I bolted for the gangplank but couldn’t outrun Steve’s thrill killer. “Don’t get lost.” He had a point. We’d been in Bonn for half an hour, Germany for the length of a bus trip from Frankfurt. All I knew about the area was the little I’d glimpsed when the bus dropped us off. My sense of direction regularly addles me in doctors’ offices, and my German is limited to phrases gleaned from Hogan’s Heroes. The excursion was likely to get awkward.
Still, I’d been waiting for this shot at Germany for so many months, and after ten hours on the plane, the trail outside our cruise ship sang siren songs. Who could get lost on it? Walk one way along the Rhine, turn around and walk back to the River Navigator. Cake.
I was so glad I went. The trees were interesting–oaks, sycamores, some kind of willow, some with strangely wrinkled leaves–maybe a parasite? The bikers were interesting. In Colorado, where I come from, we don’t expect to see a woman riding in a suit and heels, and people usually warn walkers when they pass. In Bonn, no one spoke or smiled. After my sleepless overnight flight, I found I appreciated not having to interact.
I knew I shouldn’t turn off the river trail, but the charismatic bridges on the other side of the lake called to me. The ancient-looking stone bridge with scalloped façade was such a joy that I crossed it and turned back to walk the stepping stones along its base. About halfway up its face, a rounded stone “balcony” spread a stream of water into a veiled fall. Four of my favorite things in one sweet swoop. It was worth getting lost for.
Yeah, it took a bit to realize it, but I was lost…and a storm was moving in. Well, here was my chance to try out my “sprechen sie English?”
I waylaid an older couple, and they not only headed me in the right direction, but pointed out a plaque on a huge tree-trunk-section that Barbara and George Bush presented to Bonn in honor of the 1000th anniversary of the city’s origin. I couldn’t read the plaque, but Wikipedia tells me that people have been living in that area for over 12,000 years. …Had we even started walking upright 12,000 years ago?
My phenomenal luck finally ran out about the time I found the trail, and the storm hit with a vengeance. The wind thrashed dropping tree branches along with a pelting, chilly rain. My retreat under bombardment reinforced Steve’s point royally. Fortunately I’m impervious to good sense, even chilled and by the bucketful.
Bring it Germany.