Or maybe I should call this “hello from developing countries”.

Before I get to that, I have to tell you about my plane journey to get here.  I don’t know if I would call it a journey from hell but it is not one of my favorite.  I got to the airport early partly due to the fact that it was a late night flight and also, I did not have a hotel room to call mine.  The plane arrived at the gate late due to whatever issue.  Then one of the luggage compartment door would not close.  So time was spend sort that one out.  The long and short of it was that we arrived at Yerevan airport 2 hours late.  That was followed by about 1/2 to 1/3 of the passengers (including me) did not get our luggage.  This was followed by this long queue of filing reports.  So, instead arriving at 3:30 AM, I showed up at the hotel at 7:30 AM, just in time for breakfast.  Bless the guy from Explorer who patiently waited for at least 2 hours to pick me up.  The other factor that made this worse is the behavior of the locals.  For some unknown reason, their good manners all disappear when they are on a plane.  They push, shove, and cut in front of any line.  I have absolutely no problem with them any other time.

Armenia is a developing country and it has this unique combination of  the lovely whiff of diesel fume, cigaret smoke, and hoka pipes.  Yes, no one warned the Armenians about the effect of smoking.  I have to pay attention when walking as the sidewalk can be uneven and bits of it may be missing.  Forget about patient Polish drivers, it is lean on the horn and go.  Crossing the road is a game of chicken; they will usually stop, maybe.  However, I already seen an amazing display of Armenian history, starting from 4-5000 years ago.  There is also the dancing fountains without going to Las Vegas.  I met about half of the group; it will be a good trip.

Apartment living Yerevan



I did mention last time that I was going to visit the birth place of Chopin.  I am not a fanatical fan of the composer but I did want to get out to the Polish countryside.  It was very nice and looks rather like southern Ontario farmland.  Their houses tend to be Plain, like the Northern Europe; very simple and functional.

Chopin’s family is from the poor gentry class.  He was born in a country manor house which is now a museum.  The house itself is not particularly large but the garden and the ground is very nice.  I was fortunate enough to have enough time to do a sketch of the house while the music of Chopin playing softly in the background.  I would say, ‘rather appropriate’.


Old Town Square, Warsaw

i will admit that Warsaw came as a pleasant surprise.  Everything I read states that Kraków is the pretty one, and Warsaw, is pretty boring.  Kraków must be really amazing because Warsaw is pretty good.

Nothing is really old in Warsaw. The Germans destroyed the city during World War II due to the Warsaw Rising Rebellion.  The city lost about half of its prewar population, including most Jews.  I looked but other than a couple of synagogues, there is little evidence of Jewish culture.  There are lots of churches and a royal palace (the big red building in the photo.  I am staying in the Old Town, part of UNESCO world heritage site.  It looks old (but not falling apart old) and pestrian friendly (almost no cars) fill with restaurants, coffee shops, and amber shops.

Mr. Chopin is the big guy around here.  He was born not far from Warsaw (tomorrow’s agenda before the evening flight).  There are plaques all around Warsaw marking his movements.  There are 5 Chopin concerts each night.  I can’t vouch for all but the one I went to seats maximum 80 and the quality is excellent.  The other famous native daughter is Marie Currie.  She does not get nearly as much attention as Fred.

This is it for Poland.  I head to Armenia tomorrow.  Warsaw is a city worth visiting.  I may pop back into the city on my way back as I have an 11-hour wait.

Fungi Walk II (P12-40-2-21-3-9-Western Hut-2-18-21-33-40)

The intention today was to join the Rideau Trail for a hike from P13.  Things just did not work out as planned.  I did start driving to the meeting point and encountered road closure at Parkdale.  My next exit to the meeting place was also closed.  There was more road closures as I approached War Museum and Champlain Bridge.  I was also noticing lots of official looking people in their dress uniforms.  I learned later that they were firefighters, marching to commemorate their fallen comrades.  The decision was made for me; I just proceed to Gatineau Park for a walk by myself.

It was another stellar day.  The sun was out, the temperature was cool, and almost no mosquitoes.  Unlike yesterday when Dorothy and I encountered no one, there were lots of hikers and runners out to enjoy the day.  This could be just a function of location.  The display of fungi was amazing in its variety and beauty.

The view ain’t so bad either.

Good time was had by all.

A Fungi Walk (aka Churchill, Lower Escarpment, Grand View, and Churchill Waterfall)

It was a beautiful day for a hike.  For the first time in months (it feels like it), the overnight temperature dropped into the single digit and it was even cold in the shade.  Dorothy and I did one of our favourite and standard route, starting from Churchill parking lot and circled around to the lower escarpment, Grand View and finally Churchill Waterfall).  The fungi were popping up on logs, on forest floor, and everywhere else.  They are colourful, quirky, and unique.  One would think that I would be immuned to their beauty by now; alas, no.  I still want more photos.

Finally, special mention goes to the view.  A wonderful day to be out in Gatineau Park.

View from lower escarpment

View from lower escarpment