Thursday, June 30, 2005

Architectural detail

EPSN0875, originally uploaded by efroymson.

I have no idea what this is. I probably took it inside the Papal palace, which has some amazing rooms in it (where photography is not allowed). I had not realized that the Popes were in Avignon for such a long time, and that they were there not just during the time of the schism. In other words there was a long period when Avignon was the Vatican.

Check out Gus's latest blog entry for some more details on how much fun it is to visit a museum with me when I insist on listening to the entire history of the Avignon Papacy. He also asks a good question about Europeans and their commitment to a healthy environment. Don't be put of by the stray m's in his text, he is still adapting to the Azerty keyboard.

Avignon punks

EPSN0867, originally uploaded by efroymson.

I thought these kids might get angry when I asked them if I could take their picture, but they were very nice. I took three pictures, said "Merci" and got a "de rien" in return. It seems that the rumors about the French outside of Paris being freindlier than those inside it have some truth to them.

I took this in a little park not far from a very cute museum of Art that we visited today.


33160033, originally uploaded by efroymson.

This is the "palace of culture" in Warsaw. I think it is a cool building, notwithstanding its status as a "gift" from Stalin to the Polish people. Of course we have not been in Poland in a while, and are heading practically to Spain tomorrow, but now that I have the laptop, I can do a bit of catch up photo-blogging.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


EPSN0564, originally uploaded by efroymson.

This is a bit of the carving from the Pergamon on display at the eponymous museum. Perhaps it helps you understand why I was so blown away.

Our plan is to get up early tomorrow so that we can get out before it is too hot. That will not be easy for me. We still need to visit the train station to get our tickets for the rest of the trip. I think it will be best to book the entire thing now, and get as many places while I have the internet available. Our next stop will likely be Nimes, for a few hours on the way to Perpignan.

Reflections of Silver

EPSN0735, originally uploaded by efroymson.

In Amsterdam the Rijksmuseum is mostly closed for renovations, but they have the "top 200" things there. I had a hard time photographing the silver through the glass, then I noticed the cool reflection in the glass, and thought that would be better.

Perhaps I should mention that after visiting the i-cafe, we did manage to navigate back to the Lavaterie and pick up our Laundry. This is perhaps the hardest town to find your way around in I have ever visited. It seems to have the same cow path inspired paths as Prague or Boston, but with even shorter streets and smaller squares. We spent a good bit of time walking in circles.

Went to a concert tonight, it was free, but pretty good. Mostly horn music. The woman behind us was speaking in French in a way I could understand (slowly and with an American accent). It turns out that she and her husband are from Berkeley, and in fact live about five minutes walk from my house. Another of those "small world" moments.

Berlin Dancers

EPSN0562, originally uploaded by efroymson.

I took this picture in Berlin, in the rain. I think it came out pretty well.

I am experimenting with a smaller picture size, I will see how it looks.

Also am blogging from the hotel room, have managed to get free wifi from Orange working.

Avignon is very hot

We are in Avignon now, and it is terribly hot. I am thinking of abandoning our plans to visit Spain, and instead returning to Holland where the temperatures were bearable. Also the train to Barcelona is 12 hours or so. Possibly we can take an overnight, then get a hi speed train to Madrid. Of course we would then be very far from Holland, and it will be quite hot. But Gus really wants to go to Spain, so what can I do?

I was just trying to find a place to stay this weekend in Perpignon, but it does not seem that there is any availability. Perhaps another website will reveal something.

Bought a laptop in Brussels, thought I would use it on the train, but so far have not done much with it. Got a code for free wifi starting tomorrow, for a week, we shall see how it works. Is available in the hotel, but tomorrow night is our last here. It should eliminate the frustration of dealing with my digital pictures at internet cafes.

I had not realized how much interesting stuff there is in Brussels. Perhaps I spend too much time reading the Economist, because I thought of just as a source of unreadable regulations to strangle the European economy. Thus I was expecting blocks of glass towers full of Eurocrats. In reality there are a lot of old and pretty buildings, little squares to walk around in, places to get waffles and frites and omelettes and so on.

