Yesterday was our very last engagement related to the pilgrimage! Andrew spoke at the University of Heidelberg as part of a lecture series on “Sustainable Mobility in the 21st Century.” Most of the lectures were highly technical on mechanical means of transport, but his was the lone voice in favor of that most sustainable of all forms of transportation: walking.
The thing is, as we both realized in the course of our 1000 miles through Europe, even walking requires infrastructure, and now more than ever when the built world is designed for wheels and engines. Germans are great walkers, but they also have taken the time and money to put in place attractive and safe places to walk. Italians are known to adore their automobiles, but it would be hard to be a dissenter there and live—we can’t even count the number of times we saw sidewalks just end abruptly, usually for no apparent reason (though sometimes because it was at the border between two towns).
Yet even in places where walking is cultivated as a desirable activity, the infrastructure is designed for walking as leisure and sport, not walking as transportation. That’s why we couldn’t get through the Alps and Appennines in the amount of time we’d budgeted: the walking routes there, though they existed, were meandering for the sake of the scenery and didn’t shy away from climbing great heights. We did enjoy the scenery, and in principle wouldn’t mind the heights. But it was pretty clear that you didn’t walk those paths to get anywhere. Walking as transportation is just not a realistic option anymore. Our many American readers will undoubtedly recognize this situation on an even larger scale in our homeland!
Anyway, we have come to the end, we’re back home in Strasbourg, and we’re trying to figure out how to live stationary again. We’re brainstorming about continuing to post on this site about all things ecumenical, so please check back from time to time and see what we’ve got on offer. And if you haven’t yet, please take a look at the 2011 calendar we’ve put together with Andrew’s photos: great Christmas gifts!
And finally, thanks for all the time you’ve given to follow our journey. You definitely made the whole thing worthwhile!