October 16, 2022
After a quick lunch I checked, and our berth was not yet ready (we knew it was not scheduled for another two hours). Melissa and I decided to sit in the lounge near a window where we could watch the gangway to see when the others of our group arrived. Since the groups participants had a staggered check-in, the company had set up to run two different walking tours for the two-hour walk around historic Basel. I somehow got my signals crossed and understood this to be a bonus excursion, rather than the promised Basal excursion. My brother and sister-in-law took off with the first tour group, but we decided to wait for the second tour. It was just as well as we both fell asleep in the lounge. Sometime later I awoke and went to check on something with the tour director. A steward found Melissa sleeping in the lounge and when he found why she was there, he checked again on our availability. The room was open, and we went down to unpack.
We got some much needed rest until the second excursion was announced. I languished in my preparations and did not get outside for the bus until after the scheduled departure. By the time I arrived, the bus was gone. That was when I learned the first rule of cruising, the departure time is the departure time, not one minute later (or five as the case may be). Everyone from our cohort arrived safely and we embarked right on time (again, rule one). I was looking forward to the meal as Melissa and I had both planned a surprise. We have had a tradition began by my sister-in-law of having celebratory tee shirts to mark the occasions when we get together. Although we were not all here, there were 10 of our extended clan who had made the trip. The shirts were passed out and we wore them to the dinner. I had planned another acknowledgement with the cruise line to also mark the occasion. As the meal drew to an end, I asked the maître de what was coming, only to find he had not been informed. He quickly put together a cake and champagne for a family toast. When Mellissa and I returned to our room we found a bottle of champagne and two congratulatory cards to mark the occasion. A miss communication, but I guess we can use this to celebrate another night.
Then it was on for a night cruise to Breisach, Germany, and the Black Forrest. The 50-minute bus ride to the forest went through several older towns and farmsteads. This forest (and the tales and superstitions) was popularized by the brothers Grimm. As we entered the forest every farmstead carved out among the vales had its own tiny chapel, crucifix shrines dotted the countryside, and charms were placed above many doorsills as deterrents for the witches said to proliferate (along with their trials) the area. The winter isolation also became the emphasis for the elaborate cuckoo clocks made to pass the long nights. On our return to the ship, I took a self-guided tour of Breisach which led me to the Spatromicles Praetorium which towered over the town. This was originally built as a Roman fortification and later converted to a Catholic church. It had been bombed during World War II but had been restored. Time continues to pass.
THOUGHTS: Walking back to through the forest darkness gave me a sense of the foreboding and the superstitions that resulted in both the fears and the response. Seeing the remains (and rebuilding) of the bridges and buildings impacted by wars added another feeling of human horror and resilience. As I watched the residents go about their daily lives in both village and town, I had to keep telling myself, these people live amid both the splendor and the destruction. It also reminded me of how young America is as a country. These are both thoughts residents of the US need to remember as it can give you an entirely different perspective. Act for all. Change is coming and it starts with you.