Epilogue

European Science Trek by the numbers:
13 countries
31 days
11,950 miles traveled
195 miles walked
49 train trips
20 hours of airline flights
3688 digital pictures taken (three 8Gb flash cards)
1 hour 45 minutes of video footage (two 32Gb flash cards)
6 private home stays
1 guest room
5 hostels
3 hotels
1 sleeper car on the train
15 museums visited
4 different monetary currencies
7 different languages (fluent in one)

In the coming months, I will be editing video into podcasts and posting them on this site. There will be a link off of the home page. Karen has several thousand pictures to turn into scrapbooks…we’ll see how long that takes!

The last month has been a truly incredible experience. We have seen and experienced so many things that our minds are still swimming with the myriad of sights, sounds, and smells of Europe. We learned many new customs, how to navigate the public transit systems of Europe, experienced the ease of train travel, but yet appreciate the independence (and dependence) that having a car gives us in the States. We learned to know many people who graciously opened their homes to us. The proprietors of hostels and innkeepers were overwhelmingly welcoming and eager to please us. We got to experience European fervor for soccer during the World Cup. We even picked up a few Facebook friends.

Things went amazingly well…we didn’t get sick or injured, we only boarded one wrong train, and only got totally lost once. The damage to the rental car was inconsequential, and we did not fall prey to any pickpockets or scams that visitors can fall victim to.

I would like to publicly acknowledge a few individuals who were instrumental in making this trip possible. Jeremy Wegner provided the inspiration for this trip and introduced me to the Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellowship program, and provided suggestions for site visits. I would like to thank Allan Dueck, John Poirier, and John Yordy for writing recommendations. Irene Gross and Ayold Fanoy were instrumental in helping arrange some last-minute housing arrangements. In Holland, Arno Thimm and Jan Kanis gave portions of their days to accompany us weary travelers and show us around Amsterdam. Jan Gleysteen was invaluable in providing advice, information, and contact information throughout Europe. We would have loved to have taken him with us to be our personal guide, but that was not an option.

Finally, I would like to thank my faithful companion and wife, Karen. She endured hours of boring science museums, held the camera for my on-camera segments, and had to catch up with me when I started walking too fast. Together, we experienced the trip of a lifetime. I must also acknowledge the Eli Lilly Charitable Trust that provided the funding that made this trip possible, through the Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellowship program. And last, but not least, thanks to those of you that read this blog and commented publicly or sent private notes. Thanks for following along!

July 2

Dublin, Ireland airport

Dublin, Ireland airport

Wednesday was an early morning, as our flight out of Amsterdam left at 9:25am.  A one-hour flight to Dublin put us there at 10:30, and the fight to Chicago left at 11:30.  Normally, an hour of connecting time would be sufficient, but at Dublin, passengers bound for the United States clear U.S. customs in Dublin before even leaving.  Before we could even get to U.S. Customs Pre-Clearance, we had to have our bags X-rayed by Irish Immigration, even though we were in a secure area of the airport.  There was an inevitable delay, but we quickly went to U.S. Customs Pre-Clearance.  The first order of business…have our carry-on bags X-rayed again!  This was the third our bags have been checked.

Then it was into the long lines for a passport agent.  By this time it was 11:00, and our flight was already boarding.  Fortunately, the lines moved fast.  I was curious how they would handle our checked bags…in the old days, with a domestic connection prior to going to the U.S., one would have to claim their checked bags and potentially have them inspected.  With pre-clearance, I wasn’t sure how it would happen, since our bags were checked through all the way to Chicago.  When we got to the passport agent, he asked about the food we were bringing back (no problems), then click on his mouse and a picture of our bags popped up on his monitor.  He asked if these were ours, we said, “yes”, and he said were were all set and to have a good trip.  That was easy!  D- for for repeated X-raying of our bags, C- for the long lines to the passport check, but they moved fast, A+ for the one-minute stop with the passport agent and U.S. government technology that worked perfectly.

