How One Man Survived World War Two

Donna Wichelman Uncategorized

Today’s blog marks the beginning of a series on the Nazi Occupation of France during World War Two. We’ll talk about how the Germans took France by storm and recount the personal stories of several French people still alive in 2023.  When I first met Mr. René Avril, I found a kind and gentle man—mostly deaf and blind—who’d lived a …

Finding Your Fairytale Adventure in a French Castle

Donna Wichelman Castles, Europe

I suspect many of us, at least in the Western world, grew up on fairytales. At one time or another, we imagined ourselves as the strong and courageous Cinderella whose prince came galloping in to save her from her evil stepmother and took her off to live happily ever after in his royal castle. Or perhaps you were King Arthur …

How Château De Lourmarin Redeemed the Past for Future Generations

Donna Wichelman Uncategorized

In June, we learned that France boasts its share of castles. Some sources say forty-five thousand exist, eleven classified as historical monuments. That means if I wrote a blog a day on each one, it would take me a staggering 123 years to include them all! But don’t worry; I won’t subject you to the next ten years of blogs …

How a Sixteenth-Century French Château Became a Repository for French Art During World War Two

Donna Wichelman Uncategorized

Over the last months, we’ve talked about King Louis XIV of France—the Palace of Versailles, his excesses, and the divine rights of the king. Yet these characteristics of the monarchy were not exclusive to Louis XIV, nor was the Palace of Versailles the only extravagant royal residence. More than forty thousand castles exist throughout France, some of which have appeared …

How Did Louis XIV’s Belief in the Divine Power and Authority of the Monarchy Reach into Religious Freedoms in Europe?

Donna Wichelman Europe, Uncategorized

Have you ever visited a historical site that stirred your heart and left an indelible effect on your life? Several places have done that for me, but I confess a particular sympathy toward the Waldensian Valleys of the Cottian Alps in the Savoy region between France and Italy. Today, I continue the series I began on April 4th, 2023 about …

Can We Know For Certain Where Jesus’s Apostles Peter and Paul Were Incarcerated Before Execution?

Donna Wichelman Uncategorized

The average tourist visiting Rome may not know, heading north from the Forum to the Pantheon, that they have just walked past one of this century’s most fascinating archaeological finds. My husband and I would have missed it if it hadn’t been for good friends who’d visited Rome the year before we did. The ancient site is the Mamertine Prison, …

How the Palace of Versailles Has Has Played a Key Role in History

Donna Wichelman Europe

My daughter instigated my first visit to the Palace of Versailles in the summer of 2018. She’d known about its extraordinary role in history, heard about the spectacular gardens, and seen a feature film that took place there during the time of Marie Antoinette. Since we were already going to take a family vacation to Ireland and England, it would …

Why a 15th Century BC Biblical Site Took My Breath Away

Donna Wichelman Church, Middle East

I didn’t expect it. As my husband and I walked the path lined with olive trees and other native plants from the parking lot to the 1,000-meter (3280-foot) ridge at Mount Nebo in Jordan, I felt fortunate to visit the holy site. I stepped up to the platform overlooking the Jordan Valley with the Dead Sea and Hebron to my …

What Does a 6th Century Irish Monastery Have in Common with Star Wars, Mark Hamill, and Georgetown, Colorado?

Donna Wichelman Uncategorized

In September 1910, the Irish writer and Nobel Prize-winning author George Bernard Shaw took an open boat, manned by ten men on five oars to Skellig Michael, an island seven miles offshore from the Irish coast. In a letter to a friend, he said of the “pinnacled… caverned, minareted” island, “They landed me on the most fantastic and impossible rock …

Why Some Historic Places Leave A Lasting Impression On Us

Donna Wichelman Uncategorized

Have you ever visited a place that so staggered you that it had an indelible effect on your life? Some veterans and their families experience overwhelming tears when they visit the Pearl Harbor National Memorial in Waikiki, Hawaii. Others feel that same emotional tug on their hearts when they see the 911 Memorial and Museum. Many who tour Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, …

How an 18th Century Sea Fortress Has Become One of Finland’s Most Popular Tourist Attractions

Donna Wichelman Europe

Winter bashed Northern Colorado this year. We’re not used to endless days of arctic cold, snow, and cloud cover. Colorado claims 300 days of sunshine a year with average January and February temperatures in the low 40s ℉ (4 ℃), and we grouse when we don’t get them. Yet there are regions like Finland, where arctic winters provide great enjoyment …

How A Wintery Day Transported Me to Another Snowstorm Three Centuries Ago

Donna Wichelman Uncategorized

As I sit at my computer in a warm house this January wintery morning, I look out my window at the white, pillowy snow that accumulates, blanketing our neighborhood with more than eight inches of snow and still mounting. The snowstorm transports me to another era when tremendous cold and miserable snowstorms impede the progress of a regiment of men …