Back where my family started

I’m sitting in my brother’s living room and I’m all packed and ready to go back to Germany. This time, I’m headed to Cologne (and later Amsterdam), because I’ve been selected to participate in another iteration of’s  internationally reknowned Blogtours.


Anyhow, I was telling my brother that I needed to write a blog post here tonight but I was struggling with a title, he suggested “Back where my parents started;” the headline that adorns this post.

Briefly, Blogtour is an event organized by Modenus and this time sponsored by Miele, Blanco, Hansgrohe, the NKBA, DuVerre and Mr. Steam. Modenus selects 15 influential design bloggers from the US and Europe and together, Blogtourians attend a design trade show in an exotic locale. The last time I was on a Blogtour we went to London for the Design Festival and this time, we’re heading to Cologne for the IMM.

Anyhow, back to the headline.

My parents met when they were young, kids really, and my father had been drafted. It was in the early ’50s and Dad was going to be sent to Germany to be part of the Allied Occupation that followed the end of the Second World War.

Before he shipped out, he asked my mother to marry him. She said yes obviously. Before too long, my Mom joined my Dad in the little town of Wertheim am Main in the German State of Baden-Württemberg. It was in Wertheim that my parents married, set up house on a shoe string budget, and it’s where my oldest brother was born. My parents launched themselves into as rich and full a life as I can imagine in that little town and it also launched their lifelong love of Germany.

I grew up hearing stories about their lives over there and was surrounded by the things they’d bring back during their subsequent trips back there over the years.

My folks have a fondness for the Cologne Cathedral and I’ll never forget how it felt to walk into it for the first time two years ago. Ancient architecture makes me weak in the knees to begin with but add to it that my parents had been there years earlier and the Cathedral’s effect on me was multiplied by a couple orders of magnitude. Several orders more than even that because it was my mother’s birthday.

I lit a candle for her and had my friend Tim take this photo of me to send to her afterward.

me in the Dom

I’ll be back at the Cathedral in just a few days, Sunday morning in fact. It’ll be great to be surrounded by a massive building that took 600 years to construct. It’s beautiful and that’s pretty much a given. But what that Cathedral means to me is more than academic. My family’s imprinted on the place and it’s oddly wonderful to travel halfway around the world to a place and to feel reconnected to my folks and my siblings.

Bring on Blogtour!


2 thoughts on “Back where my family started

  1. Nice story Paul.

    It’s one of the wonderful things about travel. You feel more “yourself” and at the same time more connected to others, even if you don’t speak the language.

    More Americans should do it.

    Enjoy the rest of the trip. I look forward to more wonderful stories!

    Diane Menke

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