As we drive rapidly (in Europe that translates to 130 kilometers an hour) toward the end of our trip, I have decided on a theme for our trip. I know, I know, themes are usually chosen at the beginning of a journey, but this theme is one of retrospect. The unofficial, irrevocable, singularly chosen theme of our trip is..."It's Special to This Region!" Whenever some new activity or food was met with resistance, someone would pull this catch phrase out of the air and the decision was made. It was happening.
The kids, being the brilliant and talented, figured out early on that this was the theme. The relatives and friends we visited (similarly brilliant and talented) have figured out this theme as well. It has become sort of a catch phrase around us. I like it. And I usually liked the outcome.
Try some homemade apple cider...it's special to this region.
Let's visit the dairy to buy milk and butter from an honor-system refrigerator...it's special to this region.
Let's climb the alps...they're special to this region.
Let's eat in an outside bier garden while listening to music for hours...it's special to this region.
Let's visit ancient cathedrals, castles, churches, salt mines, forests, lakes, alms, etc...they are all special to this region.
I apologize to those who have been following along on our trip and thought I was the bold adventurous type...I don't care how special it was, or how small the region, buttermilk will remain special to region...for others. They can have my share.
We have done things in these fortunate five weeks that a lot of people have only on a bucket list that lies somewhere in the back of their hopeful minds. Visit Europe. Ride a gondola. Swim the Adriatic. Walk from Germany to Austria. Ride a bike to a bakery for breakfast...in Italy. Fire a crossbow...in a castle. Walk where kings and queens have walked. Eat an ice cream cone on a mountain top. Drive really fast on the autobahn. We've done them all...and they were all special to this region.
There was something else that was very special to this region...the people who have treated us so very well. We have been fed, taken in, fed, pampered, fed, cared for, fed, taken on tours, fed, welcomed, fed, had schedules overturned for, fed, chauffeured, fed, loved, and given food, (I know you thought I was going to say, 'fed' again, but I read once in a book about being a good writer who wants to be rich and famous that you shouldn't be too predictable).
I cannot even express how grateful we are to every one of the families that have allowed us to park our weary band of travelers in front of their houses and in the midst of their lives for extended periods of time. There is an old saying that says fish and visitors both smell after three days. If that is true, we must be absolutely stinky, in a metaphorical hygienic sort of way of course. I can not fully express the gratitude and genuine thanks I feel toward everyone who have taken time out of their daily lives to accommodate us. I can say, when you come to our area we will try to repay the favors. Instead of ancient cathedrals and bier gardens we have Golden Gates and sourdough bread bowls with clam chowder...but we like it. We can work to find things that are special to our region.
Thank you X 999 = Still not enough!