It’s like a blacktop up there — all black and shining rock looking every bit like asphalt poured from a truck; the sun beats it and the heat reflects up like a furnace. A dramatic change from moments before as we clambered up-slope against brutal winds.

We celebrate with photos and a prolonged appreciation of the excellent views, because now more than any time on our trek the weather accommodates our desire for unobscured spectacle. To our left, just a little northwest from where we’re standing, rises the snowcovered eminence of the Dent de la Chaux, and to the north the unclimbed (by us) Haute Cime. Below we descend into a flower- and cow-littered valley that sweeps down to the Lac de Salanfe, the largest lake in these parts.

They have very nice trains in Germany …

See story here …

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The days became weeks and the weeks months and suddenly we were staring down the departure date for our return to The States. We wanted to end with something spectacular.

We had a plan.

See story … 


Crazy times. Getting ready to come back. Return Aug. 28, a year to the day since we left. Prospect of job-hunting exciting and frightening.

Here’s where we spent the last month or so:


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What Malmo looks like; that’s a bike counter on the right

We were in Sweden when Bergman died. I saw the news on BBC that morning and actually broke it to my friend’s girlfriend and her mother, with whom we were staying. Eighty-nine is old enough, the mother said. Later I read Woody Allen in the New York Times hoping Bergman had died in flat grey weather, the favorite shooting weather, he said, for all great directors. Woody wouldn’t have been disappointed. It rained all that week.


In fact it’s rained all summer in Sweden. The rain perfectly underscored the country’s sepulchral mood following Bergman’s demise. Soon newspaper stands all over Malmo and Lund carried pictures of the auteur under blaring headlines: Bergman Dood. It was the same in Copenhagen which historically at least is practically the same place.



Rain, rain, rain, every afternoon it rained. We asked for it when we got to Sweden by claiming we were so sick of hot dry weather — the kind that pursued us from Turkey to southern Poland — that we wanted rain. Our friend Steve, with whom we stayed in Sweden, said we were in for it and he didn’t lie.

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On the right that’s Steve, Tess and Marc in Copenhagen


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Houseboats; row houses; Rembrandt’s Night Watch, sculpted

It wasn’t until we got to Amsterdam that the weather improved. It improved so much the locals couldn’t believe it. Our first weekend there — which happened to be Gay Pride weekend — was three straight, I should say consecutive, days of cloudless warmth such as Hollanders never see, not even in August, usually. We took advantage by visiting most of the city’s many parks: Vondelpark, Rembrandtpark, Flevopark, many others. And by walking everywhere.

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That’s a working windmill on the left; it’s also a brewery

In the Stedelijk Museum

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That’s the Jet d’Eau to the right (459 feet high); and speaking of eau …

These are all over town, and the eau is potable

We spent three days in Geneva before hopping a train to Sion to meet our friends Flora, Uli and Martin for a four-day hike in the Dents du Midi. But that’s another story …


Geneva is beautiful and cosmopolitan. The Lake is blue and black and flows up the middle of the city to become the Rhone. Water is all over and gives the city a clean feel.


And of course there are the clocks … This one is famous:


In the end it was good to know Nashville (and Montana) were just around the corner …



Lisa at peace statue in Malmo, Sweden

See story here …


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It finally started to get cool when we reached the top of Poland. The wind off the Baltic Sea mitigated the unusual heat. The sun never stopped shining. As a last stop in Eastern Europe, Gdansk was just right.


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Green Men are everywhere

So are the amber shops

We’ll be in London in about 10 days, so we’ll miss the chiming … 😦

See story …

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Left-right: coming into Krakow in the morning; old town in the early morning; tongue of the church bell at Wawel

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Birds flock around the central square

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Three views of Krakow from church tower of Wawel

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Sculpture outside Dragon’s Lair, Wawel; water spouts; more birds

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Statuary; Lisa downtown; synagogue

It’s possible to walk across Krakow without leaving the shade of large trees. Parks are everywhere. The city is covered in birds, mostly pigeons, who swoop wildly around church spires and natter excitedly in the treetops.

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Nunpacker!; two more views of the city


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Oh, and Copenhagen too …


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