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On the Tracks with Eurail
A Personal Journey of Discovery

Story by Ed Boitano

he sound of the tracks were calming as my railway car glided effortlessly through central Poland’s breathtaking countryside. A nation with a history of great turbulence, Poland’s flat landscape and proximity in the middle of Europe – where east meets west – made it a convenient gateway for a seemingly endless array of past conquerors. From my train window I could see where Hitler’s Nazi Army blitzed into the countryside, and later where Stalin’s Red Army returned the favor as his troops marched towards the defeat of Nazi Germany. Countless invaders arrived before the Germans and Russians, including the Tartars, the Teutonic Knights and the Slavic tribe, the Plonians, who stayed and made Poland their home. But today, eating lunch in my luxury train compartment, all I could see and feel was the serenity of the little farms and villages that dotted the terrain. There’s something about physically watching the miles pass from your train window that allows a perspective that is not offered by plane travel. Also, Europe is smaller than the U.S., with its major cities relatively close to one another, making it ideal for passages on the continent’s well-connected train lines.

Eurail train passes through a Polish countryside
Cutting through the Polish countryside with Eurail. Photograph by B. Banaszalk

Planning the trip had initially been a daunting task. But after careful research, I found that a Eurail Global Pass offers travel in 28 European countries, giving me the freedom and flexibility to create my own personal journey of discovery. Owned by over 35 railway companies, I opted for a Eurail Select Pass, which featured a Regional and Three Country Pass.That would mean six cities and three countries in twelve-days without any hassles. Plus it was also easy on the pocketbook. With my Eurail map in hand, I couldn’t wait for the first stop of my Eurail journey to begin.

Krakow street scene, Poland
The Old World charm and romance of Kraków. Photo courtesy of Kraków Tourism

Kraków (Pron: Kraw-KOOF)

It’s almost a cliché to say that Kraków is poised to be the next Prague, but this remarkably preserved medieval city clearly gets my vote. The whole city is a stunning outdoor museum. Kraków rates fifty-five UNESCO World Heritage Listings, which includes the entire historic town center. Kraków was basically left untouched by the Nazis. Although they had mined the city for complete destruction, they couldn’t follow through due to a surprise Red Army invasion. Today, Poland’s former capital is the nation's number one tourist destination. The city lends itself to a stroll on the Royal Way Walk or a coffee at an outdoor café in the main market square with Wawel Cathedral, the most visited site in Poland, watching over you. Bask in the vibrant ambiance of street merchants, musicians and Krakóvians, commencing in their daily affairs. Poles can be reserved, but don’t be afraid to engage a local in a few words in Polish – broken, in my case – and you’ll usually find a person who is happy to share their knowledge of the city.

Selected Sites Around Kraków

picture of Pope John Paul ll at a building window in Krakow
The birthplace of Pope John Paul ll, Kraków's favorite son. Photograph by Ed Boitano

Pope John Paul ll (Karol Wojtyla)
Poland is considered the most devoutly Catholic country in Europe, and it cannot be overstated the effect that John Paul ll, Kraków’s most famous native son – he was born just outside of Kraków in Wadowice – had on the Polish people. A supporter of the anti-communist Solidarity – an Independent self-governing trade union – his words to the Polish populace: "Do not be afraid," gave the Poles courage to stand-up up the Soviet Union, which led to Poland's break from communism and eventual collapse of the Soviet Union. His birthplace is a short drive from the city center, while the John Paul ll Center and Sanctuary in Kraków is the most popular destination for pilgrimages.

the slave labor camp at Auschwitz
The horrific slave labor camp at Auschwitz evokes a plethora of emotions.
Photograph by Ed Boitano

Auschwitz – Birkenau
A tour of the world’s most infamous concentration camps is a deeply personal experience that requires no words. Over 1.5 million died, that included 1.1 million Jews, along with gypsies, the mentally and physical handicapped, political dissenters and homosexuals as part of Hitler’s demented plan to build a master Aryan race.

