Thursday, July 29, 2010

Are You Happy?

This line drawing was in a doorway next to a huge fascist-era building in Ravenna, Italy. That town was all about juxtaposition--monsterously grand building that was likely offices, with this delicate drawing. The most beautiful mosaics I've ever seen in a quiet unassuming little town with department stores going out of business. I was a fan of the bike paths and the gardens.

This piece was a public art collaboration between at least one artist and local kids. Unfortunately for me, the explaination was in Polish. The photos seem to document the kids he;ping to paint huge panels which were used to construct this box. Additional stenciling and drawing was added. It stands in a little square in Wroclaw, in the center of a bunch of reconstructed and brightly painted buildings. And it was about to rain.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

One of Six Hundred

Oh thank you family for sitting through the unedited six hundred photos. My last day in Sicily, I walked around Syracuse, eating gelato and almond granitas and wandering though open doorways. And so I found the museum of puppetry. The explanations were all in Italian but I think I can figure our enough about this bee and gambling marionettes.

Monday, July 19, 2010

I'm Leaving Italy. Here is a Photo from Poland.

In Poland , the Christmas tradition is to dress up and tell a story, going house to house performing a little play for the neighborhood. Sometimes it included a puppet show complete with carry-on-your-back stage. These things though are life-sized costumes. Thank you Polish Heritage Museum.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


I didn't get a photo of the Banksy "when in Rome" piece I passed three times in Rome. But here are two central Europe images for you. This first one was on a staircase in Budapest. I saw it just as I turned the corner and thought I was entering a cement tunnel leading no where. Nope. Just this werido bird, a Hungarian family on vacation and me.

This second one was in the old Jewish quarter of Krakow. The Jewish Cultural Festival was going on but somehow I missed all of it, except for meeting an Austrian on the train who was heading to the fesitval to get wasted.

One more week and I will be home. There are 618 photos I haven't posted. Ready?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Balloons part 3

These I saw in the window of a shop on the island of Murano, where fancy glass comes from. Admittedly, these are not the fanciest glass but the effect in the window is nice. I tried to explain in Italian that I too made hot air balloons but out of paper. She did not seem to understand or care. It was very hot and there were a lot of tourists. But, being an island made of canals, like Venice, you are always on the water.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Window? Fenster?

My german hosts have been very kind about my inability to speak german. Lasse assures me that Berliners are known to be rude and so I should not worry when I forget to say thank you in german or at all. Either way, I have this great place to stay and a computer with which to write to you.
This was taken inside St.Peter's in Rome as the sun was setting. Somehow this was not enough to convince others in my group to climb to the top of this dome.

This is from St.Paul's which is not too far away. It was common to use thin slices of alabaster instead of glass. It lets in an eerie yellow light but the striping in the alabaster makes for interesting patters.

This last window was in Wroclaw Poland (formerly German Breslau). It is part of the chapel to the patron saint of Serbian Refugees. It was cold and rainy that day but still this star and train lit up. Not to compete with the weirdest thing I saw in a church:
This year-round nativity scene in Poland, constructed out of many small moving toys, powered by belts and motors under the table. It included pecking hens, ducks in shallow ponds, Jesus the carpenter sawing a log, and fishermen lifting their fishing poles. Too bad my camera died before I could get a photo of the one foot tall Papa Smurf with glowing eyes. It almost made me feel like drinking hot chocolate and waiting for Santa.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

On Time Like A Polish Train

Poland is actually sunny and warm in the summer, unlike all those images in your high school history book. But it sure is tricky to get a train. Or information about a train. I even know which train I wanted but the lady at the ticket counter wanted me to take a much later train. It worked out. And to be fair, I don't speak or understand Polish. I should've arrived earlier but I was at the post office, dampening three stamps each for 93 postcards. That's right, Keep Writing number whatever is on its way to you from Italy via Poland. I am sure the lady at the post office thought I was nuts as I stood at the window for an hour applying stamps. But she was very nice about it. As every month, I tried to send them out by the 1st. And every month. they go out on the 7th. This month should be no different.

Friday, July 2, 2010

I Believe in Bathing!

Can sitting in water warmed by the guts of the earth cure you of your ills? What if it is slightly radioactive? I was willing to risk it. After arriving so sick in Budapest I thought the ground was made of marshmellow and my face pierced with an iron spike, I slept twelve hours and woke feeling minimally better. I was having a hard time navigating the city and I was too tired to try very hard. Frustrated, I read about the Gellert Baths. I took many wrong turns trying to get out of the Royal Palace grounds, and finally arrived. Even if the mineral water does not make you feel better, bating in an art nouveau wonderland will. Maybe you forgot that Hungary was doing ok before two world wars and communism, even though they were not quite independent. These baths were built at the turn of the century. Fountains and cold pools for swimming and numerous warm and hot baths for soaking, inside and out. This one is my favorite, the cold pool inside under a sliding glass ceiling that retracts on nice afternoons. I walked back to my hostel content and slept well.
I knew there were also public baths in Budapest but I thought it would be indulgent to go again. But at two p.m. this afternoon, I was hot, cranky, and tired of looking at art (finally!). I was near the public baths in City Park and two hours later I emerged from the waters a better person. Even the crowded outdoor pools could not bring me down. This was the best people watching in Budapest. I saw an older leather skinned man take a break from his in a bath chess game to swat at a man taking photos of him. Another point for the Hungarians versus the Tourists. I smiled and kept my mouth shut. The only time I tried to say thank you in the native tongue, the lady replied in english "what language do you speak?" .
Am I cured? I felt a lot better. I still keep the kids up at night in the hostel with my coughing but I have had two lovely days of soaking, strolling, people watching and vegan food. On to Poland.