September/October 2018: A driving trip through Germany and France, Switzerland and Austria.

To skip to Page Two, October 5, 2019, click here.

September 25-26, 2018

Wie Gehts (How are you?)

We’re off on another adventure.  This time there will be six of us:  Joel & Elaine Daniels, Thomas Daniels, Terry Daniels, Jim Daniels and cousin Linda Dunn. 

Tom flew up to Oregon on Friday, joined by Terry on Monday. 

Joel, Terry and Tom: packed and ready to leave for the airport

Tuesday, we all met at Joel’s.  Our sister Barbara and cousin Rick Gano took us all to Portland for a late afternoon flight on Condor, one of PDX’s airlines to Europe.

Elaine, Tom, Linda, Terry, Jim and Joel.  Luggage in the cars.

Elaine, Linda, Joel, Jim and Terry at PDX.

It was non-stop to Frankfurt, Germany.  It was about 11 hours flying mostly over the northern continental US to take advantage of the headwinds.  The aircraft is new, comfortable and clean, it has few frills.  We understand that Condor is the second largest airline in Germany.

At the Frankfurt Airport, we got our 10 passenger van—lots of room for luggage—and set off for our first stop, Limburg, about 40 milesnorth and west from the airport. 

Terry in front of the 9 passenger Volkswagen van

After settling into our hotel, we walked a few blocks for a traditional German dinner:  Tex-Mex.  At least the bier was traditional.  Our nice server had been an exchange student to Illinois a couple years ago.  She was amazed we were coming to visit former exchange students.

Tom, Joel, Elaine, Linda, Jim and Terry eating enchiladas and burritos.

We will follow our usual routine.  Tom takes care of the technical aspects of assembling and sending our journal, Joel will do most of the writing, and Elaine and the the others will help choose pictures and edit.  Tom has had to download all our pictures, but we’re working on being more high-tech and using the cloud for that. 

We will get a good night’s sleep to begin exploring tomorrow.
Auf Weidersehen (Goodbye)


Interesting writing. Enjoy your travels. - Ruth

Have a great time! - Randy

Well — hello, there.  Sounds like another nice family trek. I got back from summer in Spokane last Thursday, and have slipped back into my NY “groove.”  Two events at American Ballet Theater this week, and weekends in Newburgh.

Best to you all. - Mick --

Dear Tom, I hope you’ll enjoy your trip to Germany. - Tetsuya

Hi Tom, This is Jill’s cousin, Susan.  Enjoy your trip.  I look forward to seeing and reading about it. Stay safe and have a ball.  I know you will. Hugs,- Susan M

I’m looking forward to reading your reports and to seeing you soon... Hans

Don't you dare remove us from your list :-)!!    Having lived in both France and Switzerland, I will be drooling over the photos.  Buck lived in Switzerland 4 years, American College of Switzerland.. lucky boy.  I was only there, working,  2 years. First photo I had seen of Jim in years!    How great to go as a family. 
Best and safe....Bickleys in Texas, where it is still in the high 90's. No fall here. We go from summer to summer...... Sandra B

Looking forward to more of the Daniels adventure. - Donna H

Thanks so much!  iIreally enjoy these posts. - Sarah

Dear Tom, I hope you had a good journey! Welcome in Germany! We would love to meet you in Unterhaching! What´s about Oct 10? We could go to a nice Bavarian Biergarden nearby! Please give a big hug to everyone! - Love, Ruth


Love your adventures! - Carol S

Love getting your E-mails.  Know that I'm traveling along with you vicariously!  
Hugs, Sandy C

i love your accounts, so am happy for you to send. i don’t know if i still have your account of morocco. i’m traveling there with OAT dec1-23. would like to look at it again if you still have it to forward to me. thanks - molly

Thanks for the update! - Sharon S

Have a great time! - Beryl F

Hi Tom,  Glad you all made it safely - it looks like you are having a wonderful time!  Hope you don't have too much jet lag.   Keep me posted - I love to follow your trips and the pictures are always awesome! Many thanks,  - Deb P.