Oskar Schindler's office at the Schindler's Factory Museum
Oskar Schindler’s office is considered the most popular site at Schindler’s Factory Museum. Photograph by Ed Boitano

Schindler’s Factory Museum
The industrialist and Nazi Party Member, Oskar Schindler became world-famous due to the book, Schindler's Ark and later the Steve Speilberg film, Schindler’s List. He formed a factory, making pots and pans, using members of Krakow's Jewish community as cheap laborers. As the war progressed he was informed that his workers would be transferred to a concentration camp, where many would be rubber stamped for extermination. The factory shows Schindler’s office where it is believed an assistant devised a list that saved the lives of 1,200 Jewish prisoners, insisting they were essential to the success of his factory. The workers were then instructed to make war armaments. Mysteriously, many turned out to be defective. The factory has been expanded to showcase a museum that conveys the horrific period of Nazi occupation.

Eurail train to Wroclaw
Kraków to Wroclaw: Time – 3 hours & 10 minutes. Photograph by B. Banaszak

Wroclaw (Pron: Vra-SWOOF)

Nestled on the River Oder in the Silesian Lowlands, over 80 percent of Wroclaw was destroyed during the Second World War, but this time by Allied bombers due to the fact that Wroclaw was then part of Germany, and named Breslau. After the war, the city was given to Poland where the complete replacement of the city's population gave Wroclaw potential for newcomers to reinvent the city. Today, it is a vibrant, young city with over 122,000 energy-driven students and a forward-thinking city administration. Carefully rebuilt, Wroclaw is the European Capital of Culture in 2016.

dwarf statue at Wroclaw, Poland
A fun way to explore the city is to grab a “dwarf map” which combines sight-seeing with the tracking of over 300 dwarf statues, strategically placed throughout Wroclaw. Photo courtesy of Wroclaw Tourism

Wroclaw is a city that lends itself to a stroll through the historic city center where you’ll find numerous restaurants, cafeterias, pubs and clubs. As previously noted, Wroclaw’s nationality dramatically changed many times throughout the ages, belonging to Poland and Bohemia, then Hungary, Austria, Prussia, Germany and, in the end, back to Poland. The city's name in other languages include, Hungarian: Boroszló, Czech: Vratislav, German: Breslau, Hebrew: ורוצלב (Vrotsláv) and Yiddish: Bresloi. As you wander through this ever-changing city you will see architectural styles influenced by the Bohemians, Austrians and Prussians.

Eurail train to Warsaw
Wroclaw to Warsaw: Time – 3 hours & 36 minutes. Photograph by B. Banaszak

Warsaw (Pron: Var-SHAW-va)

While Kraków offers Old World charm and romance, Warsaw is the electrifying capital city of Poland with a population of 1.7 million. The Polish equivalent of a combination of New York and Washington DC; it is the place where things happen. The home of the courageous Warsaw Uprising and Ghetto Uprising, Hitler brutally punished the citizenry by reducing the city to rubble, destroying 85 percent of Warsaw and killing approximately two out of every three Warsavians. After the war and the later demise of the Soviet Union, the historic city center was diligently rebuilt, brick by brick, to its former glory. Today, embracing a surge of post communist freedom, Warsaw enjoys a plethora of seemingly endless museums and monuments, revitalized wide boulevards and towering skyscrapers.

Warsaw's historic city center
Warsaw's historic city center was painstakingly rebuilt after the Second World War to its former glory. Photograph by Ed Boitano

Lazienki Park, Warsaw
Łazienki Park, often rendered "Royal Baths Park," is the largest park in Warsaw.
Photograph by Ed Boitano

On the top of your list should be a trip to the museum, 1,000 Year History of Polish Jews, and an al fresco Frédéric Chopin – one of Warsaw’s favorite sons – concert at Łazienki Park. The park-and-palace complex lies in Warsaw's central district on the "Royal Route," linking the Royal Castle with Wilanów Palace.

view of countryside on Eurail train from Warsaw to Berlin
Warsaw to Berlin – 5 hours & 37 minutes. Photograph by Ed Boitano

Gendarmenarket, Berlin
Berlin’s Gendarmenarket is often considered the most beautiful square in Germany.
Photograph by Ed Boitano


