Monday, October 31, 2016

Pest is Best

Budapest used to be two separate cities that were separated by the Danube River. Before the first bridge was built, they could only go across by ferry, and only when there was no ice, when ice the ferry could not run, and the ice was not stable enough for people to walk on.I took a walking tour, that started on the Pest side, then moved over to the Buda side. Our guide was from Pest side, so he feels that is the best side. There were only three of us on the tour, a mother and daughter from Manchester and me, so it was easy to keep on track. In the middle of the tour we had a snack of two different kinds of strudel, I had cabbage and poppy seed, and coffee. A very nice treat.The Pest side of the city is quite flat, over on the Buda very hilly. Our guide Tomas was really good, gave us lots of information but in a non boring way, I may even retain some of it.

On Saturday night I went to a concert at a church with an organ and a choir. The church itself was not very big, square foot size, but the ceilings were very high. The final song was the Hallelujah  Chorus  which sent shivers down my spine. Really lovely. The first few songs were the organ itself, and reminded me of the beginning of the Phantom of the Opera.

My apartment building here, like the others I have stayed in is old, but as soon as you go into the apartment itself, very uptodate and modern.This one even has a fullsize refrigerator. The area I am staying in is kind of a shopping district, with shoe stores galore. So far I have not succumbed and as tomorrow is a national holiday and shops will be closed, I think I will not buy any.

I leave here on Wednesday and take the train to Bratislava, five days there then back to England. According  to Tomas it will be very, very quiet there, since the season is over.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

After we got back from Canterbury we hung around Oxford for quite a while, going to town to see the sights, mostly museums. It was nice to be able to linger over the display cases at the Pitt Rivers. Part of the time was the weekend so we were able to visit a bit more with Anne and Del. We went shopping with them at TK Maxx, their Winners.
The trouble with being able to do anything you want is that it’s hard to narrow down. Finally Geoff arranged a car rental (which I wanted to do all along but was not going to press since I would not be driving). We decided to go to Ironbridge since we both are interested in industrial history. To our relief the car has a built-in GPS, otherwise we would still be circling Oxford. It was pretty straightforward getting here but still stressful getting used to the roads again. “Curb! Wrong side of road! Go around the roundabout again!”
We have really enjoyed it here. There are 10 museums, mostly focussed on the development of the iron industry which took off here in the 1700s, and I was so happy to see the actual iron bridge that was the first ever built. I don’t know why but it made me happy to see it. We went to a Victorian village yesterday, same idea as Fort Edmonton, but again we were most interested in the blast furnaces and ironworks.
Hotel is nice. This is a place where English tourists go for the weekend so we are definitely in the minority. It is half-term so lots of families everywhere.
We have rented a cottage near Bath for after this. Hoping to stop at a National Trust place on the way. Then it will be a few more days at Anne’s, then to London and the cruise.
Last night was the time change here. We had no idea until this morning.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Conference in Niagara Falls

Went to Niagara Falls for ACT conference this week. was quite busy one as they had evening sessions until 9 pm, which I appreciate as if I am going to be there, might as well make most use of time. This means being pretty tired though, as sessions in the morning started right at 830. Combined with jetlag=tired. I had to skip one session to nap, as I thought I just couldn't do it.

Wednesday evening, I missed evening one and met up with the Wensinks. Jason and Ryan were playing their final  game, so we all watched and then went to Bill and Kathy's for visit. Not a whole lot new there-Bill and Kathy bought a cabin in PEI-was in disrepair, but they have already done stuff and made it habitable. The previous owner had set it up for solar power, composting toilet etc. Everyone else is doing fine-Franco is back working-doing modified duties.

Conference had lots great content, and I met people from a lot of different places-NYC-there was a team from Bellevue Hospital (I said, oh, that Bellevue!), New Orleans, Oregon, and of course from all over Ontario. I met the judge who helped draft the mental health legislation there. We had a little interesting discussion about the differences between Ontario and BC. Ontario, person has to be declared unable to decide on treatment and go before courts etc to determine competency, whereas in BC that doesn't have to happen. This is why there is a lawsuit  I am in favour of the lawsuit, though when I brought it up at our am meeting, the psychiatrist went off on a tangent about 'liberal do-gooders' (to which I replied, I am a liberal do-gooder). I think our current legislation leaves way too much power in the hands of physicians with patients unable to really have choice.

