June 2014 Archives

Quebec City Shops

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Significant Dates

The Musee des Beaux-Arts du Quebec had an exhibit of 10 "paintings" by Bill Vazan, each representing a decade of the 20th C. Vazan used a date stamp with acrylic paint to construct an array with each of the approximately 3652 days in that decade. The result was surprisingly attractive. I selected sections of the canvases that contained three significant dates in our lives. Click photos to enlarge them.

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Elsa's birthday

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My birthday

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Our anniversary

Abstract Expressionists in Quebec

The Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec had an exhibit featuring two of the internationally prominent Quebec artists of the immediate post WW2 era. The entries to each gallery were striking.

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Jean-Paul Riopelle

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Fernand Leduc

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This part of the museum building used to be a prison, a history emphasized by this view of the entry to the installation.

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Quebec City Shop Window Colors

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Sculptural assemblage at the Quebec Museum of Fine Arts. (click to enlarge)

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Quebec Street Art

We're back from the Carpathians, and while I sort through the many photos from the trip (in addition to those already posted as a report on the progress of our journey) I'll return to posting of photos from Quebec. This one is a particularly dramatic example of a street-art mural. (click to enlarge)

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A Renaissance Town in Ukraine

June 24: Yesterday I posted two photos of Jewish buildings in an unnamed town near Lviv. The name of the town is Zhovkva. The history of the place is interesting to read: http://www.jewishheritage.org.ua/en/2697/synagogue-in-zhovkva.html. It was a private town, owned by a nobleman until 1772, when it became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Here are a couple of photos of non-Jewish sites in the town.

Click on the photos to enlarge them.

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Ukraine to Poland

June 23: In the morning we drove to a town about 20 minutes from Lviv that has some interesting remnants of Jewish life before World War Two.

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Door and wall of a former synagogue, now used as a gym because of its high ceilings.

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A hat maker used to work in this building.

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In the early afternoon we left Lviv and Ukraine and flew to Warsaw, Poland. After checking in to our hotel, we took a long walk to the Old Town and university district. The gate to the University of Warsaw was impressive.

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Tomorrow is a travel day, flying back from Warsaw to MSP via Amsterdam.

In Search of Roots

June 22: Today we drove out from Lviv to the small town of Pavlivka, near the Polish border. This was formerly the town of Poryck, then in Poland, where my mother was born and lived until age 13 when she came to the US in 1921. Poryck was destroyed in WW II, and when rebuilt was renamed after one of its main streets. Our driver, guide, and translator was Alex Dunai, a gentile scholar who specializes in Jewish roots tourism and genealogy.

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We've seen several of these Ukranian Greek Orthodox churches, with their characteristic multiple domes, large size, and bright colors, in our travels through western Ukraine.

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This coal-mining area has several socialist realist sculptures dating from Stalin's days, this one in front of an old water tower.

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In Pavlivka we met a schoolteacher who took us to meet two old women who have lived in this area since the 1920s, within a few years of when my mother and her family lived here. They knew Jewish people from that time, but didn't recognize any of my family's names. This woman was 97 years old, the other was 94.

Exploring Lviv

June 21: The last day of our Carpathians tour with Wilderness Travel was devoted to exploring the center of Lviv, the cultural heart of Ukraine. In the morning we went around with a guide, in the afternoon we explored on our own. Lviv is a photogenic place, so there are more photos than usual. Click photos to enlarge them.

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One of the many churches in Lviv.

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A chocolate store and factory, featuring Chocolate Putins.

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Sacher-Masoch, after whom masochism is named, came from Lviv. Here our guide demonstrates the realism of his statue.

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After lunch we wandered the Street Market. This fellow was one of several selling old Russian cameras.

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Folk musicians singing on the street on European Music Day.

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Platonic idea of a tall blonde.

Carpathians in Ukraine

June 20: We hiked in the Carpathian mountains near Yaremche in Ukraine, had lunch near a waterfall close by, then had a long drive over bad roads to Lviv, where we will finish our tour.

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The Dovbush Trail is a lovely park in the forested Carpathians of Ukraine. Oleksa Dovbush was a Robin Hood-like character in the mid-18th C, so the Trail is sort of like Sherwood Forest. In addition to the trees and rocks, I was struck by the abundant and highly colored moss.

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Haystacks in fields like this are common in this area, but the backdrop of dark forested mountains and an abandoned (if recent) castle are not so common.

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We had lunch in an elegantly constructed wooden restaurant building, decorated in the style of the Hutsul people who have lived in the Carpathian mountains of Ukraine for many centuries. This is a detail of the restaurant ceiling.

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Into Ukraine

June 19: This morning we walked across the bridge over the Tisza River, from Romania into Ukraine (the western, European-leaning part). Passport control was less trouble than anticipated, so we transferred to a new bus and were on our way before 10 AM.

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Our first stop was in a place, near the town of Rakhiv, which is calculated to be the geographical center of Europe. Elsa and I stand at a marker signifying this "special" place.

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In addition to many souvenir vendors, the place had a restaurant whose walls were covered with antiques: tools, cookware, keys,... and in this case, musical instruments. Some ladies in our group were enjoying a midmorning coffee.

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Moving on, we came to the resort complex of Bukovel, where we will stay overnight. It's intended mainly as a ski resort, but is fairly busy even in summer, especially since Crimea is no longer a viable vacation destination for many Ukrainians. The complex was built by an oligarch, and has a somewhat Disney-World flavor. I was impressed by the geometry of this log cabin construction.

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Sighet, Romania

June 18: We spent today exploring the Romanian city of Sighet.

