Monday, March 31, 2014

J'aime Paris!

I love Paris. I love my wife more so this 6 days will be fun but not as much fun as if she were here. But she threw a big bridal shower for her niece at our home and now she is about to have the wedding reception there. I also love her loyalty to her family. When we planned this trip her niece's wedding was going to be last month. When the wedding was moved back a month - no problem: she'd wait to join me.

So this morning I got up at 5a, walked to the Warsaw subway, caught the train to the center, a 45 minute bus ride to the airport, a 2 hour flight to Paris, an hour ride to the Metro [photo], bought a 1 week transportation pass, then a half hour ride on the Metro, then a short walk to my hostel in Montmartre - my home for the next 6 nights.

It is almost at Sacre Couer.  [photo]

Grabbed a sandwich (back to real prices: huge curry chicken sandwich, €3.50 - about $5, then a coffee €1.2) and off to Versailles to check out apartments for my MeggieMoo. [J'taime MeggieMoo.  Ca va?]

I've spoken to or seen all of our kids since I last spoke to Megan or my amazing Shannon. Perhaps I'll call them tonight!!

My project today did not get completed: it's a long way between dorms. But I got photos of two to send out tonight.  Wow, Paris is great!!

Back to the hostel at 6p. A short nap. Food shopping then a solo picnic and back to the hostel.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Horror beyond description

Today, Sunday March 30, 2014, Trevor, Eleanor and I visited the Warsaw Uprising museum. [Photo]. Among all of the horrors of WW2, is it possible that any was worse than this?  In 1938 Poland was a prosperous, peaceful, agrarian country which had the terrible fortune of being located directly between Russia and its Red Army horde and the Third Reich and its equally bloodthirsty army. In 1939 Russia and Germany divided Poland between themselves. In 1940 Germany attacked Russia and drove the Soviet troops back to Stalingrad, at a cost of several million lives. Life in Poland under the iron boot of Adolph Hitler was grim. The Jews were all liquidated. Before the war there were about 4,000,000.  After the war fewer than 50,000 (1%)  survived.  Life was not much better for the non-Jewish Poles: a million were killed in battle, by starvation, or in extermination camps.  Before the war, Warsaw had over a million people. In 1945 the population was zero. Every building was dynamited. Then August 1, 1945 the Russian army was a half day outside the ruins of Poland. 25,000 crack German troops, supported by tanks, artillery, and airplanes prepared to defend Warsaw. The Russians sent word to the Poles to rise up and fight the Germans from the west while they attacked from the east. So, on August 1, 1944 6,000 men, women and children who had survived the German's annihilation effort rose up with rocks and sticks and pistols to attack the Germans. But instead of also attacking as promised, the Russian army withdrew, allowing the German army two months to exterminate the remaining Poles before they were in turn exterminated by over a million Russian soldiers who then murdered and raped their way across the remainder of devastated Poland. The brave Poles who stood to attack their 5 year oppressors were, simply, wiped out. There are still people alive today who were nearby then and remember these events.

Today, in Warsaw, the first floor of all buildings are 3-4 feet above street level.  That is because there was so much rubble, it was impossible to remove it so the (communist) city of Warsaw was just built on top of the rubble after the streets were cleared. Modern Warsaw is a modern city with modern stores. Nearly everyone speaks English and their economy is booming.  The remnant which survived, and foreigners who have come (like my son and his wife) have built back a remarkable city.

So today we came to the museum to honor the Warsaw Uprising.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Au revoir et bonjour

Because I don't know how to say it in Polish. But I do know (phonetically) billyette shainyova proshe.  That means "a 3 day ticket please" on the Warsaw transportation system. So Friday morning we got up in our hostel and took the train to Ipswich where Robert picked us up and took us over by his small boat and then to his house. Since I've covered Robert and Dorothy in Paris last March and their beautiful home in Woolpit last September and October, I won't re-post those stories. But we had a wonderful, if short, visit with our friends at a very tough time in their lives. Their daughter Vanessa went into the hospital 2 weeks ago for a normal delivery, but the baby died. I can't imagine how tough that is on them. I will keep them in my prayers.
We had lunch at their home, dinner at The Bull, then Dorothy made us an English breakfast. Photo.

Saturday morning was tough for me. My trip with Rollin has ended. He and I went to the airport [photo] and each headed out to our respective gates [photo] .   He is off to Dublin (where  for Saturday night then Sunday he will be alone.