It is hard to believe that it has been over 25-years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Known for its remarkable transformations, this enthralling city on the "Prussian Plains" continues to redefine itself as it marches into 2016. For lovers of history, no city has had a greater impact on the 20th Century than Berlin: the centerpiece of two world wars and the epicenter of the Cold War, everything seemed to happen in Berlin. After the Berlin Wall fell, artists poured into the former East Berlin, while the West remained an affluent showplace for the world to see. Today, there still seems to be somewhat of a cultural divide between the cutting edge, artist-driven East and the ultra-hip, modern West, but this dichotomy is one of the reasons that the city is so alive. Quite simply, it is my favorite city on the globe.

art works on the East Side Gallery of the Berlin Wall
Photo courtesy of Berlin Tourism

Some of my favorite attractions include a visit to the East Side Gallery, which is the longest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall, decorated by 118 artists from 21 countries. Cycling the Trail of the Wall, a guided bicycle tour along the path of the Wall with Berlin on Bikes. The Palace of Tears is a museum situated at a former border crossing station, which helps visitors understand the border experience and the steps toward reunification. The Wall Museum at Checkpoint Charlie offers an insight into the Cold War, construction of the Wall, and the fight for human rights. The Black Box, also located at Checkpoint Charlie, touches on the history of the famous former border crossing point during the Cold War. This is the crossing where U.S. and Soviet tanks faced off for 16 hours in 1961, almost creating a third world war. The STASI Museum is situated on the former grounds of the headquarters of the communist German Democratic Republic. The Stasi was the GDR’s infamous secret police, modeled after the Soviet’s own KGB. The terrifying former central complex of the Ministry of State Security showcases original offices, as well as the diverse aspects of the political system and the opposition against it. The GDR Museum offers an interactive look of daily life in the former communist East before reunification. Visitors can experience everything from the bugging equipment of the Stasi, to displays of the sluggish two-cylinder Trabant car, the GDR's answer to West Germany’s Volkswagen. Museum Island is nestled on the original settlement of Berlin on the River Spree, consisting of five epic museums which collectively are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The museums feature everything from classical antiquities to collections belonging to King Frederick William IV of Prussia. What can't be missed is Museum Island’s Pergamon Museum, which hosts stunning reconstructions of massive archaeological structures. It is the most visited museum in Germany.

view along Eurail train route from Berlin to Hamburg
Berlin to Hamburg – 1 hour & 37 minutes. Photo courtesy of Berlin Tourism


Are the residents of Hamburg referred to as "Hamburgers," "Hamburgites" or "Hamburgtonians"? Everyone seems to have a different answer, but it has been confirmed that this booming, northern port town is the actual birthplace of the hamburger (circa 1861), which was a popular snack for dock workers, Christened "rundstück warm," the proto-type burger consisted of day-old pork topped with either beet root, pickles, tomato slices, sandwiched between two round buns and doused with pork gravy. Sailors returning to Hamburg's port would request what they referred to as a "hamburger." Many U.S. establishments lay claim to its invention, but Hamburg is the place.

a canal in Hamburg
Hamburg has more canals than Amsterdam and Venice combined.
Photograph by Ed Boitano

As Germany’s second largest city, Hamburg is endowed with hundreds of picture-perfect canals that serve as a gateway to both the North and Baltic Seas. Like Berlin, Hamburg is blessed with expansive green areas and striking architecture. After recovering from WW ll, where the city suffered sporadic Allied air raids, devastating 50% its buildings, Hamburg regained its position as an affluent port city that is both creative and open to innovation. It serves as an important transportation hub, with a strong media industry and financial and industrial center. For Beatle fans, a stroll on the Reeperbahn, once a seedy sailor’s haunt and red light district, showcases a number of venues where they played off and on for two years, perfecting their ‘beat‘ sound before they became world-famous. Highly recommended is Stefanie Hempel’s Beatle tour. A walking encyclopedia on all things the Beatles, Ms. Hempel shares her insight about the lads which will dazzle even the most well-versed fan of the mop tops.(the iconic hair-style was introduced to them in Hamburg). Another important point of interest is Miniatur Wunderland – the largest model railway exhibition in the world. The world-famous model train and miniature exhibition is Hamburg’s number one tourist attraction, and must be seen to be believed.