We arrived at the Are Lingus gate during the final boarding call at 11:20, but were surprised to find there were still at least 50 people waiting to board.  It was clear we wouldn’t be leaving on time.  We ended up leaving 20 minutes late.  The flight was long (8 hours, 15 minutes), but we were glad to see 3 of our 4 kids (Logan had to work), my father, and Dori (who watched the kids while we were gone) waiting for us in Terminal 5 at O’Hare airport in Chicago.  When we return home, we will leave the next morning for a wedding in Kansas, so we won’t have much time to cool our wheels.

In the next few days, I will post an Epilogue, which will include a few highlights and some statistics of our travels.  Thanks for following!

July 1

imageAfter breakfast with Arno, he drove us to Zanse Schans, where we met Jan Kanis, who is a local Mennonite and also happens to be a tour guide at Zanse Schans. Zaanse Schans is an open air Dutch museum that showcases various aspects of traditional Dutch culture. There we saw how wooden shoes we made, baking bread and cookies, cheese-making, clock-building, coffee roasting, raising goats, building boats and wooden barrels, and of course, then use of windmills to power a sawmill, press peanuts into peanut oil, mill mustard seed, and grind chalk into powder.
After souvenier shopping and lunch in the pancake house, Jan took us to see some Dutch Mennonite and others sites around Zandaam. An old peoples’ home started by Mennonites was first on the list, as well as the Mennonite church in Zandaam. One curious thing we noticed in this church…I jinni
We also saw the house in which Peter the Great from Russia stayed in while he was studying shipbuilding in Zaandam. We said goodbye to Jan and went into Amsterdam where we me Arno for some sightseeing around Amstedam. Several of the places we visited included the Singelkirk church, which is the big Mennonite church in Amsterdam, the house that Rembrant lived in, and several other notable buildings. We took a boat cruise throught the canals of Amsterdam, which has more visages than Venice, Italy.
Our last evening in Europe has come to an end, and it was time to head back to the guest room and repackage our suitcase and backpacks. We leave from Amsterdam Schipol airport at 9:25 am, with a transfer in Dublin, Ireland, before heading back to Chicago O’Hare.

June 30

Hotel on the site of the old Schwartzendruber farm.

Hotel on the site of the old Schwartzendruber farm.

After leaving Switzerland in the 1600s due to religious persecution, my Swartzendruber ancestors moved north to Germany. In the town of Mengerinhausen, they set up a mill and also farmed the area. The area was originally known as “The Gallows” (Galgen), so the mill and subsequently the farm earned the name Galgenmüehle (literally Mill of the Gallows). In 1833, the Jacob Schwarzendruber and his extended family left first by horse-drawn carriage, then a river boat, and finally an ocean-going sailboat for America. They would eventually settle in eastern Iowa.
It was apparently a large group of family that emigrated, and the account is accurately recorded in a diary that begins at Galgenmüehle and ends in the port of Baltimore nearly four months later. There is a modest collection of photos of the old mill and homestead from the 1800s near the time at which the Schwartzendrubers emmigrated. The farmstead and mill subsequently went through several owners and fell into disrepair, though in 1969 a family purchased the site, restored some of the buildings, and opened a restaurant and hotel. They renamed the location Lüisen-müehle.
Currently the daughter of the founder of Lüisen-müehle owns and operates the location, which has a nice restaurant, about 16 guest rooms, conference facilities, and small swimming pool.
It was thus a pilgrimage of sorts to visit the site of the Galgenmüehle, eat in the restaurant, sleep in the hotel, and walk the grounds, which are on the edge of town, just east of a beautiful railroad viaduct.
Since the train connections from Köln were less than ideal, we rented a car and drove the two hours on the Autobahn system. Yes, it is correct that there are no speed limits, but only in some places. There are sections that are limited to 120, 80, or 60 km/hr. But for much of the drive, I was routinely cruising along at 140-150 km/hr (88-94 mph), even hitting 160 km/hr (100 mph) for a stretch…and still getting passed.
Thank goodness for the GPS on board the car, though it took us 30 minutes to how to figure out how to program the route; the display and voice prompts were all in German. Our German vocabulary: about 10 words. The female voice giving us dirctions in

 

