Poland

R is for “rodzina”

Poland-eagle-150squareRodzina is the Polish word for family, and what an important word it is.

For many years “Polish family”, to me, meant just Dad.  My English mother, Nancy, has been dead for 23 years, and, having no brothers and sisters, ours was a small family unit.  Then came the fateful phone call.  I’ve told the story countless times, but it still fills me with wonder.

Dad (centre) reunited with his brothers and sisters after 64 years

Dad (centre) reunited with his brothers and sisters after 64 years

Unknown to him, in Poland, awaited an enormous family.  Following the phone call, arrangements were made for us to visit.

From his second marriage, to Laura, Dad already had inherited quite a large English family.  Laura was a lovely lady, but she died on Dad’s 70th birthday, leaving him saddened and lonely.  My presence and that of my stepbrother, Tony, and his family, was not enough to fill the gap.  My stepsister, Lynne, though always in touch, was far distant in Canada.  That phone call changed Dad’s life.  It also made quite a difference in mine.

Arriving at the farm with cousin, Adam

Arriving at the farm with cousin, Adam

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My cousin Marysia, and neice, Kasia

Ewa in the forefront, Marysia and Jadzia on the right

Cousins, Ewa, forefront, Marysia and Jadzia on the right- Dad, centrestage!

If you’ve followed any of my Polish A-Z you’ll know that I have 26 cousins (one for each letter of the alphabet?) so it’s impossible to show them all here.  Off we went to Poland, with camera crew in tow.  Dad was featured on North East Tonight on 15th March 2007.  Watching the webcam still has me sniffling.

After a day or so in beautiful Kraków, with my cousin Adam, we drove north to meet the family.  The cacophony of tooting horns and voices as we drove in through the farmyard gates will stay with me for a very long time.  Then, in good old Polish fashion, jemy i pijemy- we ate and we drank! A drive through the woods helped Dad to familiarise himself with the place he had left behind so long ago.

Lighting candles

Lighting candles

As all Polish visits seem to do, we ended up at the cemetery.  They may celebrate life in fine style, but they never forget to honour loved ones.  And the bigger the family, the more the farewells.  Already I have said goodbyes to my much-loved Aunt Anna, and to uncle Włodek’s wife, Janina.  Cousins Gosia and Dominik were both much too young to die.  But life is seldom gloomy around my Polish family.

Life is full of smiles (here with neice, Ula)

Life is full of smiles (here with neice, Ula)

Nephew Lukasz with his sister Weronika, soon to be wedded to Wojtek (front)

Her brother, Łukasz, and sister Weronika, soon to be wedded to Wojtek

Beautiful scenery

Beautiful scenery, like Wawel Cathedral

Like these fountains in Krakow

These fountains at Pałac Sztuki in Kraków

And a chess piece or two.

A chess piece or two

And cake!

And cake!

Dad has always been kind, caring and the very definition of a gentleman, whatever life has brought his way.  You can read more of his story here.  I hope you’ve enjoyed sharing tales of my rodzina Polska.  Many thanks to Julie Dawn Fox, who started me off on this Personal A-Z series, and to my good friend at Frizztext for welcoming me to his A-Z.  Please click on the links or the logos to see more.

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N is for “Nie rozumiem”

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I’m having great fun trying to keep pace with both of my A-Z challenges, at Frizz’s weekly pace!  On Tuesdays the new letter comes out, so yet again I find myself leaping from Portugal to Poland.  It’s quite a stretch!

Can you guess what “nie rozumiem” means?  “I don’t understand”.

It’s probably the expression I have used the most in my visits to Poland.  Despite the best of intentions I struggle to get my ear attuned to Polish, and you can’t really say “please will you write it down so I can understand”.  It doesn’t seem polite somehow, and rather impedes the flow of conversation!