Eurail train from Hamburg to Amsterdam
Hamburg to Amsterdam – 5 hours & 23 minutes.

Photograph by Matthew Wexler


Less than 24 hours is never enough time spent in this dynamic city of pristine canals and remarkably preserved merchant and shipping magnate homes, but I could not think of a better way to end the trip. It was a sunny Friday afternoon, and the whole city seemed to be out and about. Dinner was at Café Hoppe (circa 1670), a wildly popular Brown Café' – no, not one of those, but a historic venue defined by its wooden interior, blemished by years of tobacco smoke. My journey ended with a tranquil evening canal cruise with the lights and stars of Amsterdam above me.


The KLM flight over the pond started my journey on the right note, with an adjustable seat that can be conformed to a flat bed, not to mention gourmet meals and an attentive staff. This was one of the few flights where I had to be gently awakened for breakfast – a rarity for someone who never misses a meal.

For further information, log-on to and

Related Articles:
3 Things We Didn't Know About Krakow; 3 Things We Didn't Know About Wroclaw; 3 Things We Didn't Know About Warsaw; Berlin: Yesterday and Today; Berlin in Five Hours; 3 Things We Didn't Know About Hamburg; Absolutely Amsterdam

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Let Ed know what you think about his traveling adventure.

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Feedback for "Spokane, Pullman and the Palouse"

Loved the Spokane article – my mom was born there and my grandparents are interred there. Haven't been back in decades.

--- Nancy, Hawaii

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Feedback for "Norway's Fjords"

Hi Ed. I was just reading your great story about traveling through the Norwegian countryside and the voyage along the coast - sounds amazing. I’ve been to Oslo, but definitely would like to return to Norway one day to explore exactly what you wrote about.


--- Sasha H.

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Feedback for "In Search of Movie Locations In the Land of Aloha"

Mahalo for your article on Hawaii film locations. You should check out our new "The Hawaii Movie and Television Book" at:

--- Ed Rampell (Co-Author), Los Angeles, CA

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Hi! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a collection of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us useful information to work on. You have done a wonderful job!

--- Christian Louboutin, U.K.

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Cool site.

--- Donna Namaste', San Francisco, CA

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Great work as always.

--- S. Wyatt, Seattle, WA

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Hr. (Danish for sir) Ed,

Thanks so much for your article on Copenhagen, DK...loved it! Very well done actually I used to live in Christianshavn (just next to Christania) and Danish is my second language.

You really did a quite grand job and pulled me ALL of the way into your analogy and experience from my other home.

Just one detail that I thought might have been included.....the bakeries & cheese shops in the mornings in nearly every 5 or so blocks as they waft the incredible hypnotizing aromas of those amazing Danish specialties.

I most especially and absolutely love the fact that you included the "hyggeligt" element...wonderful!!

Another aspect of the Danish language that I have found interesting is that we only cuss to devil rather than the more typically religious icons and that love (elsker) is only very rarely used.

All-in-all you have me totally on your team and I will always look forward to your future writing.

Med venlig hilsen...(with kind regards).

--- Breeze

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Hi Ed,

Thank you for your article on the Cherokee Nation. I really appreciate the historical perspective and recognition of their contribution to American culture.

--- Nora Weber, British Columbia

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Another cool issue. You da' man. One question: Is that Mark Lindsay on the front page?

--- Brent, Seattle, WA

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This would be a fascinating place to visit. There is so much history within our reach that we don't often acknowledge in more than a token way. I am wondering if any individual or group has ever gone on a vision quest, or perhaps a memorial march, by retracing the path of the Trail of Tears? This would be a painful journey, for most, I imagine.

--- Sandra, Seattle, WA

Osiyo! From Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism: What a great description of Kauai! The pictures are awesome and I loved reading your travel report! Keep pushin' on!

--- Lisa Long, Tulsa, OK

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I'm getting hungry again just reading your article! It's hot today and I could really use a shave ice right now.

