Poland

Six word Saturday

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Polish memories tucked away- for now!

But it will take me a while to forget my boatman

But it will take me a while to forget my boatman

And the astounding scenery

And the astounding scenery

Of the Dunajec Gorge

In the Dunajec Gorge

You might have seen my river rafting post yesterday.  I had the best time!  And looking back I have so many more lovely memories from Poland, and that’s not even including the wedding.

Flower stalls at Borek Falecki market

I loved the flower stalls at Borek Falecki market

There's always something to see in the Rynek

And there’s always something to see in the Rynek

Or a horse who's all set to go

Like a horse and pretty lady, who’s all set to go

Cafe culture in the arcades of the Sukiennice

Cafe culture in the arcades of the Sukiennice

And we can't leave without one last piece of Polish cake

And I can’t leave without one last piece of Polish cake

I still have a few memories to share some day, but later this week I’m heading to the Algarve and you know I’ll bring a pocketful of memories back.  The laptop won’t be coming with me.  It’s in very poor health at the moment and needs a little expert attention.  The camera will, of course, but I haven’t used it since an unfortunate episode on Monday.  Wish me luck with that.

I won’t be here for Six word Saturday next week but I’m pretty sure I’ll find you all the following one.  Meantime, don’t forget to visit Cate at Show My Face to read this week’s posts.  And, most of all, enjoy your Saturday!

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Water : river rafting the Dunajec

The start point at Smorowce Nizne

The start point at Smorowce Nizne

Finally I reach the river rafting post, one of the highlights of my recent visit to Poland.  I think it fits quite well with Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge : Water.  It’s a subject that I love, though you might have to excuse the odd mountain creeping into the background.

Here come the rafts

Here come the rafts

And the experienced oarsman, of course

And the experienced oarsman, of course

And off we go!

And off we go!

The rafts have one older oarsman in the front, poleing skilfully and doing the commentary (po Polsku, of course!) while a younger model provides strength and endurance at the back.  We are very lucky with the day and the water is serene and calm.

A flat expanse of sunny water

A flat expanse of sunny water

We pass by the village of Czerwony Klasztor, in Slovakia

We pass by the village of Cerveny Klastor (Red Monastery), in Slovakia

With Trzy Korony (Three Peaks) visible on the Polish shore

With Trzy Korony (Three Peaks) visible on the Polish side

Under the bridge- don't forget to wave!

Under the bridge- don’t forget to wave!

Can you see the peaks of the Tatry Mountains in the distance?

Can you see the peaks of the Tatry Mountains in the distance?

We round a bend and the terrain changes completely

We round a bend and the terrain changes completely

For a while the boatman can sit and chat

For a while the boatman can sit and chat

And a party of school children are delighted to overtake us!

And a party of school children are delighted to overtake us!

The scenery is lush and green

The scenery is lush and green

Dwarfing us sometimes!

Dwarfing us sometimes

And naturally I get my bum wet in some of the faster eddies!

And, naturally, I get my bum wet in some of the faster eddies!

But all too soon the journey ends and we are pulling in to shore

But all too soon the journey ends and we are pulling in to shore

I hope you enjoyed my watery journey.  It took about 2 hours through the Dunajec Gorge, and ended up back at Szczawnica, where I was staying.  If you ever have the opportunity to go there, don’t hesitate.

But first you need to visit Cee, and have a little more fun with water.

Niedzica- a castle and a legend

A haunted castle?

A haunted castle?

In broad daylight, with the sun beaming down, I was not at all aware that I was approaching a haunted castle.  Yet the setting for Niedzica Castle was well nigh perfect.

Perched high on a cliff above the Dunajec River, for centuries this castle was a border post with Hungary.  Erected around 1325, the castle changed hands numerous times but the owners remained Hungarian right up to the middle of World War II.  In 1412 it was the venue for a loan from Hungary to the Polish king, using 16 Spis (towns in the region of Slovakia) as collateral.  The towns had to be returned once the loan was repaid.  The last Hungarian countess left with her children in 1943, just two years before the arrival of the Red Army.

