David and Kathy

David Ferré and Kathy Childs Website

Greetings from Dave and Kathy. With our move to Europe from July to December, 2012, we're going to maintain a blog of what we're up to (see below). We'll return to the US in December to our winter home in Tucson. After enjoying a few months in Tucson, we'll head back to Europe in May, 2013, returning to the US in August, 2013. Our homes in Germany and France are via Home Exchanges with corresponding German and French families.

| July | August | Sept. | Oct. | Nov. | Dec. 2012 |

Nov 1

Adventure day today in Frankfurt and only two accidents on the Autobahn to slow us down. Our first stop was another Hundertwasser creation, this time, his Children's Day-care Centre Heddernheim (pix). What a great whimsical building for children with a grass roof and lots of nooks and crannies. Then to downtown Frankfurt on market day (video). It was a holiday today - All Saints Day - but all the stores were open.

Nov 2

Getting ready for our trip to Poland on Sunday. Then an afternoon at the Bad Schönborn thermal springs. I also looked at the "parking" ticket I got in Frankfurt. Actually, it's not a parking ticket at all, rather, a summons because I didn't display a Umweltplakette (environmental badge) (pix), which means I was driving downtown in a zone that requires a car have low emissions. The fine is 40 Euros but I have no idea how to pay it or why a car 3 months old from France got a ticket at all.

Nov 3

There are 100s of housing units being built in nearby Oftersheim, from single family, to row houses, to large-scale apartment homes. Most are made of white blocks that are cemented together but one was a prefab house made of large sheets of Oriented Strand Board (OSB) (pix). The pieces were placed into position by a crane where they were simply screwed together. The house went up in a single day (video).

Nov 4

Off to Warsaw, Poland today. We've been to Warsaw enough to know our way around and in no time, we were all checked in to our B&B. This was the last day the cemetery graves have candles for All Saints Day, so we waited until dark for our visit to the Cmentarz Wojskowy-Powazki, where Celina Czajkowska, the grandmother of Andrzej Czajkowski, is buried (pix). We lit some candles but someone has left flowers.

Nov 5

From 1985-1992 Dave wrote a biography (pix) of the Polish composer and pianist André Tchaikowsky (Andrzej Czajkowski in Poland). André, who died in 1982 at 46, was quickly forgotten until 2006 when André's piano compositions were discovered by a Polish pianist, Maciej Grzybowski. Soon after, Dave created an André Tchaikowsky website (Kathy's idea) to make available the biography and other materials. In 2008 Dave and Kathy were invited to Kalisz, Poland by Polish Radio for the 1st performance in Poland of André's Piano Concerto. Interest in André's opera, The Merchant of Venice, was beginning to circulate until it was announced by director David Pountney that the opera would be performed at the Bregenz Festival in Austria in 2013.

Dr. Anastasia Belina from the Opera Studies department at Leeds University (UK) was provided with André's personal diaries to write about the opera and to include some of Dave's research into her book. Then Aleksander Laskowski of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute announced they will bring the opera to Warsaw in 2014. Dave was invited to Warsaw to meet with Aleksander and Anastasia (pix), and to review the Andrzej Czajkowski Archive at the University of Warsaw Library.

Nov 6

Fabulous day today starting with the breakfast table, then meeting Anastasia for a "high" coffee at Hotel Bristol, followed by a tour of Warsaw Old Town before heading to the impressive Mielzynski Wine Bar for some wine tasting. Later, we were joined by Warsaw journalist Hanna Milewska (pix) and after some lunch also at the wine bar, we revisited Celina Czajkowska's grave, then off to a meeting at the Adam Mickiewicz Institute with pianist Maciej Grzybowski. Dinner at U Szwejka.

Nov 7

There are three books about André Tchaikowsky. In this (pix) you see Anastasia Belina, the author of "André Tchaikowsky and The Merchant of Venice" (in preparation) and then Anita Janowska, the author of "My Guardian Devil" (3rd edition released in 2011) and then Dave, the author of "The Other Tchaikowsky" (1992). This picture was taken in Anita's apartment and on this particular day, Anita was is excellent health and spirits.

After Anita's visit, we went to restaurant U Kucharzy to celebrate the 90th birthday of "Mom" Pokrzywa (pix). In attendance were daughter Monika with her husband, conductor Tadeusz Strugala, son Jacek with wife Cornelia with children Sofia, Klara, and Bianca (accomplished musicians all, forming the trio "The Three Crowns") and then Anastasia, Kathy and Dave. Will we ever forget that dessert of Meringue and cake?!

Nov 8

We went to Anastasia's MDM Hotel to meet and then all of us went to the University of Warsaw Library and the Music Department, which is administered by Piotr Maculewicz (pix). We suspect Anastasia started her day with a visit to her favorite, Coffee Karma! At the library, Piotr's assistant brought out a cart with 10 large boxes of Andrzej Czajkowski archive materials, which Dave had sent to the library several years ago.

