Germanic Musings

I’m in Europe running tours for Rick Steves. I arrived in Trier Germany to discover that there was a Roman Festival taking place over the weekend. Trier of course was the capital of the western Roman empire in the 4th century and boasts Germany’s premier Roman sights: the famous Porta Nigra (the Roman Gate), a basilica built by Constantine, an amphitheater, and a bath complex. The festival was a gathering of Roman reenactment societies and included demonstrations, exhibitions, replicas of Roman weapons, products, and handicrafts, and other fun distractions. It was the kind of pageantry that makes Europe appealing and the reason we travel here. I particularly enjoyed the “Procession of the Legions” where all the visiting groups gathered at the Porta Nigra and marched through the historic center.

I heard some English, located its source, and had a nice chat with the club from UK. Good travel fun!

Later in the tour we stopped in the Black Forest at an open air museum. We re-introduced this stop last year on this (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) tour, so this was only my second time visiting with a group. This is a rather sentimental stop for me as I visited this same museum in the spring of 1978 on my first trip to Europe.

I have a slide of this farmhouse from that first visit with my friend of 34 years, Sabine Bilharz. I am compelled to recognize how lucky I’ve been to travel so broadly, make enduring friendships, and now have a job that allows me to reconnect on a regular basis.

Arriving in Murren we had a lovely couple of days in the Swiss alps. The weather wasn’t perfect but very high cloud cover meant the Jungfrau massif was mostly visible at all times, so no one was disappointed. I opted to try a new hike, the higher, “Mountain View” hike from Allmendhubel to Grutschalp. I was rewarded with unobstructed views of the massif and some rather picturesque cows.

In the evening of our second day a local alphorn club had their monthly gathering at our hotel. I snapped a shot of them out my bathroom window.

Lastly, and just for fun, I want to share a new discovery. If you are one of the many travelers who have traveled through Switzerland with me, you know that I consider the Swiss highland proclivity for extremely neat woodpiles as a perfect physical metaphor for the uber-organized Swiss mentality. In fact, many of you have shared your woodpile pictures over the years. While trying a new restaurant in Lauterbrunnen, imagine my surprise and delight upon entering the men’s room to find a floor-to-ceiling image of, you guessed it, a wood pile above/behind the urinals. Enjoy!