iiiiiAugust ii September ii October ii November

November 14 - Frankfurt, Germany

Took off via train from Karlsruhe towards Frankfurt, for the first leg of my rail adventure. I feel very much like an American tourist now, as I ride the trains on one of those - if today is tuesday then this must be Berlin - style tours. I miss the trails and wish I was hiking, but I have designated these last two weeks for the larger cities and museums and I know I will enjoy it.

My first stop was in Trier. I had roughly three hours to take in the wonderful Roman ruins in this very old city - one of the oldest in Germany. I was in Trier about ten years ago and they were celebrating their 2000 year anniversary! A must see is the porta nigra, one of the old city gates that brings most of the tourists here. From there I swung by the cathedral, the old market, the palastaula and the ampitheater. Made my way back to the train station with a fellow american traveller (Jansen, I believe) I met at the train station in Saarbrucken, en route to Trier. Passed by the old Roman bath along the way - supposed to be one of the best preserved in europe, but we saw only ruins and time dictated a hasty retreat. Took the 3:11 train to Frankfurt via Koblenz - the city I started my Rhine River hike towards Bad Kreuznach from.

Got into Frankfurt about 7:00 and it was already quite dark - sun sets about 5:00 ish lately. Managed to score a hotel room quite close to the bahnhof (train station) and simply dropped off my small day pack and continued around Frankfurt for some night seeing. Must admit it is quite nice to stroll about town without my huge pack, which I left with my aunt in Karlsruhe. Took along my basic day pack for this rail adventure, packed with essentials - cameras, rain gear, water bottle, etc.. Used to go Christmas shopping in Frankfurt when I was but a wee lad, and this city has grown up quite a bit. Huge skyscrapers now doninate the center of town, as Frankfurt is very much a city of commerce and banking. The Main River flows through the city and I spent the night walking along the river and then into the heart of the city - managed to stop by the Romer on the way - very nice at night. The half timbered buildings of the Romer are a nice contrast to the modern towers. Must admit, the streets were very well marked, and I had little difficulty navigating through the city - even in the dark. Made it back to the hotel by about 11:00 - a very nice stroll.

The following day I took off towards the haupt friedhof (main cemetary) as I wanted to see the graves of my brother and sister. My dear dad was stationed in Oberursel, near Frankfurt, while serving in the .S. Army, and my mother bore two still born children during that time. Both children were younger than my sister and I, but the memory of this is not registered to strong in my conscious mind - I recall it, but vaguely. Nonetheless, I came to Frankfurt to pay my respects. William Robert and Peggy Ann died in 1963 and 1965 and are buried in the American Children's Cemetery, which is part of the larger haupt friedhof. I managed to locate the cemetery on the map and walked quite some distance, where I received assistance from a very kind man at the cemetery information bureau - he not only told me in what part of the huge cemetery they were located, but personally walked me over there and helped me look for the headstones. Alas, the American Children section has been reduced in size since the 1960s and the older stones - including those of my brother and sister - have been removed. I half expected this, as there is little room for the many graves in Germany, and most are removed after ten years or so. Families can pay to maintain a plot for a longer period of time - or so I have always been told.

I sat for a while in quiet reflection. I thought not only of my siblings, but of all the other american children who were there - never got a chance to see America, go to the prom, play baseball or eat a hamburger and fries. How precious the little things are - and we always seem to take them for granted. May they all rest in peace.

From the cemetery I made my way back into the heart of the city to take in the art gallery - stadelsches kunstinstitut. While there were so many great paintings, worthy of note are van Eyck's "Lucca Madonna", Watteau's "Isle of Cythera", Vermeer's "the Geographer", and Rembrandt's "Blinding of Samson". Spent the usual two hours in the gallery before heading back, in the dark, towards my hotel. Dropped off my day pack and basically took another walk about town. Tomorrow I'm off to Hildesheim and Ltherstadt-Wittenberg.