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Volos, Greece

Volos

We arrived in Volos and took a walk around town. The town has walking streets lined with stores. Our hotel here was the nicest of the trip. I decided to do my laundry by hand and hang it on the balcony. As usual, my shorts were on the balcony below the next morning…but I got them back. We got dressed up and went to the synagogue for Shabbat services followed by a Shabbat meal. Before the service, I was talking with a college student named Daniel. He showed me the front of the synagogue and main gate. He explained that they do not use it anymore because of fear of the Golden Dawn party. He also said they used to eat outside, but now only eat indoors. The Golden Dawn was having a rally somewhere in town, so a police officer was stationed outside the gate. The service needed a minion….so we started late as more men arrived. After the service, we were treated to a meal which was very good. We met a survivor. In the service, I noticed his tattoo on his arm….he was motioning to me when to stand and when to sit. We made it home without incident. The Jewish community of Volos was very friendly. The next morning, we hopped on a bus to visit the monasteries in the mountains seen in a James Bond movie. The monastery was beautiful, but we spent most of the day on the buss. After the monastery, we had a debriefing meeting talking about our experiences. The next day, we loaded back in the bus and headed to Triklika. We went to the synagogue which was different because it had not been remodeled. It was in the same state as it was before the war. Our guide was the cousin of Al Negron, one of the Toledo survivors. We then traveled to Al’s house, knocked on the door and got a tour of the home. We then walked around the town. I finally got a spinach pie with feta which was awesome. The town has a river in the center with a river walk which was beautiful. On the other side of the river, all the Greeks were sitting under canopies drinking in the shade. We drove back to Volos. I did an interview for the documentary and went down walking to the river. They have a huge breaker in the dock that you can walk out and look at the waterfront. I went back to the hotel and checked in with the group who said there was live music a couple blocks away. I went to find it, didn’t, and on the way back I stepped in a hole and pulled the muscle in the back of my leg. I doubt I will be doing any more walks on this trip. At least it happened at the end.

Athens, Greece

Athens

We landed in Greece at 8 pm and went into Athens. Driving in this city is worse than anywhere I have ever been. Double/triple parking is the norm….and traffic lights and signage are suggestions…glad I am not driving. We had an orientation at the hotel and the our guide treated us to a Greek snack a couple blocks from the Acropolis. Our hotel has a great location…..other than that, it was very modest. I had lots of trouble sleeping. The next morning, we went to the Greek holocaust museum and met with the director and the outreach education coordinator. They had unit suitcases to send the schools that were really put together well. Then we went to two synagogues and was given a tour of both of them by the rabbi. We then visited the holocaust memorial which was a shattered star listing all the cities that had victims listed on the part of the star that pointed to it….it was very well done. It was 4:30, and we were leaving tomorrow morning….so I split from the group and headed to the Acropolis. As I was walking up, I noticed a band with an orchestra setting up in the theater and they were warming up to McCartney tunes. I walked up to the top which was beautiful. Unfortunately, the Acropolis was under construction. On the top, the Germans had built a bunker which allows you to see the entire city. I walked around the sites, but couldn’t stay because we had n 8:00 meeting. The meeting lasted an hour, and we went out to dinner where I got some fried cheese and spinach pies…..The pies where fried, not the fillo and feta which is one of my favorites…but they were good. After supper, I went back to see the Acropolis at night. The band that was playing was a Beatles tribute band with orchestra….they were good and it was nice to hear Hey Jude with the reverb….but I prefer The Fab Faux or Paul himself. After listening to a couple songs, I walked back down and saw a ventriloquist whose dummy was a guitar player. I decided to finish the evening with a couple songs from a live band. The band had a female singer, a guitarist, and a Greek instrument that looks like a giant mandolin. It also was played and sounded like a mandolin. I returned to the hotel and went to sleep.
This morning, we left Athens. On the way, we passed by Thebes where Aedopus was from.

Hungary…Posted after leaving

Budapest

We arrived in Budapest, changed, and went downstairs for an introduction to Hungary. We learned some basic Hungarian words and how to get around in the city. Everyone was exhausted from the bus ride so we called an early night.