The mine at Belchatow

Another thing I’m not great at understanding is feats of engineering, but even I could see the type of industry that was going on when the family took me to inspect the nearby mine at Bełchatów.  This is Europe’s largest coal-fuelled thermal power station.  There are huge viewing platforms from which you can observe most of the process.  It’s the chief employer in the area and many of my family have worked there.  The technology looks impressive.

Seldom have I been photographed at an opencast mine

Seldom have I been photographed at an opencast mine

It's a monster!

It’s a monster!

Imagine having a lovely home like this right next door!

Imagine having a lovely home like this right next door!

I rather like the Polish style of fencing (but not the view!)

I rather like the Polish style of fencing (but not the view!)

We drove all around the enormous site to a lakeside location with sports facilities, and, you’ve guessed it, a cracking view of the power station!  Apparently it’s very popular in Summer.  Bełchatów is far from the seaside.

Lakeside chalets

Lakeside chalets

The view!

The view across the lake

But the family were happy and smiling!

But the family were happy and smiling!

Left to right they are- Uncle Jakub, cousins Adam and Bożena,  Kuba in the background (Bożena’s younger son), cousin Marta, who is also married to Adam, and Czesława, Jakub’s wife.  I hope you are paying close attention.  There may be a test!

It was a warm day and afterwards Adam took us all for icecream.  There was one more treat in store.  Back at Jakub’s, Czescia cooked “ziemniaki z smażony tłuszcz”- potatoes with fried pork scratchings.  It was explained that the dish was very popular in the days when people had nothing in Poland.  Potatoes were an important staple and I have tasted some of the best potatoes ever, homegrown from Aunt Lusia’s garden.  I have to say that today’s dish was not much to my taste, but Dad and the family made short work of it.

Enjoying "old style" Polish cuisine

Enjoying “old style” Polish cuisine

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little venture into Polish culture today.  I have to thank Julie Dawn Fox for starting the Personal A-Z Challenge, a long time ago, and Frizz at Flickr Comments for helping me to catch up.  The links and logos give more information.

I can breathe a sigh of relief now because I have already posted the letter “O” for both Poland and Portugal.  You can read them from my A-Z pages.

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M is for Mariacki and Marysia

Poland-eagle-150squareOne of my very first sights when I visited Poland for the first time was the Mariacki Church.  The splendour of the Rynek Główny in Kraków, Europe’s largest market square, is crowned by this church.  Later, on a guided tour given by my neice Weronika, we crept respectfully around the aisles and I looked up in awe.

Veit Stoss Altar, Mariacki Church

The blue ceiling covered in stars was so joyous.  I almost said heavenly but that sounds too corny, however true.  I’d never before seen anything like it.

The showpiece of the church is the Veit Stoss Altar, depicted on these postcards. With great ceremony the altar is opened at noon each day to reveal the exquisite carvings beneath.

Gilded wood panels of the Altar in close up

Gilded wood panels of the Altar in close up

St. Mary’s Church, or Kościół Mariacki, dates from the 14th century and stands 262 feet tall (80m).  Today it draws the crowds largely for the appearance of the trumpeter, who performs hourly at the top of the taller of the two towers.  The sad little notes die away abruptly.  According to legend this commemorates the trumpeter who was pierced through the throat while sounding the alarm for an impending Mongol attack on the city.  These days it’s a happy occasion and he waves to the cheering crowd below before disappearing.

I don’t often use video clips in my posts but I accidentally came across this one and loved it.  The commentary is in Polish, but you get to see the trumpeter in close up.

The noon-time trumpet call, known as the Hejnał mariacki, is broadcast across the nation by Polish Radio 1.  More details are on this Wikipedia link.

Marysia is one of my Polish cousins.  In the very early days of our reunion with the Polish family I received a lovely email from her, introducing herself and family to me. She is married to Pawel, a musician with a wicked sense of humour. They have a daughter, Kasia, and son, Michał (do you remember that the last letter is pronounced “w”?)

