Warsaw, Poland: June 26-June 30, 2019

 

Polish people never yearn for freedom. They fight for it! 

To understand the courage and resilience of Warsaw (and Poland) I want to take you all back to 1920. After 120 years of not existing as a country on the world globe, Poland had become a country again after World War I. It was strong, vibrant, and ready to blaze into the 20th Century as an independent nation. However, it had made two enemies, Russia and Germany, with rabid instincts to retake the lands they had held during those 120 years. Germany was too busy recuperating from the economic depression and high unemployment during the 1920s to pay much attention to Poland, but Russia with its newly instituted Red Army tried to take Poland in August of 1920. World History rarely teaches how Poland beat the crap out of the Red Army and they went running back to Russia leaving Poland alone to “enjoy” the Roaring Twenties.

Poland experienced two decades of peace and prosperity. It was the envy of Europe. Warsaw was bourgeoisie and lively. Back in Germany, Adolf Hitler had set Germany on a route to European as well as world domination. In a rare and short-lived alliance of political, polar opposites, fascist Germany allied itself with communist Russia to CRUSH Poland so they could regain “their” lands of the 19th century. Very few history books tell students that Poland almost recuperated from Germany’s September 1939 blitzkrieg. Germany had exhausted its ammunition, and Poland was ready to turn them back: Enter Russia on Poland’s Eastern front. Poland could not defend itself on both sides, and it fell.

 

One of the saddest parts of the Nazi occupation was the Warsaw Jewish Ghetto that housed 200,000 Jewish people. Jews from all over Europe had been shipped to Warsaw for their holding until they could be forwarded to extermination camps such as Auschwitz Birkenau or Treblinka. Two heroes (on opposite ends of the survival spectrum) emerged: Irena Sendler and Janusz Korczak. Irena Sendler was a nurse in Warsaw who with her resistance group helped save over 1000 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto. Although she risked her life, was beaten, and tortured (like whipped the soles of her feet then they broke her legs), and almost executed several times, she survived and lived until 2008. Janusz Korczak was a children’s author (“King Matt the First”) and a doctor. He took care of the orphaned, Jewish children in the Warsaw Ghetto. When the Nazis decided to ship the Jewish orphans to Treblinka for extermination, Dr. Korczak refused to leave their side even after Christians and the resistance begged him to stay in Warsaw and fight. Janusz died with his children in Treblinka.

Janusz Korczak: National Hero of Warsaw and Poland

Janusz Korczak was a doctor and and a children’s author who refused to be separated from the Jewish orphans from Warsaw. They were all exterminated in Treblinka.

 

Americans call the August 1944 uprising to take over its city the Warsaw Uprising but the English words in Warsaw say Warsaw Rising. The people of Warsaw knew the allies were headed to Berlin, and when they arrived in Warsaw to help deliver it, they wanted to show them that they were a free city who had liberated itself. They fought for 3 months: men, women, children (ran electricity lines and utilized the sewer city with great effect), clergymen, EVERYONE. Part of the city was even FREE. However, German forces were still embedded in the city, and their supply lines were still healthy. The Polish people hoped and prayed that either the allies or the Russians could send help, but help never came. If you travel to Warsaw, the Uprising Museum is a MUST SEE.

 

The Germans may have been losing ground in Western Europe, but they were going to severely punish Warsaw for its uprising. Because so many Germans were still rat-nested throughout the city and could not be evacuated (Russian forces were just a few miles away waiting to pounce on German troops to arrive… if they arrived!), Germany gave all civilians 48 hours to get out of the city, flee to wherever, because the bombing planes were going to OBLITERATE the city, and they did. In the Uprising Museum, there is a 5 minute 3D video of the post-obliteration of the city. It looks like a nuclear holocaust: The church to the right is St. Augustine’s church. It was spared, not because the Nazis respected this Catholic Church, but because it held Nazi ammunition, foods, and medical supplies.

 

So, Poland became communist in 1945. The Polish people suffered greatly under communism, but they persevered.

Warsaw_communist

The Soviets took over Poland for 45 years, but they DID NOT take over the Pole’s spirit of Freedom.

 

In 2019, the Polish people are “loud and proud”. They refuse to allow foreign powers to tell them what to do with their people and their government. They are very nationalistic, and keep their wonderful culture flourishing. They love families. The Polish government even pays its families to have more children. The families spend time together, eat together, shop together, and go to church together. The Caylor-Browns experienced their awesome nationalism and hospitality, and we were so impressed. We definitely want to learn more Polish and return to Warsaw soon.

 

Budapest June 2019

 

Hovering over each photo gives a narrative of that photo!

 

 

The Caylor-Browns thoroughly enjoyed Budapest June 22-26. Sean and I had been trying to go since 2008. Hungarian is such a difficult language, but most of the Hungarians were willing to speak English and help us.

 

Yes, we ate goulash, but we also found a delicious, Hungarian pizza called, “langos”.

