|Chapter 7 Written / Published 5.10./ 8.10.15 Pics by author, unless indicated|
During this chapter Australia focuses on Mental Health. A program on our ABC made me think very hard - do I suffer from a mental condition? The very next morning the 'boundless' daily reading happened to be 2.Timothy, Chapter 1. Verse 7 could not have come at a better time: "God has not given to us a Spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."
We will do a fair bit of time travel, plus a German radio station shows up twice, in amazing timing! Please remember, my reports are not meant as travel information. There are other web-authors, who can provide far better work. I trust my pictures make up for what I lack as a travel writer.
We also are touching on a very serious subject - the way young people were treated during a dark age a few decades ago. May it never happen again. May some good come out of the bad.
7. Liebe Zeit !
Very seldom does it happen that you check a digital clock and in that split second, when your eyes pick up the time, the digits move. On the morning after I had published the previous chapter, just after waking in the early hours of 25.9.15 the clock on my beside cabinet moved from 4.13 am to 4.14 am.
After a visit to the bathroom it was hard to get back to sleep. I wondered if there was anything interesting to listen to on the radio? There was - on the BBC London. Two of Adelaide's radio stations switch to the BBC when Adelaide sleeps.
As I lay in bed, the radio in my ear, the BBC's Africa reporter was talking about Anas, a freelance journalist from Ghana. The way Anas was portrayed - a freelancer, who loves to remain anonymous in the background, but was extremely brave and successful in exposing corruption. This is my kind of guy, I thought!
The more I listened and pondered about this African hero journalist, the more amused I became about his name Anas. Besides the option of AN / SA another option came to mind: Insert a t in the middle to create antas, backward almost satan.
At the end of the segment I found out that the BBC Radio program was called The Fifth Floor. This stirred my mind even more. (Years ago I had dealings with a company called Fifth Floor). It made me consider, should I sent a comment to the BBC, something I had not done in a long time?
I turned to take another look at the clock radio. It showed 4.41 am.
It didn't take long to compose a brief fun-message. As I typed my brain must have been very creative at that time of the morning. Not only was I able to include meaning, a surprise came with just one letter - L.
About five hours, after sending the above email, I was on duty for my volunteer work, picking up clients and taking them to our German Seniors group. Travelling west on Kings Road, just after the Parafield Airport, a traffic jam had developed. Traffic crawled for a few minutes, starting and stopping frequently.
When I spotted the cause of the hold-up, a broken down truck, his registration plate teased my numbers brain. Take a look:
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On September 30th it was another number, which spooked my brain; which seemed to be super sensitive to my environment, especially numbers. Days earlier I had been allocated a time for an appointment for 1 PM that day (details are of no consequence). The number 301 occupied my mind for a few days.
When I entered the car park at the said time, another vehicle entered just afterwards. Why I did it, I don't know, but its registration plate made me think of 130, similar to 301, in an instant. From there more 13s came on. The number was 526. From there developed:
Later it came that 1 pm also includes digits 1 and 3 - 13.00 hours.
To magnify the madness of the numbers, the letters of this motor vehicle's registration plate, in my creative mind, could read SA OK, or saw OK.
While the above is just a playful ...
... juggling with numbers, juggling the letters of a front page newspaper headline, led me to more sinister thought and possible interpretation.
The headline appeared on the 30.9.15 and consisted of only one word - RATTLED. The article is an exclusive to our Adelaide Advertiser Newspaper. For some reason the paper stayed on our coffee table for two days. Looking at it long enough I couldn't help seeing. When I finally paid full attention, I first wondered, why two colours in one word? Take a look:
Adelaide Advertiser, Front page, 30.9.15: RATTLED
On the evening of the above numbers game a further number surprise came! After visiting a friend in the Royal Adelaide Hospital, my wife and I got back into our green little Suzuki van to drive home. I started the engine and was about to drive away, when I happened to look at the tripmeter:
The German word RAT has various meanings, eg. (seek) advice. It also is used in the word Rathaus, the word we read in the previous chapter, meaning town hall or council chamber. As I typed here a final translation of the word rat came. As a verb rat means to guess. A Rate-spiel is a guessing game. Was the above headline meant to be one? My guess is as mental as yours.