Marysia is another of Zygmunt and Lodzia’s daughters. (I posted about them in L is for Lusia, Lodzia and Lodz)  She lives in the village of Zawady, near to Dad’s original old farmstead, but Marysia and Pawel have a beautiful modern home. Within the family there are many skills, and when it comes to home-making, these are readily shared.  Piotrek, Marysia’s brother, is a fine carpenter and the polished wood floors and banisters are all his work.

Kasia was only 20 when we first met, and had spent the Summer working in Nottingham, to help pay for her university studies.  This was an enormous coincidence as my daughter lives in Nottingham.  You can imagine her astonishment when I produced a Polish cousin living virtually on her doorstep!  A meetup was arranged, of course.

Lisa, Kasia, friend Paulina, me and Leo, in Nottingham

Lisa, Kasia, friend Paulina, me and Leo, in Nottingham

Kasia has now completed her education and, at the time of writing, is working in Germany.  Her younger brother is still studying.  Marysia herself runs a lovely little boutique in Bełchatów.  Confused yet?  I often am, too!

It just remains for me to thank Julie Dawn Fox, who began the Personal A-Z Challenge, and Frizz, who has welcomed me into his A-Z Challenge too.  This week it’s “mmm”!  Follow the links to find out more, and maybe join in?

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L is for Lusia, Lodzia and Łódź

Poland-eagle-150squareThis is where my Polish friends might raise their hands in protest.  You see, in Polish there is a letter L and a letter Ł (ł in lower case).  The two are quite separate, but as there are 33 letters in the Polish alphabet and I am constantly short of time, I’m combining them in this post.  To English eyes they probably look very similar, but ł is pronounced like the English “w” in “wet”.

So, the city that I’m going to tell you a little about, Łódź, is pronounced Wooj, or something very like that.  I have never actually visited this city, which is the third largest in Poland, but it has always intrigued me for its name, which translates as “boat”.  This for a city which lies right in the centre of Poland, 84 miles south-west of Warsaw, and doesn’t even have a river running through it.  Apparently the city once had a total of 18 rivers, but they were covered over due to chronic pollution.

A boat, the coat of arms of Łódź- from Wikipedia

A boat, the coat of arms of Łódź- from Wikipedia

The first written record of Łódź appears in 1332 as the village of Łodzia, and in 1423 King Władysław Jagiełło (who you may remember from my J is for Jadwiga post) granted it city rights.  It was always at the crossroads of trade but at this time most of the inhabitants worked on grain farms in the surrounding flat lands. 

Like many another Polish city, the history of Łódź is colourful.  It lost its identity to Prussia in 1793, and then at the Congress of Vienna in 1815, became part of Russian Poland.  The Tzar gave territory deeds to German immigrants to clear the land and build factories and housing.  In 1825 the first cotton mill was opened and the textile boom began, with an eager Russian market on the doorstep.  Łódź has been likened to a “Polish Manchester” due to its prosperity from textiles.  Relationships with their Russian neighbours deteriorated rapidly, climaxing in the Łódź insurrection (or June Days) in 1905, which was violently put down by the Tzarists.

Łódź monument to the 1905 insurrection- from Wikipedia

Łódź monument to the 1905 insurrection- from Wikipedia

Many of the industrialists were Jewish, thus, during the Nazi occupation, the Łódź Ghetto was set up.  It was the last major ghetto to be liquidated due to the value of the goods the occupants produced for the German military.  The Germans requisitioned all factories and machinery and transported them to Germany so that Łódź was deprived of most of its infrastructure.  Refugees from Warsaw flooded into the city and in the aftermath of the Warsaw Uprising, Łódź became a temporary capital.  Apart from Kraków it was the only Polish city not to have been raised to the ground.

It’s not all doom and gloom.  I knew little about Łódź, but even I had heard of the National Film School, founded in 1948, and its famous student, Roman Polanski.  The film industry and new businesses locating in Łódź due to its excellent transport links have aided the slow rebirth of the city.  Renovation is ongoing on Ul. Piotrkowska, at 5km the longest main street in Europe. OFF Piotrkowska is a lively complex of cafes, restaurants and designer shops within 19th century former cotton mill buildings.