I arrived at 4p in Warsaw and went with son Trevor to his apt and soon his wife Elle joined us. The Canton kids want more pics, so here are a couple.  The first is of me on the 25 mi bus ride from the airport to Warsaw and the second is of Trevor and me on the Warsaw subway.


What an amazing young man I have helped create! I am today finishing this 2 week trip with him around Ireland and the UK. I have done similar trips (a) alone in my 40s and (b) with son Trevor at 18 and (c) with son Rollin now at 22 and (d) with Donna (?)!!.

Each trip has been remarkable.  Alone, it is pure adventure. With Trevor it was fun, but also learning about another, younger man - who I had been kept away from since he was 6 weeks old. With Donna it was a romantic trip. With Rollin? Seeing the world as he discovers it is also great fun. I know him. I admire him. I've been with him nearly every step of his 22 years. Today is bittersweet: a great trip but now he heads home to a full-time job. He's smart, kind, handsome, tall, athletic... some young lady is going to knock him off his feet and the times I will have with him will be less and less over time. As it was with my Daddy and me. A time of transition.

So, today we are leaving (horribly expensive) London. For food, lodging, or transportation, the costs are at least double what they are in the US. Example is now.  We have a 1 hour train ride. In France, it would cost $12 pp or so. Here: $55 pp!  Its going to cost $35 to go tomorrow by airplane from London to Warsaw.

So, I'm glad for today: tomorrow I get to see Trevor and Eleanor in Warsaw.  In 9 days Donna arrives. But there is a very special place in my heart for this fine young man who sits next to me now.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Wow is this a crowded and busy and really expensive city. Food in the grocery costs 2+ times US. gasoline is 3+ times as much. Public transportation is 2-3 times as much. Other socialist nations' capitols are not that expensive.

Today, we first went to see Big Ben (all day train bus pass is $14, short bus ride to get to the train is $4pp) and took a photo for one of my kids before going into Westminster Abbey ($13 pp to get in a church) where William the Conquerer was crowned king of England after winning the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Then to ride the big ferris wheel called The Eye [photos]. Then a walk through Trafalgar Square, on to Piccadilly Circus, then to the "Old Vic" to get theater tix for tonight. Back to the Hostel "office" to handle some work then get ready for dinner and the play.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

More on Newcastle

The end of Hadrian's Wall was interesting, more because of the excellent museum than for the ruins, which were just wall foundations. The size of the fort seemed snug for 600 troops and 120 horses, but I suppose there were 2 stories on mist of the buildings.  Every restaurant was crammed because Newcastle was playing some other British team in soccer and Brits are soccer fanatics.

Best hostel so far. My requirements start with comfortable bed and good WiFi in the room. This is the first to have good WiFi in the room so I was able to keep trying until I was able to talk with Donna. Made me feel better.   Add to the hostel a beautiful modern look throughout [photos 1 & 2], large private bathrooms, free use of laundry and modern kitchen... what's not to like?

Full English breakfast with brewed coffee (no instant, so prevalent over here), sausage, eggs, toast, ham, baked beans, oj, muffins. ..  yum!

Now on to London on a 6+ hour bus ride.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

On to Newcastle

Today, Rollin and I depart beautiful Edinburgh Scotland for a short (1.5 hr) train ride [photo] to Newcastle on Tyne.  The adventure continues!  Rollin is a quiet observer. Everyone likes him. He is a great travel partner. And, of course, a great son. We hope to find and check in to our hostel, leave our bags, and find a way to Housteads or somewhere else on Hadrian's wall. Tomorrow we have an early bus ride to London. Train is 3:40 and costs £140. Bus is 6:10 and costs £10. Easy choice: we save $100/hr riding the bus. I hope it is as comfortable.

So we arrived, found our hostel, seems they had booked the wrong date (I called in yesterday morning and made that reservation, the train reservation for today, and the bus reservation for tomorrow - the other two of which are correct) but they were able to get us in. Nice hostel. Roommates are 2 Norwegians who just dumped their stuff everywhere. They picked it up when we stood and waited. Nice bath attached to the room. Not funky cool like Edinburgh's but more Swiss-like: stainless steel, hyper-efficient minimalist.  Went to Castle Keep, a 900 year-old Norman fort build on the ruins of a 2,000 year old Roman gatehouse. [Photo]. Before that we went out to Wall's End to see the Roman fort there, but it was raining so we took no photos. Cool museum, though - very hands-on.

