We can never know about the days to come
But we think about them anyway   – Carly Simon

You may have been looking forward to an event, only to be disappointed when the date finally arrived. Perhaps you got tickets to a show you heard was very good, only to find the experience was not so enjoyable. I looked forward to several roadshow productions of plays, that would be National Touring companies, only to be disappointed. In fact, this is usually the case. Broadway shows that come to the city for a brief time, never seem to be as good as those that plan to stick around a while. The production values are not as good, some times the acting is not either.

Roadshows usually miss the mark

A big-name rock band came to town a few years ago and I thought I ought to see them. It seemed like all my friends had seen them in one of the past decades, so I decided I should too. I was not ready for a 70s rock band to act like…well, a 70s rock band.  The show started an hour late on a weeknight, which might have been OK when I was twenty-something, drinking beer and chatting with friends.  The performance was OK for a bunch of old guys.

Tennessee no longer matches the memory

When my father was still alive we went to a family reunion in his hometown in Tennessee. I was recalling the times I was there as a child and teenager. The tastes and smells of the town remained in my brain. I was ready to have some of the Southern cooking I thought I knew so well. It was not the same. Did it change, or did I? The town itself was not the same for my father. On a Saturday, my father wanted to get down to Main Street, less than a mile long, before all the old farmers came into town for supplies. I told him I did not think it was like that any longer, and that was a couple of decades ago.

No place in the country, except a few southern states seemed to have Chess Pie. No one in Chicago had ever heard of it. I recalled I loved the stuff. I never knew what it was exactly, and when I got older I could never find it until we went back to Tennessee. When we finally found the golden pie in a small restaurant, I immediately said to myself, “This is not Chess Pie!” The disappointment must have been written all over my face. I know now it is basically a custard pie with cornmeal mixed in. I guess no one was ever going to make it like my grandmother.

And I wonder if I’m really with you now
Or just chasin’ after some finer day

Bon Voyage

Recently I mentioned my desire to make one more trip to see my friends in Europe. The pandemic ended a string of annual trips overseas and I explored the idea of going in “So You Want To Travel?” I anticipated the same level of planning as in the past but was disappointed to discover that things had changed and new arrangements must be made. My October trip turned into a November trip when I learned of the restrictions put into place by the current situation in the world.

After acquiring the documents now required, I headed off to what I thought would be a similar adventure to all the others. It wasn’t. Airports and airlines would love you to believe they are ready to welcome you back. That was not always my experience. Some workers may have been off work for too long or were stressed out by the new rules. Many seemed convinced there was not enough help. A shortage of workers creates long lines and unhappy people.

While at the train station at Frankfurt airport, and waiting for hours for the Lufthansa bus to Strasbourg, I noticed a man at a machine trying to purchase a train ticket. He was not wearing a mask. He did not notice two police officers walk up from behind. One officer tapped the man on the shoulder with one hand while holding onto his automatic weapon with the other. Nothing quite gets your attention like heavily armed men telling you to put on a mask. I could not hear them, but the man complied immediately.

Since I had not traveled this late in the year in the past, I had not encountered such weather before. I do not believe I saw one minute of sunshine on the trip. It was cold and wet all along the way, just like it often is at home in mid to late November. Strolling through the quaint Alsace towns, villages and vineyards were not on the trip this time.

No village side trips this time

A “passe Sanitaire,” proof that you are vaccinated, is required in Germany and France, as well as most European Union countries. Not only did we have to wear masks and show the pass at restaurants and wine shops, we even needed it to get into the museum at La Maison du Pain, the House of Bread. This has become an accepted way of life in Europe.

The House of Bread

La Maison du Pain

In the past, when I returned home through Germany, we just went from Strasbourg to Frankfurt. There have not been border crossing between countries for years until now that is.  We encountered a roadblock where the police had the bus pull to the right and three armed guards boarded the bus and asked for passports. Some got questioned more than others. They took one person’s passport off and I could see one policeman studying it and looking up information on a handheld device. They then removed the man and his backpack for further searching, but later let him on the bus to continue on. It was all a different experience for me.


Sunset in Alsace

And tomorrow we might not be together
I’m no prophet and I don’t know nature’s ways

Categories: Remembering - Memories, Rich Paschall, Travel

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9 replies

  1. So Rich, your trip hasn’t given you what you thought, desired, dreamed of – I’m sad for you but maybe you should have taken ‘my’ opinion of late: When you have no expectations, you probably have a lot of positive surprises. (at least you don’t get disappointed….). Welcome back to wherever you are.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. yes, that must have been very disappointing, and your examples of anticipation vs. reality of the experience were spot on

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am not in a position to travel at present but if I were I think I would still hold off. I feel that things are still too far from normal. Maybe in another year, or maybe we must resign ourselves to accepting that travel won’t be the same in our lifetimes. I hope I’m wrong. I feel there is still some travelling left in me too.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m sorry it was disappointing. Bummer after all that careful planning. Don’t give up yet. Maybe we will get get some normal years — and you are young enough to see them 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am not sure I will go again, They will have a child next year. His wife must have thought we were a couple of idiots. She seemed to disapprove. It was a bromance of days gone by.


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