Sunday, June 6, 2010

Final Entry

Well, the goodbyes have been said in Amsterdam where I left the group
in the able hands of the other Dr. Carls who is traveling all the way
back to Memphis. I confess that, not having seen my baby Paul who is
doing graduate work in the Netherlands, since last August, I could not
pass up this opportunity to stay behind for a few days. So I have
already embarked on an adventure of my own: to cover a distance of
appr. 75 miles, I have had to change trains twice. Perhaps this will
be the focus of a new Travel Study trip? Who knows. In the meantime,
farewell, thank you for entrusting your travelers into our care. This
has been a wonderful experience.

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, June 5, 2010

We made it!

We are waiting at Warsaw airport and filling exit questionnaires. Your
travelers are ready to come home. The weather is fabulous-- a great
day for traveling.

Farewell Dinner

After one afternoon of fun, we gathered again for a wonderful
farewell dinner at a restaurant close to our hotel. This picture was
taken after our travelers had chosen from a smorgasbord of homemade

I made some final comments that I want to share with you. Walls, we
have seen all kinds of walls during the past two weeks: ghetto walls,
the Berlin wall, camp walls, wailing walls, prison walls, and walls of
remembrance inscribed with victims' names. Walls made of cement,
barbed wire, concrete slabs, tombstone fragments, bricks, wood.

Walls symbolize the brokenness of the 20th century: they displaced
people, inflicted pain, created otherness, enabled disrespect and
stereotyping; walls separated, isolate, tore through, and instilled
fear of contamination by "subhumans." I urged our travelers to tear
down these walls and to help repair the world. Tikun Olan! I hope I am
spelling these wonderful words right. Repair the world. The other Dr.
Carls ended with an oecumenical prayer and we all adjourned to go
packing and be ready for tomorrow's trip home.

Safely back on the ground , in the arbor

What a treat! An outdoor lecture by Dr. Sandra Horvath Peterson on
Christian-Jewish relations during the Holocaust, our last lecture of
this trip.

Over the mountaintop we go. . .

Can you see us?

On the rooftops of the new university library

The new Warsaw University library is a wonderful example of the new
ecofriendly architecture, actually the best in Europe. Solar panels
and suspended gardens are a few of the attractions of the place. There
is even a bowling alley in the basement! And I thought the Biltmore
had it all!

Is it my imagination or us this friendly competition Warsaw style?

Hm! These weekend courses ain't all that bad!

At Warsaw University this morning

What a beautiful Saturday morning! Eleven intrepid travelers walked to
the University of Warsaw for a lecture by yours truly in front of the
History Department building. Yes, here historians have a building of
their own and produce some of the world's best scholars. Here our
students are standing in front of the first university building which
used to be the old library.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Warsaw's Courthouse

Warsaw has many stunning samples of modern architecture, one of which
is the new courthouse and judicial building. The three statues
supporting the world of justice represent: hope, love, and faith.

Inside the Warsaw Uprising Museum

Few people realize that an important part of both the Hewish Ghetto
and Warsaw uprisings took part in the sewers, a model of which is
reconstructed in the museum. The other Dr. Carls risked life and limb
walking through them. Isn't he courageous?

At the Warsaw Uprisinguseum

Warsaw had the two major uprisings of World War 2. The first one was
the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising; the second was the 1944 Warsaw
Uprising. There are signs of both at every street corner and on every
park on the city. . .

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Some images speak for themselves

After arriving in grand style, we had a full afternoon walking through
the former Warsaw ghetto. Tonight everyone including yours truly is
sitting in the hotel lobby skyping, talking, typing, while a singer
belts some Piaf. The world is our global village and technology has
created the latest salons! The weather is mild with a brief downpour
tonight and we are thinking of the sweltering degrees in TN and
especially of all the recent T-storms. . .

Polonia Palace Warsaw

Another fabulous accommodation in the heart of midtown Warsaw. . .

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What a contrast!

