TRAVEL with pat and lew

Archive for the ‘… 2012’ Category

* a month in Dublin

Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 30, 2013

We sold our Collioure apartment on August 27 and had plans to go to the Amalfi Coast and the Isle of Capri on September 19, and were thus “homeless in Europe” in between. So why not go to Dublin. Our friend Valerie told us about the Clarion Hotel along the Liffey River that had corporate apartments and Pat made a deal for 20 nights. So we had a great space with full hotel services.

We left the notaire’s office with the promise that the proceeds would soon be on their way by wire to Key West, took a taxi to the train station in Perpignan (last time there?), and the train to Paris. One night at the Hotel Emile and an Aer Lingus flight to Dublin. Here’s Pat in her Irish tweed jacket on the terrace of our apartment.

Pat on the terrace

I was planning to use the time to work on my new novel (and fight with the bank over the transfer of funds from the property sale) while Pat enjoyed Dublin, especially the National Gallery. She went to see a film about Klimt which was supposed to start at 7:30pm but which started at 7:00 so everybody missed the first half hour. The person running the event said 7:00pm was the right time and refused to re-run the video. The next morning, Pat called the Director’s Office and they could not have been more concerned or accommodating, offering a private showing of the video or a private tour of the museum. Pat chose the latter and I got to go along. Here is Pat with our guide, who was marvelous, and the museum’s prize Caravaggio, the Betrayal of Christ.

at the museum

We spent much of our time in Dublin at the Apple store on Grafton Street, finalizing our (momentous for me) decision to switch from PCs to MACs. The Apple people were terrific, just as they had been at the Louvre during our 3 visits over the summer. We made our purchases in October, in the U.S. so we got an American keyboard.

Checking my Facebook one morning, I learned that our friends John and Patricia Bollinger were going to be in Dublin, and we had another coincidence meeting overseas, like we had outside the Duomo in Florence the year before.

The highlight of our Dublin trip was dinner at Una Ryan’s home, with Con, Valerie and Lorcan. Valerie and Una were vital parts of our going to Collioure in the first place – we bought our apartment from Una – so this was a fitting closure to our 7 years’ marvelous experience.  Even now, looking at the photo brings many memories and warm feelings.

at Una's 2-cropped

If you’re interested in the story of how we found our apartment in Collioure in June 2005, see … https://patandlewtravel.wordpress.com/2007/02/22/finding-our-perfect-apartment-in-collioure/

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Posted in ... 2012, ... Ireland | Leave a Comment »

* saying goodbye to Collioure

Posted by Lew Weinstein on October 9, 2012

the view from our terrace … we never got tired of it

When we purchased our apartment in Collioure in 2005, it was our intent to stay for 2-3 years. Instead we spent 7 summers, during which we have had a magnificent travel adventure, using 23 home exchanges to see and live in almost every part of Europe that is of interest to us.

But it is time for a change. We are anticipating eliminating the shorter one-week trips in favor of longer stays in fewer European destinations. In 2013, we plan to spend one month each in apartments in Nice and Paris.

To implement this change, we put our Collioure apartment up for sale with two Collioure realtors in the fall of 2011. As expected, there was limited interest over the winter, although we did get one offer which was contingent on the sale of the buyer’s apartment which never happened. When we returned to Collioure at the end of May 2012, we added another realtor.

One day later, the new realtor presented us with a potential buyer, and one day after that we had an offer, counteroffer, and deal. We were poised to sell our apartment at a profit over the purchase price! There is, in France, a rather long space between the cup and the lip. Bureaucracy reigns! And the buyer has numerous opportunities to back out at virtually no penalty.

Our buyer seemed firm, however, and when she asked if she could take possession sooner than the 3 months allowed by French law, we accommodated her wish, setting a settlement date of August 27. Since we had already scheduled a trip to the Amalfi Coast in late September, this meant we would be “homeless in Europe” between the settlement and the Amalfi trip. We decided to rent an apartment in Dublin for 3 weeks to fill the void.

The purchase/sale process moved along during July. The buyer decided to make it a cash purchase rather than get a mortgage. Inspections were made. The notaire (a French lawyer-like official responsible for property transfers) received and prepared the paperwork. We went off, as planned, to Oxford and London.

When we returned from London in early August, we had three weeks to pack our accumulated stuff and vacate our apartment. Our job was made easier by the fact that we had sold the apartment with everything in it – furniture, appliances, kitchen utensils, printer and monitor, etc., etc. There was, however, the task of sorting through our clothes and books, to decide what to take and what to leave.

We were ruthless. We had to be, since all of our efforts to get UPS or FEDEX to take boxes from our apartment failed to yield a single realistic option. We had to decide quickly, so we did the following … (1) mailed two boxes of books to a friend in Key West; this reduced the weight in the suitcases we would take with us on our flight home; (2) decided to take our 5 suitcases home to Key West, all packed to the maximum 50 lbs. allowed by American Airlines; (3) arranged to take 3 of the suitcases to Paris in late August and leave them in our friend’s apartment until late September.

tough decisions … what to take and what to leave behind

So we began packing and weighing. Whatever didn’t fit had to stay, be given away, or trashed. Many books stayed on the shelves, as we had agreed with the buyer, who speaks and reads English. I fulfilled my promise to autograph and leave behind copies of my own novels, as well as the Barnes & Nobel poster of my 2001 appearance. Clothes were put in large bags to give away. Our neighbor helped to make contact with the French Red Cross, which took many bags of clothes, and our American friends who are now assigned to the US embassy in London took several bags to leave in donation boxes there.

As the month went on, and our days in Collioure became few, we walked around our town and savored the memories.

the Collioure waterfront at night

We also were fortunate that our friends and Collioure next door neighbors Mike and Rose, who we had recently seen in England, were now back in Collioure. We went together to the festival fireworks, they had us over for dinner (our place was too much of a mess to even consider hosting a dinner) and we also went out to eat at a great new restaurant that opened in the garden of the former Dominican monastery, operated by the man who was our friend Sophie’s boss at our favorite pizza place in Collioure.

dinner with Mike & Rose

On August 21 (my birthday) we had a farewell dinner with our American friends Tom and Kristina and their daughter Hannah at the 2nd new restaurant in Collioure, a delightful tapas place called Ambrosia, operated by friends of our friend Sophie. This was one closing of a loop of our Collioure experience, since Tom and Kristina’s apartment had been the first place we stayed in Collioure, in the summer of 2005, when we first came to look for an apartment. We became friends, and our interactions, including Kristina’s fantastic private tour of the White House, have been reported on this blog over the years.

The great “Bag Job” began on August 23 when we took 3 heavy suitcases on the train to Paris. We avoided carrying 150 lbs up and down several flights of stairs by taking a taxi to Perpignan rather than our usual route of boarding a train in Collioure. At Gare Lyon in Paris, we got a taxi and went to the other side of Paris to our friend’s apartment. Pre-warned and expecting us, the concierge gave us the key, and we spent one night with our bags. We had an excellent dinner at an Italian restaurant just down the block.

In the morning, after a brief panic when we couldn’t find the keys, we left our bags and took a taxi into Paris, where we went to the Louvre, not to see any art, but to go to the Apple store, part of our summer long decision process of whether to switch from PC to MAC. Then we took the train back to Collioure, with no luggage, although this was so unusual we kept looking for the luggage that wasn’t there.

There were several last minute glitches, all of which got worked out. Our buyer, who had agreed to a 9:00 am settlement on August 27, suddenly announced that she couldn’t get there until 11:00 am. When we explained that this would disrupt a whole series of train, hotel and flight arrangements, she made the effort to get there as originally agreed. There was also the issue of returning our “LiveBox,” a wireless modem, to France Telecom/Orange. Three times we asked, and three times we were told that a pre-paid mailing label had been sent to us. But it never came. We boxed the “LiveBox” and asked our buyer to take it to the post office, if the label ever came, which it did about a week after the settlement. There was also aggravation with the transfer of the proceeds from the property sale (in euros) to our bank in Key West (in dollars) but it eventually got done.