Great pictures! Looks like you got on European time rather well. - TomO

Thanks for one more vicarious adventure with the Daniels family. - Sylvia  S from Fromm

Tom and all, I love traveling with you through your notes and pictures.  Have a wonderful adventure. -  Diane KTom:

Thanks for including us.  It's always a pleasure to hear about you and your family in new places.  Sorry we didn't get to see you when you were here in Oregon.  Hopefully, maybe on the return. Meanwhile, have a great trip.  Oktoberfest will be upon you soon.  Safe travels! - Danny and Don

Yay~  another Daniels Family Adventure to vicariously share!  Smile  Love to you all,
Nancy D



Sep 27, 2018: Limburg to Solingen

We were up early, very early, this morning to continue our journey.  After breakfast at the hotel, we spent some time in the old part of the city. 

Our hotel in Limburg

It is beautiful with many half-timbered very old buildings and narrow winding cobblestone streets.  There are lots of bright colors including those of the cathedral that has a lot of red and white stone.  It is a Catholic church, but quite plain inside more in the Protestant style.  As we walked away, the morning bells were playing adding to the atmosphere.

The cathedral (Dom) in Limburg.

We were looking for SIM cards for our phones, but didn’t have much luck.  Many squares and streets are pedestrian, and markets were being set up for the day.  About noon we got started driving to Koblenz.  Our destination was a high bridge across the Moselle Valley.  We drove through a national park, a beautiful route through the trees.  At the bridge, The Moselle Aqueduct, we turned off at a rest area where we could walk down underneath the bridge to the other side of the autobahn.  Grapes were grown up the very steep slopes, clinging to the cliffs, it seemed.  It’s hard to imagine how they could be picked.  We saw a small rail that would carry a cart of some sort up and down.

Mosel Valley

Our destination was Solingen just east of Köln and Düsseldorf.  Our plan was to meet up with Andreas and Mariya Essig and their two children.  We drove up just a few minutes after our appointed time and they saw us coming and came down to greet us.  Andreas’ father, Willi, was there also.  The older boy, Linus was still at school, and Jonas was taking his afternoon nap.

At Andreas' home: Tom, Terry, Jim, Willi, Andreas and Joel

Andreas was an exchange student with Joel and Elaine’s family in 1987-88 for a full year, and we and others have visited him and his family over the years.  The family lives in a large apartment which they purchased and renovated.  The also have a small apartment directly upstairs which is usually an AirBnB whenever the businessman tenant isn’t there.  There is room for all of us to stay there and “get the full German experience” as Andreas put it.  The balcony overlooks beautiful farm land and we could watch farmers working the fields. 

The condo above Andreas' where Tom, Terry and Jim stayed

Andreas and Mariya cooked a great German meal for us!

Andreas and Mariya were cooking up a big dinner for us, and we weren’t shy about diving in.  A wonderful pork roast (basted with a beer soy sauce) done in the style of the area, potato dumplings (Klöße) in the Bavarian style, and lots of good vegetables topped off with an apple pie.  We had skipped lunch after our hearty breakfast so dinner was very welcome.  Fortunately, Andreas is good at multitasking and could keep cooking and visiting at the same time.



Linus, 7, speaks Russian and German since his mother is from the Ukraine.  He is beginning to study English.  There is an app on the phone that he can speak into, to translate.  He was having fun thinking of phrases for us.  After dinner, we walked to a nearby area where Mariya is a director with refugee families providing services to more fully integrate them into the community.  There is low cost housing there that is quite nice.  There is a conference area made by bringing in two vintage railroad cars.
Andreas, Mariya, Tom, Jim, Willi and Joel in the converted railway car.

We were ready for bed fairly early.


Thanks for sharing! - Donna H.

How nice for you to have this trip and reestablish connections. 
Enjoying your photos and narrative.  - Ruth

What happened to Linda and Elaine??  Beautiful area pictures!  - Mary N

What gorgeous photos and sounds like an extremely and satisfying day.
- Carol  S.

Beautiful architecture..Sounds like a wonderful trip so far...  - Cheryl S

A few surprises – I had no idea that Terry came along on this trip.  I had no idea there was a Limburg City?  I thought it was a region in the southern part of the Netherlands, e.g., Heerlen where René lives? - Jon H

Dick and I just returned from stops in Trier in Alsace - Lorraine where my Grandmother was born and theother grand parents, Oppenau , in the Black Forest. We toured the Mosel river area on  the way but missed Coblintz and Cochem. Strasboug was part of our canal cruise- fabulous city. 

Hope to see you at Fromm. Thanks for your travel log, love it - Rosemary J

Fri Sep 28, Tour of Köln

Andreas was up early, as were we, and he said he would just pop out for some fresh bagels.  It was bagels, and much, much more for a hearty German breakfast.

