flying

I flew Delta from LAX to Minneapolis to Hartford . Red eye special . Good arrival time for my friend to pick me up , except that I got confused on the day . The day I flew in he had a gig and had to pick me up a little later . I waited in an airport bar and had a couple of expensive airport beers ,  local Connecticut stuff .

Now I’m home again . Same flight in reverse , except that this time it wasn’t a red eye .

Three hours in Minneapolis . Coming in from L.A. , I saw snow covering the parking structures outside . On the return trip , two weeks later ,  no snow . The airport is stretched out along endless concourses . Concourses . When do you walk concourses  outside of airports ? Am I missing something ? There are moving sidewalks and a tram .  Endless concourses . Food courts . Shops .  WiFi access .

I had a few mini-bottles of Scotch in my carry-on bag . They’re allowed . My friend Willie told me that last year . He gave me a couple of them to test his statement . No problem .  I showed them to the snoops , thinking that they might confiscate them . No . Willie was right .scotch

To order the same shot of Scotch during the flight would have cost me seven dollars , I think . Drinking one of the bottles during the flight I felt as if I were now out of the red , outsmarting Delta , pushing the envelope . The little bottles cost only 99 cents in Connecticut .  If I had had a few more mini-bottles I’d be sitting pretty , ahead of the game , actually beginning to show a profit . Well , almost   .

I once went from Berlin to London on Ryan Airlines . Ryan , if I remember correctly ,was the airline that seriously considered charging a fee to use the restroom . Nice .I would have gone broke .  I got to the Berlin Airport , Freuninggulingen ……., no Shaeuftshaffen ……. no Sheinifeld ? , Shoenefeld ? , at six in the morning . I had come from Poland by taxi that morning . Got there overly early , as is my way .WWI air ambulance

I was second in line . We were the only two customers to have arrived so early for the flight .  I had one bag to check . There were two conveyor belts moving luggage along : to London  and to  Ankara . I didn’t see the clerk put my lonely bag on the Ankara belt . I should have been watching , I guess . When I got to London I had no clothes . 10 days in England and no  clothes other than what I was wearing . I won’t tell you the whole sad story . My bag met me in London on the 10th day , having , I assume , enjoyed its own vacation in Turkey . We flew back to Berlin together , but we didn’t talk to each other the entire flight .

Another Berlin to London flight on British Airways was exciting after the pilot announced  over the scratchy PA system that he thought the landing gear was stuck . We were going to have to go in on our shiney sleek aluminum belly . The pilot’s voice was almost inaudible and he had a heavy English accent . One of the many . Dorset , maybe . Rs everywhere . Like old movie pirates :  Aarrh , matey ! Wharr yer headin’ ? Shiver me timbers !  Emarrgency vehicles aarrh be preparrhin’ fer arrh landin’  . Aarh.sign el monte airport

The plane was full of Germans . I , a native English speaker , was barely getting what the pilot was saying . I didn’t think that many of the Germans got much of it . But , on the other hand , maybe they had learned English from the English . Good possibility that they understood a lot more than I did , now that I think of it .

When we approached Gatwick , or was it Heathrow ? , the emergency vehicles were lined up along the runway . There were plenty of them : fire trucks , ambulances , police , hearses . Well , maybe not hearses .   I had confidence in the pilot and the plane . I don’t think anyone else in the plane could say the same , judging by their panicked expressions . Those pilots , highly trained ,  could slide it in on its fusilage belly .

Buckle your seat belt ; it’s gonna be a bumpy ride . airplane seat belt

But the landing gear came down and we all rolled to a stop .  Anticlimatic . I’m not complaining .  Billy Bob Thornton said ,” I’m not afraid of flying . I’m afraid of crashing . ”   That about sums it up .

About these English accents :

Ada and I flew from LAX to London once and I had arranged , in advance ,a rental car from the airport . I never sleep on flights and by the time we reached the car rental desk in London I was exhausted . I couldn’t , for the life of me , understand what the English girl at the counter was telling me . It was a Friday . I thought that she was telling me that my car wouldn’t be available until Monday . She wasn’t , of course . She was trying to tell me that my car would be a Mondeo .  I was losing my temper .

” Not Monday !” I said . ” Now “england

Ada had to translate . Mediate . Ada grew up in Poland .