On one particular evening, we visited Krystyna and Piotr Paszkowski (Piotr is André Tchaikowsky's cousin) with a lovely meal and a private showing of Piotr's radio collection (150 and counting). In the same building is another cousin, Elzbieta, who has the distinction of having the piano used by André to prepare for the 1955 Chopin Competition (he received 8th prize). In this (pix), Anastasia is playing a Chopin Nocturne.

Nov 9

Time to depart Warsaw and return to Germany. Our faithful bus 175 is the one to take to the airport and to the splendid Zlote Terasy (Golden Terraces) shopping mall, with it's freeform curved roof of 1,500 individual glass panels (video). This mall is located just behind the Dworzec Warszawa Centralna (Central Train Station) and an easy walk from Centrum. We arrived in Germany on time, got our car from long-term parking and drove home to Schwetzingen.

Nov 10

The Schwetzinger Eiszauber (Ice Magic) festival (pix) opened while we were gone to Poland and continues to January 20th. This is much more than a skating rink, it's also a number of shops and a restaurant. It was amazing to see them assemble this small city over the last few weeks. And while not quite one of the famous German "Christmas Markets," this is, nevertheless, quite an achievement and they do it every year.

Nov 11

Today is the feast day of St. Martin, who started out as a Roman soldier but was baptized and became a monk. A famous legend is that he once cut his cloak into halves to share with a beggar during a snowstorm, to save the beggar from dying from the cold. To honor St. Martin, children carry lanterns (pix) (video) to a square, where a soldier on a horse reenacts the legend, cutting his cloak into halves for a beggar. And so it was tonight at the Palace Gardens.

Nov 12

Absolutely nothing happened today, which is a good thing. Alles ist gut. So we're going to include one of Kathy's excellent flower photos. We did some e-mails, some real estate searches, and Dave did some work on his André Tchaikowsky website using some new materials from 1947 that he found during our recent visit to Warsaw.

Nov 13

Off to Czech Republic today, with final destination the lovely Penzion Nad Oborou (pix) in Hradec Králové. From our base in Germany, it was about a 5-hour drive (video). The purpose of our visit - the 2nd in 5 years - is to attend a world premiere of a classical music composition by Dave's friend, Josef Vodak. More on that tomorrow. Dinner was at a pizza place we enjoyed during our last visit. It's still there and people still smoke like chimneys.

Nov 14

The concert we'll attend tomorrow includes Symphony No. 1 by Josef Vodak (pix). This concert celebrates the November 1989 Velvet Revolution that lead to Czechoslovakia freedom in 1990. This work, composed in 1958, was seen at the time as "anti-Communist" and under threat, Josef escaped to the US in 1960, returning to Czech Republic in 1997. Now 85 years old, this symphony will be heard for the first time. Today, a rehearsal (video).

Nov 15

Another beautiful, sunny day and after an excellent breakfast, we were off to the concert hall for the morning rehearsal of Vodak's Symphony No. 1. This difficult work is really coming together, and most of all, Josef is content. In the afternoon, we visited the Petrof Piano factory and showroom (Petrof pianos are made in Hradec Králové), and in the evening, the concert. Big success! Bravo Josef (pix). The orchestra played beautifully throughout and the audience was pleased.

Nov 16

Off to the Czech spa town of Karlovy Vary today. On the way, in Odrepsy, was the antique shop (pix) of our dreams. Room after room packed with Bohemian crystal, porcelain, radios, light fixtures, ancient kitchenware with canisters, pots, dishes, silverware and on and ON. We bought an art deco vase, and some art pottery, but we failed to buy an art deco desk lamp and a perfect old radio in a Bakelite case. Cheap prices, too.

Arriving in Karlovy Vary, we found our Hotel Pushkin and checked in. Everything was in order and we updated on-the-spot to a balcony room with panoramic views of the Tepla (Warm) River that flows through the central section of the old town. Our hotel is in the center of this (pix) with the balcony room just below the top. The only bad news is that the elevator was out of order and it was a rather long hike to our room.

Next was a lovely walk along the pedestrian way, the Stara Louka, to what is the centerpiece of Karlovy Vary, Grandhotel Pupp (say "poop") that was featured in such films as Last Holiday with Queen Latifah (great movie). Of course, we had to enjoy the cafe (pix) and to look the place over. In the evening, a concert by the Karlovarsky Symfonicky Orchestr featuring pianist Rafael Gonzales playing the Grieg Piano Concerto in a small concert hall.

Nov 17

Elevator still out of order, but breakfast was outstanding. This really is a nice hotel but there are many other nice hotels in the same area, and their elevators are working. Like Hotel Dvorak. We returned to Schwetzingen in about 4 hours. Saw two accidents on the Autobahn. Then we completed some preparations for a visit from Dave's brother Robert and Robert's wife, Linda. Today's (pix) is from an artsy house we like.

Nov 18

Robert (Dave's brother) and Linda (pix) arrived right on time at the Frankfurt airport to spend Thanksgiving with us (on Nov. 22), and then a few additional days. Great to see them. We are planning our adventures. Linda commented on the cars passing us up on the Autobahn that were probably going about 120 mph, maybe more. In the evening, Kathy fixed a fantastic dinner.

