My wife and I married young, in our early 20s. The sequence of our lives since then has been a bit out of order. Some Americans travel through Europe after they retire, but my job took us there just a year or so after college. The two-year stay we'd planned on stretched to three, then four, and finally five years. Lucky us. We have fond memories.
I'm not especially religious--quite the contrary. And yet of the places we visited, it's often the chapels, churches, and cathedrals that I remember. Here's a sampling, along with my reminiscences.
One our first memorable trips, in 1988, was to a small town named Passau, just short of where Germany borders Austria in the east. This is my favorite photo of a zwiebelturm, an onion dome. These are best known in Russian eclesiastical architecture, but they're also found throughout southern Germany.
My wife's parents visited us in 1989, and we took them to Paris. I've always liked the fairy tale look of Sacre Coeur, from a short distance away.
In 1990 we traveled farther afield, on a tour through Guatemala. Some of the church ruins in Antigua are shortcuts between neighborhoods. In the second photo, my wife is looking at the artistic offerings on display, propped up on the rubble.
In 1991 I took a long trip back to the U.S. My wife met me at the train station in Munich on my return in the evening, the day before my birthday. After dinner, we didn't go directly home--she'd booked an overnight train to Florence. This was the sight that greeted us the next morning
, through the slightly reflective glass of the train window. (Thanks to The Good Daughter for correcting my memory about where this photo was taken from.)
We returned to the U.S. in 1991, with a few regrets. We've been fortunate enough to go back to various places in Europe over the years, though. In 2004 I visited Vienna on business. There's the oddest church next to the International Center, very modern both outside and inside.
A trip in 2006 took us from Milan across the width of Italy to Trieste. As I said, I'm not a photographer, but I like this photo of the Milan cathedral; the front of the building was entirely covered for repair, but the lower roof was open for visitors to wander around, and the upper structure was still visible. It's a detailed microcosm of a city itself.
We couldn't resist stopping for a few days in Venice. This was early spring, and much of the time it was raining. The Piazza San Marco is magnificent under any conditions.
A year later, in 2007, we visited Oxford and drove out to the western tip of England, in Cornwall. We took a brief side trip to Wales along the way. This is Tintern Abbey, and that's my wife embroidering on the grass--inside the abbey. The roof is gone and may never be restored.
I have no particular thoughts of my own to leave you with. Emerson does, though:
Life is a journey, not a destination.