10: THE NETHERLANDS
11: BACK TO GERMANY
18: CYPRUS WIND DOWN
22: MEXICO Y ESPANA
THE ROAD TO CYPRUS
In my past trips to Europe I was proud of the fact that I get a “flip” on standby for $2. I had done this three times to date, in fact. This time I had done one better. I was able to get over on “leave on route”. No standby but ..”Step this way sir your seat awaits” . Okay not quite that formal but ...
I had decided to bring a guitar to Cyprus and was about to leave it in the baggage counter when I was told that I would have to bring it on the plane. On the plane I discovered that I could only store it between my legs in an already tight space between seats. And to make matters even more fun, there was a child in the seat in front who loved to put his seat back and up again all the way across the Atlantic from almost take off ,till landing. So when we landed I had nary a moment’s sleep. Normally I can put in 4 to 5 hours of sleep. When I deplaned in Lahr Germany I had not had one minute of sleep. I decided to head straight for Denmark so I didn’t sleep over. I left my uniform , which I had worn on the flight, in the dental clinic in Lahr. I had an hour or so of pleasant conversation with the dental staff there. When I was ready to go, one of the assistants offered to drive me to the Autobahn. When we got there he asked where I was heading so he could drop me off on the correct side of the small bridge crossing. I jokingly said, “People are starting to talk about Norway” . he found that remark funny as it made me sound as if I tended to not plan trips. He knew better; but, he enjoyed the attitude.
It was early July and a rather nice summer day , as I set off . But, there seemed to be a different attitude towards picking up hitch hikers. I waited almost 30 minutes for a short ride, then another 30 minutes. At Karlsruhe I decided to break down and take a train. I was told that the Copenhagen Express was,well a bit less of an Express that day. Apparently the Paris to Copenhagen train had run off a track. No fatalities; but, it was delayed. By the time it got to Karlsruhe I had not slept in almost 30 hours. I had to smile as I thought back to my basic training, see it had come in handy . I sought out my usual third class coach . The chairs were such that the seat part of the bench could slide toward the facing bench , which could also slide forward. A short bed was made. I immediately did this and apparently people were crawling over me all the way to Bremenhaven, getting in and out of the coach. In Bremenhaven we were to disembark from the train and take a ferry over to Copenhagen. I did not wake up and I heard a voice in German telling me in no uncertain tones to wake up. When I am asleep it is a great time ..for me. I tend to get into a deep state of somnambulant joy. And when I am awoken it is apparently quite a comical sight as I seem confused for a short while . I don’t want this to sound trite; but, for a few seconds I had a flash back to War movies were the Germans all seemed to be shouting. I awoke in a short span but not without some confusion on may part and no doubt some frustration for the conductor.. But all ends well and I was on the boat to Denmark
It was an overnight trip and I got in some needed sleep time. Copenhagen seemed like a nice destination as the ship entered the harbour. Perhaps it was my preconception of Denmark that made it appear that way. My time at EXPO 67 had shown Denmark to be a country that I envisaged as being a gentle artistic country. I wandered through the down town and found a nice B&B. I also noticed the large number of cyclists. Later in life I started to commute by bike and this revelation was in the back of my mind . I also found the inhabitants to be quite attractive, Maybe this is part of being a young single guy , as Scandinavians had a good reputation for beauty..but hey.
I found the streets were busy but not overly imposing or uncomfortable, The architecture was pleasant and lived up to the expectations I had fostered at EXPO 67. Copenhagen is a “people” city There seemed to be an endless series of parks and recreation areas. Tivoli Gardens is a world famous amusement area and beautiful parkland. I recall enjoying a lovely cool Carlsberg ale under a tree, watching people walk about enjoying the summer.
From Wikipedia :The oldest section of Copenhagen's inner city is often referred to as "Middelalderbyen" (The Medieval City). However, the most distinctive district of Copenhagen is Frederiksstaden developed during the reign of Frederick V. It has Amalienborg Palace at its centre and is dominated by the dome of the Marble Church as well as a number of elegant 18th century mansions. Also part of the old inner city of Copenhagen is the small island of Slotsholmen with Christiansborg Palace and Christianshavn. Around the historical city centre lies a band of congenial residential bouroughs (Vesterbro, Inner Nørrebro, Inner Østerbro) dating mainly from late 19th century. They were built outside the old ramparts of the city when the city was finally allowed to expand beyond this barrier
I spent a full day wandering about the Middlealderbyen. Although I had been to Europe a few times I always fell under the spell of both the beauty and the history of the architecture. The marble church dates to 1740. Hey not quite as old as Salisbury; but a wonder to my eyes and spirit.
