HILLS ARE ALIVE

The next day brings more rain--but not to be thwarted again, we don our favorite rain jackets and head out for "The Sound of Music" tour.  Interesting fact---though most Americans have seen it at least once, the Austrians are often clueless.  Also Maria Von Trapp sold the rights for the movie to Hollywood for $10,000.  Somebody took BIG TIME advantage of her.  In true "Maria" style, she is reported to have said the story needed to be told, no matter what she received.

The only thing we did not see was the cemetery the Hollywood set was to represent.  Also, the church Maria was married in would not agree for the film to be shot there.  We saw the church where the film was shot, but keep in mind it is not correct historically. 





The estate used for the filming which is now a private hotel.  This is the lake where the children were boating.


The romantic gazebo which is not on the estate property, but at another castle in the vicinity.  "I must have done something right."



A beautiful old tree directly by the path leading to the first building shown above.  I seem to remember several scenes in the movie with that building.

Heading off through the beautiful Bavarian country side, we finally arrive at the church where the wedding was filmed.  There is no way a picture could do it justice.  As I stood at the back, I could envision Maria floating down the aisle with her handsome bridegroom in full uniform waiting.


This area is also home to one of the most popular pilgrimage routes in the world "The Way of St James".  Our guide was very knowledgable, but drove like a mad woman and spoke like a sailor at times.  She also was VERY political and informed us George Bush's grandfather financed the Nazi's during WWII.  When Sonja confronted her about her rudeness, the guide said, "It's on the internet--look it up."  YES---AND EVERYTHING ON THE WWW IS TRUE!


For all the reasons stated above, we cancelled our afternoon tour with this guide of the old town Salzburg.  We had heard enough!  

Since the sun had finally decided to shine, we opted for a hike.  Why LOOK--there is a mountain--just outside of Salzburg--we can catch the bus to it and hike up it!  Gaisberg is waiting for us to scale it!


We NEVER saw the bus and ended up walking all the way to the hiking trail-NOT A SHORT DISTANCE.  And then UP UP UP--these people do not believe in plateaus --only ascending!


Finally finding a bus stop to take us back down the mountain, we stop and rest while waiting--what we thought would be a short time.  Some kind stranger (we met more nice Austrians than not), came hiking out of the woods and informed us we would have to wait an hour.  He told us a shortcut down to the last bus stop for the Salzburg route.  WARNING TO ALL YOU HIKERS--SHORTCUTS OFTEN SPELL DIFFICULT!


Hard to believe going down can be as difficult as going up---but trust me---with the right conditions on the trail--it DOES happen!

We finally come out in a little town, Oberwinkl, and wait for the last bus heading into the city.  Again--kind strangers tell us we are on the right bus.  So much for our figuring out the buses!   It somehow never occurred to me the American headlines could have read "American Tourists Die While Wandering Around Looking For The Bus".




I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, For I do not forget Your commandments.
PSALM 119:176

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

THOUGHTS WHILE TRAVELING-DOWN BUT NOT OUT

Today the rain won.  In retrospect--perhaps it was God's way of giving us a day off from the intense tourist role.  Twelve intense days on the road can be exhausting.



The plan calls for a bike ride through the country and a visit to the Hallein Salt Mine.  That will not be happening with this all day rain event.  We are game for a lot---but not riding bikes in the pouring rain.

So after another continental breakfast in the hotel--I NEVER get my money's worth---not a fan of cold breakfasts---we split up and go separate ways.

Babs and Sonja head to the mall in a quest to find a bike jersey from Europe.  They came back with sacks of stuff and a new found knowledge of public transit in Salzburg, but no jersey after an all day shopping trip.  Shopping is NOT my cup of tea!  Babs has become our resident public transit expert---our go to when figuring out the schedules and exchanges.




Susie has developed a case of chronic bronchitis and decides it is time for some meds.  Hello, Socialized Medicine!  She and Jim spent the day at the local hospital emergency room getting on a quest for said meds.  As the story unfolded, I began to suspect we are on the slippery slope to our own form of socialized medicine here in the US of A when thinking of my medicare experience the past few months.  You see, with socialized medicine, since she has no assigned doctor, it was necessary to go to the emergency room.  They immediately hook her up to a saline IV---order a chest X-ray---do blood work---before she ever sees a doctor.  He explains this is all protocol and the fact she knows what is wrong and has a chronic illness does not influence the treatment plan.  After hours in the ER--including sitting on a gurney in the hall---she is released with a prescription--though NOT what she told the doctor she needed.  She has to come back to the hotel for a rest!   As you all know---I avoid doctors and hospitals at all cost!   WAKE UP, AMERICA!  We DO NOT want socialized medicine!



AND with the others off on their individual adventures on this rainy day, what did I do?    


C H I L L

Did my laundry, did some writing, did some reading, and studied the inside of my eyelids.  A needed day to rest, replenish, and regroup for the last few days of our trip!  