Unless, the person responsible for this headline, Mr. Weir, is seeking advice as to how he could react to my naming him as the journalist, responsible for poor reporting on the Liddy case in 2001? My research names this gentleman as the one, who contributed to the public's perception of Mr. Liddy (PL) as the guilty paedophile, while the allegedly abused men are reported merely as victims, without revealing anything of their background.
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(Back to Europe, June 2015)
A warm and sunny Sunday afternoon may not have been the best time to travel by train with a bicycle in the Rhein Valley. The two-carriage local train from Kehl was full to overflowing with passengers and bicycles. Trying to board I had to almost force myself in. Jon was still outside when someone yelled: "We're full !"
There was mild panic, fearing Jon would be left stranded on the platform. In the end someone shifted and we somehow managed. Why did the Deutsche Bundesbahn only provided a short train, at this peak time on this popular route? All our other train travel in Germany was first class, and mostly on time!
The reunion with JK, another great friend from the youth group, and his wife was a pleasure. As on previous occasions, the last visit only three years previous, my friends' Black Forest hospitality was exceptional. JK's wife was born and bred in Schwabia. She's the greatest cook and hostess in the world.
Jon and JK riding near the Swiss border.
JK had agreed to accompany us on the first day of this cycling tour. He guided us through the quiet, picturesque country side to Schaffhausen. The road followed close to the Swiss border. A few times even JK did not know, if we were in Germany or in Switzerland. The weather was superb. It remained that way for most of that week.
Just before lunch we reached Schaffhausen, famous for its spectacular Rheinfall (waterfalls). A young lady, who we learned was from Sydney, took this photo of the three of us:
Jon, DF (author) and JK - 1.6.15
After lunch we continued our cycle east toward Lake Konstanz, our destination for that day. Stein am Rhein was one of those places I wished we had more time to spend. Meanwhile dark clouds were appearing on the western sky. The heavens opened up, but thankfully it rained only for a short time. Plus, the timing could not have been better. We had just arrived in Diessenhofen (Pic below right) and were able to take shelter inside the historic covered bridge.
Jk had cycled this route a few times, guiding us on the Rhein cycle-way over green fields and through quaint villages. One of these had a lovely name: Gottlieben.
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(Back to southern Germany).
The Rhein River flows right through Lake Konstanz, or Bodensee, as its called in German. The lake got its name from the town of Konstanz (Germany). Its twin city, Kreuzlingen, is just across a bridge in Switzerland. There is much traffic happening between the two towns, in more ways than one. Many Swiss shop in Germany, where prices are far lower than across the border.
The three of us had booked a hotel room, right by the main Konstanz train station, with three beds side by side in the same room. After my friend JK revealed he also is a snorer, we suggested Jon sleep in the middle - so he gets it in stereo, ha, ha.
After spending a wonderful evening in Konstanz with us, JK our cycle companion, returned home early the next morning. Before Jon and I continued our planned ride through central Switzerland, I spent a lovely half hour, early in the morning, sitting in shorts and T-shirt by the lake, writing my diary. I was looking forward with great anticipation to the week ahead.
There was a reason, why Jon wanted to do this trip, particularly visiting the Berner Oberland with its imposing panorama of alpine peaks. For years we had a large picture, a photograph, hanging on our lounge room wall. It showed the 4000 m high, snow-capped giant called Wetterhorn, with the tourist centre of Grindelwald nestled below.
As little Johnny looked at it year after year, he at one time must have said to himself: "One day I will go there." In 2015 he did. (And the moral of the story: Be careful what pictures you hang on your walls!)
Route 1 out of Kreuzlingen started out very steep, for quite a few kilometers. Jon did not only have a lighter load, he also had a far superior bike. But we were not in competition. I need not have become concerned about the terrain, yet. I had nothing to prove.
Once we reached the top the views opened up for miles around. The road not only levelled off, there was a gentle downhill for at least ten kilometers into Frauenfeld; great cycling in superb weather.
