Sunday, December 03, 2017

and now I am here

December is always an interesting time to be in Europe. On the downside, the weather is completely unpredictable and could very well be awful. The days are short. People watching is made difficult by the early twilight and the layers of protective clothing we all wear. So... bleak, right?

No. On the upside, apart from New Year's Eve which draws crowds to Europe's capitals, the neighborhoods of most cities take a breather now from the tourist onslaught. Prices fall, restaurants don't require ten week advance reservations. And each country has its own spectacular and idiosyncratic approach to the holidays and whatever it may be, you'll find it to be colorful, delicious and festive.

I think the upsides win and I have been crossing the ocean in December for a long, long time. Indeed, it used to be that my only visits to Poland would fall on December days.

If there are travel headaches sometimes associated with this sketchy period weather-wise, I experienced none of them on this trip. My flight to Detroit was pleasant and arrived early, the next one to Amsterdam was even more pleasant (no bumps, no rolls) and also arrived early, despite the fog and drizzle.

(A second breakfast at the Amsterdam airport, because if you have several hours to kill, inevitably you eat.)


And finally my flight to Warsaw: it was on time, yes, but even more important was the view out my window as we prepared to land.  I was in that dreamy state of tiredness that usually hits me toward the end of these multiple flights. I look outside -- the moon! Oh, what a moon! And then I remembered -- it's full, it's orange, it's beautiful! An extra large moon (though not really: it doesn't actually change size!). A December super-moon.


My sister is there at the airport and we head home. As we leave the subway stop, I turn toward the flower stall on this street..


I pick up flowers for the table.

And there again is the super-moon, shining brightly on us here, and on you back home, too!


My apartment building poses a small challenge: The electricity in the stairwell seems to be out and with it -- the keypad that allows us to plug in the entry code. No problem! My sister pounds on the window of a neighbor and she lets us in. When you live in a building with many people who are decades older than ancient you,there will typically be someone home somewhere.

My sister has a set of surprises for me -- Christmas lights throughout!


It's all so pretty! (Snowdrop would love it too...)

My sister fixes supper for the both of us...


And we talk. Now is the time to talk. Not too long. I am quickly wearing down. Besides, I have three whole days in Poland before me! Too little? I know... That's what happens when I have tugs from back home. I'm never anywhere else for more than a handful of days.

But I am here now. Let's take each of the next three days and fill them with the richness of being in Warsaw.

I'll leave you with Christmas lights, from my home here: