Ten Things That I Want To Do In Poland

Image

Ten Thing That I Want To Do  In Poland

“It was a small room with dim light coming in the window, reminiscent of old Polish films.” Haruki Murakami

Choosing to visit Poland. is not an easy decision for me. There are many places in Poland where horrific events took place during World War Two. I’m trying to combine those with seeing what the country is like now. I want to have an open mind but racism seems to be under new management again in Poland.

Since I love street art, I will be taking a Krakow Street Art Tour. I haven’t done one in Eastern Europe before so it will be interesting to see if it has an activist, protest quality. Poster Art has been a tradition in Poland so it was probably be a natural transition to street art.

Krakow is one of the most fascinating medieval cities in Europe and one of the few that escaped destruction in World War II. Today it’s famed for its soaring Gothic church spires and cobblestone streets, while its Old Town is a UNESCO heritage site, it is also known for having one of the liveliest after dark scenes on the continent.

The story of Oskar Schindler and his employees is one which has been well-known. It was made famous by Steven Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List (which was shot almost entirely in Kraków). The factory has been turned into a museum about his story and the occupation of Poland.

A visit to Auschwitz is a test in humanity that not everybody is prepared to take, One can hardly call it a tourist attraction. The three million victims of the largest of Nazi Germany’s concentration camps don’t need high attendance records. What they need is a moment of reflection on what happened and what should be done so that this tragedy never happens again.

You wouldn’t imagine that a museum dedicated to people digging for salt would become a popular tourist draw, but that’s exactly what Wieliczka Salt Mine is. It is an easy day trip from Krakow. The mine was in operation from the thirteenth century till 2007 .Now it sees over a million visitors a year, who take the tiny elevator down into the depths and explore the “buildings” inside, which include chapels, statues, and even a whole cathedral carved out from the rock.

There are various ways to explore the music of Frédéric Chopin, Poland’s famous composer. While walking through the city there are many black benches with buttons on them. Simply press the buttons at any time and they play the music of Chopin. Chopin concerts are held regularly in venues throughout Warsaw, To understand all about the man himself and see his last piano, head to the Chopin Museum.

Before World War ll, Warsaw had the largest Jewish community in Europe.The WarsawGhetto was the largest ghetto set up by the Nazi’s during the war. Over seventy years ago, the area of Jewish residents (which numbered up to one million) was sealed off from the rest of the city. It was enclosed by a wall that was over 10 feet high, topped with barbed wire, and closely guarded to prevent movement between the ghetto and the rest of Warsaw. Life deteriorated quickly.  The world already knows the terrible history of the Jews in the ghetto. There are memorials and museums dedicated to remembering the victims. The Warsaw Ghetto was the location of the Warsaw Uprising where the Jews fought back from Mila 18 street.

Warsaw’s central Old Town neighborhood is one of the city’s most popular areas and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This historic district, which was rebuilt after bombings from World War II destroyed most of it, is filled with restaurants, art galleries, shops and cafes housed in structures designed to replicate the region’s former fourteenth to eighteenth century buildings.

The market square in Wroclaw is one of the largest in Europe with two town halls. Piwnica Swidnicka located on the square is the oldest restaurant in Europe. It is always crowded and fun.

Łódź’s Museum Of Modern Art (Muzeum Sztuki) is one of the oldest museums of Modern Art (ha) in the world and holds the largest collection of world art from the 20th and 21st centuries in Poland.

Recently, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki caused an uproar when he said that there were “Jewish perpetrators” in the Holocaust, along with Polish and Russian ones. Is it how everyone feels or is it like Trump saying ”There are are good people on both sides which means some good Nazis?”

I believe travel is one of the ways we can educate humanity about our similarities. It is how I learn that I am not so different from you. Since I have this opportunity to be there, it is my responsibility to see what is going on for myself and figure out the truth. I have to challenge my assumptions and not judge the people I meet based on history and the media.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Advertisements

Myths Of Chiloe Island, Chile

Image

Myths of Chiloe Island,Chile

“After all, I believe that legends and myths are largely made of ‘truth’, and indeed present aspects of it that can only be received in this mode; and long ago certain truths and modes of this kind were discovered and must always reappear.” J.R.R. Tolkien 

There is a rich legacy of myth and magic infused into the island of Chiloe. Mythology and religion live side-by-side on these shores, which is a testament to a history molded by both the indigenous Mapuche and Spanish conquistadors. 

The Jesuits who came to Chiloe did not wipe out the Native culture but incorporated it into a religious context.

The wooden chapels of Chiloé are considered as UNESCO World Heritage sites for their cultural significance, blending native and Spanish beliefs into the churches.