 

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lagos

 

 

This 21st Century is an awesome time for Hungarians. Buda was the ancient site of this spectacular Roman city 2000 years ago. Pest grew through the centuries but then Asian Mongols invaded the city in 1241. They finally leave and the Maygars (Hungarians) try to recuperate. The Ottoman Turks then invade Budapest in 1541 and stay through 1699! Central European wars and political grabs leave the Habsburgs to rule the Hungarians (which the Hungarians never embraced…. it seems they liked Empress Elizabeth, Sissy, but who really knows) with lots of 19th and 20th Century turmoils. Next, defeat in World War I then German invasion and the expulsion and extermination of millions of Hungarian Jews, then Communist rule…. now…. freedom and pride in being a Hungarian!!! Sean, Carter, Ammon, and all advise to travel to Budapest. Aesthetically, with the Danube, we much prefer Budapest to Paris with its Seine, and we would choose to return Budapest over Paris any day.

 

 

 

Berlin, Germany Summer 2019 (History Repeats itself: Uneasy feeling in Germany).

Sorry Germany lovers, the Caylor-Browns will not be returning to Germany.   If you would like to recall our first unpleasant experience with Germany or read for the first time what happened to us in Munich in 2012,  please read:

Don’t Eat at Woerner’s 

In 2012, I honestly thought it was the warm weather and hundreds of extra tourists that made the Germans edgy: There are other turbulent currents under the sea of migratory change in Germany.

The pleasant photos you will view were the onset of our arrival and the celebratory feeling of returning to Europe on Friday June 21. Three weeks later we returned to the Berlin travel hub to fly back to the United States after a wonderful and engaging Central European vacation. On Tuesday July 9 around 10 AM, Berlin Train Nazis entered the train we were on, violated us, and made us pay 120 Euros for not having inner-city train tickets. We asked the “train police” to escort us off the train and help us buy a ticket. They refused! They told us they would call the police and turn us in at the Train Station stop. Carter and Ammon were SCARED TO DEATH especially after studying then visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau and seeing what Germans did to Europeans nearly 100 years ago. The train Nazis first told us that it was 60 Euros each (240) we did not have that much! We did not have a ticket because no one else bought a ticket all morning on neither the bus nor the train. We asked them to 1) Please escort us to an ATM, or 2) Escort us to the Ticket kiosk and explain what we needed to do. “No, it’s either 120 Euros for you two adults or we call the police!”  Earlier in the morning we had tried to read the kiosk, and it was very confusing. Three weeks earlier we had walked everywhere without the train/bus system. Thanks be to God, combined, Sean and I had EXACTLY 120 Euros!!  We will not travel to Germany again. The whole time in Berlin we felt oppressed and troubled spiritually… much like foreign travelers felt traveling in Germany in the late 1920s and 1930s. The German authority figures are bullies using “terrorist tactics” (we are calling the police, they said) to manhandle their citizens and foreign travelers.

So, we finally “shook off” the scare of the Berlin police imprisoning Daddy H and Daddy S (what would have happened to Carter & Ammon!!), finished the day, and prepared to go home. The following day at the Berlin , Tegel, Airport was horrific. We were there 2 hours ahead of time, but there was AWFUL and EXTENDED bag check in and security check lines.

As soon as we stepped up to the passport counter Sean and I were targeted. The “gentleman” scowled at us. Hours before, all our liquids had been placed in zip-bags and the beverage bottles had been thrown away. All my pockets had been cleaned out and the items placed in my backpack, but at one point in the security line Sean had asked me about the taxi receipt we had just gotten from our ride from the Novotel Tiergarten to the airport. I took the wallet out of my backpack and read the time we had arrived at the airport.  In haste and out of habit, I placed my wallet back in my pants pocket. So, in the security line, I went last in our family of four. Sean had gone through the bag search with Carter, and I had helped Ammon who went into a panic when she thought she might have food in her backpack. The little, middle-aged, militant (short haircut and uniform) security lady said in English with her militant, German accent, “Any food?” “No, I hope not”, I said in an exasperated tone. “Anything in your pockets. Everything out of your pockets!” My verbal reaction was “No!” She looked at my pocket and saw my wallet that I had absentmindedly placed back in my front pocket. In an elevated voice she repeated, “Everything out of your pockets!”, I was more mad at myself than her. With a look of disgust, I took out my wallet and tossed it in the bin. THAT WAS IT for the little security Nazi. She immediately lifted her hand to a female protégée on the other side of the X-ray machine, and I knew I was “in for it” … As I walked through the metal detector (stripped of everything metal and had CLEANLY passed through ALL the airports from Atlanta to Berlin, to Budapest, to Krakow) I began walking to the protégée, and I did, indeed, beep. The male security man began man-handling me. I did not know that they had done the exact thing to Sean who had also “argued about some food”. Carter went to the woman and said, “I would like to complain that you all are searching my dads’ private parts, and that isn’t right.” Another Nazi lady said, “This is the security check. We can!” …. It was awful, folks.

I will repeat, we will not be returning to Germany. HOWEVER, I did want to share these photos from our pleasant days.

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Brandenburg Gate (Happy Beginnings June 21, 2019: The dark cloud of the day was a Palestinian parade near Alexanderplatz shouting about racist Jews )

 

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Ruins of the Berlin Wall near Checkpoint Charlie.