Had a hard time finding a small Vaio (I wanted a very small laptop with a cd burner). Ended up with the last one from one shop. Had thought of getting one during our Paris layover, but was worried about finding a computer shop in the short time we would be there. It turns out that if you walk straight out of the Gare d'Lyon (where we stowed our baggage as it was our point of departure for Avignon) and go left at the main street, you will see nothing but computer stores. Rather funny. Could not resist checking one to see if they had a better deal. As it turned out, they did not seem to carry the model I got. One Asian shopkeeper did not even understand what I was asking for.

I did manage to find an optical shop to get my old destroyed rimless glasses remade. It was much much more reasonable than the price I was quoted in Berlin, and they will be ready well before we are in Paris again. Not that I really need another pair of glasses, but I thought it would be cool to have rimless photogray glasses.

We are doing laundry at a laundromat. I think our stuff should be about dry now. Also have to go get a card to reactivate my cell phone. And we have to visit the train station to see about onward bookings. But I really don't want to leave this computer since it is in an Salle Climatisee ...

Monday, June 27, 2005


We are in Brussels now. I have found an internet cafe with a flat screen, and it seems that I may be able to burn a CD here. I had some burned in Amsterdam before we left, but it appears that the software reduced the resolution of the images. The fellow at the shop was not quite expert in the machine, as it had just been delivered, and the folks from Fuji had not come to teach him about it yet.

I want to thank all of you who have written me, I am sorry that I am such a poor correspondent, but it seems that all of my internet time is absorbed by blogging, fighting with cd recording software (I just got another error .... argh) and making onward bookings. Gus and I are having a great time, and that is where most of the time goes. I hope the blog can serve in some measure in place of more email.

I should briefly mention some highlights of Amsterdam. I loved the Rembrandt Huis. He had a sort of museum in the house, full of armor and insects, and pictures. Also a huge room to paint in (the largest in the house) and a printing press, and so on. I really want a house like that ...

Of course the funny thing is that the reason that they know what he had is that he went bankrupt. There was an inventory made for the auction, and that is where the museum got the ability to recreate the house.

The culinary hightlight may have been the pancake with Leiden cheese. The cheese was flavored with cloves, and was very very good. Gus liked it too.

The cafe is about to close, so I must sign off.

Sunday, June 26, 2005


Today we went to the Rijksmuseum, and then took a water cycle to the Anne Frank house. The water cycle was a bit annoying, as it was difficult not to overcorrect every time we steered. Eventually Gus began to get the hang of it, and thus got to do most of the steering, except when we came to a particularly tricky canal crossing, or at the end when we had to back in again.

The Rijksmuseum is under renovation, so we did not see the whole thing, just the "top 200" objects. It was not a problem, in fact it was quite nice just to see the masterpieces one next to another. Of course I might have liked to have wandered around a bit more, but I am sure Gus did not mind.

The Anne Frank House is a lot different than I remembered. There is no furniture in it, but there are some video presentations. It was very moving. Gus got a copy of the diary (which neither of us has read) for the trains. It was a bit disturbing to look in the pictures they had of Auschwitz, and notice that we had been on the exact spot depicted in the photographs.

Rijs Taafel

We had a vegetarian Rijs Taafel last night. It was pretty good, but a little on the mild side. The Sambal on the side was nice, but probably should have asked for it hot to begin with. I was surprised to be able to get a Vegetarian version, as I recall it being pretty meat oriented thing when I last had it (almost thirty years ago).

After dinner we went to a Modern Dance show at a theater we had noticed earlier in the day. I was getting really angry at this large older man who cut in front of us in the ticket line, but it turned out for the best, as the people just ahead of us were dancers from another company, who were picking up free tickets and had extras, which they gave to us. It was also fun to be able to talk to them about the performances, one of which was by a choreographer friend of theirs, who came up while we waited in the line.

