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Mullet Cousins Europe Trip 1987

The Very Detailed and Explicit Journal of Gladys Kauffman For the Enjoyment and Memory Recall of Fellow Passengers Edited for Accuracy, Length, and Decency by Kent Kauffman

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Saturday 6/13

We're aboard the DC10, waiting for take-off. We were supposed to leave at 4:30 pm, but the plane was late arriving from San Francisco so it is now 5:30. Joyce, Maxine, and Leora reached Shirley's about 1:00 pm so we breathed a collective sigh of relief that they had arrived. Kenny called from the airport that between Portland and Seattle his luggage had found some other destination - perhaps it's on its way to Tokyo. Anyway, it still hasn't showed so he is indeed traveling 'light'. When we got to the airport, Bud Chaney was already in line to get seats for us. We are all in the same general area, but strangers are mixed in with us. Wayne & Christie had arrived, too, so we are 'all here'. Ernie & Helen Lombardi with Roberta and her daughter came to see us off. We are flying Martinair. In Seattle it's a sunny day - not too common here! When we arrived at Shirley's last night at 10:15 pm she was not home and there was a note on the door that said, "Come on in." Of course the door was locked and we had no key! Bev and Kent hunted all over for an open window or door and finally found a key hidden on the back porch. A good thing, as Shirley didn't appear until after 4:00 am. Kent heard her come in and asked if she were already getting up or just coming in. She replied, "Just getting in, and don't wake me up before ten!" Friends had put on a surprise 50th birthday party for her.

5:55 pm - Starting to roll and the stewardess speaks first in Dutch. Now, however, she's speaking English with a strong Dutch accent.

6:06 - airborne! Had a good look at snow-covered Mt. Rainier.

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Sunday 6/14

Sleeping sitting up isn't the most ideal, but I did manage to sleep some. I awoke about six; as we were eating breakfast Kent told me to change my watch from 10:20 pm (Mountain time) to 6:20 am (Western European time). Time flies! Breakfast wasn't that exciting. The pancakes would have been all right if they hadn't been filled with a very sweet jelly. The fruit cup was good, though. I tried a cup of coffee, but that was a mistake. I've managed a few swallows, but I'm going to give up on that! Before we went to sleep last night, Kent, Kenneth, Beverly, and I played a game of Scrabble. Kent scrabbled three times! Needless to say, he won. I was a distant second. Our stewardesses wear bright red jumpers with white blouses. They are attractive and easily distinguishable. Our plane is carrying 380 passengers. The seats are arranged three abreast next to the window; there's a narrow aisle, five seats in the middle, then three more seats. Even though our group isn't in a 'block' we are close enough to visit together now and then. Right now we are above the clouds, and here the sun is shining brightly. It never did get completely dark since we flew so far north. Our flight is supposed to take nine hours so we should land about noon in Amsterdam. Kent has been stressing the importance of sleeping on the plane, then staying awake the rest of the day. He also told the flight attendant that today is Shirley's 50th birthday so she brought her a scarf like their outfits and we all sang 'Happy Birthday'.

11:57 am - Touchdown in Holland! As we came in for a landing I could see the canals and the flat terrain of the country. We were met at the airport by Wim and Ank Pfister and Menno Lansdorp. Since I am "the mother" Wim brought me and some of the luggage in their car to their home. What a thrill this has been for me to see this country of which I have read so much - scene of "Leak in the Dyke" and of "Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates;" the red-tiled roofs, and again, of course, the canals. The courtesy of our hosts has greatly expanded our appreciation of the country because we can see and learn so much more than if we had gone from the airport to a hotel and traveled only by public transportation. Ank stayed with the others as they waited for Karen to fly in. Bud immediately caught a flight for London where he will take care of some business for the china shop. Wim set out some lunch while we waited for the others to come by train. This will be our "headquarters" while in Amsterdam. Wim then went to the station to meet the rest of the group and help carry luggage. After tea etc., our hosts recommended a boat ride on the canals, so we rode the bus to the central bus station. Menno accompanied us as our tour guide. The boats are enclosed with glass for maximum viewing - and there's lots to see. Some of the specials: A home for cats, right here on the canal - 150 of them; The house boats were interesting - people live right on the canals; Great variety of architecture; Old houses, one built in 1652; Narrowest house in Amsterdam, one meter wide; In the arch over one of the bridges is a prison dating back to the 17th century; West tower near the Anne Frank house; canals are 6 meters deep; Amsterdam itself is 4 meters below sea level; cable hook on each gable - Menno explained that doors and stairways are too narrow to get furniture through so these hooks with cables lift things to the proper floor where it's taken in through the windows. Passed the house where Rembrandt's son lived. This house, built in 1647, is the oldest house along the canal. Houses have gables of a variety of interesting shapes - bells, stairs, and others. That warehouse on the right belonged to the East Indian Company. Along here there are no sidewalks; buildings are built right down to the canal. From here we can see the back side of the oldest Mennonite Church in Holland. On some of the gables gargoyles decorate. All the houses have individual faces. Canals intersect, just as streets do. In Amsterdam there are more than 100 canals, 1,000 miles. This canal connects with Amsterdam River from which the city gets its name. Beautiful botanical gardens. There a boat is being built. That huge ship is a cruise ship - the Royal Viking Sea. Amsterdam has the largest harbor in Europe. The canal off to the left is the North Sea Canal and connects with the North Sea. It is 20 meters deep and was dug entirely by hand! Many sea gulls are evident here on the canal on this larger area where canals intersect. With four Davis girls in our group, interesting things will happen. When they arrived at Pfisters from the train station, Shirley, Joyce, and Leora with their luggage went up the elevator first. Those on the ground floor heard peals of laughter and soon the elevator appeared again still containing the Davis sisters! Kent told them not to touch anything, but just go back up. More laughter and another encore! Kent told them they at least had to open the door, but they had obediently not touched anything! After our canal ride we took the bus to the "Meeting House" where we were served a Turkish meal prepared by two of the Moroccan women Ank tutors. Wim and Ank met us there. Food, food! So much! Katie was one of the hostesses so she met us there, as did a man who was also housing some of our crew. Wim played classical guitar for us after the meal. It was lovely but we were exhausted and heads were nodding. Karen, Beverly, Kenny, Kent and I went back to Pfisters for the night. To make room for us Pfisters went to sleep at their daughter's house.

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Monday 6/15

Kent and Bev left early to go to Luxemburg by train to pick up the vans. Kenny left early to go downtown to take pictures. That left Karen and me to go back to Schiphol Airport to meet Elizabeth. It was 11:15 by the time her plane came instead of 10:30. We all took the train back to Leylean and walked the 3/4 mile to Pfisters. Elizabeth had a rather heavy suitcase and I lamented that I hadn't brought my wheels for her. We just missed a bus for the downtown so had to wait for the next to get us to Central Station where we were to meet Menno and the group for a tour. He showed us interesting places. They had already left when we arrived but before long Kenny showed up to unite us with the group. Joyful sight when he walked across the station toward us. The others were walking so we boarded the bus and went directly to the Anne Frank house to intercept them. They had gone to the palace first. We reached the house before they did so went into a little American shop next door and had some lunch - sandwich 8 guilders ($4). Amsterdam is extremely dirty, and Kent has warned us to beware of pickpockets. We had supper all together. Maxine's Shelly was to meet us at the American Express office in the afternoon. Slight problem, though, as a bank in the area was held up and the whole street was closed off by police. It was late afternoon before they managed to meet up. She and a friend had been in Amsterdam since 10:00 pm Sunday. At least they did get to see each other. After supper Karen, Elizabeth and I headed back to Pfisters. We kept watching for our bus stop, but finally we were the only ones left on the bus; the driver stopped and announced, "This is the end of the line!" :( He was no help as to where we should have gotten off so we walked back to a little store; she directed us to the nearest bus stop; there a woman who was herself going to board told us which bus to get on for Leylean (it was the same driver). It was after 9:00 pm when we finally got home, but we made it. Kenny had picked up Bud and Steve at the airport so they were there; Kent and Bev soon arrived with the vans, each 9-passenger Fiats, one red and one white. Even though it was late Wim insistently offered to take us to see a dike and a monument to "The Leak in the Dyke." The story is actually just a legend but they put up the monument for American tourists who always asked about it! From there he took us to the North Sea shore. It was twilight by that time, but we had a good view of the sea. I even brought back some sand from the beach.

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Tuesday 6/16

8:15 am - Kenny is driving our van as we depart Amsterdam. Those who were at Pfisters last night - Bud, Steve, Bev, Elizabeth, Karen, Kenny, and I - are in this van. Kent picked up the others at their places and we met on the freeway outside the city. Starting the first leg of our tour with all of us together in the two vans. Raining lightly as we left Amsterdam, but intermittently after that. Beginning to see windmills; there is a house with a thatched roof, but mostly we see red tile roofs. Lace or lace-trimmed curtains dominate the windows. Deer crossing sign. Neat gardens, small.

11:25 am - New experience: We are at the West German border getting our passports stamped. The guard asked Kent how he managed to connect with so many Americans. He said they're all relatives and the guard said it must be handy to have relatives "over there"! Here we are on the Autobahn already. It is designed for speed. No general speed limit, although they recommend keeping it under 130 km/hr. Grain fields have replaced the gardens of Holland. We stopped for lunch in Rheine. Just bought food at a deli and a grocery store rather than going to a cafe. We ate as we drove on. There's a barge on the river. 1:00 pm - We are beginning to see some hills for the first time in Europe. The houses are still brick or stone or an occasional stucco. So many trees along the highway that they block the view. Multitudes of roses in Holland and Germany. Rest area. Very different landscape. Hills, valleys, green forests, yellow fields of rape. More open. Red roofs still the norm, and much red brick. Villages very close together, arched bridges. Off to the left is a huge lot filled with parked cars and to our right we see a little tower where hunters sit and wait for deer to come out of the forests so they can shoot them. Helmstedt 4:25 pm - last town before the East German border.

4:30 pm - First East German border guard. There are long lines of cars here, most of them traveling the 110-mile transit route through East Germany to West Berlin. The border is a massive complex of barbed wire fences, guard towers, mine fields, and all kinds of contraptions to keep people from crossing illegally. The cars just inch through the line and some people push their cars rather than continually starting and stopping the motor. We all had to have visas which cost 5 (west) marks each. The guards were quite friendly actually and we finally made it through! The speed limit here is 100 km/hr and the road is surely not the same quality. The West German government entirely pays for the building and maintenance of the transit stretches to Berlin in addition to paying 5DM for each West German citizen passing through. It's a major source of income for East Germany.