Sculpture of pianist Artur Rubinstein on Ul. Piotrkowska- from Wikipedia

Sculpture of pianist Artur Rubinstein on Ul. Piotrkowska- from Wikipedia

OFF Piotrkowska- from "In your Pocket" Łódź guide

OFF Piotrkowska- from “In your Pocket” Łódź guide

Even better news is that the rivers I referred to at the start of this post are now the subject of a restoration project.  Who knows where it all might end for the city of Łódź?  Manchester isn’t doing so very badly.

Lusia and Lodzia

Most of my Polish family live in the neighbourhood of Bełchatów, about an hour south of Łódź.  As usual, when I was in Poland in May, I went to see my lovely Aunt Lusia in Zawady.  She is my Dad’s only surviving sister, and lives close to the farmstead where Dad grew up.  Her portion of land is a good size with a lovely pond and numerous fruit trees.  Lusia tended the huge vegetable plots herself when she was younger, but now much appreciates the help of her daughter Theresa, who lives with her.  Granddaughter Edyta completes the household (if you don’t count the rabbits, of which there are many!)

Lusia and Dad

Lusia and Dad

The pond at the bottom of the garden

The pond at the bottom of the garden

Fruit trees and the neighbours

Fruit trees and the neighbours

Lusia and Dad with Teresa and Edyta

Lusia and Dad with Theresa and Edyta

Most of the family have built houses on land from the original farm, and Lusia is now dividing hers to make life easier.  Her daughter Grażyna and son-in-law Marek live in a high rise flat in Bełchatów (I was there on my visit too!) and are now building a house next to Mum.  A widow for many years, I never met her husband  Zbigniew, but have seen photos of them as a happy young couple.  It will help Lusia to have family so close by.  A third daughter, Irena (who will feature in my letter “I”), also lives in Bełchatów.  One last little thing to share- Lusia’s given name is Otylia.  I’m not at all sure how Lusia comes from this, but that’s just how it is.

Just across the lane from Lusia is the home of Lodzia and her remaining unmarried family.  This is my Dad’s original home and was taken on by the oldest son Zygmunt, when their parents died.  Sadly Zygmunt himself died just months before the family reunion which brought Dad back to Poland.  He had tried so hard to find Dad, and maybe things would have gone differently if he had succeeded.

Lodzia has her sons Bolek and Piotrek helping on the substantial plot of land.  Dad remembers taking the cows to a stream when he was a small lad, but the cows are long gone (as is the stream, strangely enough).

A slightly blurred photo of Lodzia and Bolek at Jadwiga's home

A slightly blurred photo of Lodzia and Bolek at Jadwiga’s home

You will have seen Lodzia on my blog before.  She is my lovely cousin Jadzia’s mum and we traditionally have supper at Jadwiga’s home, pictured above.  The farmhouse is now very run down and Lodzia does not have an easy life.  She also has the care of a blind son, Adam, who suffered the injury in an explosion many years ago.  Life is never all roses, is it?  My Polish family have had their share of tragedy, but they go on smiling and welcoming us each time.

 This post is part of my Personal A-Z of Poland, for which I owe thanks to Julie Dawn Fox.   I have put links to Wikipedia and my other posts for anyone who is interested.  The logo below will take you to Julie’s A-Z page, and I’m also linking to Frizz’s LLL-challenge, even though, as usual, I’m late!  MMM arrived this morning.

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J is for Jadwiga

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This is a novelty, isn’t it?  For anyone new to my blog, you won’t have a clue what I’m up to, or why.  Old friends might just remember the logo.  I’ll explain a little later.