The castle on its lofty promontory

The castle on its lofty promontory

The courtyard

The courtyard clock

Curves in the courtyard

Curves in the courtyard

Climbing the stairs to the battlements

Climbing the stairs to the battlements

Looking down on the curvaceous roofs

Looking down on the curvaceous roofs

They are quite fascinating, these roofs, aren’t they, and I have been trying to establish their exact purpose.  My husband insists that they are built that way to prevent snow lingering on them, and he may well be correct.  His basis for thinking so is a programme we watched about Yellowstone, where roofs had to be cleared by hand to remove the weight of the snow.  I haven’t been able to find evidence, so I’ll just say that he’s usually right.

A little history!

A little history!

Furnishings bring the castle to life

Furnishings bring the castle to life

With warm drapes around the bed

With warm drapes around the bed

And the faded lithograph looks creepy indeed!

The faded lithograph looks creepy indeed!

And so we come to the ghost story.  One of the castle’s many owners, Sebastian Berzeviczy, travelled to the New World in the 18th century.  Legend has it that he fell in love with an Inca princess.  Their daughter, Umina, married one of the Incan rebels who was subsequently executed by the Spanish.  Umina fled to Niedzica with her son and father, allegedly taking with them some sacred scrolls and Inca treasure.  Umina was later murdered outside the castle, presumably by a treasure hunter.  She now roams the castle as the “White Lady” to protect her gold.  The castle has 35 suites so, if you fancy a little ghost hunting, it could be a good place to stay.

Time to get out on the battlements for a little fresh air!

The views are breathtaking

The views are breathtaking

And look down on a forest of chimneys

Looking down on a forest of chimneys

And out across Lake Czorsztyn

And out across Lake Czorsztyn

In 1994 the lake was dammed downstream of the castle, creating an artificial reservoir, Lake Czorsztyn.  The castle now stands approximately 30 metres above the upper water level.  Stalls alongside the dam sell grilled smoked cheese for a snack, or to take away, with local honey and crafts.  The smells are so appetising!

Looking out to the dam

Looking out across the dam

Can you see the snowy peaks in the distance?

Can you see the snowy peaks in the distance?

Beside the lake all is calm

Beside the lake all is calm, with the ruins of Czorsztyn over the water

You may remember that I was across the lake at Czorsztyn Castle in my Tatry Mountains post.

The fortress was renovated almost every time it changed hands, but the final reconstruction was completed by the Polish Ministry of Culture in 1963.  It has served as a historical museum ever since.

So, what did you think of Niedzica?  Will you be checking in any time soon?  I know that my friend Paula loves the mountain scenery and I would like to share this on her Thursday’s Special.  I hope she’ll approve.  I’m off there next to see what’s special about Thursday this week.  Come with me, won’t you?

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‘U’ is for Ula

Ula, 'sparkling' at her sister's wedding

Ula, ‘sparkling’ at her sister’s wedding

My neice Urszula, or Ula as she is always called at home, is the youngest of my cousin Adam’s three children.  From the shy early teen she was in 2007, when first we met, Ula has blossomed into a beautiful and stylish young woman.  Today is her 20th birthday and I’d like to take this opportunity to wish her ‘Happy Birthday’.  Wszystkiego najlepszego na urodziny!

My Personal A-Z of Poland has taken me down many routes and shared many stories.  Dad, along with millions of others, paid the price of a war torn Europe.  His family was scattered far and wide, but for Dad there has been a belated happy ending.  I’d like to share with you today a video that had tears streaming down my face, but which also ends joyfully.