Last night we stayed at Lublin's grand palace, a wonderful preview of
our hotel in Warsaw. Nothing beats discrete prewar elegance and
comfort. A true exercise in style. Today the sun is shining, the road
straight and decently paved, and our travelers have found their second
-- or third or fourth -- wind. Should be a good day.

Floods, water everywhere

This picture was taken on the road between Krakow and Lublin
yesterday. The floods are real, and we were detoured twice by road
closings. This gave us a plentiful look at the countryside and a new
appreciation for the Eisenhower highway system. The trip lasted two
hours longer than it should. Shortly after our arrival to Majdanek, a
strong T-storm broke out, a fitting setting for our visit of the camp
that, for several of our travelers, has made the most powerful
impression. Faced with the immensity of death and destruction, only
silence remains. . .

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

At a street market in Kazimierz, Krakow's prewar Jewish quarter

Tuesday morning in front of Oskar Schindler's factory

Tuesday morning, rain hung in the air while we toured the Jewish
ghetto and quarter. This was our first stop, then we walked through
the enchanted streets of this ancient town so rich with history. The
rain caught up with us in the afternoon and also the renovation of the
Hall of Cloths, Krakow's main souvenir and crafts center, so that the
great shopping spree turned out into the great chocolate outing at the
best chocolatier, Wedel's. If your traveler does not bring you a Wedel
chocolate bar, don't blame me! ;)

After the visit of Auschwitz

On Monday afternoon we visited Auschwitz 1 and 2 (Birkenau ).
Afterwards we spent 90 minutes with Father Manfred and Sister Mary.
This was truly a highlight of the trip and gave our travelers an
opportunity to share why they chose to come on this Holocaust trip.
Father Manfred leads the Center for Dialogue and Prayer which was
created by Pope John Paul II to offer an iecumemical venue for
reflection and reconciliation.

At the gate of Auschwitz...

In the Wavel courtyard

Krakow's royal palace, Wavel, has one of the most beautiful
Renaissance courtyards in the world...

Krakow the dragon's city

Ok, I am a bit late entering this blog but we have done so mmmuch in
the last two days! This is us on Monday morning ready to enter the
royal castle. Our guide, Konrad, a film production student,
explained many legends of Krakow and several of us had our picture
taken by the fire-spitting dragon who is at the origin of the town of

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Waiting at the gas station

After displaying a fine example of our young people's creativity (the
twenty-something uses of pretzels), let's get serious.

Union University sign has been displayed through three countries:
Germany, the Czech Republic, and now Poland.

We have seen some water in the fields -- a reminder of the recent
floods in these parts -- Eastern Moravia, and southern Poland. All the
rivers are very swollen and ready to jump out of their banks.

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone.

Making time pass faster...

Waiting for Karel our driver to fill up with gas... Robert and Brandy
are sharing a fun moment.

At the Jewish cemetery in Praskoles

Yes we did it! We trekked up the hill amidst wild flowers to the
Jewish cemetery and our group stands at the entrance.

Hint hint!!! Parents loved ones travelers -- I know that our travelers
would love to see your comments. You may post them!

Last night the shoppers became macadamers and vice versa. It is
amazing how much ground our young people have covered in Prague and I
am encouraging them to share their experiences on the blog. There is a
wide diversity of experiences and we have climbed the seven hills of
Prague, bought just about all the garnet available, eaten under the
protection of Prague's friendly Golem, and taken in all the street
mime music and theater available. Macadamers and shoppers will happily
merge in Krakow's Hall of cloths tomorrow and Tuesday.

We are at the Polish border now and the rain has stopped. We are
waiting while the driver is buying the transportation card.

Saturday and Sunday

While we are two-thirds of the way from Prague to Krakow, I can update
this blog. Technology is so amazing! It is raining but mild.

