What a lovely trip we had to visit family and to visit new areas of France and Germany.
We arrived at Frankfurt airport after a brief period of time with a friend in Hong Kong - Jin's twin brother was a great host and took us to the very best authentic buddhist vegetarian restaurant in Hong Kong Top Standard (and it was). It was splendid.
We were staying an Binghen the place that Hildegaard Von Binghen the great mystic of the 10th century relocated her cloisters. We were VERY disappointed that the museum had some fabulous artefacts BUT no books in English were available so we went away empty handed. There is very little resonance from this 'proto-feminist' as I call her. She stood up to the patriarchy of the church and established her own order, was a painter, mystic, herbalist, musician etc etc.
This is a collage of the buildings and our lovely trip on the Rhine - it is a great way to see the landform - from the water - the river was in flood as they had unusually heavy rainfalls in June.
We then moved on to Alsace Lorraine - what a splendid gite we stayed in. The building had been first erected in the late 1700's and had gradually fallen in to disrepair. The family had then rebuilt the building with the loving assistance of a dedicated carpenter and we were very happy there.
The area is rich in history with many German / French / German / French ad iteratum (a new word I made up) movements back and forth. The most spectacular was thethe Haute Koningsberg castle which had also fallen into ruin and been rebuilt in the early 1900's.
The bread and coffee in Germany is amazing. None of the empty bread of the french. The German's value a decent cup of coffee and so do I! I hated the German version of cream which I think has been bleached - cream should not look snow white!!!! I had a slice of Black Forrest Gatteaux one day when it was literally teaming with rain. It was a Sunday and everyone on the street came into the coffee house for coffee and cake. It was a wonderful opportunity to watch the local community interact. Dogs everywhere - little caniche who come with their owners everywhere - not quite for coffee and cake but...
In France we travelled from Alsace through to near Vichy in the Auvergne which was home base. We did a lot of local day trips with much walking. You can certainly cover a bit of ground walking through the cities and villages.
We then went over to the west of france near the atlantic coast and met up with Daniel's cousins for a day of eating, reminiscing and watching the Football final between France and Portugal. I rather wondered why their forward Giroud was sent off when it was apparent France needed all the help they could get. It appeared he had been rotated off (my French was not good enough to distinguish the difference) and they went down to Portugal. Sounds like I know what i'm talking about but I don't really - just recognised from watching the game against Germany that he and Grizemann were a major asset! Anyway - everyone went home about 11.15 pm - even Tante Renee who is 88 years young!
We went to see Carnac again - I love that place. Certainly many more of the rocks have fallen down or weathered away since I last saw them. I think they are phenomenal and so curious and mysterious - they march through the landscape for 7 kms. Not very wide but long, long, long.
We returned back to East France (Vichy) and enroute stopped at the most amazing castle. It is built on the confluence of 2 rivers (very good Feng Shui) and has the MOST amazing gardens. This has never fallen into ruin and has had people living in it throughout it's history. It was never built as a strategic defence asset to use modern parlance, was not on a special trade route or on the edge of disputed territory. Villandry - the most amazing building and garden we saw. They had a lot of Pierre de Ronsard roses growing and had plants for sale.
Many opportunities to stand on high points of land and photograph and video the landform. No wonder Europe has such a rich and diverse cultural and socio-political .....
I have put together a little movie of some of the highlights for you to see.