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! 🙂
It’s Sunday now on my trip to Poland. We were up early for some fellowship with friends and then took off to visit more friends in Kutno. Mr. P had rented a car, as he is thinking about purchasing one there in Poland..so we had wheels! It was wonderful to see the countryside this way and my conclusion was that the roads are quite good. Some further out in the country are narrower and don’t have lines painted on them…could be tricky in bad weather or at night, but they were just fine for us. We stopped part way for an early lunch at this restaurant.
Let me tell you something ladies (and gentlemen who like to shop), the new malls in Poland are amazing!!!!! I loved Poland and didn’t feel any culture shock at all, but when I got a little tired from walking and the heat, a trip to a mall fixed me right up! That, and a little Coffee Heaven (like a Starbucks). On Saturday I stayed at the P’s apartment while the others went to a funeral, but when Ian got back, he took me downtown Poznan. We came here to Stary Browar and had some supper, then wandered around the old square and took pictures and listened to street musicians until the sun went down. This mall is near downtown and has several floors filled with many small, interesting stores, not the big anchor stores you think of in the States.
Ok, and I might as well add this confession right here. In case you haven’t already figured it out, I am what is known as a “foodie”. Some people like museums, some go to zoos, but foodies are enthralled with what is on the menu! We love the sights, the scents, the colors, the textures, the unending variety of all things that originally come from mother earth herself. So, as you can imagine, a trip to a foreign country, for a foodie, has to include a lot of photos of the FOOD! Here I am having chicken cordon bleu (not so Polish), kasha, and sauerkraut (very Polish)! What is kasha? Oh, I am so glad you asked! Kasha is any kind of hulled small grain, but usually refers to buckwheat groats…groats being what you call the grain when the hull or seed coat is taken off. Kasha can be a cooked cereal affair, but here the groats are roasted and remind me of an earthy, substantial rice. On wikipedia I found this: This Slavic variety of porridge has been described as “infinitely flexible – served sweet or savoury, a meal unto itself, or as a side dish.” It also states that people have been eating kasha for over a thousand years!
You may look at this and not get very excited, but the combination of creamy chicken, chewy kasha and wonderfully savory sauerkraut was excellent! And if you have only ever had sauerkraut that came directly out of a can, you are missing something! This had mushrooms and many other flavorings added to it.
A historic building, but I am not sure what, in the Poznan old town square. And that brings us to the end of day five in Poland.
Hmm, more pause. I seem to be under the weather this time, but I am sure that remembering more about Poland will make me feel better! So let’s see, where were we? Oh yes, the eventful train trip to Ostrow!
I really liked the slow trains in Poland, even though they make a lot of stops. It feels much more open and less crowded than sitting in a compartment and you can open the windows and feel very comfortable. So, on Friday the whole group of us was heading to Ostrow to visit more dear friends, the parents of a special young lady in Poznan. We had a good visit and then were treated to this fantastic Polish meal of hot borscht and nalesniki (I think that is what you would call it), the Polish version of a crepe, it is thicker like a flat pita bread, can be filled with sweets or meats, and has a nice coating of crispy bread crumbs (I like crispy!) Ours was filled with a ground meat.
We were enjoying our visit so much , we almost missed our train back to Poznan though. You should have seen V. fly over the roads back to the little train station! But we got there in time, and were moving on quite nicely when all of a sudden we heard a “thunk”. We were in a small town, so I think we were stopped and trying to get going again. Long wait…….people getting restless……..people getting off the train to see what was going on….in all we were stopped about an hour and a half if I remember right. It was hot, but I thought it was rather festive! Loran walked over to the side of the tracks and picked some wild plums for me, some to eat and more to use for compote the next day (I LOVE fruit compotes!) The wild orange plums were growing all over the place in Poland, truly part of an edible landscape. I was also impressed with the numerous tiny backyard gardens, not only containing vegetables but small fruit trees and often a plastic covered hot house full of tomates and other goodies. One might see 10 or 20 yards like this right in a row. The majority of people seem to be brilliant gardeners! Anyway, we finally got on another train and pulled into Poznan about 8:30 p.m. And that was our eventful train trip.
Sorry for the pause from my end….little blip with the internet! The kind people we visited in Poznan had a wonderful apartment and made me feel so welcome and right at home! And since I am into nesting and apartments and cultural elements of “how things are”, I have quite a few photos of the P’s apartment. I just loved how small but wonderfully comfortable it all was.
Here’s Ian, catching up on some e-mail in the living room.
Another view of the living room on a day when I begged off the schedule and stayed “home” to rest. Notice I was well supplied with pillows, coffee and my James Michener book, “Poland”, plus internet access!
