• Blog
  • In love with Poland

    Poland is the second country I discover in my journey. Recently I meet a lot of people in Spain from Poland and all of them told me good things about this country. What I found out made me fall in love with the country and the people there. And I had the luck that Elise joined me there.

    25/08

    I get to Wroclaw in the evening after an unforgettable train ride where I learnt about the relationship between Germany and Poland.

    See Previws post – Germany the Great

    Wroclaw

    Wroclaw is the biggest city in the West of Poland. Next to Germany is the historical capital of the region call Silesia. It became part of Poland after the new boarders in 1945 after the second world war. Before it was part of Germany, Prussia and Austria Empire.

    The city was considered in 2015 one of the best cities to live and in 2016 is the European Capital of Culture. It is in true a vivid city with buildings where you can tell its Germanic past.

    Once in Wroclaw I was about to meet Elise. She would arrive in town before me but she couldn’t tell me when as she had no network and she were travelling by bus. The last thing I knew when I get to Wroclaw was that she will be there by 18:00. As I get there before her I went for a walk around the area of the hostel not to visit the city without her.

    I was impatient to meet her. It was already two months since she left our house in Spain to went back to Belgium. Many things had happened in between but my feelings towards her still alive.

    When we said goodbye in Spain we knew that we were linked beyond distance and time and time. Back there we talked about meeting here and now it came to be true. I was nervous as I felt like it will bring a lot of feelings back, but at the same time it will make harder to say goodbye as from now here we won’t know when we would meet again.

    I came a couple of times back to the hostel to see if she had arrived. I tried to meet her for sunset next to the river but it didn’t work. I just get a cider for free as result of a promotion. I had my drink waiting for her in the riverbanks but she never appeared. Back to the hostel I found out that she has passed by and taken the keys of our room with her. So I couldn’t get to charge my out of battery mobile phone and no one could lend me a charger at the hostel. I wait for her to come back one hour at the common area and once I was annoyed and I had already red all the brochures I decided to went for a walk in the city. The walk I wanted to do with her.

    Sunset in Worclaw

    Sunset in Worclaw

    Sunset in Worclaw

    At that time, I was hungry, angry and impatient to meet her again. I passed by the place where we were supposed to meet for sunset in case she was there. She wasn’t so I walk all the city centre and around expecting to meet her around any corner.

    Walking in the Market place of Wroclaw a girl came to me. She looked nice, well dressed and pretty and she started talking to me in Polish. I showed her that I don’t speak polish so she continued in English. First she offered me to go with her to a nice bar to have a drink. Then she commented that the bar is free admission palace. At the end of the conversation she told me that there were really nice striptease dancers there. Is at this point, where disappointed I told her that I was not interested on stripteases.

    Wroclaw Market Square by Night

    Market Square

    That situation happened like 4 times along my walk around the square.

    In the Market square, a part from these girls there where a lot of street art performing. Wroclaw is this 2016, the European capital of Culture as San Sebastian and it was Friday. There where people playing music, Polish and English; also people with fire cariocas and fire rings. It was a circus all around, but Elise wasn’t there so I continued my walk to the garden around the city. I went all around the city thinking that Elise probably has meet someone and she might be walking around the city as well.

    Wroclaw by Night

    Wroclaw by Night

    Wroclaw by Night

    Wroclaw by Night

    After my walk I went back to the hostel where I finally found her. I didn’t know how to react as I was sad and excited to meet her again so I just let everything go on. After explaining both our situation and what had happened we end up talking of the last two months, our feelings and in between each other arms. Next day we will worry about our journey.

    26/08

    As the weekend the prices of our room in Wroclaw triplicates we decided to move to Gliwice. Home town of our Polish friend from Malaga, Aleksandra. But before we went to discover the city together. I showed Elise all what I had discovered the previews day and together we visited the interior of all the Cathedrals and big buildings in the city of Wroclaw. We were so close to each other that I completely forget that there were more people around us.

    In our walk, apart from hunting dwarfs we chatted about all what had happened to us during the last two months. We keep in touch along this time quite often, but however there was a lot to tell.

    Elise Wroclaw

    Elise in Wroclaw

    The Market square was not active during the day, but nearby we learn about the relationship between Polish and Hungarians in the past. For sure no girl approached me this time offering me a Striptease club, I was already in the best company I could be.

    with Elise in Market Square

    With Elise in Market Square

    From the centre, we walked towards the Opera and then turned around on the garden I visited the previous night. There we stop to share a quiet time together behind the angel of death at the Family of Kajyn memorial. In our walk we stopped a couple of times just to chat and enjoy being back together again.

     

     

    We stopped again next to the river with the views of the Cathedral at the other side before getting to it to climb his tower. From the top there’s a beautiful panorama of Wroclaw. In the way back to the hostel we stop for a Smoothie in a nice garden terrace.

    Panorama of Wroclaw

    Panorama of Wroclaw

    From the hostel, we went to the train station in the afternoon. There we get into the train to Gliwice. I had never need to get a ticket as I’m travelling with my Interrail Pass, but it was funny to see how Elise struggled with it when the girl at the ticket office didn’t speak English. Elise knew some words of Polish, so she succeeded quite fast, though.

    Gliwice

    Gliwice is a small city in the Silesian Region, next to Catowice they are part of a group of cities that thanks to train connections made part of a bigger aggrupation. People that lives in this area may live in one of the cities, work in another one and go meeting friends in a third one. It is known as the Katowice conurbanation.

    In Gliwice after dropping our stuff at the hotel we were staying, we went for something to eat. Back to the room we bought Polish vodka to try it at the room while talking. With Elise it’s easy to get lost in all kind of conversations. From personal experiences to African geopolitics. Also we talked about what we would do the following days.

    27/08

    Next morning, we had a first breakfast at the room with hot chocolate and tee. Then, after failing looking for a laundry machine where to clean our clothing, on the way to the centre we found a nice coffee shop where we had our second breakfast. A nice cake and coffee. Then finally we went to visit Gliwice.

    Gliwice isn’t big so there was not much to see in town. We just walk to the market square where we spot a couple of places to dinner that night. Then we went to visit the more distant churches and the park beneath the University to get back in the afternoon to the Square. In our walk we stopped for a while at one of the churches to wait for the ending of a wedding to go visiting the building. After waiting for 20 min. talking about the Polish history and current religious and political situation we get found out that immediately when the wedding finished, another one started. That was a factory of marriages. So we left the church.

    Anecdote

    Elise and I, we were having a drink at the Market Square of Gliwice trying to contact Aleksandra. She was coming on her holydays to visit his family and I wanted to meet her. Somehow, because networks and delayed messages I was understanding that she was about to get to Gliwice just the day we would leave the city. Waiting for her answer about what to do in town and how to get to meet her we were also struggling with our future visit to Auschwitz and the Salt Mines of Wieliczka. We needed to book both and there were not many tickets left for the days we could visit them.

    We end up taking the French tour for Auschwitz and an English one for Wieliczka Salt Mines. That’s another good thing of understanding several languages. You don’t need to accommodate only with yours.

    Talking about how bad would be not to meet Aleksandra in her home town while looking for which might be a good place to eat that night, I saw in the nearest bar a girl that was like Aleksandra. She was having a drink with two other women and talking. I told to Elise that she was either Aleksandra or a relative that really looks like her. We were looking at her and the girl next to her realised of the fact so she told Aleks. When she turned up to us I could see the surprise on her face to meet us there.

    We talked a little and organised what to do together that night.

    As Aleksandra suggest us, we went to try Kasha in a restaurant at the Main Square and afterwards she picked us up with her cousin to show us the Gliwice Tower. It’s like the Eiffel tower but made in timber. It is considered the highest structure in Timber in all the world. As the Eiffel Tower, it is a Radio.

    From there we went to Katowice, a city next to Gliwice where my host from Bern is from. There was taking place a Beer Festival. Entrance was free and there was polish live music and local food. Aleksandra and her cousin gave us a try of Polish sausages and vegetables. But the best moment was to see Aleksandra her cousin and everyone around singing the songs of the band on the stage. Aleks explained to me that it was a popular band from her youth whose songs were well known by everyone.

    Gliwice Tower

    Gliwice Tower

    Katowice Fest

    Beer Fest of Katowice

    Beer Fest and friends

    Aleksandra stayed at her cousins but we get the tram back to the train station of Katowice and from there a train to Gliwice. In the tram, a gently lady showed us where to stop and took us to the train station. It wasn’t difficult but she was going in the same way. She told us that two days before some people stabbed a guy next to the train station. She was a bit scare I thought.

    Train Station of Katowice

    Katowice Train Station

    28/08

    As we get home late, we did enjoy our time in bed and waked up late.

    Bye Katowice

    We picked our staffs and get a train to Katowice where we had a connection to go to Krakow. We decided to have a little walk and eat something at Katowice. Originally, after I meet Malwina in Bern we were about to stay here instead than in Gliwice. Aleksandra convinced me to do it in the other way. We enjoyed Gliwice, however Katowice seemed to have much more activities and life. Not only they had this beer festival, but next to the Constructivist style train station and in some squares of the city centre they had food trucks and music.

    We ate in one of them and followed the rhythm of a Cuban-Polish speaking coach teaching some Batuka or latin-aerobics in public.

    We didn’t have time to visit much more before getting in our train to Krakow.

    Krakow

    Situated in the Vistula River is the Second largest city of Poland. It is also one of the oldest cities. Capital of the Kingdom of Poland between the XI and the XVI century. It is a cultural city with several universities that bring the youth generations to be an important role of the city living.

    During the Nazi Occupation was the capital of the occupied territories and host one of the greatest ghettos. Pope Jean Paul II was archbishop of Krakow before been elected leader of the Catholic church.

    In Krakow, we inquiry the receptionist of our hostel about what to do and where to eat in the city. The girl was named Aleksandra as well and she really told us about the best non-touristic places to go. The touristic ones were already marked on the map of the city.

    Trusting on her, hand by hand, Elise and I went to discover the city. We walked through the doors of the city while a duet was playing Concerning Hobbits with two accordions. The old town of the city is like a medieval city really well preserved and full of bars and shops for tourists. Most of the entrances are open to the street as they link to internal patio full of more commerce. Some of them are well decorated with plants others are just empty patios.

    In the Market Square, in the other side of the Basilica of Saint Marie there was a stage and some folk music. There was also food trucks and long tables. We had a seat on one and a couple of dishes to dinner. Ok, this time we didn’t follow the advice of our receptionist, but we preferred to try the place before the fest ends.

    Krakow Market Square

    Market Square

    Krakow Market Square

     

    As Elise wasn’t feeling well that night we went back to our hostel to watch a film and rest. Meanwhile I did the laundry. Laundry finished at 4 am.

