Glimpses 5: Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland, China

March 20, 2017

Originally intended as a small book, “Glimpses: In which a Casual Traveler Ruminates on Passing Scenes—1989-2011″, I should like to share it with my readers in a more informal manner as a series of Blogs accessible on our website. 

Coaster from U Fleku, Prague

Coaster from U Fleku, Prague

Czech Republic: Prague: Jacky, Jörg, take us to U Flecku, an incredibly old tavern some distance from the town’s center. Scarred wooden tables. Loud men-talk. Hearty laughter. Many mugs of Urquell disappeared from our table. How many dreams had been started, thwarted, and realized in this ancient beer hall? The following day, Cornelia and I visited the newly-opened Mucha Museum, while Jacky and Jörg explored elsewhere. (Note: We met Jacky Sparkowsky and Jörg Iwan in Berlin through the Jarczyks and have visited and traveled with them in Europe extensively).

Germany: Bergisch Gladbach: Walking back home with Heinz after a visit to his favorite art shop, we stop along the way at one of his favorite haunts — a small Italian restaurant where they warmly welcome him. Our order? An espresso and shot of grappa — enough to spur on at least an hour of small talk!

Germany: Leipzig: We find a tavern on the small square and see what we can get for lunch. As we sit at our table, I discover that this was the very place where Goethe wrote part of his “Dr. Faustus”. I try to conjure up his shade and absorb his spirit. All I come away with is the taste of beer. A short distance away, the church where Bach was choirmaster. My mind whirls with history.

 Switzerland: Somewhere in the Alps: Taking a short side trip on a local train from our Eurail route from Germany to Italy, we are in a carriage filled with young skiers. Rounding one mountain as we come from shade into full sunlight we unexpectedly come upon a sky filled with multi-colored hot air balloons, all sailing past our window at eye-level! Fantastic to see their tropical, parrot-like colors against the backdrop of snow-covered Alps!

China: Beijing (1999): A city of bicycles! (I hear that now they are rapidly being replaced by automobiles in China’s burgeoning economy. It was already a city of dense smog and pollution in 1999!). Beijing — A city of signs we cannot read!


Glimpses: In which a Casual Traveler Ruminates on Passing Scenes—1989-2011: China, Germany, Hungary

January 8, 2016

Originally intended as a small book, “Glimpses: In which a Casual Traveler Ruminates on Passing Scenes—1989-2011″, I should like to share it with my readers in a more informal manner as a series of Blogs accessible on our website. The introduction and earlier blogs can be found in the archives.

 

View from the Great Wall painting by Raymond J. Steiner

View from the Great Wall painting by Raymond J. Steiner

China: Badaling (outside Beijing): We walk the Great Wall, making the effort to traverse its (restored) length. Each stone put in place by human hands — and I complain of the quivering in my calves as I descend the uneven steps! To what ends might man be pushed? How far can his spirit be broken — and how many must be so broken — to appease the Great Spirit in the Sky?

 

Germany: Regensburg: Traveling from eastern Germany (Bogen in upper Bavaria) to Vienna and Budapest, I catch fleeting glimpses of the Danube along the way, a river that has long touched my imagination. Finally, from the steps of Valhalla, I get my first real sight of this majestic stream! I’m not sure why this so affected me. Some days later, while in …

View of the Danube from Pest in Hungary

View of the Danube from Buda in Hungary

Hungary: Budapest, I’m shown a certain section of the “Blue” Danube that once ran red with the blood of slaughtered Jews — my romantic notions of that sung-about river now forever tainted. Also visited the Great Synagogue while in Budapest and was told by our Hungarian guide that it had been recently refurbished by the son of the man (a Mister Schwartz) who helped renovate Temple Emanu-El, the Reform Temple, on Park Avenue in NYC. Wanting to reconnect with his roots, the young Schwartz donated large sums of money in an effort to bring the Budapest

The Great Synagogue in Dohány Street (also known as Dohány Street Synagogue) in Budapest, Hungary

The Great Synagogue in Dohány Street (also known as Dohány Street Synagogue) in Budapest, Hungary

Synagogue back to its former glory. A “hero” to the Hungarian Jews, we are shown pictures of Schwartz junior who turns out to be none other than the actor Tony Curtis — Bernie Schwartz being his actual name! — and the rebuilding of the Budapest Synagogue just one of his many charitable undertakings.

This blog will continue each week with a new “glimpse”