The clock is ticking and I think we’re in pretty good shape. We’ll see come crack of dawn tomorrow.
I’ve moved the Pau Already blog to a new Microsoft Azure server. Let me know if you encounter any issues.
— Update 24 August, 2014
I think all the tech stuff should be wrapped up. paualready.com or www.pau… should work, The domain name you see in the browser and in content links should also show he public domain name.
Monday, May 16
Being in Europe is fab, but for a good portion of today, my body was in Poland, but my heart was in Florida. Space Shuttle Endeavour lifted off on its final mission and we were supposed to be there, but a launch delay combined with our travel plans made that impossible. We did however manage to watch the launch in HD video, albeit on an iPod in a WiFi zone, in a salt mine over a hundred meters below the earth’s surface having just finished touring the Wieliczka Salt Mine just outside of Krakow. The mine produced salt from the 13th century until 1996 and features an incredible labyrinth of chambers with some large enough to fly a hot air balloon in, but the big draw here is the collection of sculptures created by talented miners, in rock salt. The bas-relief wall carvings are fantastic, but very difficult to photograph. Except for some rather focused area lighting, the mine is of course dark and a photo flash pretty much washes out any contrast and the sculpting details. Ergo, the pictures suck.
From the bus returning us from Wieliczka, we connected with a tram to take us to Nova Huta, a communist era “planned community” built beginning in 1949. Today, the area is suppose to be far more inviting than it was in the years before the dissolve of the Soviet Union, but it certainly still retains a lot of its Stalin-era drabness. We did find a delightful little restaurant that maintained a chunk of its pre-solidarity “warmth” and I finally got my stuffed cabbage rolls.
Tomorrow it’s off to the Czech Republic with stops at Auschwitz and Birkenau.
Saturday, July 17
Today we left our wonderful home in Dijon. The stay was great and we loved the market, being able to do a bit of cooking, the bikes, museums and the great little restaurant we found, but the Gypsy in us was calling. Coco, our host, delivered us to the gare to pick up our rental car and after making sure all was well, Coco bid us au revoir and we were on our way to the roads of Burguneon.
Our road trip today first took us to the tiny ville of Flavigny sur Ozerain, where the movie Chocolat was filmed. This medieval village, set in the rolling hills northwest of Dijon is a spectacular site. I doubt there has been a new building constructed here in 300 years, but the existing structures, having been continuously cared for are in full use today. A few kilometers outside of town we came across a stone block house, obviously several hundred years old, which was missing its roof. New timbers had been set and as soon as the new rafters and roof tiles are in place, it’ll be as good, if not better, than new. That’s real urban renewal.
We passed through a few more villages and then, at the direction of ‘Randy,’ our GPS, we wound up on the A6 Expressway. It had been hours (maybe 3) since we’d eaten, so we made a quick exit at a rest site and dined on a mix—jambon et fromage on a fresh baguette—that Laurel had prepared for us in the morning. A short aside here: despite the global recession, universal health care, and all the other things the French have to ‘endure’, they have managed to figure out a way to keep roadside rest stops open. The next time you’re pissing in the weeds on your way from Phoenix to Flagstaff, you may wish to ask yourself “Is the universal tax cut really a solution for all of one’s ills?” Anyway, I digress. After twenty or so kilometers, we decided the express way was way too boring and we were missing all the good stuff and it was time for an exit. Shortly thereafter, on a distant hill, we spotted a chateau; the Château de Châteauneuf. It’s a vast stone building, 75 metres in length and 35 metres broad, situated on a rocky outcrop 475 metres above the surrounding plains. Its history dates back to 1132, but in 1457, Philippe le Bon, duke of Burgundy, offered the fortress to his advisor Philippe Pot. On Thursday, we’d visited the crypt of Philippe le Bon at the palais de Ducs in Dijon. It’s fun to tie this stuff together.
Tonight we stay in Verdun Sur Ce Doubs, a small village outside of Beaune, tomorrow’s first stop. Verdun is largely a farming village and this evening, tractors towing wagons loaded with wheat made a pretty much continuous passes through town on their way to the local grainery. It takes a lot of wheat to make all those baguettes. Watching the crop on its way to being processed takes me back to my boyhood summers on the farm in South Dakota.