Hope you're having a great day!

--- Melissa, Honolulu, HI

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Thanks so much for sharing! Wow. The beauty even from the few pictures here and your descriptions is breathtaking... I can't even imagine being there for real! The food looks and sounds exquisite, I'm not sure my kind of exquisite, but I do like to be adventurous on occasion :).Quite the story there.

--- Emily, Boise, ID

Great pictures!

--- Anna Harrison, Palmdale, CA

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Tough job, Ed! Thanks for sharing.

--- Brenda Hughes, Richland, WA

Ed, Tim from the team of Jack and Tim - Star Clipper. Great trip. Always enjoy your postings.

--- Tim & Jack, Washington DC

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Hi Ed,

I really enjoyed your story on the Empress of the North. I was an Assistant Cruise Director aboard her in 2004, and you gave me a treasured walk down memory lane with her.You might know this, but if not .... you can cruise the Columbia again late this summer and early fall. The Empress' sister boat, the Queen of the West, was purchased by American Cruise lines and will offer a Columbia River itinerary which almost mirrors the one my Empress used to travel. Just thought you'd like to know.

--- Paul Penta, 2004 Assistant Cruise Director, Empress of the North, Copperas Cove, TX

Ed, you are by far the most interesting of all the Boitanos. Your coverage is extensive and captivating. It's a real treat to read your blogs. Your article on the Baltic Sea Nations is no exception. But don't get me wrong, the other Boitanos have their own charm and perspective. Thanks for all your articles. I can see it's a work of art. I just now noticed your Dog Quotes --- what a great collection! Keep up the good work. Keep on sharing your travels! This is better than the more popular travelogues.

--- Peter Paul, South Pasadena, CA

Hi Ed,

How's life? Hope all's well in sunny Cal.

Having just received the latest issue of the Traveling Boy newsletter I popped back over to your site to take a look around and came across this article which I had not previously read:

Loved it! First of all, this is a part of the world that I absolutely adore so reading about it is always a pleasure. Secondly, I'm happy to see you crossing things off your Buck with such gusto! Myself, I have already been to Stockholm, Helsinki and Copenhagen, and Tallinn, St. Petersburg and Moscow are all on my Buck. After reading through the article I reminded once again why!

One of my favourite lines in the piece is:

"Granted, eight to twenty-fours in world-class cities like Helsinki and Tallinn hardly does them justice, but a sketch is always better than a blank canvas."

So very true. I'll take a sketch over a blank canvas any day! Besides, sketches often lead to full-blown paintings anyway.

Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed this story. Hope there are many more fun adventures awaiting you soon!


--- Ashley, Toronto

Thanks for a great trip, Ed - such a comfortable way to travel, particularly to several cities i knew very little about. I've had only one sea voyage - crossed to G.B. on the United States in the early 60s - no balconies, etc. on that ship, as she was prepared to be stripped down to carry troops in event of WWIII, but still luxurious in her own way.

Bumped into a documentary recently on PBS re the old lady who is now docked in Philadelphia, I believe with peeling paint on her sides and funnels and of course the interior stripped and auctioned off of everything...periodic moves to rehabilitate her, but so costly people back off. She was the largest and fastest - still is. Her record was 3 days crossing - we did it in a little over 5 (cruise speed I guess!). They showed regular passengers like the Duke and Duchess of Windsor who happened to be on board when I was, as well as gazillions of stars who traveled on her. Charles Boyer was the only one on my crossing - we were alone in the library one time, but I didn't say anything. He looked immersed in his pursuit of a book. The Windsors were tiny little people, as was M. Boyer (and this comment from a 5'2" observer!). How's that for an ancient history lesson? Anyhow seeing the ship like she is now made me almost teary - surprised myself somehow.

--- Brenda Hughes, Richland, WA

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I loved this article!! Kept me in rapt attention, felt like I explored part of the world myself ;) nice way to start my day, sounds altogether amazing and unforgettable!

--- Emily, Boise, ID

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Great writing!! Reading, education and fabulous locations! All around WOWS!

