Traveling Without My Cyber Friend


As I am using a borrowed computer, I will make this short.  The battery on my laptop is DEAD, kaput.  You will next hear from me when I get to Amiens, in a few days.  I am in Brest, France at the tip of Brittany, and am using a cyber cafe loaner.  I am otherwise fine, but no photo posts from Paris onward, until I get back to the States on June 29.

An Eastward Homage, Day 7: A Paris Walkabout- Part 1, Tuileries


I had started Monday, June 2, intending to tour the Louvre.  Several things transpired which made that not practical for this morning, so I switched Monday’s plan with Wednesday’s.  Thus, I spent 2 1/2 hours on Monday morning, walking Tuileries, the gardens and sculpture areas which were the grounds of the Bourbon dynasty’s Paris place of residence. Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were confined here, after the Revolution of 1789.

Confinement is a relative term.  The expanse that is Tuileries fronts a greater expanse, that we know today as the Louvre.  Here are some scenes from this fine garden area.  Actually, this statue of Jeanne d’Arc is across the street from Tuileries.


The scenes below are in the park, though.





I thought about not including the sculpture below, after being attacked online, as a “misogynist”, earlier this evening.  You know, though, unless a WOMAN comes on here and says that’s how she sees me, I’m not going to change who I am.  A man calling me “misogynist’ is like a white person calling another white person a racist, or a straight person tripping out on another straight’s “homophobia”.  I’m saying it here, all people are beautiful in the sight of God, and using terms of endearment towards people of the opposite gender is not wrong.  Both genders admire each other’s physical features, and both genders, at least among those of good will, value the WHOLE of another person.  THAT is what I believe;  end of rant.






This lawn evoked “Alice in Wonderland”.





This grove is indicative of the actual forest of the Bourbons’ time.






Next, I will share the rest of the walk, at Place de la Concorde, along the Seine and at the Tour Eiffel.

An Eastward Homage, Day 6: To Paris, With An Absent Crowd


Sunday, June 1 was one of those days that starts out with everything going like clockwork, hits about five rough patches, and then ends with everything silky smooth.  I had no trouble checking out of Q Greenhotel, rode the tram into downtown Frankfurt with a Sri Lankan-German taxi driver, who had the day off (Please, no “Busman’s Holiday” jokes) and enjoyed a leisurely continental breakfast at the Hauptbanhof (Central Train Station), before boarding the train to Paris.  It left a few minutes late, but I was just fine with that, as there were only three of us in the second class train, clear to Saarbrucken.  Here a few of the things we saw, between Frankfurt and the French border.  First, auf wiedershehn to Frankfurt, my first European host since 1982.  You have set the tone, and Europe is less daunting, even for someone like me.


Forty minutes out, we came to Mannheim.  I was expecting a fairly large contingent of American servicemen boarding here for Paris, but few people came on board.  Here is the Maritim Hotel, one of Mannheim’s grandest.


West of the large city, the mountains of Baden-Wurttemburg began to show themselves.  There were some mountains in the area, as is pretty much true of all of lower Wurttemburg.  Hikers were out in force, as were filmmakers and barbecue grillers.



Here is a small parish, east of Kaiserlautern.


The row houses of Saarbrucken were the the last notable site in Germany, before we crossed the border into France.  It was here that we were joined by about 30 people, most of them academics, who were coming from a conference in Koln.


I arrived in the Gare du Nord District, in good enough time to get  on my way to my hotel, or so I thought.


With good directions as to the AREA, I made it easily to Montmartre, which I THOUGHT was the location of Monte Carlo Hotel. I was reassured by a local resident at the base of  the hill leading to Eglise Sacre Coeur that that was so.  All the locals I asked, atop the hill, thought differently.  Turns out the Rue Faubourg Montmartre is a LONG way from the district of Montmartre.  A kind Tourist Office clerk set me straight, though sans street number.  I eventually got that, in a hotel in the 9th Arrondisement (District), that was about four blocks down from the Monte Carlo.  At 5:30 PM, I checked into my cozy room, which is about the size of my old bedroom when I was a kid.

Well, since I was up top on Montmartre, here are three scenes from there.

First, these are the steps.  There is a transom, which I at least used going down.


Next, here is the goal of the steadfast among us:  L’Eglise Sacre Coeur.


