Gdansk is amazing. In all aspects. Considering that it was totally bombed during the 2nd World War and now it looks as it looked before the war – makes you believe in the Fenex legend…No wonder there is a new 2nd World War museum built and opened on the outskirts of the old town, right where Russians and Germans had flattened the city. It is in a modern structure, the main part of the very informative expositions being situated under the ground level in a very creative manner:
Last summer I stayed in Lithuania pretty long, like never before. thanks to my good husband who took all the responsibilities of taking care and irrigating our gardens. I guess I stayed too long, because close to the end I fell of a ladder and broke my knee. Consequently I had to extend my stay by 3 more weeks in order to somehow reach home. Though totally for 4 months there was not much use of me in our household…Never ever break your knee, always be aware of that! Never loose concentration and attention!
It is fun to drive around Lithuania and visit those restored estates. I very much recommend! Some of them organize good concerts, if it happens to visit at that time!
I was luck that during my visit to Lithuania this summer my friends Arūnas and Nijolė drove us to Northern Poland for a several day trip. That land at some point in history was Prussia, so it has a very well built red brick churches and castles, built by the crusaders. Also – the soil is fertile and flat, good for agriculture. But some of the roads are still very narrow and have big trees growing very close to their sides. the biggest of the castles, in fact the biggest castle in Europe from red brick is the Magdeburg castle. Sorry, if you are interested in its historical significance- have a look at Vikipedia. it also has fantastic pictures of the whole castle form the other side of the river. We didn’t stop for those pictures, so here are mine glances inside the castle courtyards and halls. The good feature- most of polish museums provide with the “talking stick -audio guide” – you can switch it into any language of your choice and once you enter each location – it starts telling you stories about what is shown. it even sends you form one location to another, whereas otherwise you can end up seeing only part of the rooms and places. The castle is rather big and complicated. I would advice at least 3 hours visiting, maybe even more. Here are the views through my eyes:
Good friends of ours Egidijus and Jolanta took us three Lithuanian-American ladies to Neringa for a couple of days. And it was wonderful! I haven’t seen Nida the town, my namesake, for 30 years, or maybe 32. It was sentimental. Luckily – the weather was perfect! Neringa is a narrow slit of sandy dunes and earth blown by winds to this corner of the Baltic sea, where it protects an inner sea from the salty waters and too many boats. The biggest river Nemunas is bringing its waters into this inner sea called Kuršiu Marios. Several little fishing villages are fighting nature since ages ago. Some of them are under sands, some survived or moved to another location. And now they are flourishing resort towns. Especially Nida, where I used to spend my childhood summers with my parents. I will never forget how we used to fish on this pier at every sunset, and that is where I ran to the first thing we got there:
We had a small walk in the very center of Nida and admired the clouds on the East, the flower beds all over with flowers very well matched in colors. And so natural, like it is their place to grow.
Baigėme mokyklą 1976 metais. Beveik su visais klasiokais praleidome kartu 11 metų, beveik giminės…Turėjome keleta susitikimų iki šiol, bet 40-mečio susiorganizuoti nepavyko. Geriau vėliau negu negu niekad. Mūsų auklėtoja J.Kovienė gyvena labai jau gražioj vietoj Lampėdžiuose palei ramiai plaukiantį Nemuną ir ji mums pasiūlė susitikti jos kieme. O grožis:
Kaip žinia, man iki klasės susitikimų fiziškai toloka, bet šį kartą pasisekė-kaip tik buvau Lietuvoje. Susitikome trečiadienį, idant nesusitrikdytų šeimų savaitgaliai. Tania ir Dainė suorganizavo, ačiū joms. Ir buvo gerai, dalyvavo net Inga ir Ina- užsienietės. Kaip kad Audrius, kol neturėjo šuns ir turėjo gerą jumora, vadindavo mus – ” intermergaitės” (Tokį filma kadaise rodė). Kadangi neplanavau šio ivykio įtraukti į savo Blogą, ne iš nepagarbos įvykiui, bet gal dėl savo sulietėjusio galvojimo proceso, todėl nuotraukos neišfasonuotos, neiškonfiguruotos, bet gal save pažinsite. Plius juk buvo didelis susijaudinimas! Taigi -žiūrėkit.
Pasiaiškinu, kodėl taip vėlai išleidžiu šias nuotraukas į eterį. Lygiai lygiai savaitė po susitikimo kritau nuo kopėčių ir susilaužiau tibialio viršūnę, liaudiškai – kelį. KKL darė operaciją, dėjo metalą, buvau “įkalinta” LT dar mėnesiui, o nevaikščiojau 3 mėnesius. Nuostabūs daktarai, nuostabūs draugai padėjo, ypač Audronė, kuri tą patį vakarą atlėkė su skaniais maistais, Tania ir Algis I. vežė į ligoninę patikrinimams, ačiū jiems. O man buvo itin liūdna ir Lietuvos nuotraukas atsiverčiau tik prieš savaitę…Vis tik nevaikščioti yra baisu, o dar kai ta proga pamatai kitus su didesnėm bėdom…Linkiu būti budriems, angl. “aware” visą laiką ir nekristi.
