Interesting…the year 2019 was supposed to be a non-travel year. Since I traveled so much in 2018, my thoughts went to a rest for 2019. But suppositions don’t make reality and the year hadn’t finished Spring when my friend Andrew suggested we head off to the Chelsea Flower Show and surrounds.
I did write and post some updates on that trip. Being in England it seemed silly not to head down to Lisbon for a couple of weeks before heading home. As it turns out my little mishap on the escalator in Lisbon forced me to a two week rest before I got home. I believe I did update you all on that fiasco. What I don’t think I mentioned is going to a clinic to get my bandage changed and my stitches removed.
I decided to head out on my crutches over the cobblestones to the nearest clinic which was about 3 streets down the hill…not far. It was a Saturday morning and I figured no one would be out and about until later. So, crutching it down the hill slowly I did come across some people out and about. It turns out I was in good company with the old folks who also were making their way around on either crutches or canes. Very amusing.
Finally, heading for home I made a stop in Seville, as it had a good connection to Barcelona and Norwegian Airlines where I could pick up a non-stop to SFO. Seville was great; I had a lovely little Airbnb close to the center; purchased an Airbnb experience to a deli deal where I sampled Iberico ham, cheese, and some wine. I was the only one participating and received some hermetically sealed supplies for me to smuggle home. Eventually, I arrived in San Francisco and thought my non-travel travel was over for the year. Well…I just couldn’t resist an up and coming trip to Poland and the Czech Republic that worked well with timing on some friends of mine meeting me in Lisbon in September. So, why not?
This is pretty much where I left off on my micetrail updates for the year. So, I’ll fill you in on my trip to Poland and the Czech Republic.
I arrived into Warsaw on a gray dismal day, ahead of the small group I was joining. This was an A&K planned itinerary with about 15 people. Heading out from my B&B I walked down to the Science & Technology Center (similar to the Exploratorium in San Francisco).
On my way, I enjoyed a mocha at a great little coffee shop and also had some beet risotto. Delicious.
I strolled around afterwards along the river, took the elevator up to the Soviet-era central tower, visited the doll house museum and then headed for dinner at my B&B. Quite nice…the food, not the ambiance.
Warsaw has few buildings that existed before the war…the entire city was razed by the Germans in the last throes of the war. The Warsaw uprising in 1944 killed thousands and though the Russians promised to come to the Poles rescue, they waited on the other side of the river while the Germans pummeled the City. Once the Germans left the Russians came in and took over. Most of the buildings are all Soviet style…blocky with huge monuments to the working class. Only a few Art Deco buildings remain.
The next day after an excellent breakfast and sitting down with the owner and some guests from the U.S., we tried to keep from talking about politics. But, of course, that came up and, it was good to see that most tended toward the liberal side and couldn’t believe the pumpkin we had for a president.
I joined a walking tour through an AB&B experience. I have had such good luck with these local-provided tours. The guides have a speciality; most of them are students and have a very detailed knowledge of their subjects. This particular experience was mostly a stroll through the the parks of which there are many and really a saving grace for Warsaw. We walked through areas where folks were growing their own vegetables, past some small houses that were built after the war for people who had lost their homes, visited a couple of Art Deco buildings and the expansive Parliament Building. Our guide left us off at what I would term an upscale food court…multiple restaurants. I did have a complaint with him as he walked me back toward my hotel…on his description of the experience there were to be refreshments at the “food court.” He wrote me later that he “forgot” that was on the experience. I believe he has since taken it off.
Back at my B&B, I had signed up for a Chopin concert there. A woman that was studying music at the academy was the artist. She was so emotive, I paid more attention to her then to the music. I have to say…it was a bit exhausting.
The next day, I headed over to join my group at the “Royal” hotel. The usual welcome dinner and meet and greet. Mostly peeps from the U.S….in fact, all of them were from the U.S. Some Michiganers (one couple conservative…Trump voters but asking for forgiveness), Newport Beach (not admitting she was a Trump voter), several other Californians (Trump haters)…a fairly eclectic group.
We journeyed around Warsaw by bus and visited the Jewish museum, stopped at many war memorials (some haunting and beautiful), and visited the Rising (as in uprising) Museum which is amazing. An experience of the horrible suffering the Poles went through during the war. There is archive footage, sounds, walls and underground events going on to support the uprising…printing press…children delivering messages…hideouts…a plane above that delivered supplies…and so on. This is worth visiting Warsaw on its own.
Oh, yes…another Chopin concert and a visit to the Royal Palace. And, the same day, I had booked another Airbnb experience which was a Chopin “tour.” I was the only one on this tour and met a lovely woman who showed me the University and where Chopin had lived, where his heart is kept in the pillar of a church and benches throughout the main strolling area filled with shops and restaurants. The benches each have a Chopin tune that you can listen to…pretty cool. And finally…guess what? Another Chopin concert. All part of the experience.
Anyway I felt pretty Chopined-out at this point. Tomorrow heading with the group to Kraków and Auschwitz/Berkenau.