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Saturday, January 5, 2019

2o19



new year, same me. i totally forgot to even start this post so it could be posted in the beginning of the new year, but oh well. not much reflection going on here. that may have to do with a healthier mind this year, but i don't know. i was fortunate to travel this year, but definitely not as much as in 2017 (it's expensive even on a budget!). also, i used up my vacation for my euro trip in 2017 & roadtrip of the south in 2018, so the rest of this year was really just trying to utilize weekends & government holidays.

first up was a weekend visit to visit my sister in sacramento. the next month, i took a train/road trip to monterey, ca with my aunt. i am still hoping to post this one, but i still have to finish my big 2017 solo euro trip (only taking 14+ months).



fisherman's warf


next was the big trip of the year; a solo road trip through north carolina, south carolina, & georgia in april. originally, it was not meant to be solo, but shit happens & i laid down too much money to jsee it go to waste. even though i hate driving, i really did enjoy a solo road trip which surprised me. i only hated driving through atlanta (it was the worst).



duke homestead state historic site, durham, nc.



mcleod plantation historic site, charleston, sc



savannah, ga

next was a weekend trip to ojai. this trip was the calmest and shortest trip of them all (also hoping to still post this one as a 'suburban adventure')



los padres national forest


and the last was a long weekend trip to sequoia national park.



giant forest (and me!)


as opposed to years past, no resolutions. i lacked aha moments this year, but i think that is just me getting older and knowing more about myself & want i want in life. i just want to keep on keeping on, you know? on just news in general, i started a new job in december (via promotion), so that has kept me & my mind busy. i also invested in a digital piano, but haven't played it much recently.



my piano, georgiana. yes it is a reference to pride & prejudice. the joe wright adaptation featured a piece of score that first perked my ears to the piano. it's called 'dawn.'


now for next year, i am planning a solo train trip through italy (and possibly another nearby country/city)! i am still in the logistical, boring planning stagess (i.e. where to go for how long so i can buy my plane tickets hopefully by march). also possibly i may go on a little weekend trip during one of the government holidays in february, but that is still in the works.

now for a song! i thought i would choose the first song i learned on my piano, beethoven's 'fure elise.' this song makes me think of a kiddo in ballet. i remember this song playing one day. enjoy!




Sunday, December 23, 2018

SOLO EURO: DAY 19-20 [WARSAW & BERLIN]

the next day was my only full day in warsaw and a pretty big one full of solemn attractions. i woke up pretty early and took a bus to the warsaw rising museum. it was not very busy. the only people at the museum this early were school children. 



german bunker located outside of the museum.


in the summer of 1944, the polish underground resistance fought to liberate warsaw from german occupation. the uprising had very little help from the outside and was the single largest military effort taken by any european resistance movement during wwii. it lasted 63 days, and poles were eventually defeated even though there were promising beginnings.





donated polish resistance armbands 




after a pit stop for coffee at a random costa located inside the world trade center (imagine me in my drab clothes surrounded by people in business suits) and a bus trip, the next stop was the mausoleum of struggle and martrydom. 




the museum shows how polish patriots and freedom fighters were imprisoned by the nazis. strangely, it is located in the ministry of national education, a federal building. during wwii, the nazis used this building as a hq for the police forces. in the basement, there were rough jails where interrogations happened. those that were sent here were either freshly caught or from pawiak prison (the next stop).





the jails are mostly untouched. a year after the war, the polish government decided to preserve the jails as part of the museum.


the next stop was pawiak prison (c.1835). in the 1800s, it was used as a transfer camp for poles sentenced by russia and sent to siberia. in the 1930s-40s, it was first a gestapo prison and then a nazi death camp, but destroyed in 1944. polish home army members, political prisoners, and civilians were taken hostage in street round-ups and sent here. about 37,000 people were executed and another 60,000 sent to other camps.



the germans blew up the prisone in 1944. the gateway and the three detention cells (where part of the museum is located) are the original ruins.





this tree has an interesting story. since 1954, family members of the victims would place epitaph plates on an elm tree. the tree survived wwii, but eventually died from natural causes. a bronze copy that was made from a cast of the original tree along with copies of the epitaphs were put in its place. the original tree and epitaphs are located inside the museum.


the next few stops were all monuments.



pomnik bohaterow getta, monument to the ghetto heroes. this monument is located where the ghetto once stood.



i don't recall what this memorial is for, but i do know it is a jewish tradition to leave stones at graves. one reason i read is because stones are permanent, just like a memory. i like that.


after, i decided to have a little shelter from the rain and get coffee. i ended up going to caffe nero. like costa, they are a british export (and apparently in boston). here i waited the longest time for a quiche. it took 25 minutes just to warm the damn thing up, but the coffee was good and they played jazz. jazz is so lovely on a rainy day.








