Another good day in Berlin although I did not have a chance to take
pictures. First, the Reichstag building; then the Wall Gallery in East
Berlin; then the Brandenburg Gate; then lunch at Checkpoint Charlie, a
favorite of Donauer kebab afficionados (a Turkish barbecue sandwich).
In the afternoon I ran around trying to find a place to exchange
money, so I and a few students missed part of the visit to the
Topography of Terror Museum. I missed it altogether. That's part of my
responsibilities as group leader.
Advice to the wise: do NOT take Travellers' Cheques; US$; or a credit
card. The most convenient and economical money instrument in Europe is
the DEBIT card (fewer charges on ATM and purchase transactions).
We ended the day with a tour of the Museum of the German Resistance
and so had a really full day of learning about the political
conditions in Nazi Germany.
Tonight everybody is scattered around for dinner. I believe that the
Rhodes travellers' are biking in the Tiergarten, singing "I'm biking
in the rain..." I honestly do not know where they find the strength...
I promise pics tomorrow. The weather will be like today: grey blustery
with rain sprinklings.
Sent from my iPhone
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
on Charles bridge. I think that it will remain as one of the
highlights of our trip. I certainly will frame the picture and keep it
on my desk.
In short: yesterday morning, visit of Prague's old town. Yesterday
afternoon visit of Terezin. This morning, visit of the Jewish quarter.
This afternoon, free time. I keep in touch with our travelers through
SMS. Technology rules!
The weather is beautiful in the mornings. In the afternoons, the rain
is playing hide and go seek with short drizzles, then the sun comes
Tomorrow we shall read Horsy Bienek's description of the bombing of
Dresden. I'll try to take a few more pics.
Sunday, May 27, 2012
the old Jewish quarter of Krakow. Today was clothes shoes and crafts
day. They were not selling food or flowers. We saw quite a lot of the
Jewish quarter but to our disappointment were not given admission to
the Remuh Synagogue and adjacent cemetery. We visited Schindler's
factory and museum and the camp of Plaszow. Just as we are leaving for
Prague, rain fell -- a brief shower. We will be in Prague later tonight.
Saturday, May 26, 2012
send a bouquet of red and white carnations and our congratulations for
raising such a fine group of young people! Our travelers are exemplary!
Today we visited the 700 years old mine of Wieliczka and were 135
meters (400 feet) underground! I did not take pictures for my iPhone
was not strong enough. Then we visited the Royal Castle and there
pictures were not permitted. Free afternoon on the square, Wedel
chocolates, and St. Mary's basilica with the world famous Wit Stwosz
As I write this, we are being serenaded by a Hungarian orchestra at
the "Balaton" restaurant. All of us are eating together tonight. My
pictures are not very good because I am being serenaded by the
violinist, but you will no doubt see lots of pics on FB. This is
another " First" for our group.
Today the Holocaust was present in our activities, although in a less
obvious fashion. In the salt mine we were told that the Germans kept
prisoners whom they later sent to Auschwitz. And then Jews hid in the
300 kilometers of the mine and the Germans could never find them. We
were only on the third level of the mine and there were nine of them.
We saw 1% of the total mine and we walked and climbed down for two
hours. . .
Then in the private apartments of the royal palace we came across the
residence of one oh the last Presidents of the Polish Second Republic
in the 1930 s and we were told that Hans Frank who was Governor of
occupied Poland and Hitler's right hand, lived there with his family
during the war. The Nazis even built a wing of the castle -- a strange
thing since the castle was first built in the Middle Ages and much
embellished during the Renaissance by an Italian royal spouse.
Friday, May 25, 2012
Dorota. She engaged our travelers on thinking about the difficult
situations people faced when arriving at the camps. Went back to the
Center for lunch in between visits. At 3:45pm our group split. Part
walked back from Auschwitz2 to Auschwitz1 and another group visited
the town of Oswiecim -- the cathedral, synagogue, and castle. Back to
the center for our meeting with Father Manfred, the Center's director.
Then dinner and back on the bus for our ride to Krakow. On the way we
drove past Auschwitz3, the site if the former IGFatben factory called
Monowice. That completed our day. Silence and listening to the earth's
voice, as Father Manfred said. We are safely in Krakow tonight.
resting in the garden before we boarded our bus. We have a wonderful
bus driver, his name is Czeslaw. He drove us to the town of
Czestochowa -- I want y'all to try to pronounce these Polish names! --
We saw the Black Madonna, an icon painted in the Balkans in the 14th
century and brought to Poland. She is credited with countless miracles
including saving Poland in it's troubled times. That was a very
interesting visit. We had not planned it since I was unaware that we
would be traveling that way. That was very kind of our driver to stop.
Then we arrived safely in Oswiecim at the Center for Dialogue and
Prayer where we had a wonderful dinner all together. Our travelers
have taken a liking to Polish soups. Then it was off to bed.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
in the courtyard of a prewar Jewish apartment complex. These were and
still are in much need of repair. We got a real taste of prewar life
This afternoon we visited Treblinka and what an experience it was. On
our way we saw horses and pastures, wetlands and storks, log cabins
and pine forests. The forest is such a peaceful pristine place and yet
such atrocities took place there. 800.000 to 1.1million Jews were
killed there. We saw the labor camp, the mass grave site (of the
forced labor prisoners who were shot, appr. 10.000 to 20.000 of them).
We finished our visit at the Memorial of the extermination camp, not
before we had met, quite serendipitously, the child of a concentration
camp survivor who was retracing his roots and had brought his young
daughter with him.
The day was complete when we connected with Dr Haynes who arrived
today. As I write this, we are all scattered in groups eating on
various parts of the Old Town.
Tomorrow we leave for Auschwitz.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
could only catch a few travelers at a time. Our next stop ws the
University of Warsaw library which is one of a kind in Europe for it's
architecture, rooftop gardens, and underground bowling alley.
Our third stop was at the Palace of Culture where we took an elevator
to the 30th floor terrace for a fantastic view of the city. But I did
not take pictures there either because everyone was scattered. Then we
broke into small groups for our free afternoon.
Tomorrow we have our first day comletely dedicated to the Holocaust;
we will tour the ghetto in the morning and visit the extermination
camp of Treblinka in the afternoon.
one. I do aologize.
Today with perfect weather we set off for a half day visit of Warsaw.
First the beautiful royal residence of Lazienki at the entrance of
which I took this group picture in front of the Chopin monument.
Monday, May 21, 2012
is an architectural phenom. We talked and walked the sites of the
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943 and the Warsaw Urising of 1944. Both
shocked the world into realizing the murderous, destructive nature of
war. It was 90 degrees in Warsaw today. You can see several young
ladies dressed quite appropriately for this summery weather.
scrambled to make the connection and got to our Warsaw connecting
flight with five minutes to spare. Phew! Eric was already in the plane
sweating it out. No luggage was lost and we liaised with our guide.