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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Germany, I Love Berlin

 

Like New York City and Paris, Berlin is a city I can visit over and over again and never get bored. I have visited Berlin several times over the years but this is the first time I am sharing this progressive and vibrant city with family.

 

 

2013-07-25 07.27.33An enjoyable trip to Alexanderplatz reminds me of some of the reasons I love this city.

 

 

 

 

 

Surrounded by restaurants, shops and beautiful buildings like the Berliner Dom this is a nice area to spend some time on a summer afternoon.

 

 

2013-07-25 07.35.42Berliner Dom

 

 

SAM DE D2 015At Alex Snack Bar we have a few orders of Currywurst before heading up to the 37th floor of the Park Inn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAN DE D2 037

 

 

Here we take in spectacular views of the city for only E$3 per person. We lounge around for a few then head back down passing up an offer to take a flying leap of the 37th floor for only E$49.

 

 

CAN DE D2 025Back in an area of Alexanderplatz I realized I just might have missed my professional calling.

Hello, Berlin!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Liechtenstein, For Lunch

 

I am almost sure that if you were to conduct a “Family Feud” survey of one hundred people and ask them to name the countries in Europe, Liechtenstein would not appear anywhere on the board.

It is only from my visit to Zurich that my memory is refreshed from seeing it sometime long ago on a map during my travels. With an opportunity to visit Liechtenstein, we take an enjoyable and scenic drive from Zurich to Vaduz.

 

 

CAN JAN15 051However, it is almost impossible to take this drive without making many detours along the way.

It is an understatement to say that this part of Europe is magnificently beautiful.

 

 

 

We arrive in Vaduz after about a three hour drive and we are rewarded with gorgeous views of a very quaint town.

 

 

CH Day 2 015Vaduz, Liechtenstein

 

What started out as a drive to have lunch in Liechtenstein ends up being an early dinner at Troya Cafe Restaurant with delicious gyro, hot fries and cold beer.

 

CH Dec 2012 064If you get an opportunity to visit Liechtenstein don't pass it up even if it is just for lunch.

 

 

 

 

Vaduz is an easy drive from Zurich but watch your driving speed, the Swiss are strict about enforcing their speed limits and you may not find out until six months later.

Tibet, Slowly Pressing Onto EBC

 

We are back on the road towards EBC but it does not seem like it is long before we pull to the side of the road. Apparently, we are ahead of our next checkpoint schedule so we must spend about twenty minutes waiting along the highway.

 

TOEBC D1 033We are told the checkpoint times are a means of monitoring and attempting to control our speed along the way.

This does gives us another opportunity to enjoy the Tibetan landscape on a clear and fresh afternoon.

 

 

Soon we are back on the road but past our next checkpoint we make another stop but this time we get to wander through what seems like an almost deserted village. We watch as a gentleman makes square blocks of yak dung by the roadside then take a stroll into the village.

 

 

TOEBC D1 041Squares Of Yak Dung

 

Yak dung is everywhere as it is an important part of daily life here and is a main source for fuel and heat. In one area of the village we manage a nodding conversation with a local who has sheets of barley laid out to dry in the afternoon sun.

 

 

TOEBC D1 044As our drive continues another rest stop brings us to a significant point along our route.

We are now 5000 kilometers from Shanghai.

 

 

 

 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Poland, Schindler's Factory, Krakow

 

Navigating across town we find a parking spot somewhere near our planned destination and start walking on an already hot morning.

Somehow, I am sure the morning heat will add to my experience of the next couple of hours.

 

POLAND D2 007We arrive at Schindler's Factory where a small queue has formed for admission into a building that holds a sad part of Poland's history.

 

 

 

Since we are a family of four we get a discounted admission of 50PLN instead of 76PLN based on an individual admission of 19PLN per adult.

For about the next two hours I painfully learn more about the history of this beautiful city and the atrocities committed here against innocent people.

 

 

POLAND D2 011Just For Being A Jew

 

It is truly a moving experience to find out more about such a sad chapter in Poland's and humanity's history.

 

POLAND D2 010

Corrupting even the innocent

 

 

 

 

 

My most touching moment comes towards the end of the tour while reading a displayed quote about a victim pleading for help knowing she was going to the gas chamber.

 

 

POLAND D2 013Mr Schindler was definitely a hero of the day

 

 

Unfortunately, the world still needs more people like Mr. Schindler because in many ways and places similar atrocities still sadly continue.

 

 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Poland, A Night In Krakow

 

After what some would consider being lost, we pull into a local gas station to get our sense of bearing and come up with a new plan for the evening. Instead of visiting Krakow this afternoon and then spending the night near Auschwitz, we will just stay the night in Krakow.