In the harbour I had to seek out the Little Mermaid, Langelinie. This statue is inspired by the Hans Christian Anderson tale of a young mermaid who sacrificed her mermaid existence for a human soul and the love of a prince. The statue was commissioned by Karl Jacobson the son of the Carlsberg Ale founder. The sculptor Edvard Eriksen used a ballerina as a model and his wife as the nude body model. Modesty lived I guess. I and most tourists seem to remark on how smaller it was than we expected ;but, it was something of a satisfying moment to see such a renowned statue.
My short stay in Copenhagen was intellectually invigorating , as I seemed to “stumble” across a myriad of historic and beautiful buildings. As well the general tone of the people was a relaxed one. I even enjoyed a Chinese meal. This goes back to my trip with Rick C. to Nassau. We came across a Chinese restaurant there and it became a sort of thing to do. Growing up we only had one Chinese restaurant in Dorval ( Montreal suburb) so a Chinese restaurant seemed exotic to us at the time. And being “Men of the world” we carried on the custom of eating at a Chinese restaurant for years to come, wherever we happened to be. I had planned to meet a Canadian friend in Stockholm; but ,by chance I had not brought his address. So I decided to stay in Denmark.
At one small “pub” I got into a conversation with a husband and wife, who seemed to enjoy talking with visitors, something I appreciated. They suggested a visit to Svendborg and Faaborg would be interesting. Two days later I set out for Svendborg , on their suggestion. The rides came easily so the problems in Germany must have just been due to circumstances and bad luck that day.
It was about an hour drive to Svendborg. It was a small town and had a history going back to the 1200’s from what the manager of the Youth Hostel told me. There were again a plethora of interesting structures. I met a few interesting travelers. One was a fellow from New Zealand with whom I spent an interesting evening talking about this and that, where we had been, where we were going and where the cute girls might be. We ended up in a sort of disco. I saw one blonde who seemed attractive from afar. And when I asked her to dance she looked up..the moustache gave him away. Gad I had asked a guy to dance.. Much hilarity, but I think the Dane didn’t quite find it funny. Such is life on the road with many a brew resting on one’s system J
Someone told me about the cemetery of Landet on Tåsinge. It was the site of the final resting place of Elvira Madigan. She was a young circus performer .Her misadventures with a married Swedish cavalry officer were the subject of an arty Swedish movie in 1967. I tended to be a science kind of guy; but, my artsy friends would drag me off to “educate” me and Elvira Madigan was one of these films I saw. It was kind of depressing and ended with the murder of Elvira and the suicide of her lover Count Bengt Edvard Sixten Sparre. Hell with a name like that I might have pulled the trigger Hey just kidding .
Although the film was a bit slow it was about love, or what passed for it, if one excludes the Count’s family . But I have always had a sense of respect for cemeteries and I approached the tomb of Miss Madigan with a sense of spiritually. Life and beyond continues to pose questions; but, I always feel a loss of life is something to be revered and contemplated with a thought to the lost soul or souls involved. This philosophy carried me through out my travels when I encountered moving places or events. The Anne Frank house, scenes where WWII bombings had occurred and so on. Somehow being at such sites were edifying and expanded my spirituality. Another aspect of travel I hope this book conveys.
The road to Faaborg was short; but ,always interesting. My rides, in Denmark were again cordial and informative. This is perhaps one of the really indefinable pleasures of the ‘hippie’ part of my travels. It was a really “Pay forward” lesson for me with each ride. It was uplifting to see the pride people have in their homelands. Patriotism can be a negative thing if it is a blind adrenalin action. But, every day I met people who were gentle and sharing. I know sounds like a hippie play of words; but , it was a fact of my travels that seemed to continue daily.