Our breakfast feast!

Afterwards we left to spend the day in the ancient city of Köln (Cologne) on the Rein (Rhine) River.  It is about 30 miles away from where we are staying.  Mariya went to work and Linus had his longer day of school.  Andreas and Jonas came with us.  The fog was very heavy as we started out and it is cooler today.  We found a parking place in a garage near the main trainstation.

Main Train Station

More train station

We walked through the main train station to get to the Kölner Dom (the cathedral.)  It was in the middle of a mass, so we were restricted to an area in the back.  This was more than compensated by a chance to see the pageantry of the service including the organ.  As we left, the bells were tolling. 

Finally, we located a place to get our sim cards so now some of us have a German phone number and can call people in the EU.  We have prepaid cellular service and the price is reasonable.  It was time for a coffee break.  The pastries are spectacular and it’s difficult to resist. 

Many delicious choices at this bakery.

Andreas had made reservation to go to a “virtual tour” of the city.  The idea is for you to put on these elaborate headsets and take a trolley ride through the Köln of 1909.  Unfortunately, the cutoff age is 6, so Jonas was out of luck.  Andreas was able to sell his own ticket and they waited for us to finish the 45 minute. presentation.  We also saw a short movie of the city through the centuries including shots of the ruins of World War II when the city was completely burned out except for most of the cathedral.  Now many of the buildings around the area built in the 50’s and 60’s are being refurbished or replaced.

After the VR show/experience we went to a nearby beer pub and washed down sausages with lots of foamy suds.

We stopped at one of the breweries (hundreds of years old) where we had some beer and a light repast of sausages, potato and green salads, and French fries. As we approached the area, a lady stepped up with a basket of loaves of bread and coupons for a free bottle of beer. We also saw horse drawn wagons bringing in the kegs of beer.


The weather cleared, and we walked along the river where there is a lot of redevelopment:  large apartment buildings, businesses like Microsoft, financial companies, musical producers, etc.  The river, although low because of a dry summer,  is alive with barges and tour boats.  There is a train bridge just before the train station and 2,500 trains cross each day.  

The weather cleared, and we walked along the river where there is a lot of redevelopment: large apartment buildings, businesses like Microsoft, financial companies, musical producers, etc. The river, although low because of a dry summer, is alive with barges and tour boats. There is a train bridge just before the train station and 2,500 trains cross each day.


We stopped at the Chocolate Museum where we could see Lindt Chocolates being manufactured and explore the history of the product. We had samples from the chocolate fountain and an opportunity purchase gifts to bring home.

In front of Lindt Chocolate Museum.

Chocolate fountain

Bowed in prayer at the chocolate shrine

There is a tradition where newlyweds engrave their names on a padlock.  The lock is then attached it to this bridge and the key is thrown into the Rhin River. The railroad wants to have the locks removed because they weigh 40-45 tons.  They interfer with the anti-corrosion finishes - especially when the the trains pass over and they vibrate.

New section for locks ... many in the background.

We returned to Andreas apartment where we were assured that we would have just a light supper.  However, Mariya had cooked a salmon and spinach dish to go with a birthday cake for Jim’s special day, one with ice cream and raspberries. 

Baked salmon with creamed spinach!

Linus with his Oakland A's cap

Jim's "birthday cake".

Tom!!!!!!! So glad to read and see that you made it to Germany well!!!! Love your Emails and the pics!!! So excited to see you guys soon!!!!! Enjoy your time here!!!:) See you in a couple of days!!! Love!- Sarah G

Great pictures! - Rosemary J

Oh,Tom,one more thing:

My parents would so love to get your emails,too (for now I've forwarded them...), but if you don't mind,could you add their email:

Thank you and,again,see you soon!!!!!:) -

Sounds like this was a delicious experience. Aren’t you a vegetarian?- Carol S.

Sounds like your trip is wonderful I’m glad so many of you are there - Beryl F

Your day was much more exciting (and fattening) than mine!  Hugs! Sandra C


Happy belated birthday to Jim!  What a fabulous trip you are having.  That trolley ride through 1909 sounds amazing.  Alles gute! -  Deb P

Dear Mr.  Cloud: Great to hear from you!   All well here.  I continue to pass on Fromm but am enjoying being indolent.  Hurriedly, Peggy!
I hope you will keep me on your email list;  your epistles are always intriguing.    xxxxpam Peggy from From

Some great photos  Thanks for sharing TomO

Hi Tom, Many thanks for keeping me in the loop. It did bring back memories of my visit to the city many years ago. The bakery goods do indeed overwhelm you and you can’t stop
nibbling! Have a continued enjoyable adventure, Best, Dick  P.

