Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What I Have Done on My Vacation

I thought I'd take a break in writing about all the serious issues that I tend to address in this space to keep those of you who care up to date with what I am doing on my vacation. Sounds exciting, doesn't it?

First, a vacation tip. Never set Hermann, Missouri, as your vacation destination! There's nothing there despite the chamber of commerce's claim to the contrary. We arrived after having traveled through what can only be described as a prolonged car wash of a thunderstorm. It rained on the way so hard that we could barely go over 30 mph for a good part of the trip. It was interesting to say the least.

Upon arrival in Hermann, we checked in at our quaint lodgings, the Vinchester Hotel. It looked marvelously antique from the outside. However, our room could only be described as Spartan. We did have two beds and a TV. There was a bathroom probably only because it is dictated by law that there has to be! There were no curtains on the windows and the air conditioner seemed to have only one speed and temperature: cold and fast. Now that doesn't bother me, however, Joan is another story. I believe she felt as though she had landed squarely in the middle of the Antarctic!

After our arduous journey we found we were hungry so, after settling in our luxurious digs, we headed out for a nice warm meal to satisfy. We found a little place on main street. It was pleasant enough. . .for a bar! But they did have food and, being new to town, it was the only place that seemed to offer such a thing. We sat down and ordered our fare. Joan had some sort of fish and I had the special of the day an open face roast beef sandwich. Joan said her meal was fine. Mine was OK if you enjoy the enticing flavor of cold instant mashed potatoes! Of course, there was the perfunctory bowl of warmed over canned corn! We quickly chowed down and headed out the door into another downpour to do some sight seeing. And what sights we saw!

We saw a Save a Lot grocery store, a couple of Casey's gas stations, two BP gas stations and a few bars. The hills surrounding the town are beautiful I suppose but you couldn't prove it by me! They were fully shrouded in low clouds and mist.

The evening passed quietly enough (Hermann does have only a few thousand residents). the next morning I arose to a hunger that would arouse a Grizzly Bear from his sleep! Once again we set out in search of sustenance. Finally, after several tours around the city, we found a nice looking place called Lyndee's.

Upon entering Lyndee's we were greeted with the aroma of breakfast being prepared for a number of patrons. Eagerly anticipating a fluffy stack of buttermilk pancakes, I ordered a large orange juice. As time passed, my hunger grew along with the volume of the rumbling that was now emanating from my empty stomach. Finally, the pleasant waitress who resembled every one's aunt, arrived with the anticipated delights. She sat our plates in front of us. Glancing down, expecting to see round golden orbs of pancakes, to my dismay, I saw paper thin, black circles of burned buttermilk batter. The top flapjack was bad enough. The one beneath it looked like somebody had tarred it! I wolfed it down angrily because I didn't think I could make it out of the restaurant due to weakness from lack of anything that resembled decent food. It was in these moments that we decided to cut our little adventure short and head for home.

I am sure that there are plenty of people who enjoy the ambiance that we discovered in Hermann, but count me out. The countryside is beautiful (if you can see it). The people seemed to be friendly but I have to wonder if the chef of the breakfast to which we were treated wasn't hiding around the corner somewhere to see if the "strangers" in town would actually consume such appetizing fare!

Today turned out to be much better. We decided to take a trip into the city. We had not been to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis in a long time. It is a magnificent house of worship that is home to the largest collection of mosaics in the world.

Inside, there is a sense of reverence that is reflected by the numerous whispers between tourists all walking with their heads turned skyward taking in all the artwork. The building is immense. As with all basilicas, the shape of the structure is that of a cross, commemorating architecturally the sacrifice of Christ. Everywhere there are statures and altars. One of my favorite places in the church is the altar at which Pope John Paul II prayed when he visited in 1999. There is a photo of him kneeling before the altar lost in deep prayer. You can still feel his presence there even though it has been a decade since he was there.

I did manage to get some photos that I now share with you.
The picture at the very top of this entry is of a sculpture that is a copy of Michelangelo's famous Pieta. This statue is tucked away in a corner of the Cathedral close to the main altar. There is a certain richness about this statue that the camera has a difficult time picking up. But it is a magnificent piece of artwork and quite inspirational.
The next shot is of a mosaic of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The colors in this portrait are striking. The reds are just as bright as can be. There are bursts of light coming from the Savior's heart representing the love he holds in his heart for all of us. The portrait is actually quite large although it is difficult to tell from this picture because there is nothing around it to offer a true perspective.

The next picture is of a side altar in the Cathedral. It is reserved for private prayer where people can go and pray in silence and privacy. As you can see the altar is decorated with thousand of pieces of colored glass that makes everything shimmer.
I took several more pictures but I thought I'd save all who happen upon this blog the painful boredom that comes with looking at someone else's pictures! Suffice it to say that the Cathedral Basilica is a work of art in and of itself and well worth an hour or so of your time if you're ever in St. Louis and looking for something unusual to do.
My vacation continues on. I have through next Monday and who knows where the next adventure may lay! I'll keep you posted.