The first piece was rather dull, in fact I drifted off to sleep at intervals. The second, (by the choreographer I saw) was very interesting. The music was almost industrial techno, and the dancers moved very quickly, except when the dropped to the ground and lay still. Even then you could see how hard they were breathing. One was exceptional, flexible and powerful. I was confused at the end when she was not one of the dancers given flowers, but it turned out that she was the star of the company, and the others were getting flowers because it was their last performance before leaving the group.

The third piece was not great, but not so bad either. I was bothered by a sort of optical illusion created by the set design, which had a grid of sqaures handing down the back and sides of the set. Perhaps not the most incisive criticism, but it was what stuck with me.

Friday, June 24, 2005

off to amsterdam

We are doing last minute internet stuff in a cafe near the Hamburg Hbf. Leave for Amsterdam in a few minutes. Saw a Robert Capa exhibit and a lot of chess pieces at the Hamburg Arts and Crafts museum down the block.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Church interior

Church interior, originally uploaded by efroymson.

This was from a while back. I really like the effect. I held the shutter open manually, it is not hard to calculate exposure that way, when they are really long. This was 125 speed film, and about a four second exposure. I like the way time acts as a sort of "flashlight" allowing the reflected light to fill in the dark corners. Of course the lamps in the picture are completely blown out, but that is fine by me.

After taking this picture, we went to see "Sin City" which is perhaps not 100% appropriate for 13 y.o. but was another excellent example of the power of Black and White (with some swatches of color).

I finally got my pictures onto a CD, yay! I have another church interior (the Berlin Cathedral) and it is an example of the power of color ... perhaps I will upload it later.

Off to visit a Russian Sub, and some other sites of Hamburg.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


The Pergamon is a rather extraordinary place. I could not quite believe my eyes when I walked into the room where it is kept. The original must have been beyond breathtaking. Definitely worth a visit if you are ever in Berlin. Many of the sculptures are missing important bits, but the power and the expression in the figures was amazing. The museum also has an "Ishtar gate" (something like that) which is glazed brick, and is beautiful. The "dragons" on it have snake heads and bodies, the front legs of lions, the rear legs of birds, and scorpions tails.

In Hamburg now, the train was very quick, and we found a hotel here with no difficulty. I had mistakenly made a reservation in a place that is an hour outside of town ... the internet is still subject to error. At least user error. At least in my case.


EPSN0547, originally uploaded by efroymson.

This is a picture from the volleyball I mentioned. I have a bunch more. Can't say I really love them, seems that sports photography is an art in its own right.

Off to Hamburg

We are leaving Berlin today, hope to get in one last site, perhaps the Pergamon, before we go. Heard Daniel Barenboim play some Beethoven Sonatas last night, it was rather amazing. I don't quite understand how different pianists can get such different "tone" out of the instrument, given that it is essentially mechanical. With the violin, I can see more opportunity for the player to make a difference. I guess the famous quote about the notes being all the same, but the space between the notes being different is on the money. Sometimes the notes would just flow one into another.

We had been to the "Checkpoint Charlie" museum earlier. I enjoyed the depictions of the various means of escape used over the years. Tunnels, balloons, secret compartments, forged documents, and a balloon, a mini-sub, and a hand made airplane. Apparently life under the Commies was not much fun. The intervening years have pretty much obliterated any trace of the wall though. It is hard to tell where it was, as the differences between the two sides of the city are being eliminated, by the simple process of tearing down the junky socialist buildings, and putting up modern ones with fancy shops in. Friedrichstrasse crosses the line, and has nice shops all over.

Also saw some Beach Volleyball, which was pretty cool. I am burning a cd with my pictures now, so perhaps I will upload something. After the Sopot disaster, my enthusiasm for picture taking diminished somewhat.

Gus blogged a bit about our dinner last night, it was really good. There was a huge spread, and it was all very tasty. The main problem was the ensuing dehydration, which the apparent absence from this country of any such thing as a "water fountain" did not help. Also the early closing times ensured that there was no place to buy bottled water after the concert, so we were reduced to spending 5 euros for a couple glasses of fizzy water at a bar.