We stopped twice that day, the first time in Frauenfeld, where we were looking to change some currency. (Switzerland's money is the Franc, not Euro). The second stop was at Winterthur, the name we associate with insurance. Despite having started out reasonably late that day (10 am) and riding into a slight headwind, we arrived in Zurich already at 3 PM. This gave us time to check into the youth hostel and a chat with some fellow bike riders, who had just flown in from Perth, Western Australia.
Arriving in Zurich, Jon the navigator is checking the online road map.
Below: The toys of the rich - sailing yachts on Lake Zurich.
Switzerland's largest city, Zurich, is also a Canton (State). It has around 400 000 lucky inhabitants, who live on a beautiful lake. The snow-capped peaks of the Alps in the distance made for a pretty picture, as I sat and wrote my diary on the water's edge that evening. Little wonder it seemed that every citizen was out, either for a walk, a jog or having a picnic on one of the parklands surrounding the lake.
Lucerne, pictured below, was no different. Cafes on the Rathausquai, beside the Reuss River, were packed with locals and visitors. The reason may have been a public holiday on June 4th - Corpus Christi.
As he had in Zurich, Jon in Lucerne had taken off on his Specialized (bike) exploring the lake side city on his own. I wondered, would I meet him on my strolls around the tourist precincts of these pretty cities, where I knew nobody? Not that I worried, what he was up to - little Johnny was now Jon, a grown up man, a professional and expert in his field.
The Kappell-Bridge (below) is Lucerne's most recognized landmark. The 14th century wooden structure and the octagonal water tower, were destroyed in a disastrous fire in 1993 and meticulously rebuilt. Wikipedia lists it as the oldest truss bridge in the world.
Lucerne is situated on a lake the English call Lake Lucerne. The proper name of this octopus shaped body of water is Vierwaldstaedter See, literally translated 'Four Forest towns lake.'
After 2 1/2 days of cycling in bright sunshine, on mostly flat roads, through the lush green Swiss country side, life became a little harder. We had to climb over the 1007 m high Bruening Pass. The first section was rather steep, the weather hot. Jon was patient, when after a few hundred meters I had to rest and sit for a while in the shade.
Back in the saddle I saw a sign - 19 km [the top of the pass]. I wondered, if I could go the distance? Over ten miles of this steep road would kill me. Thankfully, it turned out that there was a rather lengthy, and very pretty, level section between two small lakes, which made it all worthwhile, the kind of stuff dreams are made of:
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Riding through quaint villages and towns my eyes spotted many religious verses on buildings. Engraved in stone on a historic facade in Lucerne I read: Einer ist Euer Meister, Christus. (One is your Master, Christ). Another, painted on a timbered residence: Gott allein sei Lob und Ehre (To God alone be Praise and Honour).
Nowhere else did I see a better demonstration for a love for God's Word as in Switzerland. Here are two other examples:
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The steep decent down to the valley floor from the top of the Bruening Pass was over in a flash. From there it was a final 15 kilometers of very pleasant riding along Lake Brienz to Interlaken. The name means - between lakes - since it is situated right between the Brienzer and Thuner Lakes.
Riding through Goldswil, on the outskirts of town, a digital clock showed 16.31 and 30 C temperature. The weather remained very hot over the three days of our visit. Our accommodation, Pension Alplodge, was right in the centre of town, beside the Aare River, which connects the two lakes.
Switzerland, we had been warned, was going to be expensive. It was. That's why we booked shared accommodation. On the rooftop was a kitchen and dining area, which helped us keep to budget. A supermarket was just across the road; Jon loves cooking.
While we could manage to stay on budget with food, the 2 1/2 hour train ride to the highest railway station in Europe, exceeded all expectations, including the cost of nearly $ 300 per person. But to have come this far and not go all the way, taking in Switzerland's jewel, the 11 333 ft (3454 m) Jungfraujoch, would be something we might regret later. No doubt, the high cost keeps visitors numbers to a level, sustainable to the environment.