--- E Dava, Burbank, CA

What a wonderful assortment of travel destinations. I have always been drawn to islands, and as a Pacific Northwesterner, dream from time to time about settling in the San Juans someday (like a lot of us here visualize for ourselves). Hopefully, travel will occur before this particular dream comes to pass. I enjoy reading about the connections you have with the places you write about. I will visit that fishing village in Norway, someday, just because of the photograph. Who wouldn't, after seeing it. Thanks, Ed

--- Sandee, Seattle, WA

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Another great edition!

--- CG, Central California Coast

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Hi Ed,

I sailed into Sooke on my way to port Ludlow from Portland, Oregon in my sailboat few years back. It was interesting port. The entry is snake like channel with local fisherman's local markers only to guide you into the port.

--- Larry, Portland, OR

Wow. I want to go to Vietnam! It's beautiful! Those are amazing pictures!

--- Archie, Pasadena, CA

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Kudos to Mark Twain. He knows how to honor a dog, and kudos to Cedric for all he was and still is and kudos to you for another edition of www.traveling Peace and Love,

--- Joel, Pasadena, CA

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Ed, I really enjoy your traveling adventures. Your stories are so well written and the photographs are amazing. Thank you for letting us in on your adventures. You bring the adventure to those of us who aren't able to go. Thank you.

--- Cheryl, Pismo Beach, CA

Amazing story and pictures. To think that 40 years ago we were all terrified at the prospect of going there... what a difference a few decades makes. Fantastic article!

--- Roger, Puyallup, WA

Thanks for your expert insight, Jeremy. Have you ever lived in New York? Don't tell me you are one of those tourists or former transplants. It's a very different experience when one lives here. Unlike Los Angeles, there really is a sense of community. New Yorkers love and care about their city... and, yes, their neighbors too.

--- Lisa - New York, NY

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NY sucks. It's now nothing more than a Disneyland version of its former glory. It city filled with tourists and transplants, and no longer the center of the universe. The WEST is the best. Everyone is moivng to the Coast. Even NY fashion designers check out the LA street scene before launching their new designs. Plus no one in NY knows real pizza. Take a trip to Naples sometime and try the real thing.

--- Jeremy - Los Angeles, CA

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The economic boom is what drove all the changes in New York. The mayors were in the right place at the right time, and to their credit, handled things well. It's easier to clean up the city and cut crime when you have more money to spend. The economic outlook for New York is bleak now with unemployment going up. Bloomberg already is short money and will be cutting services across the board. If things don't turn around, people may not be as friendly in a few years.The idea that New Yorkers are not nice is just a myth; people in L.A. are much more distant and shut-off.

--- Michael, Native New Yorker

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I think that overall, Manhattan has become friendlier in the last few years, not sure why but don't think Giuliani or Dinkins can take credit. There was definitely a surge of NYC solidarity following 9/11, and Giuliani was extremely popular during that period. When he supported Bush so strongly in the election that followed, his popularity plummeted, though. Bloomberg has definitely done a good job with making a lot of bike lanes, blocking off large areas of what was previously street and putting tables and chairs for pedestrian use. Not sure how this economic downturn will affect local attitudes, though....

--- Sue, New York

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This is the best. Keep them coming.--- Paul Ash

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Ed, thanks for putting the Holland button on your site.

By the way, your images really work! I opened the newsletter and was immediately tempted to click on an article. Love it. And also love the fact I can click on images in the articles to enlarge them. The short headline on the image makes me curious. Well done.

--- Bianca Helderman

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Thanks Ed, for this delightful view of this wondrous city! The first time I traveled with a husband to NYC years ago, it was for an Orchestral Conductor's conference. We lived in Newfoundland at that time, so you can imagine my shock of coming from isolation to the big apple!My heart began beating as I looked out of my hotel window at the figures of humans below, scurrying like ants, I was up so high. It wasn't the height, rather, the invisible buzz, that urgently beckoned me to go outside! But when I reached the sidewalk, the rush of pedestrians made me wonder "where's the party?" Friendly? Yes! I lived in NYC for 5 years with a later husband and loved every minute! Being an artist, I could not relax enough to paint, so I took up acting and worked with "Children In Need" a charity, instead and partook of everything NY had to offer from opera and Off Broadway plays and such to ballet and wholistic healings....a city full of everything one could imagine! I truly love NYC and years later am grateful to live in a quieter area of California so I may relax and paint and do my healing work...going back only to visit my delightful haunts. There is nothing like NYC!.

