Our European Adventure – Day 10

Waldspirale, Darmstadt, Germany.

What was supposed to be the last leg of the trip wasn’t.

We woke up to the news that our flight home was canceled. Off to the airport, we went anyhow to rebook. It was chaotic at our airline’s booking counters, to say the least. But with a lot of patience on the part of all of us, it all worked out despite being there several hours.

Lufthansa worked with each group member and allowed us to pick our seats. Three members of our group were six feet eight inches or taller and needed lots of leg room. We were also given vouchers for an excellent hotel, dinner that evening, and breakfast the following day.

An advertising mural at the airport.
Reality at the airport

We did have to arrange on our own for yet another Covid-19 test since that requirement was still in place when we traveled. That process was equally chaotic. Though it took much too long, we all tested negative again.

Despite the confusion and frustrations of this day, there was a very positive upside for my wife and me. The open evening allowed us to meet some new friends.

Marie-Helene has followed this blog for a few years. She and her husband Oliver lived near Frankfurt and offered to come to say hello. Now that we had an open evening, they took us to a UNESCO World Heritage site, Mathlidenhohe in Darmstadt.

According to the World Heritage Convention, the historic artist colony is at the city’s highest point. The “finger building,” as locals refer to the art nouveau tower, serves as the centerpiece for this most unusual and striking community where much of the architecture is the art.

Our hosts led us on a walking tour of part of the area. We climbed the “finger building” that often serves as a wedding venue. From the building’s pinnacle, we had marvelous views of the city.

The golden dome of the Russian Orthodox Church reflected the evening sun just below the tower. We saw other public and private buildings that made this neighborhood the artistic wonder it is.

Particularly striking was the nearby Waldspirale. It was a sprawling apartment building that spiraled upward into an expansive structure. Erected in the 1990s, it was constructed so that nothing looked level, but everything was. The building even had a green roof where large trees grew. I found it an astounding piece of architecture.

All too soon, we had to return to our hotel in Frankfurt, where we dined with our friendly hosts. We bid them farewell with hugs and words of gratitude for their kind hospitality.

The next day it was off to the airport and a long flight home. The plane left as scheduled this time, and the flight went well. After gathering our luggage, we had a two-and-a-half-hour ride home, and just like that, our European adventure had ended.

Our new friends Oliver and Marie-Helene.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2022

Our European Adventure – Day 7

A rural Catholic church near Neuschwanstein, Germany.

Our seventh day of sightseeing started on a somber note. A short drive from Munich is the World War II concentration camp of Dachau. It was a last-minute addition to our itinerary.

As sobering and humbling as our visit was there, I am glad we stopped. Everyone must visit at least one of these sights where the worst imaginable human behavior occurred to innocent people.

The entrance to Dachau.

It wasn’t easy to experience where these unfortunate folks had walked, slept, were tortured, and killed. But it’s a walk that we all should make. We cannot forget what brutal fascism did to millions of people.

We saw the reconstructed barracks, the crude toilet facilities, showers, and the furnaces. We saw where thousands were lined up and shot to death in a ditch designed to channel the blood away from the corpses.

Reading about the Holocaust is one thing. Observing its horrors first-hand is something else altogether. Such atrocities must never happen again. And yet, they have, and they are, perhaps in not the exact numbers, but global peoples are suffering at the hands of tyrants even today.

Dachau is a stark, loathsome place, full of the horrible treatment of human-to-human history. Only a few of the barracks that housed the prisoners were reconstructed. The officers’ quarters remain today, serving as a museum to the dark deeds done there.

I was surprised to learn that Jews were not the only group of people persecuted during the 12 years Dachau existed. Any individuals and congregations of people who did not follow the Nazi line were imprisoned at Dachau, located just a short distance from Munich, where the Nazi regime had its headquarters.

More Jehovah Witnesses per capita were murdered at Dachau than any other religion. Even prisoners of war from other countries were detained there.

The various memorials to those who died and suffered at Dachau.

Different memorials have been constructed to honor those who died and suffered there. The monument to the Russians who died there is actually built outside the camp’s parameters. So infuriated were the Russians at the atrocities they brought soil from Russia on which the memorial is built.

We left there in a somber mood. That changed as we drove on the Romantic Road to where it turns off to Hohenschwangau in southwest Bavaria, Germany. There, Mad King Ludwig built the Neuschwanstein Castle, so unique and dreamy that Disney used it as the model for their theme park castles.

On the way into the village, we stopped at a rural church surrounded by hayfields and croplands. In fact, farmers were cutting and raking hay as we disembarked the bus. Of course, we had to explore the church before heading to Hohenschwangau.

We could only view the castle from afar, but Ludwig had built another less opulent one overlooking the village. It’s appropriately named Hohenschwangau Castle.

It was on to a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Church of Wies, designed in the late 1740s. Ornate couldn’t begin to describe the beauty we saw. Designed by Dominikus Zimmerman, the work is a masterpiece of Bavarian Rocco.

I wasn’t nearly sophisticated enough to fully appreciate what I was seeing. I just know it was magnificent. One fact I do know. Though the ceiling looks domelike, it is actually flat.

Our final destination for the day was Oberammergau, where we had just enough time to check in at our hotel, have dinner, and walk around the inviting town. The next morning we would discover just how lovely the town and its people were.

The walkway to the memorials at Dachau. It clearly had been a day of juxtaposition and contemplation.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2022

K Hertzler Art

Artist and nature journalist in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

Maria Vincent Robinson

Photographer Of Life and moments

° BLOG ° Gabriele Romano

The flight of tomorrow

Jennifer Murch

Art is the only way to run away without leaving home. -Twyla Tharp

Roadkill Crossing

Writing generated from the rural life

ANJOLI ROY

writer. teacher. podcast cohost.

Casa Alterna

El amor cruza fronteras / Love crosses borders

gareth brandt

reflections about God and life

church ov solitude

We are all just babes in the woods.

%d bloggers like this: