Publishing stories of fascinating Prairie People and Unsung Heroes

Welcome to the blog of Deana Driver - author, editor, and publisher of DriverWorks Ink, a book publishing company based in Saskatchewan. We publish stories of inspiring, fascinating Prairie people and unsung Canadian heroes - written by Prairie authors including Deana Driver. We also publish genres of healing and wellness, humour, children's fiction, and rural poetry. Visit our website to learn more about our books.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Swiss Cows, French Statues & World Peace - Blog Part 14

Switzerland! The last country we visited on our exciting European adventure. I was SO EXCITED!

I'm the Never Leave Your Wingman book and I've been blogging about our summer trip to Europe. I wasn't nearly as excited about seeing Switzerland as my author Deana and her husband, Publisher Al. They were anxious to see this country known for its alps, independence and beauty.

Where does Swiss chocolate come from?
 Swiss cows, of course!

We saw Swiss bison, too. That was unexpected.

Here I am, sitting on the dash of our rental vehicle, watching the world outside - including this Swiss ambulance.

We stopped at this shopping mall which extended over the highway. We wanted to see if we could buy a small souvenir of Switzerland without breaking our budget. Switzerland is expensive, you see. We'd already paid 40 Swiss francs (about $40 Canadian) for a permit to drive through Switzerland that day. 

We bought a quick lunch at a Burger King in the highway mall. One Whopper meal with fries and a drink plus an additional Whopper burger cost 24 Swiss francs - about $25 Canadian! That's probably close to double what it would have cost in Canada. You could have knocked our sandals off with a feather at that point!

Speaking of footwear...
...we saw these fashionable shoes in a mall shop and I had to pose for a photo with them. My subject - seven-time cancer survivor Dionne Warner - loves shoes, so I just couldn't help but think of her when I saw these shoes. Especially the pink ones. Have I said before that I LOVE PINK! I have? Well, there you go.

Have I said I also love silly things... like this cow and calf that were advertising a store in the mall. I wanted to get a close-up look at them. They're not the kind of cattle you see every day. 

Nor do you see this sight every day...  
...two balloons randomly hanging around in an elevator in a mall. It puzzled me and my author, so we took a photo. Just because.

So here you'll see my author/publisher and Publisher Al just standing by our rental vehicle in the Switzerland shopping mall parking lot. Again - just because.

A short while after our drive through Switzerland, we arrived in the town of Colmar, France. A woman we met at the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris told us that we should visit Colmar because it is so beautiful. So we decided to follow her advice.
We knew pretty much nothing about the town except that it is in the Alsace region of France, near Germany's Black Forest. So imagine our surprise when we saw this view at a roundabout (traffic circle) on the northern edge of the town as we got closer to our hotel.
Yep. It's a replica of the Statue of Liberty. In France!

Why, you ask? 

Well... Auguste Bartholdi is the man who created the Statue of Liberty that sits in the harbour near New York City. And he was born in Colmar, France. 
So this is the world's largest replica of the statue. It was unveiled in 2004 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Bartholdi's death.

We were among many, many passersby who stood in front of that 12-metre-high statue for a photo. Can you see me in this photo?

How about now?

Colmar calls itself 'La Petite Venice'. It does have a couple of canals. Pretty, but definitely 'petite' compared to Venice - or even Bruges, Venice of the North.

This corner honours local artist Bartholdi. 

This hat honours.... um... storks?

My author and I found this statue to be quite fascinating.
It is called Monument Pfeffel. Theophile-Conrad Pfeffel was born in 1736 and lost his sight in 1757. The monument says he "devoted his life to literature and teaching: in 1773 he founded a military academy for training young Protestants unable to attend the Royal Academy, and in 1803 was made president of the Evangelical Consistory of Colmar. He left a collection of poems, fables, stories and short stories. This statue which was made by Charles Geiss in 1927 is a sandstone copy of the original work by Andreé Friedrich (1859)."

Colmar has some beautiful historic buildings, like this chruch, ...  

Fancy door knockers...

... interesting intricate latches for window shutters...

... and a camel? Yeah, it surprised me, too. I think it was outside a Moroccan-themed restaurant. Publisher Al looks like he wants to take it for a walk, doesn't he?

What’s on the menu at this restaurant? Well, there's pork ... And me!
Thumbs up from the chef. Thank you, kind sir.

So Colmar, France marked the end of our wonderful trip to Europe. We returned our rental vehicle to the agency in Frankfurt, Germany.
Publisher Al drove 9,348.3 kilometres during five and a half weeks. We saw parts of eight countries plus Vatican City and Monaco and had an absolutely wonderful time.

We boarded our Condor plane for the long flight home, and enjoyed the view en route.
We flew over Greenland and Baffin Island - two more places I thought I'd never see.

We landed in Calgary and transferred to a WestJet flight to Regina.

Home Sweet Home. 
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) train in Regina, so this mighty moose is a reminder of that fact.  

Oh, yeah - the Saskatchewan Roughriders won the 2013 Grey Cup ... on their home field in Regina this fall. It had nothing to do with our trip but everything to do with where we live. Go Riders!  

Well, that's it. This is the final blog in my series. I hope you enjoyed following me as I revisited my Excellent European Adventure with my author and publisher. I had fun reliving our trip and showing you some of the sights we saw and the emotions we experienced. It was quite the adventure!