Ann, or Gallivanta is a warm-hearted lady who is proud of her country, New Zealand.  This week I received from her a link for my Jo’s Monday walk.  It’s not strictly a walk but it is a very moving journey and I thought that it deserved a place here, alongside Dad’s story.

http://www.nzonscreen.com/title/the-story-of-seven-hundred-polish-children-1966

I know that it’s the kind of story that Frizz will find empathy with, and won’t mind me sharing it on his Tagged- U.  I’d like to thank so many people for the love that is shared in our blogging world.  I’m feeling quite emotional this morning and I think it’s time to go back to playing with Polish castles.  Thanks also to Julie Dawn Fox for the personal A-Z challenge.

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‘T’ is for Tatry Mountains

The snow capped Tatry Mountains, seen from Lake Czorsztyn

The snow capped Tatry Mountains, seen from Lake Czorsztyn

Mountains and water are, for me, a pretty irresistible combination.  On my recent visit to Poland, this is as near as I got to the Tatry Mountain range, but what a magnificent backdrop they make!

Situated to the south of Kraków, they form a natural border with Slovakia, and are the highest mountain range in the Carpathians. At 2499 metres Rysy is the highest peak on the Polish side of the range.  Zakopane is regarded as the ‘winter capital of Poland’ but is a highly popular destination for hiking in summertime too.   I was lucky enough to be there for Silver Wedding celebrations in 2009 and Z is for Zgorzelec and Zakopane tells that story.

This post will take a very different path, and includes a ferry crossing on Lake Czorsztyn.

Imagine this view from your garden!

Imagine this view from your garden!

And the ruins of Czorsztyn Castle at the bottom of the street

And the ruins of Czorsztyn Castle at the bottom of your street

On our trip to the Pieniny Mountain range, much lower than the Tatrys, we passed alongside of the lake and I gazed in awe at the spectacle beyond.  I knew that if it were at all possible I would be back for a closer look.  And so my return to Kraków was by a very roundabout route.

To the gondolas?  Or the castle?

To the gondolas? Or the castle?

The castle first, of course

The castle first, of course

And then the boat

And then the boat

The Tatras, as they are known in English (Tatry is the Polish plural) sit tantalisingly out of reach but ever present on the horizon.

Looking across the lake, you can still see the tips

Looking out across the lake, I can just see the tips!

And then we're off, in search of another castle!

And then we’re off, in search of another castle!

Magnificent Niedzica Castle this time, and not just a ruin

Majestic Niedzica Castle this time, and not just a ruin

Another castle sign!

Another castle sign (and a tractor in the background)

I won’t attempt to show you around the castle, because I think it deserves a post of its own.  But I will give you a couple of views from the battlements, to tempt you back.

This one looks down on sturdy dam, blocking off the lake

This one looks down on the sturdy dam, blocking off the lake to the east

And this is my favourite of the castle rooftops

While this is my favourite, of the castle rooftops

And for the foodies among you, some typical Polish fayre

And for the foodies among you, some typical Polish ‘fayre’

I had pierogi a jagodami and delicious it was!

I had Pierogi z jagodami and delicious it was!

We were assisted in our enterprise by a very charming couple from Warsaw, who observed me struggling with the language and the bus timetables.  They had been to the area a number of times and were off on a hiking expedition to Trzy Korony (Three Crowns).  It would have been very tempting to join them, but instead they ensured that we were dropped at the right spot and pointed in the direction of the lake.

They also suggested that we might find a bus connection from Niedzica directly back to Kraków, which we did, instead of returning across the lake.  But not before sampling some typical mountain food- filling but delicious pierogi or dumplings, at “Karczma Hajdur” restaurant, by the lake.  I can highly recommend it!

Just one last shot of the Tatry Mountains, taken on another expedition, on the River Dunajec.

The Tatry Mountains seen from the Dunajec River

The Tatry Mountains seen from the Dunajec River

I’m going to be a little ambitious and link this to three different challenges.  For some time I’ve been trying to complete my Personal A-Z of Poland and this is yet another step in that direction. Many thanks to Julie Dawn Fox for setting me on the path.  I’ve also been joining Frizz whenever I can.  This week he’s Tagged T, which just happens to be a perfect fit.  He’s another very kind host, so do visit and take a look around.