” Tell him…” the English girl would say .

” Tell her ….” I would say .

Oh.  The car is called Mondeo. Nothing about Monday . It’s waiting for us . Oh . O.K. Why didn’t she say so ?mondeo

I don’t mind flying much . Once in awhile . It’s quick once you leave the ground .  Gets you places you might not otherwise go . Somewhat uncomfortable . Never enough leg room . And they always remind you how a seat belt works ; they show you ; give a demonstration . That comes in handy because sometimes , if you haven’t used one in a few hours , you might have forgotten .

Sometimes you should bring along an English-American dictionary , or , at least a phrase book . Several English speakers from various corners of the earth learned English English from the English . Beware .  And consider bringing  some little bottles of booze . If nothing else , it gives you a sense that you’re getting away with something .  Even if you’re not a drinker bring some  —– trade one  for a few more tiny bags of peanuts or pretzels . If you ride Ryan Air , bribe the stewardess to use the head without paying the fee . Endless possibilities . Endless.illustration 3

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hotel room

Ada and Aleksandra and I spent a few days in Kutaisi , Georgia , and then went to Tblisi . We made reservations to stay a couple more nights at the same hotel in Kutaisi and Zully , the owner , promised us the same room when we would return.

We were given , not the same room , but an almost identical one next to it . Both rooms are right near the reception desk and the lounge area .

I went out for a few items at the store and to take a little walk around the neighborhood. When I got back I put the bag of groceries down near the outside door of ( which I thought was ) our room. I noticed a certain look from George , the young hotel manager sitting at the desk . It was one of those moments in life when I don’t pick up on the meaning , on what’s going on , just at that moment in time . Sometimes it’s years before the light bulb goes on , before the other shoe drops , when it all suddenly becomes crystal clear, whatever it is , that probably should have been clear as day right there , way back when , on the spot , but isn’t ( wasn’t )   in my slow-motion mind .

Then, after dropping the bag of groceries outside the door ,  I walked into the lounge area to say hello to Zully’s dad , who was around , and to George . The man who evidently boards in the hotel  was there too , he as always , tapping on his computer and with his back to the rest of us in the room . I sat there on the big leather sofa about ten minutes or so , and now it was time to get back into the room .

I knocked , a light knock to let the girls know I was back . No answer . I knocked again a little harder. Again , no answer. Harder . George was watching from his desk ; a calm noncommittal expression on his face . I pounded , then , a couple of  forceful pounds . Maybe they had both fallen asleep ? Gone out for some reason ?

” They’ve got to be in there ! ” I said to George .

” But that’s not your room , ” he responded politely .  And only then did I remember and realize that we had been switched to the room next door . Someone unseen in the lounge area asked a question in Georgian and George in Georgian answered . There was  laughter from the unseen parts of the lounge and George could not supress a smile . Even the computer man , I think , probably got a chuckle out of my actions .

Ada thinks that I’m quickly going senile . Actually , I just don’t pay enough attention sometimes to some of life’s many details . It was Zully’s promise of the same room upon our return to Kutaisi , and it was the sense memory I’d developed of going to the old room that had me temporarily flummoxed and bamboozled . That’s my excuse .KutaisiTblisi 2016 538

Two things :  One . It’s funny how I suddenly understood Georgian perfectly well — understood the unseen asker’s question and clearly understood the answer .    And Two . It’s nice to spread a little joy in life .

 

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georgia

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travelling

It seems to me that it used to be easier to travel . For me , I mean ; I don’t know about you .

When I was in my late teens and early twenties I used to do a little hitchhiking . I had a rubberized bag with a drawstring that was long enough for me to loop it around my shoulder . I used the thing for carrying schoolbooks around campus and also for traveling .

By the way , before we go any further with the travel idea , I should point out a spelling difference I’ve intentionally included in this diatribe ( archaic use of the word ‘diatribe’). You may have already noticed . I know that some of you certainly have , and perhaps you were ready to point it out to me . But if you haven’t noticed , then I certainly won’t point it out to you . I’ll leave you alone . No one likes a bully or a know-it-all .  It’s no skin off my nose anyhows , as they say , or something like that . Maybe they say : ‘Doesn’t make no never mind’ ; or ,’ It don’t matter no how’ . I’ll tell you at the end of this post , nevertheless , if you didn’t notice and if you’re still  reading  curious .