Construction of this famous railway began in 1896 and took 16 years to build. The summit of the nearly 3500 meter high visitor's centre, is not merely a viewing platform. There are plenty of things to see and do, including a walk inside a glacier, the largest in Europe. It features various artworks, sculptures made of ice.
Jon was particularly interested in the meteorological observation and research station. The views are truly outstanding, snow and ice in all directions. On a clear day one can see as far as the Black Forest.
On our final full day in the region we both took separate bike rides back up to Grindelwald. During the whole trip I had not seen Jon more excited than when he told me about his ride. He had managed to ride well beyond Grindelwald, climbing to a height of 1900 m. Here is a panorama photo he took at the restaurant, where he ate lunch:
I also rode beyond Grindelwald, but only a short distance. The views of the Eiger North Wall were spectacular. The 1800 m sheer rock face is also called Mord wall (murder wall). First conquered in 1938, many climbers have lost their life on this mountain.
Eiger North Wall, on the right.
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On Sunday 7th June, 2015 Jon left Interlaken by train to return to Munich and two days later back to Australia. The weather was still superb, it really could not have been any better for what I had planned to do - a walk down memory lane. By cycling the length of the Thunersee (Lake Thun) to catch my train back to Germany, I'd be passing through Gunten, the place mentioned at the end of the previous chapter.
Almost half a century ago, in 1967 our Esslingen church youth group held its first summer camp at this pretty village, beside Lake Thun. My parents never owned a motor car, so any travel was full of promise of action and adventure. During that camp there was plenty of it. The house, where we stayed, only the main road separating it from the lake, still stood during my 2015 visit. It has been converted into four residences.
I think I'm not wrong saying that most people can look back to the past and recall a foolish thing they did as a teenager. The following story is one I will never forget, At 17 years, one would have thought I was beyond giving in to peer pressure. But I did at the time, and it got me into big trouble on that summer camp in Gunten.
One afternoon we were allowed a few hours of free time, spending a few hours on things we chose to do, as long we were back in time for dinner. A fellow camper, about my age, and I decided to go for a walk. There was a path, which followed a creek into and up the nearby gorge. It was easy walking, no problems for maybe, half an hour.
Suddenly, perhaps out of boredom, my friend suggested we do a little climbing up the rocky side. We might reach the top, from where we could take a different path back to the village? It didn't sound like a good idea to me.
Gunten - Canton Bern, Switzerland.
At first I raised concern about climbing out of the gorge. It would be a risky business. The rock wall looked too steep. But before I knew it the other lad was two or three meters into the climb. I had little choice but to follow. It all went well until about 10 meters up. We both hung in a rock face, where it was difficult to move on from. Any idea of climbing back down was crazy. To climb down a rock face is near impossible without ropes.
We hung in that wall for quite a few minutes without going anywhere. Meanwhile, we saw people standing down on the path below us. They couldn't see us, neither did they hear our shouts for help. That's how desperate we were at this stage. The walkers below could not hear us, because there was a small waterfall where they were standing. They walked on. We were alone again; or were we?
Following this thought and prayer I somehow gained a courage, a rush of confidence, which - to cut the long story short - made me find a way to the top and raise the alarm at the nearest farm house. An experience mountain climber was called. He rescued my friend. The man could not believe that we had attempted to climb that wall, wearing only sports shoes with thin rubber soles.
The Volksmission youth group at the 1967 summer camp, Gunten, Switzerland.
X = JK, our riding companion from the Black Forest.
E = Erich, who I visit regularly during my Germany trips.
W = Willy, also a regular host during home visits (Chapter 6).
E. = Elsa, who we visited in Berlin in Chapter 4.
A = DF, the author.
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On Sunday morning, June 7th, 2015, I planned to walk up that gorge again and take a picture of where I thought the above had happened. Unfortunately, the gorge had been blocked off, with signs indicating that entry was prohibited. Despite the disappointment I spent a lovely hour walking around the village and around the beautiful gardens of the Park Hotel, which was right opposite the house, where above photo was taken.
Park Hotel, Gunten, Canton Bern.
If heaven is as beautiful as Switzerland, who would not want to spend eternity there? Heaven is even better; all are invited. Why would anyone refuse the invitation?