Artifacts 2: Rain Jacket

I thought about sharing some of the lessons learned from our travels. One direction on this path involves what we carry. This is a theme I have touched on before.  It is interesting to me to experience how the artifacts both physical and electronic define the modern self and its relationship to its environment. No tips and tricks here except to keep experimenting and be observant.

Our rain jackets are essential for any trip. Beyond keeping dry and warm, they offer freedom to explore even during bad weather.  This has led us to many interesting discoveries and appreciations of the neighborhoods we visit.

My simple jacket folds itself neatly into a zippered pouch which I store in an outside compartment of my bag for easy access (see below). Sometimes, it stays stowed for a month. Here I remember Malta, Kuala Lumpur and Cape Town.  At the other extreme, I wore it every day in Vancouver.




My photos provide more of a documentary experience than an artistic one. Over the past seventeen years, this raincoat became a central theme of my travels and showed up in way too many photos.




Yarrow Tea

A little diversion from my usual posting.  Rest assured, I am not starting a food blog. I am thinking about tips for the trip type postings.

This started with an expedition to our local MegaImage grocery store looking for tea. There I found a line of teas produced in Romania so I randomly chose one called Coada-Soricelului.  On returning home, Master Google informed me that it was Yarrow Tea well known for analgesic qualities.  Perfect, as I have been nursing soreness in the knees since Mexico.


When Daughter came out, I told her about my discovery of Yarrow Tea.  She responded, “Oh you mean, Achillea millefolium, used by Achilles warriors to staunch wounds?”

“Umm, yes,” trying to hide my ignorance and sneaking a look farther down the Google page.  For her, the story begins in the summer of 2008 in the back seat of our Honda Accord as we drove around the Eastern US.  She bought an herb dictionary about three inches thick from a bookstore at the University of Purdue, in West Lafayette, Indiana.  Alphabetically Achillea was one of the first entries. I can only guess how many times she read through that book entry by entry.

Looking back at all our photos from that trip, I see none from Purdue nor with her book. The best I found was the banner photo on the border of Maine.  For now, we are doing well as we finish up in Bucharest drinking Yarrow tea, St. Johns Wort tea (Sunatoare – hyperici herba) and Peppermint tea (Ceai de Menta – Menthae Herba).

Black Sea Pilgrim

We arrived in Bucharest Romania after our stopover in Rome.  This story begins a few weeks later with a visit to Constanta on the Black Sea (Marea Neagră RO, Чёрное мо́рe RU). In four weeks we traveled a crescent by train and by bus back to the Black Sea.  The city headings in this post link to their Wikipedia Entries. There were so many amazing and unique experiences.  The best I can do is to provide a few things that I found wonderful and a few photos to capture the taste of the adventure.

Constanța, Romania

Constanta founded 2600 years ago.  The roman poet, Ovid was exiled here by emperor Augutus.

Bucharest, Romania

We arrived an hour late into Bucharest.  After other delays on the metro subway, we were home after four hours.  Our daily outings were among the old, the communist, and the new. Last year, I read Olivia Manning’s Balkan Trilogy.  As it deals with the expatriate experience in Bucharest during the outbreak of World War II, reading the descriptions again made a strong impact.

Brașov, Romania

Brasov marks the border between the Roman Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church. The city center has a strong German atmosphere. Invited by Hungarian Kings, German colonists called the Transylvanian Saxons came to the city in the 12th and 13th centuries.

Bran, Romania

Less than an hour bus ride from Brasov, this castle was the favorite of the Dowager Queen Marie of Romania. She was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria. More importantly, she held ideas about equality and helping others way ahead of her time.

Iași, Romania

I booked tickets for the seven hour bus ride online.  We waited in the petrol kiosk (gas station) wondering whether this really was the spot and how much delay there might be.  The minibus arrived and knew about our reservation, very smoothly.  In Iasi, we encountered the Romanian poet and journalist, Mihai Eminescu, again. We had gone by his villa in Bucharest. He reflected his times and the Nationalism of the age. Time to reread Hannah Arendt.

Chișinău, Moldova

We took a taxi to the Iasi bus depot.  An unmarked van had a paper in the window for Chisinau.  We bought tickets from the driver.  Did I mention it was a bumpy ride? Did I tell you that my iPhone walking app registered 12 km just from bouncing in the back.  Pushkin was exiled in Chisinau instead of Siberia.  Works he conceived here became the classics defining Russian Literature.  He also could get himself  into trouble supporting the Greek revolutionaries and wandering around with Gypsies.  We toured his house and talked with a high school student, Alexander, who helped translating.

Odessa, Ukraine

Pushkin was exiled here too, along with many others. We arrived after a six and a half hour bus ride.  Isaac Babel called Odessa the “Star of Exile.”  It is also famous for the Potemkin Staircase featured in Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin.  For me, it was the fulfillment of a dream I had 45 years ago: the port, the people, the music, the beach, the sun.

The Final Swim, the Route and the Danube flowing into the Black Sea