2017 Trip to Europe

This map shows the approximate route taken when renting a car, starting and ending in Barcelona.
Our original plan was to hire the car in Barcelona and return it in Copenhagen, until we found out the enormous cost for not returning to point of origin.
This way we got to see a little bit more of central France!
It does not include our flight from Barcelona to Herning, Denmark and the final train trip to Copenhagen before flying back home.
All together we were away for nearly 6 weeks!


To start with I want to thank the many Servas hosts, friends and relatives that made our trip so memorable!

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Servas Hosts

Servas.org is an organisation that seeks to establish peace on earth by encouraging people to learn about each others cultures. It makes it easy for travellers to find willing hosts to stay in their homes for up to two nights.

While I am both host and traveller, there is no obligation to be both. You can be a traveller only or a host only too!

LocationThank you toComment and pictures of the visitPhoto
(Click to view larger version)
Madrid, SpainNarciso Merce Cortes (Servas Host)I started a friendship by correspondence with Narciso long before we arrived in Spain, receiving tips on places to visit and helping us on how to get tickets to a Zarzuela (Spanish type opereta)
In Narciso's opinion, instead of spending 1 week in Spain and 6 in Europe, we should have stayed a week in just Madrid and the rest of the time visiting the rest of Spain and it would not be enough. Bucket list!
We will fondly remember his small balcony overlooking a patio. It was a nice an cozy home away from home. Following his recommendation, we went to a famous place for Churros, but he scolded us for having it in the afternoon and not for breakfast!
His house was walking distance from where my father was born and lived in most of his childhood.
Madrid pictures
Mataró (near Barcelona), Spain Nuria Mante Bartra We got an insider look into what it is to live in Catalunya. Nuria also had nice stories about the time she was a teacher in Mataró and in Andorra and gave us a few tips on what to see there on our return trip.
We went together on a nice stroll through Mataró
A stroll through Mataró
Barcelona pictures
A subset of the above - the Camp Nou stadium - famous soccer home of Messi's team
On our way to France we visit a flower festival in nearby Giron
Andorra pictures on our way back
Arles (France) Fatya Belmouri After visiting the impressive ruins of the Roman Colloseum we noticed that Fatya's house was just one street away, so we decided to get to know her earlier than previously agreed on.
I got to practice a lot of my rustic high school French!
Due to a misunderstanding, Fatya had double booked another Servas traveller couple from NZ, but managed to put us all up!
Historic Arles pictures
With Fatya in Arles
Avignon France and Bruno Bouchet We enjoyed staying with France and Bruno and Jean Baptiste. This couple is to be admired, as they continuously foster mentally disabled youngsters in their home!
A visit to Avignon, including the famous bridge from the children's song
With the Bouchet family
Karlsruhe (Germany) Bernhard Kaufmann
Thank you to Bernhard, whose wife Anke is a Servas host but had to be away on business, for having us nevertheless!

We remember having breakfast discussing different aspects of life and world travel and being introduced to the Eierschalensollbruchstellernverursacher gadget (EggshellBreakingAndPerforatingDevice)
With Bernhard in Karlsruhe
Frankfurt (Germany) Antje Hannes We really enjoyed the very warm hospitality granted to us by Antje and her youngest son Jonas.
A friendship was established that just 'clicked'. We holpe to see Antje and family again, in Frankfurt or in Sydney!
Frankfurt pictures
Mainz, its interesting Synagogue
Mainz, the glass stained Chagall windows
With Antje amnd Jonas in Frankfurt
Bonn (Germany) Angela Faust Another welcoming home away from home with Angela and children Sharon and Julian.
It was interesting to chat with Angela about stories heard from our parents and grandparents about the world war and its consequences.
And we were surprised watching a robot device mowing their lawn!
Pictures from nearby Cologne
The beautiful Rhine river area with its medieval forts and castles and beautiful views
A stroll through Bonn, former capital of West Germany
With Angela and kids in Bonn
Parçay-Meslay, near Tours (France) Marie Catherine and Philippe Morell An amazing experience in a home first built in the 16th century or earlier!
Seeing and learning about the Troglodytes: Caves initially created by the Roman's who removed boulders for building purposes, the troglodytes were used for centuries by homeless people, now they are popular as cellars, and houses built above them.
And the cake made from homegrown cherries was delicious!!
Parçay-Meslay, the troglodytes and Tours
With the Morel's at Parçay-Meslay and their 16th century hosue
Toulouse Jacqueline Plitman and Hans Van Halm It was a pleasure to stay with Jacqueline and Hans at her place so near to the centre of the beautiful Toulouse, right by the river.
A unique two story house surrounded by high rises.
Toulouse pictures
A side trip to beautiful Carcassone

