Europe 2003


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Europe 2003

  1. 1. Europe 2003 My travel to Europe was occasioned by an invitation from the International Council of Archives (ICA) Universities and Research Institutions Section (SUV) to attend the 2003 Seminar on "Archives and Changing Societies: Active Strategies for Meeting Public, Institutional, and Archival Needs." This was held in Warsaw and Krakow, Poland on September 7-10. It turned out to be a gathering of mostly European archivists, since only about a dozen came from outside Europe, namely: William J. Maher from the University of Illinois, Fred Honhart from Michigan, Richard V. Szary from Yale, Conference Chair Don Richan from Canada's Queens University in Kingston, Megan Sniffin from Harvard, Sonia Black and Sharon Gooding from the University of West Indies (Barbados and Jamaica), Moshe Somer from the University of Haifa (Israel), Benjamin Haspel from Tel Aviv, and two delegates from Rice University. I was the only one from Asia. About a hundred of them came from the United Kingdom (UK National Archives, University of Bath, and Dundee, Scotland), universities from Sweden, Iceland, Finland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany (Dresden, Oldenburg), Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Lithuania, Latvia, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Russia, and of course, Poland. President’s Palace For four days, archivists in multiple national and different cultural settings met to explore strategies in acquiring archival materials, to discuss problems of access and user needs, archival public relations and education, and to resolve issues in active outreach and international cooperation. The seminar included a pre-conference sightseeing tour of the Wilanow Castle (above photo), the Old Town and the Royal Castle; a reception at the Museum Old National Library bldg of Marie Sklodowska- Curie; a Chopin evening; and, a gala banquet at the Staszic Palace. I enjoyed the Sunday afternoon walk around the Castle Square, King Sigismund’s Column, St. John’s Cathedral, the Old Town Market Square, and the Gate of Honor, where the royal entourage entered, the Barbican (included on UNESCO list of world heritage) . The Wilanow Castle was the Baroque residence of King John III Sobieski, the famous conqueror of the Turks at the Battle of Vienna in 1683. The other conference venue was in the medieval Polish capital in Krakow, hosted by the Association of Polish Archivists in Krakow. We had a tour of the Royal Castle and the Wawel Cathedral, in addition to a visit to the old original building of the Jagiellonian University (its library and archives), the oldest in Poland, and had a sumptuous lunch at the old Archives building, a walking distance from the old town square in Krakow, where I tasted the best ever clam seafood chowder soup.
  2. 2. During my five-day sojourn in Poland, I succeeded in establishing contacts with nineteen or so archivists, having exchanged not only pleasantries with them, but also the rewarding experiences and unfortunate travails common to archivists. I took pictures of them from my video camera: Sonia Black from the University of West Indies in Jamaica and Sharon Gooding in Barbados, who occupied the adjoining room in the hotel where we stayed and I shared the kitchen and toilet/shower facilities with them. Then there's Conference Chair Don Richan who graciously invited me to join the seminar and offered complimentary registration and accommodation during the entire period of the conference; co- chair Renata Arovelius from Sweden who facilitated everything; the speakers who befriended me, such as Katharina Hoffman from Hamburg and Matthias Lienert from Dresden (who asked for my opinion on their delivery in English), the couple from the University of Dundee, Scotland, Caroline Brown and Michael Bolik (who lost their luggage at Heathrow); the shy archivist from Finland who kept asking me what toys to bring to his son, Juha Hannikainen; Magnus Gudmundsson from Iceland (who danced the whole night at the gala banquet); the two ladies from Ghent who told me they had archival materials on Edilberto Evangelista, a Filipino hero/freedom fighter; William Maher, the noted writer on university archives, and Richard Szary from Yale Library. As a personal gift from the host organizer, Ms. Hanna Krajewska, Director of the Polish Academy of Sciences (who gave me a most special Staszic Palace - treatment, being the only participant from Asia), I received a cd of Conference venue Chopin's Complete Works (Chopin was Polish-born and educated and revered in Poland as a nationalist hero, like Madame Curie). As a country, Poland turned out to be quite a revelation. I never expected to fall in love with the country and its friendly people so quickly. From the moment I took a taxi, whose driver charged me only 36 zloty (9 euros, which, believe me, is cheap when compared to my taxi fares much later, from the Schipol in Amsterdam which cost me 55 euros, and in Paris, which was a 10 minute-drive to Charles de Gaulle for 45 euros), I was already enamored with Warsaw: the wide avenues lined with century-old trees, the clean metro stations, the friendly passersby who patiently looked into our city guide-maps and gave us directions despite the language barrier, and the accommodating bus driver who waived our first bus fare because we only had euro coins (Poland has still a year to adopt the euro currency). Poland has a long history of cruel occupations from three neighbors, Austria, Germany, and Russia, after suffering from three partitions, which has reduced its size to a third of what it used to be in ancient maps. So it is no surprise to me to find the people's characteristic traits of fortitude, strength, resoluteness, fierce pride and nationalistic spirit so pervasive. Warsaw, the most devastated city after the last war (it was leveled to the ground Novy Swiat before the Nazis left), survived centuries of pillage, destruction, and annihilation. Yet the city structures, all rebuilt only fifty years ago and fully restored to its original design, proudly mirror the people's resiliency. The Royal Road, Novy Swiat, and the many architectural masterpieces (wonders of postwar reconstruction) making this city memorable, has captured my camera's fascination, from the Staszic Palace (the conference venue) to the Royal Castle, down to the old town square on the bank of the mighty Vistula River. On the