O dabar trumpa reklama. Rasa suspėjo man įtaigiai paskaityti trumpą paskaitėlę prie stalo apie marketingo naudą, tai jos minčių bei pavyzdžio (vyko vaikų pasiekimų reklama) įkvėpta noriu supažindinti Jus visus su faktu, kad kai turiu laiko ir netingiu – rašau Blogą apie mūsų keliones. Niekad gyvenime neplanavau, kad nuskils tiek pamatyti, iš to džiaugsmo nesusilaikau nepasidalinus patirtais įspūdžiais ir ypač vaizdais. Pabrėžiu – tai ne verslas, jokio uždarbio iš to as neturiu (na netiesa, per daug metu uždirbau kartą $40 už vieną nuotrauka iš turizmo agentūros :-)). Bet galvoju taip – kol kas mes niekas neturime laiko skaitineti svetimus Blogus ir žiūrinėti gamtos vaizdus kompe. Tačiau juk nejaunėjam, deja. Ir gal net į pensiją kažkada išeisim, ir gal keliauti darosi vis sunkiau ir sunkiau, ir gal atsiras noras pasigrožėti be streso kažkuo. Tam aš ir plušu :-), prisipažinsiu – su vyro pagalba, nes be jo nei keliauti, nei kompo nustatyti Blogo rašymui nesugebėčiau (aš gi esu “technologically disadvantaged” :-)). Visuomet knygose rašo padėkas, taigi – ačiū mano geraširdžiui ir nusimanančiam Andrejui.
Linkiu nepamiršti vieniems kitų, susitikinėti ir toliau, linkiu visiems kuo geriausios sėkmės ir kai turėsit laiko ir noro – užmeskit akį į mano kelionių Bloga, pasirinkite šalį, kuri Jus domina ir keliaujam kartu. Yra žmonių, kurie labai giria mano nuotraukas (čia jau ne lietuviškas bruožas save pagirti :-)), cha! Ir iki kitų susitikimų.
Guanajuato is about 70-80 km away from San Miguel. There are two ways of driving. the longer passes by a town where Mexican revolution started. but this time we didn’t visit it. The road goes up and to tell the truth – it was a scary drive, to many time you have to drive on a very steep edge. But you enter Guanajuato via a perfect side, close to downtown, plenty of spaces to park on the streets. Still I preferred the not so beautiful drive back because it was shorter and not high up on the ridges. This time we didn’t sleep in G., just walked around and came back home to “Life Path”. We wanted to compare both of those magic towns. but it is hard to compare. i thing Guanajuato has more museums, both of them are perfectly colorful and beautiful. G. has more culture expressed on the streets, I would say – much more. But it is amid some hills, an old mining town and not so convenient once you decide to drive out. It is also significantly dirtier. Whereas San Miguel is very clean. The world knows Guanajuato mainly because of its exhumed poor people’s bodies, turned into mummies and placed in a museum, some 110 of them. We don’t enjoy such things, I think it is ridiculous to expose them for peculiar viewing. Only because they were poor and could not pay for their grave site. But there are really good museums, including the birth house of their beloved son Diego Riviera, so we visited this one. Sad as it is – I almost forgot everything I saw there last time, 4 years ago. This time they had an exhibit of some artist, whose name I didn’t write down – he has a peculiar way of creating art:
It took us several hours to reach San Miguel by car from El Geiser. On the map you see a highway on the East side of Queretaro, you are driving from there and you plan to join it and proceed North. No way…it is a toll road and it is tricky to find a place to get on it. You have to do more research how to get there, which takes time and attention. We ended up driving through the whole million people town of Queretaro and getting onto a highway on the West side of it. It was additional stress and more time on the roads. Then in San Miguel it is not so simple to get on the right road while doing a number of roundabouts. We got lots once even with a GPS. So be careful and very attentive while driving there. We stayed in the very center. That also added the chill of driving on their cobbled streets. We picked a place to stay on a pedestrian street, which meant low noise level. The place is called Life Path -so we assumed there will be people who speak English. they are considered a rehabilitation place and so silence is required. That is what we need! Forget it- nobody speaks a word of English there and silence is required only during the day time while gringo’s (American expatriates) are doing yoga in a nice hall there or if they are meditating, but after they leave- I do not say that it is a party place, but it seemed to me that it was an overnight place for guests to sleep after participating in some party or wedding in this city. Which meant they would come late at night and walk in the room endlessly on stilettos. Happy people. Everything else in “Life Path” was perfect! I even had one class of yoga -meditation, it was good! Highly recommend! And yes, yoga was taught in English.