Jadwiga is a Polish feminine name (pronounced Yad-viga).  The diminutive, or affectionate family form, is Jadzia.  The name originates from the German Hedwig- hadu meaning “battle” and wig meaning “fight”.  You might not realise the significance of this until I tell you about Jadwiga, Queen of Poland.

Jadwiga, "king" of Poland- image from Wikipedia

Jadwiga, “king” of Poland- image from Wikipedia

Jadwiga was queen of Poland, or rather “king”, from 1384 till her death on 17th July, 1399.  She was a sovereign in her own right rather than a mere royal consort, entitling her to the title of king.

Jadwiga was the daughter of Louis 1 of Hungary and Poland, and Elizabeth of Bosnia.  When Louis died in 1382 his eldest daughter Maria was elected queen of Hungary, but the Poles opted to end the union between the 2 countries by choosing Jadwiga as queen.  She was then just 9 years old. After 2 years of negotiations with her mother, and civil war in Poland, Jadwiga came to Kraków to be crowned.  In 1386 she was married to Jogaila, grand duke of Lithuania, to form an alliance of territories much larger than the one with Hungary, changing the balance of power in Central Europe.

Coat of arms of Jadwiga- image from Wikipedia

Jadwiga’s coat of arms- from Wikipedia

The marriage opened the way to the conversion to Christianity of the largely pagan Lithuanians.  Jogaila was baptised Władysław in Kraków before the marriage took place, and they ruled jointly, but with Jadwiga as the leading figure.  She led 2 successful military expeditions, helping Poland to regain lost territories.  When Jadwiga died from childbirth, her husband became Władysław II Jagiello, founding the Jagiellonian dynasty.

Jadwiga was a great patron of religion and scholarship.  From the sale of her jewellery she financed the restoration of the Kraków Academy, which became the world renowned Jagiellonian University.

After her death, Jadwiga was venerated throughout Poland as a saint, and was said to have performed miracles.  Details of these and more of Poland’s convoluted history are to be found in the above links to Wikipedia.  She was finally canonised by Pope John Paul II in Kraków on June 8th, 1997.

Jadwiga's tomb, in Wawel Cathedral, Krakow- from Wikipedia

Jadwiga’s sarcophagus, in Wawel Cathedral, Kraków- from Wikipedia

And now to my personal interest in the name Jadwiga. Time to meet my lovely cousin, Jadzia.  She is one of the daughters of my Dad’s older brother, Zygmunt, who died just months before the family were reunited, and so was never able to greet him on his return to Poland.  I have recounted Dad’s wonderful story in Exploring the Polish Connection, and have already introduced some of my cousins in this A-Z series.

Jadzia with some of her delicious homemade cake

Jadzia with some of her delicious homemade cake

Jadzia, Mam and brother Bolek

Jadzia, Mam and brother Bolek in her lovely dining room (Dad in foreground)

I have many times sampled Jadzia’s wonderful hospitality, and been present at the weddings of both of her children, Ania and Krzysztof.  On each occasion our time together has been too brief.  Jadzia has a little English and I have a very little Polish.  When we exchange emails we do so in our native languages and leave the other to puzzle out the meaning.  Ania is fluent in English, and of course, my Dad is an old hand at Polish.

In writing this post I am linking back to the original A-Z Personal Challenge begun by Julie Dawn Fox.  Life has overtaken me a little so I’ve been slow in reaching completion.  I have pages dedicated to my A-Z’s, both for Poland and for Portugal, at the top of the page, so you can see just how far I’ve progressed.  I would also like to enter this post in Frizz’s A-Z.  I have his permission.  When I began this challenge I hadn’t even “met” Frizz.  Since then he has enhanced my world enormously.

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Six word Saturday

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Challenges and Awards- part of blogging?

When you started blogging, did you have any idea what you were getting into?  I know I didn’t.  I simply wanted a vehicle to communicate my delight in the world, and if I’m honest, an audience.  I hadn’t at all realised that there were hoops to jump through, or how addictive these would be.