Faaborg was a lovely small town, again the hostel proved a nice place to meet people. I met an Australian who was spending a year “On the road” after University . He told me the hostel was in fact an all night hostel, as there were side windows one could climb into if the front door was closed at 10 PM. I got a bit of a chuckle out of his enthusiasm with this news. Again we gravitated towards the local bars. We shared info on places we had been and met people who gave us a few ideas on where to go. Some Danish students recommended Arhus and Arlberg. The previous February, when I took a "flip" then went on to Switzerland and Spain I was sleeping at Trenton Air base overnight. I was listening to the radio and a new Gordon Lightfoot song came on. "If you could read my mind" . As with much of his music I took an immediate shine to it. Well this summer it was Radio Luxembourg's "Pick to Click". I ,of course ,pointed out that Lightfoot was Canadian to my new friends :). Radio Luxembourg was a powerful AM station that covered most of Europe. I later learned it was also popular with young people behind the Iron Curtain. My Aussie friend was heading south ;but, he commented on a short stay in Arhus. That night met a couple of local Danish lasses and we both had to comment on how cute the Danish women were. My experience at EXPO 67 prepared me for the beauties I saw; but, hey I am a guy and I never tired of what I saw. We figured we were making great headway when the girls at our table all got up and said they had to work the next day. Ah will the cold showers be on at the hostel when we turn in?
Another great sleep and the next day I took off for Arhus. I passed through Odense with a Danish fellow who pointed out that the most famous citizen was Hans Christian Anderson. As, like many ,I had of course read his tales and it was a particular satisfying thing for me to see the streets where he must have treaded in his life time. That may sound a bit naïve but it was this sense of “being there” that pervaded my travels. As I have stated and will reiterate, seeing and being places where famous people had trod was something I find hard to explain except that it gave me an appreciation of history from the perspective of individual , many of whom were not major players such as kings emperors or warriors; but, in many ways ordinary people who left a mark.
Arhus is the second largest city in Denmark. It has been called a small large city as it is a manageable size ,with many feel, it has all the amenities of a big city without the hassles. I spent an afternoon just wandering about taking in the street scenes. I didn’t spend a lot of time in the city so I really can’t give a good impression of what lay beyond the superficial. It is a University town and I walked through the campus getting a feel for the University. The overall architecture was very pleasing and I would feel a good asset to learning.
The next day I took off up the coast for Aalborg. I spent two days walking about and enjoying the old architecture that seemed to fill much of the inner part of the city. I also went up the Aalborg Tårnet (Aalborg Tower) which is a 54.9 meter tall observation tower built of lattice steel in Aalborg, Denmark. The tower is built on a hill, providing a total height of 105 meter above sea level. The view was of a calm city that offered a warm sense of hospitality. I stayed at a small hotel and spoke at length with the young desk clerk who seemed to welcome the idea of a Canadian visitor taking in his city. A nice gesture. That evening I decided to check out the social scene as I had been told of a good singles bar. I was turned away at the door because I did not have a jacket. I made my way dejectedly, back to the hotel. My new friend at the front desk insisted I borrow his jacket. I was quite bigger but the jacket more or less fit.
In the bar I met an American fellow traveler and we shared experiences. I was quite thrilled when a local gal asked me to dance . She was with some friends but said she would like to meet me the next day. Unfortunately I was on a bit of a tight travel schedule and I was to be off to Norway the following day. Hmm I guess the social scene would have to wait as I had to hit the road. But it was nice meeting some local people and telling them about Canada and asking them about what to see. At one table two girls were smoking small cigars. They didn’t do this in Canada and a fellow told me it was common in Denmark. The following day I took off for the nearby port of Hirtshals where I would catch the ferry to Kristiansand Norway. I had spent ;but, a small amount of time in Denmark but I was impressed with the history, beauty of the architecture and the mild nature of the people. From busy streets teeming with pedestrians and cyclists in Copenhagen to small towns such as Faaborg it had been a nice experience.
On the boat I met a Pakistani fellow who had moved to Norway to work. He lived in Stavanger. We had an interesting time as he told me about his hopes for the future and his lack of opportunity back home. We spent an evening at a local bar in Kristiansand and more or less solved the problems of the world. After a good sleep in the local hostel we had a nice breakfast and we set out separately. I took his phone number and later contacted him in Stavanger. The ride up was a nice one. In contrast to Denmark Norway is mountainous. Part of it reminded me of the Laurentians, north of Montreal. Especially in the country where there were no houses. All very nice
Along the way I met an American fellow who had been to the tip of Norway to spend a day there at the summer solstice, The longest day of the year. He said it was almost a spiritual experience. He told me he was not alone; there were film crews and many people from all over Europe and a few from Japan. It was nice to hear him tell me of this experience as it was provided by Mother Nature and was a “Natural “phenomenon. In my travels some of the more simple things that were a part of nature had the strongest impression on me be it waves on the ocean or even a heavy rain fall while under a tree taking cover. As silly as it sounds to some I would one day love to experience a monsoon rain.