We walk to a river side Steak House and enjoyed a delicious steak for dinner while watching the rain swollen river cascade by.  Praying for sunshine tomorrow--to get back to the serious business of tourist.

7 Sunshine is sweet; it is good to see the light of day. 
Ecclesiastes 11:7

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

THOUGHTS WHILE TRAVELING-REALITY VS EXPECTATIONS

Off to our next location, but this time we are with a guide who is driving us in a van to our next stop with a couple of side trips in the middle.  Sigmund, our guide, was raised in South Africa, but his father was a veteran of World War II.  Moving to South Africa after the war, Sigmund was born when his father was 53.  Most of the Germans we spoke with who were willing to talk about the war gave us the distinct impression they would like to leave the war and all it entailed in the past.  One of the guides made a point to tell us they had no national holiday honoring their war heroes.  I will refrain from commenting on this until a later day.

Riding through the Bavarian region of Germany, our first stop of the day is Neuschwanstein Castle--also known as the Cinderella Castle.



Built by crazy King Ludwig and never completed, the castle was lavish in carvings, bronze, tapestry, and lavish beyond descriptions.  Though the castle was never finished, we were told the story of a life a toothless, obese, recluse holed up until his mysterious death in his monument to narcissism.  Once again proof that riches will never make you happy.

He supervised the construction of his own version of the Great Pyramids across the way in his father's castle.  One has to have a place to stay during construction.  Not exactly slumming in my book!


Beautiful Swan Lake at the base of the mountain where the castle sits. 

 When our guide finds out we enjoy hiking, he insists on leading us up the most difficult path to the castle.  WHY is it everyone has to prove to us their hiking paths are the hardest??  So glad to finally make that last turn and catch my breath!

Leaving the castle, we make a stop at the Alpine Slide we have all been chomping at the bits to try.


We expect this--




And actually get this--



Sometimes it is best to keep one's expectation to a minimum and then you will not be disappointed and perhaps be delighted.  I must admit looking back--it was a great laugh.  

Off we go through the back roads of the Fussen area filled with quaint Bavarian villages and hair pin turns on our way to Salzburg and another country---Austria.



This photo of Hotel Weisse Taube is courtesy of TripAdvisor

After checking into another boutique hotel in the Old City, we head down two doors to enjoy a traditional Austrian meal---all part of the traveling experience.  Did I mention--the rain has followed us-YET AGAIN!

that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
Matthew 5:45

Monday, June 27, 2016

THOUGHTS WHILE TRAVELING-LEST WE FORGET

How fitting that we visit Dachau Concentration Camp on Memorial Day since the American troops liberated it.























As we walked through the memorial to the first concentration camp, the breeze seemed to carry the moans, groans, and screams of pain and agony suffered decades ago.  As we looked at some of the actual buildings and others which had been rebuilt in a fitting memorial, I was once again struck by man's ability to hate another for their difference.  The guide--who was extremely political--did draw a picture of the horror inflicted upon entire groups of peoples during the Nazi's reign of terror.  At the same time, the guide reminded us of America's inhumanity to our native Americans and the lack of justice for our political prisoners.  He then informed us Joe Kennedy was a Nazi.  Blame shifting knows no bounds--and the age old tactic to defray attention from my sin by pointing out yours is alive and well.  This is the first Anti-American sentiment we have encountered on the trip.  It was said in front of a multi-national group--but clearly directed at the Americans.  Our shock over this nice young man's lashing out was the only thing which saved him from rebuttal.  As I have said before, everyone gets wet in a spitting contest and you can't win in the face of ignorance.


A replica of the original gate with the inscription, 

"Work shall set you free"

which in my reading was used on most of the entrances to the concentration camps.  Freedom was never the goal of any of these death pits.



































You could not stand in front of the actual oven used to burn the bodies stacked three and four  deep and not be moved.  



After the somber tour of the Dachau, we returned to the city for a bicycle tour of the points of interest.  The above picture is after the end of World War II and shows you the ruin and devastation caused by allied bombings--virtually all was gone.


As we biked through the old city, we were told it has all been rebuilt with great care to recreate the city as it once was--before the war.  We saw the palace, parliament, the opera house, monuments--all carefully restored to their pre-war splendor.


The English Garden a beautiful reminder of who stopped the reign of terror and then paid to rebuild much of what was destroyed while doing so.

Once again we are caught in a down pour while riding bikes and stopped to watch the town surfers under a grove of trees while waiting for the storm to pass.  We all bike off and call it a day--slightly wet around the edges.