The tension over the funds transfer was exacerbated by the uncertainties over the euro and thus the euro to dollar conversion rate. During the month before the property closing, the euro to dollar rate had been falling, from 1.30 dollars per euro to 1.22. On two hundred thousand euros, that meant a loss of $16,000. I was very concerned that Greece would collapse, the euro would tank, and the conversion rate would plummet even further. That was why I needed the funds to move from the notaire to the Collioure bank to the correspondent bank to the Key West bank as fast as possible.

the olive guy at the Collioure market

We took our last walks around Collioure, had crepes along the canal for the last time, saw the olive guy at the market for the last time (he had been there every Sunday and Wednesday for the 7 years), and on Monday morning, August 27, took a taxi to the notaire’s office in the neighboring town of Argeles-sur-mer. The buyer showed up on time and the paperwork was processed without any difficulty. The notaire promised to get the funds to our Collioure bank that day, and he did. We took a taxi to the train station in Perpignan, and were off on our final two travel adventures of the 2012 summer. And, in the actual event, Germany made the right noises, the euro bounced back, and the money moved in 4-5 days as the euro was rising, so it ended ok.

We will always look back on our experience in Collioure with great fondness. The town is a magnificent ancient seaport, morphed now into a vacation spot for working class French, and its charms are considerable. But it was time to move on, and we are very excited about the Plan C phase of Pat and Lew’s Great Travel Adventure.

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Posted in ... 2012, ... France - COLLIOURE | 2 Comments »

* Arthur Frommer reminds us to appreciate the TSA’s efforts to keep us alive

Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 10, 2012

Pat and Lew at Oxford with Arthur and Roberta

Arthur Frommer writes on his blog …

  • The people administering airports all over the world have adopted many of the same methods as our TSA has to insure that bomb-carrying terrorists are unable to blow us up.
  • You might want to reflect on the fact that it isn’t just the U.S. federal government that has come up with these procedures, but the governments of Great Britain, France, Germany, Scandinavia, Central and Eastern European countries, India, China, Thailand and elsewhere who have adopted the same procedures.
  • And you might then join me in responding to these sensation-seeking bloggers and other journalists with the strong declaration that we support the work of the TSA and welcome the care and concentration they devote to their security tasks.

http://www.frommers.com/community/blogs/blog.cfm/arthur-frommer-online/#ixzz237n9etLs

Posted in ... 2012, planes, trains & automobiles | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

* with Mike and Rose at Hampton Court

Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 1, 2012

Henry VIII, King of England from 1509 to 1547

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On our way to Oxford, we visited our Collioure neighbors Rose and Mike in their home territory of Kingston, near Wimbledon. They took us on a boat ride on the River Thames to nearby Hampton Court. The palace was originally built for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in the early 1500s, but in 1529, when Wolsey fell from favour, it was taken over by King Henry VIII, he of the 6 wives fame.

Portraits of all the wives are found in the palace, complemented by a temporary exhibit called “The Wild, the Beautiful and the Damned,” telling lascivious stories of love, lust and power. Sorry, no photos allowed.

Hampton Court is huge and attractively proportioned, but it is not overly ornate. The enormous kitchen communicates well the equipment and people needed to feed the king and his substantial court. The palace is beautifully presented by an especially friendly staff, some of them dressed to portray characters of the time in little playlets that appear unannounced in various rooms. The grounds are beautiful, and also free. Rose told us they occasionally bike from their home (less than 30 minutes) and picnic on the grounds.

Our visit to Hampton Court was a fine prequel to Pat’s Oxford course on Cardinal Wolsey the following week.

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Posted in ... 2012, ... UK - other | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

* at Westminster Abbey with our very special London (and Key West) friends

Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 1, 2012

Westminster Abbey

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Several years ago, Pat’s friend Sandy said she wanted us to meet two of her neighbors (in Key West) who also lived in London. “Perhaps,” Sandy said, “you might do a home exchange with them. They live in Westminster Abbey.”

And so we met Stuart and Jeff, two of the most charming and interesting people we know. We visited with them two years ago, after our first trip to Oxford, and Jeff cooked us a spectacular meal. This year, after signing up for Oxford, Pat started to look for hotels for a few days in London after Oxford. None to be had. It turned out we were due to arrive the day after the 2012 Olympics opened.

Jeff and Stuart immediately said we could stay at their place, and we accepted. Then they went off to Key West for the first two days of our stay, but they left us in the capable hands of their friend Pamela. With her impressive assistance, we were on our own in what can only be described as a glorious home within the walls of the Abbey. So we gave a party and invited our London friends.