Anyway, conference was good, one session talked about tensions in peer work, which I thought was the most interesting one-the presenters discussed how simply having a peer on your team does not mean you can congratulate yourself on being inclusive, and they argued against it. Also gave a nice overview of historical and sociological perspectives on mental health clients.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Back on Track

I think I am back to normal now, a couple of good tours around Prague and I got over my homesickness. I was very happy to be an apartment so I could just kind of hang out.
I took a tour to Kutna Hora, which has an Ossuary, which basically means a church with bones in it. It reminded me of the place in Rome, where Theresa and I bought slides of the bones. It is also famous because there was silver mining there and they also made coins. The tour itself was in English, French and Russian. I did not have a hope understanding the Russian but some of the French I did, at least, I think I did. Maybe I was just remembering what the guide said in English and catching the odd French word. There used to be a Jesuit College there, but with the Soviets and Communism, that pretty much went by the wayside. The St. Barbara church is also there, she is the patron saint of miners, in the Czech Republic, I think the patron saint of miners in Poland is St, Kinga, wonder if they are the same people? It is a really beautiful town, and with the fall colours, very striking. I found a little chocolate shop there, with had made chocolate from CZ.The area around Kutna Hora is in a valley, and fruit is grown there, so kind of like Kelowna,

The next day I went to Czesky Krumlov, very beautiful. It was the first time on this trip that I saw a LOT of Japanese tourists, they were everywhere. The streets are very narrow and seems like it should be a walking only place, but there were lots of cars driving around. Our guide on this tour was great!! She spoke English and Spanish. There were only 7 people on the tour, me a couple from Saskatchewan, a couple from Argentina and a couple from Spain. It took a couple of hours, to get there so I got to see quite a bit of countryside. We toured a palace, which had basically 3 different families that owned it, and the Czech government. Again quite a lovely place, and this was a good time of the year to see it, not that crowded. I can imagine in the summertime you would not be able to move.
I tried to go to the Prague Castle yesterday but there some kind of a thing happening there, so could not get in. I did watch the changing of the guards and there was also a parade of military, so kind of interesting. I went to the St. Nicholas church, very ornate. The last few days it has rained in the morning but the afternoon has been very nice. Since I could not go in the castle, I took the virtual tour online.
I am writing this on the train to Budapest It takes 7 hours to between Prague and Budapest, and I will pass through Bratislava on the way.  Looking forward to Budapest and the hot baths.

Sunday, October 23, 2016


Oct 20 to 23
Prague is a very pretty city, lots of old buildings, cobblestone streets, but I don 't thin k I like it as much as I thought I would. Could be just my frame of mind, feeling like I miss home. Anyway I have a couple of tours lined up for Monday and Tuesday, so it will be nice to see some countryside.

I have been  using public transit quite a bit here. It is pretty much all on  the honour system. You buy a ticket or a pass and don't have to show it unless asked. The buses have 3 different doors, front, middle and back, and you just get on  whichever is closest to you. Trams have the same system but more doors. The bus that I use to get to and from where I am staying has stops very close to the building and it only takes about 5 minutes for one to come along, very convenient. I find the Czech people not quite as friendly as the ones from Cracow, though there are lots of english speaking ones.

It is also funny how many English stores there are here, the other day I was in one of the  main shopping districts and there was a Debenhams, across the street a Marks and Spencer, and a huge Tesco for grocery shopping. Of course there are also the American  chains around, Subway, KFC, Starbucks and McDonalds, it becomes easy to forget what country you are in.

Friday, October 21, 2016


Since Blogger keeps shutting me down, I am going to try this a different way. Maybe cutting and pasting a document will work.
We are back in Oxford after a really good time in Canterbury. We stayed at a nice pub right close to the centre and cathedral and had an easy time finding our way around. There is lots to see in Canterbury. The cathedral of course. We took a tour there and also went to a couple of services, evensong and communion. Worshipping in a place where people have been doing the same thing for over a thousand years is very moving. Also someone was murdered there but we did not feel we had to be that authentic.
Also took a walking tour of the town and went to the Roman museum, which is built around an excavation of a Roman house. There is a bookstore in town that has an excavation of a Roman bath downstairs in the history section.
Lots of pubs and gift shops of course, but it is a real town, not a theme park, so people were going around doing their regular errands as well. Lots of streets are closed to vehicle traffic so it is very walkable.
We found our own way back to Anne’s on all the buses so felt quite pleased with ourselves. Now off to the shops to get supplies for supper.

View Pics

 The view from the living room
 One of the buildings across the street
Another of the across the street buildings
Some of the street

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Cannon Beach Again

Am trying to post great picture I got here, but blogger doesn't want to work with phone!
Weather has been great, walking on beach today in bare feet, day before was spectacular too.
In nEwport we stayed at Nye Beach, which seemed like a hipster/working class area. I really like tall, skinny houses. Remind me of the Weasleys in Harry Potter movies. 
I think we will stay in Harrison Hot springs tomorrow. Not sure if we'll spend 2 nights or 1.