So . Wait .

So , moving along , I used to pack this rubberized sack with an extra t-shirt , an extra  pair of underwear , and my toothbrush and take off into the unknown . Maybe I’d hitch from L.A. up to Oregon to see my sister .  Once or twice  I hitched up to Santa Cruz to stay with my friends Eric and Trisha . Didn’t matter . Slept in parks or under freeway bridges or in a clump of bushes when I had to ; once on a flimsy cot in a storage shed in Rosarito , Mexico .

I sold my 1960 Opel Olympia to a friend and neighbor , Jim ,  in 1970 for one hundred bucks and two weeks later he said that he was driving it to Philadelphia. We were at the beach in L.A. I told him the thing wouldn’t make it across country . I thought he was half-crazy for suggesting it .

He asked me if I wanted to go . I thought it over for an hour or so and said sure . I packed my little bag and we went . And  Jim was right after all . Took us four days to cross the continent , driving in shifts . And then the car , by the way , wouldn’t start in the Pennsylvania winter and Jim abandoned it .

I don’t  travel like that now . Are you kidding me ? But I should . These days I , first , have to be sure that I take my reading glasses and my medications and my sun screen , q-tips to clean out my ears and all the necessary electronic stuff with chargers , and maybe a flashlight……. Then , I decide after very studious consideration , that I need extras of this and of that , and maybe also of these and probably of those . Just in case , you know .  A Boy Scout is always prepared , I always tell Ada .

I was never a Boy Scout , though ,  I should admit up front  . I never even had so much contact with scouts as to own a Boy Scout knife , with all those little doo-dads including the pair tiny scissors and a nail file , although maybe I’m getting that mixed up with the Swiss Army knife . Am I  ? But I think that the Boy Scout knife of old , at least , is similar to the famous Swiss Army knife , ‘cept without the Swiss flag or the cork screw . But I’m not really sure . I was never a Boy Scout . I tried once to join , actually ; but that’s another tale for another time . We’re talking here in this post about my recent trip to Georgia . Well , that was my original goal , but I get sidetracked .

Oh , about that spelling thing : ” travelling ” and ” traveling “.  Did you notice ? Whichever one you like better you can , apparently , use without being condemned by the language authorities or arrested by the word police . The two  “l” version is more in British style , I guess .  I won’t mention how the Brits have muddied-up the lingo , that’ll have to wait for a later post , so let’s , as I am wont to say ( not quite sure what  ‘wont ‘ means , but it sounds right here ; gives the piece , I hope , gravitas )  , move along with the travel theme. Not to bully , but try to keep up . If you’ve hung in this far , then you may as well hang in there for a bit more . Why not ? Anyway , like the end of a roller coaster ride or something : too late now !

Ada and I went recently to the country of Georgia . The Poles call it another name . I’m sure the Germans and the Greeks and the Sudanese and the Kuala Limpurians and the other world’s countries have a name in their own lingos for Georgia . The people of Georgia have their own name for their home , too . It’s not Georgia . In Tiblisi , the capital , there is a very tall white stone pedestal column with a golden statue of Saint George slaying the dragon at the top . I  thought that guy was English . Shows what I know . IMG_2480.jpg

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anchors (2)

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I will show you some of the working anchors in the port of Szczecin . Anchors aweigh !

 

 

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Click here for Polish sea shanty choir in Edinburgh .

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anchors (1)

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Szczecin is a sea town , although it’s not on the sea . It was known for shipbuilding until the shipyard went bankrupt in recent years . The large shipyard cranes can be seen along the banks of the river , standing mostly idle , reminders of past glories .Poland 1 2016 June 006

Ships still fill the shorelines of the Odra where is flows through the city , and cruise boats too , and sailboats and other pleasure boats , and a few water taxis , and an occasional log raft .

 

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The city is developing the waterfront . There’s a nice river walk with some small restaurants along the way . There are artworks , placed here and there , too . Poland 1 2016 June 004

And there are anchors throughout the city , here and there and seemingly everywhere , in front of schools and in parks , near museums ,  and next to major roadways . pol 1 2015 004

These are the non-working anchors , the retirees , intentional reminders , I think , of the old days , a romantic characterization of a city that now is not the kind of sea town that it used to be . It’s changing .  Shipbuilding here is a thing of the past , but I think that Szczecin has a great new energy and will have an amazing future .

