Sunday, November 13, 2005
Finishing Luzern and off to Basel
Once I managed to get myself down from Mt. Pilatus, I enjoyed browsing around shops, walking the park that rings the lake, and going to Luzern's Transportation History Museum. All these were wonderful experiences. I also walked the city walls at night to be able to see the city from above after dark. Luzern has been a prominent city for many centuries but came into its prime in the 19th century. The reason it is such a beautiful place with so much shopping, entertainment, and history is that it was an early European tourist destination. Tourism started in the steamship days when it was discovered that these could quickly bring tourists from a variety of other places to the resort village. There were many notables of the 19th century who found their inspiration in Luzern - Richard Wagner, Victor Hugo, Queen Victory. All of these people were mesmerized by the natural beauty and the man-made comforts of this wonderful place.
I bid farewell to my beautiful little room early this morning. It was overcast when I jumped on my train. I took off thinking I was going to return via the German route. However, the closer I got to Basel (the decision point of whether to go through Germany of France), the more confident I was that I should try going through France. I arrived in Basel by 10 a.m. and found that the train to Luxembourg City wouldn't leave until 1:30 p.m. I immediately went to the travel information center to find out what I could do for 3 hours. To my delight, I found that today was a city-wide celebration of autumn and that all sorts of vendors and people would be flooding into the marketplaces soon. In addition, I had already heard of the 14th century cathedral and wanted to check it out. I took my map in hand and headed off down one of the avenues, only to find the first Starbuck's I've laid eyes on for three weeks (Wow! Can you imagine?). So, my day was off to a very good start. I arrived at the cathedral in time to hear the closing of the morning service, including organ postlude - magnificent. I wish I had pictures of this but I was taking video at the time. The second picture above is of one of the side streets leading to the cathedral, a very typical kind of path to walk throughout the city. I also walked behind the cathedral to find the Rhine quietly flowing through what is called the "knee" of the Rhine - the place where it switches from a westerly to a northerly flow.
All in all, the weekend was a combination of pure terror and pure joy. I'm increasingly becoming accustomed to not knowing what I'm doing and being willing to trust those around me to help. I had someone ask me for help in the Basel train station and, to my surprise, I was actually able to help. As I road through the countryside of France through Metz and Nancy, I was listening to one of my favorite CDs - "American Jubilee" with the Cincinnati Pops. I like listening to it because it has many of the old patriotic icons of music - God Bless America, America the Beautiful, the Stripes and Stipes Forever. I was struck by the beauty of the music and how it conveyed the vigor and hope of America. I was also struck by the quiet and deep beauty of Europe, the warmth of its people, and the new possibilities it has in the European Union. I was a little embarassed that I've assumed for most of my life that America was somehow superior to this place. Note to self - don't judge other people until you risk of yourself enough to encounter them and, just maybe, walk a mile in their shoes.