Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A passel of witnesses

We saw so many churches in Europe that I finally lost track of their names. In Poland they all seemed to be either St. Peter & Paul or Our Lady of Something. This one was one of many in Krakow centrum, with saints standing guard.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Access helps

If one intends to blog about one's vacation, it helps during said vacation to have internet access. On the other hand, the whole time I was in Europe (8/6-17), I didn't have a single conversation with anyone about blogging. And I had lots of conversations, most of them not in English. We spent time talking with one another, as well as floating down the Dunajec River and experiencing world-class traffic jams in Krakow. I was too busy doing things to have time to write about the things I was doing.

For me Poland was the Garden of Eden. Verdant and right scale. Nein to Vienna, unless you are fond of the extravagant, baroque, massive and imperial. More later.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Oliver Cromwell on a stick

On the grounds of the Houses of Parliament in London is a statue of Oliver Cromwell, the only non-royal to run the show in England for 8 years or so before he died in 1658. Cromwell's forces won the civil war. (I think those were the roundheads.) The royals took it pretty hard that here was a commoner running the country, and so shortly after the restoration of Charles II, they dug up Oliver Cromwell from where he had been interred in Westminster Abbey and chopped off his dead head and put it up on a pike somewhere over the Parliament, where it sat for 20 years or so. Talk about vindictive. They absconded with the rest of him, and today nobody knows where his remains are, though some have made claims, of course. (Cromwell an early Elvis, perhaps?) Now Cromwell's statue and a relief of Charles II's head (which the king kept even after his death) glare at one another across a street on the grounds of the Westminster complex. History comes alive here. It helps that rotty old bricks and stones are visible. Tomorrow all this Anglophilia vanishes along with familiarity with history and language as we set off for Tarnow, my father's childhood home in Poland. Today, however, I was once again the English lit major.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Off we go

Meg's and my plane to London leaves at 5:40 this afternoon, or 17:40. I have to unplug from this computer (off it goes to the computer hospital) and this culture and on Aug. 8 this language to go to England Poland Austria Switzerland France England. If it's Tuesday it must be somewhere. I've left off the passage between Poland and Austria because I don't know know whether we'll traverse the Czech Republic or Slovakia. Times have changed since I was in Europe (1975) and since I collected stamps (early 60s) and learned geography that way. (Maybe we'll pass through Liechtenstein.) Nevers: never met my Polish family. Never been away from my husband for this long. I've actually been to Austria and Switzerland and have very faint memories from my high school trip there. I make good a promise I made to myself in 1975 to return to England, tho we can't quite fit in a side trip to Oxford. So I'll have to defer taking my daughter to the Nosebag for tea until she does her Oxford year while at college.