I woke up early the next day and walked down to the Danube before everyone else was up. It felt good to exercise and see the city. I walked for 2 hours. We got together at 9:00 and met with the US embassy outreach coordinator. We picked up a translator and walked to the synagogue. We toured the synagogue which was beautiful. It was rebuilt in the 80s. In the garden, we visited the mass graves of people who died in the ghetto and viewed the monuments. We walked through the former ghetto to a small restaurant. We were met at the restaurant by the USC Shoah representative who talked with us about the fight in Hungary over textbook content. Then we met with France Olti, who is the Jewish curriculum representative trying to get accurate information of Jewish culture and history in the textbooks. we concluded our meetings, and walked through the former ghetto. One interesting thing I found in Budapest was that in front of homes were holocaust victims lived, there is a small plaque in the sidewalk with the victim’s name and years of life. As you walk through town, you see markers all over. Next, we meet with the Israeli education outreach center who shared their educational programs that they offer to educate children about Judaism and tolerance. The meeting was very enlightening as we discussed stereotypes and the unique history of the Jews in Budapest. The Hungarian government rounded up and shipped all of the Hungarian Jews to German death camps….but they couldn’t send people from Budapest because it was surrounded by the Russians. After our meeting, we continued to walk through the former ghetto. There were two ghettos here…the ghetto and the International ghetto. The International ghetto was named International because the people there were able to get fake passports. We ended up in the middle of a political protest. The government, which has adopted a right stance, commissioned a monument to the holocaust. The monument depicts the Hungarian government as being uninvolved and the Germans did everything. The monument is not complete because protestors have held hands in a link and have surrounded the monument. in front of the monument, mementos of holocaust victims, photos, books wrapped in plastic, flowers have been laid in front. The government has troops protecting the monument. After we watched the protest for a while, we split up and I walked around downtown along the Danube. We got back together for a group debrief at 9 where we discussed our ideas and feelings from the past few days.
We dressed up and left early to meet with the Jewish government official who explained the problems with the monument and how the Jewish community gave all of their government funding back to the government in protest. We left the government office, and went to the Budapest holocaust archives. Unfortunately, there was not enough room for a group. We split up, and my group went to the holocaust museum. The museum had a very personal focus and had testimonies from survivors that were translated into English. I was really shocked by the unique experience in Hungary. When the Jews were collected and sent to the trains, the local population cheered. Two days after shipping them to camps, they had auctions for the rest of the town to buy all of their things. One survivor from Auswitcz said that when she went back to her home after making it through, the people in the town had even stolen all the bricks from her home…… I can’t even imagine. In 1956, the was a revolution against the Soviet Union…..and there were a couple Jews who had decided to work with the Soviets. As a result, many Jewish people left the country as anti-Semitism rose. When we talked to survivors, they described the current situation in Hungry as just as bad or worse than 1944. After the museum, the group split up and I went to find the shoe memorial. It was a 3 hour walk, but I finally found it. The shoes mark the spot where the Hungarian government rounded up Jews and shot them into the Danube. Later, a guide explained that to conserve bullets, people we’re tied together in threes and only the middle person was shot. There were a few survivors who were able to swim out…..not very many. It was our last night in Budapest, so we regrouped and went to a Jewish restaurant for a Shabbot dinner. We were joined by a research/ writer who collects the stories of women survivors, which provided a different experience in the work camps. We also were joined by the American consulate who shared her amazing story of how she got to Hungary from Brooklyn through Jordan, Israel, and LA. We had to leave early, so we returned to the hotel and turned in early.

At 8:30, we loaded into the bus to go to a smaller town. The country here looks exactly the same as Ohio except they grow wheat and Sunflowers. A. Little corn as well. We arrived in the town Koloscia and checked into a small bed and breakfast style hotel. We dropped off our luggage and went to the Holocaust monument and met the film maker of “There was Once”. The monument contains the names of the 332 Jewish Koloscian’s lost in the holocaust. The monument is a new 2009 reproduction of the one erected by survivors in 1948. Since the Communists were against any religion, the synagogue was used as a library and the original monument was taken to Budapest. The community found the original, but it was not able to be moved. The monument was right beside the synagogue, which is no longer being used as a library and empty. We went and had a group lunch and went to the high school where we met with a group of students and faculty. We had a screening of the movie (which was fantastic) and then had a dialogue with students and faculty. They wanted to know what American teens knew about Hungary and two students shared a 10 minute documentary they had done on a brother and sister who survived the holocaust which was also well done. We were given a tour by the students and staff of the school (think 1970’s US) which was 250 years old. I was very impressed with the students in Koloscia. We left the school and went to the Jewish cemetery. The is no Jewish population in the town, and 5 years ago, the cemetery was overgrown and unkempt. The filmmaker brought back Koloscian Jewish survivors for the rededication of the monument and they flew in from the US, Canada, and Israel. The town cleaned up the cemetery for the event. Now, the students in the high school maintain the cemetery as a community service project. On the day of the ceremony, there also was another ceremony across town that attracted anti-Semitic Hungarians. One of the Jewish participants was hit in the head by a slingshot. There are some complicated things going on in Hungary right now. After the cemetery, we went to a group meal, went back to the hotel and finished the night watching the World Cup.

