Two Lost Souls in Germany

[First, a word of thanks. With every blog post we publish I wait eagerly for your comments. Knowing you are out there infuses this modest undertaking with a sense of purpose. It makes us more intentional as we visit new sites; we feel we’re there not only for ourselves but also for you. Your comments have been consistently encouraging, a pleasure to read. Thank you. Rest assured I read every comment you post and email you send. I appreciate your understanding that I can’t answer each one. My promise: if you’ll keep commenting I’ll keep reading. Gratefully.]

This Tübingen building isn’t typical but it does exhibit the proliferation of graffiti art, a phenomenon we’ve been observing worldwide!

From Freiburg we returned to Tübingen for a brief stay before moving on to Belgium. They were relaxed, rich days. Tyler and Shalynn (and Finn) Crawford saw to our every need, including hosting an Unterwegs dinner in their home across the hall from us. Teammate Tony Cole laid out a feast. Max and Emily had come back from their wedding celebration, so the whole gang was together. A great evening.

Shalynn and Tyler Crawford. That’s Finn on his dad’s shoulders.

At the suggestion of the Crawfords, we rode the train into Stuttgart to take in the huge Mercedes-Benz Museum. They gave us careful instructions so we wouldn’t get lost. They underestimated us. In spite of their best efforts, we got lost anyway. You’d be surprised how complicated the Stuttgart train station is, especially when you aren’t supposed to be there. Their instructions didn’t work. We became disoriented. We were in the wrong station. It’s amazing what the difference missing your station by just one stop makes. Finally, we gave up, caught a taxi, and were deposited at the curb of the museum. Eighteen euros. The price of another bit of our education.

The first gas motor, on display at the Mercedes Museum

This museum offers a good corrective to us Americans. We like to think we invented everything. We didn’t. Take the gas-powered car, for instance. Henry Ford’s wasn’t first. The Benz Patent Motorwagen appeared in 1886, well ahead of the Ford (1908). In that same year the partnership of Daimler and Maybach added a gas-fueled engine to a stagecoach. Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft produced the first Mercedes, a race car named for car dealer/racing enthusiastic Emil Jellinek’s daughter in 1901. It boasted 35 horsepower. In 1926 the first Mercedes-Benz brand name appeared. Daimler and Benz had merged.

First engine-driven motor boat.

As you walk through the 178,000 square-foot museum you can trace the development of motorized vehicles from the primitive to the latest and most sophisticated, 160 of them in all. Individual audio tours are provided in several languages, English among them. Trip Advisor names the museum the #1 tourist attraction in Stuttgart. Porsche and Audi museums are here also, but we opted for #1.

This 75-hp Phaeton (1907-1911) is motoring in the style that  was meant to be!

Back in 1972 when Joy and I first visited Germany I was shocked when I saw my first Mercedes truck—a garbage truck, no less. Until then I had thought the company made only luxury cars, the kind I drooled over and knew I could never afford.

Mercedes’ first motorcycle. It’s a long, long distance between this model and my Harley!

On display here were all kinds of vehicles: the first motorcycle (which made me grateful for my Harley), first gas-powered boat, first engine-driven railroad car—and passenger automobiles and trucks of every description.

Joy immediately decided that this sports car was sized for me and the larger vehicle in the back would be more appropriate for Jeff and Mike.

Then there were the racing cars—from the beginning Mercedes regularly entered races and often won. Some particularly caught our eye because they reminded us of Velcro sons Jeff and Mike, the family car afficionados; they haven’t raced Mercedes, but they’d love to!

I thought this would make a great car for a minister to make his pastoral calls in.

Daimler Benz provided automobiles for some of the 20th century’s most prominent persons, from Pope John Paul on one extreme to Adolf Hitler on the other. During WW II the company was dedicated to the war effort. In 1944, 46,000 forced laborers bolstered Nazi war efforts. After the war the company apologized, forking over $12 million in reparations to the laborers’ families.

