Friday, July 8, 2011

Germany and Luxembourg

We took a beautiful drive through Switzerland into Germany. The lakes, chalets and weather all cooperated to give a wonderful impression. We stayed one night in Freiburg, a little city known for its environmentalism. The area has lots of sunshine so many of the barns in the countryside have huge solar paneling on the roof. We discussed where all the electricity goes but only theoretically. The next day we were on to Bacharach, a small medieval town on the Rhine River.

Bacharach reminded me of Rothenburg, although not as well organized. Rothenburg was entirely redone for tourists where Bacharach was a bit hit and miss. Apparently, when Napolean rolled on through, he widened some of the streets for his cannons. You can see which side of the street got it. The oldest house in Bacharach dates to 1348 or something like that. What a great place. We had dinner there and I am pleased to report the food did not taste like it was from the 1300’s.

The next day we cycled along the Rhine River. It was a 32 km cycle round trip so we took it as training for our big cycling trip coming up. We were all pretty tired by the end but we made fairly good time so I am encouraged we’ll be okay in France. There are endless castles stuffed along the banks of the Rhine. Most of them are abandoned and only a few are open to the public. They all sprung up when the barons realized they could make money by taxing the river traffic. They’d string chains across the river to prevent boats from passing unless the captains paid a fee. Needless to say, the river barons were not overly popular.

One of the best stories I read was about a river sprite named Loreley. She was a very beautiful woman and would tempt sailors as they rounded a particularly difficult turn in the river. More than one boat succumbed to her until finally a king, who had lost his son to Loreley, sent a group of soldiers down to find and kill her. She called to her father (Rhine River God) for help and he dragged her away never to tempt sailors again. Gotta love the male psyche at that time. They couldn’t get through the river pass so it had to be a woman’s fault. Fortunately for the threatened males, a stronger male was able to rein her in and save the gender from further trials. Couldn’t possibly have been the ineptitude of the sailors on the boat. Sheesh.

The next morning we made another run from Germany into Luxembourg. Luxembourg is a beautiful city with no one outstanding site. We wandered the old town, the new old town, the casemates and the riverside, relaxing and enjoying the town. It was interesting to note that people here are noticeably taller on average. We really noticed how short people were in southern France, Spain and Italy, especially some of the women. Northerners must be a taller breed.

The city of Luxembourg is built on and around a big rock. It was easy to strengthen it because of the natural geography. We spent an enjoyable hour or so wandering through the tunnels bored into the cliff around the city. I thought it would be fun to visit where my cousins had lived when they were here ages ago but didn’t get myself organized enough to have an address. We are all battling a nasty cold now so much of our past week has been spent in and out of a sort of stunned fog.

2 comments: said...

I love the shot of you two against the giant! Mynnette loved the Lux pictures that I forwarded to her and remembered many of the spots. Ian cleaned out the pool and we found our intrepid gold fish about 8 inches long now! How it survives in the slime amazes me. The back yard is almost "done." Looks great, as does the front. Love Mom said...

Today, I was at Joyce Ternes...and she and Willi have glasses frm Bacharch! She brought one out to show me...totally cool....Love Mom