    29/08

    Auschwitz

    We had tickets to visit Auschwitz before noon so I waited till Elise felt like waking up next to her. From Krakow there’s a bus that takes you to the concentration camp in 1h30min. more or less and it drops you at the entrance of Auschwitz II here started our Tour. In the bus we had time to talk about my experience in Dachau and what I learnt about the second World War along this journey. Elise as always surprised me with her huge knowledge of the geopolitical situation in the past and in the present related to the Great War.

    The day was once again cloudy. I start thinking that it’s part of my luck to have cold cloudy weather whit a high probability of rain when I visit this kind of sites.

    Here we took the French tour as the English one was too early in the morning or too late. With us there was a Spanish couple as well. I understood most of the Tour, however I was confident that Elise will help me if I needed.

    The concentration camp of Auschwitz is free but with limited entrance per day. It is huge and well preserved. We took the tour not only to be sure that we will get an entrance, but also not to get lost. In Auschwitz II the former barracks host information of different aspects related to the holocaust: the contest, the reasons, how was life in the concentration and death camps, and many other aspects.

    Auschwitz

    Auschwitz

    Auschwitz

    Auschwitz

    Auschwitz

    Auschwitz

    Auschwitz

    Auschwitz

    Auschwitz

    Auschwitz

     

    Our guide wasn’t a passionate one. I know that it might be hard to tell about the sad stories behind this fences, but she wasn’t catchy or with a good script. I don’t know if I could have done better, but I’m sure I have had better guides. I remembered when I visited Alcatraz when I was a kid.

    In Auschwitz II the barracks are made of bricks and they look warm, however in Auschwitz-Birkenau there were of timber. From one to the other area of the concentration camp you can get with a free shuttle bus. There’s one every 10 minutes.

    Auschwitz

    Anecdote

    When we get out of Auschwitz II to go to Auschwitz-Birkenau it started to rain. So we went to pick our poncho at the luggage store room. As Elise was a bit sick from the previous day she toked with her. We get a snack while waiting to the shuttlebus and when we get to Birkenau it seemed that it has stopped raining. Once we cross the big entrance to Auschwitz-Birkenau it started to rain strongly.

    The guide suggests the group to get a poncho at the souvenir shop. There we went all the group to buy one poncho for 8 Zloty, not even 2€. I hadn’t cash enough but finally I managed to pay with credit card my new colourful poncho. When we went out of the shop I was about to wear it on when I realized that the rain has stopped.

    Most of the group was already wearing the poncho and they stayed all the tour with it. It didn’t rain anymore until we were on our way back to Krakow. However, it was funny to be the only group everyone with a different colour poncho.

    Auschwitz

    In these area of the Concentration camp is where the Nazis had their biggest or at least more effective gas chambers and crematories. There were the same prisoners the ones in charge to remove the bodies from the gas chambers to the crematories where they burned them. Those prisoners lived separated from the rest of the concentration camp and they were killed after 3 months to avoid having to many witnesses.

    The Germans, when the camp was about to be captured by the Russian they exploded all the gas chambers and the crematoriums to cover up what was the real activity of the buildings. Now the ruins stay as they were found and next to them there is a memorial for all the victims.

    That day, there was some kind of memorial as there were a lot of young Israeli Jews in groups in the area of the memorial.

    Auschwitz

    Auschwitz

    Auschwitz

    Auschwitz

    Auschwitz

    Auschwitz

     

    In Birkenau part of Auschwitz most of the barracks have disappeared. What remains is their stone-blocks chimneys. The extension is huge and it is divided by the railway in men and women areas. We visited the women area and heard about some stories that took place there.

    After the tour we went back to Auschwitz II and from there to Krakow. We went back to the hostel so Elise could rest a little bit more as she was not feeling perfect yet.

    Then we went for dinner. We went to a Pierogi place in the old town. Pierogi’s are a typical food form Poland. They are basically dumplings filled with meet, mushrooms, vegetable, cheese or even chocolate or marmalade. The bar was cosy and the two employees where teenagers. Probably working to afford their studies. They were a couple that failed not to make notice that they were together when they expressed their love to each other. It reminded when Elise and I started in our relationship in Malaga. We ended up talking about it.

    We could have taken some sweet pierogi at the same restaurant but I was feeling like having an Ice-Cream and Elise was feeling the same. We stopped two doors ahead on the same street at the first Ice-Cream store we found. It was far away from a good Ice-Cream. It was then when I realized that as I continue my way to the East, Ice-Cream would never be as the Italian or Spanish I like.

    But to make the taste of our frozen dessert we get to the square of the Conservatory where there’s a fountain illuminated with colour lights. The different squirtsof the fountain and the colours were dancing at the rhythm of some ambient music in the square. We recognized several songs like Mars from The Planets of Holst, that excited me; The Soundtrack of Pirates of the Caribbean; a Valls from Tchaikovsky, that we danced close to each other; and the Soundtrack of Finding Neverland, Elise’s favourite.

    We liked so much that after it ended we waited for a while in case it started again. Not to get cold standing there finally we move continuing our romantic walk along the garden where once was the walls of the city.

    30/08

    We enjoyed our time to wake up and get ready. No one was waiting for us. However, we are not people that sleep till late. Before 11:00 we were at the bar, Aleksandra, the receptionist suggested us for breakfast. It was a new bar next to the university that to get to be known among the students offers breakfast for 1 Zloty with a coffee. Coffee is only 7 Zlotys. There was no trick and the breakfast was good in quantity and taste.

    From our tasty and fulfilling breakfast we went to properly discover the city of Krakov. Once more we walked the Market square but this time we continued to the river, and the Castle. The old town was full of commercial activity towards the tourist. Restaurants were promoting themselves with flyers as during the night did the bars and strip clubs. It’s obvious that tourism is one of the big incomes of the city. At least of the old town.

    Krakow

    To get to the Castle we walked up the hill watching the panoramas to the Vistula river For many reasons it took us a while to get to the top. There as none of us was interested on visiting a puppet house, we avoided getting into the Castle. We chatted at the castle square about Poland and once again Elise surprised me with her political culture. Travelling with her I get to learn a lot. Then we visited the Church – Only the part with free entrance. It includes the catacombs where are buried some historic polish personalities. Unfortunately, it is avoided to take pictures here and there is security in every corner to control it.

    Krakow

    Krakow

    Krakow

    We went down from the hill of the cathedral through the other entrance. There we passed a wall full of names that we never knew what it was for. If anyone knows the reason, please drop a comment.

     

    We continued our walk to the former Jewish Ghetto of Krakow. It is located out of the old town at the south of it partially surrounded by the river. There we followed the path indicated at the entrance of the ghetto to pass by the main sightseen of the area. I wanted to visit some of the synagogues. However, to visit them you have to pay. The fact that Christian temples were for free but synagogues not took us into the discussion if religious temples should be for free or not. What do you think? We compared cases of several cities we know.

     

    Anecdote

    We were walking in front of the synagogue Remu, the one with the Jewish cementer chatting about the religious temples as I describe above. At the entrance of this temple there were a couple of young orthodox Jews dress in a black suit over a white T-Shirt, the typical curly hears and the black hat. One of them approaches to us and said something in polish to us. Our poker face made him understand that we didn’t speak Polish. Aware of that he asked to me in English if I was a Jew. I gave him a negative answer and continued my walk with Elise.

    Due to this event we made a parenthesis in our discussion to talk about when in Nice someone though that I was Arabic. We laughed about it and decided that I could be both. We hadn’t get far from the Synagogue when we saw a group of young Jews walking in that direction – Probably the same ones from Auschwitz.

    We thought that we could try to get in with the group and see if the access was or not free. Back to the synagogue. This time inside the same young Jew approaches us again and asked me again if I were Jew. First in Polish then in English. Elise and I had nothing else to do but laugh about what had just happened.

    The synagogue of Remu had free-entrance. Or at less we entered for free. The cementer in the other hand was payable. It didn’t look as attractive as the ones from Prague so we let it be.

    We walked the commercial street of the former ghetto looking for a place to eat to end up eating a kebab at the end of the street.

    We crossed the bridge to the other side of the Vistula where we visited St. Joseph Church.

    Krakow

    Back from the church we passed by the News CRICOTECA. This building made us discuss about the contemporary architecture. Also I explained Elise a bit about structures.

    Krakow

    Cricoteca

     

    Just on the other side we stopped again for a drink. Talking and talking a mid-age man came to our table and said something none of us understood so we answered him negatively. At first impression it looked as if he were begging money. Later he had a drink and seated on a table at the same terrace we were, but on the other side of the bar entrance. Another couple was in that side. In matter of 5 minutes this mid-age man started a conversation with them and moved to their table. I could feel how the woman of the couple was little by little more uncomfortable there. His couple, however, was more shy and excessively polite to stop this invading their space. As they couldn’t find a way to get rid of the unwelcome visitor, they ended up leaving the terrace.

    From this terrace we walked around the old town on it East side on the garden that surrounds the city. Talking and walking with Elise made hours come to be minutes and kilometres to seem metres. Without realising of it we were back in the area of our hostel. I’m know for walking fast, but I must admit this time we weren’t. We even stopped from time to time.

    As time for dinner was close we decided to try another of the suggestions of our receptionist Aleksandra. This time the speciality of the bar was fish and the bas was located face to the U.S.A Embassy. Once again we ate a delicious food for a really cheap price.

    Later on we had a meeting with my former housemate Kinga. We meet her at the square of the Conservatory. The one with the illuminated fountain that dances according to the music. The soundtrack of the night was the same than the previews day so I started to memorize the water effects.

    Krakow

    I meet Kinga in Malaga more than one year before. We livedtogether with Mr Kiayas. My first month with them was the only we left on our own and we get to create a good family. We spent to many nights at the sitting room talking about our lives. We shared a lot of experiences, feelings, good and bad feelings and supported each other. Probably for this reason I was happy to see her again after all this time.

    Kinga took us to two bars on the same square. In the first one we talked about our lives, about what we have lived together to set Elise in circumstance and what happened since then.

    In the second bar she made us try her favourite shot – She hadn’t one arguing that she had to drive back home, how impolite ;P

    Before going back home she gave us a fast tour of the Krakowian night life. We could find out there where a lot of Spanish speakers in Krakow.

    31/08

    Wieliczka Salt Mines

    We Woke up early in the morning, and get something to eat in the way. We knew that to get to Wieliczka Salt Mines we had to get a regional bus, but as we have been informed the stop was next where we get the bus to Auschwitz. This place is the bus station which is located on the other side of the train station. In Krakow the train Station is not only a train station, but a huge commercial centre. It took us a while to get to the other side to find out that the bus to Wieliczka was half way between the train station and our hostel.