Bus, Train, Metro, Uphill Walk and 3 flights of stairs

Oct 16 to 19
Those are the modes of transportation I took to get to my new home in Prague. It is totally worth the journey. It has a beautiful view, and is very spacious. Not right in the city centre but only 4 metro stops from there. My landlady here is actually working in Germany right now, so I picked up the keys from her Grandfather, who lives a block away from her.

The last couple of days in Cracow were low key, I did a lot of walking around, went to see the
Wawel Castle (more hills), the Jewish ghetto and all around the old town. It is a nice time of the year to visit, not really crowded, cool weather but not cold. I love the buildings in Cracow, so beautiful and there are still lots of flowers on balconies and in window boxes. I also found people very welcoming and lots of english spoken.

I am pretty happy, so far with all the places I have picked to stay at, all of them have lived up to their advertising. I have found that I tend to eat at home quite a bit, instead of going out. Maybe because that is the one thing I dislike about traveling by myself, eating out alone, but also the cost, it is way cheaper to eat at home. My landlady gave me a couple of recommendations for eating out in the area, so I might do that a little more here. There is also a giant Tesco near here so it will be easy to shop. Thank goodness for numbers, they look the same so I can figure out how much to pay the cashier.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


Spent 2 nights in cannon beach, had a great spot on the ocean. Cannon beach is very nice but quite yuppified. Travelling this time of year, many middle aged people, so we feel at home. Had leisurely drive here, stopped at one pull over, with a little bay and saw a baby whale in the bay! It must have have been only 20 metres away from us!
I hope the mom was close by
Weirdly, at one place we saw a 15 year old Sunfire with the bumper torn off, and a bumper sticker half off that said Trump/Pence. Then 10 miles down the road, saw a Prius with a Hillary sticker. You couldn't make that up if you tried. I wanted to get a photo of the Trump one, but the people were in the car, and I didn't want them to beat me up.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Blogger keeps shutting me down when I try to post so I am using Anne's computer.
Our trip over here was uneventful although the plane left late because we waited for some connecting passengers from Calgary. Got to Anne's and I got sick, slept for most of 24 hours. And also realized that I lost my phone, which I was too sick to deal with apart from cancelling with Telus. After I felt better I phoned the lost and found for the bus we took from Gatwick, and what do you know, they had the phone. Del drove me over to reunite my phone and I.
We have been having a low-key week. Del is in between old and new jobs so he went in a bit, worked from home a bit. Anne took a few days off so we went into town one day and to Warwick Castle another, but spent a lot of time sitting around and visiting. Anne had a long list of garden jobs she wanted to get done, so it was really fun helping her with that. I am jealous of the English garden climate.
We went to the Weston Library, a new part of the Bodliean paid for in part by the Loblaws Westons. There was a display of treasures from the Bodliean including the Magna Carta.
Warwick was really good. I was a little taken aback when I first came across a mannequin, I thought it was a real person and I backed out of the room so I would not have to engage. The castle is owned by Mme. Tussaud's so that explains the realistic mannequins. We saw an archery demonstration and a flaming trebuchet. This was Anne's fourth trip there this year so she did not come into the castle with us but explored Warwick and found some interesting things. Apparently they have really good charity shops there.
Today we go to London to see Mike Farris at a club. We will stay overnight, then go to Canterbury for a few days. Plans after that TBA. We are still winging it a la Geoff.
It's so good to see Anne and Del and their new house, which is very nice, especially the kitchen. And the yard.

Saturday, October 15, 2016


We are staying at seaside Oregon today.  Wa were in Abbotsford last night, left after work to get going right away. Crazy rain! Leftovers from typhoon that is now hitting the coast. Room is nice, we just finished super, went for walk along boardwalk and are trying to gather up energy for hot tub. Am hoping both mom and Sebastian are doing fine! Leaving older mother and cat behind makes me feel nervous. Though Jim will be there today and have a visit with both!


Oct  10 to 15
I am sitting in my cute little apartment in Cracow, drinking a Grapedruit Radler, and it is Saturday night. The last couple of days in Berlin were lowkey. I did some laundry, which seemed to take all day. Then I did some more exploring in my neighborhood. Finally I went to the Photography museum, they had an exhibit of Helmut Newton, very interesting.

