Auschwitz, the most notorious of the Nazi death camps, looks deceptively bright in the springtime sun. It was one of many camps they built in occupied lands (it is located in southern Poland near Krakow). No sunshine could erase the chill of walking through this former hell, where 1.1 million people - Jews, but also Romani, Poles, homosexuals, political opponents and others the Nazis deemed not worthy of life - were marched to their deaths during World War II, most of them gassed. Why do we visit these places? Sometimes, we feel we have to. I explain this at length in my post on dark tourism (click the link in my profile).
The ceiling of St Adalbert, surely the smallest church in Krakow but definitely one of the oldest (11th century). It now hosts a string quartet in the evenings for its five rows of spectators.
What can you say about a church that hovers from Gothic to Baroque, whose towers are mismatched and whose interior can only be described as precious overwhelm combined with sensory excess? St Mary’s Basilica, Krakow’s largest church, is all that - gold columns and altar, wrought iron gate, marble floors, embossed silver, hardwood stairs and - my favorite - turquoise and gold ceilings. I’ve been in here an hour and have no idea when I’ll emerge.
What is a visit to Krakow without eating pierogi? Here a set of three - cottage cheese and potatoes, chicken and a mixture of pork and beef. All scrumptious, all moreish. There dozens of different fillings and I shall make it a point of honor to try as many as I can. For those of you in the dark, they are dumplings - boiled or panfried - and have been a staple of Polish special occasions since the 13th century. No one knows where they really came from, although their invention is claimed by Russians, Lithuanians, Poles of course, Ukrainians... some believe they originated in China (think dim sum!) while others say pierogi rolled in with the invading Tatars... But just remember this: October 8 is National Pierogi Day!
Gravity-defying acrobatic sculptures hang over Krakow’s Father Bernatek footbrige - also known for its love locks. The sculptures hang gracefully, apparently the only ones in the world suspended by only one or two support points. The artist, Jerzy ‘Jotki’ Kędziora, uses rods and pyramids to balance the nine athletes and upend the laws of physics. Sadly they are temporary, for this year only. What say you, Krakow? How about making them permanent?
Horedrawn carriages wait in line for tourists on Krakow’s main square, the largest medieval square in Europe I’m told. I’m glad I shot this on arrival last night because the square is now covered in white marquees to mark the finish line this weekend of the Krakow marathon.
Geneva on a typical winter day. The rain has stopped - not for long - and the gloom is fighting the beauty. #geneva #switzerland #geneve #rhone #river #rainy
Each Sunday, in Madrid's Plaza Mayor, collectors of every type get together to trade, barter and sell... like these old postcards. You'll also find coins, stamps, cigar bands - anything worth collecting. It's an outing I remember from childhood, the high point of my week when my father took me for a spin down to the Plaza after our weekly chocolate con churros. Sweet memories.
Snowshoeing in the Jura Mountains, with the Alps peeping out in the distance.
This house belongs to the coffee farmers of Las Hermosas, a group of women who have survived Colombia’s armed conflict and are trying to make a living with the arrival of peace. They have a wonderful project to market their coffee directly to consumers but they need our help to raise the remaining funds before Christmas. If they can get this going they’ll be able to pay for their children’s secondary school and for such basics as health care. They are full of joy and hope - and we can make a huge difference. Please see the link in my profile - until Christmas - and share widely. Thank you!
This bus in the middle of Colombia’s cordillera takes up pretty much all the road. What you can’t see is that the rear tires are gone, hence my need to spend the night in a coffee farmer’s home an hour from the nearest phone signal. A beautiful experience of forced disconnection among people and a country that are easy to love.
Welcome to Botero, Colombia's most famous painter - he likes things BIG. Most things he paints are oversized. His main museum is in the city of Medellin, his birthplace, but he donated a museum to Bogotá on one condition: that entrance be free. Many of my favorites were nudes or partial nudes but had I posted one here it probably would have been banned...