    Once in the bus we discovered that the only way to buy the tickets for the bus was dealing with a machine. The problem we found is that the machine doesn’t take notes neither credit cards. Only the magnetic credit cards. We had no coins to work with the machine. Hopefully a guy that was watching us struggling with the ticket-vending machine gave us change so we could get our two tickets. At that time, we were already thinking on travelling illegally as we had no other choice.

    The tour started at 8:00 am. We were there before time. This time we get an English tour. Elise asked me to help her with the translation if needed but her English is perfect so she never got to need it. Our guide here was simply awesome. He was a Polish guy who really seemed to love his work. He made jokes about the facts of the galleries. There were easy jokes, but enough to make us smile and laugh.

    The Salt Mines of Wieliczka are probably one of the biggest mines in Europe. More than 2000 rooms deep underground connected like an ant colony. We just visited about 22 rooms in a depth of 150m under earth. The guide himself confessed that he just knew about the 10% of the total.

    Every room was made of salt rock. You could taste it. Roof floor and walls had been carved in the salt rock. However, as you may see in the photos, the galleries and some rooms where filled with timber. This timber helps the rock structurally so it won’t collapse.

    The Salt Mines of Wieliczka have come through several periods according to the new technologies of exploitation. Now a day it is no more a Salt Mine but a touristic activity. However, they steel getting salt from it from the phreatic water they pump out. Also, there still miners working on the mines but just to guaranty security of the visitors. Their tasks are more repairing galleries, cleaning accumulation of salt in rooms or replacing trunks.

    The tour was prepared to illustrate kids so some parts we skip them fast after a funny comment of our guide. Along the tour you get to understand how was working here. As our guide told us being a miner back in the days was a reputation job.

    Did you knew that…?

    There were Royal horses working in the mine? The horses get the name of “Royal” regarding that the mine belonged to the kingdom and now to the government. These horses where grown and then token into the Mines forever. There where special rooms for them. The horses were used to pull the cargo of salt and to work machines like the elevator. In contrast with the workers that worked in the mines for 8 hours and then they went to their homes in the surface, the horses only worked 3 hours, but once they were in the mines they never see again the light of the sun.

    There are several rooms of the mine that really took me to several scenes of The Lord of the Ring or The Hobbit. Probably Tolkien get his inspiration here to wrote about such underground dwarf mines.

    The tour was super exciting. We really appreciate our guide. Elise and I agreed that if it had been a boring lady like the one from Auschwitz, our experience at the mines could have been really annoying.

    img_2300-web

    img_20160831_092614-web

    img_20160831_093714-web

    img_20160831_095157-web

    img_20160831_101151-web

    img_2300-web

    img_20160831_085404-web

    I must admit that sometimes I felt like getting lost in the mines with Elise. But everything was well calculated by the team of tourist guys not to get in troubles. However, we get a bit lost at the end.

    Our tour guide left us underground at the souvenirs shop as happens in every visit. There he explained us how to get to the didactic room where they display a 3D video and the way out of the mines. Well we went to the didactic room, and then to the exit. We lined in what we thought it was the queue for the elevator. Some minutes later another guide divided the group in two. We ended with a group of Polish people visiting more rooms –  this time in Polish.

    At the end he took us to the elevator and back to the surface.

    Back to pick the bus we found out that we had no change to buy the ticket once again. This time I went asking one by one all the little food and souvenirs shops if they could change me 10 zlotys note in coins. No one speaked English and after a minute explaining myself, when they get to understand what I was saying they answered that they had no “little money” I ended buying a bottle of water to get it. When I get back to the bus station out bus was leaving. We had to wait 20 minutes for the next, but no big deal. Sun was shining and I was with Elise. What Else? I just came next to her and enjoy.

    Back to Krakow we went to eat something. It ended up being a kebab again and the afternoon we just enjoyed ourselfs all around Krakow as the following day was about to be the last day together. This time we didn’t know when we would see each other again.

    Late afternoon we met Kinga at the Conservatory square, with the music. She took us to an Ice-Cream store. It was good, but not as good as the Ice-Creams I have recently taken in Italy our I used to take in Spain. From there we walked a bit around the city and then we get to a beer bar with a Spanish name. I ended up asking Kinga why so many things were in Spanish in Krakow. She confessed me that there’s a big Spanish community in the South of Poland: Krakow and Wroclaw mainly.

    We chatted until late about Poland, Spain, Russia, the future and the past. Then we went back to our hostel. As it was a cold night Kinga took us by car. It wasn’t far away though.

    That night, the pressure of knowing that we were about to separate made presence, in a good and in a sad way.

    01/09

    We picked up our stuffs, double checked that we left nothing at our room and drop our bags at the luggage room of the hostel. AS we liked it so much, we went back to the 1 Zloty breakfast place next to the University. On the way there and after a long breakfast we were analysing how summer has ended in Krakow. Students in uniform were walking to the school. The University area was also more active. There still tourist in the streets, but for locals the summer was over.

    We walked once again the garden around the city and into the city. We tried to visit the tower of the church, but the only visit available was after my departure. We went to the tower at the Market building. It was a little disappointing. To visit you pay to visit as well a little exhibition of costume and history of Krakow, but everything is in Polish. The never offered us anything to help us understand what was all about. From the top the views are limited as you can’t get out to the balconies. Pity. My feeling was negative but probably in it the fact that I was going to say farewell to my love played the big part.

    img_20160831_184724-web

    img_20160901_150423-web

    For lunch we ate something at the Commercial centre of the train station, close to the bus terminal where I was about to get the bus to Warsaw, and later on Elise will get hers to Wien.

    We never get into silence, but everything was full of sadness. I don’t think I could smile as I always do. I was completely out of my mind with all these feelings. I almost get on the wrong bus. Hopefully Elise was there to correct my mistake.

    We said goodbye on the platform of the bus to Warsaw one minute before the bus left. I haven’t yet accommodated myself when the bus departed. I did take a place on the second floor of the bus next to the window where I could see Elise. She couldn’t see me at first instance but she stood up and waved her hand hoping I will saw her. I was shaking mine from the inside. When she got to see me I broke in tears.

    It took me some minutes to calm down and then I get out my book to help made the journey to Warsaw shorter.

    The first part of the way was over the highway, but later on the highway interrupts to became a normal two ways road. It seemed like the highway that connects Krakow to Warsaw, North and South was under construction.

    Warsaw

    In the Vistula river, it is the biggest city and capital of Poland. Today Warsaw is considered an “Alpha–” global city, a major international tourist destination and a significant cultural, political and economic hub.

    I get to Warsaw and it was already night. The bus terminus wasn’t at all next to the city centre. However, it was well connected by metro to it.

    Warsaw

    Here was waiting me a new Couchsurfer Host. She was feeling sick so she couldn’t come to pick me up. I know that if she had could, she would have done it. However, I had no problem to get the bus to her house. As it was late, she was already in bed waiting for me to get there.

    From the very beginning she happened to be a super generous person. She needed to rest so she let me accommodate myself after showing me her pretty clean cosy house. She lived at a 14th floor with amazing views of the old town.

    However, local people told me that the best top view of Warsaw is from the Centre of Culture and Science as it is the only place from where you can have a panorama of the city without the Centre of Culture and Science on it.

    02/09

    I wake up before Adrianna, my host, but I waited to wake up after her not to make much noise and let her rest. While I had a shower she prepared a delicious breakfast for both of us. We repeated this behaviour all the mornings I stayed at her apartment.

    While having breakfast she suggested me several places to visit in the city. I started thinking that three days would be too little time to visit all. Also I had the advices from Elise. This girl will never stop surprising me with her knowledge about the world.

    I could have taken the bus to the centre as I did the previous day to came to her apartment but in the way to the centre from her place there is a great garden and a couple of orthodox churches that I wanted to visit. Then I get to the statue of Charles De Gaule. It is located in the Palm crossroad. As Adrianna will explain me lately, there is always a police car below the palm to control the traffic. People in Warsaw call them, the Beverly Hills Cops.

    One of the streets that gets to this crossroad is the main commercial street of Warsaw and leads to the old town. It is Nowi Swiat. The street is full of bars, cafeterias with their correspondent terrace and lot of shops. Over this street there are also small gardens and open squares and the Presidential Palace. This street is full of history. It hosts the statue of Copernicus and the Holy Cross Church. This last one has at his entrance the statue of Jesus carrying a cross that came to be a symbol of the Uprising.

    img_20160902_110315-web

    img_20160902_111731-web

    At the end – or beginning – of the street, next to the old town, there is an open square with views to the new stadium built for 2012 World Cup. Next to it is the Royal Castle of Warsaw and the narrow streets of the old town.

    img_20160902_120649-web

    img_20160902_120954-web

    In the middle of the old town is the mermaid of Warsaw. Symbol of the city. As I promised to Adrianna I was about to research the legend of the Mermaid and here I drop you what I found in Wikipedia.

    img_20160902_123309-web

    The most common legend says that the mermaid was swimming in the river when she stopped on a riverbank near the Old Town to rest. Liking it, she decided to stay. Local fishermen noticed that something was creating waves, tangling nets, and releasing their fish. They planned to trap the offender, but fell in love with her upon hearing her singing. Later, a rich merchant trapped the mermaid and imprisoned her. Hearing her cries, the fishermen rescued her, and ever since, the mermaid, armed with a sword and a shield, has been ready to help protect the city and its residents.

    I sat in the square of the mermaid to write some letters, listen to the people that come to visit her and the beautiful music of a barrel-organ.

    I continued my visit north to south, east to west until I covered all the old town and exit on the other side of the city. I exit the city through the gate Barbakan Warszawski to a street full of restaurants for tourists. All of them says that they sell local food. But as you may have red before, it isn’t true. Instead of that I went to a kebab and I ate it on top of the wall watching the groups of tourists coming by.

    img_20160902_133136-web

    One thing I noticed on my morning walk that made me sad is that there are kids begging on the street. I remembered when that was common in my home town and I’m happy that it has been forbidden. Also, I remembered las winter when a guide in Morocco correct us from give money to a kid in Marrakech. He said that we shouldn’t give them money as that will support them to stop going to the school in order to look for tourists. Wise words.

    img_20160902_1543292-web

    img_20160902_155129-web

    img_20160902_161306-web

    img_20160902_172516-web

    Back on my way I cross again the city centre, passed by the Culture and Science Centre, to walk back to Adrianna’s place and visit on the way the garden next to her house. There I went to the military monument that commemorate the minesweepers – the people that deactivate mines.

     

    Back to Adrianna’s I rest a little bit and chatted with her about what to do next and our interests in life. Adrianna is a person full of references. No matter what subject she had books, films and documentaries to suggest me.

    In the night, she took me for a walk next to the Vistula river. The summer season is about to end in Poland but the weather still good so everyone is out, and there are food trucks all along the river. Adrianna took me to one where the cookers are refugees Every week they bring someone from a different nationality so local people can try the food from their countries.