Pope John Paul II’s Popemobile, powered by Mercedes.

I appreciated the museum for not hiding this part of history even as it extolled the company’s advancees from its humble beginnings to its renown among the best recognized automotive brands today. Mike recently reminded me that to say Mercedes sets the standard for excellence is like saying Einstein is brilliant. Some things don’t have to be spelled out.

If you’d like more information and pictures of these dazzling cars, go to You Tube and search Stuttgart Mercedes-Benz Museum.

Hohenzollern Castle–picture this on “a dark and stormy night…”

We had one last outing near Tübingen. The Crawfords took us to see a couple of castles in the area, the modest Hohenertringen Castle overlooking the village of Ertringen, and the majestic Hohenzollern Castle which, from a distance, looks like a perfect set for a gothic horror flick. Up close, though, it is one of the best restored castles we’ve seen. This one is the third erected on this sight.

Castle courtyard view of steeples.
The castle could use a good escalator!

The first, built in the early eleventh century, was destroyed in 1423; the second, more solid structure arose in the mid-15th century and provided a Catholic refuge during the Thirty Years War. It had fallen into disrepair by the end of the 19th century when King Frederick William IV, in a visit to the ruins of his ancestral home, had a vision of its reconstruction, which was realized later in the century (1850-1867). Thus it’s not a medieval castle, though it looks old enough. It’s 19th century neo-Gothic, but still an enticing tourist destination.

Interior of the Catholic chapel in the Hohenzollern Castle. There is also a more modest Protestant chapel.

An ancestral home, maybe, but no Hohenzollern family member ever took up permanent residency here, nor did any of the three German Emperors in late 19th and early 20th centuries. Still, it’s lovely to look at. After WW II, Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany, whose father, Kaiser Wilhelm II, was the last Hohenzollern king, stayed here briefly. That’s all. In college we learned to call this “conspicuous consumption,” Thorstein Veblen’s term for showing off how rich you are. All that money spent for a house not lived in!

The Hat takes in the view from Hohenzollern Castle

After the magnificence of Hohenzollern Castle, Entrigen’s fades into insignificance. We enjoyed a kaffe und küchen break there and a walk in the nearby woods to a campsite that offered a great view of the valley. Its dominant simple cross and log benches took us back to the Christian camps that have served generations of children and youth. Tyler and I sat awhile, talking quietly and meditating. Finn explored. Joy snapped pictures. Shalynn did double duty as mother and photographer.

Tyler and the Hat caught in a meditative moment.

We rounded off the day with dinner along the Neckar River in the heart of Tübingen. Good food, good view, good company. Who could ask for anything more?

View from our Neckar River restaurant.

Shalynn generously offered to drive us from Tübingen to the train station in Stuttgart. We eagerly accepted. It meant we would only have four rather than five trains to board en route to Bruges. On the way she asked, innocently but presciently, “With all this travel, do you ever get stressed?” No, we assured her. We’re veterans.

She dropped us off at the curb in front of Stuttgart’s main station. We bade our farewells and she drove away. We headed for the entrance which, it turned out, was a massive staircase, almost two stories in height (or so it seemed). We couldn’t find an elevator. The luggage was more than we could lug (ever notice the root of luggage before?) up the stairs. Joy found a kind young security officer who didn’t know where the elevator was, either, but she immediately went to fetch some beefy fellow workers. They came, hefted our bags as if they were filled with feathers, and set them down at the top of the stairway. Good start to the trip.

First train: Stuttgart to Mannheim. All went well. No stress. In our car two friendly guys from down under (an Aussie and a Kiwi—New Zealander—traveling together, rather amazing in itself) helped us with the suitcases. Again. Even the nice ticket lady was helpful. She told us our next train (to Cologne) would be on the same platform where we were arriving in Mannheim. Just on the opposite side. Perfect.