Since our tour guide in Amsterdam can’t accommodate us until Tuesday, there wasn’t a pressing need to get there early. We got up at a leisurely (for this trip!) 7:30am, had breakfast, and checked out. Earlier, while Karen was getting ready, I went and explored the hotel and the grounds a bit more. The owners have decorated parts of the restaurant and lobby with old photos, some of which would pertain to the Schwartzendrubers. I also found a house across the street, much newer, that sports a sign on the front gate that says “Galgenmüehle”.
Behind the restaurant/hotel is some rich farmland, and also a few streams and a channel that looked as if it could have been a part of the old mill. We drove through Mengerinhausen and took a few pictures as well.
The traffic going into Köln was pretty heavy, and mixed with periods of torrential downpours, there were some accidents that slowed traffic down. The end result is that we missed the 12:46 pm train we were hoping to catch, and instead had to take the 2:46 train.
Arriving in Amsterdam at 5:27, we were trying to catch the 5:36 train to Bloemendaal, which is where we are staying the last two nights. Bloemendaal is several kilometers west of Amsterdam, almost to the North Sea. So far throughout Europe, we have managed to catch dozens of the correct trains by 1) finding the departure time on the information board in the train station, 2) finding the name of the city at the end of the line that the train is going to, 3) verifying that the train number is correct (they don’t always show the train number), and 4) going to the correct platform shown for the desired train. This method has worked well…until this time. Bloemendaal is on the way to Uitsgeet. It turns out two trains left Amsterdam at 5:36, both bound for Uitsgeet; one by way of Bloemendaal, the other by way of Zaandam. The train number was not displayed, making it even more confusing. You guessed it, we got on the wrong train. By time we realized we were on the wrong train, and we back-tracked and caught the correct train, it had added another hour the our travels. By the time we had arrived at our host’s, it was after 7pm.
Arno is a retired Mennonite minister who lives in a retirement community. The community has several guest rooms, one of which we are staying in. We had a light supper with Arno, and then he took us on a short tour of Bloemendaal and Haarlem. We went out the the beach and stuck our toes in the North Sea, and then went in to Haarlem to see several “hidden” churches. After severe persecution in the 17th and 18th centuries, Mennonite churches were tolerated by the early 19th century but their buildings could not be visible from the street, so the entrance was usually through a non-descript street front door, which then after passing down a long alley opened up into the full church.
Our host formerly pastored the Vereenigde Doopsgezinde Gemeente te Haarlem church, and he took us there to visit. Afterwards,we went and visited with the sisters of Jan Gleysteen, whom some of you may know from Mennonite circles in the Goshen area.
Tuesday, our last full day on Europe, will be spent at Zaanse Schans, an open-air Dutch museum, and then later in downtown Amsterdam.
ections in German we referred to as “Helga.”

 

June 29

Cruise on the Rhine River

Cruise on the Rhine River

Castle overlooking the Rhine

Castle overlooking the Rhine

Kölner Dom

Kölner Dom

Our hosts dropped us off at the Mainz train station, and a short train ride later we hopped on the Köln-Düsseldorfer boat and took a three hour cruise downstream on the Rhine River.  Nearly a dozen castles overlook the river valley, and normally this would be a very pleasnt and relaxing cruise.  Temperatures in the low 50s, a brisk wind, and a nearly constant drizzle made it a bit miserable.

We disembarked in Braubach and took the train the rest of the way to Köln (Cologne), where we looked around the Kölner Dom (cathedral), that boasts twin spires towering 500 feet over the sidewalk below.

We had to pick up our rental car at 4pm, so we didn’t have much more time to explore. It was then a two hour drive on the Autobahn system to Mengerenhausen for our night’s stay.  More on that in the next post.

 

