It’s a big risk to talk in generalities about any one group of people as any group is made of individuals. I’ll take a chance. On our first day in Scotland (yes this blog is not always in order of events) we had an experience on the bus I’ve never encountered in the US.
At 1:00 PM everyday a gun is fired from the walls of Edinburgh castle to signal one o’clock. Why one o’clock and not 12 noon was one of the details I dicovered on my free public tour and visit to the castle. The Edinburgh castle is massive and still considered a military base. Men in kilts march in and out carrying modern small arms as well as pikes and swords. They are there partly to protect “the honors” or Crown Jewels of Scotland which are on public display. I was a cold and windy day. While my home town of Ithaca NY was experiencing temperatures in the 90″ – I was being blown around the castle walls by cold winds
We never read the Da Vinci Code but that didn’t stop us from exploring a place that seems suspended in time and space. Do the floors underneath the chapel house the Holy Grail or only the buried remains of royalty in their armor? Whatever may be the case the Chapel itself has a presence of holiness within and around its carefully preserved walls.
Nothing in recent memory has brought so much fame to Edinburgh as J.K. Rowlings who drew inspiration from alleyway streets and gravestones of this city when she wrote the Harry Potter series. We took a free tour which pointed out, among other things the coffee shop where Ms. Rowlings sat as she penned the first book of the series.
Of all the decisions we made about where to travel after Paris, the least logical was to go to Scotland and Ireland. “It will be cooler there so it makes sense to go closer to the summer” was one piece of logic. “It is where the McCloys came from” was a piece of reasoning. (Ariana’s maiden name is McCloy). But “no reason” was the most likely. So we flew from Paris to Edinburgh.
Like Assisi we came to Paris as Pilgrims not a tourists. You may want to skip reading this if you are looking for the usual tourist things to do in Paris. We came to visit one place and one room.
As we left Lindau Germany, on the shore of Lake Constance, it began to rain. It rained all the way across the lake to Freidrichstaffen. The Alps, usually seen ringing the lake, were hidden in the mist and rain. Though we missed seeing the mountains we felt cozy looking out the large windows on the boat while the rain soaked the glass. Occasionally we would see a lone fishing boat with one or two huddled figures bobbing on the waves.
At Freidrichstaffen we boarded a bus and passed through the cliffs, trees and rocks of the Black Forest to Freiburg where we were met by our newly met friend, Anda.
We were so fortunate to have Anda’s guidance. She had located some unusual parts of Freiburg we not have known about otherwise.
We leave the Allgäu via boat on Lake Constance on a rainy day which reflects a bit of sadness that we feel in leaving the family that has cared for us over the past week.
We are still learning new things with our friends in Germany. Like many countries Germany has areas of strong regional differences that can seem like countries within countries. This part of Germany has a big dairy industry and a strong industrial base. It also has amazing hiking and skiing trails – not just in the mountains but between the smaller towns.
After Zurich we were very fortunate to be invited to the Allgäu region in southern Germany within sight of the mountainous border of the Allgäu and Bavarian Alps. This sounds like I am so knowledgeable but I actually just looked up in Wikipedia what I saw with my own eyes. Our host Ariane took us around her home town of Weiler-Simmerberg. She likes to hike and she took us on gradually longer hikes of her favorite places.