But it wasn’t too long before I happened upon my first challenge- Six word Saturday.  Though I have soundly abused it, I liked the notion, and when I started out, I really intended exactly that- just six words, with a few photographs, so you wouldn’t get bored.  Since then we’ve wandered the globe together, and taken a lot of words with us.

Remember the fountains in the Rynek in Wroclaw?

Remember the fountains in Wroclaw’s Rynek?  Click on the photo to see the post

Six word Saturday brought me a lot of new friends, and introduced me to a fascinating world beyond that of my travel addiction.  Writers, poets, photographers, cooks, craftmakers of kinds I didn’t even know existed- they’re all out there.  I discovered any number of A-Z Challenges, and used one of them to pin both my Portuguese and Polish sagas to.

When I found Jakesprinter’s Sunday Post, I was astounded at what he could do with graphics.  More than that, Jake gave me a peg to hang my photos and stories on.   And my addiction to photography and challenges began.

A Turkish gulet gliding across the bay

A Turkish gulet at sunset- again, the photo will take you to the post

I became aware of more and more Challenges out there, many of them photographic, and the quality of some of the photographs is staggering.  Off I went in hot pursuit, until my week was overflowing. Here are just a few I’ve taken part in.  Click on the photo to see the post.

Porta da Vila, Obidos

Porta da Vila, Obidos- from Thursday: Lingering look at windows

The boardwalk in Cabanas- from CBBH Photo Challenge

The boardwalk in Cabanas- from CBBH Photo Challenge

Flowerhead in the rain

Flowerhead in the rain- from Sonel’s Black and White photo challenge : Abstract

I've rarely seen a more extravagant door knocker

A door knocker in Silves- from Cee’s Fun Foto challenge

Old gold plays on Medieval architecture

Medieval architecture in Wroclaw- Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge : Colours

I have loved every second of compiling my posts, but occasionally I tire of being led around by the nose.  Rebellion strikes and I think “no, I don’t want to write about ‘rhubarb’ this week”.  I want to follow my own muse. (if you can call the unlucky lady that)  And so I do.

But I owe a debt of gratitude to the people who launch and host these challenges.  They provide huge inspiration as well as introductions to other blogs, and require a major commitment of time and effort.  So a big thank you to all those whose challenges I have participated in.

You’re wondering where Awards come into this, aren’t you?  Many times I have used Six word Saturday to introduce and appreciate new awards, and this week is no exception.  I have an Awards page and kind people out there keep bestowing them, but it just isn’t possible to keep up and still do all the things you want to do.  So I’ll simply say many thanks to Opalla for giving me Inner Peace, and to Colline, for a Super Sweet Blogger Award.  There’s a link to each of their great blogs in the logos below.

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I guess I’ve exhausted my six words for this week, don’t you think?  You’d better follow the link to Cate at Show My Face to see exactly how the game should be played.  Many thanks for your patience.  Feel free to tell me about your favourite challenges and awards.

Sunday Post : Perspective

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Perspective is used by artists to give an illusion of space and distance.  I remember struggling mightily with it at school.  My brain understood the concept but my fingers didn’t.  I don’t know of a better graphic artist than Jakesprinter.  He never would have had my problems.  This week he’s sent us a message in a bottle, and I’m reminded that I haven’t sang to you for a while.  Perhaps you could be distracted that way, or should I just show you a couple of photos that, I think, represent the concept of perspective?  If they don’t, hopefully you’ll enjoy them anyway.

After all, I’m only trying to gain a little perspective on one of my favourite subjects- the lovely city of Krakow.