Friends and Family

LocationThank you toComment and pictures of the visitPhoto
(Click to view larger version)
Madrid (Spain) Conchi Not long before we started our trip, Conchi found me on the internet and expressed interest in knowing more about my great aunt Amalie who was a well known artist and art collector before WW2. She later perished in the Holocaust
Conchi was our guide into old Madrid and introduced us to a full Tapas meal.
Madrid with Conchi
With Conchi
Valencia (Spain) The Valencia cousins I first visited our cousins in Valencia in 1974 and since then have always been eager to come back, remembering the friendly generous way I was treated then, the hitchhiker, on the way from Colombia to Israel
We found that over a generation in time has passed but the attitude towards us had not changed at all!
We also visited family in nearby Javea
Time to plan our next visit there!
Pictures from our Valencia visit
Visiting family in Javea
With the Valencia crowd
Montpellier Antonio Rivas My good friend Tonio, what a pleasure to see him again after 40+ years!
We studied together at the Mathematics department at the University in Bogota, then went different ways. I also visited him in 1974 during my trip through Europe.
Antonio was instrumental in helping us plan our trip through the south of France, and we also had the opportunity to be invited through him to a Colombian birthday party as a reminder of good old times!
Detour to Cadaqués on the Costa Brava
A day in Collioure
With Antonio in Montpellier
Aigues-Mortes and its 13th century preserved medieval wall
Near Geneva (Switzerland) The Elyholzer family What a warm welcome we received from Yael and family! Yael is a daughter from a long time friend of mine from Colombia.
We loved the time we spent in Switzerland!
With Yael, Andre and kids in Gruyeres, famous for its cheese and more
Day trip to Vevey (Charlie Chaplin home and museum) and Montreaux on the other side of lake Geneva. So beautiful
We continue to Leukerbad, hot springs outside surrounded by snowy mountains!
Another day trip to Lauterbrunnen, from where we walk the valley of the 72 waterfalls.
Our last swiss port of call on the way to Germany is Basel
With the Elyholzers
Karlsruhe Cousin Hans-Peter and Helga Hans-Peter and Helga picked us up for a full day outing to a trout farm and to the nearby Schwarzwald, where we climbed up a most interesting spiraling contrapture
A most enjoyable day!
Pictures from this amazing day
With Hans Peter and Helga
Heidelberg and Wiessloch Cousin Jutta and Herbert It has been over 50 years since Jutta and I saw each other as children!
We had an emotional meeting, out of all places in a restaurant named "Vetter" (Cousin) in beautiful Heidelberg.
We then caught up again at their home in Wiessloch.
Photos from Heidelberg
Nearby castle Schwezingen. A mini Versailles with amazing gardens
Jutta and Herbert
Karlsruhe Cousins Barbara and Andreas and family Also in Karlsruhe, but a completely different branch of my family tree, we spent a lovely evening with Barbara and Andreas at an open air restaurant just next to Andreas' home
With Barbara and Andreas and his family
Hungen Herr Erhard Eller Hungen is the city where my father's ancestors lived in for a few generations.
They were very active in both the Jewish community and city affairs.
Mr Eller as custodian of the city archives had a very long history of correspondence with my Father, and gave us a tour of the town which included a meeting with the current town mayor and to the old Jewish cemetery.
A day of learning about my roots
Herr Eller
Unsingen Gaby Reber and husband Mrs Reber wrote the biography of my father's aunt Amalie Seckbach who was a famous artist and sculptress before WW2 and then perished in the Terezin concentration camp.
She filled me in on quite a few facts about my family that I did not know about and took us for an interesting walk in the area surrounding her beautiful house and garden.
Having tea overlooking the garden
Quartz rock foundation in the Taunus, near their home
With the Reber family in Unsingen
Paris, France Tovi and sons Eran and Lior Tovi is Sylvia's sister's sister in law and welcomed us into her cozy home in Paris, just a walk from the famous Moulin Rouge
We had a nice walk with her and saw the main tourist attractions offered by Paris, including a view from the top of the Eiffel tower.
A long day in Paris!
With Tovi and sons
Chartres The Dupuy family My sister's daughter in law, Bérangère, comes from a town called Chartres in France, well known for its beautiful cathedral.
It happened that we passed Chartres on the day of Bérangère's birthday!
We were greeted by her family, and on the steps of the cathedral we sang her Happy Birthday on Viber!
The beautiful and famous Chartres Cathedral
With the Dupuy family in Chartres
Herning, Denmark Nira and Peter Hove Many years ago, Nira and Peter were neighbours of mine in the Kibbutz and we also taught in the same primary school.
Recently they visited us in Sydney and now it was our turn to visit them!
We spent two lovely days with Nira and Peter and were shown many interesting sites in Western Denamark.
Peter and Nira take us to 'Den Gamble By'

A visit to the West coast of Denmark
With Nira and Peter
Copenhagen, Denmark Joshua and Stephanie Green Joshua is Sylvia's nephew and recently moved to Copenhagen for work reasons.
Joshua and Stephanie had just moved into a new apartment, which allowed Sylvia and I to stay in their old apartment just before the lease to it expired.
We spent a lovely time together viewing the main tourist attractions of Copenhagen.
Copenhagen with Josh and Steph
Tivoli: One of the first amusement parks
With Joshua and Steph
Copenhagen (Denmark) Bjorn and Martha Kern While in Copenhagen we were privilleged to meet with another cousin, Bjorn and wife Martha.
Having visited the Jewish museum that morning, learning about how many Jews were saved by being smuggled to Sweden, while others survived in Terezin amongst hardship, it was interesting to hear their stories about that terrible time, as well as learning quite a few extra facts to be included into our common family tree.
the Fredericksberg Gardens, the Danish Jewish Museum and a canal boat ride
With Bjorn and Martha
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By Michelle Neumann from New York
Date: 29 Jun 2018

Fantastic story-telling. You covered A LOT of bases - and family history to boot. Thank you.

By Conchi from Madrid
Date: 25 Jun 2018

Muy feliz por haberos conocido. Muy feliz por aparecer en este resumen tan especial. Muy feliz por saber que, como decía Eduardo Galeano, en cualquier lugar del mundo hay lo que él llamaba "compatriotas del alma". Un fuerte abrazo, mis queridos amigos, y gracias por todo lo compartido.