Sunday, August 16, 2009

Warsaw Poland (Part III)

Warsaw Poland (Part III)
Sunday, August 2, 2009

Kevin here.

Today we stopped into the Starbucks in Warsaw and met with Michal Zajac and Maria Kulik. Michal is a professor at The University of Warsaw, and Maria is the President of the Polish section of IBBY (International Board of Books for Young People). Michal and Maria, as a team, were a force to be reckoned with. They were full of advice, enthusiasm, and curiosity. Michael brought notes about the most important authors to produce literary nonsense for children in Poland. And Maria provided an impressive collection of publications in English created by the Polish section of IBBY, including including an almanac in English that covers Polish children's Literature from 1990 to 2005.

While everything Michal and Maria brought was helpful, it was probably Michal’s campaign to get us to go to Munich that will stick with me most. He’s right of course. Because our route this summer took us through eastern and northern Europe we had no stop planned in Munich, where there just happens to be one of the largest collections of children’s literature in the world, at the International Youth Libray ( Enticingly, because this collection in Munich is international, a quick search for nonsense for any given country or language might turn up results. Munich is high on our list of “Next-Time-For-Sures.”

A surprise for us was that Michal and Maria were so surprised at how much we liked Warsaw. Warsaw, apparently, does not have a reputation as a tourist hotspot. It’s famous more for business and industry, and isn’t known for its warmth or beauty. In fact, our guidebook, Lonely Planet, only gave a grudging recommendation for the place. But we found plenty of both warmth and beauty here. And the reconstructed old town is one of the most amazing testaments to the human spirit I’ve ever seen. Everyone should see this place.

On August 3rd, on our way from Warsaw to Oslo, Norway, we stopped for a few hours at Helsinki airport, where Mike stocked up on all things Mummin. He’s a huge fan of Tove Janssons surreal and quirky second world. I personally was tempted to stock up on Reindeer Jerky, but somehow just couldn’t do it. The temptation of the two wheeled push scooter was, however, too much for me. This is simply the most ingenious airport transportation system ever devised. Here is a film of my exhausted self, temporarily liberated from the shackles of my weariness by the fine flying sensation, a peculiar sensation that somehow felt like rule-breaking, of the most spectacular and inappropriate type:

Below is our one photo (so far) of Finland. Taken as the plane was approaching Helsinki:

Kev Out