    After eating we had a beer next to a stage with Cuban music. My first thought was that I hadn’t come that long to hear latin music. Then I wanted to believe that as it was an international fest it was justified.

    Adrianna told me about Warsaw and Poland. I get to learn my first concepts about the Uprising and the situation of Poland during the two great wars and after them. I felt a bit shame of knowing so little about their culture and history.

    We went home early as Adrianna wasn’t feeling 100% healthy. That allowed me to rest warm and long to be full of energy the next day.

    03/09

    Back again in the morning to the routine that won’t take longer than three days but makes me feel super comfortable. I really appreciate Adrianna and all what she’s offering me. Her way of thinking, her altruism and how she is generous comes to be an inspiration to me. If I ever live again with someone I hope to have this kind of understanding.

    During our morning chat Adrianna told me about her new project a new pastry shop in Warsaw but with an innovative style of creating pastry. As I don’t know if I’m talking too much about her idea, I’ll stop here. I offered her all my support as knowing how hardworking and perfectionist she is, I don’t doubt that she can get whatever she wants.

    As I already visited the city centre, this time I went to visit the big Lazienki Park that my beloved Elise suggested me. Adrianna also thought it was worth a visit. The garden is at the south of the city and it is huge. There are several styles combined and many monuments and statues. Chopin has the biggest one at one of the entrances. There’s a summer theatre, a Egyptian temple, a Roman mausoleum and a Chines garden. There is a lake and a river with fishes, ducks and swans and in the garden the squirrels approaches the visitors looking for food.

    img_2320-web

    img_2326-web

    img_2339-web

    img_2340-web

    img_2305-web

    img_2313-web

    After the garden I went back to the Palm crossroad where I had something for lunch and wait for the Communist Warsaw Free Tour. The tour shows to the visitors the old buildings of the Soviet Poland. The guide was pretty good and made us feel what was to live in the soviet time.

    Anecdote

    The guide explained how was Poland during the Soviet occupation, how live was and how that changed people behaviour. In front of the censors building he explained us about the censorship remarking the fact that this was happening not even 50 years ago. He also remarked the fact that it was not far from now when people had a rationalisation card. He showed to us one of them. It was at that point when a man from Hong Kong I’ve been talking with, standing next to me told me at my ear – They still have things like this in China.

    img_2353-web

    img_20160903_155333-web

    img_2350-web

    img_2348-web

    img_2346-web

    img_2361-web

    img_2358-web

    The tour ended at the Centre of Culture and Science, the emblem of Stalin in Warsaw after visiting the Constitution(s) square and other buildings of the communist government.

    From the big Soviet tower, I walked back to meet Adrianna at her place, but first I went to the Ice-Cream store she suggested me. It was supposed to be one of the best in Warsaw, however, it wasn’t as good as the Spanish or Italians but it was pretty good compare with other ice-creams I have tasted in the area.

    Back to Adrianna’s place we chat a bit I rest looking for my future trip to Ukraine and latter night she took me to dinner. We went to another area with food trucks. This time was an abandoned train platform transformed into an alternative food area. There where food trucks of all kinds. Thai, Mexican, Burgers, Sushi. In the area there were even a barber and a tattoo truck. Add the end of the platform there was an art exhibition. Food was more expensive here than the previous night. To be an alternative looking place, there were really fancy people and cars in the complex.

    We ate some Thai noodles and the most original was the Ice-cream in a warm bubble-crepe cone. First time I see something like that and I must say that I really like it. It’s an idea worth spreading worldwide.

    In Poland I started to realize that they weight the Ice-creams to be sure that they gice you the proper quantity of Ice-cream as it is expected.

    img_20160903_211756-web

    img_20160903_230058-web

    After our dinner we went back home where we had a tea while chatting about Polish politics and history, films, books, travellers’ biographies and the biography of A. Agasi. Why not? Once again, full of references, I went to bed.

    04/09

    Once again, after an amazing breakfast with a brain fulfilling conversation I went to the Jewish square. This area was completely devastated during the second World War. First was the greatest Ghetto of Poland. When the Uprising was completely destroyed. When the Russians get in Poland they ended the job taking to the ground every single stone.

    Now is an area where new contemporary buildings are rising. Banks, insurance companies and other big companies are building their headquarters. Now you can see the big skyscrapers insignia of the different companies in the area. Also in the area there’s the Synagogue. I tried to visit it but it was closed and surrounded by private security guards. Some kind of event was taking place inside.

    img_20160904_115941-web

    img_20160904_121755-web

    I visited then the church in front of the synagogue. Passing by the Square surrounded by all the skyscrapers I get to the museum of the Uprising.

    img_2370-web

    Note that the Uprising museum is free on Sundays.

    If you want to understand what happened in Warsaw during the Second Great War and to Poland. It’s worth visiting the Uprising museum. Inside is really chaotic, I found that the information is not properly in chronological order and unless you follow the numbers of the audio guide it’s easy to get lost. I took my time to listen every single track of the audio guide and learnt as much as I could.

    In the museum, among the several audiovisual features, there’s a 3D animation of how was the city after the War. If you compare it with the time before the war and how is now, you might understand how vast was the destruction.

    img_20160904_134643-web

    The Warsaw Uprising

    In short terms, as the Nazis started losing territory against the Russians, the Polish government in the exile in London and the resistance in Poland started to organise themselves. Not wanting to fall under the control of the Russians after the Nazis, to claim their independence they upraised in Warsaw against the Germans. The idea was to defeat the Germans before the Russians at the time the Russians get to the city. Unfortunately, the Soviets were one step forward. When the red army get to the boarders of Warsaw, they stopped their army at the other side of the Vistula and waited till the Germans and Polish destroyed themselves and weakened their forces. Once the Polish revolution was exterminated and the city destroyed, then, the Russians attacked the weak Nazis and took control of the city. The Polishes in London tried to claim the independence of Poland, but neither of the big allies’ countries wanted to get in troubles with the Soviet Union.

    I spent the afternoon looking in every single bookstore open in Warsaw for a book to thank Adrianna. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find none of the 3 books I was looking for anywhere.

    img_2371-web

    That night we didn’t went out for dinner, but we cooked together at home. We created a combination of Spanish “Pisto” with a similar Polish recipe. I liked a lot cooking chatting with Adriana.

    During the day the weather came to be sunny to rainy. But the big storm arrived while we were cooking. First you could hear the wind heating the windows and see the dancing without control. Later the raindrops start heating strongly the windows. Little by little the buildings and the beautiful panorama view from Adriana’s started to disappear in the rain. The thunders started to make a strong presence and then ice rocks started falling from the sky against the windows.

    The wind was so strong that let the water leak inside the house through the windows. Together we made sure to cover every single leak with towels to avoid any mayor damage. Adrianna was a bit scary and I felt like excitement. It was awesome to be together at that time. The contrast of our emotions gave us stability and security to both of us. After several minutes the storm stopped and the only noise was the sound of Police and ambulances along the highway. The accumulation of cars in one way proved that something happened on the road.

    Back to our dinner we went to our rich conversations and as always dinner was not only food fulfilling but let my mind full of new ideas anecdotes and references.

    05/09

    Next morning the rain continued but lightly. I took time to find a BlaBlaCar and a hostel in my next destination Lvov. I amused myself talking with Adrianna and having a look to her Manga about Jesus and Buda.

    When there was time to leave Adrianna gave me an amazing letter with the most beautiful words any host has told me and with a load of the references we talked during my time in Warsaw.

    After a big hug and doing my best to express Adrianna how much I did appreciate her kindness and generosity I left to meet the guy who was about to take me to Ukraine. We met next to the Centre of Culture and Science. I left Warsaw from the same point I started to discover it.

  • Blog
  • Germany the Great

    The travel across Germany continues over the capital city of the Holy Roman Empire, the city of Johann Sebastian Bach and the rebuilt Leipzig where I met UltraMadNuss before getting to Gorlitz

    Nuremberg

    Nuremberg is a city full of history. Founded in the Medieval ages between Franconia and Bavaria has been of grater symbolism in many periods. Unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire was with Augsburg one of the main trade cities between the south and the north of Europe. It was in Nuremberg where the kings of Germany must hold their first Imperial Diet. It also took great importance during the Nazis, as it was the site of the massive Nazi Party conventions – the Nuremberg rallies. To lately be the host of the Nuremberg Process were the Nazis where judge of their war crimes and crimes against humanity in the first process after the Second World War.

    In Nuremberg I stayed in a hostel. After installing myself I started talking with the girl at the reception. She showed me what to visit in a map and we stayed talking for a while. I had a seat at the reception to look for some information in Internet and we kept on talking about activities and sites to visit during the weekend.

    Once I realize that most of the places to visit Agnes will want to visit them as well I decided to spend the rest of the evening cooking something healthy at the hostel and chilling a little bit.

    At the hostel apart to increase my friendly relationship with the German girl at the reception, I had a couple of anecdotes.

    Anecdote

    While cooking and dinning several guests passed by the kitchen and dining room. One, a German guy, long and tall with blond mid-long hair. Probably it wasn’t the first that came to the room, but the first I remember as he completely ignored my intention of making friends when he didn’t answer my salutation. I spoke clearly and in a proper tone to be heard, but he didn’t even turn around. As if I were talking with someone else when there was no one else at the kitchen at that time. He ate some cereals with milk seated at the long table in the middle of the room looking in the opposite direction of where I was.

    Later a couple of Asian girls came and ate precook food at the table at the end. I just keep with my cooking without saying nothing this time. A single girl, sat as well at the table at the rear of the room looking towards the kitchen. The long tables of the hostel were in matter of minutes all with someone. The only conversation was between the Asiatic girls.

    After a while, the guy that avoid my existence stud up and sat next to the single girl at the last table. He introduced himself, sat in front and they starting talking together. Couple of minutes later he bought a couple of beers at the reception desk and they move to the terrace. Note that the terrace was just a platform in a parking courtyard.

    I ate my dinner and stayed at the kitchen updating my social networks. When the hostel closed the terrace both came back in. At that time, I was talking with the reception girl that I was about to stay at the hostel this night to rest a bit and update my blog when they arrived. As we finished talking the blond girl with the German guy ask her which options they had to hang out that night. Once they thought what they were about to do, the girl came to me and ask me if I would like to join them. I, completely surprise that she asked me looked to the tall blond guy behind her. He was at least as surprised as I was. I could read in his face how this wasn’t part of his plan. Not to make him a favour, moreover to be consequent with my previous decision, I gently reject the offer.

    Anecdote

    The second event that touch me that night happened late night. I still at the kitchen watching a TV program, eating chocolate and drinking the little white wine that remained from cooking. I was seated at the first table from where I can see all the others. From time to time there was guest that came in and went out from the room. This time the anecdote is about a girl. She came talking on her phone. She had a seat a couple of tables inside facing towards me. She was crying. That touch me. I started to wondered how could I help her? What might have happened? I felt that something has happened to her that was out of her control and she could do nothing but accept her new circumstance.