Now I am thoroughly beat: yesterday's Frisbee in the park has me sore and traveling has me tired.  Time for a nap. 4p.

Hey kids - be watching: I have a report and am headed to London tomorrow - the city in one report. There will be a photo tomorrow or the next day. And don't forget to send questions.

Monday, March 24, 2014

And Edinburgh

The awesome weather continues. Today, I retrieved my lost hat from yesterday, Rollin and I went to The Meadows, I doffed my sweaters and outer shirts and shoes and socks and we played Frisbee - yes, I brought a 175 - in the moderate breeze for an hour or so, noted Arthur's Seat that he climbed yesterday [see photo 1] then went shopping (yeah, I know...).  Upon our return, and after a shower and a nap (!), it was warm enough to open the window and redo the photo of the Castle [photo 2] and - out the other side of the hostel - the school that JW Rowling patterned Hogworts after (in the adjacent graveyard are the headstones with names she used like Voldemort (sp?)) [photo 3]


Pronounced locally like "Edinboro". Beautiful city, awesome weather (very brisk), lots to do.

God has so incredibly blessed me, here, closer to the end than the start of life. Not that He didn't bless me more than anyone else I know - right from the beginning.  But with the perspective of age, I am astounded at His steadfastness: He blessed me as much when I ignored Him as He does now.  Each day's blessings seem unfair to the rest of the world.  I do feel like the most favored child of the most high King: He loves me.
No: it seems He adores me, without cause and beyond reason. He has provided me with everything: awesome wife, wonderful kids, health, friends, leisure... so much. And I love being loved by them all!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Hung up, moving on

My Loch Lomond post from yesterday is hung up in the Blogspot software so there is no telling when it will post. This morning, Rollin, Annie and I are taking the bus (£7 vs £13 train each) to Edinburgh where she is visiting her parents and Rollin & I are doing the tourist thing for 3 days.  Rollin is awake - sort of - after 3 hours' sleep last night.

Then on to Edinburgh Castle - a beautiful day brought out the crowds on this Saturday so we eschewed the lines and just strolled around.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Scotland and Annie

My mom was Annie Sue Rollins. Her mom was Annie Tallulah Lane.  Rollin's friend in Glasgow is Annie Clinton.

Rollin and I took a car to the boat to a bus to a train and arrived exactly on time in Glasgow to Annie and her friends who greeted us. We dropped our stuff at our hostel. Nice hostel!  Our room has two (!) bunk beds, a shower, separate commode room, and separate sink. Each bed has its own locker. Breakfast is not included in the $28pp price, which is high for hostels, but we have no roommates, and a great view of the city and the river. Photo 1

I had to work so I returned to my computer and Rollin and friends went out partying. Thursday (Mar 20, 2014) I went for a walk after breakfast. Met back up with Rollin at 1p and we went off to U of Glasgow. Photo 2 & 4.

On the way back, I noticed some subway art that I liked. Photo 3

I came back to the room for a 30 minute examination of the inside of my eyelids!

Then Rollin and I joined Annie at a pub then an Indian restaurant then I headed home and Rollin set out to see the world. Unfortunately, Rollin didn't return. I called Annie at 3am but didn't get a text back until morning. He and I are going to talk about that when he returns. 

Then something bizarre happened. I sat down in the lounge to read the news on my phone and to text with Donna and the kids. Suddenly,I was surrounded by 40 or so kids about the age of my Hasty/Canton kids .  They were starting some sort of party with balloons on their heads. They have really thick accents (to me) but seem typical of the kids here and so much like my 350 or so kids at Hasty/Canton that I decided to ask the adult leader for permission to speak with a few of them on camera as part of my presentation to the kids back home. "We are very busy" I was told. So, I presented my card and asked for the name of the school so I could inquire about setting up a Skype when I return.  He declined to answer my question except to say that perhaps we could talk in the morning.  So, I went down late for breakfast.  Hostels have common tables and everyone is invited to sit in any empty seat. There were 2 empty seats out of 4 at his table but rather than sitting down I asked permission. "We are having a meeting" he said - a demonstrable lie - as he and the other person scowled at me.  So I said "have a nice day" and left back to the lounge to read, blog, and text. Interesting lesson: nasty jerks exist everywhere - just like nice people exist everywhere. The great news is we get to leave the jerks to be jerks. [Although I do admit a resisted desire to find the name of the school and email the head of the district a link to this page!]

