Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.
This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt signals we have arrived at the letter X. Oh, how I wish I had a photo of an X-ray but I don’t. Instead I have plenty of photos of my grandaunt Velma Davis Woodring’s trips to Korea, Japan, and India that will dispel any notion that she was xenophobic.
I often think I’m like Velma. My desire to see the world must be genetic.
I used to hate group tours, but Quietvox technology makes walking with a xenagogue a satisfying way to see a historic district, appreciate architecture, and understand the significance of a particular artifact.
We have toured twice with Amawaterways, and I must say that the local xenagogues they hire are not merely extremely knowledgeable but also personable and patient. Here are some we have had the pleasure of learning from:
Bratislava, Slovakia – This guide is quite young and
fairly new, but she did a wonderful job helping us see the country as a former
communist country and how different today. One surprising tidbit she revealed
was that her grandparents still prefer communism over the current government.
It had never occurred to me that people actually liked that system.
Vienna, Austria – This guide was sooo funny but EXHAUSTING. So much to say but it was Vienna after all!
Melk Abbey, Austria – Here’s a 2-for-1. The young gal in red was our guide through Melk Abbey. The other woman was our guide on a number of visits to small villages along the Danube. Oh my! If you were looking for an actress to portray a strong Bavarian-esque woman who could milk cows, butcher them, herd sheep, and keep the menfolk in line, she’d be the first choice.
Linz, Austria – This tour guide likes to ask people what they know of Linz. No one said “Hitler’s hometown.” No, the one answer was “Linzer torte.” Surprisingly, she doesn’t even like Linzer torte, but she loves her city. Patient woman! We asked to stop in a bank to change a $50-bill because we had nothing smaller in Euros for a tip. We took way too long and finally gave up. I hate giving a tip in US dollars but we had no choice that day.
Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic – The bus ride to Cesky Krumlov from where our ship was docked in Austria was rather long. Our guide used the time to give us both a history lesson and cultural enrichment. She played a recording of Bedrich Smetana’s “The Moldau” which I recalled learning about in a required music appreciation course in college. One thing I will never forget is our guide giving everyone a small coin for the public bathroom. The bathroom – YUCK. In no time, there was no toilet paper, no paper towels, no soap, and electric air dryers did not exist. Women dug through their purses for tissue and scrap paper. “Can you spare a square?” And we had to pay for THIS? Bathroom aside, Cesky Krumlov is a fantastic place to visit.
There is another group behind ours.
Our guide is the lady in the bottom right corner
in the rust-colored coat.
Passau, Germany – This little lady was the sergeant in charge. However, one funny thing was her love for her Catholic Church. If she said it once, she said it a thousand times, “Our new priest is SOOOO handsome. We are so lucky to have such a handsome priest.”
Cologne, Germany – One of the most serious of xenagogues is this one who took us around Cologne delighting us with stories about the great sense of humor displayed in the city – ironic, don’t you think?
It took some coaxing to get my husband on an airplane that would go over water, not because of xenophobia, just aviophobia, I guess. After two river cruises, we can’t wait to go again.
Please visit Sepia Saturday for more X-traordinary photos and stories.
© 2021, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.