A quick visit to Warsaw with Polish, Belgian and Canadian friends!

After visiting Georgia, I had planned to fly out of Kutaisi on my favourite low-cost airline in Europe, Budapest-based WizzAir. Flights offered went to Budapest, Sofia, Katowice and Warsaw. I had been to all these cities except Warsaw, so the choice was easy. It was a quick few days, but enough to visit a beautiful town near the Belarus/Ukraine border and spend the week-end in Warsaw, with friends who would visit from Paris on the kind of super low-costs flights we can only dream of in North America.

Once more this story is very late and a little superficial, but I had a nice short stay in Poland; my second in two years, after my visit to Krakow, Auschwitz and the incredible salt mines of Wielicza.

Lublin is a pleasant and easy to reach city, host to a huge number of festivals (none of which were happening when I visited).


The 14th century Kraków Gate stands at the entrance to the Old City and is perhaps the most iconic symbol of the city.


At the center of the Old City, the Lublin Castle.


And at the center of the castle, the 13th century “Donjon.” Compared to many cities in Poland, Lublin was relatively undamaged during World War II. But the history is no less dramatic. Tens of thousands of Polish nationalists were detained by German authorities within the walls of the castle. Many died, but most were saved from being killed by the Germans when the Soviet Union liberated the city. Then they were killed by the Soviets.


My friends in Warsaw recommended I try Cebularz (onion cake), a traditional local recipe. Googling it also revealed the sad past of the area. This is a traditional Jewish recipe of the region. There used to be tens of thousands of Jews in Lublin. They had been allowed to settle there by King Casmir III in 1336. Today the recipe survives, but there is no longer a Jewish community here, apart from a handful of mainly elderly people. Continue reading

Writing about Georgia; better late than never.

In all these years of writing about my travels, I have often been late in publishing individual stories. I have been particularly prone to procrastination upon returning to Canada. But this time, I outright abandoned my blog for several months. The only thing that got me going again is the fact that I am travelling as I write these lines. I can’t really write about my current travels without first catching up, so here’s Georgia, a few months late. This will certainly be a little superficial, as I must admit I have forgotten some of the details.


The capital, Tbilisi, is pleasant to walk around and fairly compact when it comes to most things of interest to visitors. You can catch this panoramic view after a short cable car ride up to Narikala Fortress (free access, but in ruins and without much to see except the view). Or, if like me you hate cable cars, you can walk up there in a fairly short time.


The domed roofs indicate the presence of bathhouses, which have been operating in the city for hundreds of years, due to naturally occurring sulphurous springs. Persian, Turkish and even Soviet architectural influences indicate which empire had invaded the country on the year a particular bathhouse was built.


Old Tbilisi is known for its omnipresent, ornate balconies. Unfortunately, many, like this one, are in dire need of restauration.


The city also boasts several very modern constructions, such as the now iconic Bridge of Peace (pedestrian only).


And the Musical Theatre and Exhibition Hall which, like the bridge, is adjacent to the lovely Rike Park. In the background, the Presidential Palace. Continue reading