Friday, May 28, 2010

back in the u.s of a

Well we are back home. It was strange flying into the future, literally. I was so confused trying to figure out how much time we had been in the air with the time differences. Time is a strange notion. Anyway, our last two days were just perfect. We toured Salzburg which is really a beautiful city. We got off the train and just started walking downtown. We walked along the river where they had a farmer's market going on. Much like all of the farmer's markets I've ever been to, there were lots of dogs (I made a sincere effort to pet all of them but I didn't have time to name them) there were lots of hippies - but they were Salzburg hippies so they were even more eccentric, there was lots of beautiful displays of flowers and vegetables and crafts and wonderful music. Some guy was playing the didgereedoo (after d-i- I realized I have no idea how to spell that word. oh well.) We got to the city center and I fell in love. They had horse drawn carriages, a choir singing in front of the free-entrance cathedral, a life size game of chess where two old men were playing each other, a beautiful fountain complete with ducks and pigeons, and some wonderful food. The city sits below a really cool looking fortress that we took a tram up to and toured. My favorite part of the tour was when we went out to a look out and I noticed a small yard in a hidden part of the fortress that had plastic slides and soccer balls in it. They have a keeper of the fortress who lives there with his family. What a cool place to reside! uh yeah I grew up in HohenSalzburg, the fortress, where did you grow up?
The next day we went to Fussen and the Neuschwanstein Castle and the luge. The weather was perfect and Fussen doesn't disappoint either. We decided to rent bikes because it was such a beautiful day and because it was cheaper than the many buses we would need to take. We rode through the town and onto a country path to the ticket center for the castle. By the time I got up the hill to the ticket center, my husband had already locked up his bike and gotten in line for tickets. Let it be known that I am not a good biker. At the slightest incline I feel like my thighs are going to fall off my already stubby legs. Its really a sad sight to see me bike. Doug makes fun of me all the time for it. Anyway, we then decided to hike up to the castle rather than pay for the shuttle (are you picking up on a theme here about how cheap we are). The hike was gorgeous though and in such a touristy rich place, there was virtually no one on the hike so it felt like we were walking to our own private castle.
Now Neuschwanstein is the castle that the Disney Castle is based on. It is incredible. My favorite part of the tour was at the end when you walk out of the unfinished portion of the castle. When King Ludwig died the castle was only partially finished and it was left that way. Entire floors of the castle are left untouched. Seeing the skeleton of a castle is a unique opportunity and I thought it was really fascinating. We walked back down from the castle to get our bikes and bike to the luge. I thought the ride to the ticket center was pretty but the ride to the luge was one of my favorite moments of the entire trip. We rode through a tree canopy on a dirt path next to swift creek that ran down from the mountain that we were steadily climbing. As we approached the area that had the luge we saw a sign that said it was the last day of the world hang gliding championship. The sky was a traffic jam of hang gliders. It was really cool. We made our way up to the luge and got two tickets a piece. The luge was probably some of the most fun I have had in a long long time. You get in your own personal sled of sorts and it is attached to some pulley system that pulls you up to the top of the mountain. You have a lever that you can either push forward to go fast or pull back to slow down. I put my lever to the floor and went down the mountain as fast as it can possibly go. I was going fast enough my little sled lifted off the luge path a couple times. I felt, looked, and acted just like all the other 7-year-olds that were also riding the luge. It was AWESOME! My husband actually fell off his sled thing but he was okay. He was trying to videotape the experience so we will post that video of the luge and his falling. hehe. Anyway, the day was gorgeous and it was a perfect ending to our trip. We had so much fun.
Doug kept a journal of his thoughts and experiences on the trip and asked if he could take over the blog for a bit and share. So with his thoughts we will post the video and pictures. We are still uploading all the pictures and video but will post everything soon.
I apologize if you are getting sick of hearing about the trip. After Doug posts I will take back over and resume my blathering on life and design and whatever else. In the meantime, I started my summer class and am back at work and really enjoying being home. I've realized that I learned quite a few things on this trip. I could bore you with all that I learned but let me wrap it up by listing only the two most important things I realized.
1. Seeing some of these wonders was great, but in the end they are just things and a life lived well does not necessitate their visitation. Rome was brutal our first day between the rain and the tourists and the cold, and as we sat in the apartment I realized that I was happier in an empty roman apartment eating tomato soup out of can, sitting with Doug, than I was seeing every cranny of the Vatican. That was a pretty great realization, that I have something with me that is greater than all the wonders of Europe, and if I never see another "attraction" again, I will still die the happiest woman.
2. I love America. I appreciate other cultures and other lands but at the end of the day, I really like mine. The train back from Fussen was packed and no seats were open. When a group of elderly women boarded the train and would've had to stand for 40 minutes, it was a group of American young men that gave up their seats, to the perplexion of the numerous other cultures represented on the train. When the gypsies and beggars stand outside attractions, they seek Americans because they are the most giving. People think its because they have the most money but its not. They often don't. Its that they are bleeding hearts. For all of its faults and for all of the faulted people, there are so so so many good Americans. They'd give you the shirt off their back, or in our case offer you a place to sleep and something to eat to complete strangers, like in Civita. I could go on and on about my observations of Americans and Europeans but just generally, I want to say that I truly love my country and countrymen. And what a great feeling to return with. Patriotism.

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