Nov 19

Our visitors had a good sleep then off we went to breakfast at the Café Journal, followed by a walking tour of Schwetzingen. Since no tour is complete without a stop at the Asparagus Lady, we had to take a (pix). For whatever reason, Asparagus is BIG in Germany, including a festival in May. After a rest, it was off to Heidelberg to walk the entire length of the pedestrian Main Street, followed by an excellent vegetarian dinner at Red - Die Gruene Kueche.

Nov 20

Off to Würzburg today to enjoy a tour of the city with Robert's friend, and labyrinth builder, Erwin Reissmann. Robert is a world-class scholar on labyrinths and operates Labyrinth Enterprises. Today's (pix) is one of Erwin's labyrinths. Our tour included an amazing palace called The Residence and it's something to see. Sadly, like 90% of the town, this was rebuilt from rubble after the city was bombed in WW2 on March 16, 1945, just days before the end of the war.

Nov 21

Relaxing start of the day with Robert and Dave playing for the European Sudoku trophy. Current score is Dave 1, Robert 2. Then off to the opening day of the Heidelberg Christmas Market (pix) (video) with cups of warm wine to keep us going as we toured the many little Christmas shops. Dinner, of course, was at the market with German Pancakes loaded with applesauce and Dave found his "dream" bratwurst (image).

Nov 22

Wonderful weather found us outside today with walks and bike rides, and Robert was welcomed into a nearby gym as a guest. Then an afternoon visit and ferry ride to Ladenburg to walk the old town and have a hot chocolate at Koffeehaus. Finally, back home to prepare our Thanksgiving feast (pix) of salmon and all kinds of side dishes. Before our dessert, we read some of our favorite poems to each other. A lovely day together.

Nov 23

Off to Worms today to a flea market that never happened. A few dealers showed up but not much overall. In exploring the town, Robert and Linda found a Thai Massage emporium (pix), and later lunch in Mannheim at Little Saigon restaurant, which was excellent once again. Then back to the prefab houses for another visit, finding two new houses, one of which was terrific, but $600,000.

Nov 24

Off to Heist-Op-Den-Berg, Belgium today as part of our visit-every-country-with-a-border-with-Germany tour. Robert and Linda stayed behind in Schwetzingen. After a drive of less than 4 hours, we arrived at Hotel Villa Monte (pix) and checked in. After a nice lunch at La Cita, we did a walking tour of the city, finding nearly every chocolate shop, then a concert in the evening at Cultuurcentrum Zwaneberg featuring violinist Ning Kam.

Nov 25

Heist-Op-Den-Berg has a great Sunday Market. Food, antiques, junk, just everything and lots of chicken (video). Then we went to Lier, Belgium. There we found an antique shop that was selling out with the most amazing collection (video). Next, a walk in Lier Old Town with its showpiece, the Zimmer Tower (pix). Lunch at 't Hoeveke, and dinner at Rosario's. Saw the James Bond movie after dinner. We had a B&B in mind for the night but it was booked so we ended up at the Zimmer Hotel.

Nov 26

Back to Schwetzingen today, traveling on the backroads, which added more than an hour of travel time but then you see things like this unusual house (pix). Across the street was a large selection of unusual Yard Art that was for sale. Upon returning home, Robert and Linda were out and around in Schwetzingen (they love it here) and then later in the evening a revenge rematch for the card game, Phase 10, but we lost again.

Nov 27

Leisurely day with breakfast at the new bakery down the street, then a video rental, followed by a long visit to the Bad Schönborn thermal for a soak. The main event was a fine dinner hosted by Robert and Linda in Ladenburg at the Die Kartoffel (The Potato) restaurant (pix). This has been a favorite restaurant of Dave and Kathy, which is an experience because you cook your own meal on an extremely hot stone. The building dates from 1683.

Nov 28

Cold, wind, and rain today, so perfect for wine tasting on the German Wine Route, in particular, the wineries in St. Martin. Alas, closed for the winter, but one store was open (image) for purchases. Next, back home for a rest, then on to the just-opened Christmas Market (pix) and Festival of Lights, plus on-stage dance and music. With rain and cold continuing, we ducked into a local restaurant for dinner, sitting next to the fireplace. Nice!

Nov 29

There are many nice things about our location in Schwetzingen but one is surely being close to the Frankfurt airport, just over 45 minutes away. So taking Robert and Linda to the airport was a snap, as they head for Venice and then a cruise back to the US. We caught up on a few things in and around the house, then back to the Palace Plaza where the Christmas Market is setup and to enjoy a fine local beer (pix). Cold weather but no rain.

Nov 30

Off to the Kaffeehaus in Schwetzingen for breakfast, then a bit of shopping for some warm clothes since snow is predicted for London and we leave tomorrow. The rest of the day was spent relaxing around the house, Dave working on some Internet projects, and both of us having fun with real estate searches in Wilson, NC and Penobscot, ME. Finally, out again to buy some gloves. Today's (pix) is Kathy's vegetable art shot.