I’m almost ashamed to admit that I took over two beds while I was there….but it felt soooo good to spread out of the suitcase for a while. And notice again the amazing windows!
And here is the kind, wonderful Mr. P. himself, newly retired but definitely not bored! He loves being in Poland and…..buying fresh bread to eat every morning for breakfast, like we had in this nice little kitchen:
The washer cleverly hid under the bathroom counter.
And the drier is cleverly hid on the balcony! There is an electric drier, but many people seem to enjoy letting their clothes commune naturally with the outdoors.
Now one more apartment pic before I head to bed. The eventful train story will have to wait until tomorrow!
The Poles and the Europeans are so much more clever than we are! I just loved these lamps to my feet and lights to my pathway at night, built right into the wall!
On Thursday morning we left Warsaw and got the train headed to Poznan, a large city where Ian has spent some time. We had English friends to visit there as well as Polish friends. This picture shows nicely “the train phenomenon”! There are basically three kinds of trains in Poland: slow, medium and fast. But regardless of what kind of train you are taking, you have a ticket and you may or may not have a seat assignment. If you are assigned a seat in a compartment aboard a train, you don’t know where your carriage is going to be until the train pulls in and starts to slow down. I’m told you have about 4 minutes to get your body and luggage on the train (and believe me, these trains run on time, to the minute!). So….there is a mad scramble of people going every which way to get to the proper spot. At first I thought Ian was being a little over aggressive, but…..you don’t have much time!
Riding trains in Poland is quite fun, and a very social and cultural experience. Our train to Poznan was a medium fast train, having nothing to do really with its speed, but meaning it stops at fewer stations than a slow train. These usually have compartment seating and Ian and I found ourselves with four strangers to begin each trip. On this day there was a mix up about the assigned seats and two girls had to sit outside the compartment, but they were cheery and even shared their cheese puffs with everyone. Then, after a while, more food came out, as there is no food service on these trains. Sandwiches, fruit, bottles of juice and water, chips, rolls, it was like a picnic. People started visiting more, and by the time we left for our station, every one was telling us good bye and felt like a friend! We passed through small towns with small train stations and saw a lot of wheat straw being baled. There was a little corn, some fields of cabbage, but no soybeans! Since I have been an ag person, I’ll probably post more about Polish agriculture later, but I found it very interesting and would love to go back to learn more!
When we arrived in Poznan, we climbed a few flights of stairs to get to street level and caught a tram out to our English friends. From what I could tell, these boys on the tram are typical Polish teenagers, very polite….have I mentioned I loved Poland!
This shows the overall complex where our English friends live. It’s really mixed use development, the way it should be! One can find a variety of things in the shops below the housing: fresh bread, restaurants, offices, salons, businesses. It is a thriving place, even though it is only a few years old. Loran and Mr. P had a wonderful hot meal waiting for us (Mrs. P was back in England for a few days, but it was just like she would have fixed it!) when we arrived and then we spent a nice evening with some wonderful Polish friends! I’d seen pictures of all these people before, but it was so much better actually being there with them!
Tomorrow I’ll post more from the P’s apartment and our eventful train trip to Ostrow!
On the evening of Day 2, we joined some Irish friends at their home for supper and then strolled around the Old Town at night before heading back to Castle Inn for our last night in Warsaw. I didn’t get a good picture of their sister and parents, but I was crazy about these boys! They were wonderful! I’ll also include some beloved sisters from Warsaw.
We had one more day in Warsaw. It started with Ian bringing me coffee in bed and then making another shopping run for breakfast: fresh bread rolls, wonderful soft cheese and a yogurt drink. After a good shower and more hanging out the window and just hanging out together, we went to another outdoor cafe for lunch. Guess what I had? More zurek, in a bread bowl this time! Lunch was followed by a visit to a small museum for a movie about the destruction and rebuilding of Warsaw and my first conscious look at items from the 11th and 12th century. Did I mention Poland is very old? Did I also mention that many things in Poland are wonderfully small. Check out this door and remember that I am five feet tall exactly!
From the museum, we caught a bus to the Warsaw University Library Garden, one of the largest roof gardens in Europe and yes, I do mean soil, grass, shrubs and flowers, all growing on the roof, in massive quantities in fact! This visit was a special treat from a son to his part-horticulturist mother!
And here is a view of Warsaw from the roof:
I also loved this leaf-covered passage way up on the roof. In my bag is a copy of Winnie-the-Pooh in Polish! It was definitely a Pooh kind of day and for our little smackerel of something after leaving the roof, we indulged in cooling mango smoothies!