Sunday, July 29, 2012

The View From Above

Have you ever noticed that when there are beautiful, tall places, people with a fear of heights sometimes forget about the fear until they get to the top?

We spent a few days in Strasbourg, France, and one of the must sees there is the Cathedral. And of course, if you are married to my wife, one of the must do's is a climb to the viewing platform 66 meters up.

In case you are wondering, that is really frickin' high. See that flat area next to the spire? That is the platform.

Luckily, I am NOT one of those people who is afraid of heights. I am just one of those people who is out of shape! Of course, as I climbed the bazillion stairs, I took comfort in the skinny people who were also panting going up...and admired my wife who practically sprinted to the top.

I later learned that her speed was related more to fear...

After snapping some pictures of the city from that height, we headed back down. She of course sped along...she is in MUCH better shape than I am, but my attitude is to just keep moving and I will get there eventually. I may finish last, but that is ahead of those who don't try!

Behind me was a skinny guy...I offered to let him pass me, but he declined. You see, on the way down the spiraling stairs, there are sections toward the interior of the Cathedral and sections with floor to ceiling windows, like the one below...with no glass. I realized after he declined to pass me that what he was doing was descending normally through the interior parts and scurrying REALLY QUICKLY past the open windows.

Seems he forgot his fear of heights too!

While we were at the Cathedral, we also got to see the astronomical clock strike noon, and I purchased a replica of the beautiful stained glass window for a Christmas tree ornament (I used to have a completely teddy bear angel Christmas tree, but for the last twelve years, I have slowly replaced the bears with "ornaments" we get on our travels. Some are actual ornaments, but some, like this piece, are meant to hang on walls, sit on shelves, etc. For example, on this trip, I also got a teensy tinsy Alsacian pottery cup to hang on the tree). After the Cathedral, we took a boat ride on the river that surrounds the was nice to get some sun!

Thursday, we intended to head to Metz on our way to Thionville, our stop so my wife could see the Maginot Line and that other "exciting" stuff like the World War I battlefield at Verdun, but decided instead to check it out on our way out of town in a few days. Instead, we went straight to Ft. Hackenberg, the largest fort of the  Maginot Line.

The Maginot Line was constructed as an impenetrable system of tunnels stretching along all of France's border with Germany. The motto of the line is "One shall not pass." Unfortunately, as the war showed, one might walk around instead...the Germans simply went through Belgium and the fort was surrendered without conflict. It was an American force that ultimately took it back from the Germans.

We spent the next two nights at the Hotel L'Horizon in Thionville...if you, like my wife, have a burning desire to see the Maginot Line and other such "exciting" stuff, it is the place to stay. The owner is an expert in the history of the area, and he is also an amazing chef! The meals we had there, often out on the terrace overlooking the city, were amazing!


Anonymous said...

Hello there!

I've enjoyed following your blog over the last few months. (I actually found it by hits that were coming to mine from yours, where I discovered my blog on your blog roll. I have no idea how you found me, but I'm glad you did!)

Up until now I suppose I have just been blog-stalking you, but today's post really rang true in my world. I am kindred spirits with the skinny guy in the cathedral who sprinted by those open windows. I have a terrible fear of heights, and yet find myself scaling lighthouses and towers the world over in hopes of a fabulous view. My heart pounds just thinking about them as I write this, but without exception, the reward at the top is worth all minor heart-attacks, white knuckles, blistered palms and tears of fear in my eyes!

As I sofa-surf the web tonight, you've reminded me how much I love/hate those ascents/descents. :)

Digger said...

I'm glad you found my blog! I found your by doing a regular search for blogs using the term "foreign service." All of us end up using it eventually in some post or other and it helps me try to keep our community of FS bloggers linked.