(see … * come to our party in Westminster Abbey … go past the sign that says “Residents Only”)

The morning after the party, we took a brief walk and Underground outing, enough to convince ourselves that we would very much like to return to London for an extended period as we move into Plan C of our retirement plan. The city is really interesting and colorful, especially now for the games. Stunning modern art decorates the front of the ancient cathedral, and the McDonald’s looks like it has been there for centuries.

Jeff and Stuart arrived on Monday afternoon, and we had the unusual opportunity (for us) to see Stuart, who is the CFO of the Abbey, in his business attire. We also got a very special tour of the Abbey, but photos are forbidden, and the only one we took was of the Thomas Crapper toilet adjacent to the elegant ceremonial meeting room of the Abbey known as the Jerusalem Room.

Why Jerusalem? Well it seems one of the English kings of yore had planned to go on a crusade to Jerusalem. But he was old and not well, and he collapsed just a few feet from where he started, in the Abbey where presumably he had gone to pray for the success of his mission. Before he died, the confused king asked if he was in Jerusalem. Not wanting him to die disappointed, he was told that he was. The room was then named the Jerusalem Room to turn a white lie into a stretched truth. At least that’s how I remember the story Stuart told us.

Our final photos at the Abbey, or just outside it, catch some of the feeling of a very special place at 5:30 am as we waited for our taxi to St. Pancras station and hence on the Eurostar to Paris.

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* come to our party in Westminster Abbey … go past the sign that says “Residents Only”

Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 1, 2012

to learn more about Lew Weinstein and his novels,

go to … http://lewweinsteinauthorblog.com/

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We told our guests to enter the Abbey and follow the regular route until they came to signs that said “Residents Only.” Then keep on going. For Pat and me it was a great opportunity to see dear NYC running friends Suzanne and Pat (the other Pat) we hadn’t seen for several years, as well as Tom and Kristina (& their daughter Hanna), our friends from Collioure.

The lawn was all ready and sunny, and Pat and Suzanne actually has a few minutes to enjoy the outdoors. As the other guests arrived, however, so did the showers, and we moved inside. The view out the window reminded us of the very special space we were in, thanks to our friends Stuart and Jeff.

For (the other) Pat’s nieces, it was an opportunity to listen to conversations they are not usually privy to, while their aunt did her best to imitate Auntie Mame, although she is much too young for the actual part. Perspectives on many current events from the U.S. State Department (Tom) and the upper management of Westminster Abbey (Pamela). Two days later the girls were still buzzing about the royal wedding and Prince Harry.

We did miss Kristina, who was busy escorting the First Lady around London, and daughter Hannah who was a bit under the weather.

The party was in large measure made possible by Pamela (Stuart and Jeff’s friend) who helped us with the shopping, the lawn arrangements, and very much in just getting to Westminster through (or around) the Olympics’ traffic detours.

When the other guests had left, Pamela regaled us with uproarious stories. I actually made a video of a small portion of this, but I think I need permission from MI6 or MI5 (or both) before I post it.

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to learn how we came to be able to give a party in the Abbey, see …

Posted in ... 2012, ... UK - London | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

* another fabulous experience at the Oxford Experience 2012

Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 1, 2012

Approximately 20 years ago, Pat read an article by travel writer and publisher Arthur Frommer, praising a week he had just spent at Oxford. Two years ago, she saw another post by Arthur saying if you wanted to sign up for Oxford Experience 2010, now was the time to do it. We did, and had a wonderful experience. See our 2010 posts at ….

* the Oxford experience … more than you could ever imagine

* Ethics and Beethoven … two courses in the OXFORD EXPERIENCE

This year, we signed up again. At the opening reception, I was speaking to a man and looked at his name card. “Are you THE Arthur Frommer,” I asked, and thus began a wonderful week long friendship with Arthur and his lovely wife Roberta. It is indeed a small world, full of coincidences.

NOTE: Apparently the feeling was mutual. Here is a quote from Arthur’s blog (http://www.frommers.com/blog/) … My wife and I met people from Australia, Paris, Nashville, the Cotswolds, California, and even Key West (an especially engaging couple). Each was a vital individual in love with learning.

