Good Bye Europe

In case you haven’t
noticed, this trip has become something of an exploration of certain
themes, which has resulted in several somber posts over the last week
or so.  Themes like contemporary Jewish life and culture,
retracing my family history, learning about the culture that was lost,
genocide, fascism, human depravity.

But there are other themes I haven’t mentioned.  

One is the great time I had being
with my family for the last half of my trip.  My dad is such a joy
to be around and we are so close – it was great to see Rome with him
and Sara and Marie, and celebrating the holidays with them over there
was particularly nice. 


It was also great to be with Sara; as
you know we traveled together for a week after Dad and Marie went back
to the U.S.  We had some great experiences together and a lot of
laughs.  Laughing till your sides hurt is always fun. 
Because we don’t live in the same city, we never ran out of things to
talk about.  Sometimes we would spontaneously say the same thing
at the same time which was funny and disconcerting at the same time.

I really enjoyed watching Sara’s mind
work, in part because I know what her experiences have been, such as
backpacking for over a year through Central and South America, and of
course because she’s my younger sister and I’ve known her my whole
life.  Little things like watching her eagerly devour the Italian
phrasebook and copy many words into her own little notebook, or seeing
her pronounce perfectly the Polish word for “excuse me,” which is
“Pszepraszam” (pron. pshe-PRASH-am).  Or when we were at the Roman
Forum and she told me to be sure and check out the perfectly preserved
marble floor in the former hall where the Roman Senate met 2,000 years

And of course, much of the trip has
been about just being a tourist, seeing the sights, and all that good
stuff.  My main comment here is that no one reading this should go
to Europe without including a trip to Krakow.  That is one great
city.  I’ve gushed enough about it to make all of you sick, so I
won’t go on and on again.  But I have to mention my trip this
morning to the Collegium Maius, the oldest building of Jagellonian
University, the second-oldest college in Central Europe.  It’s so
old that Copernicus went there!  They had some of his astronomical
instruments, some great old globes and astrolabes, and in general it
was just cool to be in such a venerated old institution.  It looks
just like you would imagine a very old university to look – dark wood
beams, old scientific instruments, very very old books in centuries-old
bookcases with lead glass windows, etc.  Knowledge and learning
seemed to seep from the walls.  Don’t miss it.

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