6:15 pm - First rest stop in East Germany. The restaurant and shops accept only western currency from motorists passing through.

7:50 pm - Checkpoint before West Berlin. The whole process all over again, but it doesn't take as long. Through by 8:15, past the guard towers, then the "Allied Checkpoint BRAVO". The colorless oppression of the "East" is behind us; we can breathe again. We went to Friedensheim, which was founded as a Beachy-Amish mission, now quite Germanized. Dawn Hershberger is in charge. She is a bundle of energy!! One of the workers is gone so I had a "private" room. Bob & Phyllis were in the basement "kitchen", the women were in two big rooms, and the other 5 men were in another on the floor on mattresses. Down coverlet on my bed. Dawn had fixed a great meal of salads, wurst, and bread.

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Wednesday 6/17

I started my day by oversleeping. I had put my watch on a table at the foot of the bed so didn't look at it the times I did wake up, so Kent knocked on my door to inform me the others were already at the table. Dawn offered to wash clothes for those with a need. As we left, Kent showed us the bus stop and explained how to get back in case we got separated or wanted to come back at different times. Then, the WALL!! There are two walls with an open space between. In the open space is a high fence. There are, of course, guards; in the towers and out of the towers. 1:35 pm - We went over to Checkpoint Charlie and the museum. One of the West German guards was very friendly and called himself the singing guard. He posed for pictures with members of the group and put his hat on Beverly for a picture. The day happened to be a big holiday in Berlin, German Unity Day, and there were demonstrations at various places along the Wall. There at Checkpoint Charlie there were also demonstrators and there was a rather heated discussion as one fellow tried to convince the crowd that the wall wasn't just the fault of the East Germans and that it wasn't nearly so bad on the other side under communism as they thought. Demonstrators against the Wall usually have pretty strong feelings about it and don't take kindly to that kind of sentiment. We went on into the museum. On the walls was a running history of the Wall, pictures of it along with photos and accounts of attempted escapes, some successful, some not. A rather graphic portrayal of the history of a wall that has divided a country, a city, and a people. We had lunch in the cafeteria there. Next we went to the Brandenburg Gate which is actually just inside East Berlin but serves as the divider. Last week on the East side people rioted, which is a rare occurrence in the East Block. Young people had gathered to listen to an outdoor rock concert taking place on the west side. When police tried to disperse them, they resisted, and the police got quite rough. It ended up in rock throwing and rioting. German Unity Day calls for the reunification of Germany and, of course, Berlin is a good place to demonstrate. There were quite a few demonstrators at the Gate, waving flags and shouting slogans and chants to the East Germans on the other side. We climbed up on a platform to see over the wall. We could see the people on the East but they didn't respond to shouts from the West. One young man on our platform was waving a flag and began talking to some of our group. He obviously had deep feelings about the wall and the division of his country. Soon, another young man came over and joined in the conversation. He was trying to convince us it wasn't so bad on the other side, and the reason people tried to get to the West was for the money and for some of the things they can't get on the other side, like his leather jacket. Elizabeth later commented, "I can't believe those people risk their lives just for a leather jacket!" He said East Germany is poor because when the country was divided, the West got 2/3 of the industries, the East only 1/3. When Russia takes from the 1/3 it doesn't leave as much as when America takes from the 2/3 so that's why conditions are not as good in East Germany. That comment made Shirley so mad she looked like she was ready to belt him one! He did not persuade us. The flag wavers were shouting, "One day we will be united again," and "Down with the Wall!" Amid such an environment the second young fellow seemed terribly out of place and was no doubt out of place. We had argued with him some and as we were leaving several of our sharp-eyed cousins (Karen, Christie, & Bev?) noticed him making what appeared to be very distinct signals to the East German soldiers on top of the Brandenburg Gate. Hmmm! Near there was a huge monument constructed by the Russians (in West Berlin) to themselves commemorating the liberation of Germany from the fascist Nazis. It is guarded by West German police with dogs in order to protect the monument and the Russian soldiers who keep a 24-hour vigilance there. Today the police protection was especially important to prevent an incident with those who are not so thrilled with the "liberation." We went to the Europe Center, from the top of which you can see the whole city. Coming back down, unknown to Kent, Leora and Maxine (who doesn't like any elevators), as well as Elizabeth decided to walk down the 20 flights of stairs rather than ride in the packed elevator. What they had not read in German was that the stairs were for emergency evacuation only! As we gathered in the lobby we tried to figure out where they might emerge - there were no stairs that we could find! Presently Elizabeth stepped right out of the wall - actually a door that was very well concealed. She had heard people talking and found the door, which was evidently rather well hidden from the other side too. But still no Maxine and Leora. They had missed that door and by the time they found us they were grinning rather sheepishly. As they got to the bottom of the building they had to go through lots of doors - each of which locked behind them so there was no turning back! Finally in the boiler room they found a door and they walked right into the Men's restroom for the pub!! The man at the sink was understandably taken aback. The only German word the girls could think of was "Ausfahrt" which means freeway exit, but he certainly understood what they wanted and led them laughing through the pub, telling everyone something in German along the way. At least they found their way back to us. 7:00 pm - After searching for an hour to find an open restaurant because of the holiday), we finally found one that was scheduled to close at seven but agreed to stay open to accommodate our 16. Wayne bought for all of us. We had a separate room all to ourselves. Before we left we had the whole restaurant to ourselves. Eight ordered beef, but they had only five so they brought pork to the other 3. Some of us had ice cream for dessert while others chose cheese cake. After a quick stop back at Dawn's about 10:30 we all took a ride on the S-Bahn to Friederichsstrasse which is the main transfer point in East Berlin. On that route there are two old stations under East Berlin which have been closed up and are now guarded to prevent escapes. We actually saw some guards down there hiding behind poles or walls. Some went on downtown to experience Berlin by night, but the rest of us went back home to turn in. Before we had gone for the ride Shirley had come through asking, "Where are Shirley, Joyce & Maxine? I mean."

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Thursday 6/18

9:30 am - Started in the rain this morning. We've been really lucky with the weather. In Amsterdam we'd been told we got there on the first nice day in ages. It had rained much of the day traveling to Berlin, but during our day touring the city it had been quite pleasant. We exited Berlin via the same Checkpoint we'd entered, and headed for Poland. Between the East German and Polish border crossings we lost 1 1/2 hours. We had heavy rain at the Polish border and after formalities we went in to change money and get fuel coupons for the vans. Those who could stand it also used the restrooms! There is heavy timber on both sides of the road which restricts our view of the Polish countryside. We've been having intermittent rain but now the sun is almost coming through. The road here in Poland is a lot better than in East Germany. At 3:00 pm we finally found a little village with a restaurant and people are hungry! A little village, a little cafe. As soon as we stopped, a Polish fellow (inebriated) came up and started to talk. His first comment was, "Russians kaput." He kept coming back to that theme. Kent had asked inside if they could accommodate 16 Americans for dinner, and the woman said she could if we'd give her half an hour. In the meantime some of us went for a walk - and got caught in the rain. The walk was interesting though, very "rural". The fellow is still talking to Bev with Kent doing some interpreting. He wants to go to the U.S. but he spent 4 years in prison for beating up a policeman, so he can't go for at least 10 years after that. He wanted to have his picture taken with Bev and offered her a drink from his wine bottle. She accepted after she found out it was actually only lemonade. Kent has gone up to the counter, and a man at another table is pointing to the gregarious one, shaking his head and motioning the man to go away. But Bev is busy checking Polish vocabulary with him. He insists that Wayne must be a Pole because he "looks like a Pole." I don't know how he distinguishes. No Polish in Wayne! Others in the group struck up limited conversations with people at other tables and offered candy to some of the kids. When the meal came it was superb! Breaded pork cutlet (a Polish national dish) with boiled potatoes served with a little juice from the meat. It was in the Grzybek Restaurant in Boczow and the meal cost amounted to the grand sum of 330 zlotys per person ($1.30!!).

4:15 pm - On from Boczow. The country is more open now so we can see the fields and crops better. Interesting architecture. Lot of brick yet and some stucco. The sun is shining. Little villages, close together, around the villages are garden plots, neat and productive. A little girl is walking along the sidewalk beside the road, picking flowers as she goes. Lots of wild red poppies and many other flowers. 6:00 pm - Arms are down at a railroad crossing so we wait. Some got out to stretch and walk. The train finally came, and we're on our way again. The countryside is beautiful, and we have a good road again. Chocolate bar and lemonade at a rest stop. 5 zl for WC (that means "water closet", "water cooler", or "Wayne Chaney"), but that's OK after the filth of others we've used in East Germany and Poland. More garden plots. On each plot there is a little hut, presumably for tools, etc. 10:00 pm - We arrived at the state farm hotel, Institute for Breeding and Acclimatization of Grains. The people in Poland's Agriculture Ministerium made arrangements for our hotel accommodations here in Poland. This hotel is newly completed and quite nice. Rain has been falling the last 10 miles or so. Slight problem - there's no water! They promise there will be in the morning. The rooms have private bath and commode in separate cubicles. Comfortable. The plan was to go into the nearby village for something to eat but there was nothing open so things looked bleak for those with hunger pangs. However the hotel director came to the rescue, opened the cafeteria, and made scrambled eggs for all of us. Yum!