Stavanger was a destination of the Maritime Air patrol squadron from Summerside PEI. I had hoped to make the trip one day; but, I was not able to get the time to do so. So I made it overland . Stavanger was similar to other areas that I had seen. It had a combination of recent architecture and some very historical places.Stavanger Domkirke (St. Svithun's cathedral) was built between 1100 and 1150 by the English bishop Reinald in Anglo-Norman style, and in the late 13th century a new choir was added in Gothic style, with a vaulted roof. The cathedral is the only Norwegian cathedral that is almost unchanged since the 14th century.I spent an afternoon wandering about near the cathedral and I visited inside as well.
Later I contacted my Pakistani friend and we wandered about. He showed me some areas of interest including a few shops that carried local products. I didn’t buy a sweater but later in Bergen I got the urge to go “Norwegian” . My friend brought me to his apartment , which he shared with three other Pakistanis. I was treated to a wonderful home prepared meal of Pakistani food. It was a new experience for me. It was spicy ;but, my trips to Nassau and Jamaica had prepared my palate for these and they were enjoyable. Again a casual encounter on the road leads to a wonderful experience. My friend and I went to a local bar to take in the local brew. I was at the bar talking to some Norwegians when a fellow told me about a good hike in the mountains. One got off the Bergen to Oslo train at a small stop called Finse . he told me that he would not have told me this if I had been an American as they would not be interested. It is a shame that Americans get a bad rap as when I went on this trek through the mountains almost ½ of the people were in fact Americans , and many in their 50’s
I took a ferry boat from Stavanger to Bergen. On board I met an other American fellow with whom I spent a few days in Bergen. Again, he was not what had become a stereotype. I think I can say that people who travel in ones and two's tend to be more open to what a new land , city or culture has to offer. He was a psychology student who had taken a year off. He worked in the U.K. for a while then set out to see some of mainland Europe. From his conversation I gathered that he had “found” himself and was quite keen on getting back to the books. Again, a warm experience. I ran into many fellow travelers on this trip. I think we all had a desire not just to see scenery but to meet people and exchange positive ideas.
In Bergen I found my usual cheap hotel. My friend and I had a great time wandering about just taking in local colour. He got a call from some friend he was to meet in Oslo so he took off after only a day in Bergen. We bid each other a fond farewell and I took some time to wander about. There were a number of lovely old churches and more than a fair share of older buildings. The architecture was similar to Stavanger in many ways but the area where my hotel was located was near the harbour. I spent a lot of time just wandering about looking at the stalls local merchants had set up. Fishing was a major local industry and it was intriguing to see a real fish market , almost at the source, as it were. It reminded me of some small villages in Prince Edward Island Canada.
The city is also surrounded by mountains so one can experience something different in a short walk be up a few hundred meters. The view from one of the look outs was really tranquil. The sea has a strange power over me. I tend to see long into the distance and with that a feeling of seeing into the future and the past. I know a bit strange; but, it is a nice sensation and very calming.
One on side street I came across a clothing store and I bought a Norwegian sweater. The owner of the store took considerable pride in selling a Canadian one of the locally made sweaters. And the fact that I was outwardly excited at the prospect of having this sweater added to the back and forth atmosphere. I had the sweater for almost 20 years and literally wore it out. This sounds like an good reason to return to Bergen to get a new sweater.
