France, Germany, Switzerland

December 21, 2006

So, from the wish list of places;

WWI battlefields
This was well worth doing. Both of us were hugely moved by the whole experience. It brought the scale of the carnage into context, but was also immensely moving in these cynical times to see the care and attention still being paid to the memorials. We spent time at Thiepval which commemorates the 73,357 who have no graves as there were no bodies to bury. The white marble sections you can see are the photos are engraved with the names of the missing. The names are small but there is little spare space. We knew that Mandy’s great-grandfather lost his leg on the first morning of the Somme, but we were both surprised at the number of references to both our surnames on the monument.

Thiepval Memorial to the Missing

A rewarding, but somber, first day.

Over the next four days we motored across country through France, Belgium, Luxembourg and then to Germany to drive the Mosel and Rhine valleys. Both rivers were splendid, fantastic scenery, and some very pretty towns and villages. At this stage we were covering about 150 miles each day – our longest had been getting from Arras to Trier at the head of the Mosel – around 300 miles all in.

From Southern Germany we turned right and dropped into Switzerland to see the Rhine Falls. Schaffhausen, just over the German/Swiss border is home to the highest upstream point to which the Rhine is navigable. The Rhine outflows from Lake Constance, and some twenty or more miles further on drops over the Rhine Falls. What a stunning location; and Stein am Rhein, where we stayed was just picture postcard Swiss! We had dinner the first night in the village square just surrounded by 13c buildings – beautiful…..

Rhine Falls

From there we took a ferry across lake Constance and travelled along the German side of the Alps to Fuessen. Stunningly pretty scenery – freshly laundered cows all with obligatory bell. Only spoiled by a 40 seater coach from Poland that had seen better days about 20 years ago and was being “challenged” by trying to drive the Alpine roads. Fortunately, the 10 years we waited to get past only lasted 30 minutes or so….. and then we were on to a real treat – Hotel Wiedermann.


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