Lastly, here is the view from the top, which spared me from climbing Le Tour Eiffel.


I finally made it to Monte Carlo at 5:15 PM.  The first thing I did, once checking in, was find all the remaining hotel telephone numbers on my list.  The Monte Carlo is the last photo on this set.  I know I said two posts would be up tonight, but downward and sleepward.  See you manana.


An Eastward Homage, Day 5: Germany’s Tank Engine


Many people have told me that Germany is a squeaky clean country, almost obsessively so.  That is no longer the case, at least with the obsessively clean part.  Around the Central Train Station, at several bus stops, and in some of the large apartment blocks, cleanliness remains a constant challenge.  The CST , or Hauptbanhof (Hbf), is still a very stately place, and a beehive within this greater beehive that is Frankfurt am Main.  Get used to my using the local names of things.  Everyone I have met here breaks out their English, as soon as I speak German (or French, for that matter,) with my North American accent.  It’s important to go halfway with these things, if we are ever to really understand one another.  Still and all, I will carry on here with putting the local term side by side with our English colloquialism.

Here is Frankfurt Hauptbanhof, inside and out.





I spent several minutes, once disgorged from the speedy train from Frankfurt International Airport, trying to find the bus stop for the route given me at the Information Booth. This is where my fatigue kicked in, and it took three other people being asked, before the Captain Obvious scenario played out, and I was en route to my Saturday night lodging.  I left my bags in the hotel’s safe, and was registered by a rather saturnine desk clerk.  When I returned from the mandatory hiatus, at 2 PM, I saw why:  A group of 75-100 university students were at the hotel for the night, with all that could imply.  The men outnumbered the women, almost 3:1, but I would hear no hanky-panky or excessive noise, during the night.  These folks have built a culture of deepening true friendship, and I hope it continues, without being side-tracked by “real world” distractions.

I walked to the Frankfurt Messerhaus, the city’s major trade and exhibition hall.  On the way, I discovered a small wursthaus (sausage restaurant), run by a couple who are German/Polish.  They have been here in Frankfurt for twenty years, and have watched the world come to Germany.  Indeed, an African woman runs a grocery store, a Sri Lankan man has driven a taxi for  35 years, and East Asian people are everywhere.  We are at the point where EVERYONE is EVERYWHERE, and that’s a good thing, to me.

Anyway, here is the hotel where 200 kids, and I, stayed last night.


Many German homes maintain the “fairy-tale” quality that places them in so many of the “original” Grimm tales.


That quality is enhanced by the evergreens nearby.


Any economic powerhouse needs good parts for its engine.  These parts in Frankfurt are largely provided by the work done through the auspices of Frankfurt Trade Center, or Messershaus Frankfurt.


Here is a look at downtown Frankfurt’s skyline and a couple of more light-hearted scenes.SAM_8882



With that, I am tired by today’s long and full series of life lessons.  Tomorrow, a tale of transition between cultures.

An Eastward Homage, Day 4: Leaping over a Very Large Pond


I had a close call on the night of May 29, just my error of being an inch or two to the left of being in good visual command of oncoming traffic.  No one was injured, no cars collided or left the pavement.   I just needed a reminder of a very important point: Little things matter.

I would be reminded of that fact in two unrelated incidents on Sunday, but getting back to Day 4.  I awoke, with sufficient alacrity that I was going to drive the rental car successfully back to its lot, without damage to any car or any driver or passenger.  I forewent breakfast, save a cup of coffee, until the job was done.  The big thing is, I found how easy it actually is to get to Wyndham Gardens Hotel, near Newark International Airport.  DON’T LISTEN TO VOICES OF DOOM!  “OMG, you’re going to make all those quick turns, with those impatient people, at rush hour?”  Yes, I did, and here’s how to get to the place, if you ever need or want to, from west of Newark:  Take I-78 east to Rtes 1 & 9 South, stay to the left, with the commuting traffic, and exit at Haynes Road.  Take International Way, past the Park and Ride turnoff, and go into the Wyndham parking lot.  Yes, you need to take an entry ticket, but leave it in the car.