The bus to Cracow was uneventful, but long, 8 hours. It rained all the way and the scenery was not all that different from driving at home, between Edmonton and Calgary. When I got here it was still raining and of course I got lost, tired, wet, hungry is not good when you are trying to concentrate on finding a place.  But in the end it worked out.

On Thursday I did a trip out to Auschwicz and Birkenau. Very emotional. It felt strange to be walking where all those people were put to their death. Our tour guide was excellent, she really gave me a sense of what it was like to have been there during the war. One thing that surprised me was that Auschwitz was not that big, but that was why they built Birkenau, it was 3 times the size and just 5 minutes down the road. I felt funny about taking pictures inside the buildings so I took a few but not many. In one room they had 2 tonnes of hair that was cut off of the women, it was heartbreaking to see it, all in a pile. In another hallway there were pictures of people who died at the camp from their files, showing Birthdate, date they arrived at the camp and Death date. We went inside several buildings at Auschwitz, but only one at Birkenau. I feel as though this is something that everyone should see. I was talking to the tourguide after, and she said the first time she went she was 14, all school kids from Cracow go. She also said she thought it was easier to give the tour than  receive the tour for her, because giving it she is concentrating on  telling the story, when she takes the tour, she thinks about what happened much more.
The drive to and from Auschwicz was more interesting to me, than the Berlin/Cracow drive, it was a secondary highway, so we went through several towns, got to see lots of houses. There were several places that were airing their bedding on their balcony's.

Today was a bit of a lighter tour, out to the salt mine. We went 135 meters underground, they started mining there in the 1600s, so the beginning of the tour are the first mines, then as you go further down the mines get newer. It is no longer mined for salt, but miners still work their, but their job today is to keep the mine in  good shape.

Really enjoying Cracow, all of the young people speak english, one of the tour guides, said they start in Kindergarten to learn it. She said now the thing is to learn several languages, especially if you work in the tourist industry.

Again it surprises me at all the things we have at home. On the highway from Berlin, it felt like every town had a KFC drive though advertised, McDonald's are everywhere, Starbucks too. In the grocery store today the chips were Lays, and in the freezer section there were McCain frozen fries.

Have been trying to update but blogger kicks me off!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

My Weight!

Doctor is happy with me!
And family is happy too!
(I am posting for mom, it's Lisa)

Monday, October 10, 2016

A Busy Few Days

Oct 7-9
Berlin is a great city. Very easy to get around, and lots to see and do. I went into central Berlin, and did some walking around there. I find it interesting how Germans here do not try and forget the bad things that have happened in the past. In between the Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate, there is a huge memorial to the Jews killed in the 2nd World War, also memorials to other terrible things that have happened in the past. As I was walking around I found the Spy Museum, so went in for a look. All kinds of artifacts from times that I could remember, as well as the history of spying, pretty cool.

On  Friday I went on  a walking/public transportation Cold War tour. So well done. The guide went through the history of Cold War, how the wall was built and how it finally came down. Stories about people on both sides of the wall. Very moving.We also stopped for lunch at a kiosk for currywurst which is a Berlin dish, pork sausage with a curry ketchup on it. Pretty tasty.After the tour, I had a ticket to go to the Reichstag, German Parliament, and tour the dome.  The dome was added to the building after Germany decided to move parliament to Berlin after the reunification, so the outside of the Reichstag looks the same as it always did, but the inside was completely redone, and a dome added to the top. To get into the dome, security is pretty tight. You have to show your passport to reserve a time to tour, then when you check into the tour, show your passport again, and go through a security check, like at the airport. Walking around the dome is cool, you get a 360 view of Berlin, and an audio guide telling all about it.

Yesterday I went on a tour to Dresden. It was bombed during WW2, and they are slowly recreating the buildings, as they were prior to the war. Some of the buildings have been built using all new material, others they were able to save parts of it, and rebuild the rest, and others have some of the original bricks they were able to use.It is a Unesco Heritage sight. I used the same tour company as for the walking tour, and again  I was very happy with the tour. Since Dresden is a couple of hours from Berlin, I also saw some of the countryside, got some information about the areas we passed through. One of the saddest things was an area which has been designated as a cemetery. During WW2 there were german and russian soldiers fighting about a 100 kilometres from Berlin, when the war ended, no one told the soldiers the war was over, so they continued to kill each other, and basically where they fell was where they stayed. So sad.

