Travelogue Preview

17 07 2018

I forgot to mention in my previous post:

THAT.

WAS.

FREAKING.

AWESOME.

WOO HOO~!!!!

Even if it did push me (and my traveling companion) to what are these days my (and his) physical and mental limits.  I’m still in a wheelchair for the most part, and he’s north of 70 years old.  Even if we did operate many of these days on slightly less than optimal sleep and higher than normal adrenaline.  Luckily, in the case of both of us, our health cooperated, nobody got anything close to slowdown sick.

It will take me quite some time to write the full travelogue.  I’ve got a lot of handwritten notes, a heavily marked up road atlas, many computer notepad text file notes, and an indeterminate tally of mental notes to process.  This was a 42-day long epic journey, a whirlwind, a junket, traversing around 2800 miles, over the major parts of two countries and perfunctorily to another four, involving stopping to see at least one attraction in 68 different cities or towns, including multiple days in each of eight different major metropolitan regions, plus three days in a historically important non-metropolitan region, and just passing through many more towns, all with the assistance of 26 different tour guides.  We notched thirteen of the sixteen German “Federal states” (Bundesländer), missing only Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Thüringen and Saarland, and also all three of the independent cities not part of a state, those being Bremen, Hamburg and Berlin.

I satisfactorily solved what was until this trip an open question about my German ancestral line, which I reasonably expected to do on this trip, (Sneak peek:  Ich bin ein Rheinländer), and I also pretty much solved a long time family mystery originating on my maternal grandfather’s side, relating to my Czech line, which I was not expecting to do on this trip, and never thought would get solved in this world.  The net result is that I have narrowed down my German line to a rather specific geography, and my Czech line to a specific town.  There was the historical significance of almost all of the places I visited — They have deeply rooted histories going back many centuries, making even the oldest American places seem like infants by comparison. A big majority of the German cities we stopped in were/are powerhouses in physics, chemistry, and/or engineering, past and/or present.  So many are that way that it’s easier to count and remember the cities that aren’t.  All the architectural eye candy, so much that my brain would blue screen if you asked me to pick favorites.  Four, count ’em, FOUR, different automobile industry towns, including the city where the modern automobile was born.  June 17, the Sunday I as a Lutheran got to go to church in Luther’s own during what is still the 500th year of the 95 Theses, was the most special fulfilling single day of my life.  World Cup season in a soccer crazy country with a national team that was thought to be a championship contender and was actually the defending champions?  I’ve already told you how electric that was, in spite of this year’s German team being a bust and flaming out.  The sightseeing?  Who doesn’t like sightseeing?  Beethoven, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Wagner, Brahms, etc. — ‘Nuff said.  I even got over my modesty well enough to enjoy a spa day in a spa town.

Then.  There.  Were.  The.  Alps.  O.  M.  G.

The Black Forest was a very worthy follow-up act to The Alps.

Of course, there were downsides.  I alluded to those in my final post in this space while on the trip, from Darmstadt.

I’ve got more than 2200 photos, more than a hundred videos, and twenty audio files, and while all of the audio files and a big majority of the photos/videos have either myself or my travel companion in them, which means I won’t make them public, I’ve got a nice selection of photos/videos that don’t, so I’ve got some room to be choosy.  I should warn you that the pictures and videos don’t do justice to any of their subjects.

All I’m saying is just be patient for that travelogue, peanut gallery.

But I will give you this brief opening taste:

Click to enlarge any of these images.

Lufthansa was our international carrier.  In case you don’t know, the curvey path on this map is indicative of the fact that the straight direct route on the sphere of a world globe, when plotted on a flat Mercator map, will often look counter-intuitively bent.  Layover in ORD, because STL, no longer being a hub for any carrier, and serving a no longer important metropolitan area, does not have any regular direct flights to FRA, and hardly any regular direct international flights to/from anywhere.  Frankfurt instead of Berlin, because Frankfurt is the major airline hub for Germany, for various historical and currently relevant reasons, which I’ll get to in the travelogue.

Made with Google Maps Pedometer, which also easily allowed me to know how far in miles we traversed over this loop.  Clockwise starting from Frankfurt.  This is pretty close to the exact path we took.  Any slight differences?  Well, this is close enough for Bundestag work.  Making this map was a fussy enough job and took me a few tries.  If anything, the main differences between this map and the reality of our path is that this map gives the impression we used the Autobahns for intercity travel almost solely.  In reality, for several significant stretches, our tour guide took back roads and side roads instead of the Autobahn.  We took the paths less traveled by, and that made all the difference.  Also, our path around the Luther Region, and around the Black Forest foothills (Pforzheim to Offenburg) was more haphazard and itinerant than the map suggests;  in the case of the Black Forest, we actually took circuitous roads through it so we could experience some of the Black Forest’s unique wonder.

Close-up on our July 2 path, that day was the climax day of the whole voyage, and the absolute longest in both time and distance we traveled in any one day, and the most stunningly beautiful single day of the entire voyage, (remember, Alps OMG).  I got our Salzburg to Garmish-Partenkirchen to Fussen path much more precisely indicated in this map compared to the larger voyage map.

A more precise zoom-in view of our Black Forest circuitousness, on June 6, 7 and the first part of 8.  Again, this is pretty close to accurate.

