Saturday, September 01, 2007

Fav Fotos

I wrote "Fav Fotos" just to show you that I'm cool. Unfortunately, in the slang area I seem to have got stuck with "neat". "Cool" does not come trippingly to my tongue, alas and alack!! ... This is self-indulgence evening. A last half dozen photos from Central Europe and a few words about what and why, then I'll drop the subject and maybe even write about something quilty or literary. Be warned.

The first photo is the roof of the oldest synagogue in Prague. Prague was not destroyed in WWII - Tomas told us the history but it's more than I can repeat here. In short the Czechs were betrayed and taken over without fighting. Anyway, the ghetto is intact, and this stunning roof is where the fictional golem took refuge just before he was disposed of by the famous rabbi who presided in this very building and had invented the monster.

The next building was in Lovoca Slovenia. It also has a wonderous roof line -- don't you think? It's the town hall and is at least 300 years old, older, I think. What exuberence! I might add that our hotel in Lovoca was very near this building. It had been a rich burger's home, built in the 1400s, rebuilt a number of times. The walls were 15 inches thick! The rooms were done in early 20th century deco furniture.

From grand to very humble. We walked through villages in Slovenia where there were log houses, and in this case a log barn which perhaps once was a house. This little complex of buildings was in a village where there were much more modern homes and barns, some new ones under construction which even had two-car garages. On our rambles [well, I rambled, and the others hiked] we passed through several villages. There were no cookie cutter villages, the homes were very individual. Most had many flowers in the front, although some gave much of the space to vegetables gardens. On the parkland trails and in the cities people seemed to prefer small dogs, rarely more than a foot tall. But in the villages many people had guard dogs, German shepherds or dobermans - often very vocal as we passed the yards in which they were kept.
This is a sweet little church in a town that I seem to remember was in the Czech Republic, very near to the border with Poland. A place where we walked through some underground bunkers, quite a complex and one of a long line of such which were never used because the Nazi take over referred to above.
I do not have a decent picture of my other underground venture which was the 900 year old salt mines at the edge of Krakow. We spent an entire morning walking corridors into huge rooms, often with statues carved in the salt, a very large cathedral which is used weekly, a complex of dining halls and souvenier shops, and much, much else -- and after that time we had seen only about 2% of the mines. That fact is staggering! My mild claustrophobic bent kept reminding me that I was nearly 300 steps deep in the bowels of the earth. I tend to feel like Debra who enjoyed the mines more than I did but who said emphatically that humans are not supposed to be deep underground -- nor high in the sky for that matter. It's not natural and it discomforts those of us who are sensitive to our bodily sensations.
This is a lovely flower we found in a forest. Everyone noticed the unusual pink and purple petals on the same flower. The ever accommodating Tomas spent some time that night on his computer but could not discover the name, either folk name or botanical name. We were all enchanted with it.

And finally a mildly decent picture of myself in the rolling pasture land. There were hay fields and truly pastoral herds of sheep in the distance. We walked through the near village [I think that's where the log barn was] and then through the village in the left hand distance. After a hot uphill slog in the noon day sun -- as sweat drenched every part of me -- we stopped for one of the wonderful picnics under some shady trees. The hearty half of the group then hiked over hill and dale another hour and a half, while others of us went in the van to the foot of a grand castle where we had time for ice cream or beer or coffee, depending on our bent, which fortifed us for the several hundred steps up into a very, very grand castle the construction of which spanned from the 1200s to the 1700s. Views from it were spectacular.
... End of travelog -- until I feel the need to write about some other aspect thereof. I'm truly happy I now have seen a bit of Central Europe. My world view is broadened, I feel enriched. And I'm still just a bit stiff from all the walking and intend to soothe that very promptly with a hot bath.

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