Read more: http://www.frommers.com/blog/#ixzz22NKvcks6

Pat, Roberta, Arthur and Lew

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This year, Pat took a course about “Cardinal Wolsey” offered by tutor Glenn Richardson. Wolsey is best known for failing to convince the Pope to allow Henry VIII to divorce from Catherine of Aragon. Lew’s course was titled “The Brain and the Senses,” taught by Gillie McNeil. Each course was taught from Monday to Friday, 9:15 to 12:45, with a break for tea and biscuits, and each was a delightful and challenging  but not too stressful learning experience … lots of learning; interesting classmates; no examinations; no papers!

Someone asked Pat if she had learned something new. Her response was “everything I learned was new since I knew absolutely nothing about Wolsey before.”

Whereas Lew was terrified to learn that each time he sneezes, which he does fairly often, he blows away brain cells that have lodged just above the nasal passage.

For more information about the Oxford Experience and our particular courses, see … The Oxford Experience – Department for Continuing Education 

the Wolsey group & the brain group

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Cardinal Wolsey was also the original builder of Christ Church College,Oxford University, the site of the Oxford Experience. It is a magnificent campus, with the “Harry Potter” dining hall, a beautiful cathedral, and enchanting parks and ancient buildings. It is a privilege just to be there for a week, and to eat all our meals in a dining hall where Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Elizabeth II, and many British Prime Ministers also dined.

As one of our classmates said as he reclined in a nearby pub with a pint of beer, “Seven hundred years ago, another man was sitting right here, also drinking a pint.

The city of Oxford is also a wondrous place, with the other Oxford campuses, soaring churches, many delightful pubs, and the incomparable Blackwell’s bookstore.

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among the many sides of the “Oxford Experience”

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to learn more about Lew Weinstein and his novels,

go to … http://lewweinsteinauthorblog.com/

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Posted in ... 2012, ... UK - Oxford | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

* Prague … old friends, new friends, castles, crystal and street basketball

Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 13, 2012

to learn more about Lew Weinstein and his novels,

go to … http://lewweinsteinauthorblog.com/

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We were planning to go from Nuremberg to Warsaw. The map clearly shows Prague in between. And in Prague live our friends George and Marketa. George met us at the train station and led us to our hotel. Later we had drinks on George and Marketa’s terrace, enjoying the fabulous view, followed by an outstanding Italian dinner at one of their favorite places. Then a walk back to the hotel through the stunningly lit Wenceslas Square.

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On Saturday, we enjoyed walking around Old Town Square, remembering our 2008 visit with my son Jon, our daughter-in-law Stacie & grandson Evan (then 22 months).

(For those Prague impressions, see … https://patandlewtravel.wordpress.com/2008/10/28/prague-%E2%80%93-oct-2008/)

We walked off the square to see the old synagogues, remarkably surviving both Hitler and the Soviets. We never got there. Out of a doorway we were passing popped a friendly young man with a beard and a yarmulka. We were invited in to a “new” synagogue organized by a Chabad group, and then to lunch with them at a nearby kosher restaurant.

Lunch was a remarkable experience. We met a young cantor who was that day announcing his engagement. Just as the food had been served, one end of our table collapsed. No problem. It was immediately re-set and replenished with more wonderful food. The singing and praying was loud, joyous, and delightful.

And, oh, we met Ed Fagen, about whom Pat had been reading just a few weeks earlier. Ed is involved in the recovery of art stolen during World War II, and he and Pat had much to discuss. Another new friend, who happens to live in Florida.

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Prague is a beautiful city full of old buildings, castles, and churches. Also street basketball and brilliant crystal.

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* University of Warsaw … and another wonderful guide

Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 12, 2012

to learn more about Lew Weinstein and his novels,

go to … http://lewweinsteinauthorblog.com/

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In Munich, my character Berthold Becker will go to the University of Munich. Anna Gorska will attend the University of Warsaw. When they meet, do you think they may have read some of the same books?

The University in Warsaw is just down the street from our fabulous hotel, the Bristol. We set off without a plan, except to find the office of the University Museum. After several false starts, we arrived and were greeted by Anna Binkowska, who turned out to be enthusiastic and extraordinarily helpful. My suitcase was almost overloaded with the materials she gave us, including old photos of the University from before the war. 

Shown above, in addition to Anna, are the main gate and old library, both substantially as they were in 1930, when Anna Gorska will be there (in my imagination).. Also shown are two exhibits being held at the university, one on Jewish culture and the other related to casts of Michelangelo’s sculptures. 