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Friday 6/19

9:30 am - Ready for Warsaw. The water came on about 5:30 am. We ate breakfast at the cafeteria and headed into Warsaw. Our first stop was at the cultural palace - a gift from the Russians. A huge Russian style monster, 30 stories high, right smack in the middle of Warsaw. The Warsovians hate it. In fact, they say the best view in Warsaw is from the top of that building because it's the only place in the city you can't see it! We rode the elevator to the top. From there we had a good view of the city. We could see the opera house, the line of red-roofed houses on the banks of the Vistula River (Visla). Warsaw was leveled by the Germans in World War II. After the 'liberation' by the Russians, they killed 3,000 Polish officers and intellectuals and buried them in a mass grave in the forests of Katyn. It would have been easier to build elsewhere but they built here. 11:20 am - We're at the offices of the Ministry of Agriculture - our 'tour arrangers', including our hotel accommodations. We waited a few minutes as Kent went to find the particular woman who had helped us so much. On the way over he bought some flowers from one of the many little flower stands along the way as a gift for our hostess. An important and common tradition in Poland. As we walked down to 'Old Town', we went into some of the many cathedrals. I particularly noticed the many sculptures of children in the first cathedral we went into. Beautiful paintings and works of art in these churches. In Old Town we went to the city square. Groups of school children everywhere, especially around the ice cream stand in the center of the square. There are shops, shops, shops all around the square. We finally succeeded in getting to the ice cream stand so we could try the Polish ice cream. It is very good. There were crystal shops, linen shops, book shops - and men in the Square scouting for dollars. There are horse and buggy conveyances around the square, too, offering tours. I'd like to ride in one of those buggies, but time is too short. We walked over to the Old Wall and walked along it; there is a shop close to the gate, on top of the wall where Joyce wanted to buy a chess set, but it was so filled with children that she couldn't get in. It's interesting to see these walls with the gate for controlling entry into the city in times past. By the time we started back to the Ag. Ministerium, we had to hustle to meet our 2:00 commitment for lunch. They had set up for us in a special room all around one table which was covered with a gold cloth and decorated with a bouquet of daisies. They served us breaded cutlets and accompanying dishes. Very good dinner. Kent didn't finish eating his dinner because he was making phone calls. After we had eaten, he brought in the lady who had made the arrangements for us. She was gracious and courteous. After we left there we did a little shopping, now we are at the post office where some are mailing packages. I bought stamps so I could mail post cards, but I don't have the cards yet. I want to mail cards from Poland to my Heritage Heroes. Periodically we get caught in a downpour, then the sun shines again. We left the vans parked in the lot in front of the cultural palace; when we came back to them, we were soon surrounded by children. We had talked to a few earlier; now they had multiplied. Across the street from the center are some imposing stores, a contrast to the little shops we've seen in many areas. We did some shopping there, too. I bought a luncheon cloth with napkins, and Kent bought a table cloth for me. Bob treated us to ice cream cones from a little shop near the post office. After we met back at the vans, we drove to the Bazaar. We were late getting there so sadly, the stands, shops, were closing when we arrived. Too bad because it would have been a good place to shop. We did get a couple loaves of fresh bread, and some others may have found something before the curtains went down. Even if they hadn't been closing we couldn't have stayed long because we had tickets to a performance by Polish folk dancers in Congress Hall, and it was time to get there. The music, the costumes, their performance - all were fabulous. Kent had planned on taking us to an opera but we weren't able to get tickets so our friends at the Ag. Min. secured about the last tickets for this performance instead. I am not sorry because this surely was well worth seeing. We were told we were fortunate to be able to see them; they spend so much time touring the world that they don't often perform in Poland. After the program we spent an hour trying to find a place to eat and finally wound up eating at Central Station - across the street from Congress Hall! We could have just left the vans parked where they'd been most of the day and evening. By the time we returned to the hotel it was 11:00 pm and three of Kent's friends were there; Wacek's wife Roza, Genek, and Zdzislaw. We visited several hours. Kent twisted Genek's arm heavily, and he decided to stay with us and go along to Krakow. It was 2:00 am before the other two went back home (two hours from Warsaw) and we went to bed.

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Saturday 6/20

8:30 - We drove into Blonie, got diesel, and had breakfast in a nice restaurant across the road. It didn't look like much outside, but inside it was well-lighted and decorated with lots of flowers. The restrooms were the cleanest we've seen. About 10:00 we were on our way to Krakow. Beautiful gardens along the way. No wasted ground. We don't even see lawns because the yards are either flowers or gardens. We just met a horse-drawn cart, loaded with coal, and we are passing coal yards. More coal carts. A Polish soldier was hitchhiking so we picked him up and took him to the town where he wanted to go... Until now the houses have been almost exclusively brick or stucco, but we just passed a frame dwelling. Joyce just observed, "I love the way the chickens are so happy!" Genek is riding with us, and he related how Hitler was determined to exterminate the Poles. The world hears much of what he did to the Jews, but how much attention is paid to the atrocities suffered by the Polish people? About 6 million Poles died in WWII. Even the atomic bomb in Japan, devastating as that was, would have been easier, it seems, than the prolonged, systematic torture inflicted upon the Poles. We had to stop and take pictures of some hay makers. Anybody get a good picture to share? Genek tells us he is learning a little English every day - today a very big little! Absolutely! 11:50 - More frame houses. Under 2% of the people here own their own homes. In the U.S. it's around 60%. Much of the field work is done by scythe and hand rake. There in the field a man is plowing with a horse and single plow. Interesting to see the motorized 3-wheel 'cars' buzzing down the highway. 1:00 pm and the terrain has changed from the flat lands, rolling hills farther north. Here it is much more hilly and the hills are steeper. 1:25 as we arrive in Kielce. Feather beds airing on balconies are a common sight. We ate our lunch here in Kielce in a little cafe. There are a few 'sit-down' tables but mostly it's stand up. We ordered cafeteria style so Kent stood at the front of the line to give our orders as we went through, and Genek stood at the end to interpret for us as we picked up our orders. 3:40 - We're getting into the mining area, and just now we are passing a big coal mine. Krakow! We are staying in a palace tonight - outside of town, so we first went to visit Krakow's Old Town. We parked the vans across from Plac Sw. Ducha and walked to the town square. What fascinating places these town squares are! In a huge building bordering the square on the south is the Market Place. It has little shops along each side of the wide center hallway so we scattered in different directions according to our particular interests and did some shopping; or 'window' shopping - no windows. Now I'm sitting on a little pile of freshly cut grass next to the vans as the others meander back. Across from the market was a variety store that had some good buys (what store in Poland didn't?!) so I went over there. Heading back toward the square I overtook Bud so we explored a few more of the shops around the square itself. The attractions were by no means limited to the 'big building', or Sukiennice. Since we had arrived a little late in the afternoon, some of the shops were closed or closing when we arrived, but we still found a lot of interest.

After eating in somewhat of a 'scattered' fashion, and convincing a restaurant to serve us scrambled eggs when they insisted there was nothing in the place to eat, we headed out of town for our palace in Balice. This was a real palace, built in the 16th century by the King of Poland for his lady love whom he later took as his wife and Queen of Poland. We had general directions to get there but as we arrived in the general area it became quite confusing so we asked two fellows at a bus stop how to get there. So happened, they work on the state farm where the palace is located so we moved a couple people from our van to the other one and the fellows directed us to the door! As Kent was assigning rooms, three men to a room, he asked, "Who wants to be with Genek and me?" Shirley promptly raised her hand, but Maxine just as promptly struck it down. Good thing Maxine is here to keep her in line! The palace was in a lovely quiet setting with trees and flowers all around. My plan to go to bed early changed when we were offered a tour of the palace. We had walked around the grounds, and when we came back Bev and Kent were talking to the architect who was in the process of restoring the palace. He offered to show us inside to the work they were doing if we would all be careful and quiet. Visitors were not supposed to be allowed in the work area, but he was willing to take the risk if we would cooperate. Besides, how often does he get a chance to show off his work to Americans?! They have the specifications of the original palace - the kinds of wood used, the designs, and so forth - so they are restoring it just 'as was'. It had been destroyed by fire once; it was damaged at other times, the last in WWII. It is not now a 'tourist' hotel but is used for research and accommodates officials so we are indeed favored to be allowed to stay here. This, too, was arranged by the Ag. Min. in Warsaw. In the part that is being restored there are two wide staircases leading to a balcony through which we entered. One room that's almost completed has wooden inlaid floors, block design, with each block inlaid with various kinds of woods. The frescoes around the top are complete. The entire restoration project is awesome.

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Sunday 6/21

7:30 am - After a rather short night (but the tour was worth it) we drove back into Krakow. We stopped briefly to look at the impressive Wawel Castle on the hill at the edge of the city. It was a major bastion of power in the Polish dynasties, but we couldn't take time to go through it so we just looked from the vans. On to the train station where we met a friend of Bev's Jerzy, and his wife, and had breakfast in the station's first class restaurant. Since we were leaving Poland, people tried to spend the last of their zlotys or gave them away to some older persons there at the train station. One of the most interesting traditions about Krakow is the trumpeting from the tower of St. Mary's Church on the edge of the Old Town square. The tradition dates back 700 years to a 13th century legend of a watchman who raised an alarm when the city was under attack by Tartar invaders. According to the tradition, a Tartar horseman's arrow pierced the watchman's throat before he could finish his call. Ever since, the melody - called the 'hejnal' - has been cut short to honor the watchman who died at his post. The trumpet call - repeated each hour to all four directions - is instantly recognizable across the country as it is carried live at noon by national radio. 10:00 am as we leave Krakow behind after a unique and interesting stay - only too brief. As we head for Czechoslovakia we see much evidence of heavy industry. This is a mountainous area and wooden houses predominate for the first time on the continent. When we came into Poland, Kent had to buy fuel coupons, 50 cents a liter, which he then presented to the filling stations. We got better mileage than expected so we have some left. Right now we are at a station, filling the vans. In Poland you don't find filling stations on every corner; the road maps show which towns have them! Close to the Czech border Kent passed on a long curve; soon a police car, with two men in it passed us. The man on the right, through his open window, waved a stick with a round red end on it. Clearly he meant for us to stop so we did. He talked with Kent and Ken for awhile, stressing all the things he could do to them, like take their drivers licenses away and fine them. Then he asked Kent what he thought he should do. Kent said he'd prefer they keep their licenses in order to drive out of the country and he really didn't feel like paying a very big fine. Then the policeman asked if we had enough Polish currency left to pay 2,000 zlotys for each vehicle. Kent went back to the vans and collected money from different ones and returned it to the police. Then the man asked if we'd have enough money in case we still needed to buy something in Poland such as food etc.!! He also asked Kent if he could make the receipt out for only 1,000 so he would make 3,000 zlotys on the deal! Afterwards we were sure wishing we had told him Maxine's husband was a patrolman, and would he consider selling his little red wand!

