Saturday, June 21, 2008

Fond Farewells to Ludwigshafen

We began the day with Ludwigshafen's Sister Cities Festival, where each of the cities and respective consulates had information booths. There was live entertainment and refreshments.

Here's a folk dancing group from Ludwigshafen's sister city of Lorient in the Brittany region of France. The musicians in the background are playing binioú bagpipes, smaller and shriller versions of their Scottish cousins.

Then many people in our delegation took a 20-minute train ride to Heidelberg.

By way of comparison, Ludwigshafen, was almost completely destroyed by Allied bombing during World War II, and only 20% of the buildings survived.

Heidelberg, however, was the headquarters of the Allies, and its architecture is completely intact. It is among the most important collections of classic German architecture anywhere in this country.

Heidelberg University and the town's commercial districts are on one side of the Neckar River, in the shadow of a historic castle; the other side of the river is dotted with beautiful homes. Those are vinyards clinging to the side of the hill above.

Most tour guides carry umbrellas or signs; we were pleasantly surprised to see our tour guide holding up a rose in honor of Pasadena!

Here's everybody in the Pasadena Sister Cities delegation who made the trip to Heidelberg (the obligatory Star-News shot!).

Judy and I had to catch the train back to Ludwigshafen before the rest of the group because we were expected at the final mayors' dinner and had to rush.

This final dinner was much more casual than the other affairs and was a nice opportunity to relax.

All of the mayors exchanged souvenirs with their respective communities' symbols or emblems. Here's the Vice Mayor of Antwerp, Belgium, wearing a Pasadena rose while Mayor Bogaard sports an official Antwerp tie (those are "A"s on the tie).

Then everybody in the group exchanged handshakes and hugs, and promised to keep in touch with each other. The mayors committed to working together in the future to discuss shared issues.

After dinner, Mayor Bogaard attended a concert by what apparently is one of the hottest bands in Europe right now -- Reamonn. Judy and I had not heard of them and were pretty beat after hiking around Heidelberg in the 90° heat, so she and I beat it back to the hotel.

And now I'm cutting this a little short so I can get upstairs, change clothes and prepare for the long plane trip back to LAX. Judy and Mayor Bogaard will be my traveling companions again.

I'll do some wrap-up after I get home.


West Coast Grrlie Blather said...

Heidelberg is beautiful, and sister city to Cambridge, England (since 1957!).

Hope you had a good trip back home.

Aaron Proctor said...

You'd better bring me back something. ;-)


See you at the picnic on Saturday?

pasadenapio said...

I wouldn't miss my first-ever Pasadena Bloggers Picnic! said...

"tour guide holding up a rose in honor of Pasadena!" That sounds really cool. : )