I have always been close to my grandparents, spending childhood summers and holidays with them in upstate New York. Since my mother was an only child, my sister and I had their full attention. My grandfather and father are both academics, and as kids they never missed a chance to teach us new things. My grandmother was good natured and loved to laugh, so it was always a treat to be with them. As they got older, my grandmother’s health was not so great and she liked to venture out less and less. Their last trip was to my college graduation, and a few years later my grandmother passed.
Visiting my grandfather shortly after, we were talking about grandma and he was mentioning that she never liked to travel and he wished he’d been able to see more of the world. The only place he’d been was to France as a soldier in WW2 and to Ireland once to teach a course. I asked him where he would like to go, and after thinking for a moment, he said Baden Baden Germany. His father had been born there and told him about it as a kid. So I boldly offered to take him there, and after a few months of planning, off we went for a couple weeks abroad!
Our first stop was Frankfurt. We landed, picked up a new Turbo Diesel Golf, and headed out onto the Autobahn- only to get pulled over a few minutes later by several police. After some poor translating on my part, it turned out that two men in a new blue Golf had robbed a bank! Realizing it wasn’t us, we made our way to Baden Baden. We visited the famous baths, the casino and the University.
From there we headed to the historic Castle Lichtenstein, catching ourselves in a torrential downpour as we hiked down the mountain- thank goodness for warm & hearty German cooking! Next we toured some must-see modern architecture in Basel, then visited the Dachau Concentration Camp in Poland from where my grandfather’s close friend had escaped. Afterwards, we made our way to see friends of mine in Vienna and attend Salome at the Opera House. We then headed to Salzburg and finally Munich, spending several days eating and touring, including the BMW museum.
William Mungall is a Los Angeles based architect. Between his trip with his grandfather and the international projects he has worked on, William considers travel one of his great passions.