Germany (West Germany)
After Austria, we went north to
Germany. Munich was our first stop.
Compared to all the other cities we'd been to, Munich seemed the most modern. The train station was enormous, with many, many rail lines. Everything and everyone seemed modern, business-like, and working well.
We saw the famous Munich Glockenspiel. This is a classic city clock, like you see in tales. This thing is about 10 stories tall - 5 stories for the main building, and the tower equals about 5 more. There were three levels of spinning mechanical characters, which come out at noon each day.
We wandered the streets. There are many old, classic buildings, in the grand architectural style of classic old Germany. It is a real treat to walk around there.
Farm in Germany
One place we stayed was essentially a farm. It took a while to get to (especially using public transportation and our feet). But it was very pretty.
I took a few wonderful early morning pictures. As always, the early riser I am, I awoke before sunrise. I felt refreshed here. It was one of the most refreshing times I'd ever felt on this trip.
I looked out the window and saw the place covered in a low lying fog. The place looked very magical, just as in a fairy tale from the middle ages. I took a few pictures of that.
Then I watched the fog slowly dissipate. I heard a cow, but could not see it. I walked, not far, just to take it in, and let the fog slowly dissipate. And slowly, like magic, the land appeared again.
I grew up in northern California,
so I had seen fog. The fog here was totally different. Peaceful,
magical. Very interesting.
I also have a beautiful picture of the sun over the farm, probably the sunrise. I can see the sun just over the land, and the range of oranges to yellow spreads through the sky. This too was very magical.
Alas, we must be somber for a moment. Germany has kept at least one of these places, and well they should, to remind people of the terrible things that went on.
You go through the barbed wire fence, you see the compound, you see the emptiness. You see the gas chambers where so many were put to death.
The place was silent. Very few people talked as they walked around. Even then, talking was done quietly. No rules on this, just something in the presence of the place.
At the gas chambers, no words were spoken. What was there to say?
Later in one of the youth hostels we talked with other travelers who had been there. They commented that you have to see it, though it is bleak. It isn't exactly a fun day. Actually, it takes a lot out of everyone. Those other travelers felt it too. A visit there somehow drains the life from you, and you don't exactly feel like being frivolous after that for a while.
This is the classic fairy tale castle. It is the one that everyone thinks of as a magical castle. It is the one Disney used for the center to his Disneyland.
I believe that Wagner made this castle, and he made it fairy tale style deliberately.
Yes, I do remember the name, but I didn't write it down. So, I can pronounce it, sort of, but can't spell it. (Yea, you Germans out there know what I mean!)
Anyway, it is very, very beautiful. What a wonderful thing to see.
Oberasbach and Nurnburg
I was lucky enough to spend some time again with a wonderful girl in Oberasbach, Germany. This is near Nurnburg, so I took pictures of things there as well during this time.
I knew her as an exchange student. She stayed with a girl who was also a friend of mine. Both were very interesting. This exchange student was from Germany, and was a Junior the same time I was. I think she would be voted most likely to start a revolution. She was great.
I learned a lot from her - in so many ways. She was intelligent, very knowledgeable, and sharp. She was a quick thinker, and knew many things. She was a real intellectual. She was interested in politics and political activism. I learned a lot about the things she did. She spoke her mind, and that was a real contrast to anything any of us had ever seen.
She awoke in me something inside. My activism, my interest in community, she awoke that. I will never be a revolutionary like her, but she did put a seed, and a spark in me, and started me thinking about lots of things.
She was also quite a girl, in that sense. I went to the Junior Prom with her. Actually, she was the one who asked me. That girl was always bold. I was surprised she asked, but said yes. I was very glad that I did. She was very pretty in that dress. Our prom was held on a nice boat - a cruise. We spent most of our time outdoors. It was cool, but we kept warm - if you know what I mean. After the prom, we stayed up all night at the beach. We looked at the stars, and talked. We did more than that....but I'll let you use your imagination. Some things are still personal you know.
I pretended not to like her that much. The truth was, I was crazy about her. She was unlike anything people were used to, a real revolutionary, and to be openly for her, well, you never know how that would play out with the rest of my worlds. I was afraid to really let go. She was passionate - in all senses - speaking her mind, her curiosity, her love of life, and just being female - and I was a bit afraid of letting myself into that passion. The truth was, I wanted to let go and be with her more than anything. I just wasn't sure what would happen if I did. So, I played it cool. But I really couldn't stop thinking about her. I never told anyone, but many of the things she said would play out in my head. She was there. I've never really forgotten her.
In our original plans, we didn't plan on going to Germany at all. Furthermore, let's see if we really stepped in Europe - plans are one thing, actuality is another. So, I didn't even think to tell her we were going, and I didn't get her address. I wish I had.
Luckily, I remembered the city where she lived. I looked up through the German phone book and did some research. I made some calls, and finally got to her. I was afraid I'd be so close yet not be able to find her. Yet I did my research - in a foreign country - and I was able to see her again.
So we went to Oberasbach, Germany to spend a few days with her. At this point, I was so much of my own man. I was really independent, and really capable. However, on the other hand, I had my traveling partner with me. I could not just be as free with her as I really wanted to. I was dying to, but I couldn't.
However, we did have some nice times together, talking and just being together. To be with her in her own home in Germany was quite a treat.
We stayed at her home, and she was very hospitable. She showed us around her town, which was very old and quaint.
The thing I remember most was a clock. It is an old town clock - something you see in stories. She said it was built in the 1300s. It had all the moving parts, all the people coming out of the doors and everything. I thought that was neat.
This girl wrote me a few letters while I was in college. She called me a few times too. I enjoyed every word. I remember one call where she said my poetry was "delicious." I've never forgotten that.
I haven't heard from her in years, but I would really like to see her again. I would really like to let go, and let the passion run, as it should have and could have. A wonderful girl.
I had a good time in Germany, and would be glad to go there for a few weeks again.