Sat Sep 29, Solingen/Wuppertal

Today began as before with a lovely breakfast as we awoke a little later getting adjusted to the time changes.  We decided that we would not venture very far and would enjoy some of the local places of interest on a beautiful sunny fall day. 

View from Andreas and Mariya's home

Linus on the exercise machine

Elaine and Linus looking at the "sticky" figures

Our van is large enough for all of us (10) including a car seat for Jonas.  Our first stop was Ostermann, a huge home-furnishings store, larger than several Costco and IKEAs.  We were especially interested in looking at kitchens with the sleek cabinets and intriguing configurations.  Most German kitchens would be smaller than ours so space is a premium.  Styles of furniture, etc. have a distinctly different flavor that are fun, but hard to describe. 

While we were looking, Linus and Jonas went to “Kinder Planet” where they could play as we shopped.  Apparently, the length of time that you can have your children cared for has been limited to 1 hour.  That is because some parents left their kids there for the entire day, saving on childcare.

Kinder Planet

Time to meditate

Tom, Andreas and Mariya

We picked up the kids and headed to Schloss Burg (Castle) in Wuppertal.  There is a lower town and an upper one where the castle is and there is a ski lift to take you up. 

The kids enjoyed the ride as did we.  It was time for coffee and dessert and there were lots of choices.  There was a wedding going on and some kind of enactment with knights in armor wielding swords.

Mariya, Jonas, Andreas and Linus at the top of the ski lift

Coffee Break

Tom and Jim ordered Waffles with sweet rice pudding at the center

We left the Schloss and drove for a late afternoon view of the Müngstener Brücke (bridge).  The tallest steel railroad bridge in Germany.  It is over 120 years old.  This area is very hilly unlike the Rhine Delta. 

Train going over the Müngstener Bridge

Andreas, Linus, and Tom along the Wupper River

It was back in the car and a short ride to the city of Wuppertal to ride on the hanging railway.  It is a one-of-kind public transport and even goes over the Wupper River in places.  We went a few stops to a large shopping center where we had some Turkish dining in a food court.  It was getting late and we needed to get back. 

Hanging train in Wuppertal


Train wheels are above the car!

Train goes over Wupper River

Linus and Jonas are real troopers.  They seldom complain at all the activities of their elders.  Jonas is very tall for his age, and very active.  He likes to nap in the afternoon and then stay up to midnight playing with his toys.  Andreas is worn out keeping up with him.  Linus is more reserved and doesn’t complain about being wedged into the car with a bunch of old people.  We have enjoyed getting to know them.  Andreas has lots of irons in the fire.  He manages the apartment complex where they live and is helping his father manage his business since his mother died recently.  There are properties to renovate.  We appreciate that he has taken some time off to be with us. 

You are travelers after our own hearts---stops for coffee, stops at bakeries, tours of the chocolate factory, photos of food. Pam and Larry

Thanks Tom.  Safe travels.  Enjoy. - JonS

Tom- Did you visit the cathedral in Cologne (excuse me: Köln)?  I think it's the most beautiful church I've seen in Germany.


Sun Sep 30, Solingen to Metz, France

Following a leisurely morning, we packed up and bid goodbye to the Essigs.  It was a wonderful stay and we got caught up with the family.  One day soon, we hope they will be visiting us.

Shoe storage near front door at the Essigs

Tom, Terry and Jim stayed in the Essig's rental apartment, one floor above their home.

Jim in the kitchen area in the apartment.

Saying "Good Bye": Elaine, Tom, Mariya, Andreas, Jim, Terry, Linda and Joel.

Our destination is Switzerland and we decided to make a few stops along the way.   First was Bitburg where the Beyer family originated in the 1800’s.  it is a pleasant town of about 14,000 quite close to Luxembourg and France.  It was time for a coffee at a sidewalk ice cream shop on a pedestrian mall.  We managed to stop at a bakery for some rolls to take in the car for a snack.

