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The harvest of the Somme - iron and bone

WWI cemetery

The Somme region of France was one of the most deadly places in France during World War I. Almost every week, farmers in the Somme turn up what they term "the iron harvest." Pieces of bullets, grenades, mortars. And about a dozen times a year they pull up a body of some unidentified soldier, lying long dead in a collapsed trench or unmarked grave.

Rambling in Wroclaw

Wroclaw, Poland

Wrocław, Poland. The name alone is enough to keep most people away. I mean, ROW-claw? Sounds dark and sinister. How are you supposed to pronounce that?

Call me a glutton for tongue twisters, but when I first ventured into Central Europe some 15 years ago, I decided I had to visit Wrocław, if only to figure out how to pronounce it. It turned out to be one of my favorite places, and I've been going back as often as possible ever since. The New York Times did a nice article on Wrocław a while back.

And as for the pronunciation of Wrocław, with a little help from a phrasebook, you'll find that in Polish:

  • The W is pronounced like a V (same as in German).
  • The C is pronounced like a TS (as in most Slavic languages).
  • And the L with the weird little line across it? Wait for it . . . it's pronounced like a W.


Hotel Report Card: Hotel Granvía, Barcelona, Spain

Hotel Granvia, Barcelona

Hotel Granvía

Gran Via 642, 08007 Barcelona, Spain

53 rooms. Singles: €95; Doubles: €150. Visa/MC accepted.

From the US

Tel: 933-181-900

Fax: 933-189-997

E-mail: hgranvia@nnhotels.com

Check Availability

Report Card

The Hotel: A+

Housed in a historic family townhouse from the late 1800’s, the Granvía has been a hotel since 1935. The rather modest reception area gives no hint of what’s upstairs. Several grand parlors provide the perfect setting for a pre-dinner drink (BYOB) or to sit and read.

Hotel Granvia, Barcelona

The Location: B

Just off the Plaça Catalunya, it’s extremely convenient for exploring the Eixample, Gothic Quarter and Las Ramblas. It loses points for street noise, a real problem on rooms facing the main road.

The Rooms: A/B/C (Ambiance/Cleanliness/Maintenance)

The rooms are modern, while retaining the feel of an old world, elegant hotel. Some of the rooms retain the look of a wealthy townhouse bedroom, while others are more business modern, with lots of dark wood and brass. I have noticed slight problems with maintenance in some rooms.

The Staff: C

Staff is variable, from wonderful to, ummm, well indifferent.

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