I’m sure most of you know Cee.  She’s a legend in the world of photo challenges.  I have joined in on her Which Way challenge in the past but have struggled to find the time lately, so I’m hoping she won’t mind “sharing me”.  Cee loves directions and signposts in her challenge, and wherever I go now, I find myself snapping away every time I see a sign.  It’s addictive!

So there you are!  I hope you’ll find the time to join in on one of them, while I think about where you might like to go next. banner4

‘S’ is for Szczawnica

Plac Dietla and Cafe Helenka

Plac Dietla and Cafe Helenka, in the upper town

Well, where else should it be?  If you saw my Monday walk this week, you’ll know that I have a new Polish love in my life.  The thermal spa town Szczawnica in the very south of Poland, where it meets Slovakia, was a rich discovery for me.

Alkali sorrel springs and a temperate climate make this an ideal base for the treatment of respiratory and digestive ailments.  In the mid 19th century a doctor, Jozef Dietl, saw the potential and began the development of  hydrotherapy treatments unique to Poland at the time, turning Szczawnica into a spa town.  An Inhalatorium equipped with pressurised rooms was built, and in the woods, Willa pod Modrzewiami (villa under the larches).

The start of World War II halted developments and in 1948 the spa was nationalised by the government and used for the treatment of miners and metalworkers.  It was not until 2005 that the ownership of the resort was returned to descendants of the Stadnicki family, the pre-war owners of the estate.  They invested hugely to restore the spa to its former glory.  Dietl Square was rebuilt to its historical design, with Cafe Helenka at its core, and, in 2oo9, 5 star Modrzewie Park hotel replaced the villa.  A museum dedicated to the project soon followed.

Fretwork shadows

Wood is everywhere- I love these delicate fretwork shadows

Cafe Helenka and its wide terrace

Cafe Helenka, in its lovely situation

Facing it, across Plac Dietl, the spa museum

Facing it, across Plac Dietl, the spa museum

Brightened for me by a flurry of Spring flowers

Down in the lower town, a flurry of Spring flowers!

the park

The park is a lush green

No shortage of water

And naturally, there’s no shortage of water!

There are pretty riverside walks

There are pretty riverside walks

And bridges by the dozen!

And bridges by the dozen!

And did you ever see a quirkier souvenir kiosk?

And did you ever see a quirkier souvenir kiosk?

Not for us the 5 star hotel!  I had chosen to stay in a lovely old dark wood chalet, ‘Willa Danusia’, in the upper town overlooking Plac Dietl.  Naturally that meant a steep climb home on an evening, but there’s always a price, isn’t there?  Inside the villa, the wood was pale, while the view from our lofty porch provided wonderful views.

One evening we dined handsomely in the ‘Willa Marta’ in the lower town.  It also was constructed from dark wood, but most of the town had a more modern appearance.

'Willa Danusia', high on the hill

‘Willa Danusia’, high on the hill

'Willa Marta', hotel and restaurant

‘Willa Marta’, hotel and restaurant

An evening stroll through the upper town gave me a chance to breathe deeply and make the most of the tranquil atmosphere. I know that I felt better, just for being there!

Nymphs in the woods

There are nymphs to admire in the woods

Looking down on the square

Playing their pipes

Stylish hotels

And 5-star Modrzewie Hotel, among the larches

The picture of health?

The picture of health?

As the light fades the fountains begin to change colour

As the light fades the fountains begin to change colour

Glimmering in the dusk

Glimmering in the dusk

Evening falls

The lights come on around the square

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Looking down, we climb the hill back up to the villa

From the porch the tiniest crescent of moon is visible

From the porch the tiniest crescent of moon is just visible- can you see it?

Just visible through the trees, from our porch

While down below, the lights twinkle goodnight

‘Romantykaly’, as they say in Poland.

Willa Danusia cost almost nothing for a basic bedroom and a very fine breakfast.  Willa Marta was perhaps a little more stylish but definitely wouldn’t break the bank.