Today we stopped at a grocery store, and got two liters of still water.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Kart World

We went to the grocery store near our place this morning to get some food. We are staying in an apartment, not a hotel, so there is a kitchen, and room to spread out. We got watermelon, yoghurt, bread and cheese. We are planning the rest of our trip. I was thinking of going to Cologne next, but we have had several suggestions to go to Hamburg, so the trip now looks like:

Hamburg-Amsterdam-Brussels-Avignon-Nice-Barcelona-Madrid-San Sebastian-Bordeaux-Paris

Possibly Bruges but I changed it to Brussels after noting the difficulty of the connections. Also Nice is really in the wrong direction, does anyone know if there are good places on the coast of France closer to Spain? And I am not sure if we should go to Bilbao, or San Sebastian. In any case we have tonight and tomorrow night here in Berlin, then we need to get to Hamburg, but that at least looks pretty easy, per the train schedule.

Today we went to Ku-damm to do some shopping, but I was frustrated in my intention to get an old pair of rimless glasses remade, as the price was semi-astronomical, and then there was a 100 euro charge for shipping the finished product back to Solms. My current pair is fine, and will continue to serve. The camera shop I stopped in at to enquire about getting my Leica lens fixed (don't ask) was willing to send it to Solms for me, so that too will have to wait until our return. In any case I got a good deal on an old titanium (pre-ASPH) 1.4 35mm, and have been using it, though I have not taken so many pictures here as in Poland.

Possibly I am still bummed out by having the guy in an internet cafe in Sopot manage to screw up my SD card. Especially irksome given that I went around the world with it, and managed to back it up onto CD even in Bhutan with no trouble. I feel especially angry, since I forgot to lock it when I first handed it to him, and thus it may be partly my fault. I wound up buying a couple more to use until I get back, in hopes that I can get the data recovered from one of the providers of that service. There were some great shots of break-dancers and I would really like to see them in full, the view on the back of the camera was really good.

After Ku-damm we went to the Kart racing place whose address Gus had copied down from a bulletin board. Neither of us did terribly well, but as it was our first time I suppose I should not be too hard on us. I was exhausted after it was over, I think I was tensing my entire upper body, as if I had to push the car around the corners. It was fun to get the little thing going sideways, but it did not seem to help, the blasted little German kids kept passing me anyway. Next time I will try to figure out "the line" and follow it.

After that we went to the Staats Opfer for a chamber concert. They played Mozart and some others. It was quite nice, the room had a marble inlay floor, and of course gilt plaster walls. The Staats Kappelle was very good, but I can't work up much enthusiasm for describing it, perhaps I am not such a chamber music fan. Or perhaps I am just tired.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

In Berlin

We arrived in Berlin rather early this morning. I am not sure that overnight trains are the best way of getting from one place to another, as a correspondent noted. Gus however found it quite an adventure. We did not have the compartment to ourselves as I had hoped, but the third guest was a pleasant enough fellow. It was interesting to see firsthand the possibilities inherent in the severability of the cars of a train. When we left Gdansk, we were the last car in the train, and I spent a few minutes looking out the back of our car at the receding Polish countryside.

When I woke up near the border with Germany there was a Russian train car there. Apparently there was a Ukrainian car elsewhere in the train, and for some reason we were no longer facing the same direction.

Today we walked around Berlin. Saw the new Holocaust memorial. It is a bunch of grey blocks arranged in neat rows. There was one fellow who was jumping from one to another, which looked like fun, but is verboten. It is almost poetic in the German: nicht von stele zum stele zu springen (or something like that). I could not resist showing Gus that the stelae were close enough together that a chimney like climbing technique was possible. That also is verboten, as a very polite security guard pointed out when he gestured for Gus to come down.

I hope that does not seem too disrespectful. The memorial is so bland as to be almost odd. It did not have much of an effect on me. I used to live not far from the Vietnam Vets memorial in DC, and that is a different story. That one works. The memorial here is rather a failure, at least for me.

Perhaps it will prove not to be so bad. There is an exhibit underneath the field of blocks which we did not enter, figuring that perhaps the line would be shorter on another day. Possibly that exhibit makes sense of the memorial.

