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Travel Thought for the Week

“What you guys need is to take a trip,” I said, refilling Rob and Nancy’s coffee cups. “It sounds as if you’ve both got a good case of boredom and boob tube-itis. Walk on foreign shores, hear the babble of strange tongues. Fiery local liquors, mouth-watering sauces, land of contrasts – all that sort of thing.”
– Carl Franz, The People’s Guide to Mexico

Travel Thought for the Week

“I should like to spend the whole of my life traveling abroad, if I could anywhere borrow another life to spend afterwards at home.”

– William Hazlitt (1778-1830), English writer

This week's Travel Thought comes from English writer William Hazlitt, who is the inspiration for one of my favorite little hotels in London, Hazlitt's. Considered one of the best small hotels in London, Hazlitt's occupies three Georgian townhouses and is within easy walking distance of dozens of West End theaters. Quirky, yet posh rooms combine with a vibrant, friendly staff to meet (almost) any wish.


Montalcino is my favorite village in Italy, and this little video might give you sense of why that is. Friendly people, fabulous wine, great food, and stunning scenery.

Krakow Cathedral

For most of Poland's history the capital was located in Krakow, not in Warsaw, so it's here that you'll find most of the early history and pageantry. As the seat of the archbishop of Krakow, the cathedral was the home church of Karol Wojtyła for most of his life, and he was the archbishop here from 1964, until he became Pope John Paul II in 1978.

The cathedral provides evidence for the long and rich history of Poland, with a Gothic nave, Renaissance chapels, and a Baroque bell tower. Inside you'll find the ornate tombs of many of Poland's kings and queens, as well as other notable Polish figures.

Old Town Square, Warsaw, Poland

Old Town Square, Warsaw, Poland

The fountain in the center of Warsaw's Old Town Square represents the city's coat of arms, a mermaid with a sword and shield. Legend has it that a mermaid led Duke Bolesław II of Masovia to this point on the Vistula River to found a city. At least that's what he told his wife. "Honey, I'm going to be away for awhile building a new city. A sweet little mermaid told me to."

To my eye, this is one of the most beautiful squares in Europe, outdoor restaurants and cafés surrounded by a collection of Gothic and Renaissance buildings, all in a rich palette of colors. It's hard to believe that the entire thing is a reconstruction. At the end of World War II there was not a single wall still standing in this square, just heaps of broken brick and shattered glass.

In August 1944, with the Red Army advancing toward the Vistula, the people of Warsaw rose up against the Nazi occupiers of the city. The locals fought for two months against impossible odds – the German forces had bombers and tanks, while the locals only had small arms and limited ammunition. The Red Army sat on the opposite bank of the river the entire time, and did nothing. By the time the resistance capitulated more than 200,000 people had been killed in the city, and shortly afterward more than half a million were forced out of their homes.

The Nazis began a methodical destruction of the most historic and culturally important buildings in the city, including the royal palace, the cathedral, and the entire Old Town. After the war most of these were rebuilt, using the original bricks wherever possible. No wonder the city motto is Contemnit procellas ("It defies the storms").

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