Being an aggie of sorts, I was really anxious to make the trip to visit one of our friends who lived “in the country”. I was told he even had a cow and calf! (I was hoping for a little face time with the calf) We took a slow train to Torun and then a bus out to A’s “village”. I know, I am using too many quotes, but really, if you have any connection to farms in the U.S., you’ll soon see that these terms don’t quite portray reality. The bus dropped us off in what I would call a town and I started to worry that I had a several mile hike ahead of me out to “the country”. But instead, we walked a couple of blocks and there we were, at the gate to A’s. Up the sidewalk we went and into a lovely old house where we were met with hot tea in glass cups with silver holders. We met A’s elderly mother and had a nice visit, but I started to lose hope that I would get to pet the calf.
Here is a street view in A’s small town and several of the houses just down the street from his place. I never did get to what I picture in my mind as a “farm”. I am sure there are some, but even from the airplane, I could see that farming was different here, as it probably is in much of Europe. From the air, I could see a small town road with houses placed on narrow lots, and then behind each house, a long strip field of something like 10-15 acres (I am really guessing here). I am told not everyone farms their own field…..perhaps several in town have the equipment to plow and harvest, etc, but it’s my understanding the owners of each house own the field behind them too.
I was also told that there is a strong German influence in the style of this town. The houses did seem a little different to me than what I’d seen elsewhere. Anyway, back to the visit. A. excused himself for a few minutes to go up the road and check on the cow who was tethered in a nearby field and I began to lose hope for my calf time. When he came back, however, I managed to ask about the calf and found she was in the barn right in the back yard. “Oh, could we go outside and look around then?” I casually asked.
Loran loves animals as much as I do! And here is our group picture.
So, this Polish “farm” turned out to be many Americans’ dream: little piece of land closely connected to town and friends that a man can work with his own hands as his own boss to provide for his own needs! AND, I got to pet the calf and let her suckle my hand! Yes!
You might recall that in Poland there are three types of trains: slow, medium and fast. We’d ridden on the first two, so just to be complete, I asked Ian if we could take the fast train from Krakow back to Poznan. What I discovered, though, was that this train wasn’t particularly fast (it stopped a lot) and it wasn’t nearly as fun (not as many native Poles and homemade sack lunches perhaps). There was a food cart with packaged snacks and drinks. We were headed back to the P’s apartment for a couple of days and more visiting with friends. Here is Ian thinking about one of the visits ahead.
One of the tourist items Poland is known for is the amber used in all kinds of jewelry and other beautiful items. Amber is fossilized pine tree resin, and often contains some insect that got caught in the sticky gold before it hardened. If you have never seen any of this kind of amber, please go to this site for a wonderful closeup (which I did not get in all my picture taking!) I wish I could have brought each of you something made with this Polish delight…but maybe next time. Amber has been found along the Baltic coasts of Poland and Lithuania for thousands of years…a gift from the sea, washed up again by the waves near the pine trees on the coast from which it came.
In this large building in the center of the Krakow old town we found this long parade of booths full of crafted items: leather work, furs, many amber jewelry booths, pottery and decorated wooden items.
Before I left for Poland, I had an informative trip to McFarland Clinic’s Travel Clinic. Makes sense…..one doctor sees everyone who is headed overseas. He keeps up on the current bugs and outbreaks. I had two shots and went home with a nice folder of information and orders to not drink the water, use ice or eat anything uncooked that couldn’t be peeled. I was also to get some Imodium and fill a scrip for antibiotic. Wanting to have a good vacation, I left Ames fully intending to obey orders! You’ll remember, my first meal was Burger King, even though Ian was feasting on a fresh salad. So it went for a couple of days, and then some of our friends brought out the fresh fruit…and it looked so good. I also suspected that some unpeeled cucumber was winding up on my train sandwiches. But, it didn’t seem to bother me, and really, I started to forget “orders”. But when I was served this meal in Krakow, it all came back to me……oh this was bad….so terribly bad, all the rules broken in one meal! Oh well, what the heck….I just dived right in and enjoyed!
This, my last zurek, did not violate orders though, and it had the sweetest little quail egg in it you ever did see!
Ian contemplating truth and beauty!
On the internet, Ian found a flat for us to rent for our two days in Krakow. Actually, we had two of three bedrooms in the flat and shared a kitchen and bathroom in common with the residents of the third bedroom. It was quite charming and reasonable! We had a key to the front door as well as keys to the flat and to our bedrooms. As far as I could tell the third bedroom was occupied by a family with a teenager, but we never did really see them! While there we had a wonderful visit with some friends who came over and joined us for breakfast, AND two girls from America who were touring Europe wound up joining us too! They had Ian’s phone number and gave him a call. Small world!
Above is the view from our window, a little courtyard behind the building our flat was in.
Our kitchen was equipped with a few dishes, and the basics for a good cup of coffee. The bathroom was also delightful and afforded a nice hot shower! Again, we slept with the windows wide open…just sheer bliss!
My posts are now up to the beginning of the second week of my trip to Poland. Tuesday Ian and I headed back to the train station and took off for Krakow, one of the more tourist oriented places to visit, but again, my main goal was to spend time with Ian and our friends, relax and just enjoy the feeling of Poland. We rented two rooms of a three room flat not too far via public transportation from the old part of the city. Once again, the buildings and atmosphere were beautiful!
Often when I think of Poland and other surrounding countries, I think my friend Carmella, washing clothes out by hand in Hungary (I think, or was it Czech Republic?). Well, more people seem to be getting washers now. Here is the one at Ian’s apartment, the drier, however, is less modern!
Here is the little kittenette with hot plate, sink, refrigerator, clever shelves and the tiny table by the window. Most importantly, there is no lack of coffee and since they make sandwiches for the train a lot, the kitchen space seems to work just fine. In several of my living spaces, I’ve had very small kitchens, and my mother always said they were such fun to clean, just like taking care of a doll house!
On Monday of my trip to Poland, Ian and I were in Wroclaw (pronounced Vrotswav) where he has a little apartment. It would remind you of a large college dorm room with a small foyer, bathroom, and tiny kitchen. They’ve put large wardrobes down the middle to divide the room. This sofa is like a futon and makes into a bed. While there, I slept here and Ian slept on Loran’s chair that makes into a bed. It was small but very cozy, wonderful windows, quiet, good sleep!
It was wonderful for the mother in me to see where her son spends some of his time! Also, I loved seeing some of the furniture that had belonged to a dear friend, Edward, who has passed on. I never got to meet him, but seeing some things he used made me feel like I had touched him in some way.
And here is Loran probably catching up on e-mail. He always has such a wonderful smile! 🙂