Milk cans at the end of the driveways along the road. Tall hay cocks in this area. Even small patches - front yards, every place - yield an amazing number of hay cocks. At 11:35 we arrived at the Czech border. We sailed through Polish customs, very friendly. The Czech guard then came and asked to see our visas, and Kent told him we only needed transit visas through to Austria. He said they wouldn't issue them, then finally said for a $1,000 maybe, and we might be through by midnight! The $1,000 is exorbitant but the "maybe by midnight" was too much. The Polish guards came back and talked with us and were so nice and tried to help, but there wasn't a whole lot they could do. They gave us our Polish visas back and said the next border crossing might let us do it. It's a larger crossing with more traffic. So west through Poland. 3:10 pm at the border again. Here the border crossing is in town. As we wound through the streets we passed a long line of cars - blocks long - which ended, we learned, at the border. We parked and Kent walked to the crossing to see if there was any way to get the transit visa. They said no so we'll drive an extra 700 miles because of that no. Kent thought he had overestimated the fuel coupons we'd need, but the Lord knew about the way back when we entered Poland. 6:00 pm - We're heading for East Germany instead of Czechoslovakia. We've just stopped for lunch in Wiekszyze. After I finished eating I came out and worked on Bud's head awhile because he is 'plugged up'. On west... 11:40 pm - Check points and we are on our way again. The East German guard was especially good-natured. What a blessing to see a smile after the Czech experience! It took us a long time to get through because of the logistics of 16 passports. We also had to wait in quite a long line to get to the check. The Polish guards checked our money declarations; at the other crossing they had not. No problem, though, and we headed on through the night towards Dresden. Ken and Kent need a break so Shirley and Beverly have taken over as drivers. A good thing they both got international drivers licenses! Not only is it dark, it's also foggy. Rest stops are different here than at home. There is a place to pull off the road - and that's it! You find your own place to relieve yourself. So Shirley went back into the woods, came back sputtering because some East German soldiers who were stopped there flashed their lights on her!

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Monday 6/22

The East German border again. Our last East Block border and here they searched us a little. They at least made us park the vans under bright lights and everybody get out. They had mirrors on wheels they rolled under the vans, and who knows what else they used to ascertain that no other people were hidden in the vehicles. They opened the back doors and one officer started to pull out a suitcase but another told him to forget it - it's OK. Certainly not much of a hassle considering what they could do if they were in the mood. Back on the western side again and we can again drive at a decent speed. Breakfast at a 'Raststatte' in West Germany and by 9:30 am we reach the Austrian border. They just wave us through - and there is the Danube! Stopping at a rest stop there proved quite different from what we've been experiencing: Here we found clean facilities, toilet tissue, paper towels - and no charge! Remind me to never take those things for granted again. Fields are beautiful here, but we don't see the flowers that were all over Poland. We do see lawns and hedges. Not until the western edge of Poland did we see lawns, and then only a few. In Poland they used all land for producing - except for flowers. Much of the road last night was rough, but the autobahn today has been mostly good. Vegetation is lush, and right now we're experiencing part of the reason; It's raining again. We've had rain off and on yesterday and today - 'on' much of the night. At the Austrian border we did some passenger switching so I could work on Leora for a 'kink' in her neck, and on Bud for his congestion. Now the others have gone to exchange money, but I just sent a $20 bill with Bud. Come to think of it, maybe I should have cashed a travelers check so I'd have the currency when a check is not convenient. While they were at the exchange I lay on the middle seat to get my feet up. My ankles are like balloons. I dropped my notebook in the water back there! :(

1:15 pm - We went on to a filling station and while Kent filled the vans, we went to a little hot dog stand nearby where we got sausage on buns... yum! More vehicles on the road again; we're getting close to Vienna.

1:34 pm - Welcome to Vienna!! At last! Narrow Streets. We're trying to find the hostel where we're to stay tonight. We went up a dead-end street, and a woman ran half a block to ask if we were looking for the hostel! She told us we were on the wrong street (we had guessed that, since it was a dead-end street and the hostel was not in sight), but more than that, bless her kind heart, she told us how to get to where we wanted to go. 2:30 pm - We have found it, but we can't check into our rooms until four so we will go see the palace first. The palace was elaborate and ornate. Maria Teresa was the queen. Growing up in that environment, is it any wonder that Marie Antoinette (her daughter) could not identify with the French peasants? There is much gold ornamentation in the palace, and the gardens are fabulous: Velvet grass, flowers in colorful, precise designs, sculptured trees and shrubbery. The tour itself was a little disappointing as our guide's English was hard to understand and she sounded decidedly "canned". However, that did not impair our visual perceptions, and I bought a booklet giving the history of the palace. For Marie Antoinette, from palace to guillotine, worse than Chuck Colson from White House to prison. At least by the time Colson reached prison he had come to know the Lord (Editorial Comment :)) Rain had continued to fall off and on, as it had all night, so the gardens were wet, dampening my enthusiasm for walking in them. (Pun intended.) Some of the others were willing to brave it, but the palace tour had been so slow with so much standing, that I knew I had to get back to the van or be carried back. That alternative did not appeal to me so the others went back, too. Sorry about being a wet blanket (another pun intended). The day, the night, and the day in the vans had indeed been long. We were able to check into our rooms at the hostel when we returned. Our room was on third floor, ten of us women together. Soup of the day in the cafeteria was chicken noodle and nothing could have suited me better. Karen, Bud, and Christie joined me in choosing the soup while Kent, Bev, Bob and Phyllis opted for the meal. The others went "to town" to eat and see a little of Vienna by night. Ken is really in his element exploring the different public transportation systems around Europe. They had an excellent meal, evidently, too.

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Tuesday 6/23

Vienna is clean, nice, modern. I had a good night's rest; we had breakfast in the hostel cafeteria. Before checking out, we took our linens to the laundry hamper on first floor. By 8:45 am we were in the vans again, wending our way through Vienna. There we see a bookstore with an American flag out front and a sign, "American Discount Store". We didn't stop. Magnificent buildings! Sculptured shrubbery! Fabulous architecture! The cathedral in Helena is a replica of the Votive Cathedral here in Vienna. We drove past it but didn't take time to go through it; we can see what this one is like by going to the one in Helena when we aren't so pressured to squeeze so much sightseeing into so little time. We are especially limited because we lost an evening and forenoon driving around Czechoslovakia. Our priority this morning is the Spanish Riding Stables. They open at 10:00 am, but we were in line by 9:20, waiting in the courtyard. We were none too soon because the line grew longer and longer. The sun was hot as we waited - contrast to the rain we've had much of the time last couple days. We had driven down a restricted, tree-lined street, then walked across a grassy square to a building with a lot of little shops in it. We had only a few minutes to browse because we had to get in line, but as we waited, Christie and I hurried back to a little shop that had little sculptures of white stallions - which I wanted - and a thimble that she wanted. Others, also, at various times went back for something. I was making notes in my little blue book and lost the little "stopper" in the cap of my pen. I went back looking for it, but the prospect seemed hopeless in the gravel there. As I held the pen, bystanders recognized why I was searching and promptly joined me. Would you believe, one of them found that tiny piece and restored it to me while the other searchers - and I! - smiled with pleasure. Our own group highlights this trip for me, but next to them, all these other friendly, helpful people make this time really special. Most of us were in the second-floor balcony as we watched the Lipizzaner stallions. They were going through the more elementary exercises, and we had to leave at eleven before they started the more spectacular phases of their training. They were in a large, indoor arena, and music accompanied their movements. Their training center is right in the heart of Vienna. The vans were parked next to a sizable rose garden so we wandered through that for awhile before returning to the vans and starting on. 12:00 pm - We are on our way out of Vienna. We could have spent much time here, but other places are beckoning. On a narrow little street Ken and Kent double parked the vans while the rest of us hurried into a couple little shops to get some lunch for the road. 1:30 pm - We get our first glimpse of the mighty Alps with their snow-covered peaks. 3:10 pm - We have arrived in Salzburg. We parked the vans in a garage inside the mountain - at a cost of 76 schillings per vehicle. As we went into the garage the tops of the vans cleared, but the antennas clicked against the ceiling beams until we stopped and they put them down. Leaving the garage, we walked through a long, underground hallway before we emerged into the open air to find the mountain towering above us. There were continuous shops along the narrow streets with everything imaginable in them. Some shopped awhile, then climbed the mountain or did whatever suited their fancy. Kenny was trying to find some clothes to replace those that Northwest sent to Japan and did find a pair of slacks and a polo shirt - I was trailing along with him and hoping I'd find something to my liking, but I didn't see anything irresistible. At 5:30 we met back in the lot in front of the garage exit to have dinner in a restaurant carved out of the side of the mountain. The one side of the restaurant faced the opening of the mountain, but the other three sides were rock with rock pillars in the center and arches going out from them to the corners of the room - a most unique and memorable setting. The food, too, was good - wiener schnitzel, potatoes, and green salad; the waiter courteous and efficient. All in all, one of our outstanding meals (there were a number), but what could compare with that first meal in Poland? On the road again, enroute to the castle. Here the road is cut into the side of the mountain with a stretch so curvy that Kent drove straight a short distance. To our left we can see a lot of snow on the mountains. Here we are at the pass - 615 meters - high as the lowest point in Montana. We had to duck our way through West Germany for a brief stretch on the way to the castle. Chalets are beautiful. Leaving Salzburg we could visualize the von Trapps escaping over those mountains - surely a horrendous, desperate escape. Beautiful alpine meadows around us, and the villages are close together. Many of the chalets are white with dark brown trim. We're curious about the numerous little huts with spaces between the side logs but solid roofs overhead. They're located in the fields so we are guessing they are drying sheds. Kent just told about the Russian and the German comparing car prices. The German said that it takes so many months' wages - unless you buy a used cars. At that the Russian scoffed, "Whoever heard of a used car factory?!" 8:50 pm - We have arrived at Mittersill. Now to find the castle. Kent inquired and was told to "take the road past the filling station." We did, and it took us way up the hill away from the castle. The road was very steep and narrow; finally we reached a point where the road doubled back in a hairpin curve, making a spot wide enough for the vans to turn around. A man drove up just then (surely wondering what we were doing up there!) and explained that we were to take the road going off the other side of the highway and double back over the bridge. This road was also steep but much wider. To get up to the castle we had to drive through a tunnel barely wider than the vans themselves and the mirrors just got by. In the 16th century the castle was used to imprison and torture many Anabaptists. Now it is a Christian conference center. We arrived during the intermission of a classical guitar concert. Most of the others wanted to go to the sauna, but I opted to sit on the steps outside the hall and listen to the music (by the time we had brought our luggage up we were too late to get in - except Steve; he had gone immediately). The castle is high on a mountain; very good accommodations. They not only supply towels, they supply big towels! There are four beds to a room, but Elizabeth and I are the only ones in our room. The others enjoyed relaxing in the sauna - the women had it for 45 minutes then it was the men's turn.

