Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Almost Home

We are on our second to last flight which is from Frankfurt to Atlanta. Once we get in our last airport lounge, we will get our last updates posted. Our adventure is about over with just one more flight and we will be home. It has been quite the adventure and will take some time to digest. All it took was 19 flights and about 85 hours in flight. Additional travel in trains, boats, subways, busses, cars, bikes, cable cars and our feet – a lot of time on our feet. Add in 15 hotels. Touch 13 countries, 4 continents, and 4 hemispheres (Tyler insists on east and west plus north and south). Spend time in winter and summer.  Swim in tropical waters, feel glacial streams, walk through a glacier and through rain forests. Go from under water to the tops of peaks, from crypts to the tops of towers. See history from more than a 1000 years BC, to the time of Christ, medieval times, baroque periods, the renaissance and recent. See the scars of wars from all these times and the transitions from royalty to democracy with some other strategies in between. See some of the greatest art collections in the world and make friends with old masters and newer one’s as well, not forgetting musical arts. Visit so many designated World Heritage Sites that you start to think everywhere is a World Heritage Site. Eat some really good food and some not so great stuff, but try a lot. Leave 135 flavors of gelato un-tasted. Keep a very unusual schedule, but always be at least one step or day ahead in planning. Use eight different currencies, but mostly use a credit card and keep pressing OK. Drive on both sides of the road, at some unusual speeds and on roads that vary from one lane switch backs to no holds barred. Always underestimate how long it takes to drive places because there is too much to see along the way. Walk the streets of the smallest villages to the largest of cities. See humble homes to the most extravagant palaces. Hear lots of languages, but get along OK with only English. Take more than 6,000 photos and post a few. Barely think about work. Step into the world’s churches – lots and lots of them. Attend church in small branches and see the truth roll forward. Wish Candy were along for the ride instead of from a distance. Be ready to come home. You get the idea. Thanks for coming along.

Bergen, Norway, Sunday and Monday, August 12-13, 2012

Sunday saw us back on planes. Munich to Frankfurt and then Frankfurt to Bergen. Our flights were timed so that we could not get to a Munich Ward for Church and were too late for the Bergen Branch when we arrived. Hopefully, our visits to so many other churches will make up a bit for the scheduling problem we had.

We arrived in Bergen in the early evening and got our rental car. An Audi this time. A very small Audi with no cruise control, manual transmission, and a trunk that wouldn’t hold our big suitcase. And this was a two car upgrade over what we reserved. On top of that, two days of this car in Norway was nearly as much as 10 days of the BMW in Germany. Everything in Norway is expensive. We got checked in to our hotel which was right down near the historical area and the waterfront. We walked around the area a bit and found a restaurant for dinner. It was a nice dinner. I am afraid to say that we were not very environmentally appropriate for dinner as Tyler had a reindeer steak and I had a whale steak. They were both really good. Don’t tell the kids we ate Rudolph and Willie. By the way we never saw any reindeer or whales. OK, don’t be too mad at me.

A good night’s rest and we were ready for our last full day of exploring. We started with a 4 hour cruise out of Bergen and into a couple of fjords. Lunch in their famous fish market area and then in the car at about 3:00 PM. Bergen is the second largest city in Norway with a population of about 250,000. There is no freeway system and definitely no autobahn. In fact, the highest speed limit we came across was 80 KmPH (48 MPH). Even so, we covered some territory and drove to Voss which was about 100 kilometers away. We drove along fjords, rivers, farmland, waterfalls and so forth. From Voss we went to Flam and then Aurland. In Aurland there is a lookout tower over one of the fjords. To get to it, of course, you had to go up another incredibly narrow, winding, often one lane road. Same strategy as before in terms of watching for wider patches to allow cars to pass going the other direction.

The advantage of being fairly north is that sunset was after 10:30 PM. It also leads to a prolonged sunset. It was beautiful. We would come around a bend on the way back to Bergen, and the mountains would be lit in gold and the fjords and rivers would reflect the colors. It was a great drive to end our trip and we arrived at the hotel around 11:00 PM. That leaves plenty of time for sleep as we have a 6:45 AM flight and will need to leave by 4:45 AM.

Zermatt to Munich, Saturday, August 11, 2012

From Zermatt we headed back to Munich where we had the hotel by the airport again. Naturally, we had to get some morning pictures of the Matterhorn and Zermatt before moving on. Then it was down the hill to Tasch on the train, in the car and on our way to Munich. We wanted to see the country-side again so we accomplished that task and drove on the most incredible road that perhaps I have ever been on. I am not sure the pictures do it justice. We went into the mountains from the valley on an extremely narrow road with unbelievable switch backs. We would have to look ahead to see when other cars were coming so we could find a spot wide enough for the two cars to pass. The problem was confounded by the number of motorcyclists and bicyclists. They were a constant presence. And then there were the occasional tour buses. Not only were the roads narrow, but there really were no substantial guard rails unless you count the small metal poles with a string connecting the top. Did I mentione that it was steep and a long way down if you went off the road. In other words we loved it. We passed waterfalls, cows, goats, and some snow. From the top of the pass we then went on to Munich passing numerous small towns and one small country. Tyler had in mind that we needed to go through Lichtenstein so it was on our route. We spent about twenty minutes in Lichtenstein including a fill up and driving through. We drove on and went through Innsbruck, Austria.

As usual, the small towns we passed each had its own central church surrounded by tens of houses to maybe a hundred or more. As a matter of fact, we learned a lot about previous times just seeing the organizational layout of different places from the castles and farms to the churches, villages and farms. It seems unfortunate that in all the progress we have lost the central roll and organizational structure that these churches and faith offered. Once we entered Germany we again enjoyed the autobahn and arrived at our hotel around 9:00 PM. We are winding things up.
Sunset on the Matterhorn


Flowers on our patio

There is a graveyard filled with similar grave markers

An old styler building built on piers with large round rocks to stop rats from getting in.

Hiking shoes are for sale everywhere

An amazing road with unbelievable switchbacks

It was pretty spooky, but at least this section was a full two lanes

Our favorite speed limit sign again - none