Coffee break in Bitburg, Germany

Bitbug, Germany street scene

Joel and Elaine in Bitburg, Germany

Catholic Church in Bitburg

City clock and bells in Bitburg

Coffee break on drive to Metz, France

Nearby is the city of Trier.  On this nice sunny fall day, the tourists were out in force.  We luckily found a parking space and walked around to the old city where there is a wonderful Roman Gate, the one surviving to modern times.  It was nice to get out, walk around and stretch our legs.

Old Roman Gate in Trier

Joel, Elaine, Terry, Tom and Jim

Apple/cider press in Trier

Soon we were in Luxembourg with its beautiful rolling hills.  We didn’t end up stopping, but felt we were there long enough (about 20 mins. from one end to the other) to say we had visited another country.  Jim was the day’s driver and could say he had driven in 3 countries in an afternoon as we crossed the frontier into France.  We headed to Metz where we had made a reservation at a hotel in the old town near the train station.  Although we found the hotel without much difficulty, following the concierge’s directions to parking was another matter. 

Italian restaurant next to our French hotel in Metz

After an hour we managed to get to the lot that was just underneath the hotel.  Jim’s truck-driving skills were very helpful to get backed into a space.  Our van is long and takes some extra effort.  (We were afraid that we would never get out of the lot in Köln because of the posts and sharp turn, but we squeaked through.)
We found dinner at a café/bar nearby and were ready to get to bed.

Good morning, finishing the rest of the loafs of bread, we’ve been thinking that you were such tidy guests. It was no big deal preparing the apartment for the tenant.
I asked Linus later on, if he liked our American friends and he said that they are all very very pleasant folks and he would like to go there soon.

Tell Linda that I took her postcards to the mailbox and they should be on the way right now.

Looking forward to hear about your further journey.

Love, Andreas

Thanks again Tom for the photos.   Have not been to Trier- solid gate!    Wonderful to see pedestrian streets.   Miss that in the USA.     - Jon S

Tom, I miss sharing the notes and pictures with Marm.  She always looked forward to being a part of your trip that way. Diane K

Who plans all these beautiful places to see?
Gorgeous - Carol S

Good morning Tom, Just a quick note to tell you how much I always enjoy the pictures and narratives.  Everything is so organized, it makes me wish I could be there! 

I hope you all continue to enjoy the trip. I’m in San Fran, sitting on a plane for San Diego. - Coop

Such an interesting and beautiful trip!  Great spending time in a family home.  You get a much better perspective that way. Sylvia S

Looks like fun! Glad you saw Trier.  - Rosemary J

Hi Tom,
What a trip you are having, I laughed
at your Luxembourg tale. Remembering
a similar experience many years ago.
I would like to hear how you arranged
you lodgings. Did you all know Andreas before? Trier is a wonderful place and the Roman gate house
exceptionally well maintained.
Will look forward to your trip in
France. Many thanks,- Dick P

Mon Oct 01, Metz to Obernai, France
We awoke to a little rain this morning.  We didn’t let that deter us and after a petite déjeuner of café au lait and a croissant, we were off for an hour ride to Verdun, France to see the museum of the great battle of World War I. 

Jim, Tom, Linda, Terry and Joel in front of Verdun Memorial Museum

Verdun is a fascinating place and the Verdun Memorial Museum depicts in excruciating detail the inhumanity of war. 

"War planes" in WWI

Vedrun Memorial Monument and Chapel

There is also a huge monument near a graveyard filled with white crosses.  It features an ossuary where the bones of so many unidentified soldiers are interred. It was a sobering experience. 


We continued to drive south past Nancy and Strasburg to Obernai where we are staying the night.  We enjoyed our drive through the countryside looking at the harvested fields and small villages along the way.  At one point we were high enough into the mountains to see fir trees and a large sawmill.  Fortunately we were forced by our insistent, rude GPS guide to use the lesser roads which allowed us to go slow and smell the roses and manure as it were. 

MInside the Douaumont ossuary built in 1932

At one point we spotted a McDonald’s which means coffee at senior prices and WiFi, always worth a stop.  Prices seem rather steep by American standards.  A Big Mac was $7.50.  Starbucks usually works well for WiFi and restrooms as well, but we haven’t seen many. 


very interesting Tom,enjoy your trip!!!!!Bye from René T

Nice!  And I learned what an ossuary is! - RevPhil

Thanks Tom for the photos of Verdun.  I have not been to that region and would very much like to experience it.   Yes, it must have been hell on earth.  - Jon S

Tom - While you were in Metz, I hope you visited the cathedral.  It's a beautiful gothic structure, and even has a window by Marc Chagall. - Dick D

Keep ‘me coming. 

