Ships in the Sky

A little less than a half hour’s walk from our home in Sulzburg, Germany, was a famous nursery. People came from miles around to get their plants and flowers and to eat at the cafe.

The place was run by the Zeppelin family. If that name rings a bell, it probably isn’t for things horticultural. You probably read about Count von Zeppelin in history class, about how he invented the airship that bears his name, the one used to bomb London in the First World War.

Being the curious type, I wondered if the horticulturalists had anyhthing to do with the giant airships from history, or whether it was just a coincidence of name. Turned out they were cousins.

In the early 1930s, if you wanted to fly from Europe to North America (or return) you wouldn’t take a plane. You would travel by airship. One made by the Zeppelin family in Friedrichshafen, Germany, near the Swiss border.

When the most famous airship, The Hindenburg, crashed and burned in 1937 it put an end to the golden age of airship travel. It was perhaps the first disaster to be captured on film, with the newsreeel shown probably in every theatre in America in those pre-television days.

The Zeppelin family still makes airships though, something I hadn’t realized until visiting Fischbach, a small town near Friedrichschafen. The Zeppelin influence is strong in the area.

We had only a couple of days and a full schedule. No problem, I figured a trip to the Zeppelin museum could wait until next visit. Then COVID, hit and we weren’t doing any traveling. Now we are back in Canada and, like everyone else, dreaming of the day we can travel again.

There are tourist flights available, though I’ll probably never convince myself to go up in one of the things. It isn’t fear of crashing, it is my natural frugality. A one-hour flight over the area is about 500 Euros. That is a lot of money, at least to me. Still, as I saw the Zeppelins passing over, it looked like it might be fun.

Maybe next time.


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