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The Berlin Cathedral.

 

 

St. Patrick’s Day 2015

My 1st 4 Leaf Clover of 2015 was found on St. Patrick's Day!!

My 1st 4 Leaf Clover of 2015 was found on St. Patrick’s Day!!

St. Patrick’s Cathedral Dublin, Ireland: June 13, 2011 I’ve always enjoyed all the “wearing of the green” and the leprechauns on St. Patrick’s Day. However, it wasn’t until our day in Dublin, Ireland June of 2011, that I felt a “spiritual conncetion” with Saint Patrick.  I had even read several times yet without absorbing much history of Saint Patrick to really know his story.

St. Patrick

He had been taken from  homeland in Wales (Great Britain) to be a slave in Ireland. He was approximately 16, and by his early 20s he had made it back to Wales. He then became a minister and returned to Ireland. He writes that he “baptized thousands of people”. He ordained priests to lead the new Christian communities. He converted wealthy women, some of whom became nuns in the face of family opposition. He also dealt with the sons of kings, converting them too.

Carter, Nana, Haven, & Ammon (admiring the vaulted ceilings)
June 13, 2011: St. Patrick’s Cathedral Dublin, Ireland

My favorite building in Dublin, Ireland was St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It had such a warmth and “spirit” about it. It wasn’t like other cathedrals I have been in where it was like a museum instead of a place of worship. St. Patrick’s work was filled with love and giving, and his spirit seems to permeate his cathedral.

St. Patrick’s Day 2015

St. Patrick’s Cathedral Dublin, Ireland: June 13, 2011 I’ve always enjoyed all the “wearing of the green” and the leprechauns on St. Patrick’s Day. However, it wasn’t until our day in Dublin, Ireland June of 2011, that I felt a “spiritual conncetion” with Saint Patrick.  I had even read several times yet without absorbing much history of Saint Patrick to really know his story.

St. Patrick

He had been taken from  homeland in Wales (Great Britain) to be a slave in Ireland. He was approximately 16, and by his early 20s he had made it back to Wales. He then became a minister and returned to Ireland. He writes that he “baptized thousands of people”. He ordained priests to lead the new Christian communities. He converted wealthy women, some of whom became nuns in the face of family opposition. He also dealt with the sons of kings, converting them too.

Carter, Nana, Haven, & Ammon (admiring the vaulted ceilings)
June 13, 2011: St. Patrick’s Cathedral Dublin, Ireland

My favorite building in Dublin, Ireland was St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It had such a warmth and “spirit” about it. It wasn’t like other cathedrals I have been in where it was like a museum instead of a place of worship. St. Patrick’s work was filled with love and giving, and his spirit seems to permeate his cathedral.

Annette & Frank Margo/Schwerin, Germany

Open Seas and Open Minds

Annette & Frank Margo with Ammon and Carter: June 28, 2012

Astronomical Clock: Rostock Cathedral: Rostock, Germany

Outside Schwerin Castle

Schwerin Castle: June 28, 2012

When we started taking cruises in 2008, we had no idea we would meet such wonderful people. I am going to post my “Open Seas and Open Minds” article with this blog in case you all would like to read about some excellent people from around the world who really mean or have meant a lot to Carter, Ammon, Sean, and to me.

On our port-of-call in Warnemunde, Germany we found ourselves conversing and bonding with a couple from Texas named Annette and Frank Margo. They became new, honorary grandparentsfor Ammon and Carter, and, once again, our children and we have been blessed. After the cruise, we exchanged emails, and we have corresponded frequently since the cruise. Frank and Annette, we love you!!

In addition, we saw three different cities this day: Warnemunde, Schwerin, and Rostock. We spent most of time in Schwerin. It is a quaint city, but Schwerin Castle is the only “real” thing to see there. It was definitely not a place to buy souvenirs because, frankly, there is very little artisanship there.

Copenhagen

The Little Mermaid, Ammon, & Haven: Copenhagen July 6, 2012

The Little Mermaid, Sean, & Carter: Copenhagen July 6, 2012

Tivoli Carousel

Tivoli Carousel: July 2, 2012

Early spring of 2012, Sean and I debated on several days in Copenhagen with a horrible itinerary flying back to the United States to home or making it to London, England with a very comfortable and accommodating itinerary home. Since we (Carter and Ammon included) enjoy London, we chose a one day tour in Copenhagen. Like several other places, guess what we’ve decided? You got it! We want to return to Copenhagen.

The Baltic Cruise was round trip out of Copenhagen. Both the embarkation and disembarkation days were cool and rainy: quite depressing. It was a shame that this lovely, seaside city looked so gray and dreary. However, like I said it is a pretty city.

Both Ammon and Carter thought it was cool to see the “original” Little Mermaid from Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale. We also visited a quaint cathedral, but the highlight of the excursion was Copenhagen’s famous Tivoli (a world-renowned amusement park). We did not have much time there, but Carter and Ammon got to ride a carousel (it’s kind of becoming their “thing” to ride carousels from around the world…LOL).
So, too quick of an excursion for such an interesting and pretty city. Lord willing, we will return.