In case you've been missing me, I've been out of the country.
Any guesses as to where we were?
We went to visit Tyler's brother, Landon, who is stationed in Bamberg, Germany with the army. Europe in May is a beautiful thing. (As I can attest is Europe in November. Europe in August however - a whole different thing, and only for the very desperate, or those backpacking on a college break as I was.)
We went on a big driving trip from Frankfurt to Southern Bavaria to see beautiful castles in a truly fairytale-like setting in the Bavarian Alps. We continued on to Salzburg, Austria, and saw a lot of places you Sound of Music Sing Along fans would have recognized (two of these are in photos above - the rearing pegasus with the steps behind is one of the locations from the Doe-Rae-Mi montage in the film, and of course the gazebo that was a prop from the film that the studio donated to the city after filming. Sadly, it was locked. I don't blame them. The liability of injuries from all those failed leaps but out of shape tourists would be too great.). We pushed on to Vienna for a day and marveled at the vastness of the Summer Palace and it's grounds. After a somewhat harrowing night-time drive on mountain roads through Slovakia to Poland we reached Krakow. I felt a sense of homecoming at being in Eastern Europe again, but Tyler didn't feel quite the same joy as I did. I can say this - either Poland is a whole lot nicer than Romania, or a lot has changed in Eastern Europe in the last fourteen years. I assume it's the time lapse that has made things nicer. I'm sure when I go to Romania again I will see for myself that times have changed there too, which kind of makes me sad. Krakow was full of American styles malls and mega-supermarkets. It makes me a bit sad to thin that Romania is the way now. Maybe someday I'll see for myself. (By the way, if anyone reading this is a mssion friend, I brought back a small stash of Seven Days Crossiants with me - big chocolate filled ones and a bag of little spumante filled ones. On our Krakow day all I ate was one bag of mini Seven Days chocolate filled crossiants and a kids drink box of peach nectar. I felt like a missionary all over again!) So, after a memory inducing day in Krakow it was on to the Auschwitz concentration camps, which is why we put Poland on our itinerary in the first place. The visit there was such a learning experience and something that I am glad to have done. I thought I knew quite a bit about concentration camps and the holocaust, but there was more to know. It was moving and really left me thinking. My visit there and the things I felt still keep me up at night sometimes. A professor who is holocaust expert was part of a discussion group on a PBS documentary about Auschwitz that I recently watched. The discussion leader asked"What can we learn from the holocaust?" and he answered "Nothing. There is nothing to learn from it. It has nothing to teach us. Once you see a lesson in the holocaust, it is a small step to seeing a silver-lining, and then another step to rationalization." At first I was a bit taken aback by his response, but the more I thought about it, I could see what he was saying.
Finally we headed back to Bamberg. And then a day trip to Nurnberg. And a stop in Weisbaden. I think that about covers it.
Thanks to Landon for his persistence in repeatedly inviting us and for driving us around everywhere. If you don't take advantage of having a relative living overseas, then there's really not much hope that you'll ever go, is there? I certainly don't think we would have ever visited Bamberg, Germany if not for Landon living there, and it is a gem of city. After all we saw on our trip, the little town of Bamberg was one of the best sights we saw.
We're not going anywhere again for awhile - next trip isn't until August when we go to Yellowstone for my family's annual group vacation. Already looking forward to it!