Home again from our European holiday. It is always nice to go away and nice to come home. Our last ten days was spent in Germany traveling by car part of the time and visiting a friend in Munich for several days.
Things that impressed us:
Both France and Germany seem to be incredibly energy conscious. The first thing that we noticed was the size of the cars. In Paris it seemed like every tenth one was a Smart Car and the biggest ones we saw were about the size of a mid-sized Ford or Toyota sedan. This was also true in Germany. Amazingly, we didn’t see an SUV the entire three weeks. I have read that American car makers produce small highly efficient cars for the European market but not in the US. Hmm, given the much greater distances we travel in this country one might think it would be the other way around.
Train travel is fast and frequent between cities and a network of buses seem to connect all the towns and villages. Solar panels cover the roofs of barns and houses and in some places, entire fields are covered with the panels.
Bicycles are everywhere, well marked bike paths in the cities are filled with bikers. We had to be on guard that we weren’t walking in one since it was new to us. It’s common to see shoppers, with baskets attached to the bike, carrying the marketing home. We were astonished to see broad bike paths and many cyclers along the edges of fields in the countryside miles from any town or village. Driving on switch-backs through the mountains of the Black Forest area, there were the same well used bike paths.
I couldn’t help but think of how hard it has been trying to get a bike/walking path from town to Crane Beach.

Driving through the countryside, forests, mountains, and small towns, was one of our favorite things. Outside Munich we were taken to an old monastery and then to a charming village with a view of high mountains in the distance. Everywhere there were bright flower blooming on balconies and in front of shops.

A typical country scene

In many towns we saw what our hostess called “May Sticks” a literal translation from German to English. We would call them May Poles. In southern Bavaria they are painted blue and white and often have symbols of the local trades along the sides. It is also the custom in some villages for lads from another village to try to steal it necessitating close watch over it by the locals.

A May Pole in Munich's Viktualienmarkt, a daily food market in the center of the city