    A previews me would have gone to ask her after she hang out the phone. However, at that time I considered better to do nothing. People sometimes just need time to accept their circumstances. All that I get from her quebequois French among tears is that she was supposed to travel with a friend and now she was on her own.

    I thought to tell her to join me the next day to Bamberg, but again, this time I decided to let her. From the couple of times she looked at me I may dare to say that she realized that if she need something she can tell me. At least is what I was feeling and wanted to transmit her when our eyes looked to each other.

    To be sure that she understood my message, before getting to my room, I approached to her table and gave her the chocolate I saved for her. Without words, she just gave me back a soft smile while holding his phone next to her ear.

    20/08

    Full of energy after a chilling night I went to Bamberg instead of visiting Nuremberg. Agnes was about to arrive along the day to Nuremberg and I considered more appropriate to visit the city with her.

    Bamberg

    Bamberg is a medieval city at the north of Nuremberg over the river Regnitz. Most part of the town is a UNESCO world heritage site since 1993.

    I had no previous idea of this city. However, I kind of like to go visiting small cities and villages next to my main destinations. As in Regensburg I simply get lost myself among the streets of the village. A part from the Dome of Bamberg, the city hall in the middle of the river with its decorated facades might be the more interesting point of the city. Another sightseeing is the convent of St. Michael on the top of the hill. From there you can have a great panorama of what is Bamberg, a medieval city centre surrounded of a modern city. As the city is located between a group of several islands in the river, it is full of bridges.

    Bamberg

    Bamberg and the river Regnitz

    Bamberg City Hall

    City Hall of Bamberg

    View from St. Michael

    Panorama of Bamberg

    St. Michale Abbey

    St. Michael Abbey

    I spent in Bamberg the morning and I went back to Nuremberg in the afternoon to meet Agnes at the hostel. She happened to found a bed not only in the same hostel as me, but also at the same room.

    The afternoon we went to visit the Nuremberg Process Memorial. As it is not in the city centre, we went there with the underground.

    The Nuremberg Process Memorial is the building where took place the trial against the crimes committed by the Nazis during the Second World War. It is basically a trial room, room 600 which still host trials today and a room on top of it with a lot of information about the relevance of this process. Again, the visit could have taken the full day. We didn’t get to visit it all as we had to hurry up as they were closing.

    Room 600

    Room 600

    Justice at the room 600

    German and Roman justice at the Room 600

    For sure, it is worth visiting this memorial to learn how the process changed our world. A part from being the first war trial, it is here where direct translation sat their importance. This trial was the precedent of the actual Haya Tribunal and of other international organisations.

    After visiting this Memorial, I get to understand what happened at this court after the II World War. Also I won’t forget, that one way or another, more fair or not, people in favour or against this process and its results, it was the winners of the war the ones that sentenced the looser. Another fact that I liked to learnt is how Germans dealt with their terrific past since then.

    Dear reader! If you have ever visited this place or have interest for these historic event, please share your point of view and opinion in a comment. I’ll love to read it.

    After this, in terms of new information, intense visit to the Nuremberg Process Memorial we walked back to the centre of Nuremberg. As it was Agnes’ last day in Germany we walked up to the Castle visiting the main sightseeing of the city. After the castle we followed the city medieval wall back to the hostel. After a German Kebab we went for a beer in a courtyard at the defensive wall of the city next to our hostel.

    21/08

    Agnes had to leave to the airport before noon so we woke up early to have a walk and something for breakfast. Hopefully the previous day we get to visit most of the interesting points of the city cause at the end this morning we hadn’t time to.

    In the way to lunch a Rumanian bus driver, heard us talking Spanish while we were walking and came to us. After asking us if we were Spanish and finding out the origin of Agnes accent he started his monologue. He told us about his qualities recognising languages, about how many countries he had left at, how many languages he speaks and about his believe of a third world war about to come. Winter is coming! He told us about his geopolitical approaches and believes, but never let us talk. After a long monologue where we couldn’t express our point of view we left him in order to have a breakfast. We had no more time left.

     

    After saying farewell to Agnes and thank her for joining me on my trip with a warm hug at the train station I took the U-Bhan to the Reichtsparteitstageländen.

    The Reichtsparteitstageländen is an area at the southest of Nuremberg bigger than the city centre of the city. This area was originally a garden and houses that the Nazis demolished to create the area designed for the rallies or Nazi demonstrations. In the area, Albert Speer, the architect of Hitler designed several buildings for the different events and commemorations. Where is now located Luipolds garden was the memorial for the deaths during the war. The Congress Hall is now the museum that explains the relevance of the Nazi party rally grounds and of Nuremberg during the Nazi period and the war. The last big area is the Zeppelin field now a sort of sports arena.

    Zeppelin Arena

    Zeppelin field

    zeppelinfeld-historic

    Zeppelin Arena

    Zeppelin Field

    Most of the buildings are preserved in ruins and the Luipold Arena has been transformed in a garden. The architecture was thought to demonstrate how great was the Reich and how little every single human. This was achieved with classical architecture oversized. After being there and watched the videos of the demonstrations, I can perfectly imagine how a single soldier in the crowd may have felt as part of the Nazi army.

    img_1906-min

    Luipold Arena

    Reichsparteitag 1933, Aufmarsch der Fahnen der SA

    Reichsparteitag 1933, Aufmarsch der Fahnen der SA

    Once again, I spent a couple of hours visiting the museum at the Congress Hall. Not to talk too much about this area, I suggest you to visit it.

    Reichtsparteitstageländen Museum

    Reichtsparteitstageländen  Museum

    Congres Hall

    Reichtsparteitstageländen Hall

    Late afternoon I went back to the city centre with the S-Bahn and walked again as I did with Agnes but this time taking more time to visit every single building and wandering around every corner.

    Nuremberg

    Panorama of Nuremberg

    Nuremberg

    Nuremberg and the river Pegnitz

    Relax in Nuremberg

    For the sunset I sat bellow the Imperial Castle in a beer bar full of people. I felt like doing what people does to see what it feels. Back to the hostel I bought something to eat.

    Anecdote

    After dinner, on the way to the hostel, happy of all what I was living and discovering, hearing music, I walked dancing and singing at the time I have an Ice-cream. If you don’t know me, imagine a skinny guy that looks like 35 years old with a chocolate ice-cream dancing and singing. Like that I walked all along the city walls of Nuremberg in his interior side. To my surprise, all of a sudden, in one of my multiple jumps and 360º turn I saw at my left a red façade full of windows with neon lights coming out from the interior. One every three was closed, but the others were open with a mid-age “lady” lack of clothing looking at me with a smile in her face. I was in the red district of Nuremberg licking an ice-cream. How appropriate, isn’t it?

    You can Imagine my reaction. My face turned as red as the walls of the red district. Pretending that nothing has happened and laughing in my interior I continued my way to the hostel.

    That night at the hostel I talked with the Canadian girl before going to bed and from her experience I am just going to say that “shit happens”. She was much better and positive despite what happened.

    22/08

    In the morning I prepare myself and left Nuremberg and the Bavarian region to go to Saxonys biggest city Leipzig

    Leipzig

    Leipzig was one of the great trade cities since the Holy Roman Empire as it was located between the routes East-West and North-South of central Europe. For this reason, it has been as well a great cultural city.

    I came to Leipzig just for one day before meeting Magnus at Dresden. For this reason, I just had a fast walk at the city centre. The city is a mixture of modern buildings and historic ones. It is visible in the streets how the destruction during the war, the communism and the further transformation has left place to contemporary buildings between the historic ones. I guess there has been many debates regarding these interventions. The commercial activities are present in every street of the old town.

    In Leipzig I visited the church of St. Thomas where is buried Johann Sebastian Bach and which organ has been played by Mozart, Wagner and Beethoven. I went to the church of St. Nicholas in the city centre, and the Art Museum.

    160822135617-min

    Neues Augusteum

    img_1962-min

    Thomaskirche

    img_1959-min

    Perimetral Garden

    img_1955-min

    Reicsgericht

    img_1952-min

    City Hall

    Not to late I get in the train to Dresden. My friend Magnus was already there waiting for me.

    Dresden

    Is the capital of the eastern German state of Saxony that needed to be fully reconstructed after controversial American and British bombing of Dresden in World War II. This city was well known for his baroque and rococo style.

    In Dresden I met Magnus at the train station. He came along with her friend Michelle.

    Magnus also called “UltraMadNuss” is a sportive guy from Berlin that I had the chance to meet at the “Camino de Santiago” (Way to Santiago) last Easter. With him, Charly, Taka and Britt we made a team that use to walk between 40 and 50 km per day. That was my place.

    Magnus then told me that he would love to meet me in my “theRodTrip” and he did. Also he came with a challenge for himself. He was about to run from Dresden to back to Berlin on his own. This guy is awesome.

    After encountering Magnus, we went to meet his friends, Jonas and Patricia. This couple with their little son Mark hosted us the two nights we stayed at Dresden. We met them at a bar where burgers were half price. Nice deal for supper.

    Later I walked with Magnus to the northern part of the river to a garden where was expected to be the party place of Dresden. I wasn’t surprise that it wasn’t. However, we had a seat on the grass and had a beer while talking about our recent life, our experiences and thoughts. It happens that Magnus and I we had a lot of ideas in common. We both like challenges and to enjoy life in a healthy way. Don’t misunderstand me, we also like beer, meat and kebabs.

    Dresden Nichts

    Dresden Nicht’s

    From the garden in the way back to the tram we stopped at a tavern with craft beer to take a drink. There, seated at the bar, we had the chance to talk to the bartender and talk with him about our future adventures. Magnus is this kind of friend that will support my craziness.

    Back to the house we were staying, that was out of the city we share a nice romantic night walk continuing our conversation talking about friendship and love.

    23/08

    In the morning, we went for breakfast with Magnus friend Michelle at a bar she use to work. There the deal was 10€ for a coffee with a huge buffet all you can eat included. Stomach filled we went for a walk on the city centre. It was then, walking along the rebuilt buildings when I realized that two Christmas from now I stopped in Dresden in the way to Berlin. It was such a fast stop that I barely remembered.

    Super Breackfast

    Breakfastslow

    Walking the Zwinger, the opera house and along the Elbe river Magnus and Michelle explained to me how the city was bombed by the Allies in revenge for London bombing. The city was completely destroyed and rebuilt after the war brick by brick. It’s easy to distinguish in the walls which bricks and stones are originals and which are new.