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Wednesday 6/24

"Arthur" (historical director) showed us the dungeon under the castle, the entrance through a trap door in his office. We went down into it. There is an opening at each end of the room, barred, of course - which let the wind sweep through unchecked. There had been a lot of trash and debris in the dungeon when this group brought it, but some volunteers from Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship have been cleaning it. These volunteers also help as waiters, hosts, etc. As we were preparing to go into the dungeon, Arthur assured us that 80% of those who go in come back out. Later, back in his office, he told us to make sure we were all out; he can't stand the noises down there! Easy enough to joke about it now, but it certainly brought into focus the reality of the persecution people endured for their faith. As we drove through the Alps the scenery was spectacular. We stopped at a scenic turnout; as we looked down "from lofty mountain grandeur", we sang "How Great Thou Art." While we were there a Greek tourist took a picture of us as a group. 3800' above sea level when we came over the pass. The trees seemed almost that tall! - exaggeration, of course, but they are big. Here in the country side they have racks on which they drape their hay to dry - they hope. This has been an unusually rainy spring in Europe, we hear wherever we go. We've been fortunate, though. Ski lifts all around us here. 11:25 - Passing Innsbruck. Castles in profusion along this route. 12:15 pm - High in the Alps, we had to stop at another scenic turnout and take a picture of the valley below. The valley is sort of wedge-shaped, and scores of houses are "wedged" between the mountains, towering on each side. We've gone through some long tunnels. 1:10 pm - Austrian-German border. Passports, passports. The Austrians didn't ask for them; Germany looked at them and handed them back. Now we've pulled into Fussen in hopes of finding food.

4:10 pm - That was a workout! We hiked up to Neuschwanstein Castle, built by King Ludwig II (Mad Louie). We didn't take the tour inside the castle because we didn't think it would merit the long wait. We went into the courtyard, then some of us hiked on up to the bridge above the castle. The view of the river catapulting through the gorge far below us was awesome. I walked down alone most of the way because others lingered longer at one of the points where the valley was visible. One man I met asked if it was worth it to go clear up, and as he was past the worst of it I told him I thought it was. He muttered, "this guy Mad Louie makes me mad, too, climbing up this steep mountain to his castle!"

On the road again. It's taking time to get through this town because a herd of about 15 or 20 Brown Swiss milk cows are ambling down the street, not crossing it but following it. Nessebang. 4:40 pm - Kempton. May Day pole! Neighboring towns compete over the poles. They decorate them, then protect their own while trying to steal their neighbor's pole (from the next town, that is). They are 20 and 30 feet high with a tree on top! 5:15 pm - The architecture has changed: Mostly the building are dark brown, half house and half barn. The landscape is totally different; we're out of the Alps, into rolling hills. 5:45 - Crossing a border again, this time from Germany back into Austria. The German guard is interested in coming to Montana to be a cowboy so he was most friendly. He spoke "American English" with excellent accent. He then mimicked British English - and did that very well!! He got our address and Maxine's and plans on visiting. The Austrian guard just asked if we had our passports and sent us on our way. long tunnel. heavy rain. 6:20 - And there's the Rhine River. 6:30 - Encounter with Swiss border patrol was very brief and we are in Switzerland! A nice drive along Lake Constance in spite of the rain. 7:30 pm - Gerbers at long last! The school boys gave Kent a wild welcome, and when the others could get to him, they gave him a very warm welcome. They had waited to eat supper until we arrived. Much food! And very good food. Today was Phyllis' birthday so this morning we sang "Happy Birthday" to her after breakfast at the castle, then a Swedish singing group that was there sang for her, too. Then this evening we had to sing to her again. All the school boys joined in heartily. Ice cream for dessert! I'm to sleep in "Kent's" room in the Gerber's private quarters. About 9:30 pm we gathered in Gerber's living room to sing. Abraham has a supply of Mennonite hymnals - English - just so he can have groups sing when they come. We had our ice cream actually after the singing, but not just an ordinary scoop - a combination of ice cream, fruit, and whipped cream - delicious!

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Thursday 6/25

I did sleep in Kent's room and slept very well. My ankles are the best they've been since the second day in the van. Maybe that strenuous hike yesterday was beneficial. Perhaps 7 1/2 hours in bed had something to do with it, too. This morning the sun is shining brightly and it's a beautiful day; one of the very few they've had here in the last month. We went to the Botanical Gardens over on the German island of Mainau. We crossed the Rhine, then over a long bridge to the island. Sculptured shrubbery in the form of a giant fish, a duck, a rabbit, an owl, and a peacock, accented with colorful flowers. Creations of art! In the water as we came over we saw real swans and ducks - some baby ducks, too. They are cute little things. After the herb gardens - all kinds of herbs - was the peacock, perhaps the most spectacular of the sculptures. It is as colorful as the real thing thanks to the great variety of flowers in its plumage. Awesome! A mere 2,000 different types of roses are grown on the island, fascinating shapes as a result of pruning. There to the left of the trail (as we walk counter-clockwise around the island) is another spectacular - a "map" of the Bodensee region! Soft lavender flowers represent the water, then flower beds of different colors represent the towns on its shores. Each flower bed has a name plaque in it to identify the town. In the various gardens are plants, flowers, trees from all over the world, even tropical plants. During the winter a huge greenhouse, glassed from the top of the palace down over the trees, protects the palms, bananas, etc. Descendants of the garden's creator still live in the palace. His children sometimes come to Schulheim Bernrain for gymnastics. Abraham went over with us and supplied a lot of interesting input. We came back to Gerbers' at noon for dinner - delicious soup (I thought that was enough for a meal) - followed by beans, boiled sausage, mashed potatoes, and tomatoes. Now a first! About half-an-hour of rest so I'm lying on the floor with my feet on the bed. Should help the swelling. Maxine is having a bad sinus attack. I'm hoping the rest will relax those muscles. I worked on her in the van, going and coming. "Sophie" arrived after lunch, coming by train. She wanted to see Kent. She thinks he should spend at least half the time in Switzerland. She lives on the other side of the country where Gerbers used to live. (Kenny to Shirley, "You make a better door than window - even if you are a pain!") After lunch - the chocolate factory! We brought the chocolate back to Gerbers so we won't have to bother with it when we go back to West Germany this afternoon. The chocolate factory is only a few blocks from Gerbers. All of us came out loaded down with chocolate. Quite an operation when 16 people line up to get chocolate - or to do a lot of other things for that matter! 4:25 pm - We're back in Germany, and now we are on the ferry, crossing the Bodensee. The vans are below, and we came up on deck. Very cool up here. We are going to see the oldest complete castle in Europe. There are others older that are in ruins. As we approach the shore, we see many grape vines covering the slopes. 4:45 - We're across, so we're back in the vans again. The castle is in Meersburg. "Besuchen Sie Schloss Meersburg, Deutschlands Aelteste Burg, Erbaut 628" (Visit Meersburg Castle, Germany's oldest castle, built 628 AD). We didn't go into the castle; we just looked at it from the Courtyard, then walked down to the shore for pictures. I bought a couple postcards. 6:00 pm - We wanted to go through a 4,000 year old village that has been reconstructed but the last tour left 5 minutes ago. We can see it from behind a fence, enough to see what kind of buildings and how they are arranged. When the people came down from the hills originally they decided they would be safer if they built on pillars out in the sea; then when danger approached they could pull up the bridge.

Now it's Basilica Birnau - the most renowned Baroque cathedral in the region. Lavishly ornamented! Fabulous artwork on the ceilings and walls. A really beautiful creation in a lovely setting on the lake.

Driving along the Bodensee we stopped briefly next to a formidable stone mountain and Kent and Abraham told the story of one of Hitler's munitions factories harbored deep inside the mountain. It was totally inside the mountain and everything they needed to be self-sufficient was stored there, too. Acres and acres. The mountain factory was also well booby-trapped when it became evident they were losing the war, and afterwards, when the Allies attempted several times to enter and search the facility the intruders were always killed by explosives or some other unexpected means. They never were able to successfully search the place and finally the Allies ordered it boarded up and sealed, never to be entered again. To this day nobody knows for sure if there were (are) still people inside, doing their duty and protecting their charges. Now, very little is known about it and people rarely talk about it. Obviously, there must still be area residents who worked in the mountain, especially women, but almost none would admit it, and fewer would ever talk. So, the mountain remains a mystery, a secret that died when the war ended, and fear and ingenious traps keep it that way.

On the way back to Kreuzlingen we visited the Island of Reichenau, one of German's major vegetable producers. Acres and acres of gardens and greenhouses. We saw the oldest tree in Germany, 750 years old, and stopped to see an old church containing Europe's oldest frescoes.

Back at Gerbers we had a supper of "bread and milk", actually birchen muesli, which is fruit mixed with very thick cream - spooning consistency, not pouring. M-m-m-m good. After the dishes were done we had a time of singing again. Then they brought out apple torte. Marco can be quite the cook when he wants to be!

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Friday 6/26

Yesterday for our walking and sightseeing we had beautiful sunshine, but this morning as we were loading rain started falling again. They have had so much rain this spring they cannot get their hay in and the apples are spoiling on the trees. After breakfast we went out to the woodworking shop, and it is truly fascinating. They do beautiful work and Bernhard the farmer teaches the boys and does a lot of his own. I bought a bread board, and five others ordered them to be picked up when we come back Monday. I also saw the school room. I'd like to have desks like that! Abraham is going today, too, and driving his car so he can come back and get the family later today. Steve and I are riding with him as we head toward Zurich and an Anabaptist cave near there. Crossing the Toole River. This morning waiting for "takeoff" I worked on Wayne for his congestion. There have been many on this trip who have needed some working at one time or another. We drove up a mountain road toward a cave where the Anabaptists hid for two months in 1527. We had to hike the last stretch; it was raining and the trail was slippery. The cave goes back into the mountain (where else?) with a waterfall in front of it - not a big one. There had been a wall across a narrow passage on one side, but "Americans have taken it, piece by piece," until now there is no trace of it left. When Gerbers took a trip through the western national parks of the U.S. with Kent in 1985 Kent really got on Abraham's case for taking a big piece of wood from the world's largest tree in Sequoia National Park. Abraham justified it by saying the wood would just rot anyway, but Americans carted away the Anabaptist wall from the cave, removing a historical monument! The cave was near the village of Baeretswil. From the cave we came to the castle where Conrad Grebel grew up. We ate our lunch in the courtyard. The rain accommodatingly stopped long enough for us to eat, but now it has started again - while we are standing in line for the "WC". Zurich. Standing along the Limmat River, we can see the Grossmunster. We can also see the spot where Felix Manz was drowned. In contrast to that is a statue of Zwingli! We saw Zwingli's residence, too. It's raining on this trek, but at least I have my umbrella; I took it this morning, too, and needed it on that hike to the cave! In main town Zurich we saw Conrad Grebel's house. 3:30 pm - Abraham has headed back for Bernrain, and we are on the freeway to Bern. It's still raining. 3:45 pm - Here the rain has stopped. Another castle high on a hill. There's a lot of traffic on this road, and fast. Rain is off again, on again. We are following the mountains. 6:45 pm - We are on the way to Grindelwald after a shopping/lunch stop at Shoppyland north of Bern. Shoppyland is one of the Migros Stores, a chain Abraham calls the Mennonite stores. They don't sell any alcohol or tobacco and have fair prices in their stores all over Switzerland. The owner started out 50 years ago by selling things from a cart and gradually expanded until now he has the largest chain in the country. Bob and Phyllis have been recounting some of Bob's misadventures. One time a neighbor was with him in the field when a duckfoot shovel came down on him and cut his head open. The neighbor got all excited when he saw the blood; asked if Bob had a first-aid kit, and Bob told him, "Yeah, at the house." So the neighbor jumped in the pickup and took off for the house, leaving Bob bleeding in the field. So Bob got on the tractor and started in. Neighbor met him about half-way, but Bob got even; he didn't stop!

