Krakow, Poland Photo Essay

If you’ve never been to Kraków (Cracow), Poland and aren’t sure whether it’s worth visiting, this essay is for you.

What’s is there to see in Kraków, you may ask? Take a look at the photos below, highlighting just a few places you might enjoy seeing in this beautiful city, with history going back into the medieval times.

The Wawel Castle

The Wawel Castle is, of course, a must. Dating back to the tenth century, it was the seat of the kings of Poland for several hundred years, and includes both Gothic and baroque elements.

You need tickets to go inside the castle, but walking around the Wawel Castle hill, and within the courtyard is free of charge.

the Wawel Castle as seen from Starodomska street
the Wawel Castle as seen from Starodomska street

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Taking the Cross Sound Ferry = #betterthandriving (much better)

Would you choose spend four to five hours driving to save a thousand dollars on airfare?

We did that a couple of times, when it turned out that flights to Europe from the JKF Airport were much cheaper than those from Boston’s Logan Airport, the airport closest to where we live.

The JFK Airport in New York City is “just” a couple hundred miles away from Boston, which means an about four-hour drive without traffic.

The crucial word here is “traffic,” though.

One time when we were coming back from Europe the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the traffic between New York City and Boston was so bad, it took close to seven hours to get back home. We were completely exhausted when we got back home.

That trip from hell was one of the reasons we decided to try the Cross Sound Ferry after coming back from this year’s vacation in Europe.

Turns out traveling by ferry is a much more pleasant way to travel, even if it doesn’t save a whole lot of time. Continue reading Taking the Cross Sound Ferry = #betterthandriving (much better)

Animals in the Gun Tower: Haus des Meeres in Vienna

The shape of the building that houses Haus des Meeres (House of the Sea) in Vienna, Austria, looks like an odd choice for an aquarium and a zoo – a rectangular box of concrete with a tent-like green house on one side, no windows on the other three sides, and circular platforms sticking out on all sides from the roof deck.

Haus des Meeres from the outside
Haus des Meeres from the outside

That’s because the building was repurposed – it was originally an anti-aircraft and gun tower during WWII, with a radar that could be lowered into the concrete tower and protected. The round platforms on all four sides on the roof deck was where the aircraft guns stood.

The idea of turning the building into an aquarium came about in the 1960s, and now the top deck offers great views of Vienna and the surrounding hills, and the 4,000 square meters, or 43,000 square feet of floor space inside house aquaria, terraria, and an aviary. Continue reading Animals in the Gun Tower: Haus des Meeres in Vienna

Old Quebec Bus Tours: Les Tours du Vieux Quebec

Whenever we’re in a new city, and especially if we’re there for only a few days, we like to do a bus tour, because it’s a great way to cover a large area in a relatively short time, and also helps us see if there are any places that we might like to visit again during the rest of our stay.

During our recent trip to Québec City, we spent the first day of our short stay there admiring the city from the second deck of a big red bus, on a sightseeing tour organized by Les Tours du Vieux Québec (Old Quebec Tours).

Where Do You Get On?

The tours begin in the Old Québec, at Place d’Armes, right by the famous (and impressive) Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, but you can get on the bus at any of the 12 stops. Just make sure to check the bus schedule to see what time the next bus is coming, because they depart every 30 minutes so, and you might be in for quite a bit of a wait if you just miss the previous one, like we did the second time we boarded.

route of Ligne Rouge (Red Loop) of Les Tours du Vieux Quebec (click on the photo to open the pdf of the official tour guide)
route of Ligne Rouge (Red Loop) of Les Tours du Vieux Quebec (click on the photo to open the pdf of the official tour guide)

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Nerding Out with My Son over Corning Gorilla Glass

It’s late Saturday evening. I had just come home from the opening day of WITS15 – Women in Travel Summit, and my son and I are looking through the SWAG – the free items we received from the conference sponsors.

One of the items is a charger from Corning Incorporated, maker of Corning® Gorilla® Glass 4.

“You had CORNING there?” my son exclaims with more enthusiasm than I would have expected from a “cool” (thir)teen.

“Yeah,” I reply, surprised. “They made a presentation about their glass during our lunch break. Why? What’s so exciting about Corning?”

He looks at me with disbelief, then pulls open his laptop, opens YouTube, and in a few seconds finds what he was looking for.

“Watch this,” he practically orders.

The guys on the screen look familiar – it’s Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman and the clip is titled “The Glass Age, Part 1: Flexible, Bendable Glass.”

Continue reading Nerding Out with My Son over Corning Gorilla Glass

Clam Chowder from Scratch: An Ode to Vacation Rentals

Digging for clams is hard.

First you look for the “clam shows” – the air holes in the sand that show where a clam might be. Once you find a nice, big hole, you dig the wet, heavy sand around it, pushing your shovel as deep as you can. Then you bend, squat, or kneel to look through the pile of sand you just turned over, or plunge your hand in the hole feeling for clam shells. And then you stand up again, and move to dig in another place.

Dig. Squat. Stand up. Repeat.

my sister-in-law and I, digging for clams in St. Mary's Bay on Prince Edward Island, photo courtesy of my brother-in-law, Brian Sutton
my sister-in-law and I, digging for clams in St. Mary’s Bay on Prince Edward Island, photo courtesy of my brother-in-law, Brian Sutton

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because the world is too interesting to stay home