Perhaps you should look at some other entries to get a little better perspective.  But don’t forget to visit Jake.

http://travelwithintent.com/2013/05/27/tarragonan-trompe-loeil/

http://max510.com/2013/05/27/sunday-post-perspective/

https://campanulladellaanna.wordpress.com/2013/05/27/sunday-post-perspective/

http://ohmsweetohmdotme.wordpress.com/2013/05/27/perspective/

http://mytropicalhome.wordpress.com/2013/05/27/the-sunday-post-perspective/

http://bopaula.wordpress.com/2013/05/27/sunday-post-perspective/

http://lynneayersbeyondthebrush.wordpress.com/2013/05/26/ship-passing-under-bridge/

O is for “okropny” and the Ojców Valley

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The cosmopolitan city of Kraków is a million miles away from the river gorge of the Ojców Valley in time, but just 25km in distance.

I arrived in Kraków expecting the beautiful Spring weather I had experienced in previous years, but it was not to be.  Okropny- the Polish word for “terrible”- described it very well.  Mizzle accompanied grey skies, followed by crashing thunderstorms and heavy rain.  Still, nic nie szkodzi, as they say in Poland.  It “doesn’t really matter”, when you’re with family and friends.  Polish hospitality is, quite rightly, legendary.

Along with all the eating and drinking a little fresh air was called for, so out came the umbrellas.  A short drive north west of the city brought us to the village of Ojców and a different world.

The castle ruins at Ojców

The castle ruins at Ojców

Looming over the village, the castle ruins keep a beady eye on the end of the Eagles Nest Trail, a line of defence once stretching north to Częstochowa.  Today most of the action in the valley comes from walkers.  Armed with our umbrellas, we ventured along the woodland trail.

Limestone cliffs line the narrow banks of the River Prądnik, with greenery clinging tenaciously to every crevice.

Limestone cliffs line the valley

Limestone cliffs line the valley

Ojców straggles through the valley.  Signs for noclegi, a room for the night, or longer, adorn many of the wooden houses.

A typical village house

A typical village house

The cliffs tower protectively behind the homes

The cliffs tower protectively behind the homes

Even in the swirling mists there’s a grandeur to the scenery.  We walk as far as Brama, named for the imposing rock structure which forms a “gate” through the valley.

Brama- the gate

Brama- the gate

The gorge is home to bats and caves, the best known of which is Łokieta, and is open for guided visits in Summer.  The valley is rich in flora and fauna.

Just a few of the species found in the valley

Just a few of the species found in the valley

I, meantime, am being eyed wickedly by a horse whose temperament seems to suit the weather.  Horse and traps cover the short distance from Ojców to the beginning of the trail, for those who don’t like to walk, or just enjoy a ride.  To be fair, it can’t have been much fun being a horse that day.

A "not so friendly" horse

A “not so friendly” horse

We retrace our steps beside the gurgling river to Kaplicza na Wodzie, a small wooden chapel.  It straddles the river on a platform, nicely side-stepping a 19th century Tsarist edict forbidding religious structures to be built “on solid ground”.  In Poland, the Catholic Church was never easy to subdue.

The river passing through Ojców

The river passing through Ojców

Kapliczka na Wodzie

Kapliczka na Wodzie

The chapel history

The chapel history

On a better day you can walk the 9km from Ojców to Pieskowa Skała, but a heavy shower had us dashing for the car.  Perched on a wonderful vantage point, the castle at Pieskowa Skała dates from the 14th century, but was rebuilt in the 1580s as an elegant Renaissance residence.  It has a delicately arcaded courtyard, as does Wawel Castle in Kraków, and pretty gardens.  There’s a history museum and the  restaurant is set into the castle walls.  A climb up the circular steps to the roof terrace of the restaurant will give you fine views.

The castle at Pieskowa Skała

The castle at Pieskowa Skała

Italianate gardens

Italianate gardens

Weronika and her fiance, who were kind enough to take me.

Weronika and her fiance, who were kind enough to take me.

Olsztyn Castle is nearer to Częstochowa, at the other end of the Eagles Nest Trail, but that’s an “O” to save for another day!  I owe thanks to Julie Dawn Fox for the idea that inspired My Personal A-Z of Poland.  The subjects have become very diverse so do go and have a look around.

