Strasbourg–August 1

October 28th, 2023

Facing the next day meant a shift of role back to tourist from that of honored guest and time traveler. Nevertheless Jan and I both had earlier associations with this City that added dimension to the brief visit we’d planned.  My father’s birth in 1907 was registered there–perhaps because Kehl had no hospital at the time. After the Franco Prussian war in 1870, it was annexed to Germany, along with the rest of Alsace-Lorraine, before being returned to France at the end of the World War I, then reconquered by the Germans in 1939, then again becoming French in 1945.

Jan remembered hitchhiking with a friend from Stuttgart to visit the Cathedral and medieval art masterpieces in the surrounding area during her 1965 year abroad.  I recalled roaming its docks until I found work on a boat that would take me down the Rhine to Brussels without being able to pay passage near the end of my three months’ summer adventure in 1962. Read the rest of this entry »

Kehl and Bodersweier July 31

October 25th, 2023

The Hotel Regent Contades seemed like an appropriate staging area for the most anticipated event of our trip, a visit to the ancestral home of my paternal ancestors to which we had been ceremoniously invited by Karl and Hannah Britz, as reported in the background introduction to this chronology.

Our hosts had sent instructions for travel by tram to Kehl, the small city opposite Strassbourg on the German side of the Rhine.


On the bridge, I recalled my grandmother’s tale of her husband Rudolph’s swim across the river to Strassbourg with my father on his back, much to her dismay. Read the rest of this entry »

London to Strasbourg July 30

October 24th, 2023

Similar to the mix of feelings yesterday at Trafalgar Square, upon descending to the underground at Gloucester Road heading for France, I felt the sweet sorrow of parting from the City which had caught my heart and the excitement of wonder about what lay ahead.

The departure point was an appropriate transition.  Saint Pancras was the only railroad station for “Eurostar” trains going through the Chunnel to the Continent.  At the metro station called “Kings Cross, St Pancras,” I was impressed with another yellow brick shrine to the industrial revolution, assuming it was also the terminal.


But turning left, my mistake was evident.  There was an edifice that dwarfed even the monuments of Albertopolis in scale and decoration. Read the rest of this entry »

London July 29

October 18th, 2023

An unenterprising morning following yesterday’s varied activities  preceded the familiar busride back to the West End where we’d planned again to be royally entertained in the theatre, this time at a performance of The Book of Mormon, the acclaimed musical I’d been eager to see since its first appearance in New York in 2011, where it’s still running.  Knowing that its satire, written by the  merciless creators of South Park, targeted the Church of Latter Day Saints, added to the anticipation resulting from my ever-increasing aversion for all religious dogma and enthusiasm.  Having learned of  the Mormon’s Church’s strange beliefs and violent history from John Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven, I was ready for some naughty fun.

I wasnt disappointed. From the  golden statue of the Angel Monroni at the top of the proscenium to the lighting, sets, live orchestra, brilliant singing and dancing, the show  offered irresistible spectacle.  But the audience was most gratified by laughing at the foibles of  its  American characters blithely unaware of their own personal issues–runaway narcissism, suppressed homosexuality, clinging dependency–offering conversion to Mormonism as a solution for the more serious problems faced by their African hosts: AIDS, female circumcision, child sexual abuse, and oppression by a murderous local warlord.


During intermission, delighted audience members chatted with neighbors.  Based on their haircuts and necklaces, Jan correctly surmised that three women in the row in front of us were Catholic nuns. We bonded with them in mockery of that other version of Christianity, Read the rest of this entry »