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First thing after breakfast, we took a rather steep and difficult hike/climb in the hills behind our hotel. At about the highest point, our tour leader Alex said that we could see the bridge that we'd be crossing tomorrow from Romania into Ukraine. We couldn't locate it even with binoculars, so Alex took a picture with my camera, zoomed out to maximum, with the bridge in the exact center of the photo. There it is!

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Coming down from the mountain, we walked through a rather rural residential neighborhood. The grandmother was tending her grandson, and as we exchanged pleasantries, her daughter (the mother of the boy) and son came out. The grandmother reminds me of my mother when she was about that age.

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Walking further along, we passed a Jewish cemetery. There is hardly a Jewish community in Sighet any more, and the cemetery seemed to be tended by a gentile man who enthusiastically showed us around.

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Romanian Scenes

June 17: Connection to the University of Minnesota blog site from the server in our hotel in Romania was forbidden, so the post of this date, and tomorrow, are actually being sent on June 19 from a ski resort in Ukraine. It's interesting that Romania is blocked, and Ukraine is not, but that may be server-specific and related to the amount of spam sent from each server.


At any rate, we stayed overnight (June 16-17) at the Hotel Turist Suior in Baia Sprie in the Maramures region of Romania. In the morning we took probably the longest chair lift we've ever seen to a pass atop the Gutin Mountains, where we began our hike.


This is sheep-herding country, as well as having some beautiful beech forests, so this view is typical of the hiking path in the open country.


In the afternoon we drove to Sighetu Marmatiei (Sighet), a pleasant city set along the Tisza River which marks Romania's border with Ukraine. We strolled around town before dinner; I was taken by the pretty flowers backed by the worn and textured walls of houses.

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From Hungary to Romania

June 16: We began by driving to the Hortobagyi Nature Reserve, about an hour from Eger. It is mainly a bird sanctuary. A variety of birds could be observed through binoculars or a spotting scope, but some of the best photographic opportunities, for my taste, were of the boardwalk, observation towers, and vegetation.

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We then drove for several hours through Hungary and into Romania. There is a fine Baroque castle in the city of Carei, where this gargoyle caught my eye.

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Around Eger

June 15: Today we took a long (about 7 mile) walk from Eger through vineyards and woods. Then to a vineyard and museum. Nice day.


Pruning the grapes on a hot day.


We had a wine tasting and lunch in a winery carved into an old limestone quarry.

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Returning to Eger, we went to the Georgy Kepes Museum to look at an exhibit of photos of Picasso and friends by Jean Cocteau. In one of the other galleries was this interesting construction.

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Eger, Hungary


Our tour leader Gian-Lucca walking through the Bukk (beech) forest near Eger.


Wedding on the steps of a large church in Eger.


Bas-relief commemorating the siege of Eger by the Turks in the 1400s.

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Old Slovakia

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June 13: We began with a bus ride from Levoca to Chateau Betliar, the ancestral home of a family that ruled in this region for centuries. There was a competition going on around the large fountain, judging the best hunting trophies. Some impressive antlers!

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The interior of the chateau/castle is an impressive museum, including many precious objects and portrait paintings of ancestors.

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The Slovakian city of Roznava, where we had lunch, has an abundance of handsome churches.

Spis Castle and Levoca

June 12: We hiked to Spis Castle, lunched after another hike of a couple of km, and spent the late afternoon visiting a fascinating couple in a fascinating medieval house in Levoca. Click photos to enlarge them.


The fields were full of wildflowers, in this case poppies next to a field of rye.


Spis Castle about to be assaulted by one of many children's groups.


Old buildings in Levoca.

Slovakian Tatras

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A 7 km hike today, through beautiful forest but along a very rough path.

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View from the top of the 2634 meter high Lomnicky Peak, where they do solar astronomy and cosmic ray physics.

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Across from our hotel in Levoca, there was a little fair, with little kids dancing to the band.

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Zakopane Tatras

June 10: A long, arduous hike in the Tatras just by the Slovakia border (where we drove in the afternoon.) Click photos to enlarge them.


Looking cheerful, before we realized how tough the hike would be: a thousand feet down and back up, over a steep path with uneven, rocky footing.


One of the tallest of the Tatra peaks.


The highest meteorological station in Poland.


June 9: This morning we drove from Krakow to Zakopane, a town in the Tatras (part of the Carpathians), which is the winter sports and recreation center of Poland. Even in the summer on a Monday it was crowded. Click photos to enlarge them.


We rode this chair-lift about 1000 feet up to get a good view and take a short hike to a funicular down to the valley.


After lunch we hiked a little more than an hour into the Tatra National Park. At about this point, we turned around and walked back. Nice, but warm and too sunny for most good photography.


From a distance, we saw this flock of sheep being milked. Going closer, we drank some fermented sheep's milk - like kefir, but sharper and with a bit of a barnyard taste. Very good!

Krakow Scenes


Bagel stand in Market Square, Krakow Old Town


Ceiling of Isaac Synagogue


Detail of amazing Veit Stoss Altar, St. Mary's Basilica

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Warsaw Airport

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We've just arrived in Krakow, Poland after flights from MSP to AMS to Warsaw to Krakow. This was taken while waiting in a pleasant cafe in the Warsaw airport. After two days exploring Krakow, we'll be hiking in the Carpathian mountains for the next couple of weeks. The internet gods willing, I'll try to post photos of the scenery.

Street Artists in Quebec City



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Quebec City Landmarks


Parliament Building


Hotel Frontenac

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Yellow on Gray

Quebec City. Click photos to enlarge them.



Walled and Caged


Maintaining the wall of the Promenade des Gouverneurs in Quebec City. (click to enlarge)

Promenade des Gouverneurs

A long scenic walkway above the St. Lawrence River in Quebec City. Click photos to enlarge them.




Aerial Cubism (2)


Quebec City. (click to enlarge)

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from June 2014 listed from newest to oldest.

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