I had intended my ‘S’ post to be all about the Sukiennice in Krakow.  Maybe I’ll find time to write a second.  Meantime I’d like to thank Frizz for providing the incentive this week with Tagged ‘S’, and also Julie Dawn Fox for her Personal A-Z Challenge.  I can promise you a wonderful read at either website, and perhaps you’d like to join in with the challenges?

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Jo’s Monday walk : the Dunajec Gorge

Shall we start at the chair lift?

Shall we start at the chair lift?

To be fair, I have so many photos it’s hard to know where to start!  After the wedding, my Polish family were wonderfully indulgent of my wandering ways.  I had booked into an old wooden villa for a couple of nights, in the upper part of the thermal spa town of Szczawnica, right down on the border with Slovakia.

Why there?  Well, I already knew that the scenery in nearby Zakopane was beautiful.  Part of the Tatra Mountain range, it is renowned for Summer hiking and for Winter sports.  But, as always, I wanted to see somewhere new, yet still within reasonable distance of Kraków.  The Pieniny Mountains are not so high, nor so busy, and they have a beauty all their own.

Szczawnica (rough pronounced ‘Sh-chav-nitsa’) sits in the river valley of the Grajcarek, a tributary of the Dunajec River which forms the border with Slovakia.

Come with me on my walk, and see what you think.

Ok- so from the chair lift we're going to walk alongside the river

From the chair lift we’re going to walk alongside the river

Using this lovely boulevard

Using this lovely boulevard

And crossing some of the many bridges

And crossing some of the many bridges

And sometimes looking back to check the view behind

Not forgetting to look back to check the view behind- peaceful, isn’t it?

This was one of my favourite houses- just look at that roof!

This was one of my favourite houses- just look at that roof!

And always, the river, rushing along beside

And always, the river, rushing along beside

After many twists and turns the Grajcarek flows into the Dunajec, and the beckoning scenery becomes much more dramatic.

One of my reasons for choosing Szczawnica is that it sits at the end of a stretch of the Dunajec famed for river rafting.  Not the white knuckle ride that phrase might conjure up for you, but nevertheless, a strong test of the skills of the boatmen.  The Dunajec Gorge drew me to the area.

Szczawnica przystan, or marina

Szczawnica przystan, or marina

The view from the landing stage

The view from the landing stage

A peaceful island lures you for a closer look

A frail bridge lures you for a closer look

A rather strange bird, guarding his territory

At this strange bird, guarding his territory

And the empty benches

No wonder the benches are empty!

And you never know what might lurk in the caves

I wonder what might lurk in these caves?

But the flora are delicate and pretty

But the flora are delicate and pretty

The water and trees are so many different shades

The trees and water are a myriad of colour

But what's this, patiently waiting?

And what do we find, patiently waiting on the river bank?

Wooden canoe trips have been organised through the Gorge since the early 19th Century, when customers came primarily from nearby castles at Niedzica and Czorstyn (more of these in a later post).  The Gorge loops through the valley, the limestone rock reaching 300 metres in height almost all the way.  It makes for some very beautiful walking and cycling, not to mention the opportunity to river raft.

Gentle aquamarine

Hues of gentle aquamarine

Still and smooth

Still, smooth water

And interesting patterns in the cliff face

And interesting patterns in the cliff face

Light and shade

Wandering through light and shade

The shadows adding a layer of mystery

The deeper shadow adding an air of mystery

Families, walkers and cyclists all have access to this dramatic beauty, though Spring and Autumn are probably the times to see it at its peaceful best.  In Summer and on public holidays there are mountain huts where you can find food and information.

An interesting sign appears

I found this sign quite interesting

And then a further clue

And then a further clue- welcome to Lesnica, written in Slovak

Without realising it I had crossed over the border into Slovakia, part of which is formed by the River Dunajec.  It felt quite strange, and looking at the remaining distance to Cerwony Klastor (approximately 2 hours, according to the sign)  it seemed a good time to retrace my steps.  But not without first paying homage to one of the nation’s favourite sons, who loved to hike and ski in the mountains.