    160823113515-min

    the Zwinger

    160823112937-min

    Opera House

    Next to the river we had a long talk with a man that was selling gravures with nice texts about zodiac and professions. Unfortunately, there were only in German so it is hard to sell them to tourist. In their talk, Magnus offered help to translate them to English. It wouldn’t be him who commit the translation but her cousin who works on it.

    We continued our walk back to the city centre passing by the two big churches. We were about to get in the Frauekirche but there was a lot of people coming in at the same time, so we decided that it was not worth. So we went shopping.

    Magnus needed some stuff for his next-day run to Berlin. I, after been thinking of renewed my backpack I decided that if I saw a good one no so expensive I will do it. We went to several sport shops and at the end I get one new rucksack.

    We ate something together next to the fountain at the main commercial street studying how the bubble-makers’ business worked in the city.

    In the afternoon we went to see Jonas teaching Badminton. Jonas and Magnus knows each other as both are teachers of these speciality. Jonas told me that they had really good players from here that even get to play international competitions. They are all teenagers though.

    It was nice to see how is a badminton class with Madnus explaining me what is every exercise for. It not all about strength, also about coordination, technic and strategy and there are exercises to improve all these aspects.

    As we both like to walk, we took the long way back home. In other terms, we get a bit lost in our way back. My orientation skills didn’t work that day as good as the previous and the GPS played a little bit with us. Anyway we get home with pizzas to share with Patricia who was trying to sleep Markus.

    While we cook the pizzas I move all my stuffs from one backpack to the other and I gave my old one to Magnus.

    Before getting to bed I chatted with Jonas about his house. He wanted to make a second floor and he asked me for advice. He also explained me about badminton, the competitions and the kids he’s teaching.

    We went to bed early as next day Magnus started his way running to Berlin.

    24/08

    160822233233-min

    ready for the adventure

    Early in the morning, we went with our backpacks to the train station where I left mine and then I get Magnus’ and a bike to follow him running. We did together 15km along the Elbe river to the North. Then we stop for a coffee in a little coffee shop. Back to the river we get in different ways next to a signal of the “Camino de Santiago”. How symbolic.

    160824093643-min

    Farewell UltraMadNuss

     

    When saying farewell after a big hug that made me sad I confess Magnus how happy I was to encounter him in life. Is the people like him that push me forward to achieve my dreams. He admitted that he felt quite a similar feeling.

    I ride back to Dresden and once in town I visited the Frauekirche. As it was no weekend there was less people visiting it. Then I went to the train station and get in a train to Gorlitz, my last stop in Germany.

    160824104310-min

    Leipzig at the horizon

    img_1990-min

    Leipzig Old Town

    img_1996-min

    Gorlitz

    Gorlitz is a little village in the boarder with Poland. Actually I may said, it is divided in two by the boarder that goes along the river that divides the city. In the other side of the river there is the city of Zgorzelec. Gorlitz is not at all a touristic destination. However, recently it has get increase the number of visitors after been in films like Inglorious Bastards. It is a really well preserved city from the time before the war. The old town is more medieval, but the immediate surroundings still keep the beauty of the XVIII and XIX century German architecture and urbanism.

    I get to the train station of Gorlitz, but my hostel was already in Zgorzelec. So actually, I was sleeping in Poland already. The train station here wasn’t as fancy as all the others I had visited in Germany. Was it because it is a village? Or because it was in the boarder?

    img_1997-min

    View of Germany from Poland

    I went to my hostel where no one speaks English so I had to manage with my bare knowledge of German and after install myself I went to visit the village before everything closed.

    I only get to visit the cathedral on time.

    Anecdote

    At the cathedral which is free entrance I was taking pictures when someone approaches me. It was one of the guys in charge of the building. He told me that I had to pay 2€ to take pictures. I still do not understand why you have to pay for taking a picture. Any clue?

    After the cathedral I walked the city with no destination admiring the facades and the churches and other public buildings that I came across. I ended up buying one big spicy kebab and ate it next to the river watching the sunset reflected in the polish side.

    The bridge that link both countries turns to a fountain when the night comes. It was a nice spectacle to finish the day.

    25/08

    Next morning, I wasn’t in a hurry to get my train to Wroclaw as Elise was about to get late night there. I decided then to visit some of the little churches in Gorlitz that the previous day were close when I passed by.

    160824183956-min

    Beer bath

    160824192247-min

    Streets of Gorlitz

    They were preparing some kind of event in the village and It seemed to me that the event was about to take place in both sides of the river. That was a proof to me that in both countries they live as a single village. The big difference regarding other villages is that here, Tabaco and Alcohol shops are most of them next to the bridge in the Polis side of the river.

    After lunch I get on the train to Wroclaw.

    As always I sat in a two face two seat. Here there was no table. Little later than our depart, a lady came to me. She started talking me in German but when she found out that I speak no German she changed to English. She asked me for something of value I was carrying with me. Not need to be of economic value, but of personal value. She explained to me that this was part of an art campaign to celebrate the train link between Dresden and Wroclaw.

    After thinking for a while, I explained him that nothing I was carrying has a significant value to me. I recently get rid of everything and what I’m taking with me is just useful. If I happen to be stolen or lose anything I will have to struggle more with the fact of not being able to use this facility than with the symbolic lost. I realized that the most valuable thing I am carrying with me is my life.

    As she didn’t find a clear answer she asked me for the object that has been more time with me. Almost everything is barely new. Just few things are older than one year. Then I realize that my watch has been with me for much longer. I get it long long time ago with my uncles in the Caribbean Sea. I told her and I offered to her to paint it.

    While she was painting my watch she told me what was all these about. It seems that for long time there was no train connection between Dresden and Wroclaw due to political issues. Two cities of big commercial importance in Germany and Poland lack of a fast connexion like the train. Recently they had link them with these line and to celebrate the school of art of Dresden together with other sponsors from Dresden and Wroclaw were supporting this art activity in the train.

    I keep asking her about this issue and then we end up talking about her career and my journey. Her college after finishing her painting sat next to us and joined us in the chat. If it wasn’t because they had to continue painting, we might have spent all the journey to Wroclaw talking.

  • Blog
  • Over Switzerland and the Alps

    Old Bridge of Luzerne

    Achieving a dream, across Switzerland I discovered a land I had in my mind for long time. I miss Geneva, but travelled across Lausanne, Bern, Luzern, Basel and end up partying in Zurich.

    09/08

    Wake up in Milan. Breakfast in the way to the train station and here comes the stress. At the amazing fascist train station of Milan there was a huge queue to get the train tickets. I just had 20 minutes to be on my train and with the Interrail pass I couldn’t get my ticket in the automatic machines. It would have been faster that way. The train of my friend was leaving 10 minutes before mine. She had to leave and my stress kept my mind away of the fact that it might be a long time from now that we meet again.

    After a long cosy hug, she left and I came back to the queue. I get my train ticket just 5 minutes before the departure of the train. More than enough! The travel was comfortable and the landscape better and better as we get across the Alps. Tunnels and viaduct were one after the other. Huge trees al around and big mountains and not to forget the clouds and could weather. We were in the Swiss Alps. I stope in Brig as first stop in Switzerland. There I catch a train to Bern. This train was an Intercity train, less fancy, but much better than any of the trains of the same category in Spain, France or Italy.

    Anecdote

    At the train from Brig to Bern I was traveling with my backpack in the seat next to me.

    Photo with my backpack.

    I normally seat where seats are face to face with or without table. I like this place as it is where you can meet more people. However, this time I was on my own. In the upper flor of the train, next to me, in the other side of the corridor, there was a couple chatting and using their Mobil phone. The train was almost empty.

    When we arrived to Bern I get my backpack on my back and walk downstairs to exit the train. Just in the stairs the guy seated next to me, tall, pale skin and blond hair stopped me.

    “Hi Rodrigo” he said to me.

    I was impressed, how did this guy knew me? Have we met before? I answered back with my best poker face not to show how confuse I was. “Hi”

    He introduced himself and ask me about my trip to Australia. Then I realize that he has checked my website on the ride. We talked about this adventure while we get down from the train. He even asked me where I was about to stay in Bern. I wonder if he was about to offer me an accommodation. Anyway, I had a couchsurfer waiting for me.

    Bern

    I get to Bern a couple of hours before my appointment with my couchsurfer host. Load with my backpack I decided to go for a walk on the city to see a bit of it. Bern city centre is enough small that I get to visit it all even the interior of the cathedral in that time. I was dressed to a warm sunny weather and here it was cold and it even started raining after a while. “Welcome to winter!” I thought.

    City Centre of Bern

    Old town of Bern

    Malwina, my host is originally from Poland. She picked me up at the train station and after buying some stuffs at the supermarket she took me to her place.

    It happens that in Switzerland they have to main supermarket companies, Coop and Migros. If you are a real Swiss you just go to one of those grocery stores. The others are no national so are unquestionable. But really surprise me that even if the price and the products are almost the same, each citizen grow up going to Coop or to Migros and you can distinguish families according to where they do the grocery.

    At home we had dinner and chat about architecture, as Malwina is as well an architect, about Switzerland, and Poland. She recommends me a couple of places to visit en bith counties and she told me what was to be a Polish intern in a Swiss architectural studio.

    After the nice dinner, we went to bed.

    10/08

    Lausanne

    I woke up with a little headache and feeling pain in my throat. I was getting seek. Getting cold and wet the previous day had its consequences. However, a little pain is not going to ruin my day, not at the beginning of my trip. I had a shower, some cookies and fruit to breakfast and I went to the city centre of Bern with Malwina. She had to work and I decided to go visiting Lausanne. The time forecast predicted sun there and rain and clouds for Bern.

    This time in the train I had not the chance to talk with no one. As I was feeling sick I tried to rest a bit more, but the landscape attracted me so much.

    Lausanne is a city in the lake Leman in the boarder with France next to Genève and in front of the French city of Neuvecelle. It’s a small city with no more than 150k inhabitants. The city is located in a hill in front of the lake so the streets are sometimes quite steep. It’s not much of a challenge, but it’s not what I will recommend you if you have a headache.

    At the central square there is a market and a great building which hosts the public library and several science museums. The building itself appealed me so I came in. the building is distributed by a great main staircase that traverse the building from the front to the rear of the building crossing the patio in the middle. From these stairs in every floor there is a different museum or the library. All of them arranged by sections. From the top of the stair there is a nice view downwards.

    Library of Lausanne

    Library of Lausanne

    From here I went uphill and what would you say I found on the hill in the city centre? Yes, a church. The cathedral of Lausanne and a nice panorama view from some kind of wall. I thought is part of an ancient defensive wall but now is more a panorama garden.

    Panorama of Lausanne

    Panorama of Lausanne

    I was walking really slow that day, I could feel how fast I run out of energy and had to do everything slower. At the church I stopped for a while and admire the sculpture in the “solarium” they have on one side. If you have a look to the windows here, they are prepared to recover energy from the sun.