Each chapel has southern-facing front doors to protect them from the rain.

We see many of them throughout the island.

  i appreciated the calming, subtle colors of the church’s interior and the solid construction of its supports, all made from wood.

You can see how functional and integrated into daily life these churches  are.

Residents of Chiloe call themselves Chilotes  instead of Chileans. Their remote location, enabled them to keep their identity and remained loyal to Spain for many years.

The first thing we seen in the town of Castro are small children dressed in the costumes of these mythological creatures.

I am surprised they let us photograph them.

The teacher tells me in Spanish “I am bruha (witch) like my people. I know who is bad and who is not. “

Witches and Warlocks are often blamed for the unexplainable things in Chiloe.

Every night there is a post card with a child’s drawing on our bed at Tierra Chiloe. It is one of the colorful supernatural mythological creatures of Chiloe with an explanation in English and Spanish. It is from books written by the hotel manager’s wife and illustrated  by their children.

La Pincoya is one of the most ancient mythical creatures In Myths and Legends of Chiloe.

It says that “If Pincoya appears to fishermen facing the sea, their catch will be abundant. If her back is to the sea, the fish will be few.”

Huenchula is a girl who falls in love with the King of the Sea.

“The legend of Huenchula lays down a number of rules about how to extract shell-fish from the sea:

Take them out by hand; don’t fight over them; don’t use wheel-barrels or trucks to extract them.”

 Fiura  is an ugly woman with bad breath. She lives in the woods and seduces young men before driving them insane.

Trauco, the forest troll, seduces young women and is blamed when they return — pregnant.

 Caleuche is a ghostly ship  which glows in the fog and travels at great speeds both above and below the water, emitting beautiful music, carrying the witches to their next stop.

Journeying through the archipelago, it’s crewed by shipwrecked sailors and fishermen who have perished at sea.

There are many more creatures. I realize at the end of my visit that these stories, like the scenery, architecture,  handicrafts and food is part of the essence of Chiloe and a bit of what makes it so special.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Beautiful And Beautiful-er, Tongariro and Abel Tasman National Parks, New Zealand

Beautiful and Beautiful -er Tongariro and Abel Tasman National Parks

“The landscape belongs to the person who looks at it…” -Ralph Waldo Emerson”

New Zealand is far enough away from the rest of the world to protect its natural beauty from hordes of tourists. If you are a sucker for a beautiful view, New Zealand is your place. Truthfully, beautiful is not even an adequate word to describe them.

img_1543

Tongariro National Park was made more famous by its star appearance in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, like so many places in New Zealand.

screen-shot-2017-02-14-at-8-38-55-pm

The alpine, volcanic scenery is the setting of Mordor, in which stands Mt Doom, aka Mt Ngauruhoe. For the entire trilogy, Frodo and Sam are trying to get to Mt Doom in order to destroy the infamous ring.

dsc03980

The Tongariro Crossing is a 19.4 kilometre track.

dsc03984

It is billed as the best day hike in the country and one of the shorter Great Walks in New Zealand.

dsc03978

The land for Tongariro National Park was given by the local Maori to the government in 1887.

img_1503

The condition was that a protected area for all to enjoy would be established.

dsc03986

This is the first example of an indigenous people gifting land to a colonial government anywhere in the world, and this is what earned Tongariro its dual ‘World Heritage Area’ status – signficant for both natural and cultural values. (photo Cordula  Reins)

0435_tongariro_taranaki_falls

Abel Tasman National Park is the smallest National Park in New Zealand.

dsc04269

The Abel Tasman Coastal Track which is another one of New Zealand’s Great Walks stretches 51km and can be completed in anywhere from 3 to 5 days, depending on your motivation and level of fitness.

img_1780

Kayaking lets you explore the small coves and beaches that are harder to get to.

dsc04208

You can also do the park as a day trip and take shorter hikes. We stayed in Nelson which I think is too far at 56 kilometers away. Motueka is closer at 20 kilometers which makes more sense if you are doing it as a day trip. There are also lodges at Arawoa and Torrent Bay in the park if camping isn’t your thing. All food has to be carried into the park as there are no shops at which to purchase groceries or supplies, however, there is a cafe at Awaroa Lodge in Awaroa Bay. (stopping to get fresh drinking water for the boat)

dsc04318

I love spending time on a beach.

img_1789

The color of the water is ridiculous – deep turquoise.

dsc04289

It is one of the sunniest places in New Zealand. (here’s my uber)

img_1821

Some of the beaches and rainforest feel a lot like Thailand.

dsc04239

There is so much beauty in New Zealand it is hard to imagine that there is so much hatred in the world. There is something healing and peaceful about being in these places. – about just being and realizing that the Maori have it right and everything we need is free. (or perhaps  for a small entrance fee)

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

 

 

Bend It Like Niemeyer

Bend It Like Niemeyer

“Here, then, is what I wanted to tell you of my architecture. I created it with courage and idealism, but also with an awareness of the fact that what is important is life, friends and attempting to make this unjust world a better place in which to live.” Oscar Niemeyer

I wish I could say I thought of that but I took the title from the Guardian. Maybe some of you not Brits had missed it.

