Friday, February 23, 2024

GERMANY 2000: NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE, FUSSEN, AND THE WEISKIRCHE

 December 18, 2000

Neuschwanstein Castle is one of those places that everyone has seen, at least on postcards and calendars and in travel guides. With 1.5 million visitors a year, it is one of the most popular tourist sites in Europe. We were excited to visit and see it with our own eyes.  It did not disappoint, at least on the outside. It is very photogenic. These are brochure clippings from my scrapbook:


And this is information about King Ludwig II of Bavaria, who built it. It makes a great story!

Located on the northern edge of the Alps about 60 miles southwest of Munich and not too far from the Austrian border, the castle is perched half-way up a mountain and can be seen from a distance on approach.


Thursday, February 22, 2024

GERMANY 2000: STUTTGART, ROSENFELD, FREIBERG, AND ALLGAU

December 16-17, 2000

Our next stop was Stuttgart, a city 30 miles east of Pforzheim and where my mother's friend Eberhardt was living. It is the capital of the German state of Baden-W├╝rttemberg, and with a population of over 600,000 (and over 5.5 million in its metropolitan area), it is also the largest city in the state. Porsche and Mercedes-Benz headquarters are here.

While Stuttgart was bombed 53 times by the Allies, it didn't suffer the total destruction that Pforzheim did. In total, "only" 58% of the city's buildings were destroyed, and about 4,500 people were killed.

We were there to experience our first Weihnachtsmarkt, or Christmas market. It was spectacular.



Sunday, February 18, 2024

GERMANY 2000: PFORZHEIM

December 16, 2000

The first year I took travel pictures with a digital camera was 2009. We had some great trips before that, and I documented them by creating traditional scrapbooks. I have decided to try to digitize those memories by scanning the photos and writing up the trips here. This is my first attempt. While I have already written about much of what is in this first post, I include an expanded version here as the first part of our trip in 2000.

Our daughter, a French major at Brigham Young University at the time, completed a study abroad semester in Paris in Fall 2000. We decided that we and her two younger brothers would meet her in Europe in December and spend some time touring around France together. My mother, a German immigrant who traveled to Germany quite often, suggested that we tack on a trip to Germany with her as our guide, something I had always wanted to do. The trip was set. My husband and I had traveled to Great Britain the previous year, but this was our first trip to mainland Europe.

We flew into Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris where we met our daughter (who looked tres chic in her black leather coat, black pants, black boots, and a red French scarf) and picked up a rental van. We drove about 350 miles from Paris to the German city of Pforzheim, which is about 20 miles over the border, where we met up with my mother. We did make one stop at Verdun after making our way out of Paris, a stop memorable not for the sites that we saw but for the loaf of French bread and cheese that we bought at a convenience store. It was the first time we had tasted Boursin cheese, and we were wowed. We knew that our belts were in for some serious stretching on this trip.

It felt almost surreal to cross the border from France into Germany, and later into Austria, then back into Germany before ending up in France again. My husband had been in Europe as a pre-teen and remembers difficulty crossing the borders, and we had had our own experiences crossing the U.S./Mexico border that involved long waits.  We just breezed past the old border-crossing station near the Rhine river and Baden-Baden on our way into Germany, although we did get a little lost at that point as we struggled with the change in signage.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

NORTH CAROLINA: RALEIGH

 October 2022

On my last day I had several hours to kill after my son went to work and before I had to head to the airport, so I decided to take a look at North Carolina's capital city, Raleigh, named after Sir Walter Raleigh of Roanoke Colony fame. With a population of about 475,000, it is the 41st largest city in the United States, the 2nd most populous city in North Carolina after Charlotte, and one of the fastest growing cities in the country. In 2011 was ranked by Time as the third most-educated city in the US. 

Andrew Johnson, the 17th President of the US, was born here in 1808. Other notables include Olympic figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi, American Idol star Clay Aiken, and writer David Sedaris.

I was headed for the capitol building, but I detoured when I saw Christ Episcopal Church, built in 1848 to 1853. I love this sculpture entitled Peaceable Francis.


Down the street and around the corner is the First Baptist Church, completed in 1859.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

NORTH CAROLINA: CHAPEL HILL

 October 2022

Chapel Hill is a smallish city of about 62,000 in North Carolina dominated by the prestigious University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It is similar to the town where we currently live in both population and the university presence, but it feels a little more rural.  The climate is a bit more temperate than ours, and it gets about three times as much rain. Many of the streets look like this:


Since visiting Chapel Hill, I have learned that it is or was the home of many well-known folks, including former presidential candidate John Edwards, the musician Ben Folds, the author John Grisham, the journalist Charles Kuralt, novelist Betty Smith (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn), the  musician James Taylor, and author Thomas Wolfe (You Can't Go Home Again). Pretty impressive.

We had someone who wanted to go on a walk and hopefully chase that ball she was so lovingly guarding.

She got her wish. Not far from where our son was living when I visited are peaceful woods with wandering trails. The autumn colors were just beginning to emerge.

I was helping my kindergarten granddaughter with her "Flat Stanley" project where the child draws a picture of herself, then sends it "on a vacation" to visit a relative. The relative takes the child's self-portrait around and photographs it in a variety of places. It was fun to show "my granddaughter" the sights.

Monday, January 29, 2024

NORTH CAROLINA: KAYAKING TO THE THREE SISTERS SWAMP ON THE BLACK RIVER

 October 2022

My son Sam proposed that he and I have an adventure while I was visiting him in North Carolina--a kayaking trip. 

"Sure!" I said. "Sounds like fun!"

Clearly I had no idea what I had agreed to. 

The adventure started with a 120-mile south-southeast late afternoon drive to Wallace, North Carolina (population 3,300 and elevation 52 feet), where we had what turned out to be a very nice hotel for the night. On our way we passed field after field of ready-to-harvest cotton. What back-breaking labor THAT must be.



The next morning we got up very early and drove to the launch area of the Black River, arriving just before sunrise. The 50-mile-long Black River is a tributary of the Cape Fear River.  A "blackwater" river is one with a lot of vegetation decay that releases tannins in the water, making the water appear dark and brackish. While this kind of water will not support most hardwood tree species, it does create a unique environment that can't be found in other places.

We walked around a bit, admiring the scenery and appreciating the stillness. For a tributary river, the water seemed eerily motionless--much more like a lake or pond than a river.


Wednesday, January 24, 2024

NORTH CAROLINA: DURHAM

 October 2022

In the summer of 2022, our son moved from Utah to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to take a job as a risk assessment arborist for a tree company. I wanted to be able to visualize where he was living, so in October of that year I planned a trip to visit him. Bob couldn't go with me, so I went by myself. I flew into the Raleigh-Durham International Airport, a small- to mid-sized airport that was not too crowded and easy to navigate.


Our son had to work, so I spent the day seeing the sites with his girlfriend as tour guide, which was nice as I knew nothing of the area.

Our first stop was Bennett Place in Durham, the site of the final surrender of a major Confederate army in the Civil War -- General Johnston's surrender to General Sherman -- on April 26, 1865, which was about 2 ½ weeks after Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox. This was news to me! I thought it was all over after Appomattox.
An interesting fact is that Lincoln's assassination occurred on April 15, two days before the first day of negotiations here, but was reported to the generals on that first day, April 17. News traveled more slowly back then.