 

POLAND D2 005With no hotel plans for Krakow, we roll into town and then make a u-turn when a sign catches our eyes.

At Camping Smok we inquire about a room and find a spacious one to our liking.

 

 

After some relaxing time lounging around, we are ready to head into Krakow for the evening.

Parking our car on the sidewalk, we are delighted when we come across a 24hr, order at the window and eat on the sidewalk restaurant that seems very popular with the locals.

As the rest of the gang waits in line to order, I head off to a nearby grocery store to buy our beverages. As I leave, I hope at least one of them has not forgotten our earlier experience.

 

KRACOW N1 003Returning from my shopping spree with some “OK Beer”, I discover that with a culinary sense of adventure my son has randomly ordered for himself and ends up with a “I Have No Idea” sandwich.

 

 

The rest of us stick with the tried and true although we are still surprised by the size and weight of our regular order of gyros this time wrapped and topped with nice warm fries.

 

 

 

KRACOW N1 017The Main Market Square

 

 

Did you know that one of the largest medieval squares in Europe is in Krakow?

It is`a gorgeous summer evening as along with others we enjoy the Main Market Square which was first designed in 1257. Anchored here is St. Mary's Basilica which I am told alone is worth a visit to see the magnificent altarpiece.

On a Friday night, as I am sure it is on many other nights this area is alive and vibrant. Patrons dine at restaurants that line portions of the square and watch as romantic horse drawn carriages circle the area.

 

 

KRACOW N1 026A few blocks from the Main Market Square the area becomes more lively as music emanates from the nearby buildings.

 

 

 

This is one area that houses some of Krakow’s famous nightlife. We make a brief stop in one venue to be entertained by the next “Polish Idol” but then continue our nighttime strolling.

To my delight, I get to try a new twist with ice cream. This time it is a “Go Fry”, a scoop or two of a local fruit flavored ice cream on top of a waffle. If this will work with pancakes, I think I may have just discovered a way to have ice cream for breakfast.

 

 

KRACOW N1 029A Go Fry 

 

 

 

POLAND CAN D2 045If only I were a King like Casimir III The Great Of Poland (1334), I would by Royal Proclamation declare it to be so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Poland, Legnica A Beautiful Town

 

It is well past midnight as our car takes an exit off the main highway somewhere in Poland. Somehow my sleeping body senses a change in motion and half asleep I ask what is going on and discover that we are in search of a hotel for the night.

Maneuvering in one direction then another with a u-turn here and there along mostly dimly lit streets, eventually we end up in a town area and find a hotel. Fortunately, for us we are checking in at the same time as another late night driver who happens to speak Polish and English. He is more than helpful in acting as a translator for us with the front desk clerk.

Exhausted, we crash for the night not knowing that our wild goose chase has lead us to a quaint and beautiful discovery.

The morning sun comes and it does little to disturb our sleep as it is late in the morning when we begin to rise and shine. After checking out of our restful station for the night, we set out to really have a look at where our first night in Poland has landed us.

 

 

2013-07-26 06.28.43Gothic Temple

 

 

It is a pleasant surprise when I discover that we are just a few blocks from the city center of Legnica, Poland where a 13th century Gothic Temple magnificently makes its presence known.

 

POLAND CAN D2 013On a beautiful summer morning its fine architecture and brick red colors contrast nicely with the bright blue and almost cloudless skies.

For me, just as impressive as its outer structure is its inner beauty with totally amazing arches and spectacular stained glass windows.

 

 

Leaving the Gothic Temple area, we stroll around town and I admire the colorful buildings and historic European architecture. Our path takes us next to a gorgeous Catholic church built hundreds of years ago.

 

 

POLAND CAN D2 007Colorful And Beautiful Buildings

 

I am always impressed with the obvious craftsmanship that goes into building these splendid structures.

 

 

SAM POLAND D2 006

Nice City Square

 

 

 

 

 

 

A first for us is a visit to a free museum that has a collection of historic stones and stone fragments. I find these outdoor exhibits interesting although I cannot read any of the faded inscriptions on many of them.

Our strolling has worked up an appetite that leads us to Cyrus Kebab. Here we sit in a street patio area as we wait for our food we ordered inside at the counter to be delivered.

 

2013-07-26 08.20.16As our food is served we have determined it is probably not a good idea to order “Max” for one person.

 

 

 

 

Luckily for us one of our orders is lost in translation and only one “Max” order is presented.

 

 

SAM POLAND D2 028Cyrus Kebab Max Gyro Plate

 

At Cyrus Kebab one “Max Gyro” order served piled high with shaved meat could have served all four of us.

At least now we won't have to eat until we arrive in Krakow unless of course we happen to find some ice cream.