On Sunday, we went to the bishop’s library which is one of the largest collections of books. We saw Guttenburg press books and Luther’s original translation of the Bible. The library was amazingly beautiful and reminded me of what I imagine Hogwart’s library looks like. We saw the first published map that only had three continents on it. After the library, we went to a Paprika museum. The town is famous for paprika ( although we never got any) which is not just sweet like in the states, but also spicy hot. The museum not only held the paprika museum, but also the Church treasury. They had all kinds of church relics including one that had pieces of the bones of all of the apostles. After the paprika museum, we went to the painted house museum. In the old days, the Hungarians used to paint flower wallpaper in the front of their homes in a room similar to a parlor. They would paint the rooms white, and female artists would come in for a month and paint flowers on the walls…it was quite beautiful. We had a group lunch, and left Koloscia for Pecs.
We made it to Pecs. While walking around, we got hit by a rainstorm. Pecs was having a music festival so clubs had live music outside. When the storm came, the bands had to stop. We ducked into a club, and the next band came in and decided to play acoustic indoors. They had a jug player, a banjo, and a guitar. They went through a set including Johnny Cash and Wagon wheel. The banjo player had an extra acoustic so I borrowed it and jammed to Crossroads, Hey Joe, Folsom, Matchbox, and a whole bunch of other songs. It was awesome to play guitar. After that, we had a group meeting. The group went to a club….which had a guitar in the corner. I sat down and wrote a song. The banjo player and I hung out for a while and he took me to a local place to watch the World Cup finals. It was a great night. The next day, we walked to find one of our survivor’s homes. It was Monday, and everything was closed. We found the house/ butcher shop and went to a factory redone as a museum place. We visited the American Corner….a place that lent books and movies to exchange students and then visited the only two museums open on Monday, the pottery museum and the Pink museum. The pottery museum was an open workplace showing how they made decorative pottery. The pink museum was a collection of pink pottery. We went for a walk. I got a sub for lunch….it had egg as one of the main ingredients. Pecs was very nice. We. I sited a church and talked with the church charity coordinator. Later I went down to see the band again, but they didn’t have a gig. The next day, we had a visit with a holocaust survivor. Her story was amazing. Out of 31 family members, 28 did not survive. She survived Auschwitz and was transferred to a work camp the repaired cables. I really liked her quote, ” life is not a series of coincidences, it is a collection of miracles.” After that we toured the synagogue. Later, we went to the local history museum of Pecs. Since it was our last night in Pecs, I went down and watched the Crazy Daisy Jug band play a set and bought a t-shirt. In Pecs, they had a wall of love locks. Lovers write their names on a lock, lock it to the wall, and throw away the key.
This morning we had to get up early to travel to the small town the author of “Seeds of Sarah” lived in. We traveled by bus. We were greater by a Jewish community leader. He gave a lecture on Jewish history in the area and we toured the synagogue. The community had 3500 Jewish residents before the war. After the war, only 400 survived. The survivors could not afford the upkeep of the original synagogue so they sold it to the government who tore it down in 1980. We toured the town and got back on the bus to go back to Budapest to catch our flight to Greece.