We walked past the Brandenburg gate, which is one of those places you instantly recognize, even if (like me) you have never before been to Berlin. There is a book fair going on in the plaza in front of it, and an interesting mural explained the history of the gate.

After that we went to the Bundestag, and saw the new dome. Good views of the city. Walked from there up Unter den Linden stopping occasionally to look at really cool Peugeots (they have a showroom there, with an amazing concept car on display, and the Pikes Peak car fellow Albuquerquean Robby Unser drove to victory a few years back) or have a cool drink. It is pretty hot here today. BTW, why is it so hard to get a cold soda in Europe? Usually they are "cool" but not "cold". Is it just me? Or is there something about American refigeration that is better?

Stopped by the Berlin Cathedral, which oddly enough has statues in it of Martin Luther, Melancthon, and Calvin. I could not figure that one. Like walking into a Synagogue and seeing a statue of Moses, or maybe the Rabbi who founded American Reform Judaism. Whatever. Does anyone know what the heck is going on? Is there a mosque somewhere with a statue of Malcolm X in it?

Also got some tickets for a Daniel Barenboim Piano concert, copied down the location of a "Grand Prix" style place, and noted the starting date of the beach volleyball tournament not too far from where we are staying.

Saturday, June 18, 2005


We are in Sopot, between Gdynia and Gdansk on the Baltic. It is a pleasant seaside resort town. Gus is taking a chess lesson from a fellow who was playing blindfolded when we walked by the first time. Also saw some breakdancers and a wax museum.

His lesson is over soon, so I need to head back to "Heroes of Monte Cassino" Avenue, the main pedestrian mall here. Did you know that it was Polish troops who finally broke through at Monte Cassino? I didn't.

Overnight train to Berlin later this evening.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Cracow buildings

Cracow buildings, originally uploaded by efroymson.

We did not just have B&W film for the M6, as you can see. I really like the ability of the 25mm to smush together all of these buildings, though I suppose credit for that actually belongs to the generations of Polish architects who built the town.

I was asked if I am wearing a hat (is that really the most pressing concern stimulated by this blog?) and the answer is yes. Forgot to pack any, but that left the opportunity of acquiring some. Gus and I have almost matching military green ball caps. They were very reasonable, from a "Militaria" store in Cracow. Perhaps at some point I will see a photo of us that is worthy of uploading, and you will see what I am talking about.

On the subject of Cracow I wanted to mention a fantastic Italian restaraunt we ate at, called Arlecchino. I kept their card, so I can tell you that they are located on Ulitsa Grodzka 39 and they have a webpage at www.arlecchino.pl

However, the really great thing about the place was the two kinds of olive oil (one with garlic and one with peppers) and the two kinds of vinegar (one with peppers, and one with capers) that you could mix together and top with salt and fresh ground pepper to make either a great topping for the fluffy white bread, or a salad dressing for the greens. The entrees were also good, and the tiramisu, though oddly served in a sort of large teacup, was very good.

Still do not have a cell phone (I expect I left it in an internet cafe or a taxicab) but may get another one in Berlin. Pehaps a larger one that I will not keep in my pocket?

Today we took a pretty short train ride from Gdinya to Gdansk. On the way in I was practicing my German with a couple of older ladies who are on an RV tour. Somehow it bugged me just a little when they mentioned that their "gruppe" had a "fuehrer" but of course those are just perfectly ordinary German words.

They pointed out the Danzig (as it is still called in German) shipyards where Lech Walesa and the Solidarity movement got their start. Unfortunately they are now just symbols, and there is no shipbuilding going on in them. They had been to the old town, and were returning without their menfolk to do some shopping.

One funny thing, they took me at first for a Pole, and were wondering why I spoke German with an English accent. I suppose Americans who can speak a foreign language are rare enough not to be suspected. Or maybe it is just that we looked reasonably comfortable on the train, and everyone all over the planet wears jeans and t-shirts, so what the heck.