    From now on, the way was downhill to the lake. I cross the city through the more commercial streets. It was full of activity. It is evident that people likes to go for a walk on sunny warm days. I wonder how it is in winter time. Also, the city was full of tourist or where them immigrants from all Europe? I could hear Spanish, Italian, English, a melting pot of languages. Well, they were both, Immigrants and tourist. Most of the times it was easy to distinguish one from the other.

    Gardens of Lausanne

    Gardens of Lausanne

    Across several gardens I got to the lakeside with some food I bought in a supermarket. Switzerland is expensive I can tell that. One salad a sandwich and some juice around 10 Euros.

    At the lakeside I sat next to the exit of the sailboats at the shade. Watching people picnicking and others amusing themselves in their boats. I thought that someday, probably not far from now I have to improve my sailing skills to go sailing. I even suggest myself to go asking someone in the shipyard if I could come on board with them and help him on the boat. If I hadn’t got this pain on my head and I had felt much more awake and not this lack of energy I would have done it. Next time might be.

    Shipyard of Lausanne

    Shipyard of Lausanne

    As the city wasn’t a big thing and I wasn’t feeling good I just rested watching the activity in the lakeside.

    On my way back to the train station I took the way through the Olympic Games Museum. Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games were taking place at the time I passed by, and you can feel it on the Museum. They were even recording the name of Rio de Janeiro in the stairs.

    Stairs of the Olympic Games Mussem

    Stairs of the Olympic Games Mussem

    Around the Museum there is a wonderful open space perfect to chill out. I didn’t. The heat of the sun on my head was making me feel worst.

    On the train back to Bern I slept and when I woke up at Bern I felt a bit better. In Bern I went again for a day walk. Here, as the forecast predicted, it was mostly clouded and raining from time to time. But when the sun shined the panorama was beautiful.

    Panorama of Bern

    Panorama of Bern

    That night when Malwina catch me up we went to the supermarket to buy the necessary vegetables to prepare a Pisto. I wanted to grate her for been so kind hosting me. The Pisto was good regarding that we couldn’t find everything.

    Even if I was tired I couldn’t sleep until late. There was something happening with my body. I did my best as next they I had to wake up early to go visiting Luzern before getting to Basel.

    11/08

    I woke up almost recovered of my sickness. No headache, no feeling uncomfortable on my throat. What I did was to cover myself all night even if I was feeling hot. Sweeting while sleeping helped me.

    In the morning I went to the top of the Church of Bern before getting my train to Luzerne. The panorama from there is worth the visit. Unfortunately, some areas were close as they were under restoration.

    Panorama of Bern from the tower

    Panorama of Bern from the tower

    Luzerne

    The day was shining in Luzerne and since I get out from the modern train station I felt radiant. Everything was colourful and I could feel something positive all around.

    Luzerne is a city in the lakeside of a lake named before the city. It is located in the German area of Switzerland and is almost the same side of Lausanne. However, this city looks more modern at the time that it had more historical remains. At least that was my first impression.

    Next to the train station there is a modern building that is the Art Museum. In front of both buildings there is an esplanade that ends in the lake with the city centre at the other side of the bridge.

    Something that made my visit to Luzerne particular is that I did it all carrying my backpack. I tried to drop it at one of the storage at the train station but they were all taken and after almost 45 minutes waiting I decided to carry it on with me not to waste more time at the train station.

    To get to the other side I crossed the old wood bridge with the stone tower. I think this is the main picture of Luzerne. A bridge with colour flowers in both sides that shine with the reflection of the light over the blue lake. The swans and duck make the picture even more fantastic.

    Timber Bridge of Luzerne

    Bridge of Luzerne

    In the city centre I did a circular tour counter clockwise starting with the Cathedral and then to the garden of the Lion Carved on the Rock. This Lion is a memorial to the Swiss soldiers that died at the French court of Louis XVI when the French revolution took place. During this period, it seems that 40 000 Swiss soldiers were fighting under other countries or states banners. This regiments were named the Swiss mercenaries.

    Cathedral of Luzerne

    Cathedral of Luzerne

    Lion Memorial

    Lion Memorial

    Luzerne is more a flat city however it has some hills. They are not as high neither the streets as steep as those of Lausanne, though. However, the city walls and the defensive towers of the ancient Luzerne where on top of one of them. I was feeling good so loaded with my 13kg backpack I went up to the top of the wall and the first tower and the second, and the third. As I was enjoying very much all the exercise I was doing up steep narrow stairs encountering people and for sure the panoramas from the top I even climb the forth tower. It was worth doing it.

    Panorama of Luzerne

    Panorama of Luzerne

    Back to the ground to the lake level I just get myself lost walking in the city centre. Most of the buildings here are historical and they are decorated with paintings on the walls. It would be like graffitis but from the XVI or XVII century. The show some of the traditions of the local people at that time.

    The lakeside was full of activity. There was a lot of people, mostly tourist walking along the lake, others having a drink or grabbing a bite at the terraces. There were also those who played music or entertained the kids with foam bubbles to get some cash in reward. As the day was sunny and I was feeling great but tired I went to the nearest supermarket where I bought myself a Sandwich and a drink. This time I manage to spend no more than 7 Euros. I’m improving my skills here.

    Luzerne lakeside

    Luzerne lakeside

    I sat down in the esplanade in front of the Art museum and the train station watching once more the boats, the people and the swans.

    Old Bridge of Luzerne

    Old Bridge of Luzerne

    At about 17:00 I get on the train on my way to Basel where my second couchsurfer host met me at the train station.

    Basel

    Once in Basel I encounter Jenni, my new host. She is a Swiss journalist who studied and grew and now works in Switzerland. However, whenever she can she likes to go travelling. This time there weren’t many conversations about architectural technical topics. This time we talked more about art, history and Swiss topics.

    With her I learnt how Switzerland is organised by Cantons and how laws and taxes are different regarding the different Cantons. Also she told me about Switzerland politics in the world and the Swiss army.

    Most of the people thinks that Switzerland has no army, and theoretically it is like that. However, every citizen has to make a military service just in case. The idea is that every Swiss citizen should be ready to defend their country in case of an attack at the time they preserve their neutrality not having a regular army as the other countries.

    After dropping my backpack and having a shower Jenni took me for a walk to the city centre. Basel is a bit bigger than the previous cities I’ve been in Switzerland, but still a small one. The city is divided by the Rhine river. Both sides where protected with a city wall that doesn’t exist anymore. On one side of the river, where there is the city centre, there were most of the churches and the houses of the noble and wealthy citizens of Basel. In the other side lived the people that give services and worked for the high-class.

    After a fast view of the city we stopped for a hamburger next to the river and we went to an open air concert of African music in a platform over the river. It was full of people. Regarding Jenni, that was normal as normally there is not much to do in Basel, so whenever there is an activity, everyone goes there.

    12/08

    We woke up early next morning. As Jenni let me stay at her place while she was at work I took my time to look for accommodation by couchsurfing, hostels and others for the rest of my trip.

    Finding accommodation

    It takes a lot of time to improvise while travelling as must hostels gets full and prices rise. I found that sometimes if you book a room for the same or the next day in booking or any other web sometimes you find price reductions.

    Regarding couchsurfing I found that it is much harder to travel as a male than as a female. Unfortunately for me I found that there are a lot of male host that only accept females. Why? You get your conclusions. I realised that as they only have references of female surfers. I tried asking them to host me as well with a nice request as I do always. Most of them just answer “I can’t host you” in a short message if they answer you.

    After sending several requests and checking some hostels I went out for a walk in Basel.

    Basel is much a modern city full of modern architecture and it is where architects such as Herzog and de Meuron are based. Next to Jenni’s home is their railway Switchtower.

    Rail Switchtower

    Rail Switchtower

    Following the railways, I get to the Central train station which is connected to the core of the city by a commercial street full of life from noon till late afternoon. I passed by a church now transform into the Museum fur Geschichte and followed the main street to the Rathaus, the City Hall.

    Rothaus Basel

    Rothaus Basel

    I decided to get a bit lost in town and I get to Basel Munster, Basel Cathedral with twin spires and the museum of Culture.

    Behind this ecclesiastic building there is a panorama view of the river. In this river as in most of the rivers here you can swim. What people does is the jump in the water with a hermetic bag with all their belongings and get out of the river a couple of metres down the river. You just need to let free yourself to the stream.

    160812132731-min

    Panorama of the Rin

    I crossed the river to the “poor” side of the city. There I had a snack. As everything is so expensive here I end up having a burger in McDonalds. I must admit it. It’s being really long time I regret going to McDonald, Burger King. In terms of fast food I just accept Kebab and nice sandwiches.

    In this side you might find the church of St. Clara and a nice garden nearby which name I never knew. The time was perfect to chill out in one of the terraces nearby if you can afford their prices. Also they were preparing some kind of concert in one side of it. Probably something for the night. Today is Friday!

    I keep my walk until the next bridge down the river. Back on the side of the city centre, at the right there is the Studio of Herzog and de Meuron and a little forward, one of the old entrance to the old town.

    Old Entrance to Basel

    Old Entrance Tower to Basel

    I followed what was supposed to be the wall of the city linking all the gates of the city. In my way I came by the university and the university hospital. Both seemed to me so modern. Although the buildings were in the city centre, they were barely new. It could be seen how this area was regenerating itself little by little.

    I get to the synagogue of the city in what I considered was the Jewish area as nearby was the Jewish museum as well.

    From this area I went back to the city centre to visit the church of St. Leonard where was the hot Pokemon point of the city. Again a square full of people looking to their electronic devices talking between them from time to time. This point is in a hill in the city centre. If from here you go to the rathaus you may pass by a couple of picturesque narrow steep streets.

    Back down I pass by the church of St. Elizabeth which tower you can visit for free. However you are invited to drop some tip, which I did. I get to the top 5 minutes before o’clock and waited at the clock work to the time the bells toll. I almost forget about it but I saw a mother and a daughter waiting for it and I simply join them.

    Next to this church is a sculpture of Richard Serra. One of my favourite sculptures due to how he works with the corten steel to modify the environment. One of his games is to open and constrict your surrounding while you walk across his sculptures.

    Panorama of Basel

    Panorama of Basel

    In the way back to meet Jenni I passed by the supermarket to buy whatever was necessary to prepare that night some fajitas and guacamole to thank her for hosting me. We ate at her terrace and I’m happy she did like my cooking.

    We had a beautiful night watching the stars and talking about the neighbourhood, Swiss people, my favourite topic, travels among others.

    As she was working next day early morning, after dinning we went to bed.

    13/08

    Once again we wake up early. Jenni left the apartment at 7:00. Once again I took my chance to answer some Couchsurfing declinations and confirmations as well as confirming some hostels.