Voila! When we stepped off our Stuttgart train there, across the platform, was the waiting train, just as the lady promised. I looked at my ticket.  Car #29. Check. We boarded it, found our seats, managed the luggage ourselves, had a brief conversation with a woman in one of our assigned seats, who looked a bit puzzled but politely moved so we could sit together in #33 and #35. Excellent. Alles gut, as we say in Germany. Until after we were underway and the conductor came by. He studied our ticket and said, rather abruptly I thought, “You are on the wrong train.” And it was so. We were headed to Berlin via Frankfurt. We’d have to get off at Frankfurt (which was OK, since we hadn’t wanted to travel to Berlin in the first place), go to the information office and purchase new tickets to Brussels.

I had visions of euros flying out of my wallet. But we went where pointed, impressed once again by the helpfulness we’ve experienced so often. Long story short, this efficient agent printed out instructions that sent us to Platform 18 to catch the 12:29 direct train to, yep, Brussels. It was the very one we were supposed to be on from Cologne in the first place. We even got the same assigned seats (#81 and #82). Even better than that: someone was in our assigned seat again, so the helpful conductor put us in a six-person private compartment. By ourselves. No extra charge for the compartment–or for the missed connection. Once again as we say in Germany, alles gut.

Then–after arriving in Bruges from Brussels–to keep us from thinking too highly of ourselves, came the next chapter. Since it had been a bit of a tough day for Joy, I decided to pamper her. I put us in a taxi (not on a bus) for the ride to our Airbnb. Good idea. Except that it was a special day of some kind so no cars were allowed on our street. Not to worry, our cab driver assured us as she let us out at the end of our street. Your apartment is “close.” She had the street right.

It was a long, long way from taxi to Airbnb over cobblestones–not designed for luggage!

Our number, however, was at the extreme other end of that cobblestone street. After asking several pedestrians for directions, we lugged (there’s that word again) our suitcases more blocks than I want to recount to #4 Sint-Clarastraat, then up two flights of stairs to our quite adequate accommodations.

I was going to tell you a bit about Bruges in this post, but getting here has worn me out. I’ll just catch my breath while you enjoy…


Calla lilies are Joy’s favorite flowers. They adorned our wedding and Lane’s memorial service. She even has calla lily ear rings. These were in the Brussels train station flower shop. She snapped the picture but didn’t buy the flowers.
Oil/Cold Wax.      “The Hat”
by Joy A Lawson
Unique beauties  at the Tübingen street market.
Even squash can be interesting. These also were in the Tübingen street market.



19 thoughts on “Two Lost Souls in Germany”

  1. Just read your Tubigen/Mercedes entry and am so exhausted from my Vicarious journey that I am going to have to rest up before going out to lunch. Was a bit surprised by your “my Harley” references. Thought you had parted with all belongings. Loved Joy’s artwork of the Hat. While you seem to often get lost, I, who have absolutely no sense of direction, would still be in the city of the first visit and here you are whirling around the globe over and over. Nothing but admiration and envy from West Georgia. Know you are blessing each person with whom you come in contact and with each encounter you erase a bit of the “ugly American” image. Love to both

    1. Yes, I gave up my Harley about seven years ago, as I recall–but the memory (and sense of ownership) lingers on…

  2. I love living life through your travels. Your writing has me imagining your experiences with you. Sure do miss you Roy but you write like you talk. I’m also enjoying your visit to the Globalscope teams and getting caught up with them.

  3. No stress? What a trip! I’m younger than you but I’m not sure 🤔 I could keep up the pace. Sounds like you’re enjoying yourselves.