Long tunnels on this road. We just went through the second one. There is a lake to our left (Lake Thun) with mountains beyond it and to our left. Houses way up on the mountains. Tunnel #3. Kenny: "What do you call a woman with one leg shorter than the other?" Eileen. "What do you call a Chinese woman with one leg shorter than the other?" Irene. 7:15 pm - This valley is very narrow as we are approaching Grindelwald. Mountains just ahead of us are snow-covered. Coming up the mountains the road is too narrow in places for two cars to meet; the curves are so sharp that they have mirrors to show what's ahead. 7:35 - Our hostel. We had to carry our luggage from the parking lot up to the hostel, about a hundred yards. You enter through a room where everyone removes their shoes and leaves them there until they go out again. Maybe not a bad idea.

9:00 pm - This is some view from our window! All the women are in the same room. We can see the glaciers just across the valley and snow-covered peaks as well. It is still very socked in cloudy, however. I'm the only one here just now. The others went back down to Grindelwald to eat. Since I ate at Shoppyland, I didn't feel a need to eat again so I stayed to read and write and rest. But what a time the others had. They found a nice restaurant that was open and the waiters very kindly pushed tables together so the group was together. Fondue was the order of the night, cheese or meat fondue. And what great abundance! Huge platters with more than enough for everybody to share and sample all of it. Delicious. The food was, of course, not the only delight of the evening. People were a little tired, but feeling good about being in Grindelwald. There was plenty of laughter and good fun. Ken and Kent kept things lively; Ken with many a tale, and Kent with his joke about the man on the airplane that had to go to the bathroom. The latter had to be shown several times, each time bringing forth gales of laughter. Beaverly asked the waiter if he'd seen many groups that wild, but he said they enjoy a group like ours a lot more than grumpy or snobby ones. It was truly one of the finer evening meals together.

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Saturday 6/27

Before the others came back from their night out on the town, Monika Gerber popped into our room excitedly exclaiming, "Gaylene!" I caught on that Gaylene is here. She had arrived at Gerbers' this afternoon in time to come with them when Abraham went back for the rest of the family. Monika, Hugo, and Gaylene stayed in the hostel while Abraham and Anny stayed in a hotel. This morning we had breakfast here in the cafeteria: Bread, butter, jam, and hot cocoa. 9:45 am - Gerbers met us at the hostel, and now I am riding with them. We will not be hiking the trail Kent had planned because it has seven to twelve feet of snow on it instead of wildflowers - a very hard winter! But what a glorious day!! Brilliant sunshine beaming down on majestic peaks through a deep blue, clear sky with a few wisps of leftover clouds! Fantastic! As we drive down the mountain we see many cable cars. Lauterbrunnen. Here we see the highest waterfall in Europe come cascading over the sheer rock wall and plunge to the valley floor. This valley somewhat resembles Yosemite. From here we can also see the tip of Jungfrau. The cows are coming through this village, one man in front, one behind, and bells are ringing. We are on our way to the Gorge Trummelbach. In the gorge we rode the elevator right up through the mountain. Tunnels are built alongside the gorge inside the mountain so we could observe the falls at different points. It is an incredible, indescribable experience to watch that water come plunging, plummeting, twisting, writhing, catapulting out of the mountain, and through it! Awesome! Seven different waterfalls in the mountain. As we drive back down the valley there are many waterfalls around us, mountains tower up on both sides. 11:15 am - We've reached Interlaken, changed some money. 11:30 - Dinner in a cafeteria, this is a Migros restaurant. Migros prices are the same all over Switzerland. We ate out on the patio. The sun is bright! On the way out I bought a pear, but its texture is like an apple; I'm not sure what the flavor is. Horses and buggies are quite in evidence again, but these are just for giving tourists rides. 1:00 pm - We are entering the famous wood-carving town of Brienz. Then to the Aareschlucht (Aare Gorge) by Meiringen. We followed a trail along the Gorge, most of the time quite high above it, sometimes on a walkway built along the edge of the mountain, sheer rock towering high above us; sometimes through tunnels in the mountain, but always meandering along the clear, wild mountain river, the Aare. A lovely walk. Abraham, Ken, & Beverly drove the vans and car around the other end to meet us. Then we took a pretty drive up to Grimsel Pass. A lot like the Beartooth highway. Our drive was momentarily interrupted by an avalanche. However, we detoured through a tunnel while snow blowers worked furiously to clear the road. 2:45 pm - We've reached the top of the pass. I'm guessing there will be snowball fights. There were. After parking the vans we climbed to the top of the ridge; interesting flowers. Gaylene took pictures of the group. 3:15 pm - We're starting back down the mountain. This has been spectacular: snow all around us, a glacier across the gorge. Back down to the avalanche, it's still one-way traffic but on the road instead of through the tunnel. Just beyond the avalanche we made a short side trip to view the dam on one of the feeder gorges where we walked. Across the gorge from us are some rappellers on the steep rock walls. 5:00 pm - Back to Interlaken. Again I rode in Gerbers' car. Smoother ride than the vans! At 5:30 we are back at the hostel. Several of us - Kent, Bud, Hugo, Elizabeth and I - ate supper here. The others went downtown - except Steve; He was making a phone call and came as we were finishing so he ate the leftover sausage and fried potatoes.

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Sunday 6/28

7:45 am - Breakfast at the hostel. At the table we hear bells. 9:20 am - After breakfast we waited for Gerbers to arrive, but they didn't so Kent and Hugo went looking for them. They had gotten parked in by another car so hadn't been able to leave. Some of us walked down to Grindelwald to wait for them. Now we are on the way to the mountain, and I'm riding with Gerbers again. Our first excursion was to the ice caves. That was a strenuous hike going up to the cave (for me), but it was worth it. A tunnel is cut into the ice so you walk right into a massive glacier. This is one of the few glaciers in Europe still growing. It moves about 2" a week! It was chilly in the caves, but by the time we got back to the parking lot we were overly warm. So interesting to see houses in little meadows high on the mountainsides. 10:50 am - We had to rush, but we made it to the train station in Lauterbrunnen in time. Now we're sitting and waiting for the train to take off. One car was reserved for us so we're all together - exclusively! On our way through flat, narrow valleys with towering mountains on either side. We begin climbing steeply and see colorful, alpine flowers growing prolifically all around us. There are no roads to Kleine Scheidegg, just this electric train. We make a stop in the little village of Wengen, which is quite an exclusive village - even a Club Med. Arriving at the top we find some people have opted to hike the whole way. Even if time had permitted I would not have chosen that! And now the chairlift! It will take us on to a higher peak. Some are planning to hike back down, even though the trail near the top still has considerable snow on it, but I asked Kent to get a round trip ticket for me. Kent convinced Gerbers to come along up with us, and even Phyllis, who has a fear of heights, made up her mind she wasn't going to miss anything and took the ride. Floating across the valley in this lift, seems as though we are right up in the sky! Where the snow is gone, the bare patches sport wildflowers. Here we are at the top. What a view! The three peaks of Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau are looming over us in a spectacular panorama. Villages down below look like clusters of toy houses! Joyce's camera wouldn't work when she was trying to photograph the beautiful flowers so she asked Ken to see if he could fix it. He did: He invited her to put a roll of film in it! 'Nuf said, but I doubt that she'll hear the last of her camera problems for awhile. After we got off the chair lift, we had some group pictures taken, then some climbed on up to the top of the peak, the Lauberhorn. This has been an exhilarating adventure. Five of the hardier ones walked down, but the rest returned by lift. At the bottom we had some lunch at the cafe close by. I bought some postcards too.

4:30 pm - A derailment down below delayed our departure from Kleine Scheidegg, but now we are on our way again. On the way up this morning we took advantage of our private car to have a time of singing and Scripture sharing for a small Sunday morning service. Back at the bottom we retrieved the vehicles from the multi-level garage and proceeded toward Langnau, then on to Barau, where we ate supper. Leora used the opportunity to call home, but the first six-minute call was totally consumed by crying as soon as she heard a familiar voice! Later she tried again with a little better success. After dinner Gaylene left with Gerbers for Kreuzlingen. Peter and Dori Buergi met us at the restaurant to lead us up to their mountain-top chalet. Kent had met them at Old Faithful Inn while working at the Front Desk. Detecting a Swiss accent, Kent had asked them what part of Switzerland they were from. "Bern." "Do you know where Langnau is?" "Yes, that's where we actually live!" "Do you know the little village near there called Barau?" "Yes, yes. That is the exact village where we live!!" (A clerk in Yellowstone asking them if they knew where Barau was?!) Kent told them that's where his Kauffman ancestors came from, and since then they've kept in touch and Kent has visited them several times in Barau. That's the background of our stay in a most charming Swiss farm house-chalet perched up on one of the highest hills in Emmental. Peter and Dori led the way in a bright blue jeep, open top, up the mountain. And up, and up, over the winding mountain road until the road ended in front of the chalet. The chalet is magnificent, and the view is too. Peter led us, hiking, to the top of the mountain, and from there we could see clear to the Jura Mountains in the west and the Jungfrau to the south - where we'd been just a few hours earlier. He said this is the center of Switzerland. Friends of Christie had met us in Langnau so they had come to the chalet, too, to visit some more and hiked with us to the top. We took a shortcut down but it was much steeper. Buergis had brought plenty of supplies along for an evening snack and breakfast in the morning; bread, cheese, eggs, milk, butter, honey, jam, coffee, juice, and wine. They showed Kent the where and how of everything, visited awhile, then left us to our own devices. Before they left, Kent was going to pay them the pre-agreed-upon price, but they refused to accept it, counting us as their guests, instead! We enjoyed a beautiful evening and sunset, and just relaxing. Some of the group relaxed by playing some games. We all slept on the second floor in two rooms, women to the left, men to the right. Bob and Phyllis took a couple mattresses into the adjacent hay loft and slept in there. This has been a most marvelous day and evening. We've also done quite a bit of singing.

