Wednesday, May 11, 2005


It’s a special moment when I get to pick up the phone here in Madison and say Est-ce que je peux faire une reservation? It means that within a short period of time I will actually be using said reservation in a place where English is not the primary language.

Tomorrow morning I am heading out to Paris and by Sunday, I'll be in Warsaw and Krakow.

There are blogging challenges ahead: Obviously tomorrow's posting will be light as I will be traveling. However, there's more: out of the 18 days in Europe, only during the last 3 will I not be in the company of friends from Madison. This is a first for me. With the exception of an interlude some decades back, I have been going back to Poland at least once a year. Never ever has anyone volunteered to either travel with me there, nor to meet up in Poland. To France? Oh sure, many candidates, many trips with friends and strangers. But Poland has always brought forth this reaction:

So, you're going back to Poland! I really would love to go there someday!

And there it would end.

This Spring, I do not know what winds were blowing through Madison and messing with people's heads, but here I am now, setting out to Poland, with four Madisonians joining me for various portions of the trip.

I am still dizzy at the thought.

And -- weirder still, during the first week, one blogger will be tagging along and during the second week another blogger will be there to pick up any blogger slack.

Basically this will mean that you may well have more than one commentary on the places talked of (somewhat reverently, I admit) in Ocean. Sort of like point - counter point, where I write, for example: we just walked through the most beautiful park on the planet, and the other person notes: we just avoided being eaten alive by some vicious swans who thought they deserved a handout just because we're tourists passing through. Different perspectives.

Should be fun. And a writing nightmare! Poland has decent but not great Internet options and oftentimes I wind up posting from a hotel dial-up. But in addition, this time I will feel that my absolutely top priority is making sure that my cotravelers are happily experiencing Poland, to the max. That means I will probably blog between 2:30 and 4 am. When else will there be time? But post I will, for sure.

At least the posts will be shorter (especially as compared to this obscenely long one).

Okay, a few more parting words tomorrow a.m. and then Ocean does what it loves best: it transports itself across the ocean and takes up the story there.

Is the pope Polish?

Not any more. But this does not prevent him from addressing Poles on St.Peter's Square in their native language.

Yesterday, he said this to the crowd: Pozdrawiam obecnych tu Polaków. W tych dniach razem z wami oddaję cześć świętemu Stanisławowi i polecam jego opiece cały Kościół w Polsce. Z serca wam błogosławię. Niech będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus!*

A mouthful for a non-Pole, wouldn't you say?

* translation: oh, it's just the usual religious stuff, with a focus on St. Stanislaw and the Polish church.