June 28

Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg Castle

German Apothecary Museum

German Apothecary Museum

German Apothecary Museum

German Apothecary Museum

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Last evening out host Steve Birky took us on a walking your of Saverne. Saverne is a pleasant city just west of Strasbourg a few miles. It is nestled against some of the foothills that start rising west of Strasbourg. Saverne has a beautiful mansion/castle that was built for Napoleon, as evidenced by the monogrammed letter “N” carved and painted on the walls and gate. After another load of laundry it was time for bed, as we had an early start again in the morning.
The 8:15am train this morning from Saverne to Strasbourg was delayed because of “an animal on the tracks.” Fortunately we had plenty of time to catch the next train to Heidelberg. Heidelberg Caste is perched on the side of a mountain overlooking the river valley in which Heidelberg sits. One takes a funicular railway up to the castle grounds. The castle was built by King Ludwig V, and parts of it were destroyed during subsequent wars.
We took the tour which takes a look at the inside of the castle. One interesting feature was “The Great Barrel”. The people living under the king were required to pay taxes, usually in the form of wine. The king also wanted to make sure that he would not run out of wine, thus the castle contained a 64,000 gallon wine barrel in the basement. You can imagine that it was immense…laying on its side, it was over ten feet tall and almost 30 feet long. The people didn’t like having to pay their taxes, and would water it down or add other juices to it. The guide told us you could probably have gone to Aldi’s (the same discount grocery store as in the States…it actually started in Germany) these days and have procured better wine!
The highlight of the castle was the German Apothecary (pharmacy) Museum, which is located inside the castle. They have many displays of apothecary bottles, flasks, vials, and an actual lab that was used by early German pharmacists. It was fascinating to see what components would have gone into the medicines that early pharmacists would have extracted, synthesized, and compounded for various ailments. Many herbs, spices, and extracts did have names that were recognizable (albeit in German).
Some early formulations of Bayer Aspirin were also on display. Bayer was a German company, and is now a multi-national pharmaceutical and chemical company.
After walking around the castle grounds some more, it was back on board the next train to Frankfurt and then Mainz, which will be our last home stay in Europe. Tomorrow night we will be in a hotel, and our last two nights in Europe will be just outside of Amsterdam at a guest room in a retirement community where the person hosting us lives.

June 27

Dachau, Germany

Dachau, Germany

Dachau, Germany

Dachau, Germany

Dachau, Germany

Dachau, Germany

Dachau, Germany

Dachau, Germany

Friday morning we got up and went to the Dachau concentration camp memorial. This we rescheduled from Wednesday afternoon. Dachau is about a 30-minute train ride and 10-minute bus ride outside of Munich. All of original buildings are still there, with the exception of the prisoner’s barracks. Only two of the 30 were restored…the rest were too dilapidated and were torn down, now just filled with rock beds where the foundations once stood. The inside of the main building serves as the museum, and tastefully tells the history behind the Nazi movement, and carefully portrays the horrendous things that happened here during the Holocaust.
This was a sobering experience, and it was painful to imagine a family arriving through the gates of the camp, being separated, and not knowing if they would see one another again.
The rest of Friday is a travel day by train to Saverne, France (just outside of Strasbourg) where will stay in a couple’s home; he was raised in the States and moved to France after he married. His father attends our church in Goshen, and helped us make the connection. I arranged for this home stay while Steve was visiting his father in Goshen back in April.
Most of the historic science sites have been checked off the list, so that part of the trip is feeling complete. The last two big items on the list were a meeting room in Karlsruhe, and the German Pharmacy Museum inside Heidelberg Castle. These are on the agenda for Saturday, before a cruise down the Rhine River on Sunday. The visit to Karlsruhe may get scratched; it is just a meeting room in a non-descript building with no plaque or commemoration. It is the site of the Karlsruhe Conference in 1927 that brought together some of the prominent chemists of the time. The business of the Karlsruhe Congress led to common terminology, symbols, and other standards in chemical nomenclature. It would eventually lead to the formation of the International Union of a pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), the international authority on chemical nomenclature, structures, and symbols.
There may be one final science stop on Sunday or Monday, but we will have to see how the schedule holds up. We’re still trying to get back on our itinerary after the cascade of problems caused by train service in the Czech Republic earlier this week.

