by Charlene Burgi
|Top to bottom: Walls of color in Italy, hot spring under the lake at Neuschwanstein, the force of water on the Rhine
This traveler is back home on the range after visiting breathtaking parts of the United Kingdom and portions of gorgeous continental European countryside with as many as 17 immediate family members. As you read this, a die-hard seven of those grandchildren, their spouses and my son continue exploring beyond this weary matriarch’s journey.
Planning for this trip began almost two years ago—before one granddaughter’s marriage and another granddaughter and husband adding a tiny precious member into the ever-growing family. Born from an adventurous seed, the trip morphed into what took caravans to move at times. Countries various family members had long dreamed of exploring became goals that extended beyond my original thoughts of sharing their great grandmothers’ and great grandfathers’ homeland. Thank goodness for those trains, planes, buses, ferries and cars to transport us all to our desired destinations.
As I reflect back on an incredible family journey, there are places that immediately stand out for their beautiful gardens, interesting designs, water-conserving ideas and breathtaking views—some of which I have already shared in the past few blogs.
No matter the setting, there was one common denominator: water. Whether in the form of lakes, rivers, fountains or falls, water was always present. Some of these waterways created curiosities or displayed force we often don’t think about. For example, hot springs within the lake at Neuschwanstein Castle created an eerie mist in one section of the glacial blue waters. At first we were stymied by the one-and-only spot where this mysterious mist appeared, until my son-in-law put the hot spring puzzle together.
The trip to Rhine Falls on the border of Switzerland and Germany also was a source of awe. The water here is a force to reckon with. It poured in from so many directions, cascading down and around rocks and pooling up only to tumble and descend further with such force. Despite the distance I stood from the falls, my camera lens would have fared better had it sported a windshield wiper.
Each town we visited found beautiful lakes with incredible ferry transportation, or lazy and famous rivers ambling in the midst of ancient cobbled streets and romantic walkways. Those walkways enticed a reluctant walker to stroll alongside the beautiful waterways, or offered benches to dwell upon.
Artistic touches appeared in doorways, plant-covered arches and buildings. Even the walkways and roads constructed of cobbled stones found everywhere we walked delighted the eye with decorative figures built into the streets.
Despite the thrill of sharing this trip with family, experiencing the history and beauty found overseas, plus capturing a morsel of this event with you, my heart delighted when I pulled up to the ranch to find two golden retrievers dancing with glee, kitties rubbing against my legs, horses nickering a hello, and donkeys braying as if to say welcome home. The bottom line—vacations are wonderful but there is no place like home. Thanks for sharing that time along the way!