Reflections on my Travels 2023– The First Days in Europe

It’s been just over a month now since I’ve gotten home from my trip in Europe. I’m a bit behind in putting my stories in writing, so it’s time to add to my blog and enjoy the chance to look back on the adventures a bit.

I ended my role as Director of Solace Friends at the end December and left immediately after on my travels. I flew out of Madison on the 28th and landed in Frankfurt, Germany on the morning of December 29th. I was met at the airport by staff of Go Ahead Travel and Leslie and Kathy, two fellow travelers who would become new friends as we toured together over the next two weeks. I was foggy with exhaustion, but at the same time alight with the excitement of the new scene.

We sat at the airport for an hour or two while Lala, our tour director, tried to find a fellow traveler. Finally, we got on the bus and headed to Manheim in the Heidelburg region where we’d spend the next three days. Worn out from over 14 hours of travel, I gave in to the need for a nap. After a bit of a nap, I did what I would do a lot over the next couple of weeks– took a little wander around the streets of the town. This one was a wander in a light rain. It was fantastic.

That night we had dinner together, the 21 of us from all around the US that would become a mostly happy family over the next two weeks along with Lala, our fearless guide. It was a fascinating crew, so many distinct backgrounds, wildly different personalities, and vastly divergent beliefs. Yet, somehow we managed to fit together. I’m guessing that night we all wondered if we would. I know I did.

Many people praised my bravery for traveling on my own. It made me smile. I was traveling on my own with 21 other English speakers in tourist areas of countries that have English speakers working in all the tourist traps. It wasn’t too tough. I travel on my own every day, many of us do. Sometimes it’s the best way to go for a bit. It gives us the chance to spend some time with ourselves and to take that risk of saying hello to a stranger and making a new friend. I am thankful for getting to meet those fellow travelers. Some of us may travel together again in the future.

The photo for today is the Kappelbrucke (Chapel Bridge), a wooden footbridge crossing the Reuss River in Lucerne Switzerland. The bridge was originally constructed in 1365. Under its roof are a series of paintings that were done in the 17th century by Hans Heinrich Wagmann. 147 of the original 158 paintings were part of the bridge in 1993 when a fallen cigarette nearly destroyed this historical landmark. Most were lost or severely damaged, but 47 were saved and 30 have been fully restored. They are beautiful.


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