I only have a few days in Warsaw left to go before I head off to the UK. I’ve had many favorable impressions and experiences of this city and its surrounds. There is a lot to enjoy here and it is easy to do most anything as public transport is everywhere. But it will take some doing to sort it all out because it happens all in Polish (not surprising) so be prepared with a travel guide in your native tongue.

The overall energy of Warsaw is calm. Even these past two weeks in the city’s center, it is easy to feel and see that it is not a busy, bustling city like Vienna or Prague. There is a lot of space here and it doesn’t feel confining at all. I’m not much into bars and nightlife or fancy restaurants, so it pleases me to find a multitude of delicatessens here from which to buy food. I spend every day walking and looking for little jewels amongst the obvious. Many of the photos in the galleries are just that… little details of the obscure that have caught my attention and the lens.

The largest contribution to my experience of Warsaw is this yoga studio. I’ve had a few years in practice between Florida, San Francisco and Costa Rica as both a student and a teacher and I am very picky about where I go for asana classes. This place is right up there on my list of most-loved yoga studios. The space itself is designed beautifully, the classroom floor is slightly resilient and the teachers are very methodical in their teachings. Not that I can understand anything that they are saying, but I can easily feel the vibe of what they are communicating and I know that they are excellent in their presentations during class.

Next week, I will be traveling to the UK by train from Warsaw. This site is fantastic for working of the details of journeying by train almost anywhere in the world. Overnight sleeper to Cologne, then to Brussels and on into London to meet up with my new friend.

I have such a backlog of images and stories, but I am going to spend my time over the weekend getting more caught up as new images and new stories unfold frequently.

Updated photo catalog

Please know that I am open to questions and opinions!  Ask or share if you like it.

Gallery Link

The Warsaw Uprising is a tale to be remembered. The Wikipedia article can explain it way better than I can. The gallery itself is a collection of images shot on the eve of the event. Not much to say here other than the fact that Old Town is even more enchanting in the evening…

Warsaw knew I was coming to town and sent out a greeter to make sure I had everything I needed

Warsaw knew I was coming to town and sent out a greeter to make sure I had everything I needed….

For those of you who are considering a camera, I must suggest looking into the Pentax K5IIs. At just under $1100.00USD, it is absolutely brilliant. These days, mirrorless cameras are all the rage, but only Fuji has really nailed the enthusiast market with an APS-C body AND a lens roadmap that works for someone who demands high image quality. Things do change rapidly in this segment, so my facts might be dated.

The K5IIs is a magnesium alloy work of art. You can put in auto and use it as a point&shoot, or, you can use it as it was so elegantly designed to be used: RAW capture in one of the program modes which allows the shooter to control exposure. Given the fact that there is no A/A filter in front of the sensor, the camera captures amazing detail. Some will argue the moire issue, but I don’t spend my days shooting checkered fabrics…

The lens line up for this body is riddled with consumer-grade zooms that while weather-resistant, will not take full advantage of the camera’s ability to capture detail. Because of its mount, there are a nice range of choices in telephoto lenses; something lacking in other compact ASP-C mounts, unless you go with M4/3. But, there are the jewels, like the Pentax limited edition primes, the infamous Pentax 50-135 and if you are lucky enough to find them, Zeiss made K-mount glass too. I have a Zeiss Makro Planar 50/2.0 and it is sensational.

For those who have an interest, Pentax is under the umbrella of Ricoh, who also holds Fuji and Fuji builds cameras for Hasselblad. Anyway, Having had numerous digis and glass, including a Canon 1D MKII, NEX5, X10, X-E1, A99, G10 I must say that the K5IIs or its less expensive siblings present the photographer with a seriously nice and configurable tool to practice one’s art with. Neither too big nor too ostentatious, it feels perfect on the shoulder with something like a Black Rapid Metro strap and can be carried all day quite comfortably. Pentax Forums is a great place for user impressions and information.

I will also plug my favorite online teacher of all things photographic and philosophical: Mr. Ming Thein. I’ve studied nearly everything he has been so generous to write and publish. His work has influenced mine tremendously and has challenged me to refine my vision, both existentially and photographically. If there is a shooter within you, I would highly recommend spending several months reading his work and practicing his teachings. You will be well-rewarded.

All my travel photos that will be shown here in the days ahead are all captured with a K5IIs, Sigma 17-50 f2.8, Zeiss MP 50 f2.0 and a Sigma 70-200 f2.8. Other goodies include a Benro carbon travel tripod and three Yongnuo 560 series III speedlights. If you can live without the Big C or N and don’t have the cash for the Big L and can’t live life without a 70-200 on a Fuji, and M4/3 just doesn’t make sense to you, then this is worthy of your consideration.

I guess until I decide to upgrade my theme or figure out how to better utilized the gallery feature of this one I’ll just link my photo site to this one. Admittedly, I’d rather write or shoot then work with site design as it is not my forte…

So, here begins my first landing in Europe: Warsaw, Poland or more specifically Old Town.

It all began with my magical blog on tumblr and a woman who, many months ago contacted me about the Temple of Set and what I had written regarding Setian Initiation and my experiences. As time and copious emails past, we elected to speak instead of write to each other. As more time and Skype bills went by, I had arrived at a decision to just get up and go, leaving the comfort and complacency of my apartment in San José, Costa Rica behind. The thoughts and feelings I had for this person were escalating and I really did want to spend time with her. Given the fact of her location (near Warsaw) I just figured that I would book a flight and go… There was nothing holding me to CR except for the fact that living well is easy there.