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posts

These days people post things on the internet . I’m now beginning a blog post , for example . Of course.

There are , certainly  , other meanings for the word ‘post’ .  My hometown newspaper when I was a kid was called the Post . It’s probably still around , possibly posting copies on the internet nowadays .  My grandmother used to wait for the morning post and the afternoon post , both delivered by a postman . Post , post , post. A post , of course , is a sturdy wooden length of wood stuck upright into the ground . Fencepost , for example . I still have a posthole digger out in my shed somewhere .  And , someone might post something on a such a  post , like a “No Tresspassing ” sign , or a ” No Hunting ” sign , or maybe   “Do Not Post Any Posts ” .

There are several other definitions of the word ‘post’ , also . Military post . Post -mortem ; post-haste . Some have to do with horses .I want to stick with the general idea of posting the news , or posting information , in this post . That’s the way it goes . This isn’t a language lesson . I ain’t qualified for that . I don’t got the smarts nor the interest for that today . So, here it is and here it goes .

I’ve been noticing these structures around this Polish ( formerly German ) city with posters stuck on them . ( Post-ers ! ) . There are a lot of them ; different shapes ; some new ones that slowly spin ( “Spin”  the news ? ) . Some are apparently old , left over from pre-WWII German times . Poland 12 july 2016 136

I’m a southern California guy . We don’t have these around our towns, as far as I know . I think that , over all of these years , I probably would have noticed them if they’re there .

 

I’m going to call these items “news posts” . Maybe they have them all over the world , except perhaps in southern California , and I just haven’t noticed . Maybe all over Europe ? Germany , at least ? All over Poland ?  I’ll try and check it out and report back . Give me a few years . Maybe someone has already posted the info on the world wide web , though . No doubt . You’ll have to follow that lead on your own , however . I’m busy .

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At times I wonder if all of those internet posting people with their quick-as-a-fingertip touch postings had had to dig a post hole for each post ( they wouldn’t do it, would they ?  I’d lend them my posthole digger ) , how heavenly- relieved the world might have been , managing to swim out from under an ocean of nutty ( I’ll leave it here with this moderate term , but you know what I mean and can fill in any emotion-charged description you might feel is appropriate )   posts that we all might have been able to avoid suffering through .

At any rate , I’ll continue to monitor the news post situation here in Szczecin and , of course , I’ll keep you posted .

 

 

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bust

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As you walk through the center of the city of Szczecin , you might notice a dark bronze bust of a man high upon a  pedestal not too far from Brama Portowa , the Harbor Gate . If you don’t know where the Brama Portowa is , ask anyone in Szczecin ; they’ll know . I’m not as sure that they’ll be as familiar with the statue .

The eyes of the romantic poet Kornel Ujejski stare intently toward Brama Portowa , and thus , in a wider sense,  further   toward the harbor .  Ujejski lived during one of the times that Poland had been partitioned . He was born in 1824 in Bremiany in what was then part of  the Empire of Austria . Poland 12 july 2016 124

In 1847 Ujejski went to Paris . He attended  Sorbonne lectures  by another famous Polish poet , Adam Mickiewicz . Frederic Chopin was in Paris at the time , also  . Ujejski participated in the Revolution of 1848 and then returned to Poland .

Ujejski is considered the last of the great romantic poets  of Poland . A poem of his was set to music and became the anthem of the Polish independence movement . Poland 12 july 2016 126

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The statue was unveiled in 1901 in University Square in Lviv . It was designed by Antoni Popiel . I read that it stood in Lviv for fifty years and then in 1950 the statue went to the USSR to the depot at the palace at Wilanow for six years , this  according to my tour book Zrob To W Szczecinie  . Wikipedia , on the other hand , says that the statue  stayed in Lviv only  until 1944 , when it was sent to Sczcecin .

      Zrob tells the better story , I think .  In 1956 Ujejski was brought to Szczecin , according to Zrob . It was quietly placed in the little park where it now hangs out .It was intentionally placed during the busy Christmas time so that people would have other things on their minds . There was no fan-fare . The local Communist newspaper did not even  mention the placement of the bust  because  the authorities did not want to stir up any old patriotic emotions regarding Lviv , or independence .

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