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* sights in Munich … some of which will appear in my novel-in-progress

Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 12, 2012

to learn more about Lew Weinstein and his novels,

go to … http://lewweinsteinauthorblog.com/

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The primary purpose of our trip to Munich was to see the places that will be part of my novel-in-progress. Our excellent guide Chaim Frank took us to Friday night services at the new (orthodox) synagogue, and then took me on a walk to Munich’s Jewish and nazi landmarks. Chaim proved to be both knowledgeable and a pleasure to be with.

Chaim Frank with one of several monuments to Munich’s Jews

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On our own, we found the Frauenkirche Cathedral, shown here as it was after WWII, the Wilhemsgymnasium library, pre-war apartment flats, and the Bayerischer Hof hotel. I have written drafts of scenes where Cardinal Faulhaber gives an Easter sermon in the cathedral, my main character Berthold Becker spends an eventful day in a rather biased history class, and a New Years Eve party rings out the year 1923 at Munich’s finest hotel.

4 locations that will appear in my novel-in-progress

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Oskar Holl is a friend of my Princeton classmate Charles McClelland, and now a friend of ours. Oskar knows Munich, he is the mayor of a section of the city with a population of 50,000, and he provided a wealth of background material that I am still absorbing. When I asked him if he knew a “liberal” Jew in Munich, he called Terry Swartzberg and we all got together for a delightful Bavarian dinner. Terry, born in Connecticut, a long-time business reporter for the International Herald Tribune, explained what it meant to him to be a Jew in Munich. He is active in a program to place small memorials (called stolpersteins) in the pavement in front of every home in Germany from which a Jew was taken to the ovens. He is also about to be Bar Mitzvah.

Terry, me, Oskar and a stolperstein

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We were warned by our friends Simone and Viviane that “there are naked people in the English Garden.” They didn’t lie.

in Munich’s English Garden

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* quite a day in Paris … we found our lock, the site of our dream, good friends & Woody

Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 9, 2012

At the conclusion of our two week largely book research focused trip to Munich, Nuremberg, Prague and Warsaw, with a side trip to the mass grave of Jews murdered by Nazis at Tykocin, we had two nights and one day in Paris. We have been many times, and we absolutely love the city, so here’s what we did.

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Several years ago, we added our lock to the bridge across the Seine just below Notre Dame Cathedral. Since then the number of locks has increased manyfold and it is ever more difficult to find ours. Thirteen panels from the left end of the bridge (facing Notre Dame) and after much looking, Pat finds it! The girl from Bali who took our picture semed almost as excited as we were. Almost.

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the site where the dream began

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Many years ago, long before the lock, we were in Paris and we met a couple having coffee at the cafe at the end of Isle St. Louis. They were concluding an extended stay in Paris. It was their last day and they were sad to leave.

After they left, we sat and talked. “Wouldn’t it be fabulous some day to live in Paris?” We had no plans and no reasonable expectation that we would ever make that happen. But we remembered, and when the time came, we did it.

This is our 7th summer in Collioure, each one of which has included 2-4 weeks in Paris. It’s good to dream.

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Who goes to Paris to watch a movie? Well, if you haven’t been to the movies in 2 months, maybe you would too. We walked from our hotel near St. Paul past Hotel d’Ville, past Notre Dame, and through the Left Bank to the movie on Blvd. Ste Germaine, which by the way is a spectacular walk we recommend to anyone in Paris.

The French show most American movies in what is called V.O., or version originale, ie, English with French subtiltes. But much of To Rome with Love is spoken in Italian. So we were listening to Italian and seeing French subtitles.

It was still hilarious. And we look forward to seeing it again in America, with English subtitles.

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 Charles McClelland has been a friend of mine since we were classmates at Princeton, although we have only seen each other 2-3 times in the 50 years since graduation. Charles has been a big help with my writing, beginning with a relationship at the University of Wisconsin that led to the publication of The Heretic there. More recently, the fact that Charles is a professor of German history, and has studied, lived and taught for many years in Germany, has led to many helpful contacts and also to an informed early reading of the draft of my novel-in-progress.

So it was great to find that Charles and Sandy, and their friend Linnea (with whom we had dinner last summer) would all be in Paris on the same day. We had a wonderful dinner at La Casa Olympe on rue St. George in the 9th arrondissement. But even the dinner could not compare with the brilliant conversation. What a fine conclusion to our one day in Paris.

