Thursday, November 13, 2014

Pasporta Servo

When we're in Europe, in between organized Esperanto events and visiting friends, we're hoping to stay with local residents in Germany, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Slovakia, and Italy. We intend to do that through Pasporta Servo, a kind of relative to Servas, with which some people are familiar. A booklet (and online file) lists people ready to host other Esperanto speakers for a night or two or three. Coincidentally, the Wall Street Journal had a front-page article about Pasporta Servo on November 12. The writer had a phone interview with me and Les a couple of months ago, to hear our experiences. (Les used it in Berlin and Moscow, and we hosted about ten visitors to Seattle.) But he chose (rightly) to focus on a friend of ours from California, who used it over a hundred times during a 16-month trip through Europe after college. That woman has been one of our inspirations in planning our trip to Esperantujo.

In other news, we rented a 10x19 storage locker in Seattle, near the boat, for putting all our belongings in. Even though we don't need the full space yet, we'll start using it next week when we rent a Zipcar cargo van and move everything from our current small storage locker in Bellevue. During the next few months we can gradually pack up things not used very often and bring them to the locker, instead of having our apartment filled with boxes.

Sunday, November 9, 2014


It's six months now until we leave Seattle. We've been making a lot of progress on practical matters. We now have our plane tickets from Toronto to Glasgow, from Frankfurt to Seattle, and from Budapest to Brussels. Yes, even though we planned to use only trains in Europe, we decided to do one flight. The times of two Esperanto conferences we want to attend (one in Esztergom, Hungary, the other in Lille, France) overlap by a couple of days, so in order to not have to leave the first one any earlier than necessary, we decided to do a 2-hour flight instead of a 2-day train ride. We selected a Hungarian airline called Wizz Air. What a hoot it was booking the flight! The fare started out low ($43 each), but then each little thing added to the cost. Reserving a seat costs $6, bringing a smallish travel bag onboard costs $12, etc. We could have paid for "airport transfer", but we weren't sure what that meant; we joked that possibly the plane is parked a mile from the terminal, and you can either walk or you can pay for the ground transportation. Anyway, the price is still low, so that part is fine. But there's a strict limit of 22 pounds each, which is about what each of us had on our trip to Germany two years ago. We'll have to be very careful not to pick up souvenirs along the way, or—if we do—to mail them home before this Wizz Air flight. Oh, and you're not allowed to bring any food on board. And nothing else allowed other than the small carry-on bag—no purse or tiny backpack or whatever. This is a real education for us, and we're now more grateful for what you can do on the "real" airlines.

We've just given away a bunch of stuff, to friends and to Goodwill, as part of our downsizing. The boat now has a lot of empty drawers and cupboards, hopefully enough to handle our clothes, kitchen equipment, and all the other stuff we'll need when we're living there. Today we moved our huge double kayak and all its gear to a friend's house in Redmond. It will stay there until March, when we'll take it up north to Quadra Island, off Vancouver Island. We had thought of selling it before the trip, but found a much more satisfying solution. Some good friends just moved from Toronto to Quadra Island, and we're going to give them the boat and gear for their own use, with the idea that we can use it whenever we're up there (probably not very often, as it's a long day trip to get there, including the time-consuming border crossing and two ferries).

Les paddling our kayak from our houseboat to a park
where we could put it on top of our car

In searching for vegan places in London (supposedly the number 4 best vegetarian city in Europe, after Prague, Berlin, and Ghent), I discovered that there are five Whole Foods stores in London! Who'da thunk? Since I do all my shopping at Whole Foods normally, I'll feel right at home there. We're actually only planning to spend a couple of days in London. Right now the only definite plan is to spend one day in Greenwich, mostly to visit the Royal Observatory. I searched online for quirky attractions in London, but nothing so far has gotten us excited. I spent ten days in London 49 years ago, during which I saw the major attractions, and Les somehow isn't enthusiastic. That reminds me that this trip next year will occur exactly fifty years from my other major trip to Europe: ten weeks between my junior and senior year of college.