I ate at a small café , near the harbour. It was a small; but, well run establishment. The meals were prepared with pride and after a visit of two I became the usual “regular”. Something that I always seemed to relish . One evening there were four people from France at a nearby table. So I began speaking to them in French. One has to realize that our Canadian French evolved from the ear;y 1600's , in a different manner from European French. I can understand them but ,boy it is a riot when it is my turn to speak. I later discovered this in Paris, much to my amusement. I joined them for a coffee and we had a nice talk. Unfortunately they were not pleased with the weather , which was rainy on and off..and they did not like the food. In fact they told me they should never have left France. I found it all quite amusing and again another little vignette to put in my bag of experiences. One should never generalize; but, I did meet a number of people from France who were not quite up to the adventures travel can offer J . One the way home from Cyprus I traveled with many people from France who were more similar to my spirit of adventure J
The next morning I boarded the Oslo train. As I mentioned I was getting off at the stop at Finse station ,to take a three day hike from 1222 meters (Close to 4000 feet) above sea level . On the train I met a number of young travelers, like myself. Several had wished they had known about the trek through the mountains. When I got off the train I was the only hiker and I had a really interesting feeling. I was alone ;but, the venture I anticipated really hit home. About 10 minutes into the walk along a well designated trail, I came across a couple who were sitting on what turned out to be a deer hide. I asked if they spoke English or French , I didn’t need to ask about German as they spoke English. J We had a bit of a talk about where the trail led, they had been here once before from Denmark and they told me it was a wonderful experience. They asked what I did in Canada and I explained I was a dentist on my way to Cyprus with the UN Force. They both laughed and the fellow told me he was a dentist and that his girl friend said, “That fellow coming down the trail looks like a dentist”. I never had this happen before and we had a good chuckle. We also spoke a bit about the profession, where we had trained etc. I bid them farewell as they were waiting for some friends on the next train from Oslo.
The ‘dentist thing’ reminded me of a funny incident I had happen when I was in Montreal. I played rugby with the Montreal Irish club, as I have related. At an annual lobster party fund raiser I was talking to a gal when someone walked by with a rather spiffy white suit. The rest of us were a bit more casually attired. She waited till he passed then chuckled into my ear and said , “That guy looks like a dentist” ..gad I decided then and there never to tell a cute gal I was a dentist. Our image was pretty low.
The walk was great. I had chosen to go downhill rather than start at the Fjord and climb; but, in retrospect I think it was just as much of a strain either way. I went slightly uphill for an hour or so. At the summit I actually walked across some glacier ice. This was the Blaisen gletsjer , or Blasien Glacier The walking was making me warm so I didn’t need a jacket and it was not raining. All in all a really exhilarating experience. I encountered a few groups of 3 or 4 who were nearing the end of their up hill trek. They told me the hostels were really great. I had been told that they could provide a meal if one wanted so I didn’t carry much food. Just some snack treats.
The first hostel was like a Swiss alpine cottage. It was really a picturesque and welcoming site. The hostel was fully booked inside; but, I was able to get a room next to a heat cabin where people often dried their sleeping bags. This proved to be a great advantage as I would later need some heat…
Inside I met some interesting people. One fellow was a Vietnam War Protestor ( I prefer that term to draft dodger) . He had worked at a Montreal tabloid called Midnight. He said most of the material he wrote was made up but some had a grain of truth. Too bad they didn’t have Wikileaks then J . He had lived in Montreal and got to really enjoy the French atmosphere of the city. This was his first trip to Europe and he told me living in Montreal opened his eye to appreciate more of cultures that were different from what he had known. A pleasant before supper conversation took place with a number of people.
I began to feel a bit paranoid as I had worked up a good sweat on the trek so I figured I should at least wash my sweaty hair. I went over to the nearby river and enjoyed a refreshing shampoo. Hey I was far from the bright lights of the city; a shampoo in clean clear water was fun J
I then figured a quick swim / shower would really make me feel great. I went to my small room and changed into my bathing suit. I took a quick jump into the water….AHHHHHHHH I had forgotten that only an two hour walk away this water had been a glacier. I won’t go into basic anatomy but lets say my testicles did a quick jump back into my body J I quickly got out and dried off. I had the shivers for sure. I went back to the main foyer of the Hostel and to my great relief they had a fire on in the fire place. I think a few of the people must have thought I had never seen a fireplace as I sat in front of it for almost two hours till supper. It was a real green horn move but one I still find funny .
I stayed around for a day just to take in the beauty of the area. I met a few Norwegians who were intrigued about Canada. We are not really too well known in he world , which has benefits in many ways. The size of Canada, and the immense open spaces were attractive to them, something I discovered over the years. I had an Australian friend visit me a few years ago and he said , “All we know about Canada is the Rockies and Niagara Falls". I think this is something our tourism people should be aware of . I was often a one man “Visit Canada” walking advert . No hype or parochialism, just information and some friendly advice on places to visit. I was in fact paying forward to all who helped me in my travels.