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St Sulplice

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But not quite. On Sunday morning, before we took the train back to Collioure, we walked over to St. Sulplice, where an organ recital accompanied the 10:30 mass in the magnificent and very much under-appreciated church.

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our room at Hotel Emile

And, oh yes, we can’t let this report end without a photo of our room in Hotel Emile on Rue Mahler, just next to Breakfast in America. Open the door, step into the shower!

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Gare d’Lyon

 Finally, if you’re us, you really enjoy waiting at the charming Gare d’Lyon before boarding the train.

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* the Polish shtetl of Tykocin … synagogue, homes, mass murder of Jews

Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 5, 2012

Today we visited the magnificent 16th century synagogue in the former shtetl of Tykocin. Surrounding the synagogue and spreading through the small town are many still-existing pre-WWII homes that housed the 2,500 Jews who comprised 50% of the population of Tykocin on August 25, 1941. Until that day they were a vibrant community full of the joy and learning of Polish Jewry. Two days later they were gone.

the 16th century synagogue in Tykocin & the former shtetl homes nearby

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The only recognition of the Jews 400 year presence in the town of Tykosin (aside from the synagogue itself) is the small sign outside the cemetery at the edge of town.

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All but 150 of the 2,500 Jews who lived in Tykocin were murdered by the Nazis on August 26 & 27, 1941. For a description of this mass murder and the questions this raises for my novel-in-progress, see the related post on my author blog …

http://lewweinsteinauthorblog.com/2012/07/05/the-nazi-mass-murder-of-the-jews-of-tykosin/

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Posted in ... 2012, ... Poland | Tagged: , , | 6 Comments »

* my novel-in-progress receives invaluable assistance from 3 Munich historians & archivists

Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 3, 2012

Dr. Andreas Heusler, Dr. Christian Hartmann & family, Guido Treffler

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I come asking uncomfortable questions, all of which are crucial to my novel-in-progress dealing with the Nazi years in Germany and Poland … …

  • Why did so many Germans support Hitler?
  • What did Cardinal Faulhaber think when he retreated from his early positions opposing Hitler’s antisemitic programs?
  • Did the German population realize what was happening at the death camps?

READ MORE at my author blog … 

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Posted in ... 2012, ... Germany - Munich, ... Germany - Nuremberg | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

* Sights of Nuremberg … and the glorious sounds of an unexpected Mozart piano concerto

Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 1, 2012

We took the train from Munich to Nuremberg, then walked across to our quite comfortable hotel, the Meridien. Our purpose in Nuremberg was to visit Courtroom 600 where the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials were held, and also the Nazi Documentation Center at the site of the Nazi rally grounds, both of these visits as research for my novel-in-progress (see separate posts for each at my author blog … http://lewweinsteinauthorblog.com/). But we also had time for exploring.

I just love European train stations

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the view from our hotel window and the nearby entrance to the old town … reconstructed after Allied bombing in WWII

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a restaurant with a charming river view, and real wiener schnitzel … the Cucina Italiana was the only place in town cheering for Italy’s victory over Germany in the European Cup semi-finals

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a large Protestant church in Nuremberg’s old town

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Pat and I often have our best travel experiences just wandering around and poking into places that seem interesting. In this case, we looked inside the church pictured above and found ourselves in the middle of a full-scale rehearsal for the opening performance of a summer concert series … we listened to an exquisite performance of Mozart’s piano concerto #23 … the Staatsphilharmie Nurnberg, conducted by Marcus Bosch, solo piano by Kit Armstrong … with all of the special ambiance and musical interactions of a rehearsal and a huge medieval church for backdrop.

It was just magical being there. We were, aside from concert personnel and musicians, the only audience. We felt like the king and queen of Bavaria enjoying a private performance.

the conductor and soloist in one of numerous rehearsal conferences

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* with David Deck at Pusser’s Bar in Munich, courtesy of Bobby Nesbitt

Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 24, 2012

with owner David Deck at Pusser’s Bar

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We’re in Munich when a message comes over Facebook from Bobby Nesbitt, Key West’s premier piano player and partner of our great exercise leader Mike Mulligan. Bobby says the best piano bar in Munich is Pusser’s, where he has played many times. We should say hello to the owner David Deck. So we do. Bobby: David sends his regards and says he may be in Key West in two weeks.