I made it to each of my flights, with time to spare.  Briefly, Newark to Montreal left on time and was smooth.   My seat mate was very quiet and seemed as if she were heading towards something WAY out of her comfort zone.  Montreal to Ottawa, via a twin engine prop, left ten minutes late, due to the lingering threat of lightning.  We had it easy, staying inside the terminal.  Three planeloads of passengers and crew waited outside, in their planes.  Once the threat passed, they came in, en masse.  I got a chance to buy a new ballpoint pen out of the deal, by virtue of having time to do an OJ and bound up and down the stairs, with full backpack and bag.  I am getting a lot of weight and endurance training on this trip.

The food benefits are not bad, though.  At Ottawa International Airport, I enjoyed a BLT, with mozzarella sticks on the side, plus the usual fries.  Not Health City, exactly, but satisfying, after a long morning and afternoon.  When I off-handedly remarked to myself that someone had left their receipt unsigned, on the table, Charles, the server, deadpanned:  “That would be the person who sat here before you.”  His service after that little quip was exemplary, though, and was a good send-off to Frankfurt, in its way.  So, too, was this:


Ottawa has accented its heritage as a gateway to the north country, but with none of the “redneck chic” hokum that undercuts the real fineness and beauty of the area and its people.  The city is no longer in anyone’s shadow.

I had, as seatmates on the Ottawa- Frankfurt flight, a Turkish couple and their college age daughter, who were polite and cordial, but mainly kept to themselves, chatting in German about a variety of subjects,  My TV kept me plenty busy, as did writing in my pen-and-ink journal, which accompanies this blog.  On hand were an episode of “Rookie Blues”, a Canadian police drama, and a film version of the story of Ste. Jeanne d’Arc, whose real story I will view in Rouen, this coming Thursday.  Finally, I was a silent viewer of  “Ronin”, a Keanu Reeves action film, with him as a samurai rebel, or so it looked from where I sat.  Both “The Messenger”(the Joan of Arc bio) and “Ronin” were tales of righteous obsession, juxtaposed with naked self-service and aggression.

MORNING!  The light greeted us sleepyheads, while we were still over England, and just about all of our section had the progress of the flight on our screens, in an “Are we there yet?” fashion.  We arrived, had a smooth landing, went through immigration, in perfunctory fashion, and I was out on the streets of Frankfurt by 7:10 AM, Western Europe/ West Africa time.  It did take me another hour or so to locate the bus to the area where my hotel is located- and that’s a story for Day 5.

An Eastward Homage, Day 3: The Sum Total


I had no trouble getting up the morning of May 29, having briefly risen at 3 AM, said a prayer in honour of Baha’ullah’s passing, 122 years ago today.  I thought later that morning of my youngest brother, Brian, who would have turned 50 today, had he not suffered for 22 years and died after 29 of them.

Today on the ground, however, was about the family Norm Fellman left behind, especially his wife, my mother-in-law.  The family is at their south Jersey home, in a place called Vineland.  I had a heart-wrenching visit with my MIL, and will not go into detail as to all she, or her daughter, shared.  .

What were nice were two things:  A walk around their immediate neighbourhood, and the London Broil dinner we had, fresh off the grill.  Wynne and David have worked hard at making the home nice for her devoted mother.  Here are some scenes of home and neighbourhood.  The sum total of this whole trip is the devotion of family.  I have my part to share in this.  It is to visit those sites which Norm and his comrades-in-arms sanctified with their sacrifices, whether by dying or by suffering both internal and external wounds.

For most of us, wounds are hard to conceal.  The pain of loss is felt by all, including the family’s last surviving dog. The window box, though, is a spirit lifter, which Wynne has prepared in her father’s memory.


We did get a change of scene, by walking about the immediate neighbourhood, which is filled with both architectural and botanical gems.  The first we saw was a red maple, spread fully with stunning foliage, long before Fall.

Here’s a little rabbit, just before Willow charged at it.


The great forests have nothing on Vineland.


One of Vineland’s most stately Georgian era homes is now an attorney’s office.  Note the special feature in the chimney.



Back at the house, it struck me how it is similar, in some respects, to the old house at Longmeadow Farm.  Mom remembers the farm as their strongest dream, and greatest success, as a couple. Joseph Campbell advises us to “Follow your bliss.”  This, the Fellmans did, and in spades.  Now, all of us are protected by a cadre of angels.