Today marks the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the US. In an interesting bit of kismet, today landed your intrepid traveler in Basel, Switzerland. Basel was one of the sights of major fighting during the Protestant Reformation . In essence, it was ground zero for a major shift in the way Western Europe practiced religion.
Going through old churches here is sobering. As part of the break with the Catholic Church, old churches and cathedrals were literally gutted. All the painting on the inside of these buildings was whitewashed over. One old church is now the site of a museum. Another is still in use by the Anglicans. There has been some minor restoration of the historical paintings which were covered. Not much, but enough to see the scope of the damage.
You can also see where folks hacked off pieces of statues to eliminate faces.
It’s a significant difference when you compare this church to its equivalent in Italy.
I’m reminded that those who don’t learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it.
So I thought I'd stick my head in and give folks a quick update. For those who don't know, the reason I'm so quiet recently is because I'm currently in Europe on holiday with my mom.
Why Europe? Simply put we are here for a wedding. On a deeper level, it's about reconnecting wit a life 30 years gone. In the late 1970s, my parents relocated the family to Germany for a year. Dad had a fellowship grant to do research at the university in Freiburg-Breislau. So off we went to Southern Germany. In the time that we were there, my parents formed deep, long term friendships with other Americans who were living in that part of Germany.
Time lead to a fade in the relationships, but with the internet, my folks reconnected with their old friends. When the Webers asked if we could come out for the wedding, Mom said yes. It ended up being just the two of us. So far it's been a very interesting trip.
I've reconnected with my upbringing in a small German wine village. Which explains to be a lot of my pragmatic approach to where my food comes from. In that setting, you grow and raise everything that ends up on the plate. I got a refresher course in that over the past several days. Doesn't get much more local than wurst made from your own sheep, veggies from your own garden, bread made from the wheat in your fields, and wine made from your own grapes.
Yeah, total local sourcing baby.
It's also been fun watching Mom enjoy herself. She's having a great time using her German and seeing old friends. It's been a bit challenging for me. I was fluent in German at age 5. Since we moved home, I never really used it. I can read some, but don't have occasion to speak. I'm good with French and also learning Spanish. So I'm finding myself trying to reply to folks in something other than English. Which leads to some interesting French/Spanish sentences. My numbers come out Spanish, other things in French. Yesterday I was even throwing in some Russian I've picked up over the years. With four different languages rolling around my head at the same time, the past few days have been a bit stressful.
Not to mention the whopping headache.
So today we are up near Mannheim in another small German village. We are staying with more friends of my Mom. Lucky for me, they speak English. So my poor head is getting a nice break today. It was interesting to see the shift in food as we moved from farmhouse to something more conventional. More processed bits and bobs in the house. I'm getting good at translating German food labels.
We are off in a bit to another picturesque village for a bit of shopping. Mom was worried that I'm not getting to do enough. I pointed out that sometimes it's not about doing things. It's about enjoying the time and the experiences. She wondered when I got so wise.
She then started laughing at me about five minutes later as I cursed the German keyboard. News flash for Americans- where you have the Y key on a US keyboard, the Germans have a Z key. You don't want to know how many interesting words I've used today.
Like I said, it's about the journey, not the destination…but man that umlaut key needs to go!