After dealing with the lines at the train station ticket booth we followed a couple of young men with stilts, figuring that they would lead us to the heart of the old town. Once close enough to see the old churches, we were able to navigate on our own. Took an exhausting stair climb to the top of the tallest, spectacular views. From the inside you can see the reverse forms of the interior arches, which was also interesting. These old buildings always leave me wondering how they managed to put them up, and Gus was wondering the same thing as we circled up the nearly interminable stairs. Looking at all the brick I was hoping that they do not have earthquakes here. Given that it has lasted some hundreds of years I suppose they do not.


Church, originally uploaded by efroymson.

I think I might get to like B&W photography. I am not sure if Gus or I took this picture, but I do like it. Could have been a bit closer cropped, there is a slight problem with the Camera I have, in that there is no 25mm viewfinder, so again you have to guess, and the guessing goes beyond the edge of the frame.

Gus seems to be getting the basics of hyperfocal focussing, and sunny 16 metering, which is cool.

He has posted some more things on his blog, you can read them there. He informs me that the problems you will see are not the spelling issues they seem, but are typing issues.

We are in Gdansk now, it is (as we were told) very beautiful. After another lengthy visit to a train station we acquired overnight tickets to Berlin. For some reason every attempt (except in Cracow) to purchase a long distance train ticket has been very painful. There are no automatic ticket dispensers here, and the women who work at the counters seem to have to do a number of odd things to fill the requests. I can say that our tickets were always pretty easy, and were printed out automatically, but occasionally someone will want to exchange a ticket, or will have a more difficult request that involves going into the back room, or filling out a variety of forms in handwriting.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


In Gdaniya now, supposed to be a pretty old town in Gdansk, very near here. Lost my cell phone in Warsaw, irked about that.

Warsaw to Gdansk

So we finally did make it to Auschwitz. Had a bit of frustration with laundry the day before, should be able to make it to Berlin on what we have though. Auschwitz is not far from Cracow, we took a cab, the driver was a decent sort, and I don't think he overcharged us (200 PLN). If I am correct his number here is: 504676774. You might want to ask for Richard, his son, who speaks better English.

The sight of Auschwitz left me rather numb, it is overwhelming. Some things did stick in my head, like the building 11 which was a prison within the camp. It did not seem to me that they would need that. It had rooms in which the prisoners were starved to death. Of course there were people starving to death all over the camp, but those had been specifically selected for a more rapid starvation I guess.

Also odd was the execution wall where condemned prisoners were shot. Given the existence of a massive infrastructure for the wholesale gassing and burning of people, it seemed almost quaint to shoot some. Possibly they wanted to avoid upsetting the victims who were told of a "shower" by mixing in people who knew they were condemned to die. Toward the end of the war though, the wall was taken down, and the gas chamber was used in that way though.

New to me was the use of the basement of that building as a test case for the Zyklon B. Apparently it was first used on some Polish Prisoners from the hospital, and Russian POWs.

We are in Warsaw now, have a train to catch to Gdansk.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

To Auschwitz

We are planning on going to Auschwitz today. In all honesty I am not looking forward to it, as you can probably imagine. Nonetheless, since it is not far from here, and it is the Sixtieth year since the liberation, it seems an obvious thing to do.

In the meantime we are attempting to find a place where we can get our clothes laundered. I must have misunderstood the woman at the hotel as we walked a good distance in the direction I thought she indicated without seeing anything like a laundry.

At least we found an internet cafe where the keyboard works reasonably well, and (perhaps due to the time of day) there is a relative lack of cigaret smoke. As a Californian, Europe seems a very smoky place.

The breakfast here is not as good as at the Radisson in Warsaw, which was almost up to Israeli hotel breakfast standards, but the bread is very good, and the butter and cheese and jam are all top notch. Some of the cheese is the sliced kind, but there is something like cottage cheese that is also good.

Last night we headed for an Italian place recommended on the map we had, but found a Wegetarian place, and ate there instead. It was pretty good, though as the saying goes "Hunger is the best sauce" and after a day of walking around town we were both pretty hungry.

Also got a Polish Sim card for my phone, and put a few zlotys on it. If you really want to you can try to call:
00 48 510 461 773

Kinda cute that I got a 510 in there ...

Monday, June 13, 2005

Winged Helmet

EPSN0093, originally uploaded by efroymson.