Supposed to rain here today. Looking out the window, I believe the forecast. Keep enjoying. Love sitting on your virtual shoulder tagging along.  - Ruth K

Yum!! Real French croissants.  - Pam and Larry

Tue Oct 02, Obernai to Wilderswill, Switzerland
Today was a rather uneventful travel day. 

As we started to drive away from the hotel, someone notices that the tailgate was wide open!

We thought we would do a bit of laundry since we didn’t have time to send things out.  The local establishment didn’t open until late morning so we went on to the city of Colmar famous as the home of the designer of the Statue of Liberty. 

We'd driven so long, we thought we'd reached NYC!

There is a scale model of herself as you drive into town.  We parked in front of the laundromat and were questioning whether it was an appropriate place to park the car.  A woman bicycled up seeing our concern, said she spoke English and suggested we get a parking card to put on the dash. 

Lots of machines from which to choose!

She was going into the vet to get medicine for her diabetic cat and would purchase one for 3 Euros. 

It turns out that although she has lived in this city for 25 years, she is from the Bay Area.  Her brother lives near Tom.  The system is that if a parking spot is painted blue, it is for residents, but you can park there for up to 4 hours if you have a card.  You set the time on it as you leave.

From Colmar we drove to Altkirch, still in France.  This is the area from from branches some of our family came ... Fry (Frey, Frye) is one of our family names. Although we are in France, many names of places are in German.

The church in Altkirch called
L'Eglise Notre Dame

Tom, Terry, Joel, Jim and Linda in from of old church in Altkirch

Inside L'Eglise Notre Dame

Brothers Tim, Terry, Jim and Tom at the city water fountain

On our way again, we headed south for Switzerland entering at the city of Basel.  We were all fussed up about getting a highway permit to drive in Switzerland, but when we tried to buy one at the border control, he laughed and said there were already two affixed to our windshield.   Switzerland is not part of the European Union so it has guards at the border (our passports were not checked) and a different currency, the Swiss Franc.  Also, our German SIM card phones don’t work without topping them off some way. 

We had over 100 km to go to reach our destination at just outside Interlaken (between two large lakes).  The views as we drove south were spectacular.  There is snow on the tops of the ranges.  Although there were some clouds, we could truly say that we saw them for the first time in over fifty years of travel here.  We are in the heartland of many of our families who immigrated as Anabaptists in the 19th century.  We are late in the tourist season, but you wouldn’t think so given the plethora of tour busses and vans. 

The Swiss Alps in person!

We got checked into our new home for three nights:  Hotel Bären (The Bears Hotel).  It is a very old Alpine chateau surrounded by mountains.  We had dinner here, a typical Swiss “Potato Röstii” which is shredded potatoes with different toppings such as meat and cheese, served in a skillet.  Linda had some escargot. 

Our hotel in Wilderswil, just outside of Interlaken

Tom and Terry's room in the Bears Inn (Hotel Bären)

From the window of our hotel

Linda's escargot (a kind of mushroom dish, we believe).

Then it was time for some zz’s.  Actually many of them

Potato Rostii a favorite of mine.  Beautiful room Tom & Terry - Donna H

Nice to slow down a littlle. You’ve been so busy.  - Carol Sc

The view from your hotel at Interlaken.  Are those vacation homes or residential homes?  Inside L'Eglise Notre Dame  Wow! beautiful! We are enjoying the trip very much.  Drive safe! -Audrey Y


Wed Oct 03, Wilderswill to Wengalen/Brüggmatt, Switzerland
We had a lazy morning:  some slept in, others walked down to the train station admiring all the beautiful manicured lawns abloom with flowers.  One side yard had two Brown Swiss cows with bells around their necks.  On the hillsides are small green pastures like jewels in the dark foliage and grey rock.  It’s unimaginable that roads could go up there.

Elaine in the tourist area of Wilderswil, near Interlaken

We had made arrangement to visit our cousins.  We had time so we drove to the village of Gurzelen just west of Thun.  Our GPS was not quite up to it, so we relied on our maps and asked several people for directions.  We found it, driving up to the church and old school depicted in the 150-year old picture that hung at our grandmother’s home.  Since it was noontime, almost no one was out and about.  We had visited this place in 1965 and the main thing we noticed was that there was no cemetery next to the church. 