Shortly the kids and the scowlers showed up in the lounge!  With a wind band blasting away. No phone calls now!  The Rollin showedup at 11:30 and we are about to leave for Loch Lomond . 


Port Rush to Don't Rush to Scotland

Beautiful morning at our B&B in Port Rush. Photo 1.  Then back to Dunluce Castle in daylight. Photo 2.  Then we headed to see Donna and my fav: Kinbane Castle. Photo 3 from 2009. Because here's what we found when we arrived today: Photo 4. So, we headed to Belfast and turned in the car - 300 mi, £33 gas. Total: £50

Grabbed a cab to the ferry. Arrived at 11:15a for a 11:30 departure, so we have to wait 4 hours before boarding.  Photos 5-7

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

St Paddy's Day and Dunluce Castle

Wow, what a day. Details coming.  s now.  So, we had quite a party at SPD but at 9p some of Rollin's roommates took a Snapchat of themselves and posted they had stolen Rollin's phone which set off alarm bells in Ellijay Georgia USA with his mom which - bad habit, I know - sent me off on a 5 hour search for him.  Finally found him at 2a asleep in his bed holding his phone!

We actually left Dublin at 10a and headed to the train station in light rain and heavy wind. So far, the weather has been great - much warmer than I prepared for. Better that than the reverse, but I'll not likely be needing my crampons. 

The trip to Belfast was uneventful, except for the train tickets. €19 era online in advance. €39ea at the train station!  Robbery!

 Rented a micro cheapo car for £17 a day ($29) and were upgraded by Budget to a 2014 Mercedes diesel 6 speed with only 900 miles on it!  So off we went wandering around N Ireland getting lost.  Finally arrived at Dunluce Castle at dusk. Awesome place!  Then to Port (Sill - I think) next to the castle where we are at a B&B. Leaving for the Giant's Causeway trip to Belfast and an early afternoon ferry to Scotland. No rain today expected but heavy rain tomorrow. We should be in Glasgow. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

In case you missed it, Rollin and I are celebrating...

something in Dublin for St Patty's Day!  He's staying in the hostel pictured here. They had only 1 bed available 3 months ago, as did the one I'm in around the corner. 

We are all going towards Brit customs

On our way into London - our first stop before going on to Dublin - we had company on our flight. See photo. Nice. But then Brit customs. It seems that the Italians and the Brits have this "virus": "let's-make-it-hard-on-the-tourists".  So our flight landed in London on time exactly and we had 1 hour and 35 minutes to get from our arriving flight to Rollin's departing flight. He was - just barely - able to do it.  I could not get there in time to see him off. Long walks. First, BA226 told us that because we were just changing planes we did not need to fill out a UK customs form. Fortunately, I stopped at an info desk and we found out to the contrary. Next a moderately long line for checking our cards and passports. Next, another line to check our boarding passes. Next a line to run biometrics on our faces. Next security. I was specifically told by one agent I did not need to take off my boots. When I got ready to be scanned they changed their minds.  Next another line to get the biometrics photo of our faces confirmed.  Everything is narrow so when a flight is de-planeing, all E-W foot traffic gets blocked with a sliding door until all passengers file by, and vice versa.  I got caught in one of those holds 2x. Finally got to Rollin's departure gate.  Boarding had just finished, he was not there, so I assume he was on board. I asked if I could fly on that flight: "No, this is an Are Mingus flight and we don't accept BA tickets" except this flight was booked as a BA flight.  Now I have a 5 hour wait for my flight.

We have had a similar Brit customs experience going to London for the day from Paris last spring. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014


At the airport, Rollin & Dad, on the way to Dublin for St. Patty's Day.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Rollin and I are ready!

5 V Five Cinco Cinq

All my bag is packed, I'm ready to go....  Lots to do before I can go - one massive brief to complete writing. A few meetings.  Buy a green wig for the St Patty's Day parade. Tick, Tick.  It's 4am with 5 days to go and I'm awake. Eager to start.  But 3 weeks away from the most wonderful wife.   Five.  5. V

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Nine lives Cat o nine tails 3, 6 9 the goose frank wine

Nine. Nueve. Neuf. IX.   When I've been sitting, waiting, with 9 days to go it seems forever away. This time I have a lot to get done before I leave....  It seems around the corner.