Friday, March 15, 2019


Travel to Europe is usually smooth, occasionally frustrating, sometimes chaotic. By now, I think I've hit every combination of the above. I've learned a lot: "what will be, will be" is a far better slogan to repeat to yourself than "this is crazy!" Quick meditation or indeed any exercise in mindfulness is invaluable. If you feel rotten, terrified, exasperated, impatient -- several minutes of belly breaths and a focus on what's going on in your own space does wonders. Music is a great assist. Books are better than constant screen time. Indeed, if you really want to arrive at your destination totally spaced out, be sure to watch movies nonstop. Too, they're not kidding when they tell you to stay hydrated. Especially if you down a drink or two in flight (after all, champagne is free on Air France) -- double the water you'd have at home. And so on.

I can't say I used all the above, but I pulled out a few. My flight was very late getting in to Detroit (the falling ceiling problem) and people were missing flights, and because it was so late, most had to overnight in Detroit. It didn't help that we landed in the very first thunderstorm of the year. I don't care how calm you are about flying, it does tickle your nerve somewhat to be bumping between flashes of lightening. In other words, everyone on the plane was in a foul mood. I was glad to move on to my next flight.

The Air France plane taking me from Detroit to Paris was a Boeing 787. The plane was beautiful and I had the perfect seat. Still, you had to feel sorry for all the people affected by the Boeing tragedy of this week. Planes are so safe these days, but when something happens, your heart hurts for all those affected by it.

This flight was shorter than usual. Less than seven hours. Unfortunately, the captain decided that there was enough turbulence to keep the seat belt sign on for the whole flight. I thought he maybe forgot about it, because it really wasn't that bad. If you drink a lot of water, then you tend to not like the lit seat belt sign. So let me modify my piece of wisdom: drink a moderate amount of water!

Transferring to another flight at the Paris airport is always an adventure. The path to your next gate is never ever the same so just when you think you learned your way around, you get a new twist thrown in.  But, I like the airport anyway. Who knows why. Maybe because it's a nice first taste of France, with all its idiosyncrasies and pleasant peculiarities. And on the return, I like any airport that gets me closer to being home. For all my travels, I do love home.

My final flight to Warsaw is full of Polish people. Of course. It's always full of Polish people and if I may generalize, they all have too much hand luggage. Americans have too much hand luggage as well, but ours tends to be square and predictable. Polish hand luggage is more interesting.

Despite the flight's skew toward Polishness, there are also a handful of Americans, and, too, French businessmen. But I sit next to none of these people. My seatmate is a woman who is probably exactly my age. Eerily, she eats and drinks exactly the same things as I do. She reads, I read. But she is French speaking and her passport is French and she dabs French lipstick on her mouth after lunch. Most noticeably, she is dressed and tended in ways that make me feel like a log roller from Wyoming. (And I wear all my best shirts and pants on trips to Europe; she would be horrified to run into me on days when I pick up Snowdrop.) Of course, she cannot tell that secretly, I am Polish. And maybe she is also secretly Polish?

I arrive in Warsaw towards evening.  (The weather is at the moment, not unlike ours in Wisconsin, though their winter overall has been very very mild.)


That's the price you pay for leaving Madison late -- you lose the whole next day to travel. My sister is waiting for me and we quickly take a cab to the office that handles my apartment internet: I need to sign some papers and time is of essence. I don't know why I ever thought apartment ownership would be easy. It's not, even as my sister takes care of the vast majority of headaches that come with it.

From there, we walk a not short distance, suitcase, backpack and all, to the big grocery store, where, believe it or not, I shop for tomorrow's dinner. It just seemed like a good time to get this out of the way.

Finally, a couple of subways later (still tugging the suitcase, the back pack and two bags of groceries, though I leave the latter to my ever helpful sister), I'm out on the street again, on Nowy Swiat, walking home.


Yes, arriving at this tiny one bedroom place in a prewar building at Tamka street is always nice.


I unpack a recent photo of my family and set it in the bedroom where I can see it constantly.

There isn't much that I feel like doing tonight. I eat foods brought over by my sister...


I tidy, I talk to Ed, I finish my writing for the day. And really, thinking back now, it was a good day. When you get to your place in one piece, with all your carry-ons and accessories, more or less on schedule, I'd say you have no reason to complain.