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Monday 6/29

In the kitchen is a wood-burning stove. Bud couldn't sleep this morning so he came down to the kitchen and had a fire going when Leora came to make the scrambled eggs. She did a great job with the cooking! What a delight that she could come along! After breakfast I stepped outside and heard the cowbells, cows coming from all directions down the mountain toward the barnyard (the barn is attached to the back of the house) for the morning milking. Peter told us last night about the celebration in the spring when the cows are moved to the high pastures. The neighbors get together and make it a celebration because spring has arrived. Big bells are put on the cows then (bigger than the "ordinary" ones they use) and even ribbons are placed on the cows for their annual trek up the mountain. But in the fall when the cows are returned to the lower pastures, there is no celebration because that signals the coming of winter. I found the coming of the cows to the barnyard a rather nostalgic thing for me. How often I have seen the cows heading for the barn, then right to their own stalls as soon as the door opens! Peter told us last night that 150 years ago the trees were almost gone from these mountains so they began a conservation and reforestation policy, and now again the area is heavily wooded with many open, grassy areas. 9:00 am - Departing from the chalet. How do I describe the sights sounds, impressions, experiences? Awesome! Way up on the mountain; I started walking down - several others ahead of me. The mountain is so steep the road has numerous switchbacks. In fact, Peter didn't think the vans would be able to make it from the gate up, but "no problem". As I walked I picked some flowers, then put them between layers of paper towel in my tablet, and I'm sitting on them to press them. Hope it works! I picked up some rocks, too. We're driving past hay makers; they are cutting hay on the mountain side, and using a machine which they push by hand to turn the hay already cut. We're stopping at Peter's "town house" to leave off the utensils and unused supplies our hosts provided. Peter and Dori are directors of a huge retirement home in Barau. Joyce just told an old man she doesn't speak English!

10:30 am - We are in Bern and headed first to the French Embassy for our visas. There is a long line so Kent will wait and the rest of us will do some sightseeing. Window boxes filled with geraniums are standard on the houses. 11:45 am - I am sitting on a park bench across from a large, open area where the vans are parked. A car just went past, and a tape player fell off, or out, scattering batteries. The next three cars missed it, but some fellow moved out to try to pick it up, the fourth car moved over to miss them, and smashed the player all to pieces. There is a restaurant next to this bus stop bench where I've been sitting so I bought a ham and cheese sandwich "to go" and am eating it now. Two-and-a-half francs. I've walked around the area here, up to the train station, looking at shops along the way but not shopping. All the shops are closed today until 2:00 pm, which is when we plan to leave, so some of the group feel at a loss for something to do. You can sure tell it's getting near the end of the trip. 1:05 pm - Several of us walked to the station after we met back at the vans at noon; Kent was to meet us at two, but he arrived earlier. He had waited in line at the Embassy for about an hour, only to be told the computers had malfunctioned and there would be no more visas today. He spent another hour trying to convince officials to give him the visas, but no go. So, we won't be going to Strasburg and the children's home where Kent spent a winter working. We walked around a bit more and had some ice cream - yum! 2:10 pm - We're leaving Bern. Some road work along here; highway workers wear fluorescent orange. 2:30 pm - We have arrived in the valley of our Mullet ancestors. Messen. There are baptismal records here of some of our ancestors. We stopped behind the preacher's house to contact him but he isn't home. 2:45 - On to the church; it is open so we can go in and so Kenny can play the organ. I'm finding this an inspirational, quiet time. This church dates back to 1763 so probably my great, great grandfather, as a boy, was in here. 3:45 pm - Time to move on. We didn't find the preacher. 4:10 pm - We climbed up to the little cemetery where there are a number of tombstones with Mollet on them. Zimmermanns, too. Looking down over the valley reminds me a bit of Thirteen Mile Valley, except that here there are many more trees. Seeing the size of the fields surely makes villages look practical as opposed to a set of buildings on each field. Balmkirche is the name of the little chapel by the cemetery. 4:45 pm - Oberramsern: This is where our ancestors lived. We are standing on a lot where a Mollet house stood. The house burned, but some out buildings are still standing. Willy Ballmoos, one of our relatives through Barbara Zimmerman, met us and gave us a little tour. We stood on a porch of a building used as a granary and had our picture taken. There are ten of us from the group who are Mullet descendents. They tell us they want to put our picture in a history they are compiling of the area. Next, over to Willy's house, just a couple doors from the Mollet lot. Some are taking pictures of him and his wife in front of their house. Beautiful house - barn attached, of course, with hay loft above. Kent's friends Theo Geiger and Sami Gerber joined us for supper. Sami is a cousin of Abraham. 5:45 pm - We are eating dinner in a restaurant next to our ancestors' lot. (I grabbed a wasp off Karen's back just as it reached her neck.) They brought out the book recording the names of those who have written for their citizenship for verification. The town clerk brought it over. In the front of the book it has "Abgegeben 13. Januar, 1837." We had dinner of garden salad, sliced ham, potatoes, ice cream - all we could eat! Delicious. Besides our 16, Willy Ballmoos and his wife, Theo, and Sami joined us. The tables were arranged in a U shape. Kent got a call from the postmistress, Hilda Blesi-Eberhard, that she has a chest (a magnificent wardrobe, actually) that has "Anna Mullet, 1828" inscribed on it. He told her we would welcome her so she came hurrying over. She was excited to see us and we her. She said her family was Eberhard and they were related closely to the Mullets. She took us to her house and showed us the fabulous chest. Inlaid wood; beautiful condition. It has been cleaned but never refinished. The builder was deaf and dumb; built only five or six pieces. Very valuable. One other similar piece in the village. Hilda remarked that I have family resemblance; She does to our branch - particularly Aunt Sarah and Anna Mae. They took pictures of the two of us. We had a delightful visit. When we got back to the restaurant, the owner had brought out boxes of chocolate bears - one for each of us (20)! Over a pound of chocolate each! What a super gift! People were so friendly and interested, we really didn't want to leave. It was after 8:00 pm before we finally started for Kreuzlingen. Again castles dominate the landscape. It's a beautiful evening; no clouds, and the sun is still shining brightly. Even though it's clear, however, the air is hazy, which is much more normal for Switzerland than the spectacularly clear air we were treated to the last two days in the Alps. It's rare that they get such perfect picture-taking weather here. 8:55 - We are bypassing Zurich. 9:10 pm - More gardens with their little huts. Coming into Kreuzlingen area we saw a hot air balloon. 9:45 pm - Arrived! Marco prepared a strawberry-meringue dessert for us - delicious! Abraham had been quite sick and had severe head congestion so I worked on him. When we finished, he said, "Already I can hear!" When he telephoned his brother in the afternoon, he could not understand him. Worked on Anny, too, so it was midnight before we concluded, and I went to bed. Sami Gerber in Oberramsern, describing the weather in Switzerland on the Italian side of the Alps explained, "It's friendlier."

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Tuesday 6/30

Breakfast wasn't until 8:30 so that helped lengthen the night a bit. We washed some clothes before taking off. Didn't hurry so that was nice. We met "the sewing lady", and Sophie was still there. Such warmth and kindness! Anny had displayed some examples of what they sell at the bazaar and gave us good "deals" on what we bought. I got a pincushion, made by a man with crippled hands, a salt and pepper set, and some knitted kittens. I bought one kitten and Anny gave me the others. We finally had to go. Gaylene, of course, is staying for the summer. Hugo was very depressed. He had so enjoyed the weekend with us and it was really hard to have to come back into the Bernrain environment, especially with us leaving. It didn't help matters any that Marianne, one of the best workers there, had given notice the day before that she would be leaving the end of September. We left Bernrain at 11:00 am.

11:15 am - Through the German border and over the Rhine River again. 12:00 pm - In the hay fields to the right the machine is rapidly turning the hay. They're having a terrible time getting it to dry this summer. There is a huge cement structure to our right. Grain storage? Fertilizer plant? 12:30 pm - We've entered the Black Forest. As we came down switchbacks we saw the mountains "held back" by cement block walls. What different impressions and sensations walls can give! This impression is quite different from the Berlin Wall! 1:00 pm - Scenery stop in the Black Forest. We just drove down through "Hell's Gorge" after passing through "Heaven's Kingdom". There is a statue of a white stag up on the crag just above a narrow gorge. The legend goes that nobody had ever been able to shoot or capture the white stag in the Black Forest. However, one day it seemed as though his time had come when hunters chased him to a dead end at the top of the gorge. But, with a flying leap he cleared the gap and raced to freedom on the other side! Nice story. Dense trees through here.