We learn that the word Pusser’s is actually the drunken slurring of the word purser’s, and refers to the rum dispensed daily to sailors in the British Navy (by the purser) for 300 years until 1970. We have a great time listening to the music and drinking the rum.

Pusser’s is located in an exciting section of Munich, with lots of bars, restaurants, shops and tourists. One block away from Pusser’s, a sober reminder of why we are in Munich, is the infamous Hofbrauhaus, a large beer hall where Adolf Hitler, in 1920, launched his career with a speech to a meeting of the National Socialist German Worker’s Party.

Hofbrauhaus in Munich

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* on the way to Munich … Barcelona & the Alps

Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 23, 2012

A brief stop at our favorite restaurant in Barcelona …

and a magnificent view of the Alps which this photo can only suggest.

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* Tim & Jane … Billy & Vero … a whirlwind visit to Collioure

Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 17, 2012

Pat’s brother Tim, his wife Jane, her brother Bill, and his girlfriend Veronique made Collioure a stop on their way from Barcelona to Toulouse on a European trip that also includes Dublin, Paris and Rome. They were here less than 24 hours, but it was nevertheless a great visit, time for wine and then dinner on the terrace and a tour of Collioure’s market, shops and waterfront. There was also time for lots of family conversation, or as the Irish call it, craic.

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* Sophie & Anais come to visit

Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 17, 2012

Our French friend Sophie brought her new baby (5 weeks) to visit with us at our apartment in Collioure. From the moment they arrived until they left 90 minutes later, Anais was not out of Pat’s hands. We had a delightful visit with our long-time Collioure friend. We first met Sophie when she was our waitress at Collioure’s finest pizza restaurant.

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* Collioure … the bull ring is gone but the market is still here … the priorities are exactly correct

Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 10, 2012

One of the great pleasures of Collioure is the farmers’ market

… every Sunday and Wednesday

… fresh vegetables for tonight’s salad, and flowers for our table

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Collioure’s bull ring was used once a year. We went some years ago and found it utterly barbaric. See …  https://patandlewtravel.wordpress.com/2007/02/23/bullfights/ …  When we returned last week, they were just finishing turning the space into a much-needed parking lot. Apparently, they have been banned in much of northern Spain, and southern France has followed suit. So, last year, Kevin & Dawn saw the last bullfights in Collioure.

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for more photos of Collioure and of our apartment …

https://patandlewtravel.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/our-wonderful-apartment-in-collioure-is-for-sale-after-i-put-these-photos-together-im-not-sure-we-want-to-leave/

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* our wonderful apartment in Collioure is for sale … after I put these photos together I’m not sure we want to leave

Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 29, 2012

Our intent was a 2 year adventure in Europe …

it’s been 6 summers (this will be the 7th) and it’s time for a change.

The apartment has been everything we could have wanted. It’s very comfortable for 2 people. The terrace provides spectacular outdoor space for living, dining and entertaining.  

And, since many people want to come to Collioure, we have done over 20 great home exchanges, to Paris (many times) and Provence, elsewhere in Europe (Dublin, Vilnius), and to Hawaii, Australia, and Mexico. Great destinations provided by our apartment.

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the view from our terrace

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Our apartment is small inside, but it provides very comfortable living for 2 people. With the terrace adding to the living space, the apartment actually becomes quite large.

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Our apartment is 5 minutes from the beach, with a great parking space, and immediately adjacent to the train station with access to Paris, Barcelona, and all of Europe.

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Welcome to our home … dinner for 8 … cocktails for 14. Our apartment is perfect for entertaining.

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Collioure is a former fishing village located on the Mediterranean 25 miles north of the Spanish border … with highways, train service and airports leading everywhere in France and Europe 

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Collioure is an ancient and still largely authentic French village. It is a place where the French come on their vacations, with their children. All summer there is activity every day and night – street fairs, bands, Catalan dancing. A fresh market comes on Sundays and Wednesdays. There are 5 beaches, a 14th century chateau, and a 15th century church. Did I mention the weather – it’s perfect, in the low 80s by day, down to 70 or so at night. And the location is perfect for access to all of France and all of Europe.

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and then … this is the view you wake up to the next morning

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