Eindhoven into Switzerland

Ted’s parents timed their visit perfectly; last Tuesday, we got to do something very special. It was the 18th of September, the 63rd anniversary of the liberation of Eindhoven in WWII, so we went to see the commemoration of that at the Stadhuisplats (City Hall Square), right around the corner from our flat. There’s a parade re-enacting the liberation, so it was a long line of 1940s-vintage military vehicles rolling into town. Most of the people riding on them were too young to remmeber the war, but there were also a surprising number of 1940s-vintage military veterans, from England and the US and the Netherlands. The first one bore a flame brought from Bayeux, where the Normandy landings were. They rolled along the whole route of the liberation, into the town square and around it. they were followed by a number of bands, then innumerable troops of scouts and drum majorettes and dance groups, so many that I think most of the kids in the area must have been included somehow.

I got double vision during the military part of the parade; looking at the postmodern town hall and the antique vehicles, I started seeing it as it must have been 63 years ago. There were remains of older bidings and craters from bomb damage; those elderly veterans were young men, tired and dirty but satisfied with the job they’d done, and they were hading out cigarettes and candy to a crowd that was much hungrier-looking than the one we stood in, wearing four-year-old mended clothes, jubilant and tearful at once. By the end when they made a speech in three languages and played four national anthems I don’t think I was the only one dripping a few tears. It’s a powerful thing to hear your national anthem played, out of gratitude, in a foreign country.

Karen and Ken spent the next two days in Amsterdam, returning well-traveled and very tired,then on Saturday we all drove to Paris to see them off on their tour to see the Treasures of France. Pity, really; after a night in Paris, Ted and I took off down south towar yon. We found a hotel in Macon, then embarked on a tour of the Beaujolias region. We tasted and bought a couple of the Cru Beaujolais wine and enjoyed seeing the countryside. The town of Julienas rather reminded me of an old Scottish song:

Oh, what a parish, a terrible parish
Oh, what a parish is that o’ Dunkel’;
They hangit their minister, droon’d their precentor,
Dang doon the steeple and fuddled the bell.
The steeple was doon, but the kirk was still staun’in’;
So they biggit a lum whaur the bell used tae hang.
A still-pot they got and they brewed Hieland whisky;
On Sundays they drank it and ranted and sang.

because they store and sell wine in the old town church. There’s a fine new church up the hill, but you can tell the old one is where the history is. It now has appropriate stained-glass windows with relevant mottoes (like “In Vino, veritas), a mural where the altar would have been featuring Bacchus and his Maenads, and a painting somewhat reminiscent of the Last Supper viewed from the foot of the table, with the arms of an implied cross made my two men reaching to the taps of wine barrels beind the man standing with bowed head at the head of the table.

I’m writing this after a day driving around Switzerland, sitting in front of an open window that looks out over Lake Lucerne. This hotel, the Hermitage could be a little nicer – but only if they had rowing shells for us to use on this famous rowing lake.

And in looking that link up, I found that the hotel does list rowing as one of the recreations offered. Off to investigate.

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