Leaving Poland

Our last night in Krakow was spent at the Holocaust center. The SS hotel I mentioned in my last post also houses the center. We discussed holocaust education in Polish schools and the focus on Poles who were lost as opposed to Polish Jews and the political and social reasons for this. We piled into taxis and went downtown to eat on a barge on the river. This sounded better than it was because the boat was enclosed in glass which made it unbearably hot like a greenhouse. Afterwards, G and I walked around with our guide Johanna (Asha) as we bid her goodbye. We returned back to the hotel, where my roommates and I wrote a farewell song to Poland and went to bed.
We left the next morning at 5 am and drove to Gross Rosen. Here, prisoners were forced into slave laborers who had to mine granite by hand. They worked 12 hours shifts and were given 1000 calories a day…..most lasted less than 4 months. Also located at the camp were German factories that used slave labor. The SS had built themselves a casino, pool, and their gardens are still recognize able (flowering crab apples line the edge. This really showed another aspect of the Germans. We tried to get lunch at a grocery store and continued to the Gross Rosen archives where we a work transfer ticket issued by the Germans for one of our survivors and looked at the records which mainly consisted of survivor testimony since the Germans burned all the records. We drove for a few hours and arrived at a small hotel in the mountains. I took an hour nap and showered. Then we went to tour Project Reise, the German underground city. We hiked underground in the slave made caves for two hours. All documents on what this was to be used for have been destroyed and the Soviets had 10,000 troops stationed there after the war. It is hypothesized that the Germans had the A bomb there since the Soviets tested theirs right after the war. There are survivor testimonies that talk about using massive amounts of concrete…..but no one can find the concrete. These massive tunnels are all over in the mountains. There are 12 different ones you can go through……at least 26 known locations……but since the Soviets quarantined the area…..no witnesses can show where the tunnels are. What exactly were the Germans thinking? One of our survivors worked on this project which ran from 43-45. We went to a pizza place in a Hostel for a meal and returned to the hotel. I started watching the World Cup….but after the Germans scored 6 goals right of the bat, I went to bed.

Today we loaded in the bus for a 7 hour drive. We crossed into the Czech Republic and had lunch in Slovakia. The drive took forever, but we finally made it to Budapest.