Freiburg. Gardens on such steep mountains I wonder how workers keep their balance! 24 stories! We climbed to the bell tower of the cathedral! There are 13 bells, some of them mammoth. "Joseph" and "Mary" ring the hour, 'Peter' strikes out the number. The hammer will go back, then strike the bell. They rang! After the bells we climbed to a higher level in the tower. The spiral staircase keeps us going 'round and 'round. We came out into a circular open space, and that's as high as I went, but several went on up to another level. When we came back down, Kent's friend Ute walked around with us. Earlier, when Karen and I went around the cathedral looking for our group, we were appalled at the messy courtyard and all the garbage. Now it is all cleaned up, and Ute explained that last night was the "Festival of Wines" so there were booths all over and thousands of people in the courtyard. Kent, Ute, and I had hot dogs and orange juice, then went to "City Hall". We didn't have much time before having to meet back at the cathedral at three. It is very hot, about 95 degrees. So somebody had to explain that it was the humidity that was making a problem for me! Maxine bought a beautiful cuckoo clock. On our way, and we are going through a l-o-n-g tunnel. Frequent phones with SOS under the pictures of the phones. Out of the tunnel and on the balconies are flowers, flowers! Tractors on the streets and roads slow us down. 4:00 pm - We just took a short cut to get to the big souvenir shop in the Black Forest. The road is narrow, but it is wide enough for a van and bus side by side, contrary to appearance. We just met the second one. This stretch reminds me of Gallatin Canyon. Switchbacks up this steep grade. 4:20 pm - Over the top to Schnoach, but we passed on through it. It's a bit cooler here than it was in Freiburg. I'm thankful! We spent some time in the souvenir shop, "Eble's". Clocks and more clocks of every description. We bought a mantle clock for Vance and Gale. Their merchandise was not limited to clocks. The back room was full of all kinds of grandfather clocks - hundreds of them. 5:20 pm - We were just down the road a piece when we saw a tunnel under construction. There was a lot of machinery out front: a "mole" that follows the teeth in and shores up the tunnel. So that's how they make those tunnels. Just passed "Schondelmeyer Press Works"! (We have a friend with that name.) "STOP" is the international sign in all European countries, but it is not used that often. Usually it's just the international symbol for yield. Many Citroen cars here; they are small, and the back is like /. 6:40 pm - We've reached Baden Baden. Kenny: "How did you find your steak, Sir?" "Oh, it was quite easy. I pushed the potato over, and there it was." Because we could not get into France, we spent more time in the Black Forest, and tonight we are in Baden Baden, a resort town in the Black Forest with many hot springs, instead of at the children's home in France. We are staying in a hotel tonight, "Auerhahn." I have a private room with wash basin but no tub or commode - so I took a bath in the LONG tub in the bathroom shared by several of us. Bob and Phyllis, Leora, Elizabeth, and I stayed here for the evening and had our dinner at the hotel. We waited at a table under the trees for 45 minutes. The waitress couldn't speak English but grudgingly brought us an English menu (that was nice to have), but then she didn't come back to take our order so finally we moved into the dining room and did get service there. I had "Farmer's Salette" - fried potatoes with onions, bacon, and ham plus a side dish of green and yellow salad. Good tasting and most adequate. When we finally finished, I came up and took my bath and came to bed. It isn't as hot here as it was in Freiburg, but it is still hot so I took the down tick out of the linen coverlet and put just that over me. Meanwhile, the other 11 went into town to Caracalla Therma, a fantastic place with swimming pools, hot and cold pools, saunas and solariums. Kenneth still hadn't gotten another swimming suit to replace the one Northwest graciously sent to Japan. As we walked in, Ken went to their little shop to get one but the clerk informed him she was closing. Kent then went over to try to convince her to just sell him a suit quick, and she grudgingly said OK if he'd hurry. Ken walked in and pointed to a rather plain pair hanging in the window and said he'd just take those. She said those cost 120 marks ($70)! She informed him those were designer trunks but she did have some other more normal ones on the other wall. He was relieved to only have to pay 20 marks instead. At any rate, it was a delightfully relaxing evening and a great way to wind down the tour. Saunas in Germany are generally co-ed and bathing suits are not allowed, so not too many of the women got up enough courage to "do as the Romans" quite that much. Afterwards the group went to a restaurant with outside tables and enjoyed a delicious dinner and relished the cool evening air. All in all, Baden Baden turned out to be a perfectly good substitute for going into France.

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Wednesday 7/1

We left Baden Baden in the rain. Breakfast was delightful with hot chocolate, ham, cheese, and rolls. Still running through amber lights in heavy rush-hour traffic. This paragraph has been Joyce's commentary. 10:45 am - Bingen, and there is the Rhine. Isn't there a song about "Bingen on the Rhine?" Acres of vineyards on the steep mountains bordering the river. Boats, ships, barges - Ken says it looks like a freeway out there. The Rhine is on our right, and the inevitable castles - man, many on our left. Sometimes there are some on the right, too, although the mountains are closer and steeper there and rise more abruptly from the river. The Rhine is high at present. Kenny just gave us a lesson in nautical terms: Left side of ship has short words - red, port. Right side is green, starboard. The green buoy shows the right side of the channel going UP river. Conversely, the red marks the left side of the channel going downstream. That barge is being towed. Over there is a castle built in the river. 12:30 pm - We made a short stop at St. Goar on the Rhine. Steve parted company from us here. We did a little shopping here, ate some lunch. Although unplanned, most of us ate in the same little cafe. Now we are ready to roll, and our number has dwindled to 15. 1:30 pm - About 30 miles from Bonn we made a fuel stop. We find much more cropland now, but the terrain is still hilly. 2:00 pm - Now the land is mostly flat with just a few hills on the horizon. There are many major towns in this most populated area of Germany: Dusseldorf, Dortmund, Essen. We are passing through Krefeld. Windy these past couple hours and traffic is heavy! And fast. We're going about 70 and cars whiz past. 3:35 pm - We're at the German-Netherlands border. By 5:10 we arrive back in Amsterdam and find our way to Pfisters. Menno also met us there and we all went to a Chinese restaurant close by for dinner - 18 people. The chef brought out everything! A lovely farewell dinner. Afterwards, Ken, Kent, and Wim delivered various ones to their lodging places, then they took the vans back to Europcar at the airport and deposited most of the big pieces of luggage in lockers for overnight. Kent also reserved a block of seats for us for the flight back to Seattle. Bev, Bud, and Kent took the train back to Pfisters, but Ken went back downtown to get one more experience of Amsterdam by night. Ank and Wim sat up for awhile with the others while I went to bed. Earlier on the trip Kent had told a joke about the "flat" princess and Ken had related it today in our van. At the restaurant Bev told Kent he was in trouble with his mother for telling such stories. Kent said, "Mother! Do you listen to stories like that?!"

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Thursday 7/2

We were up at 5:00 am, said goodbye to Karen and Elizabeth who are staying until Saturday, and walked to the train. Had to run up the stairs to catch the train but made it and got to Schiphol Airport by 6:00 am. The others were all there so we got our luggage and went to wait in line at check in. Then we went right to the plane and got on. While we were waiting around I noticed my blouse sleeve was ripped, so I secluded myself in the lavatory and sewed it. Interesting way to flush the commodes. There was one metal block, same size as the tiles, about 5 feet from the floor. There were instructions in three languages; the English said, "Please approach." 8:05 am - We are on board the plane (430 passengers total), a Boeing 747, the biggest passenger plane in the air. This one has been in use as a passenger plane just one week. Our seats this time are all together, the three seats on the left window side of the aisle. We are well to the front of the plane. All the controls are up on the second story, and we are close to the stairway. Joyce, Kenny, and I are in this row. Beverly, Maxine, and Wayne are ahead of us; Shirley, Leora, and Kent behind us, and Bud across the aisle from them. Leora sat down and protested, "I have no pillow." Shirley: "I have two." Christie, Bob and Phyllis are two rows ahead of us. There is a problem accounting for someone so they are waiting for takeoff until that's cleared up. 8:30 am - We are starting to move, finally. Nine hours and nine minutes is supposed to be our flying time to Seattle. Stopped again. 8:45 am - Revving for takeoff. "Off we go into the wide blue yonder." The engines are very quiet, at least from here. We're over the North Sea. This plane can accommodate 530 passengers. 9:20 - We appear to be passing over Britain, we can see land, anyway. Cities - five bridges together. 10:00 am - Breakfast of scrambled eggs, slice of bacon, piece of sausage, dinner roll, a roll with raisins, strawberry jam, and some soft cheese. I also boldly took a cup of coffee - and regretted it. It's strong enough to hold up the cup. We flew over Scotland, about Glasgow; our route takes us south of Iceland but over Greenland. At 12:00 noon we can see "Greenland's icy mountains". Joyce rented earphones but isn't interested until the movie comes on so she passed them to me, and I'm enjoying the classical music. 12:10 - Immigration and customs forms are being passed out now. This western edge of Greenland appears to be wasteland with some patches of azure-blue water. It is very mountainous with some snow pack visible. I'm glad for the break in the clouds so we can see the earth's surface. 7:10 am Seattle time. Backwards in time! We just had dinner. We are over Alberta with a layer of cotton clouds under us. Kenny, Joyce, and I are playing Scrabble. Kenny won the first one, and we were working on the second when dinner came. Before dinner, several watched the feature movie, "Crocodile Dundee." We flew over the Northwest Territories earlier. Now there's a road below us - the first we've seen for awhile. 8:10 am - We finished the game, and this time Joyce won. I finished in the middle both times. I drag this Scrabble board all over Europe, across the Atlantic twice, and not one win! We're over the Rocky Mountains. Rugged! The pilot just announced that we're 25 minutes from Seattle. There the skies are overcast, temperature 57 degrees. Still very rugged mountains, but we're low enough to see green on them. We arrived in Seattle at 9:00 am and we were the first off the plane, first through customs, and our bags some of the first ones off the plane. Kenny's suitcase was waiting for him at Northwest. It had gone to Osaka, Japan! Then the goodbyes. As we separated to go our individual ways, the whole trip seemed almost like a dream, but a wonderful dream. Interesting that we left Amsterdam 8:40 am Thursday, July 2, and arrived in Seattle 9:05 am Thursday, July 2!


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ITINERARY June/July 1987

Saturday 13 - Depart Seattle 4:30 pm
Sunday 14 - Arrive Amsterdam, The Netherlands at 11:00 am. Overnight in homes.
Monday 15 - Day in Amsterdam
Tuesday 16 - Amsterdam to Berlin, via The Netherlands, West Germany, East Germany
Wednesday 17 - Day in Berlin
Thursday 18 - Berlin to Warsaw, via East Germany and Poland
Friday 19 - Day in Warsaw
Saturday 20 - Krakow, Poland
Sunday 21 - Krakow to Vienna, via Poland, East and West Germany, and Austria!
Monday 22 - Afternoon in Vienna
Tuesday 23 - Vienna to Mittersill Castle, via Salzburg
Wednesday 24 - Mittersill to Kreuzlingen, via Innsbruck, Austria and Fussen, Germany
Thursday 25 - Day in Konstanz, Germany
Friday 26 - Kreuzlingen to Grindelwald, via Zurich
Saturday 27 - Day in Grindelwald and the Alps
Sunday 28 - Grindelwald and the Alps to Langnau
Monday 29 - Langnau to Kreuzlingen, via Bern and Oberramsern
Tuesday 30 - Kreuzlingen to Baden Baden, Germany, via Black Forest and Freiburg
Wednesday 01 - Baden Baden to Amsterdam, via the Romantic Rhine
Thursday 02 - Depart Amsterdam 8:00 am. Arrive Seattle 9:00 am.


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