...with a French macaron tree...

...and a prayer candle that we lit in a church in France,
we wish you, your family and friends
a blessed holiday and a wonderful 2014.

And with this beautiful image we saw on a sidewalk in Switzerland, 
we especially wish you and the whole world

Sunday, December 15, 2013

From Concentration Camp to German Castles - Blog Part 13

When my author/publisher Deana Driver and her husband (Publisher Al) planned their special vacation in Europe for this past summer, they knew that visiting a concentration camp was one of the stops they wanted to make on their journey. They took me - the Never Leave Your Wingman book - along on this day, and this is my report of what we saw at the camp memorial site in Dachau, Germany. (I've been blogging all fall about our trip. Here's my first blog in the series.)

Dachau Concentration Camp was the first of about 20 such camps in Germany set up by Adolf Hitler's regime during the Second World War. The camp was built for 12,000 prisoners but from 1933 to 1945, more than 200,000 prisoners went through the camp. About 40,000 of them died there. Prisoners were experimented on, starved, beaten, tortured, shot by firing squads, and horribly abused using methods that were later used in other concentration camps.
We spent about two hours walking through the memorial site, looking at the remaining and reconstructed buildings, and visiting the museum. It was all very sad.

This is the International Monument art installation to commemorate the prisoners of Dachau.
In the background are two reconstructed barracks buildings.
This monument says it all - Never Again.

Here`s my author in front of the barracks. A guard tower and section of the outer wall are behind her.

The prisoners were packed so tightly in the barracks that they slept head to foot on these bunks.    

This is where the other 32 barracks buildings used to sit, behind the first two that have been reconstructed.

The crematorium building on the left is yet another testament to the terror. On the right, a photograph shows when it was in use.

There are 12 stops along a Path of Remembrance leading from the concentration camp memorial into the town of Dachau. We could only walk to the first seven before we were overwhelmed with sadness and had to head back to our vehicle.

 The town of Dachau itself is more than 1,000 years old. This article answers some of the questions we had about how the people of this town could live in a community with such a horrid history. Survivors, history buffs and members of the new generation are honouring the history while trying to move on from the past.

We left Dachau the following day and headed for the town of Füssen in the Bavaria region of Germany. Here, we expected to see hills, mountains and beautiful castles. We were not disappointed.
Oh, we saw several Ausfahrts, too.

Publisher Al is the one who drove us everywhere on our long European vacation - and he couldn't stop himself from laughing every time he saw one of these signs - Ausfahrt.
Fahrt is German means ride or drive. Ausfahrt is the exit. Einfahrt is entrance. But that didn't stop Al from smiling at each one of these signs. It’s a guy thing.

Sights near Füssen include the mountains...

...all variety of bird houses on the side of a large building....

a lovely river...

...and unique treats like these large cookie balls.

My author bought a couple to try them out. She didn't like them, but at least she tried.

It’s always fun when a local person takes an interest in me - in this case, a local statue.
Did you notice she even put aside her own book to check me out?

Ah yes. While she is reading me, her friends are having fun with the watering can.
What a fun idea for a statue.

“Prost!” says Publisher Al, as he hoists a glass of beer at our German hotel. 

“Yummmmm!” said Publisher Al and author Deana, when they enjoyed homemade apple strudel – complete with both whipped cream and ice cream – the only way to eat strudel in Germany! 

And now it`s off to the first of two amazing castles.

Here are my publishers on the grounds of the Hohenschwangau castle. It was the childhood home of King Ludwig II, who as an adult spent 18 years building the opulent Neuschwanstein castle you see in the background. Ill tell you about that castle later.

Castle Hohenschwangau is a beautiful castle...

...overlooking the town and providing a breathtaking view.
We werent allowed to take photos of the inside of the castles, so you`ll have to either do a Google search or take my word for it - they were ridiculously plush and amazing.

These are some of the gorgeous flowers in its garden and, at the bottom of the hill...

...we were surprised to see this lonely swan swimming so close to the shore of Lake Alpsee.
Schloss Hohenschwangau means High Swan County Palace, and the castle walls are full of references to swans. So I wondered if this swan was raised there to be part of the local story or if the swans came first and continue to make this their home. Hmmm...

This is one side of the Neuschwanstein Castle. It’s amazing already and we haven't even gone inside!

The front of the Neuschwanstein Castle is only visible by air from the opposite mountain, or in this glimpse from a nearby viewing spot. Walt Disney based his Sleeping Beauty Castle on this incredible German palace. He sent artists to Neuschwanstein to take photographs and to make sketches of the castle. When they returned to the U.S., they created the famous Disneyland castle from those images.

Neuschwanstein as seen from below.

Paintings in the town’s shops offer idyllic views of this spectacular castle.

While inside Neuschwanstein Castle, we saw people walking on Mary`s Bridge - which provides a great view of the castle as well as the waterfall in the gorge below the bridge.
We did not walk across that bridge. I dont like heights - or being on a bridge high above a waterfall. This pretty picture will have to do for a memory of that spot.

“What’s that, you say? This is a good book?”

Ah, yes. My story does make people – or in this case, horses - fall in love all over again and my story gives them hope. Isn't that nice?

So that pretty much finishes our adventures in Germany for the summer - except for catching our flight home from Frankfurt, but that will only be a stopover night. 

From here, its on to Switzerland and France for a couple of days - and  then home!