Krakow

When we arrived at Krakow, we went first to the Schindler museum. The museum focused on the entire Holocaust experience in Krakow and only had two rooms dedicated to Schindler. Even though the museum was not what I was expecting, it was an excellent museum. One of the most interesting parts of the Schindler museum was the exhibit on Polish resistance where they had a china cabinet with a fake back to hide a machine gun. It was also nice to see Schindler’s desk. It was raining in Krakow, so we had to take a taxi. We went to the Galicia Jewish museum next, which was an excellent collection of thought provoking photographs. The picture that stuck out for me was one of a farmhouse door…with the sidewalk flipped over….the sidewalk was made of upside down Jewish tombstone…and the Hebrew writing was imprinted in the dirt. After the museum tour, we were invited to attend a lecture by the United States Ambassador to Poland, Steven Mull, who discussed how he has witnessed changes in Poland since he first arrived in 1984.
The Ambassador invited us to an official reception celebrating July 4 and the celebration of the relationship between Poland and the United States. The reception was at a monument for a Polish Revolutionary War hero. The reception included food provided by American/ Polish sponsors. McDonalds paid for the fireworks. The food included the Hard Rock Cafe, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Dominoes Pizza, Subway, Hilton….and they had a giant American flag cake. What made this odd was that everyone else was in very fancy dress, and I was in wrinkled work clothes. This really made me feel like I stood out. I did enjoy the fireworks.
On Thursday, we traveled to Auschwitz. First, we went to the archives and were able to look at the original documents which included German records and survivor testimonies. Afterwards, we toured the camp. One thing I learned was that the prisoners called the warehouses of stolen items from the victims were called Canada….because it was a better place very far from Auschwitz. Touring the camp was very emotional…the stockpiles of baby shoes, eyeglasses, suitcases, and human hair….left me wondering how anyone could do this. I believe my pictures will explain this experience better than words…but I will have to wait until I get back because our Internet is iffy. Our hotel is called Przegorzaly, which is another emotional thing because it was built as a retreat for SS soldiers by the Germans. The building is now a hotel and there is a university and dorms behind it. We are staying in the dorm behind it.
The next day, we went to Berkenau. This camp really hit me even more than Auschwitz. The camp was burned and destroyed as much as possible by the Germans to destroy the evidence. Berkenau was huge….it is unbelievable how big this camp was. There were the remains of five crematoriums that the Germans destroyed with dynamite. We learned that right after liberation there was no evidence of what happened here. Then they started to collect the survivors testimonies. There was a camera smuggled in and they took 3 pictures of the autocracies. The prisoners also smuggled in dynamite and destroyed one of the crematoriums themselves. A collection of personal photographs stolen from the victims was smuggled out in a suitcase that were found and are on display. And the Germans themselves took photographs. The camp has these photographs on posters where they were taken so you can really understand. I had imagined Canada was a single warehouse…when we hiked to Canada….it was a field of buildings….the scale of Berkenau is unimaginable. There were also 2 different Canadas. When we got back to the hotel, I wrote a song called “The Song is Gone”. Our guide was able to get me a guitar to borrow while I was in Krakow….I have written a collection of songs….most are silly ones about culture differences. You need to have some kind of release when you are studying something so deep. When we got back, we met with a group of Polish teachers and shared a Bar-B-Q with them. After the Bar-B-Que, we participated in a team building event….learning a drum circle. The instructions were all in Polish, but I was able to follow along with no problem. It was very interesting watching the instructor build the parts and direct the circle. Afterwards, we had a dance and the person who let me borrow the guitar played for a while.
On Saturday, we went into Krakow. We went to the Jewish section and had a meeting with a Jewish hotel owner and private school owner. While meeting with them, we met three holocaust survivors staying at the hotel. We walked over to the park of the empty chair memorial. We also went to the pharmacy museum where a pharmacist provided medicine to people trapped in the ghetto. We also walked to a remaining section of the ghetto wall. The wall was made to resemble a Jewish cemetery. Next, we went to the center square of Krakow. Krakow is one of the most beautiful cities architecturally that I have ever seen. I found the Krakow Hard Rock which had Keith Moon’s cowboy boots, the scarf John Lennon had on in front of the Statue of Liberty, an autographed Eddie Van Halen guitar, Bun E. Carlos’ drum set and other items. One interesting thing was that they had a guitar from Keith Richards hung where no one could see it.
Sunday was our first semi “free” day. Mr. G. is on this trip with me, and we both worked with an exchange student, Gabi, from thee Czech Republic. She had made arrangements to come and see us, but the plan fell apart and she had to cancel. G and I decided to go downtown (we tried to tour the salt mine but the timing would not work.). When I got out of the cab, my phone fell out and I left it in the taxi. I could still see the taxi when I realized it was gone and started sprinting after it, but it pulled away to quickly. So I had an entire day without electronics. G and I walked down by the river, explored the former ghetto, and then we went back to the Jewish Synagogue. The Synagogue had been closed, but today it was open. The Germans destroyed all the cemeteries…so many of the stones were repaired. Many more were unrecognizable, so they used the stone pieces in the cemetery walls as a memorial. The wall is both beautiful and very sad. After touring the synagogue, we went to the larger Jewish cemetery and the walls of this cemetery are also made of broken stones. We were in town during a Stanley Kubrick exhibition which we went to and I got to touch the typewriter from the Shining. We had a group dinner and decided to turn in early.
Monday (7/7/2014) we are attending a lecture about teacher education in Poland. We leave Krakow tomorrow morning early.

Lodz

Lodz was a complete surprise. We went to Lodz to visit the ghetto and see where two of the survivors had lived before the war. As we pulled into town, we stopped at the train station used by the Nazi’s that is now a museum and memorial. We saw an entire German train complete with the original engine and three boxes. The station had the actual German exportation papers (encased in plexiglass) that you can research and we looked for the families’ of our survivors. They had a monument that included tombstones for the different camps that people were sent to from the station. The size of the stone represented the number of deaths. It was very humbling.

When we arrived, we drove through the town and it looked very run down. Lodz was an industrial town with lots of factories which have all closed down because of competition from Asia. We started to get worried about our hotel…..it looked very scary…but when we went to the section of town where our hotel was, it was nice. We checked in, and went down to a street that was redone for art and shopping. It was very nice and we discovered a lot of culture. We had authentic Polish food and I discovered that the new thing in Lodz was the Silent Disco. Since this didn’t make any sense to me, a few of us arranged to go. Our guides first took us to a traditional disco so we could compare..the disco played weird edits of American popular music edited into disco beats (In the mood, rock around the clock, runaround sue, etc). Finally, the Silent Disco opened….it was in the middle of a parking lot, two DJs were there. You gave your ID and some money to the table and they gave you a pair of wireless headphones with three channels. Everyone was dancing silently in the parking lot. You put on the headphones and you and your friends decide which channels to dance together on….if the mix starts to get bad, you switch channels. Smoking is still a big thing here, and many, if not most Poles smoke. There are no smoking laws.