I hired a very comfortable flat from a great couple who have listings on AirBnB.  Jan and Alicia are wonderful hosts and I highly recommend contacting them should you have an interest in visiting this nice city.

The first image is of “Raul” who is the neighbor to Swan Studio and frequents the sidewalk in front of his home quite often. He’s got a lot to say, so in my mind I dubbed him ‘the mayor’. Next is the view from the place in early morning light followed by a german shepherd mix in a window. Weddings seemed to be quite popular at this time of year and there were tons of wedding shoots happening all over Old Town. I’m not going to narrate the entire gallery as to do so is quite tedious and doesn’t leave room for the viewer’s impressions. My shooting style focuses towards details and little things that catch my eye. Perhaps one day I will buy a nice wide-angle and/or tilt-shift lens and start working with landscape style shooting, but not now…

Old Town Warsaw is a double edged sword of beauty and sorrow. The nazis invaded Warsaw and completely flattened it. The Russians, who were purportedly allies of Poland really did nothing to help the Poles defend their city. I am no historian, so comments are appreciated here, but Old Town is a reconstruction of what was left after the war, and it is gorgeous. The main road has a ba-zillion small shops and even a ba-zillion more restaurants. You simply cannot starve here. There’s everything from cheap to expensive, delicious to the sublime. This is also camera-land. Never have I seen so many camera-toting tourists in one place, but I remind myself that this is my first time to a major european city.

What I loved so much about my time in Old Town, now having visited twice, are all the little streets, which you must explore to find. They are there, but none too obvious. There are gardens galore everywhere, but it’s the little ones in small courtyards that really fill the eye… and the stuff that people put in windows… and the reflections in those windows, revealing another aspect of either a building opposite to it, or something calling in from another dimension, if you are into that sort of thing.

I gets quite hot here in August, so be prepared. Everyone wears shorts and short-sleeved shirts. Dress is always casual, not matter where you are headed. I don’t do clubs and bars at night, so if you are looking for information about that, I can’t help you. The church in the center of the main Old Town plaza is home to a daily organ concert at noon. They might offer other shows at other times, but this is the one I am sure of. It is a grand european church with a pipe organ that occupies the entire width of the second floor above the entrance. I can’t recall all of the pieces that were played, but the last one was my all-time favorite: Toccata and Fugue by Bach. It gives me chills just thinking about the vibe of the piece and all the emotionality that came rushing forward as the organist rolled through it.

‘Tis a nice, gray rainy Warsaw this morning… wet and cool. The body feels a bit sore from last night’s yoga class, but wonderful none the less. Didn’t wake up until 9:00am today and so what… The coffee is good, the music nice, some YT videos to watch and listen to, sent by a not too distant friend and lots of bandwidth now that the 30Mb/sec modem is up and running. So it looks like a great day to get some photos up on this site and have some things to look at.

This yoga studio, whose name I cannot pronounce is terrific. Just my speed… calm, beautiful, packed. The teachers here are some of the best I have ever studied with. There is something different about the teaching style here that I like and is very reminiscent of my own… They move slowly and explain the pose in detail, the asanas are held for a longer time then in an ashtanga class, and even though I don’t understand their jokes, the teachers do get the class to laugh, which is something I always include in my classes as well, for if we can’t laugh at our selves…

I got busted j-walking on the way to class last night and got interrogated by a rather unhappy looking and sounding police officer. I am sure he didn’t get the humor behind the reply, but when he asked me why I crossed the street where I did, I told him that I wanted to get to the other side (the chicken, remember?). Anyway, they have these massive underground plazas for ‘getting to the other side’ of the main city roads and I wasn’t aware of it. But, now I am. These subterranean retail plazas have all kinds of stores and food places. I think it’s where Poland hides the bulk of american fast food places as well.

If you are in Warsaw, then check out Joga! If you are going to cross the street and the street has many lanes of busy traffic and trolleys too, look for something that looks like a metro and go below so as to avoid a confrontation with unhappy-looking guys with batons and guns.

I had no idea that the bandwidth at the apartment I am residing in has a cap on bandwidth. I found out about the problem yesterday when uploading to my tumblr and it all came to a screeching halt. For many in Warsaw, the usage of cellular-based air cards connected to a wifi router is popular because of the lesser cost then with a cable modem. The problem is with usage and subscriptions. I guess my 100-something mb upload sessions over-used the subscription on the card here.

So, the owners of the unit installed a 30mb/sec cable modem, but it takes a day or so for the service to kick in. In the meantime, we both agreed that I should stop sending large files up, as we have no idea what kind of limits are on the current air card and subscription.

So, what’s there to look forward to? Lots of images from the places I have been, a lot of which is off the tourist-beaten paths and on to roads less traveled. To give everyone an idea of where the adventure began, it was in San José, Costa Rica where I had been living for 1.5 years after living in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica for another 1.5 years, with a 3 month stint in Pahoa, HI.

I landed in Warsaw, PL and stayed in Old Town for a week or so. Then, headed over to Prague, CZ. Then, down to Perchtoldsdorf, Austria – back to Prague, over to Hradec Kravlove to see the Brutal Assault festival (but never made it), back down to Perchtoldsdorf and Vienna, over to Salzburg by way of Annaburg and the surrounding areas, up western Austria and back to Prague and once again, back to Warsaw.

I had the luxury of a car after leaving Prague and loved every moment of driving on the highways and by-ways. I saw towns, villages and countryside views unlike I have ever seen or experienced. Given the reactions of the people I met along the way, an American’s presence is very unusual, but hey, that’s me all the way… unusual.

I won’t say too much now as to do so without the corresponding photos would be redundant. So, on this note, hang tight and I’ll be bahck… 

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