Saturday, June 10, 2006


In the wine region of southern Moravia in the Czech Republic, we stayed in Znojmo. Lovely. Pension Kaplanka was charming. They had made a small swimming pool into a little, wadeable pond with fish and plants. Fulbrighter, Beth, joined us for the evening. She has been teaching in a high school in Znojmo since August.

Castle in Slovakia and Yellow Fields in the Czech Republic

On our way down from the High Tatras, we visited the Spis Castle. It is a ruin and was, in its way, better than the castles that have been restored. Imagination works wonders.

Farther along, back into the Czech Republic, the yellow fields were spectacular. The plant is used to make commercial oil.

High Tatras

In November 2004, the High Tatras had a tremendous wind storm. It blew down much of the forest along a 25 kilometer stretch. When we first saw the area, we thought they had been lumbering. Whole mountain sides were nude. By the second day, we noticed that the trees had been uprooted and then harvested. All the trees had fallen in the same direction. In a few areas, after salvaging the wood, they'd burned the fields. We read that it was one of the biggest natural disasters in the country's history.

High Tatras

From the balcony of our hotel we had a nice view of the mountain, when the weather cleared enough.

The local school kids were having a folk festival on the second day of our visit. All morning, group after group danced. One cute kid after another.

High Tatras

The weather wasn't perfect in the High Tatras. But we smiled through the cold rain and hiked to a great little restaurant near a lake where Ismini ordered Tatra tea to warm up. It arrived flaming! The warmth flowed naturally from the buttery alcohol brew...nice.

The High Tatras

On the ride through southern Poland to the High Tatras, which are in both Poland and Slovakia, we noted that the farms were small, relative to those in the Czech Republic, and that the farmers lived on their farms. In the Czech Republic, the farms are large and the farmers live in small villages. You hardly ever see a farmhouse in the Czech Republic, but they are everywhere in Poland. In Poland, families were out working the fields together. And horsedrawn carts were not unusual to see on the smaller roads.

This is our first view of the Tatras.


Auschwitz is huge. I did not expect the number of brick buildings, the fields and roads, the acres of land that it covers. I would like to think the world has changed and that it couldn't happen again to anyone.

A Polish Tradition

When a daughter comes of age to marry, the family paints stripes on the house to invite suitors.


We spent a lovely, rainy evening in the beautiful square in Krakow. We found the restaurant where the Rotary International meets. As we guessed, it had great food and ambience too.

Friday, June 09, 2006


Another great underground restaurant. This was was called Under the Angels and it had a huge tree root growing down through its ceiling. In the old days, it was there to absorb shocks from the blacksmith shop that was above the caves. They leave it there now, because it absorbs shocks from trucks rolling overhead, or earthquakes.


The pope decided to go to Krakow the same weekend as us. Of all things! That explained why we had such trouble finding a hotel. It also meant closed highways, busy streets and restaurants, and no beer or wine on our first day in town.