The second hostel was similar to the first, only the scenery was a bit more low key and less dramatic I had learned my lesson about swimming so I avoided that. Again a lovely meal in a beautiful country. I met a number of middle age Americans, which belied the words of the man who had suggested this tour. Americans are usually great travelers when in small numbers, much like any group of people in fact. Two were teachers from Pennsylvania, they had left their wives back in Bergen.. you know so they could shop etc…Ahhh don’t hit me I say to my wife, this is not sexist.
The final day I made it to the sea, a beautiful Fjord. The air was a fragrance I always associate with the sea. I wandered about for a while awaiting the arrival of the small train that takes one up the side of the mountain to the Bergen / Oslo train stop. It was at times a high incline and the train was on some sort of system that allowed the downhill side of the cars to be raised. Again, another wondrous site.
On the train to Oslo I ran into a couple of US gals who were traveling for the summer. I over heard them speaking English and kind of joined in on the conversation. One of them had been to Oslo and knew where the hostel was. Always a boon when one is on the road and not taking taxis. She knew which bus to take, a few good local restaurants . We had a pleasant evening solving the problems of the world. One told me that Norwegians are not too proud of Oslo as it is not that pretty compared to other capitals. Actually compared to Bergen and Stavanger it did come a solid third in attractiveness. At the hostel we met a fellow from New York city who was a big fan of Norwegian painter Edvard Munch, who is described as a Norwegian Symbolist painter. This fellow was a font of knowledge about Munch . I had heard of his most famous painting , “The Scream” and I was filled on many details. As the evening wore on and we had downed a few local brew my new friend became quite morose. He told me he should not drink as he had a tendency to depression. He opened up to me and I think by being an attentive listener I helped him get out from under this cloud , if only temporarily. He told me that his family were not supportive of him and many people dismissed his interests in Munch. I must admit that it might wear a bit thin after some time; but, that evening was a learning experience for me and I like to think, if only temporarily, I helped a person in need. When we went to the Museum to see the painting I felt a sort of kinship with the work. The next day he seemed quite disappointed when I told him I was setting off for Germany on a ferry boat. One often wonders about these “Ships passing in the night” experiences. The more I hit the road the broader my scope became and I like to think it has made me a better person. I know that when I meet people from other countries it is always interesting if I have been to their native land. People are indeed different but so much alike.
I am not a “car sick” type of person but the ride back to Germany was interesting. I had a cabin at the back, or stern as I learned in my short stay with the Navy in Halifax. My bunk ran width wise and a bit out at sea I decided to retire and have a nice overnight sleep. A rough sea made me rethink that. Up and down we went and being at the back of the ship ( Did I mention stern ? J ) , made it all more noticeable. I shrugged it off for a while but then I became overcome by a combo of claustrophobia and sea sickness. I took it for 10 minutes then charged on deck … “Tincture of time” sort of overcame the feeling, that and a smoother sea. So I did get a good sleep. By the time we landed in Germany I was all set to hit the road again. I went to Hamburg to check out the scene, not much had changed J Then I hit the road toward Lahr in the Black Forest. St Pesmo was again working overtime and I got two fast and long rides. I decided to go to Heidelberg, home of the Student Prince, as it were.. The Student Price is an operetta by Sigmund Romberg. It had it’s premier on Broadway in 1924 at the height of the US prohibition. A popular song due to both musical content and perhaps what passed for political expediency of prohibition , was the “Drink Drink “ song.
I arrived at the hostel a bit late , after 10 PM so I kind of set up my sleeping bag outside the main gate, as the hostel was closed for the evening. A bit of a contrast with the Danish , open all night, hostels J I was almost asleep when a Japanese Hostel go'er came by, he had his gear inside and only had a T-shirt and shorts . In another gesture of international accord we set up some of my clothes as a cover and used the sleeping bag as a blanket. Not the best of sleeps but I can sleep anywhere.