    Thanks to the fact that a friend will join me at Munich and she would take care of the accommodation there, finding something for Stuttgart was ok by now.

    Once everything ready I load my backpack and went to the train station to catch next train to Zurich.

    Zurich

    The train to Zurich was full of people disguised. The girls next to me were dressed like pink bunnies as the ones from Playboy. Another group was more like heavy rock. At Zurich that Saturday was about to take place one of the greatest Street Parades of Europe.

    Once in the train station of Zurich you can have a preview of how crazy was about to be the afternoon. I went to drop my backpack in a locker at the train station, and surprisingly I get to store it in less time than the time I’d been waiting in Luzerne.

    Light, I went to visit the main spots of the city before attending to the inevitable Street Parade. From the train station the first stop is the castle nearby.

    Schweizerisches Nationalmuseum

    Schweizerisches Nationalmuseum

    On the other side of the Limmat river you have the city centre where I went for a walk around the city on the streets I could and to visit some of its churches and the main tower. As it’s coming to be a habitude, I went to its top to have a panoramic view of the city.

    From there to the lake everything was occupied by the young and no so young people waiting for the party.

     

    Panorama of Zurich

    Panorama of Zurich

    Before getting to Zurich everyone told me about how snob was the city and the people that lives in it. They told me that as you approach to the city you can see more and more expensive cars. Also that a casual way of dressing will be out of place as everyone there is dressed as fancy as they can. One way or another, I had a completely different impression.

    Parade dresscode

    Parade dresscode

    Once back to the ground, I decide to join the party. I went to where the parade was coming. I found a nice place surrounded by nice people who were getting drunk little by little. As you can imagine that gave place to a couple of anecdotes that I’m not going to publish here. Maybe I can tell you some if we meet on the way.

    Zurich Street Parade 2016

    Zurich Street Parade 2016

    Meeting People - Street Parade Zurich

    Meeting People – Street Parade Zurich

    I really had fun at the party and meet a bunch of people. Unfortunately, I had to leave before the party get to its climax, as I had to get to Stuttgart where I was about to spend my night.

    I get late to Stuttgart so I simply walked to the train station to the hostel I was staying at and rest after a warm shower.

    Switzerland has been a magnificent experience Let’s see what is awaiting me in Germany.

  • Blog
  • Au sud de la France

    In the way out from Spain, the first stop is France. Here I travel along the south from Henday to Ventimiglia, visiting Toulouse and old friends in Nice. To cross this country by train has been an adventure itself.

    Starting Late

    01/08

    I was supposed to wake up early to catch the Euskotren to Henday at 5:00 am. But after two nights sleeping 3 hours I woke up later than expected and get to the train station at 5:02. Two minutes in terms of trains timing changed my day from getting to Toulouse at 12:30 to get there at 15:50. Having to catch the train that departed 15 minutes later did not allow me to get the easiest combination that went to Toulouse so I had to went to Bordeaux to later catch a train to Toulouse. Until here everything is alright. The accumulative delay was supposed to take only 2 hours more. To this we have to add a couple of inconvenience on the way. We stayed almost one hour stopped in Montauban due to a suicidal between Carcassonne and Toulouse. In this journey I will find out that the railways in France are not at all as good as I expected.

    Toulouse

    Once in Toulouse I went straight to the Hostel. It is located behind the Cathedral of Saint Sernin. A nice area with several bars in the nearest square and drug dealers hunting tourists. After check in I drop my backpack at the room and went for a walk. The next day I had a ticket to leave the city at 13:00 so in total I will be in town for less than 24 hours. I had to optimise my time there to enjoy and discover the city.

    Panorama Toulouse

    Panorama of the Daurade

    First I went for a walk along the river Garonne. Pass behind the city walls to get to the place all Pokemon hunters concentrate in the city. La Daurade is a garden in the banks of the river which is the perfect spot to chill out and have a drink. As the weather is sunny and warm this garden is full of people. Continuing the river is the Church of Notre-Dame de la Daurade where you can find a peculiar Black Madonna.

    The Quai de la Daurade continues to the “Pont Neuf” where I turn into the city to get lost in his streets and observe the urbanism and culture. First I went South and then turned East to went back North. Toulouse city centre is arranged in imperfect squares and streets that goes North-South and East-West.

    I came across the Museum of Jacobins to get to the Capitol square before getting back to the Basilique de Saint Sernin. The square of the Capitol is the mayor square of the city in front the City Hall and the Capitol Theatre. In the centre of the square there is a 12-point star with the zodiacs on it.

    The Basilica of Saint Sernin is a medieval basilica with a stunning tower. It’s believe that in the basilica they store one of the thorns from the Crown of Thorns of Christ.

    Sunset was coming so I decided to get some take away on the city and went back to La Daurade to enjoy the sunset from there. Chilling out next to the river let me pay attention to the people that was living the city at the time.

    After an hour there I went back to the hostel to prepare how I was about to continue my trip and next day adventure.

    02/08

    Before going to the train station I went for a walk. This time I went north from the hostel to the Japanese Garden where people were doing sport, stretching and having a walk in the early morning. This garden has the name of Japanese as they have a real Japanese garden with a reproduction of a Japanese house.

    Japanese Garden Toulouse

    the Japanese Garden.

    After a long morning at the garden, I went to the south of the city and visit the Cathedral of Toulouse. This Cathedral has the particularity of being built in two parts which are not in line one with the other.

    After picking back my backpack at the hostel I went straight to the train station where I started my greatest adventure on a train

    Train to Nice

    The train departs from Toulouse at 12:57 to get to Nice at 19:30 where my friend Benedetta will await me to dinner. At the Train station, 20 minutes before departing, it is announced a delay of 1:30. All of a sudden it disappeared so I address myself to the platform. There was the train waiting for the passengers. Once in the train we leave Toulouse 10 minutes later than expected. But that is too much expecting for a 4:30 train in France. In the way we stopped at Carcassonne for almost one hour due to another suicide on the rail to Béziers. There we received free meal as reward – Cold pasta salad, water, cookies, bread, juice and some candies. We stopped once again in the middle of the rail a couple of times due to several problems on the way, but the greatest one was in a small village between Marseille and Nice where we had to wait almost two hours. It happened that there was one train stuck on the way. They needed to detach our machine to get catch the other train and bring it back so we can continue our way.

    Nice

    Finally, in Nice at 23:30 I get to my friends’ place where they were waiting for me after dinner. They had cook nice pasta for me that I hadn’t the chance to taste as when I get there I had already eaten something at the train. They offered me however some ice-cream and Italian liqueur.

    03/08

    Next morning, we all wake up early and I went for a walk in town. First up hill to the “Castle”. There is not a Castle, but the ruins of a Basilica at the top and for sure a great Panorama of the city. From the top of the Hill of the Castle – East from the Old Town.

    IMG_1117_stitchWEB-min

    Panorama of Nice

    From there I descend to the old town and zig-zag on it visiting the different churches and great houses there.

    Church of Saint-Jaques le Majeur

    Cathedral Saint-Reparete

    Church of Saint-Matin and Saint-Augustin

    PANO_20160803_115129-min

    Prefacture Palace and the Flowers Market

    From there I walk West by the Opera and the City Hall to get to the Garden of Albert I and to the Rue de France which is one of the main commercial streets in town.

    In Nice you can easily see the contrast between the rich people that lives and visits the city in summer time and the not so rich, locals and immigrants that works giving services to the first ones.

    I went north to the train station to get my ticket to Torino the following day. I changed my plan of going to Milan as Vittorio, the boyfriend of my friend Benedetta, who is from Torino convinced me.

    At the train station I had a curious Anecdote.

    Waiting out of the station checking the timetables with my phone before asking inside to book the tickets a guy approaches me. He stopped in front of me and said “Salam”. I turn my face up with a soft smile and looked at him to his eyes. The he continued asking me with a foreign accent “Arab?”. I smiled more and answered him “Unfortunately not”. That made me feel that sometimes I seem Arab which might be of use once I get to the Middle East Countries.

    For lunch time I went back to the Port where I started my walk that morning to Chez Pipo. One of the main dishes to taste here is the Succo. It is a bread oven what normally you combine with some salad and Pizza. I have to say, that the salad they suggest me really disappointed me as there was nothing else but green leaves.

    After lunch I walk along the west coast from the port where the people goes for a sunbath over the rocks. Here there is less people than in the main beach that links the Castle Hill with the Airport, but there is less place and is all about rocks.

    Beach of Nice

    After chilling a little here, I went back to the Port to visit the church of Notre-Dame du Port and from there across Garibaldi Square and the area of Carabacel to the Basilica of Notre-Dame de l’Assomption on the Avenue Jean Medecin.

    Garibaldi-Nice

    Back to meet Vittorio I took this main commercial avenue and followed the Promenade du Paillon till I arrive to the Piazza Garibaldi. There we had a beer talking about architecture, Couchsurfing, travels and other of our common interest.

    At about 19:00 we meet with Beni at their place where other female friends came for an appetizer at then we went to a concert with an inexistent appetizer at stARTup. The concert wasn’t that great and the appetizer not more than a bunch of peanuts.

    At the end we were not satisfied so we went to dinner to a nice bar in the avenue of the Market. The bar, named Le Safari, was expensive, but with good local food. There I meet an Italian couple friends of Beni and Vitto. With them we shared adventures and comments about architecture, life philosophy and travels. They also talk me about things to do in Italy while visiting next week.

    Friends Nice Le Safari

    Next to dinner we went for a nice Ice-Cream and back home as next day we had to wake up early as Beni had her flight early morning and one hour later I will start my adventure to Italy. Hope there the trains are better than in France.

  • Blog
  • From Sevilla to Sochi

    It took me long to decide how long I would stay in Europe, there are many places I want to visit and many friends to meet in the way. Finally I decided that crossing Europe shouldn’t take longer that a couple of month as my real goal is to discover Asia and Oceania.
    First I thought of crossing the continent by hitchhiking but not to take to long I end up buying an Interrail Pass so I will be travelling by Train. Interrail ends in Poland so in Ukraine and Belarus and Rusia I will have to combine, car, bus and train to keep on going.
    This schedule is a sketch of my journey and might change along the way. I am open and flexible to what it have to come. I am coming to cities I have never been so regarding if I like them or not I will stay longer or leave them behind.
     
    In my way I hope to meet a lot of people and some friends from the past that are living in the cities I come. For this reason, if you are in any of the cities at the time I come, let me know so we can meet there. Like a friend of mine always says, “Compartir es vivir” [Shearing is living].
    I do not know much about the places I am visiting and must of the information I found on the Internet is for the common tourist. I will love to discover the cities not only visiting the big cathedrals, city halls, past and modern architecture, but also getting lost in the cities and meet the daily culture. If you have any suggestion of what should I visit or where should I stay. Feel free to let me know as well.