“Kronberg,” Marilyn wrote in her scrapbook, “is on my shortlist of beautiful and romantic places along with Niagara-on-the-Lake”. Medieval timbered houses crowd along the narrow streets like eager fans in a queue for tickets. Here and there, trees create a small shaded footprint beside a white-washed building. Courtyards with murmuring fountains provide a quiet respite from crowded streets. We stayed here, only fifteen kilometers from Frankfurt, before we travelled east to Coburg to meet with the designers from the Goebel Porcelain Company.
The first time that we visited Paris we were fresh off the train from Le Havre. I was twenty-two years old and eager to see “The City of Lights”, but without the slightest background knowledge about this capital. Art college was just behind me, and with my new bride and her brother and his new wife, we were off to enjoy something. We didn’t know what that something was, but we were positive in our attitude.
Sailing in waters around the Caribbean islands to Alaskan passages, we have had much joy. Around the United Kingdom and skirting the shores of South America on our way to Africa and on to Europe, we have seen sights that have amazed and delighted. Passing through the Panama Canal and cruising the Baltic Sea, we have been taken to “fair enchanted lands”.
Sometimes as a traveller I encounter service people that I don’t understand, and on other occasions, I understand only too well. “Lynch? Linch?” was the panicked interrogative of the young busboy as we returned from breakfast in the baronial dining room at Hotel Castel Freiberg . I stood at the door of our room in this northern Italian mountain retreat. “Lynch, linch?” He tried this time with a different inflection. “Pete,” my wife called from the bathroom, “he’s asking whether we will be here for lunch.” I nod “yes”, breaking the sound barrier.
Following a nose-bleed fast ride in a four-person, glass-sided elevator up through the tower of the church, we emerged into an observation hallway with open balconies that encircled the spire. The views across Ghent allowed us to register our city centre location using the old fort, Gravenstein, as a reference point.
Cruising north on the Saône River, we encountered many barges laden with commercial products such as this log cargo. Coal, fertilizer, farm equipment and mysterious crates containing God-knows-what rode on boats that ploughed through the cerulean waters. Only occasionally did we see pleasure crafts. Clearly the Saône is about commerce.
This band in their tattered uniforms was playing for tourists’ change outside the Peterhof, the Czar’s summer palace (Peterhof Facade and Peterhof Tower). They were in a great position to get money, as all the many hundreds of travellers that shuffle through this palace had to pass directly past them. I wonder if their uniforms needed to be in such disrepair or if the musicians felt a little sympathy might result from their battered presentation. Boy am I getting skeptical.