I have been in Germany for five days now and it has been a whirlwind of activity and getting to know this area of central Germany in what is known as the Rhineland. To list things here briefly, Monday we visited the stone quarry (see previous post). Tuesday we roamed around Darmsdadt, Wednesday to Frankfurt and Thursday to the reconstructed, and with somee relics and finds, Roman fort at Saalsburg.
When we fisrt set out for Saalsburg, I did not realize it was going to be such a complete reconstruction. But you definitely left with an idea of what life was like at what would have been an outpost of the Roman Empire in the early 200s A.D. The limes was set up, you could get an idea of the stone structures that would have kept the fort safe and well-guarded, the village/s that would ahve sprung up outside the fort. Inside were various rooms set up as mini-museums with many of the actual archeological finds at the site -- tools, weapons, coins, household items, dishware, and more. I also liked the virtual display where lifesized drawings were set up around the room depicting different scenes of life, incuding the public toilets.
Wednesday was a visit to Frankfurt. We went to the top of the Main Tower for a 55-story high view of the city and could look out to see the main railroad terminal, the arts district, the river and more. We walked and walked and walked. Walked through the old plaza or Rumer where City Hall is located, walked to a wonderful Italian restaurant named Armonia where spaghetti was served from inside a scraped out wheel of Parmesan cheese. We walked some more and visited the memorial to Frankfurt's Jewish residents; the cemetery that was destroyed by the Nazis but exists now to honor those who died. Some of the old tombstones are still there and a wall has been reconstructed around the old cemetery with 12.000 small plaques to remember individually those who died with their birthdates, and when and where they died. They are flat on top so people can place small stones in remembrance as is the Jewish custom.
We also visited the museum next door about life in the Jewish ghetto that existed in the 1600-1800s. Foundations of five of the original buildings are there and again you walk away with a sense of how real people lived.
This trip was done in tandem with Heidi and Juan. Heidi is another former colleague from the San Juan Star. She and Juan have stayed in touch all these years. We picked her up at the train station in Darmstadt Tuesday. We spent a bit of time in Daarmstadt beforehand in teh arts district near the Russian Orthodox chufrch and around the grounds of a museum that has a whimscal sculpture of a man walking across the ledge of the roof at its highest point. I do have photos.
Then pick up Heidi and back home for a cookout and a wonderful dinner and lots of good conversation and wine.
My time in Switzerland is fast becoming a delightful blur, that I don't want to forget. So here are some quick impressions of a country that I hope to revisit. I arrived on a Wednesday and met my friend and her mom at the train station in Zurich, successfully making my way there on a train from the Zurich Airport. I waited for them at Cafe Oscar where I had cafe creme and a chocolate croissant near the treffpunkt or meeting point. It seems that there are treffpunks at every train station in Switzerland and Germany. The visual reminder is a sign with four arrows pointing in, which makes it obvious that is the place where one should be.
We met and all was well. Took the train from Zurich to Zug As per Wikipedia, Zug i.s an affluent municipality and that showed. The weather was perefect and it was a delight The name Zug originates from fishing vocabulary; in the to go for a meal or a dirnk or a coffee in any one of the numerous open air restaurants. The name Zug, I learned comes from a Middle Ages term that refers to the right to pull up fishing nets and hence to the right to fish. And there is plenty of fishing from this lake, which is also in the early summer when I was there, a place where people gathered to talk, to think, to picnic and watch their children play in the park.
The day after I arrived Deitland and I rode the train throughout Switzerland crossing into a number of different towns and changing trains at different locations. Our aims was to get to the Alps and perhaps take a hike. Our aim was to take a hike at bottom of the moutains and we did get there, But it was wet and damp and not conducive to walking and tramping around, although it was certainly conducive to walking around.
My take on Switzerland based on my all too brief visit is that it a country with spectacular views and scenery. As I write this from the vantage point of having spent three weeks in Europe, I would say it is the best train system which I have experienced. The trains were clean, sparkling and very easy to manuever in terms of the on and off since there are no steps, but rather a slide out user friendly alternative that easily accomodates the disable, more so than the German and Czech trains I have ridden thus far.
And everywhere I looked were spectacular views and this time of year, verdant and green like I have never seen elsewhere. Switzerland actually looked like a fairy tale, expect that it isn't make believe; it is real.
I didn't really pay attention to where we were going that Thursday. On one train, get off at one station, get on at another. Until Dietland said it was time to go home, as it began to grow dark and in theory we were to meet her mother for dinner that night. Fortunately, for me, the GPS on the iPhone lets me know where I was, even when I didn't remember to write it down.
It rained when we got back -- at least on the train. But by the time we got to the plaza in Zuk, the rain had stopped. We went to eat fishes, as Dietland called them, a Swiss equivalent of fish and chips with fish caught right in the lake there. A glass of wine and then a walk of a few blocks to get back to the rental we had.
Then to sleep, and the next day another adventure.