Terry and Jim in the Wilderswil streets

According to family history, the Schweitzer family had lived there at one time.  We had just time enough to get back on the road to go east a few miles to the Eyman home at Brüggmatt. 


Old church in Gurtzeln

Old school house in Gurtzeln

Contented Swiss Brown Cows

Eymann home place (center).

We wound up the hill from the villages on very narrow roads through the forests and meadows now guided by GPS to the cousin’s farm.  We arrived and saw our cousin on the balcony of the 1792, cedar chalet with a red-tile roof.  Until 1981, there were cows, a horse, and chickens in the attached barn on the back.  Now, we believe the land (about 10 acres) has been sold and only the house remains.  It is so close to the road that snow from the roof could fall on a passing car (think liability.)

Eymann cousins: Jim, Joel, Tom, Peter, Hedi, Regina, Terry.

We trace the Eyman(n) family back to the 1500’s and no one knows when they settled here, where our great-grandfather, Frederick (Friedrich) was born in 1853.  As a young man, he immigrated to Ohio where he was reacquainted with his future wife.  Later they moved on to Oregon.  No one had had contact with the family for many years until on a Saturday in 1965, we drove up to find 2nd cousins of our mother Roberta (Eyman) Daniels.  It was a joyful reunion.

View from Eymann home

Today Hedi Eymann still lives in the old farmhouse where she raised her children after the death of her husband at a young age.  Hedi was there with 3 of her children, Peter, Regina, and Roland.  Peter is a serious photographer and set to work taking pictures of us.  Roland visited us in 1994, and he is the most proficient in English.  We were invited in for refreshments and were joined by the fourth child, Beat and his wife, Marie-Therese.  Peter has done a lot of genealogy work and had much to show us.  He was also wanting information about our family. 

Linda, Joel, Elaine, Jim, Tom and Terry in front of Eymann home

Hedi, Roland, Linda, Joel, Elaine, Jim, Tom and Terry

It turns out that Regina and Beat live near Gurzelen.  Regina had to leave, and the rest of us went to a restaurant where Roland had made reservations.  It was part way back to our hotel, situated high on a hill overlooking lake Thun.  There is outdoor seating with a fantastic view of the lake.  It was chilly, so we opted to sit inside in an area good for visiting.  The menu was traditional for the area and we enjoyed it very much.  All to soon it was time to bid our relatives goodbye.  We hope it’s not another 14 years until we see each other again. 

Hedi's home garden

Jim, Terry, Linda, Joel, Tom, family friend, Hedi and Regina in Eymann dining room

Joel, Tom, Linda, Jim and Roland in Hedi's kitchen

Panorama from the Chemihütte Restaurant in Aeschiried

Beat, Peter, Tom and Roland

It was time to return to the Bears and fall into bed with happy memories of a wonderful day.



What fun to reconnect with family; persons and places! - Mick M.--

Wonderful!  I’ve been doing lots of family history with my cousins on Mom’s side, the Quinns.  Not much on Dad’s side but these series of photos is prompting me to start on the Kappler side…thanks!! - Jude S

Beautiful country.. - Cheryl S

Hi Tom, You are really covering ground and I know everyone is having a very good time. It is always so much fun to find and visit friends and family heritage while traveling. Many thanks,- Dick P

The photos are always so beautiful but the stories are such a plus!!!  - Carol Sc.

How lovely it must be to go there and find relatives waiting!  I am loving sharing this trip with you. - Nancy D

Hi Tom, You are really covering ground and I know everyone is having a very good time. It is always so much fun to find and visit friends and family heritage while traveling. Many thanks, - Dick P

Thu Oct 04, Up, Up and Away
We awoke to some fog.  We were a little concerned that out planned trip to the "Top of Europe" would be affected.  By the time breakfast was finished, the weather cleared and we set out for the train station. 

We made this loop on several trains from the lower left around to Lauterbrunnen in the lower right. A side trek up to "Jungfraujoch" - Top of Europe!