Yesterday morning we traveled to Flossenbuerg concentration camp,
Germany's fourth largest. The picture is of our party (those I could
catch). They are standing on the platform above the "valley of death"
where executions took place and bodies were cremated. In the
background is the chapel of peace, the first Holocaust memorial in
Germany, built in 1946. To its left, nestled in the trees, is the
Jewish memorial built in 1996.

After our visit, and after a flat tire (a new experience for all of
us!) we visited Horovice's Church of the Czech Brethern which used to
be a synagogue before the Holocaust, and also it's cemetery -- I will
add a group picture in a minute. It is raining fully now; the other
Dr. Carls is chomping on Czech sour gummy worms (globalization never
ceases to amaze me!)

Friday, May 28, 2010

At the Pinkas Synagogue

This is our group about to enter the Pinkas Synagogue where the names
of eighty thousand Jewish victims from Prague and the surrounding
areas are calligraphied on the walls. It took the artist two years to
complete her work!

Yesterday was driving day. We left Berlin in the rain, stopped in
Dresden in the rain, crossed the mountains, and arrived at Terezin in
the sunshine. We spent an emotional afternoon visiting the camp and
fortress - no photos for me.

Today we got our religion in! This picture is of some of our
"macadamers" under the great rose of the St Vitus cathedral. We had a
great visit of the royal castle then six intrepid ones climbed
Prague's "Eiffek Tower." I guess they wanted to feel closer to the
heavens while admiring the breathtaking view. Climbing all these steps
is a form of pennance, so yours truly abstained.

This morning we spent several hours getting acquainted with the Jewish
quarter, and this will be the second photo that I will post today.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

True group picture!

Today, finally, I was able to get a group picture. I am not sure
whether it is the one I took. If I am in the picture (I cannot tell,
my screen is too small) then Sasha our guide took the picture. We are
standing in front of the Charlottenburg Palace upon our return from
the Haus Der Wannsee Konferenz, just before visiting the Kaiser
Wilhelm Memorial Church with its spectacular Chartres blue stained
glass windows and honeycombed concrete exterior.

This morning we visited the permanent exhibit at the Topography of
Terror Museum (which opened pn May 7) and the Resistance Memorial,
before having a picnic on Wannsee Lake, before visiting the villa. So,
another full day where we completed our introduction to the political
setting of the Holocaust.

The weather was sunny and nice. Tomorrow, it will rain over Berlin,
but we will be on our way to Prague, safely traveling by coach.

Two more things: our group is comprised of "the shoppers" and of "the
macadamers." the latter group does not mind hitting the pavement in
search of Berlin's hidden cultural treasures, while the former does
not mind leaving the pavement for the elevated flooring of shopping
malls and specialty stores. Thus tonight eight macadamers found
Dietrich Bonhoeffer's grave in a cemetery one hundred feet from our
hotel (along with the graves of Hegel, Fichte, Anna seghers, Brecht,
and Marcuse and, to my great delight, the Huguenot cemetery of Berlin).

One last thing: I incorrectly identified the young woman climbing down
the Reichstag Dome: she is Shannon, not Anna. My apologies!

I am most proud of our travelers: they are bonding, and really taking
care of each other! You can be very proud of them too.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

First group picture

In front of the Brandenburg Gate this morning. If you cannot see all
the travelers, blame the other Dr. Carls. He got in the way...


Climbing the Reichstag cupola

Chase and Anna climbing down...

Transportation in Berlin

We have tried several modes of transportation already - tram, bus,
walking (lots and lots!) but none as daring as the Berlin bike. Our
five daredevils circled the Brandenburg Gate at noon today, in front
of the US Embassy. I wonder what the security officers were thinking.

Among other things, today we visited the Reichstag and sat in the
plenary chamber, then climbed the dome. Then we visited the Jewish
museum. It was cold and windy but no rain. Another well spent day!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Dinner at gugelhof

We arrived in Berlin safe and are eating a gourmet meal at historic
gugelhof restaurant. Greetings from all 22 travelers. ACC

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Good morning. This is Dr. Stephen Carls on the eve of our departure.
Check the blog often for trip updates.