  4. I’m feeling a bit guilty about missing the Bruges trip, how will you ever make it to meet us next week by yourselves?

  5. Roy! So much to comment on here! 🙂 Familiar connections: My great great grandmother was born in Freyburg, Maine. Wilma, a dear, dear neighbor (who now resides with her heavenly Father) grandly drove a Mercedes car when shopping locally. I always thought it was a masculine car, but now that I know ‘she’ was named after the inventor’s daughter, I see things differently! I so relate to the ‘stresses’ you endure while traveling (is that one L or 2?) I had heartburn for three weeks in advance of the flight I took last spring for grandson’s wedding in CA Wine Country. All for nought, as daughters picked up the luggage at every turn and may blessings from friends, as well. So thankful for the angels sent your way. Can I loan you my old fashioned chrome luggage cart with rubber wheels? I tried it last week and it still works fine. I put it back on the shelf and chose a lighter bag. Did you know I was there when they wheeled out your retirement Harley? Yes, I heard you roar by my house a lot, too! Good times. I can see you in the little cream colored Mercedes, but I think not in the fiery orange and red one, for the sake of the congregation! You would look good in it though! Thanks for the expanation of Joy’s hot wax art piece. I didn’t recognize the hat from that angle. Now it means so much more to me. Blessings to the both of you and to those you met on the trail. Love, Loretta

  6. I’ve actually shared your blog with one of my AP classes. It came up in a lecture about logical fallacies how we bought your car (long story) because you’d given up most of your possessions and moved out of the country, and they were interested in following this saga. I’m not sure if any of them actually read it (or the comments), but your audience gets larger and larger as time goes on. I, personally, thoroughly enjoy reading each update, even though I comment very little.

  7. What an adventure getting there! Not that we want you to have a boring time, but hope your stay in Bruges is stress-free! Joy, your pictures are stunning and Roy, you make it seem like we’re there with you. I thought of you at least twice a day recently when I went by the St. Johns Christian Church on the way to pick up my granddaughters from James Sale Elementary. I stayed with them and little 16 month old Jacob when our kids and spouses relived some of your adventures in Ireland. They enjoyed their time together in such a beautiful place, and I had some great times with our little ones. And was very relieved to hand them over to their parents!

    Warren and I hope for some easier travel transfers as we head to Montreal and Quebec tomorrow. We’ll only have one train to catch – what could go wrong? Thanks for letting us enjoy your travels without your stress. Love you!

  8. Einstein was brilliant? Where have I heard that before? ☺️ Thanks for making such travel mistakes. It helps those of us who are somewhat, uh, directionally-challenged feel we can make do. Much love!

  9. Such beautiful pictures and words to describe your conintued adventures! One theme I’ve always admired and we’ve emulated from you is: relationships! It’s so fun to see/hear/ and almost smell of your travel journies with friends and family and even strangers wherever you two go!! Stan and I were recently in AZ for a retreat/rest time and ministry prep time~ stayed at a boutique resort in Scottsdale and noticed they offer artist classes… maybe Joy would enjoy as it seemed similar to what she did in one of your excursions you wrote about!
    Also…. wish you could see our precious daughter over in Belgium… keep praying please… with love, Suzie B

  10. So enjoy reading your posts! Can feel, hear, see, and almost smell of the travel journeys! One theme I’ve admired and we have tried to emulate is: relationships. So special to hear about whom you’ve seen again or met as a stranger and then they become a friend too! What a blessing you both are to many. Joy, your paintings and photography are incredible! Pastor Lawson, your writing has always intrigued me! Well done! Recently, we went to AZ for a “rest” and preparation for ministry trip- the boutique resort we stayed in offered artist in residence classes…. we thought of you Joy! If you ever go to AZ, let us know and I’ll share the information!
    Wish you could visit our precious daughter over there in Belgium…. keep praying~
    With love, Suzie B

  11. I’ve had the distinct honor of visiting extended family on my dad’s side in Germany on a couple of occasions. I sensed your reaction to be very similar to mine as you made your way through the regions you described. I’d have to say that your travels have significantly shaped you as one of the most accomplished polyhistors I’ve ever known!!

  12. Your posts are always so informative and interesting!1 I defer to Joe on a lot of the car news, but I do appreciate Joy’s photography! Are you thinking of putting all your outstanding photos int a book, Joy? You should!

Leave a Reply