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Thursday, June 27: Day 66 – Anatomy of a Tourist

Happy Feet

We slept late and my feet were SO happy. I have three pairs of shoes (2 fitted with podiatrist orthotics) and wear them based on our activities:

1. Hiking boots (Keen) – hiking (of course), long distance walking, possible mud & snow conditions, travel days (they are too bulky to put in my suitcase)

2. Black slip-on loafers which accept orthotics (SAS) – worn with dresses, museums, walking tour, indoor activities

3. Sandals – walking tours, outdoors, swimming, etc.

I have always known that it is not good for your feet to wear the same shoes every day and make sure to rotate footwear.

After a long day, Rob and I put our feet up on the wall and above our heads for at least 15 minutes. We learned this little trick from our daughters who played volleyball. The setters were told to do this after practice to keep from getting sore ankles. After being on on our feet all day, it really helps.

Growling Stomachs and Belly Laughs

Rob and I were having lunch at an outdoor cafe discussing what we would do next when a man who looked a little like Steve Martin struck up a conversation. His topics seemed like a comedy routine but he was very passionate about his words and had a wealth of information.

He started by telling us that he was so happy to hear us speaking English, that it is important to travel and learn about the world on a local level.

The best way to do that is to learn geography, he continued. If you know the states and regions, you begin to really know a country. He had been to New York, but that does not mean that he knew the United States. We agreed.

He told us that he had heard of the Bible Belt in the US but isn’t the whole world a Bible Belt?? The Bible comes from Europe via the Middle East. He also decided that the Catholic Church is on the decline because they won’t allow priests to enjoy the company of a woman.

“If you want to know about the world, talk to the Jesuits. They know everything. They know at least seven languages.”

I asked how I could talk to them. He said that I could look them up in the phone book??

He talked about the organization that is planting a trillion trees to counter possible climate change. (I googled this later and found this article fascinating.) No wonder this man is knowledgeable about this since the founder is a German child!!!

Plant for the Planet

As he left to hail a cab, he said to talk to the Jesuits…and the YMCA.

A Word About Words

I don’t understand why words in German have to be so long. My daughter, Amy, was a finalist in the school wide spelling bee in 3rd grade. She would have fainted if she had to spell any of the following:

Broken Hearts

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews in Europe is the main Holocaust memorial in Germany. The Nazis killed 6 million Jews (and 5 million other people they deemed unfit – old, handicapped, etc.) It is a field of stone blocks and stands in the former death strip area of the Berlin Wall. Such sad real estate!!

Underneath this somber memorial is a free museum and is well presented. Each of the rooms serves to compartmentalize one’s understanding.

The exhibit starts with a timeline and 6 large portraits that are representative of the murdered Jews: child, housewife, businessman, etc

Room 1: Room of Dimensions has letters, diaries, and notes on large illuminated floot rectangles. As you read them, your heads are bowed.

Room 2: Room of Families represents 15 families from various Jewish environments and countries. As you read them, you are thinking, this sounds like my family.

Room 3: Room of Names is where the name of the Jew is read along with a short bio alternating between English and German. It would take over 6 1/2 years to hear them all.

Room 4: Room of Sites has maps and pictures of all the places where Jews were murdered in mass executions or concentration camps. Also, around the room along the walls, you can hear personal stories via handset. You sit in little alcoves which makes it very personal and sounds like they are right next to you telling their story.

I pushed the button Belzec. The man told me that this place was built specifically to kill Polish Jews. Half a million were killed here. Only 7 survived (by escape) so not much is known about this concentration camp.

As you exit, there are computer terminals to access information about specific relatives.

I met a girl from Israel who was on holiday in Berlin. I found it terribly depressing so it must really be difficult for her to comprehend as it is personal. I assume all Jews make a pilgrimage to Germany to honor the dead. I pondered, “When does a Jewish mother tell her Jewish child about this??”

These words were on the wall and made me shudder:

It happened, therefore it can happen again.” Primo Levi

Poet, Journalist, Chemist (1919-1987)

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