We rented a car for a week in some hotel on the edges of downtown in Queretaro. And drove towards Bernal. Locals say it takes half an hour. They are wrong. Maybe it would if they don’t close the important exit on a highway and you have to drive far away, turn around and so on and so forth. The other unpleasant feature on Mexican roads in smaller towns but sometimes even on highways are the Topas, or ‘lying policemen’. I think it shows how Mexicans like to not obey the speed limits so they are forced to, or maybe it is to make sure people do not drive fast where there is a lot life close by a road. Whatever they are for- I hate them…It causes stress on a car and on us inside. Luckily there is pretty good highway that leads to Bernal once you get on it through the maze of Queretaro roads. And there is a couple of seafood restaurants right by the highway – they are called Mariscos. Everything is tasty there, but Sopa (soup) mariscos – wow!
We took a bus from Mexico city to Queretaro, some 200 km, $15 pp, it was perfect. No stress driving, just looking , enjoying the views. The bus was the most comfortable I ever sat in, we also got sandwiches and water there. There in the bus stations once you get out you go to a Taxi kiosk, any of them, and buy a ticket. Then find the line where taxis come and wait to be seated in a cab by a uniformed worker. And then settle and dive into the hustle and bustle of the downtown on Queretaro. We have been there 4 years ago, and now it was so nice to walk the same streets and enjoy the places we remember. And the places that have changed towards better. We again stayed in the center, with a good street view but also the street noise. Else. the room in an old fashioned apartment was perfect.
It took us some time to plan this trip. Only a 12 day trip. This is a disadvantage of traveling not with an organized group. But it is an advantage of freedom to stay where we want and to see what we want. After 4 years of not visiting the Mexican colonial heartland- we started to miss it. Mostly the abundance of architecture and arts. So – our first two days in Mexico City. Starting from December 6th. I am not counting the previous day because it was only traveling and reaching the capital of Mexico in the dark, reaching our apartment by taxi, which is the best and inexpensive way of transportation in Mexico. This time we found an apartment through Air B&B in the skyscraper district, near Paseo Dela Reforma. The two room apartment was considered to be a quiet one, it was not facing the street, and it was spacious enough, but…it was noisy from the top for part of the night. Hard to find peace and quiet in Mexico. Funny, they decorated the apartment with London images:
The 12th of December is when St. Mary the Mother of Christ appeared there to a Shepard boy. Long ago. So they built a complex of churches, old and new in front of a huge plaza with a miraculous hill behind them. Why miraculous- the water is running from all sides of it making it a hill with ponds and parks.
We visited all churches, there is a few, then the museum at the back of the main church. It is very worth visiting. The paintings and the rooms for high priests are fancy and impressive, of course, but the best part were the exVotos- the gallery of little primitive paintings reflecting illnesses, accidents and events that people brought to churches to be prayed for. The paintings are exquisite. So much sincerity in them with a big dose of pain.
The funny thing- such a big space there in the whole compound that even the bus runs around it so you can pick which stop is better to get out, but no places to eat…Well, maybe you can in the market close by or more exactly – down by. But we ate much further on the street, they have taco stands and even little mobile kitchens and cook a big variety of meals there. This reminded us of Thailand. Tables for customers had bouquets of spicy greens for your taste. That day we still visited the Palace of Bellas Artes, but not the museum there. With my recovering broken leg it was already too much to climb the stairs and for our minds to consume a lot of art. The building is beautiful by itself. Last time we saw the collection. This time we saved energy for a museum of design we haven’t seen before- Museo Franz Mayer. Lots of religious artifacts there, lots of golden devices that are used in Catholic services. And also some modern design pieces. But to tell the truth – I forgot all about it. Such things do not stay in the memory. An overload. The more impressive thing was a big old monastery yard with an extensive collection of theater posters on all walls. Mexico has very creative artists…
The next day started with a visit to Soumaya museum in Polenco, some 40 min. Uber taxi away from where we stayed. A Mexican millionaire Carlos Slim, a telecommunications mogul who was considered the richest man in the world by Forbes in 2013 – became not the richest after he built and opened the museum (that is my joke, I have no clue of his riches relative to others). But unlike another rich man in the US – he named the building not in his name but in his wife’s who he said taught him about arts and sculpture. To emphasize his modesty -I found out his name only after we came home and looked on the internet which I highly suggest for you to look into – there is so much to see in the museum that one visit is too overwhelming and too much. The architect Fernando Romero is definitely influenced by Frank Gehry, but to me – this is a more minimalist building than Gehry’s are and it is a jewel!