David and Kathy

Greetings from Dave and Kathy!

Here you can follow Dave's travels to Poland from August 11 to 25. The name of this trip is "Gluten Free." Dave will be joined by his brother, Robert Ferre, famous labyrinth maker who is also giving two lectures in Warsaw. Dave, as biographer of Polish composer and pianist, Andrzej Czajkowski (André Tchaikowsky outside of Poland), has particular interest in two concerts featuring the works of Andrzej Czajkowski (August 17 and August 18) at the Chopin and His Europe Music Festival.

While Dave is in Poland, Kathy will be in California. Click Here for Kathy's travel blog.

Aug 11

The day started with a flight from Tucson to the Chicago Midway airport. The problem is that my flight to Poland is from the Chicago O'Hare airport. The solution was a $70 taxi ride of 1 hour and 10 minutes to get to O'Hare Terminal 5. After meeting my brother Robert, we checked in for our flight and took refuge in the Air France Lounge (pix), with a fine bar area (to say nothing of French specialties) and unlimited access to Bailey's Irish Cream, among other fine beverages.

Aug 12

Robert has arrived at the Mercure Grand Hotel, Warsaw (pix) (also note the lost kitty poster)! The flight from Chicago was quite excellent and we upgraded to Business Class for about $200 each. On Polish Airlines (LOT), you can bid on any unsold Business Class seats by auction and if you win, you get the seats at greatly reduced rates. Dinner was at the always excellent Dyspensa Restauracja. We also found out that since we're both over 70 years, all local transport is free!

Aug 13

Here an image from Old Town Warsaw (pix) with a warrior from times past. The day started at Coffee Nero, then on to the Bristol Hotel Café for breakfast, later lunch at Uki Uki. In between, we explored the neighborhood around our hotel, finding our next place for breakfast. The real event today was Robert's first labyrinth lecture at Centrum Lowicka. It was a big success because of all the preparation done by Robert. Click Here for a 3-minute video (with Polish translator).

Aug 14

Breakfast today at the Granola Café. With Robert booked all day with labyrinth duties, Dave was on his own. The first stop was the giant Empic bookstore buying the magazine Maly Domy (Small Houses) with 168 house plans. Lunch at the 3rd floor Empic coffee shop with it's large views of the Palace of Culture and Science (pix). After a siesta, and cooler outside temperatures, out again for a stroll down Hoza street and dinner at Trattoria Rucola.

Aug 15

A very full day with breakfast at Coffee Nero then on to the Kolo Flea Market where we met up with Dave's friend, Peter Paszkowski. Pete then took us to his radio collection in his house (pix), and after a lovely tour of the SOHO area of Warsaw, lunch at Warszawa Wschodnia. Peter and Christine's daughter, Natalia, is one of the SOHO architects. A quick nap back at the hotel, then on to the opening concert of Chopin and His Europe Festival, with pianist Nikolai Lugansky.

Aug 16

Amazing day at Zelazowa Wola, where Chopin was born in 1810. Through the kindness of Monika Strugala of the Chopin Institute, we were given VIP treatment with bus transport, a greeting by a staff member (speaking French, but Robert speaks French), a private tour of the Chopin house, and then when the noon piano recital was to take place, we didn't sit outside like the rest, but were given seats in the piano room. Pianist Grzegorz Niemczuk (pix) (on YouTube) was astounding.

Aug 17

We went shopping at a Thrift Store so Dave could get a few more shirts, followed by a visit to Hala Mirowska to see an original Polish outdoor market in action. The main event of the day was a concert at the Studio of Polish Radio where violist Krzysztof Chorzelski and pianist Maciej Grzybowski (pix) played the World Premiere of Andrzej Czajkowski's Sonata for Viola and Piano (1954-55), 60 years after the work was written.

Aug 18

Happy Birthday Dave! Breakfast at Bristol Hotel Café and later a fine early dinner at Tamka43. Because of Dave's involvement with the life of Andrzej Czajkowski, there were two interviews today. First, with Michal Kubicki of Polish Radio and, second, with Aleksandra Maslowska from Poznan Opera Studies. Finally, the evening concert featuring three works by Andrzej Czajkowski, the last being Ariel, a setting of three songs from the Shakespeare play, The Tempest (pix).

Aug 19

Best weather of the trip with sunshine and 70s! The main event of the day was a meeting of the Andrzej Czajkowski Fan Club, this time at the Mielzynski Wine Bar. Those attending were opera singer Marta Wryk, pianist and writer Roman Markowicz (and his partner Malgosia), and Dave and Robert. The wait staff brings a chalk board of the daily specials (pix). After a long nap and rest, the evening meal was at Rain by India Curry. We do much more than just eat. Honest.

Aug 20

Breakfast at Kawiarnia Wypoczynkownia (really) and then on to the History of the Polish Jews Museum (pix), which traces Polish Jews in Poland from the year 1,300 onwards, right up to their near total destruction in the Holocaust. Then back to the hotel to pack for our trip to Krakow on Friday. Later, a quick snack on the way to the concert hall, where we heard the former bad-boy pianist Ivo Pogorelic play a recital, but he's still a bad boy and we left at the intermission.

Aug 21

We call this picture, "Born to Segway." When we arrived in Krakow from Warsaw, we noted a Segway tour and we knew at once that this is something we wanted to do, and did (pix). Terrific fun and easy to do. The Krakow Central Square was alive with sellers of goods, food stands, flowers stands, and at least 25 restaurants with outdoor seating on the square perimeter, and on and on. We snacked through lunch with dinner at Miod i Wino. Click Here for a video.

Aug 22

Off to the Jewish Quarter this morning for a "fitness" breakfast, then a walking tour of no less than three flea markets, including a seller with a large selection of slippers (pix). Robert found a restaurant offering a "kotlet de volaille" (Chicken Kiev) for Dave, after which Robert had a long massage. Later, a tour of Krakow on bicycles (free from the hotel) and, finally, an organ concert at St. Anny Church featuring organist Andrzej Bialko. Click Here for some Krakow scenes.

Aug 23

The day began with a $5 buffet breakfast at Pod Wawellum followed by a walking tour of Wawel Castle (pix), then a boat ride on the Vistula River. Next, an iced coffee, then Tram 8 to the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy, inspired by the life of St. Faustina, followed by lunch at an Israeli restaurant called HAMSA. In the afternoon, a concert of Gregorian Chant at the Benedictine Abbey in Tyniec, plus a walking tour of the abbey. Finally, dinner at Cyrano de Bergerac. Whew!

Aug 24

Breakfast at Hotel Wentzl (our hotel) that has this strange bird light fixture (pix), and then back to Warsaw via an express train, a trip of about 2.5 hours. Lunch was at the French bistro, Pari, Pari. We chose the Marriott Hotel at the Warsaw airport for our last night in Poland so we can relax, Robert can use the fitness center, and then get to bed early for some extra sleep. This blog mentions restaurants a lot because someday we might want to recall just where we dined.

Aug 25

The flight back to Chicago USA went perfectly today, a trip of about 9 hours. We upgraded once again to Business Class by winning the seat auctions on LOT, Polish Airlines. Robert (pix) flew out of Chicago O'Hare back home to San Antonio, while Dave took another expensive taxi ride to Chicago Midway for his flight back to Tucson. Our Polish Sudoku contest was won by Robert this time, but Dave is still holds the championship from the Mexican Sudoku contest.