  3. 3. modern side, nothing can compare with the awesome Warsaw University Library, its glass and steel roof, all chrome and steel structures and furnishings, roof gardens, and four million holdings. In contrast, it is so easy to fall in love with Krakow, the old capital, because the city has retained its medieval character. We climbed Wawel hill to visit the Royal Castle, for centuries the residence of Polish Kings, the Piast, Jagiellon and Vasa dynasties, to admire its unique collection of tapestries owned by king Sigismund August and marveled at the Envoy Hall, also known as the “Heads Hall’ (unique in Europe, and included in the UNESCO list of world cultural heritage). We also toured the Wawel Cathedral, home of Pope John Paul who was a native of Krakow, and St. Mary's Church (above), where he first served. Down from Wawel Hill, we sighted the apartment building where Schindler (of the famous movie "Schindler's List") lived. Then we were taken to the old market square, where one can enjoy a drink (at 2 zloty) and a pizza (5 zloty) at the many pleasant streetside cafes, or buy a bouquet from flower vendors, and small trinkets from the thousands of souvenir shops (my friend from Jamaica bought amber earrings for only 65 zloty). A visit to the 14th century old building of the Jagiellonian University, the oldest institution in Poland, and a tour of its museum and Archives, highlighted our one-day trip to Krakow. However, I missed a trip to Auschwitz Birkenau – the largest Nazi concentration camp of World War II (with its gas chamber, crematory, cells of death). Jagiellonian museum-archives There is so much to say about Poland and this trip. So, in any future trip to Europe, I have resolved to take a second look at Poland, and include its neighboring countries, like the Czech
  4. 4. Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Russia, with their post-communist perspectives. Day 1 of my European travel, I left Poland and headed for Amsterdam, arriving in the evening at NH Leevenhorst hotel, far from the city airport. The next morning, our tour took us on a canal cruise to see the town at water level. Then, on to a diamond center to watch the cutting and polishing of precious stones. After lunch, I walked around the town and found the Van Gogh museum with the world’s finest collection of his paintings. In the afternoon, we traveled southward to the Rhineland area for an overnight stay at Bingen. Day 3 was spent cruising the Rhineland with vistas of the Lorelei Rock, hilltop castles, half-timbered wine villages, and terraced vineyards. In the afternoon, we took the comfortable autobahn for a long scenic drive to Austria, for an overnight stop at Innsbruck. On the way, I took a photo of the Pfussen river and the Austrian Alps secret lake, before we stopped at an inn. It was a chilly evening when we arrived at our hotel in Innsbruck. After supper, I tried to take a stroll around, but the chilly winds stopped me. Alone in my room, I took photos of my bedroom, bath and then read myself to sleep.
  5. 5. The next morning after a sumptuous Austrian breakfast, we motored on the fast highway towards Venice, arriving there before noon. I had lunch under the Bridge of Sighs, watching the gondolas pass by. Rialto Bridge In the afternoon, our tour took us to factory to watch Venetian glass blowers fashion their delicate objects as they did centuries ago. Then we were taken on a gondola trip, gliding along the picturesque canals with a local troubadour serenading “O Sole Mio.” We had the rest of the afternoon visiting St. Mark’s Basilica. We stayed overnight at a nice hotel in Lugano. In the early morning, we had an interesting drive southward, cutting across the Po Delta and crossing the Apennines. We stopped at Assisi, where St. Francis was born in 1182, and toured the Basilica. There was a small wedding in a nearby church (San Pietro), and several souvenir shops lined the basilica area. In one of these shops, I bought some crucifixes and rosaries. I got lost on the way back to the parking area where our coach waited for me for more than 30 minutes. I almost thought the bus left me to walk all the way to Rome. We arrived in the evening at Hotel Ibis in Rome. After a good dinner, we had a short sight-seeing trip around the town. The following morning, we toured the Vatican, strolled around St. Peter’s Square, visited the Roman Forum and the mighty Colosseum. I also took photos (below) of the Victor Emmanuel Palace, the Arch of Constantine, the Pieta, and the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
  6. 6. Photo below shows the preserved tomb of Pope John XXIII, and another one, the statue of St. Peter with me. I also was able to take a picture of the Sistine Chapel ceiling, maski na bawal. The next day was an easy early morning drive on the Highway of the Sun to Florence, a Renaissance gem of a city. Traffic is banned in the historic center, so we had to take a long stroll from the bus parking lot to the piazza Santa Croce, the beautiful Piazza Signoria, and the Palazzo Vecchio, and to top it all, the Piazza del Duomo and its cathedral, with the Giotto Campanille, and the magnificent East Door of the Baptistry, known as the “Gate To Paradise.” I took Michaelangelo’s David at Michaelangelo’s Piazza, a towering replica, and we had a group photo overlooking the city of Florence. We stayed overnight at Delta Florence at Calenzano, a nice hotel.