I checked in the next day and took off to see this legendary small town. One stop was the historic Heidelberg Castle or in German Heidelberger Schloss. It dates to 1214 at the earliest constructions. It has the unfortunate happenstance of being subject to lightening strikes, although I saw no evidence of these when I visited. It was a pleasant walk along the Neckar river to and from the castle. I spent a bit of contemplative time on a bridge just where the walk to the castle meets the inner city. It just seemed to have a feeling of antiquity to me, no other reason really J
While walking in the old city I stopped a man and asked ,in my Hitch hiking German, where the famous “drink drink’ venue was, in the Mario Lanza film it was in a pub or Gasthof. He seemed impressed at my small efforts in Germany and took me to one bar he felt would fit the description. He as a professor of Biology at the Heidelberg University . he introduced me to some of his students who were in the bar. So what started out as a innocent inquiry turned into another night of knowledge. Being at the hostel I had to kind of check in by 9 : PM but again another great reward for taking a bit of an extra step.
I had a great sleep but was awoken at around 2 PM by some loud noise. It seems a British hosteller had somewhat sticky fingers. For the past few nights he had been going into people’s belongings and the staff of the hostel was setting a trap for him, which he obligingly triggered. So escorted by three hotel officials he began a rather tasteless Nazi condemnation of the staff. This of course was not popular with anyone. After the lad had been picked up by police the staff came by and handed back some of the things he had taken. But being a seasoned traveler I managed to get back to sleep. I have never left valuables unattended.
I had enjoyed my stay in this charming town. Being a bit of a curious fellow about haute cuisine I also tried some German fare that was a bit different. I left behinds some great memories of some regional foods, at least I figured they were regional.
One was Spätzle, a noodle like food with cheese and onion as a base. I am not a huge onion fan but somehow it blended in well. One could also have meat with the Spätzle . With one of the great beers it was ,of course, a gourmet treat to my ever expanding culinary palate. During my stay I returned to one particular restaurant a few times and as I had in the past and would in the future , I became a “regular” J
The next day I decided to visit Nurnberg. As was typical in my travels I never really kept an itinerary. I found myself with some extra days so off I went. As I have mentioned I had been a bit leery about a trip to Germany in 1968 but any concerns vanished. I felt it was an historical event to visit Nurnberg. It had been the home of Nazi rallies and was the center of the post war trials of Nazis. It was in fact a pretty city. It had been bombed considerably during the war; but, in quick order it had been restored. I recall pieces of the spire of the St Lorenz Church were reassembled in front of the church. It was started to be built in 1445. It was considered to be the center of Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria. It seemed a symbol of rebuilding in a positive way.
Nuremberg held great significance during the Nazi era. Because of the city's relevance to the Nazi and its position in the centre of Germany, they chose the city to be the site of huge Nazi Party conventions — the Nurenberg Rallies . The rallies were held annually from 1927 to 1938 in Nuremberg. After Hitler came to power in 1933 the Nuremberg rallies became hugeThey were major events, a center of Nazi ideals. The 1934 rally was filmed by Leni Rehfenstah and made into a propaganda film called Triumph des Willens (Triumph of the Will). At the 1935 rally, Hitler specifically ordered the Reichstag to convene at Nuremberg to pass the anti-Semitic Nuremburg laws which revoked German Citizenshp for all Jews. A number of premises were constructed solely for these assemblies, some of which were not finished. Today many examples of Nazi Architecture can still be seen in the city. The city was also the home of the Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher, the publisher of Der Sturmer
One area I had wanted to see was where Hitler held his infamous rallies. This was Zeppelin Field where the strength of the Nazi party was conceived and came to fruition. It was a large area, much like a sports field. In some rallies as many as 100,000 troops took part before 350,000 spectators. It was a long walk around the area. There were the still stands where the Nazi faithful reviewed the military parades. It was quite an eerie experience as there may have only been a hand full of people in this large area the two hours or so I wandered about. I had a strange feeling of a presence of others. I am not a person to say I believe in spirits per se; but, there was a heavy prevailing presence even if it was only in my mind. As I walked around I could imagine and visualize the fearsome sounds of fanatical Nazis expressing emotions that defied reason. We all know where their beliefs lead and I could feel a chill just being there. Although parts of this destination were troubling; from an historic point of view it was none the less educational.
After three days I embarked on my final leg, back to Lahr Germany and on to Cyprus. I spent a day on the base and met a few of the dentists who were fortunate enough to have been posted on this NATO Base. I spent the night kind fo checking out local wines. I was sleeping on a sofa and the back of the sofa was something I would lean into as I slept. This would have an interesting effect when I arrived in Nicosia. The NATO Base of Lahr was one place, for which I wish I had been selected. Maybe in another life.