The next day we traveled to the largest Jewish Cemetery in the world (almost 100 acres). The cemetery was all overgrown because of a variety of reasons. We found one of the Toledo survivor’s graves and cleared the area and cleaned it up. Afterwards, we donated time helping a group of volunteers clear an area of the cemetery. I was assigned to run brush…the group was attempting to cut down trees with rose pruners. I asked why they didn’t have a saw and they said there was no money…all the tools had been donated. I donated some money for a handsaw. When we got back, we went to a mall made from an old factory. We took a factory tour and discovered it was one of the largest textile factories in the world that closed in 1997. It was redesigned by a French firm as an upscale mall with lots of fancy restaurants. At night, we took a walking tour of the city (from an artist who organizes events).

The next day, it rained. Some of the group went to the Lodz archives to do research. Since I can not read Polish (or German), I decided to explore ghetto sites I found in a walking tour pamphlet. I got directions to the former Gestapo Headquarters and headed out. Before I left, I went to a store to buy some clothes to better blend in. I got a pair of Polish style jeans and a jacket (I didn’t expect it to be so cold). The walk was long. On the way, I found the ghetto wall and the place where the ghetto bridge had been. I crossed the street where the bridge had been and entered the ghetto. That was a dark deep feeling. The ghetto was in the run down section. I walked through it (getting lost multiple times) and finally found gestapo headquarters, which is now a pharmacy. My feet were soaked, so I decided to go back to the Manufktury (factory mall). I thought I knew the correct way, but ended up getting lost in Communist residential housing for almost two hours. I finally found the mall, had Polish Indian food (it was OK) and returned to the hotel. When I arrived, we had a debriefing meeting and then we went out for dinner at a Polish Turkish joint.

The next day, July 1, we left Lodz and traveled to a small town where one of our survivors had been attending school. The Nazis destroyed the town because it was 60% Jewish before the war. There are no Jews living there now. We went to a museum where the guide was half historian and half fortune teller. He asked for a volunteer to read my fortune and I volunteered. He told me that I was a star and that it is easy for people to like me. The museum had the entire town’s history…including a bunker with German and Polish collaborator uniforms in it. We ate pizza in the town and set off on another long bus ride to visit an icon and its church. The church was breathtaking…..one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen. I learned a lot about Pope John II (he was Polish and born near the church) and Polish history. We loaded back on the bus and finally arrived in Krakow. We are staying in the same resort that the SS used for vacations (which is a strange feeling). We watched the US football game…..the US lost….and I went to my room and recorded a rough demo of Robo Bootie (Roboty).

Warsaw

We landed in Warsaw and did a walking tour to Old Town. The interesting thing about Warsaw is that WWII destroyed 98% of the city. All of the buildings were rebuilt during the Cold War. In old town, they rebuilt the buildings to look exactly like the old buildings that were destroyed. Some of the churches and government buildings in the rest of the city were rebuilt as they were…but most of Warsaw is communist construction. We did a lot of walking and I took lots of great pictures. The Internet in Warsaw was not reliable, so that uploading pictures was not possible. I will have to upload them later. My phone, which is not as good as my camera, does work…so I have put some pictures online that way. Our second day, we went to the Warsaw holocaust museum and did a walking tour of some of the ghetto. We got lost trying to find the last synagogue in Warsaw and arrived an hour late. It began to rain. We returned to the hotel, and a member of my group (Eric) suggested watching the World Cup (USvGermany) with some international educators. We met the teachers at a Warsaw pub/ restaurant. One of teachers was from Canada, another South Africa, but went to school in Michigan. The US lost 0-1 and we tried to rent some bikes to get back to the hotel. Unfortunately, your deposit for a bike is a cell phone so we had to take the electric train home. Jet lag started to sink in, and I woke up late on the third day and had to skip breakfast. We went to the ghetto museum, which was amazing, stopped to see the site of the former great synagogue, went to a holocaust art museum, stopped for pirogues for lunch, returned to the hotel and met with two Polish teachers who were attempting to teach tolerance in Poland who explained some of the curriculum in Poland, and some of the barriers they experience reforming the curriculum. Afterwords, we traveled to the Jewish cemetery. We started in a bus, during rush hour on Friday, and after sitting in it for an hour and half, we got off and walked. We walked through a residential area (communist flats) and discovered the cemetery wall included some of the original ghetto wall. The cemetery was 88 acres and we had trouble finding the Jewish section. We went through the christian part, which was very photogenic (I took 500 shots) and walked for six hours. We finally found the Jewish cemetery, but it was closed. We took the train back and stopped at a Polish/ Mexican restaurant which was odd because they only had four selections….and they were out of tacos??? I got bacon covered prunes and a chimichanga. The prunes were excellent and I found out it is a Polish popular appetizer. I tried to upload some pictures, but only a single photo uploaded. This morning, we packed up and loaded up on the bus and left Warsaw for Lodz.