One of Brazil’s greatest architects was Oscar Niemeyer who was known for his curved spaces and ramps. Beauty, spatial drama and lightness was more important to him than functionality. His use of concrete and steel was done in ways that had not been seen before. He died in 2012 at 104, a world-renowned architect, with hundreds of works in Europe, the Americas and Africa.

Niemeyer became a member of the Communist party in 1945. In 1964, when a military coup overthrew the government, Niemeyer was threatened and resettled in France and did not return to Brazil until the end of the military dictatorship in 1985. He designed the communist headquarters in Paris.

Oscar Niemeyer worked alongside Le Corbusier on the UN buildings in New York and his designs for Brasília earned the city a Unesco World Heritage status. Niemeyer received the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1988, the highest award in the profession, for his Cathedral of Brasília. ( not my photo)

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 6.09.01 PM

I am a wannabe architect and a fan of beautiful buildings and could not wait to see his structures in Brazil.
Some of Niemeyer’s most famous and recent work can be found in the city of Niterói across the bay from Rio. Niteroi has more buildings designed by him than any other city outside of Brasília where he redesigned the capital city.

The Museu de Arte Contemporanea (MAC) overlooks Guanabara Bay.

IMG_1459MAC<

The museum is a direct response to the natural topography of the bay.  The curve of the structure matches the curve of Sugarloaf.

IMG_1471

The building is the anti gallery white cube space. You can see the relationship of art, architecture and the surrounding landscape.

IMG_1454

The Theatre of Niteroi is another great example of Niemeyer style.

IMG_5294

The drawing on the front by Niemeyer is done on each individual tile.

IMG_1420

IMG_1428

The green and yellow color scheme represents Brazil’s flag.

IMG_1416

Oscar Niemeyer designed several of the buildings in Ibirapuera Park in São Paulo. Roberto Burle Marx and Otávio Agusto de Teixeira Mendes provided the park’s landscape architecture. The park opened in 1954.

IMG_4645

The Bienal was built to host a biannual art exhibition which started in 1951.

DSCF5474

São Paulo was the second city in the world after Venice to do this. A major art exhibition is held here every two years.

DSCF5379

I had seen photos of the interior before and didn’t recognize it because of the sharp contrast of the completely rectangular patterns on the outside to the flowing circular forms inside. (not my photo)

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 6.11.22 PM

The Marquise was also designed by Niemeyer. It’s a large, covered space that curves through the park behind the Niemeyer buildings and connects the Modern Art Museum to the playground and an outdoor restaurant. It’s used now as a place for people to relax, skate, and rollerblade.

DSCF5422

Oscar Niemeyer designed the Oca auditorium in 1951. The white domed structure is now used for traveling art exhibits. The full name is Pavilhão Lucas Nogueira Garcez, and it was built to commemorate the city’s 400th anniversary in 1951.

DSCF5388

It is called the “oca” because it resembles the traditional Native American dwelling.

DSCF5471

The interior has 4 levels, each connected by a ramp that spirals around.

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 11.31.04 PM

In 2004 Niemeyer co-designed the Park’s Auditorium with the “giant red tongue”.

DSCF5441

 

DSCF5445

This futuristic building was in the original design of the park but was not built until much later.

DSCF5464

The Copan was one of Niemeyers early masterpieces. It is an imposing S-shaped building in the Centro district of São Paulo. Having studied some architecture, the Copan for me has always been a symbol of São Paulo. This is the largest residential building in Brazil, and, reportedly, the most populated single residential building in the world with room for seventy businesses on the first floor. It has its own zip code. The downtown area is a bit seedy but i’m sure with gentrification the apartments are being restored.

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 11.17.27 PM

Niemeyer went to the office everyday to work on his designs and oversee his projects till his death at 104. He believed in using architecture as a way to create a better world through better design.

Special thanks to my guides Arthur Simoes in São Paulo and Gabriel Morand in Rio for their knowledge, patience and stories about an architect that I have admired for a long time.

Tenha Uma Boa Viagem,

JAZ