after, i visited the monument for the fallen and murdered in the east. it shows different religious symbols in a freight car. each track says a name of a camp, village, farm, or outpost of a gulag that the soviets forced poles to.


this was supposed to be the end of my day, but i a had quite a bit of daylight leftover. i decided to visit the katyn museum. i did not plan this location, because online it was so confusing find out where the entrance was.



to get to the museum, you have to go through skwer powstancow styczniowych, the january uprising square. there was a lovely fairy home.





in 1940, over 20,000 polish officers and intelligenstia were executed by russians near the katyn forrest in russia, but the term is now used for similar killings by soviets against poles in other locations. most of those killed were regarded as some of the most educated poles (civil servants, soldiers, lawyers, businessmen, etc). germans found the mass graves in 1943, but soviets denied they were responsible. in 1990, the government admitted partial guilt to the murders and the cover-up. the russian communist party still denies any responsibility.



the museum is housed in the warsaw citadel (c.1800s). it was built by the russians and in the 1930s was a prison.


inside of the museum is the evidence of the katyn massacre, including the personal belongings of those who died and the bullets that killed them. the museum is completely in polish, but google translate got me pretty far. as i have said in other posts. there are katyn memorials everywhere. i saw them in krakow, oswiecim, and berlin. when you exit the museum, you enter a memorial courtyard.



'our lady of katyn'





while exiting, i saw the largest slug i have ever seen.



some lovely dandelions.



on my way back i treated myself to some ice cream. i had some polish cash left and was trying to find ways to spend the rest (there was no point in converting it back to american dollars). on a whim i bough an amber bracelet and a bark carving of a face sold by a man at the old town wall (still 2 of my favorite purchases during my trip).





i walked down a few more alleys and then decided to find some food and call it a night.


i ended up eating at the same place as the night before. this time i got homemade chicken soup (my sniffles thanked me) and some compote. this was my first time having it, but its pretty much preserved fruit and spices in a hot drink. this one had apples, pears, plums, raisins, cloves, cinnamon, and honey.



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the next day was really my only day in the middle of my trip that would consist of a full day of travel. warsaw to berlin on the bahn is over 5 hours along (and ended up being longer due to delays). the first stop, coffee. 

fair warning: this day was the day of many conversations with many lovely people that i met, never learned their name, and we went our different ways.



costa was the only chain i knew around.


i left early in the morning for the 45 minute walk towards the station and even got a little lost. i took a shortcut through ogrod saski (saxon garden), the old public park in warsaw. it ended up messing up my bearings, but at least i got some pretty pictures.


ogrod saski, saxon garden (c.1727)



the symbol of the warsaw uprising is everywhere.


i finally made my way to the station with extra time. the train situation was very confusing. when i bought my ticket, i bought it through bahn (a german company). when i got to the station i went to the platform that matched my train number, but the train that entered was not bahn, but from a polish company. i entered the cart anyways hoping i was right. also unlike the other trains, the seats were in carriages (not rows). luckily, i was assigned to the same carriage as a very nice polish lady that was fluent in both german and english. she explained to me that i was on the right train and that once we hit a border town, the staff would train to bahn staff (it was a partnership train). she also told me to take advantage of the polish side! once you hit the german border refreshments are not free.


the polish countryside....and my free tea (the mars bar and pretzels i paid for at the station). i also saw fields of poppies (my favorite)!


the polish lady mostly talked to another polish lady, but we did have a few conversations and she explained everything that was being said on the intercom (polish and german). she told me that she was from poland, but when she was young married a german man (against her family's wishes) and learned german that way. while she was in germany, she also learned english. now she splits her time in berlin and visits her mom regularily in warsaw. 

she also explained her family history. her grandmother had actually been in a concentration camp for a while. when she was young, she was walking among the countryside scavenging for food when she was approached by german officers, but she did not have any id with her. the german officers deported her to a camp until her identity could be proven a few weeks later.

she also told me about the complexities poles have with germans and russians. full disclaimer: i understand this is a huge generalization, but these are her words, not mine. she said when she got married in the 80s, poles thought very differently about germans. it was only 40 years after the war and relations were way more complicated. her feeling now is that most of the perpetrators are dead and time has healed a bit more. the countries can get along. now with russia is a whole different story. poland was occupied by the soviets until the 90s so it is much more recent. also, the katyn massacre is still so engrained. she also said it does not help that people think poles are russians, including some russians. she said even if you speak polish, you can probably understand russian, but that she will never speak russian again. it was an interesting conservation.



this is the part of the carriage across from me. 


it was a long ride, but the conversation made time go on. i also worked on a cactus cross stitch kit i bought during my first trip in berlin a couple weeks earlier (in the berlin mall). on a side note, i saw a young guy get kicked off the train and arrested. even though we waited at the border for a long time and was told the train would arrive in berlin 45 minutes late (we ended up only being 10 minutes late...witch craft). 