JUNE

3/4: Frankfurt
5/6: Rhine-Ruhr Region; Venlo, Netherlands
7: Munster; Osnabruck; Oldenburg
8: Bremen
9/10: Hamburg
11: Hannover
12: Braunschweig; Wolfsburg; Helmstedt (former BRD-DDR border checkpoint); Magdeburg; Brandenburg
13/14: Berlin (incl. Potsdam)
15: Frankfurt (Oder); Slubice, Poland; Rzepin, Poland
16: Berlin
17/18/19: Luther Region
20: Dresden
21: Usti; Prague
22: Prague
23: Ceske Budejovice; Cesky Krumlov
24: Prague
25: Pilsen
26: Nuremberg
27: Ingolstadt
28/29: Munich
30: Rosenheim

JULY

1: Salzburg, Austria
2: Garmisch-Partenkirchen; Fussen
3: Kempten; Memmingen; Ulm (passing through Vils, Austria)
4/5: Stuttgart
6: Pforzheim; Ettlingen; Rastatt
7: Baden-Baden
8: Offenburg; Kehl; Strasbourg, France
9: Strasbourg, France
10: Lauterbourg, France; Karlsruhe
11/12: Rhine-Neckar Region; Limbach
13: Darmstadt
14: Frankfurt

If you want to ask me about one or more of these places, or any other reasonable sort of question about the trip, use the comment section, and I’ll give you a brief sort of summary answer.  Though I plan on keeping most of my cards under the deck until the full travelogue.

You may also remember from one of the very few posts I wrote here during the trip, that I made an unlisted and unanticipated but very personally relevant stop in the Czech Republic.  That city remains unlisted here in both the text itinerary and on the map, and will be unmentioned in the travelogue, and as usual, I’ll tell you the wherefores and whys only if I know you and trust you.

***

If just the preview of the travelogue is this long, and the sample sized tidbits I gave you on the trip, as long as they were, is any indication, then you can see how the full official travelogue is going to be more like a dissertation.  I’m probably going to have to slice it up in chapters, write and post one or a few at a time.

***

I need a vacation from this vacation.

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9 responses

17 07 2018
Lewis33

Please tell me you avoided the obligatory concentration camp guilt trip. (My last trip to D.C. every single cabbie, hotel clerk, etc. said I had to go to the Holocaust museum. I did not go.)

17 07 2018
countenance

We studiously avoided such “attractions.” As things worked out, our one and only day in Nuremberg was a shorter day than we were planning, and my traveling companion and I were more interested in the city’s Silicon Valley style stops (hardware, Dresden is Germany’s internet startup haven), than that tourist trap court house from the Burt Lancaster movie.

17 07 2018
Alright Dan

I had a good time just by reading this. I’ve been to a few of these places myself, but some time back.

18 07 2018
Sebastian Hawks

“Layover in ORD, because STL, no longer being a hub for any carrier, and serving a no longer important metropolitan area” Yep pretty much the same story all over “flyover country.” Legacy corporations that have been in modest, decent middle American communities for generations and somehow survived the Clinton Bush wave of fleeing for China bring in these big city-slicker “experts” from elsewhere to run their companies, and the first thing they do is get homesick for “bright lights, big city” and decide to pick up and move operations to some big blue city somewhere and abandon middle America.

18 07 2018
countenance

In the case of St. Louis, it was more a matter of the elite native born corporate citizens being bought out. A-B by InBev (Belgian-Brazilian), Purina by Nestle (Swiss), and the most recent, appropriately enough, Monsanto by Bayer. “Bayer” looks like “Bayern,” meaning Bavaria, but Bayer is not and never has been based in Bavaria. Instead, it’s based in Cologne, ironically in one of the regions that gave me the tingling feeling of ancestral racial memory.

Anyway, there’s really no reason for big air traffic to and from St. Louis, because it’s not compelling anymore from a business/corporate perspective.

18 07 2018
Nicholas Stix

At least one foreign student (Pakistani?) told me I had to visit Dachau, but I refused. (All the pretty Jewish coeds from back home at SUNY Stony Brook went there.) If I was going to see a KZ, it was death camp, or bust!

In June 1989, when I visited Europe for the last time (for 20 days), with my longtime Nice Jewish Girl, we tried to get a visa to Poland to see Auschwitz, but we never got into a city on time to make it to the Polish consulate.

20 07 2018
Marilyn

Did you see where the Berlin wall was located?

20 07 2018
countenance

For historical reasons, they left a tiny piece of it up, and have turned it into something of a permanent public art project. And other than that, I saw a good part of where it once stood.

Also you’ll see in this preview that very near the town of Helmstedt is where a former West Germany / East Germany Iron Curtain border checkpoint was once located. The main building once used for the logistics of that is now a museum.

When we crossed from the Czech Republic back into Germany going the other way, that is where the Iron Curtain was also, but there are zero reminders of its existence at that point. Since both Germany and the Czech Republic are both Schengen Zone countries, there aren’t even any border checkpoints there. The other four countries we visited perfunctorily, those being France, Poland, Austria and The Netherlands are also Schengen, so no border checkpoints there either, just like crossing from Michigan to Ohio, and our Schengen Zone travel visas were valid there.

3 09 2018
BLOG ON SEMI-HIATUS (Sticky Post) | Countenance Blog

[…] The preview of my Summer 2018 travelogue that I’ll probably never get to write in full. […]

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