June 26

Castle Neuschwanstein

Castle Neuschwanstein

An early vacuum pump and bell jar

An early vacuum pump and bell jar

A very large photomultiplier tube from an astrophysics experiment

A very large photomultiplier tube from an astrophysics experiment

The original Magdeburg hemisphere to demonstrate atmospheric pressure

The original Magdeburg hemispheres to demonstrate atmospheric pressure

Equipment used by Laurie Meitner and Otto Hahn in their discovery of nuclear fission

Equipment used by Laurie Meitner and Otto Hahn in their discovery of nuclear fission

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Galileo’s physics lab reconstructed

Wednesday night we stayed at Ruchti’s Hotel and Restaurant in Füessen, Germany, which is only about a five minute bus ride from Neuschwanstein Castle. We had advanced tickets for the 9:20am tour, which meant that we had to be at the ticket center by 8:20. It was about a 20 minute walk to the train station where we stowed our bags, then the short bus ride to Hohenschwangau. From there, one can hike steeply uphill for 40 minutes, pay for a horse-drawn carriage ride up, or take the bus to the overlook for €2.40, and then the last 10 minutes on foot. We took the bus up, and then a leisurely carriage ride down. The view from the overlook was spectacular.
Schloss Neuschwanstein was built by Bavarian King Ludwig II starting in 1868 but was never fully completed due to the king’s mysterious death in 1886. The castle served as the inspiration for Walt Disney in designing the Magic Kingdom castle at the Disneyworld resort and theme park. Unfortunately, taking pictures and videos is not allowed inside the castle, but we took lots on the outside.
Instead of spending two nights just outside of Strasbourg, France, we booked a last-minute hotel room in Munich just across from the train station. Once we took the train back to Munich, we checked in at the hotel. The plan now is to explore Munich in the evening, go to Dachau Friday morning, and then go on to Strasbourg Friday afternoon.
With some extra time now, I set out for the Deutches Museum, which was originally on then itinerary. I’m glad I went. This is one of the largest science and technology museums in the world, and rivals any I have been to. They have many different areas, and one could spend several days there. For comparison, Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry has a lot of interactive displays, and the primary audience is families and schoolchildren. They don’t have many artifacts on display.
The Deutches Museum has all of that…some basic, fundamental and interactive displays on basic science concepts, but in many cases, they are reinforced with historical accounts and many, many, original artifacts. The Deutches Museum has a large number of artifacts that demonstrate the discoveries and inventions of many scientists. This will definitely be someplace I must return to in the future! As I said before, I could have spent a whole day there…I only had two hours, though! I got through most of the museum, and was delighted to see they had one wing devoted entirely to amateur radio (I’m a ham radio operator).
With the museum closing at 5pm, Karen and I headed out to explore the Marienplatz area of Munich, with the Rathaus and the famous Glockenspiel. We worked our way towards Höfbrauhaus, a restaurant (and beer house). While I’m told it is not “authentic,” it’s styled and operated like one. What better place to be during a World Cup soccer match between the United States and Germany, than in a German beer house! On big screen TVs, everyone was watching. As we went out and wandered the streets, in every store, there was a TV or iPhone tuned to the World Cup. This was the case in every city and country we have been in since the start of the Cup. It is a big deal here in Europe.
Friday the plan is to go to Dachau, and then to Strasbourg. We have less than a week left in Europe…I think we are ready to come home, but it has been an amazing trip!

High voltage lab and electrical power transmission equipment

High voltage lab and electrical power transmission equipment

 

