"Everyone knows the more you wear pearls, little by little they become real....And isn't it the same with memories?" - The Madwoman of Chaillot

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Trains and a last taste of France

Tomasz, a 3M engineer, who drove us around to see other areas of Wroclaw, his apartment and took us to a mall where we bought some yummy sausages for the next day.

The temporary station in Wroclaw is a challenge - just a crowd of people waiting outside until the track is posted, usually less than five min before the train is to leave. Luckily it was not raining.

Train stops about 20 min from our stop in the middle of nowhere... Announcements of stops have been in English also but this issue seems beyond the English capabilities of the conductors.
we sit for 10 min and they say in German (per some passengers we asked) that they have to wait to get some people off the track. Bill immediately thinks the worst and goes to the back of the train to see if we ran over someone, figuring that will take a long investigation....but nothing can be seen.

Later an announcement that we will be at our next stop in 10 min. About 10 min later they announce it will be about 30 min. Once we get there we have to catch an S-Bahn (city train) to the main train station and then our train to Paris. We had almost 2 hours to do those two things, now down to 80-90 min, really hoping we get going soon....

Got there about 40 min late and the s-Bahn train to the Hauptbahnhof came within minutes of our arrival, and we were in Berlin with plenty of time to find our City Night Line train to Paris.

So this time we actually got comfort class with a bathroom and shower - but the water didn't work...at least the breakfast was better...

Unknown to us in Germany, the French rail workers were striking in protest to the attack on a train worker in a random act of violence, evidently. So upon waking up within France we got the news that we had to detour a bit and would take about an extra hour of riding around the beautiful French countryside - including going right near our hotel for the night.... We really didn't mind as we had no connections to make. On arrival in Paris we decided not to try to make it out near our hotel by train due to the strike and we took a taxi for the half hour drive. We thought taxis would be in great demand but both the train station and taxi stand were mostly deserted.

So, Ermenonville, our last stop. It was fun to walk around and see the town, where we had last visited in 1993.

We found Le Prieure, where we had stayed in 1993, right next to the church - originally the priory. It is now converted to apartments.
Turns out the man who owned it had died, then then his wife was killed in the 1990 Air France flight crash coming from Brazil. We learned this from the owner of the restaurant where we ate. We happened to have walked through the graveyard and found her marker and those of the two young women who had been on the trip with her. New owners decided to turn it into apartments.

The grave marker of the woman from Le Prieure

The graveyard was full of very old graves mostly, including some with a sign warning about those that are not kept up (probably payments not kept up?)

Bill's favorite - we wondered about this one, it was a used target sheet inside glass on the stone...It only says here lies the body of Jean Francois Richarz, who died 16 Feb 1877 in his 85th year...

The creperie where we ate in 1993 - not much has changed Katie, do you remember this place? It wasn't all that good then but Bill kind of wanted to see if it still was disappointing (he had been searching for French crepes in 1993)

but we found a newer restaurant with the wonderful. And her interesting shop and garden restaurant, featuring very interesting teas and all organic foods.

Quiche - Bill's with figs and bacon and mine with asparagus and salmon (but reversed in the picture) - the cups are our tea

And it came with dessert sampler, all homemade.

We bought some tea

Bill's wondered what this is - anyone know? Mike? He's pointing at a switch or lever...

This time we stayed in the very old, Chateau d'Ermenonville, a beautiful old palace dating back to the middle ages, with most of the current building being redone in the early 1700's. It has an interesting history and was famous for it's beautiful and huge gardens, much of which are now a park named after author Jean Jacques Rousseau who spent his last six weeks here in 1778 and is buried in the property. Henri XI often visited in the 1400's, along with a long list of named you would recognize including Jeanne d'Arc in 1429.

A little worn to be called a luxury hotel but very lovely place with a top restaurant,

The gardens, swans and a tree I just liked...

This was like our view out our window but taken from below in the restaurant.

In the hotel

our last big dinner, we figured a two days early celebration of the 40th anniversary of the day we met.

My appetizer with lobster, cream, and the little thing was some kind of shell fish

Bill had A mushroom soup

This course had some sort I'd fish in it, liked it a lot, Bill did not

My entree - scallops with two kinds of beets - I don't like beets but I liked these

Bill's lamb, bulgar and sweet potatoes

Sebastian brings the cheese cart

Not sure what this was - we figured it was dessert but that came later

My dessert - orange, chocolate and something else...


So when we turned down coffee and said we were done, the final sweets came

Two shots of a swan at night lit by the flood lights

What meal to have right before coming home and having to weigh myself....

And we are off to the airport the next morning...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Getting ready to leave, how did three weeks go by already?

So a few train challenges today and tomorrow and we're on our way home. One night on the train, one more hotel and one more nice dinner.

This hotel in Wroclaw has a scale in the bathroom and I was amazed to see I had lost over 65 lbs...oops, it's in kg.... So I gained 3 lbs, definitely worth every ounce though....would have been more without all the walking.

Not sure I'm really ready for reality - I have about 70 baby clothes orders waiting at home to be shipped next week, and lots of mail to go through and packages of baby clothes to process, bills to pay, cats to give attention to...at least the dog, thanks to Alija and family has had lots of attention... But I'm excited to see my family again, and to talk to Katie, Colleen and Chris and find out more about their last three weeks....so also looking forward to coming home!

Will try to post again from France before we leave - when/if I have wifi. Otherwise, from home...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wroclaw - just the pretty pictures, I promise

Walking to our boat ride, we had some time to kill so stopped in a park where a bride and groom were having wedding photos taken. The bride was hesitant to sit on the bench in her dress so Bill ran over with a map and offered it for her to sit on... So I took a few shots also

Thanking Bill for the map

Not a wedding picture prop

Waiting by the boat now - a pigeon sat on a man's leg for some time but when I tried to get a picture another one flew up...the man never even glanced at them as he sat reading his book, "Jesus of Nazareth" ( in Polish)

Chocolate pistachio cones while we waited - yum, it was a great combination of flavors!

The boat ride - this was not narrated but gave us a good view of the town along the river Odra

One of the gnomes found all over Wroclaw old town area

After the boat we visited the University - founded by the Jesuits in 1659 when emperor Leopold gave them the former castle. The baroque lecture hall was dedicated to Leopold.

We visited the museum, pictures were seen in the previous post and then climbed to the top for some views of the city.

The stairs

Oktoberfest in the Bierhalle on the main square after our 5 1/2 hour walk plus 40 min boat ride

And a few meals....
At a small Polish restaurant

where Bill has Russian Pirogies - baked not boiled

and I had Silesian noodles with goulash and fried cabbage.

Right across the street we discovered a very old street - now all art galleries but the street used to be where all the butcher shops were and the statues of animals are in honor of that.

Next night we ate at Bernard with Bill Huey, Pavel and Tomasz from 3M Poland and another man from 3M in the US. So you get to see more food...without remembering what I'd had the night before, I ordered a Czech goulash with a steamed bread.

And Bill had turkey with walnuts

Two of the men got Pig's knuckle - which was huge and washed it down with a liter of beer!

Earlier I had probably my favorite thing that I've eaten in Poland. I do love herring, have to say and this was THE best ever!

Bill had a Camembert cheese plate with pears

And this more or less concludes my post on Wroclaw - will send while I have good wifi and add a wee bit more when I can. Off to the train this morning - 5 hr trip to Berlin, then overnight train to Paris, night near the airport and home Saturday. Happy and sad...

Location:Kazimierza Wielkiego,Wrocław,Poland