Monday, September 30, 2013

My Fairytale Trip and a Visit to the Palace

Before I get to my visit to the palace, I want to post a few photos of Speyer, where I stayed the last three nights of my trip. The rest of my tour group had arrived there on Friday, September 20th while I was in Switzerland. The only opportunity I had to look around Speyer was when I arrived from Switzerland on Sunday. There was so much to see in this city! It is one of the oldest cities in Germany with a beautiful old town area.

Speyer Cathedral

Cathedral interior

Street scene

Entrance gate

Through the gate
Entrance gates
Okay, my last full day in Germany was appropriately a visit to a palace - the Schwetzingen Palace to be exact. Located in Schwetzingen, Germany this palace was a simple summer home as the main palace in Mannheim consisted of a total floor area of six hectares (approximately 14.8 acres)! I didn't see a statistic on the size of Schwetzingen Palace, but some 40 rooms are open to the public for touring. We were not allowed to take photographs inside the palace, but truly the exterior gardens were the show stoppers anyway.

Facing palace left
Facing palace center

Facing palace right
Sculptured hedge
Pruned trees line a walkway
One of the 100 sculptures

View from the back of the palace
Fountain - one of many

Me on a bridge
Reflection in the lake
Seven of us traveled by train to Frankfurt on the 25th, and then on the same plane to Charlotte before going our separate ways back home. It seems appropriate to end my postings about this trip with this picture. Because as I reflect back on my travels the past two weeks searching for my ancestors and trying to understand the places they came from and why they left all that they knew behind, I learned something else as well. My family tree is no longer a flat piece of paper filled with names, dates and places. Those names were once people with hopes and dreams, joys and sorrows. And they are MY people. As I walked their streets, photographed their homes, cemeteries and places of worship, I could almost feel them beside me. Like the people in each of the towns I visited who were thrilled that someone from America was interested in where their ancestors came from, I sensed that my relatives, too, loved the fact that I had come to their "home". As I gazed around me I couldn't help but wonder about the last time that their eyes looked upon everything that they knew and loved. What was it like on that last day, knowing that most likely you would never see your family, friends or the land you loved again? I can only imagine, but I am so grateful for the opportunity to see their homeland through my own eyes. In sum, I went to Germany and Switzerland seeking my ancestors but I found a piece of myself as well. Until we meet again...


Linda Austin said...

Beautiful post, Kim! I'm so happy for you - and your relatives. You are found!

Mrs. Wryly said...

Lovely post and wrap-up. I'm glad you found so much more than what you thought you were looking for!