Friday, October 07, 2016

The Kindness of Strangers

Oct 5 to 7
An  early morning  start on Wednesday, my flight left at 8, so I was at the airport by 6 am.So nice to stay right at the airport, and have just a five minute stroll to get to the check-in desk. Tuesday evening I was feeling like I did not want to go to a new place, and just stay in England, but tickets were bought and places were booked  so I pulled up my big girl panties and got on with it. The flight was good, only an hour and a half, and pretty full. Once we landed in Berlin, I found the sBahn, which is the LRT of Berlin, as I was standing in line to buy a ticket to get to the city, a young man came up to me, gave me a ticket which was still valid and had lots of time left on it. Saved me from trying to decipher the machine. I only had to make one change to get to the stop that my apartment is near to, so that was pretty easy. But then when I got to the street that my place is on, I turned left instead of right, and ended up a little lost for awhile, until I figured out how the numbering system worked. One side of the street went lower number to higher, the other side was the opposite. Someone was waiting to meet me when I finally got to the right place. She seemed to only speak German, so we communicated by pointing, nodding and smiling. The apartment is great, in an older building, very high ceilings, garden doors to a juliet balcony. Stairways are wide in the halls, unlike in places I stayed at in England.

Yesterday I explored the neighborhood, lots of cafes and pastry shops, found a grocery store, so got some provisions, mmm German chocolate. Today I will go and book my bus to Krakow, and maybe hit a museum. I have booked a walking tour for tomorrow, all about the Cold War, and on Sunday a tour to Dresden.

One thing that surprises me is the amount of english words there are on stores, signs and directions. Even listening to people speak, there are english words thrown in, it reminds me of Dad speaking Slovak to Baba and Grandpa, with english words when he did not know the slovak one. I wonder if it is because of the EU, will that change with Britain opting out?

Sun  is starting to shine, it has been raining since I got here, so time to get a move on.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016


Oct 2 to 4
I really like Norwich, it is a mix of old and new, right in the centre of town is the Norwich Castle and Museum which was built by William the Conqueror and right next to that is a huge shopping mall built in the 2000's. Streets are cobbled and very narrow. I stopped at Marks and Spencer and bought some new tights. There are lots of little coffee and tea shops and a huge outdoor market that has been going on for hundreds of years, a lovely place to poke around in. The castle is quite modern inside, it houses an art galley and museum. there were a lot of displays about military and all the anglo saxon finds, when farmers were ploughing their fields. You can also see a the old walls in many places. I would like to come back and spend some more time in the area, maybe go out to the broads and to the North sea. I stayed at the Central Hotel, with one of the most comfortable beds. It was lovely. Out my window I could see the Wensum River, with swans and long boats gliding by.

I will catch my bus this afternoon to Stansted Airport, stay over night there with an early flight to Berlin. I feel excited and a little nervous all at the same time.

So happy to hear that Mom is back home with the first of her home nursing staff Laura.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

On my own

Sep 28 to Oct 1
Bletchley was fantastic, I highly recommend it. It has lots of room on the grounds, a pond, places to play tennis, table tennis and to picnic at. We took the train from London, and the gates to Bletchley were only about 300 yards from the station. The exhibits were very well laid out and lots of commentary from people who worked there during the war. After watching a film about the Enigma machine I finally understand how it worked, I guess I am more of a visual learner than  just reading about it. There was also a display about the movie The Imitation Game. After finishing in Bletchley we returned home and had supper at a pub recommended by our landlady, very yummy food.

Grace left the next day for Oxford and I did some laundry. One of the bonuses of renting a flat, laundry facilities. After that was done I went out to Canary Wharf, had some lunch and went to the Docklands Museum. Another well laid out museum, with lots of information and not too crowded. I appreciate places that are not crowded, after being in central London trying to make my way places.

Friday morning I got up and caught the bus for Oxford. Anne met me at the bus stop and we walked back to her house. What a nice place she and Del have. Lots of room for visitors, a big back garden. I really like it. Del took a half day off from work, and drove us out to Warwick to see the castle. Unfortunately we were a bit late, so only had an hour there before it closed, but I did get to see the trebuchet in  action. We stopped at a little tearoom for cream tea and then walked around Warwick, lots of old building, but there seems to be a disproportionate number of hairdressers. Supper was Indian food at Anne and Del's.

Saturday morning, brunch then I caught my bus to London and transferred to a bus for Norwich. The bus route out of London, took me right pas the Mile End Tube Station, which is the station closest to the flat. Bus was pretty uneventful except when  lining up to get on the bus, a couple of guys got into a shoving match, one saying the other jumped the queue, no blood was shed. Norwich seems quite pretty, you can still see some of the wall that surrounded the city in some parts. My room at the hotel is small, but looks out on the river, so a peaceful view. I shall explore the city today.