Just one more sign- a view dedicated to Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II)

The view is dedicated to Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II)

In no time at all I was back at the marina with a hard-earned beer

In no time at all I was back at the marina, with a hard-earned beer

Fast approaching, round a bend in the river, some boatmen!

Where I saw, fast approaching round a bend in the river, the boatmen!

But that needs to be the subject for another post.  For now, I’m hoping that you’ve enjoyed our Monday walk.  I certainly did!

If you’d like to join in, you’re more than welcome to add a link to a walk you’ve enjoyed in the comments, or to link back to me from your post.  Either way, I really don’t mind.  I try to keep it free and easy so you can join in any day of the week.  The more beautiful walks, the better- right?

Whilst I was in Poland, kind people continued to contribute walks to cheer me up on my return. I’m delighted to be able to share them with you.  Enjoy your walking.  See you next time.

 

Way out in Western Australia we have Pauline, walking on the foreshore :

http://pommepal.wordpress.com/2014/04/29/geraldton-foreshore-walk/

Sylvia is busy packing up her home in South Africa, but still found the time to cherish a few memories in her walk :

http://anotherday2paradise.wordpress.com/2014/05/09/sand-between-the-toes-for-jos-monday-walk-challenge/

Tish Farrell brought me back to her home in Much Wenlock, a beautiful part of Shropshire :

http://tishfarrell.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/much-lettered-at-much-wenlocks-poetry-festival/

A lovely surprise from a lady I’d not met, Gunilla, but will certainly spend some time with :

http://gbkoru.blogspot.fi/2014/05/bloggers-sunday-walk-spring.html

And last, but never least, my sunny friend from Virginia, USA- Cathy, with an arboretum walk :

http://catbirdinamerica.wordpress.com/2014/04/27/the-state-arboretum-of-virginia/

 

Here are some of this week’s walkers,

Paula has been to the zoo :

http://bopaula.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/a-visit-to-the-zoo-part-ii/

And Elaine introduced me to Finsbury Park in London :

http://elainemcnulty.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/a-walk-in-finsbury-park/

And who can resist Amy’s Iphoneography? (is that spelt right?)  What that girl can do with a flower!

http://shareandconnect.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/phoneography-for-jos-monday-walk/

We’re going to be busy reading this week, aren’t we?

 

Six word Saturday

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Weronika and Wojciech- health and happiness!

The bride and groom

The bride and groom

The children helping to pick up the 'lucky' coins

The children helping to pick up the ‘lucky’ coins, thrown outside the church after the wedding

Sweeping up the glasses smashed for good luck

Sweeping up the glasses, smashed for good luck, before the reception

One of 3 tables at the 'wesele' or reception

One of 3 tables at the ‘wesele’ or wedding reception

One of the chandeliers

The chandeliers were beautiful, weren’t they?

I was there!

I was there, too!

The bride and groom with parents

The bride and groom with parents

And with sister, Ula and brother, Lukasz

And with sister, Ula and brother, Lukasz

Dad 'dancing' with his walking stick and cousin Irena

Dad ‘dancing’ with his walking stick, and cousin Irena

The cake!

The cake!

Feeding each other cake

Feeding each other cake

Maybe not the best of photographs, but certainly the best of occasions.  This is just a snippet from the Polish wedding I attended in Krakow last week.  I cannot thank everybody enough for their kindness.  I had a truly wonderful time, and I think you can see, the bride and groom did too. I know you’ll join me in wishing my neice, Weronika, and her husband, Wojtek (a simpler spelling) the very best of health and happiness in their future together.

My feet have barely touched the ground since my return, and my head is still full of Polish words like ‘slub’- the wedding!  Join me on my Monday walk if you’d like a look at some of the Polish landscape.  Meantime, hello again, and don’t forget to visit Cate at Show My Face to play Six word Saturday.  I’ll be playing ‘catch up’!  See you soon.

 

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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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