June 25

Schloss Frohnberg

Schloss Frohnburg

Gazebo from The Sound of Music

Gazebo from The Sound of Music

Schloss Leopoldskron

Schloss Leopoldskron

The sun was already shining brightly when we got up at 7:15 to be ready for a breakfast of bread, rolls, ham, and cheese; a traditional Austrian/Swiss breakfast. The three sites we wanted to visit were closer to our home stay than the train station, so we left our bags at the apartment and would stop by after we were done around noon to pick them up. The goal was to be on the train by 1:00, which would get us to Dachau several hours before it closed at 5:00.
We set out down a beautiful walking/biking path called the Hellbrunn Alle. Along the way, we came to Schloss (castle) Frohnburg. You will recall this from the Sound of Music movie as the villa that Maria arrives at for the first time, and peering through the gate, her jaw drops. This is also where the family pushes the car out of the driveway at night, only to be discovered by the Nazis.
Continuing down the Alle another kilometer or so, we arrived at Schloss Hellbrunn, and the magnificent gardens around them. Here is the gazebo famous for the “Sixteen going on Seventeen” scene, though it was relocated from its original location since they couldn’t handle the influx of tourists. The Schloss also his known for its trick water fountains. We debated if we had time to go on the tour, but it was only 30 minutes long so we went. It was pretty neat and a lot of fun, but our schedule was beginning to unravel again.
Our last stop on the Sound of Music tour was Schloss Leopoldskron, which is on a lake and is where many of the terrace scenes were shot (the family drinking pink lemonade, Max and the Baroness talking), as well as the children boating and falling in the lake. Very pretty here, and we came across a tour group where somebody was playing, “…high on the the hill was a lonely goat…” from the movie soundtrack.
Our bus connections were slowing us down…10 minutes here, 20 minutes there, but we got back to our host’s apartment shortly after noon, only to discover she was gone and our luggage was locked in her apartment!
After half an hour, she showed up, having taken her adult son out for lunch at McDonalds. The afternoon itinerary to Dachau now appeared to be in jeopardy, and that was confirmed when we finally made it to the train station and found that the next train would not get us to Dachau before 4:30, which is not enough time. So we went to Füssen, south of Munich, for our Wednesday night lodging to try and regroup and see if we might be able to squeeze in Dachau before heading off to Strasbourg, France, since we have some built-in makeup/down time there before our last push north towards Amsterdam.

June 24

Mirabell Gardens

Mirabell Gardens

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St. Peter’s Cemetary

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The Festival House (Rock Riding School)

Nonnberg Abbey

Nonnberg Abbey

I had mentioned in a previous post that our travel plans and itinerary were working smoothly. I must have jinxed us. The plan was to travel on Tuesday by train from Prague to Salzburg. This required a change of trains in Ceske Budejovice in the southern part of the Czech Republic. There was a 10 minute connection time. Shortly after boarding in Prague, the conductor came around to inform everyone that due to track work and a line closure up ahead, we would need get off at a stop, and they would detour us by bus around the track work and put us back on the train to continue to Ceske Budejovice. Right away I could tell that this would not bode well for our connections. Upon getting off the bus, we found that no trains actually went directly to our intended destination, and we ended up in Ceske Velenicia an hour after we should have been in Ceske Budejovice. Transferring there to another train to Ceske Budejovice required more layover time, but we made it there, only to find after a 30 minute layover that the train to Linz was 20 minutes late!
One silver lining on the cloud was a delightful older couple from California that we met while sitting on the train platform in Ceske Budojovice mulling thing over. They were here, just traveling around Europe freely, going where they wanted. For the older lady, this was her 33rd trip to Europe! She had noticed my New Balance tennis shoes, and she came over to tell us a story about how 25 years ago on one of her first trips to Europe her fancy New Balance shoes helped her get some badly needed train tickets she was having problems obtaining. The couple joined us in the coach and we talked the whole way to Linz.
The original plan was to arrive in Salzburg shortly after noon, spend the afternoon tracking down the Sound of Music filming sites, and then head out in the morning for Munich and the Dachau concentration camp. By the time we arrived in Salzburg, it was after 5 pm, so we figured we would do the first half in old town Salzburg in the evening, and do the rest in the morning. Something had to be dropped, so I begrudgingly crossed the Deutsches Museum off the list. This is a must-see museum, but not this time. The museum has some original scientific equipment, but it was not a critical stop on this trip as far as the grant was written. Karen and I both want to get to Dachau, so we will have to cut the museum.
We stashed our luggage in the lockers at the train station and set out on foot. We managed to find find Mirabell Gardens (the Do-Re-Me steps and fountain), the Horse Pond (Maria sings “I Have Confidence” here), the Rock Riding School, now The Festival House (where the family sings in the musical festival), Residenzplatz (Maria sings here on her way to the villa. You also see Nazi soldiers marching through here later in the movie), the Nonnberg Abbey (the children go to see Maria and ring the bell at the gate. Also where the nuns disable the Nazi cars at the end), and St. Peter’s Cemetery (flight scene where the family hides, only to be discovered by Rolf). Wednesday morning we will try to find three other filming sites and then head to Dachau.
We are staying in the home of a widow who was originally from Canada, so her English is nearly perfect, eh? She has a nice apartment that is about a 15-minute bus ride from the train station.