I mentioned the military museum in an earlir post. This is fromm INSID he mseum> gUS RERLL kedh it, so I tok a pictur of iti.

amn keyboparrd/!!

Girl with phone

EPSN0085, originally uploaded by efroymson.

This young woman was sitting neext to tus in the area in front of Notre Dame. I sortofo wish I had a bit more of the top of her head, bt I think it works anyway.

Capoirea in Paris

EPSN0081, originally uploaded by efroymson.

This fellow practices a "melange" of three martial arts, Wu Shu, Capoeira, and one I could not get. I was speaking to him in French, so it was a bit difficult for me. I am very doubtful of the martial utility of a handstand (it looks to me like a good way to get kicked in the face) but perhaps that is just sour grapes on my part.

I caught him with the 90mm f2 lens on my RD-1. In this case the absence of a proper frameline was not such a big problem.

Currrenty I am in Cracow dealing with a somewhat intactible keyboard> It is a beautiful city, we walked around a lot and looked at the Cathedral.

Sunday, June 12, 2005


By the way, Gus is also blogging our trip, you can see his efforts at eurotrip. I am not sure how much he will keep it up, but you might want to look in occasionally.

We have taken some photos, and at some point I will upload some, but for now we have not too much time until the train.

Warsaw to Krakow

We are still in Warsaw, about to leave for Krakow. Warsaw is a sort of sad city, there is a beautiful old downtown, but all the buildings have signs on them that talk about how the building was built in 1600 something or 1700 something, then burnt down in 1944 and rebuilt in the fifties. The entire district was destroyed by the Nazis while the Soviet army watched from across the Vistula. There are some buildings on the East side that thus survive, and that is now an interesting (if apparently dangerous) part of town to visit.

We have eaten pretty well here, last night in the old town we had an appetizer of three kinds of herring served with mayonnaise, onions, and a sort of onion and tomato mix, along with bread and butter. Also had buckwheat Kasha, which was more appealing to Gus than to me, beets, Russian Vareneki, and Pears Carmelite for desert. I was not thrilled with the beer, the name of which I have forgotten. During our brief layover in Paris I had a Leffe, which was really good. Kind of sweet, but since I like Singha you can imagine that I did not mind it.

Yesterday we saw the Polish Army museum also, which has a great outdoor exhibit including T-34and Leopard tanks, and a SCUD-B missile on its truck launcher near a Katyusha MLRS. Very cool to see this obsolete soviet junk that is still causing all manner of trouble in the Middle East (Iraqi SCUDs and Hezbollah Katyushas to be precise). There was an exhibit on Napoleon in Poland that was also interesting, I had no idea that 6000 Polish troops had been sent to Haiti to put down the rebellion there, and that 2/3rds of them had perished. Of course my French may be at fault, and that may not be the case at all.

There were also old helmets, and halberds, and suits of armor, and swords and so on.

I got a cell phone when I was in France, but I foolishly did not get it sufficiently charged. It is apparently not possible to obtain an orange charge up card here in Poland, and the orange.fr website was not helpful. I tried to call a number in France, but I could not navigate the voice prompts. Possibly I could have dealt in French with a live person, but not with a menu ...

I sent the wrong number to some of you it is:
06 08 584100

I think that to dial from the USA you need to do:
0033 6 08 584100

(in other words add the international code for France, and drop the leading zero)

But given my obvious trouble with European cell phones, that may not be right.

In any case I am hoping that in a week or so in Germany I will be able to get an Orange card and charge up the phone and actually receive calls (at the moment I can't use the phone at all).

Friday, June 10, 2005

In Paris

We hqve qrrived in Pqris: The keyboqrd here hqs so,e issues; qs you cqn see: i q, in no ,ood to qdjust for it; but eventuqlly i quppose i zill hqve to; if I blog freauently fro, this plqce:
Ze qre only here for q short ti,e; there is q flight to zqrsqz in q fez hours:

Ze took the RER into tozn qnd got off qt les hqlles: hqd qn egg sqndzich qnd zqlked qround q bit: