We went to France! Better Health Guy, his friend who is here for treatment, and I went to Strasbourg. It was a blast!
We drove right up to the beautiful, Gothic Cathedral and some French guy told us we could illegally park for 3 euro. We thought he was the parking lot attendant, and maybe he was .... or maybe not, we'll never know, but we got a parking place right up front! We went up the 300 steps to the top of the Cathedral, looked at the views, and signed the guestbook. For those of you who follow us here for treatment, you now have a mission .... find sixgoofykids and Better Health Guy in the guestbook and sign there with us!
We got a coffee in a cafe, bought candies at the fanciest candy store I've ever seen, bought girly stuff for me in the fanciest drug store I've ever seen, then headed out to a concentration camp. Wooo, what a contrast!
It was a cold, dreary, misty day .... you couldn't ask for more perfect weather to travel to a concentration camp to learn about the barbaric treatment of Nazi prisoners. After we purchased our tickets and walked up to the entrance, I could feel the fear that the prisoners must have felt. I felt nauseous the whole time and feel nauseous even now in writing this.
When we got to the gate, the man there gave us instructions in French. I asked if he spoke English, and he said no, so I asked if he spoke Spanish. A man behind us started talking to us in Spanish and telling us where everything was and what we needed to see. When I turned to the others to tell them in English what the man said, the man asked where we were from. When I told him the US, he asked why were we talking to him in Spanish .... I said because we didn't know he spoke English, LOL!
Ends up this guy was a concentration camp survivor. He and a few other survivors were meeting there with some other members of their families. He showed us around and told us all about life at a work camp. He was a tall man and likely weighed about 200 pounds, but told us that when he was released at age 20 at the end of the war, he was only 70 pounds. He said they were given about 900 calories a day and expected to work. The life expectancy at the work camps was about 9 months and most of the prisoners were political resistance.
The objective of the particular work camp we saw was to quarry red stone to sell for profit .... they even made a profit by selling the ashes of the deceased back to their families.
There were many medical tests on typhoid done at this camp. It was very eerie being there.
I asked the man if it was difficult to be back at a camp and he said no. He had no hatred whatsoever and made it a point to pass on what happened to the younger generations so that it wasn't lost.
I truly felt connected to him when he said that upon his release when he went back to Paris to his friends and family that they didn't believe him ..... they didn't believe what had happened to him. I have been fortunate that nearly everyone close to me has believed me that I have Lyme Disease, but certainly I have had my share of doubts from people I know .... even doctors .... one doctor practically made fun of me and another diagnosed me with Somatization Disorder in the face of a positive Lyme test.
It seems that it's merely human nature to not believe suffering that is not easily understood.
After the tour and talking with our patient, informative guide, we drove back to Strasbourg for dinner ..... so I ate at a real French restaurant in France!! What a contrast to where we had just been. Where the camp was grey, dingy, and cold, the restaurant was bright, warm, and cheerful.
We ordered "cottage cheese and roasted potatoes" as an appetizer, mostly to see what it was .... ends up it was roasted potatoes and sour cream .... just a poor translation, LOL. I also had lamb .... cooked carrots ... yeah, I know, gross, but these were the best cooked carrots I've ever tasted! They must have been cooked in chicken broth with sliced celery ... great flavor! Then there was some kind of garlicky pasta dish ... or was it potatoes? I don't really know, but it was delicious. And as if it wasn't enough food already, I topped it off with some carmel custard. Yum!
We came back to Germany afterward and got home 12 hours after we had left. Willow and Steel were concerned and told us we missed our curfew, so I think we were grounded today. As we drove up the mountain, the rain turned to snow ... this morning when we got up, there was about 3 inches on the ground. It was so beautiful in all the spruce trees.
It amazed me how much different the architecture of France is from that of Germany. It's no farther than the drive from Ohio to Kentucky, but when driving state to state, everything looks basically the same, but when driving from country to country in Europe, the entire culture and language is different .... of course, I knew that, but it's still something to experience.