  7. 7. We started the morning driving to Pisa, passing by Tuscany (see photo of a Tuscan castle, and a Ravenna vineyard). The Leaning Tower was under renovation, so we could not climb it to the top. But I enjoyed the morning stroll, and took photos everywhere around the Square of Miracles. After lunch, we journeyed northwards thru Tuscan hills across the River Po into the Lombardy plains crossing into Switzerland. We had a brief stop over in lovely Lakeside Lugano. We arrived in Lucerne, after traveling through some of the most spectacular Alpine sceneries. Lucerne, one of Europe’s finest cities, is nestled amid snow capped alps, surrounded by its lake, and embellished by the clear mountain waters of River Reuss. The hotel where we stayed was Seehof at Fluelen, which has a postcard view of what I have just described. We had a very good dinner, complete with their famous apple streusel. After a great Swiss breakfast, we headed for our morning sightseeing around the impressive city walls, the cobblestone streets, and a photo stop at the Lion monument, a masterful stone sculpture in honor of the heroic Swiss Guard of Louis XVI. I crossed the famous wooden bridge twice to make sure I did not miss any of the paintings on the ceiling. Then I took a walk to the St. Leger Cathedral, took pics of the church graveyard, and then, entered a small shop to buy a cuckoo clock.
  8. 8. Next to Interlaken for a stop. Here, some of my tour members took the Stanserhornbahn for a train ride all the way up. But I preferred to stroll around, went inside the Cathedral at Stans, and took photos of the countryside. Then we boarded the coach again for a stop over at the hillside village of Gruyere, famous for cheese, where we took an uphill walk to the famous castle. A few more miles later, we arrived in Lausanne overlooking Lake Geneva, staying overnight at De Famille Hotel at Vevey. The next morning, we travelled to France, passing by the delightful Beaune, amid vistas of vineyards. This is a famous Burgundian medieval town, known for its wine production and Photos show the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Beaune, its winding streets, and the Hospice (built in 1440). colorful roofs. We arrived in Paris in time for dinner and an optional cabaret show. Instead of going to the Cabaret, I took the subway from our hotel Campanille, with the Italian couple in our group, to view the Eiffel tower, stroll around the Place de la Concorde, and Champs Elyssees.
  9. 9. We stayed two nights in Paris. The following morning was spent on a sightseeing trip exploring the city’s highlights, which included an inside visit to the Notre Dame Cathedral, photo stops at Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Opera House, Madeleine Church, the Louvre, , the Invalides, and Champs Elyssees. Our lunch meeting point was at the Rue de Rivoli where I had a photo taken near the Joan of Arc atthe Pyramides. After lunch at a fast food self- service restaurant, in front of the Jardin de Tuileries, I went on my own tour of the Louvre Museum, the Bibliotheque Nacional, took photos of its reading room, visited the Palais Royale, its interiors and gardens, and the Place Vendome (see next page photo). Paris City Hall
  10. 10. The next day was a morning trip to Versailles to Place Vendome explore its Palace and Gardens. The 800- acres garden Palace monument of Louis Chapel ceiling Façade of King’s apts Queen Marie Antoinette’s family portrait, and view of the fountain in the garden
  11. 11. The lovely evening was capped with a farewell dinner at Montmarte, after a stroll around the Sacre Coeur Basilica, and a souvenir hunting spree at Place du Tertre. I took photos of the beautiful Basilica at dusk, even the mystifying altar ceiling. Diner included Escargot, beef steak, and of course red wine. We were entertained by a French chanteuse. The next day, Sept 22, I took a taxi to Charles de Gaulle for 60 euros, and flew back via Air France to Manila. Place du Tertre