i also met a young aussie who moved to germany for a job, but would travel around europe. she was very nice. she also told me thought she thought i had been traveling longer than i had. i thought that was nice.



the berlin train station.

even though this was the train station i had left from a few weeks earlier, i got so lost inside and decided to treat myself to a coffee donut at dunkin donuts. i finally figured out where my light rail was and returned to the hostel. i met a very nice korean girl who talked a lot, but it was welcomed. she asked if i would go with her to a club, but i'm boring. until she left, we talked a lot. we talked about traveling solo as females and the decisions we made in our lives and how that fits into the norms of out respected countries. she was very lovely. more on her later in the next post. anyhoo i think that's the end for this. only 1 more left!


and i actually have a song. i have known who the 1975 was for a long time and knew some of their singles, but they never stuck. in the last week, i have listened to pretty much their entire discography and man am i fan. their singles are not really my jams, but they do have some buried treasures. for this most i am going to choose the first song that really stuck. 'i like america & america ikes me' its a little different with the distortion, but it is my favorite song from their most recent album. enjoy!




Saturday, December 8, 2018

SOLO EURO: DAY 18 [WARSAW]

in the morning, i took a 2 hour train ride to warsaw and then a bus to drop off my stuff at the hostel. i think there was filming nearby. i saw tons of police and lights. this was by far the coldest day of my trip and very windy. i literally had my scarf wrapped around my face. also, i went to costa for the first time. man is it expensive, but all the british youtuvers go there. it seems to be the starbucks of england.

maybe because of the weather (or because this was towards the end of my trip and it was october), i never experienced crowds at all in warsaw. during my two days, the streets stayed empty, except for the random group of school kids. not going to lie, this does affect my enjoyment of cities. i enjoy myself so much more when there are less tourists.



king sigismund's column. lots of refurbishing was being done during my visit. i stopped at a tourist info store and picked up a french brochure (there were no english ones).


so pretty. i would even say better than prague.


warsaw's old town is from the 13th century, but almost all the buildings are rebuilt. much of the town was blown away by the nazis in 1939. the town rebuilt, and then even more damage was done during the warsaw uprsing in 1944. practically every building was destroyed and half the population was killed. the uprising plays a big part in warsaw's identity. you will see the resistance symbol everywhere. interestingly even though the town was not rebuilt accurately, the scavenged bricks and decorative items were used in the rebuild.



once gain we revisit a memorial to the katyn massacre (more on this later). these are everywhere in poland.



'the place sanctified by the blood of poles who died for the freedom of their homeland. here on september 2, 1944, the hitlerites shot 50 people.' these are called tchorek plaques and they are all over warsaw. this one is located in the castle square, and commemorates the 50 hospital patients and workers who were executed.



there are so many ornate details in the architecture.









after, i continued my walk throughout old town and visited the old town walls.







i also visited a random church up on a hill.


maly powstaniec, the little insurrectionist. this memorial located against the old town wall commemorates the child soldiers during the warsaw uprising.



 marie curie, polish chemist who was the first woman to win a nobel peace prize (and first person to win twice). she was born in warsaw. i also visited the home she was born in.



another famous symbol of warsaw is the mermaid. the city legend is she protects the city after local fishermen freed her when she was imprisoned by merchants. this statue is located in the center of the old town square.








i also visited the museum of warsaw.



another church. these roofs are really popular.



such a strange door. disembodied body parts of angels (including a hand).





the warsaw uprising memorial. more on the uprising in the next post.



monument to to the heroes of warsaw. 


after i made my back to the hostel. literally right next door was a pierogi restaurant, zapiecek. this place was so cute and all the food was served on cute polish ceramics. i even returned for dinner the next day.





i had hot tea and pierogi with bacon & 'gravy.' the gravy was literally meat grease. i should have known better.


on a side note, i kept a journal of my trip where i wrote notes about my days so i could remember the little moments. my last note from this day says 'bitch slapped my bag (black eye?).' i have absolutely no idea what this is referring to.

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luckily i stayed across the street from old town warsaw, the hostel was narrow and consisted of quite a few floors (maybe 4 stories). it was a good location with nice workers, but the beds were strange. it literally felt like you were sleeping in a crate. the bunks had wooden frames that were enclosed on 3 sides (the foot, the dead, and the wall) while the 4th wall had a curtain.



said crate bed.


even though the hostel was not bad, the experience was not the greatest. no one in my room talked to me at all and at this time was the peak of sickness. the congestion hit and i did not sleep well having to blow my nose every 5 minutes (and the claustrophobic feels of the bed crate did not help). i'm sure others also did not sleep well because of my sniffles too.