June 25, 2014

What an amazing last 30 hours…..we left Detroit in the middle of a monsoon, and flew to Frankfort, Germany (Luftnasia is my new favorite airline….individual movies and edible food). We landed and had to immediately board the next flight to Warsaw. On the flights, I watched Anchorman 2, some spy movie starring Kevin Costner and re-watched the pilot of the 1990 classic 90210. The plane was packed, so working on my dissertation could not happen….but we made it. When we arrived, we got dropped off at our hotel about 9 am…..unfortunately, our rooms were not ready until 3. We stopped in at a coffee shop. I signed up for European data through Verizon, but it wasn’t added yet….so I walked around Warsaw….went to the bank and found a Polish falafel vendor……which was both excellent and unique…..I also took some pictures…My new camera bag is big and bulky….so its great for the bus to sites…but really bulky walking around site seeing….I will be keeping my eyes out tomorrow for a smaller one……

After we got in our rooms (and took a quick 3 hour power nap)…we did a walking tour of Old Town, Warsaw…the oldest center city. One interesting thing was that this entire section of reconstructed buildings were destroyed in World War II….and were reproduced and rebuilt exactly as they were….I am including some pictures……Now it is time to crash…big day ahead tomorrow….

So what do you do when you leave the states for a month on your last weekend…..well…..I had hoped to work in the studio a little…but yesterday’s high wind weather made me decide to unplug it so nothing happened to it (10,000 Toledo residents lost power). So I spent all day working with the bank….which seemed to be way harder than it needed to be, set up my bills to automatically come out of my bank for a month, went to Jimmie John’s for lunch, got a haircut, and finished Orange is the new Black, watched The Book Thief, and watched most of the new season of Game of Thrones……you know important stuff…..I also went shopping…..I had to get a new hard drive, camera bag, and extra memory card. I went into work and downloaded my holocaust unit so that I can work on it for the Fulbright, I spent a few hours grading, and treated myself to Nagoya in Perrysburg (a restaurant so expensive…..I can only go once or twice a year). I also traveled to Tiffin and Bellevue to visit family members and celebrate a birthday.

With all of this exciting stuff (lol), I did continue researching notgeld and ghetto money. I learned last week that the Germans had anti-Semitic money way before Hitler. During the period after World War I, the Germans had to pay reparations to the allies. The German government did this by printing large amounts of money…this made German money worthless (hyperinflation). In order to survive, local governments printed notgeld so that there was some type of currency for business. This money was printed locally and unregulated by the government. Some of this money was very anti-Semetic (see picture).

Another money related thing I did not know was that the German government printed money to be used in the ghetto. 

This money was made to look very nice to help hide what was going on from the International community. 

The last thing I did was pack….very light…the idea is to blend in…not look American…..and put a month’s worth of clothes in a carry on.

The black bag is all camera/ laptop stuff….the green is clothes….hope I can get through security…..Off to Detroit now….my next blog should be much more exciting….Warsaw here I come……

Video Comparison

So I need to figure out what camera to take to Europe…here are two live songs recorded with a Nikon 5100 and a Canon Rebel…which one is better?

I did manually adjust the Canon’s volume because it overloaded on automatic….I am thinking the Nikon has better video and I need to manually adjust the volume on it since it is a little hot….thoughts?