STRANGER IN THE NIGHT


Once again packing up, we get to bed late---and the hostel noise keeps us up longer.  Finally I drift off sometime before midnight.  I was abruptly awaken by someone coming in the door and Sonja yelling to "GET OUT!". Now it has been a LONG time since a man has been in my bedroom, but I am pretty sure the shadow I see by my bed is male.   The light is flipped on and standing within inches of my hand is a very inebriated young man with a huge pack who is convinced he should be staying with us.  You see--they rent out beds at hostels.  It seems we have inadvertenely switched rooms and are in the room which should have 3 instead of the 4 we originally had-so technically there should have been a bed available.    He can clearly see Sandra's bed is empty and is intent upon crashing with us.  Sonja stands her ground and finally runs him off.  For the next 3 hours, she and I wait for the door to fling open again--while Babs sleeps like a baby!  NO MORE HOSTELS!!

28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:28

Sunday, June 26, 2016

BREAK MY HEART

IN A WORLD

FILLED WITH ANGER,

RAGE AND HATE,

I PRAY

CHRIST

BREAK OUR HEARTS

FOR WHAT 

BREAKS YOURS!




BLESSED SABBATH,

DEAR FRIENDS

Saturday, June 25, 2016

MEANWHILE HERE IN THE HOOD--CAMP LULU

#1 Grandson is too old

for Camp Lulu


BUT #2

THOUGH TWIXT TWELVE

AND TWENTY

WILL STILL

COME PLAY



SWIMMING, MOVIES,
CHILDREN'S MUSEUM
PIZZA
AND MORE


THESE THREE

HANG ON HIS 

EVERY WORD!


Friday, June 24, 2016

THOUGHTS WHILE TRAVELING-GOOD-BYE--SUCH SWEET SORROW

I could have stayed in Switzerland the entire trip---saying Good-bye was not easy.  In fact, we might have been guilty of asking Esther the innkeeper if she had more days we could stay---NO SUCH LUCK!



So off we go--down via cable car, and a bus ride, and the local train and back on the Euro-rail.  Three different trains once we get on the Euro-rail and sprint time on the change --10 minutes each time.  We made the marvelous discovery there were ramps and escalators in many of the train stations!  Thus NO need to pick up and carry the luggage UP and Down the stair steps!  Nice to make that discovery in the next to last train trip.




IF I ever go back to Europe, the train is the way to go.  I spent many an hour gazing out the window at the scenery and always wondering about the lives of those I was passing.  The perfect way to take it all in!



A long day traveling--means rested legs.  Our trip planner always instructed us to take a taxi once we arrived at our new destination.  NOT FOR US!  We like to find a local, who speaks English and is helpful, and walk/hike to our next location.  We did find a few who might have been distance challenged or else had NEVER walked the path--but we always managed to make it.  Of course--doing it in the rain--ALWAYS added to the tale!  




Munich was a busy city---so busy--our planner had a difficult time finding us a place to stay.  SO--we end up at a hostel!  DEAR-DEAR FRIENDS,  hostels ARE ONLY intended for the VERY YOUNG!  Noisy--bare minimums and oh yes, since I don't get up in the middle of the night for ANYTHING--I got the top bunk!  For some strange reason, once I got myself hauled up there---Nature would call!  OF COURSE!



Definitely should have made a video of that!  MORE on the hostel stay Monday--would NOT want to spoil the post--BUT---it involved QUITE the late night surprise!


We had a delicious Italian dinner next door to say "Good-Bye" to Sandra.  The ordering involved lots of pointing and speaking slowly and loudly, since our waiter spoke NO English.  It ALL makes for a great adventure!


Blessed be the Lord! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.
Psalm 28:6


Thursday, June 23, 2016

THOUGHTS WHILE TRAVELING--UPS AND DOWNS

Last full day in Switzerland,  SIGH, but we plan to make the most of it!  




The sky is once again spitting, but not to be deterred, we start out on the loop trail which will take us down in the valley.  My excitement over going "DOWN" into the valley is short lived once I realize there is a lot of up in the going down.


The first stop of the day will be Chilchbalm Falls---passing directly by Cathedral Mountain.



You might be wondering how we stay on the trail--they are marked by brightly painted signs on the rocks along the way.


The sights are always worth the effort-


The clouds begin to drop visibility and we hurry off down to the valley.


We hike all the way to Stechleberg deep in the valley and catch the bus back to Lauterbrennen.  We are becoming old hands at the bus-cable car rides.

After a cool afternoon drink, we catch another bus to Trammel-Bach Falls.  The melt off of ten glaciers runs through the middle of a mountain--deep in the Alps.  It is amazing to think how this happened -all beginning with a trickle of water ages ago through a crack in the rocks.



Tons of water pass through this mountain and fall into the mountain river--all rapidly making its way to the sea.

Another bus and cable car ride back to Mureen for dinner where we learn the sad news of Sandra's mother's passing.  A day filled with ups and downs.

Our view at dinner--Eiger--one of the great peaks of the world.

Always thankful for good friends to share the peaks and valleys of life.

Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.
Isaiah 40:4