--- Yoka, Westlake Village, CA


Great issue. Well done. They keep getting better! --- Grace Conlee Micetich, San Diego, CA

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I loved all of the traveling news! It’s good to know you are still out there in the world. --- Judy Vincent


Thanks for getting me back on the Traveling Boy newsletter mailing list- I have missed it!

I do believe we need contributions of the ‘road less traveled’ in the US for those of us whose feet never leave the ground… Ahhhh… the Badlands... Two Medicine in Glacier… the Lava tubes in central Oregon… my next destination wish: Monument Valley.

--- Lorrie Sjoquist

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The photos and descriptions of this trip are wonderful. I love the idea of the slowed down pace of the train. Kind of a throwback to the "good old days." --- Larry Lombard, Puyallup, WA

I think you outdid yourself with the "Two Cities" article. I'm ashamed to admit that I knew so little about these two cities. I learned so much. Your article was jampacked with very interesting trivia. Surprised the Jazz greats and Walt Disney came from practically the same area. And those pictures --- especially the WWI museum --- what an incredible shot --- almost like out of somebody's Satyricon dream. Bravo!

--- Rod, Glendale, CA

What a great article! --- Michelle, Torrance, California


The photos are spectacular. I can envision many a romantic novel inspired by these majestic sceneries. Makes me want to do a little more research on Norway. John Lenon must have been one of the converts when he wrote "Norwegian Woods."
--- Peter Paul, South Pasadena CA

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Thanks for the kind words and taking the time to write. Indeed, Norway was paradise on earth, and I dream of returning again and again. You had a funny line about John Lennon being so inspired by the beauty of Norway that he composed the song, "Norwegian Wood." If I'm not mistaken, his reference to "Norwegian Wood" is just that: an inexpensive pine wood from Norway that was becoming popular in the UK. I did read somewhere, though, that "I Want to Hold Your Hand" was inspired by Norwegian fjord trek.

Thanks again… and please keep writing.



Reading Peter's implication that "Norwegian Wood" was based on a trip that John Lennon took to Norway led me to do some research.

According to Paul McCartney at a press conference in Los Angeles: 'Peter Asher [brother of McCartney's then-girlfriend Jane Asher] had just done his room out in wood, and a lot of people were decorating their places in wood. Norwegian wood. It was pine, really, just cheap pine. But it's not as good a title, is it, "Cheap Pine"? It was a little parody, really, on those kind of girls who, when you'd get back to their flat, there would be a lot of Norwegian wood. It was completely imaginary from my point of view, but not from John's. It was based on an affair he had. She made him sleep in the bath and then, finally, in the last verse, I had this idea to set the Norwegian wood on fire as a revenge. She led him on and said, "You'd better sleep in the bath." And in our world, that meant the guy having some sort of revenge, so it meant burning the place down....'

Of course, just cause it's on the 'net doesn't mean it's true.

--- Jeff M, Tacoma, WA

Weird piece on Copenhagen (Cosy in Copenhaggen). Do you think now that Keefer’s in the slammer in Glendale for DWI he’s experiencing any hygge? I bet some of those jailbirds would like to see how touch he is.

--- Adam S., Glendale CA

I loved your intro and the way you set up the article. It immediately set the tone of an action-paced adventure. I imagined Annette as a spy in a trenchcoat feeding you top secret information. I'm surprised you didn't get lost. Do they speak English over there? Are the street signs in English? Does a GPS work over there?

I never heard of "hygge" but, like you, I think I've felt that sensation everytime the cold wind blows here in South Pasadena, CA. When I sit beside a warm fire, sipping my hot chocolate, I will remember this article. Thanks!

--- Peter Paul, South Pasadena, CA

Stay tuned.

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