Apparently some of my ancestors in the XVIII century migrated from small villages around Opava to Chorzów. I’ve designed the European trip to be able make a short pause in Hlucin, Ludgierovice, Kozmice and Dolny Benesov. In fact, most of the pictures below were taken in Donly Benesov, where we’ve visited couple of cemeteries looking for familiar sounding names. Unfortunately, the institutions were only about 100 or 150 years old and we didn’t find anything of interest. On the other hand we didn’t really come prepared.
After leaving my Uncle’s house in Gmunden, we headed East. It was raining in the morning, so we weren’t sure about making a stop anywhere. Fortunately, the bad weather was slow moving from the West to the East. Apparently, on the Autobahn we got couple of hours ahead of the storm. When we got to Vienna, the weather was picture perfect. After an hour or so the clouds cough up with us and we were forced to quickly evacuate from this lively, beautiful city.
After reaching the top of the Grünberg couple of days ago, we’ve decided that we’re all ready for something more than the mere 1,004 meters (3,294 ft) above the sea level. Our next target: Alberfeldkogel and the Europa Kreuz at 1709 meters (5,607 ft). The cross on top of the hill is 5 meters high and build from blocks symbolizing all European Union member countries.
Well, I don’t want to chat, we’ve conquered the first 1,585 meters in a cable car…
Due to several Family members recommendations, we’ve spent a day at an Agrarium. I’m not sure if that’s a real word, but it clearly defines what it actually was: a farm made for city kids for quick profits. Our kids were born and raised in the country, so the attractions were really not as exotic as the price tag promised, but in the end we all had a real good time. More over, we’ve picked up about four or five kilograms (9 to 10 pounds) of apples and pears, which at least partially offset the extremely high priced entry to this overrated country side “lunapark”.
Grünberg, translated as Green Mountain is a peak at 1,004 meter (3,294 ft) above sea level in the Northern Limestone Alps. On Thursday, August 11th 2011, this peak has been conquered by the Bajans team. What’s most important, is that the trip to the top and back to the parking lot has been completed by each and every team member using their very own (little) feet. As such, from now on, we consider the Grünberg a symbol of positive thinking, which defeats any difficulties we encounter on our way.
Thanks to that trip we’ve also checked the Austrian health system. In the woods Nadia acquired a new fried – a tick, that attempted to make himself comfortable just above her ear. Fortunately our Captain, alert as always, spotted this little invader and announced a quick visit to Austrian ambulance. We’ve been through the formalities quickly and in the doctor’s face in just few minutes after arrival. However, in the very few moments between my Uncle’s house and the hospital, the tick managed to secretly disappear. Imagine my embarrassment, when as the only one speaking German I had to explain that there actually WAS a reason for us to inspect the institution. The smirks at the nurses faces were not well covered. Still, the Captain was uneasy. It took a phone call to Nadia’s pediatrician in the US to put away all her worries.
On our way from Germany to Austria, we’ve made a few hours stop in Munich. It’s the capital city of the Bavaria region. The city has been grounded by the monks of the Benedictine order. Therefore the monk depicted on the city’s coat of arms. Black and gold are the colors of the Holy Roman Empire and also a symbol of the city since the time of Ludwig the Bavarian (i.e. damn long time ago).
After almost an hour of leaving the highway, we’ve managed to find a free parking spot near old town. What a bargain: only EUR 3.5 (i.e. USD $ 5) per hour! Fortunately, it’s only been few steps from the Viktuelen Markt (sort of Public Market), so we had a chance for a good lunch: kaiser-rolls with pickled Bismark herring and onions, Donner Kebab and Weissen Beer. Well, that’s not exactly a typical Bavarian meal, but I’m sure the local wheat beer counts triple at noon, so we should be OK.
While walking around the city we stumbled upon a film crew several times and I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up as background for some German television hit series this season. Even though it’s much more probable that we’ll be “photoshop’ed out” before the production hits the screens.
Finally, we only have a few pictures this time. That’s because batteries in my camera hold charge for a very long time, but when they go bad, they really die unexpectedly…
After traveling around Europe for almost two weeks now, I have to admit that I’m sick and tired of old buildings, wonderful cities and everything being two or three times more expensive than in the US. I’m looking forward to the small towns and villages of Upper Austria, where I hope not everything got so commercialized as in the big cities we’ve visited so far.
We’ve left my Aunt and headed to my Uncle. On the way, we decided to make a few stops. One of them was in Strasbourg, France, where we’ve spend a lovely afternoon (despite unstable weather).
The city was grounded by Celtic tribes in 12 B.C., then over the years governed by the French and the German. Since 1944 it’s part of France. It is here, where Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle wrote La Marseillaise (the French national anthem). It’s also believed that Johannes Gutenberg invented here his printing press (however, other sources point to his hometown of Mainz).
My Aunt and her Family lives in Volklingen, a small town 13 km (8 miles) from Saarbrucken, the capitol of the Saarland region of Germany. While the weather during our stay in Germany was almost always rainy and cold, we’ve decided to take a walk in the old part of this frontier town.
Just like Silesia in Poland, Saarland has been changing hands several times over it’s two thousands plus years of history. Grounded by Celtic tribes, colonized by the Romans and conquered by the French, in 1957 Saarland settled as German region after a plebiscite held in 1955.
Since the weather was really nasty, we only managed a quick loop around the old town, before a heavy down pour forced us to seek refuge in the car. We decided to take a stroll around the city, but when the weather stabilized, we’ve stopped for a few hours in the French German Gardens – a park in the suburbs of Saarbrucken.
While visiting my Father’s sister in Volklingen, we went to Merzig to see a park with various species of wolf. We all had a good time walking in the woods and spotting the animals – some hiding in the trees, some sunbathing, others seeking refuge from the sun in the shade. After that we went to a small petting zoo, where the kids had a chance to feed goats, emu, lamas and all sorts of birds. The icing on a cake was an hour in Trampolini, the German equivalent of Bounce-It-Out.
Kaiserslautern is an old town mid way between Mannheim and Saarbrücken, the capitol of the Rhineland-Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfalz) region. We’ve stopped here for lunch and a walk around the old town. Good thing we did as this was one off the very few sunny days in Germany.