I’m going to do something now that I wouldn’t normally do.  Anyone who reads me regularly will know that a few weeks ago, I included an enquiry about Jake of Jakesprinter in a blog post.  I’m delighted to find tonight that he’s back with a stunning new Sunday Post on the subject of Attractions.  This post links perfectly to that and I am very pressed for time, so I’m linking the two.  Welcome back, Jake!  :)

Meantime I have 101 jobs to do since my return.  I apologise for the quality of the photos, but you’ll be glad to know that after 3 days of okropny weather, we found some sunshine.

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Best Moment Award

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Awarding the people who live in the moment,
The noble who write and capture the best in life,
The bold who reminded us what really mattered -
Savoring the experience of quality time.

I am absolutely determined (well, a little bit anyway) to clear all my “unfinished business” before I go to Poland.  What do I find, loitering in my Inbox, but a Best Moment Award.  It’s a pleasing shape, isn’t it?  Reminds me just a bit of Rafa’s Barcelona Trophy, but not quite so heavy.

No, I wasn't there! I very naughtily pinched this image from Zee News. Hope I'm forgiven.

No, I wasn’t there! I very naughtily pinched this image from Zee News. Apologies.

Moment Matters were kind enough to bequeath me this award, and then, just the other day, lovely Letizia of Dutch goes Italian nominated me again.

I misunderstood initially.  I didn’t read the verse properly and had it fixed in my head that this was about a “best moment”.  How to choose?  So many best moments!  And maybe, if I’m lucky, some best moments still to come.

Those incredible blue doors always bring back a magic moment

Those incredible blue doors always bring back a magic moment

This one conjures a blogging friendship and a freezing day

This one conjures a blogging friendship and a freezing day

How many times have I looked back at this wonderful moment

How many times have I looked back at this wonderful moment

Golden moments in Warsaw's Stare Miasto

Shared golden moments in Warsaw’s Stare Miasto

A truly amazing moment at the Festa dos Tabuleiros in Tomar

And a truly amazing moment at the Festa dos Tabuleiros in Tomar

Haven't we shared some beautiful moments, at home and abroad?

Haven’t we shared some beautiful moments, at home and abroad?

A very special wedding

A very special wedding

And some wonderful sunsets

And some wonderful sunsets

We've danced and we've sang

We’ve danced and we’ve sang

And made wonderful memories

And made wonderful memories

But now it's time to return to Poland

But now it’s time to return to Poland

Where I hope to be making more beautiful moments to share.  Thank you for indulging me.  I’m going to pass on this award to some folk who have shared best moments with me.

The world according to Dina

Gallivance

East of Malaga

Writing between the lines

Photography of Nia

Going Dutch

I’ll be back in a week or so, but then I’m going to the Algarve, so all will be peaceful for a while.  Enjoy!

Six word Saturday

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Nine days in Poland with Dad

 

It almost didn’t happen because when I started to check us in online, I realised that Dad’s passport runs out on 30th April, 2013- the precise date we travel to Poland.  Thank goodness for the days of online check-in.  Otherwise, we might have been at the airport!  A swift dash to the Passport Office in Durham has rectified all, and we are good to go.

Here was Krakow

Here was Krakow

Veit Stoss Altar, Mariacki Church

Veit Stoss Altar, Mariacki Church

Gilded wood panels of the Altar in close up

Gilded wood panels of the Altar in close up

Courtyard of the Jagellonian University

Courtyard of the Jagellonian University

Professor's room in Collegium Maius

Professor’s room in Collegium Maius

And in complete contrast, a postcard that is very special to me, and seems appropriate for this time of year.  It was given to me by my Aunt Anna, who is no longer with us.

Good health from the mountains

Good health from the mountains

I won’t be about next week as I’m a very low tech traveller.  In any case I will be working hard at my abysmal Polish.  Wish me luck!

Don’t forget to visit Cate at Show My Face at check out this week’s Six word Saturdays.  Just click on the link or the header.

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