Joel, Tom, Terry and Jim at the train station

Our plan was to buy a ticket to the highest train station in the world: Jungfraujoch.  We chose the route through Grindelwald where we had to change to a cog train to begin our assent up the mountain. 
Linda and Joel on one of the trains

From 3393 ft we kept climbing until we reached Kleine Scheidegg at 6762 ft.  We transferred to yet another train that went mostly in a tunnel through the Eiger to Jungfraujoch at 11,333 ft. on a ridge between two peaks of Jungfrau.  Superlatives do not measure up to the sight with glaciers in every direction and a view of Interlaken far below.  Although we are beginning the offseason, there were lots and lots of people.

Inside the train car: The women in the lower left were from Redlands, CA

The observatory is multilevel and there are many things to do.  The deck around the outside was closed for fear of falling icicles, but we were able to go out on an ice field stepping gingerly so as not to slip.  The temperature was about 32° F.  There was a Swiss flag on a pole and there was a long line to have a picture taken with it. 

Joel with Elaine and Linda taking photos of mountains

The group at the "Top of Europe"

Joel and Elaine at the Top of Europe

Snow fences in the distance

Some of us had been to this part of Switzerland over the last 55 years, and it always had been overcast or raining and we never could see the mountains.  We were so happy to have a bright sunny day.  This has been a very dry and hot summer in Europe this year; hence a good year for tourism.  We talked to a couple from Baltimore and they booked 6 days here this time just to have a chance for good weather.  It is extra-special since we can look out of our bedrooms and see the mountain. 

We went into the Ice Palace - tunnels and rooms carved into the ice of a glacier.

Linda in the Ice Palace

Ice Palace

We started back down through Wengen where we stopped to walk around.  This town is high above the valley floor and is accessible only by train.  High above it, we saw a series of snow fences to prevent an avalanche. 

Train to Wengen on our return to our hotel

Jim and Terry on a street in Wengen - chess players on the right

Wengen street

Whimsical bird houses in Wengen

We got back on the train and went to the “poster” town of Lauterbrunnen where the waterfalls sheet down the high cliffs.  We found a bite to eat and got back on the train for the 15-minute ride to our hotel.  It’s taken years, but at last success.  Tim and Tom enjoyed it, too. 




Very beautiful Tom; You were very lucky with the weather,i was so glad to read that. - Rene T.

Hi Tom, Terry, Joel, Elaine and Linda, Your pictures and adventures just keep getting more jaw dropping each day! We are really enjoying "going along for the ride!" Glad you took warm clothing! Today is Memory Cafe, and we will miss you. But the topic is "The Importance of Lifelong Learning for Brain Health," so you are certainly doing just that! And I'm certain you will have a nice lunch, too! And I will save your handouts. Alles gute!! - Deb P

thanks tom, enjoying your present trip. the verdun memorial struck me the most. glad you got a sunny view on this trip. i went to switzerland in january in 1986 or 87 on my then husband’s business trip. ... we were treated like royalty by the swiss government to a fancy dinner with waiters in tails. stayed mainly in the town of Martiney near the itlalian border where the mayor and council treated us to charcuterie, they could understand my bad french; i couldn’t understand their loquacious replies! my husband robert did business and skied. i was stuck in the town with a small coliseum and an America car museum. the food was wonderful. cost for me at that time was $1000. - Molly M.

That was simply amazing!  I can’t even imagine what it was like.  Glad you’re all having such a wonderful time.


Great pictures!    Thank You - Donna H.

Great pictures! Never heard of snow fences!.... - Cheryl S

Hello, travelers! Needless to say this e-mail brought me goose bumps. When I lived in Switzerland, 1973-75, working as receptionist at an American boarding school in the alps, Leysin, I was a frequent chaperone for the week-end student ski excursions planned, skiing 3 different times in Wengen, so especially enjoyed viewing your photos and travel notes. Brought a smile to my heart :-) ...Thanks for sharing.. p.s. also enjoyed seeing the Eyman cousins! Best to all and continued safe travels... Sandra Heckard

Sorry I have not responded but have been busy. I have also been to part of that area with my daughter, Carrie, and we took a klog (sp) rail up over a peak of some sort in Switzerland it was great, We did a small bit of Austria and Germany. I did get to buy Swiss Army knives in Switzerland and had the kids names engraved on them. That was special for me. I loved the Swiss grocery stores with the flavor of the M & F in Portland or visa/versa. Will you be able to see Appollonia in Germany? - Sharon S

To continue to Page Two, click here.