Poland

Six word Saturday

The nicest rooftop bar I know!

Last Saturday I was saying a fond farewell to Poland in the rooftop restaurant at Hotel Pod Wawelem,  Kraków’.  I can highly recommend it, both for the views and the hot apple szarltotka with icecream.  You’ll have to wait for that photo and the accompanying walk because this is all about Becky’s Roof Squares.  And, of course, to wish you happy Saturday in Six Words (or more).

Apologies to both ladies for the links, as I’ve scheduled this post, while I’m enjoying the high life in Nottingham.

Jo’s Monday walk : An adventure with Gilly

The raw energy of a city is compelling, even if a little intimidating.  Riding into Warsaw on the airport bus, my eyes were on stalks, collecting impressions on every side.  Such a bustling, modern city, the buildings twisting and turning to point to the blue sky overhead.  Anxiety was swept away by excitement.  I was here!  And I stepped from the bus into the warmth of Meg’s arms, those lovely eyes twinkling at me.  All angst was neatly deposited in Meg’s backpack- my tour guide for a day, found!

Turning from her momentarily, the beaming smile of Gilly reached me from across the square, as she descended the steps of the Palace of Culture and Science, arm in arm with her friend Lindy.  Gaggling like geese, we blindly followed Meg as she led us from the centre to a restaurant.  Puzzling over the menu, we laughed when the wicker basket of knifes and forks arrived, bearing chopsticks in an elegant green wrapper.  My efforts to eat my noodle laden broth produced more smiles, along with the slurps.  Two thirds of the way through our meal, a mighty crash of thunder and coin drops of rain pounded our table.  The wide, creamy umbrellas over the tables were scarcely adequate.  More merriment and we scrambled indoors.

In no time, the sun was blazing through the open windows again.  Meg was recovering from a heavy cold, and starting to wilt a little, having been tour guiding all day and shown the ladies lovely Stare Miasto in the morning.  Lindy was struggling too, which left me and Gilly to get up to mischief.  Arrangements were made for early next morning, and Meg deposited us at our hotel.  A swift cuppa, and it was time to hit the streets.  Already it was 6.30 on a warm Warsaw evening.  Fortunately, Gilly was not at all critical of my reckless tour guiding style.  Of course the bus would take us to the river!  And so it did, with just a little walking involved.

The road stretched ahead, seemingly endless, the traffic buzzing past, the architecture varied and interesting.  On the horizon we could see a stadium, which we knew to be on the other side of the river.  Praga was not advisable after dusk, I was informed, but reaching the river the greater challenge was to get down to the riverside.  With the agility of a monkey, Gilly swung around the barrier and scrambled along the bank, hand over hand along the railings.  I followed, more sedately, concerned for my pretty, navy city shoes.

Nobody seemed to notice, and I was immediately at home, with a young crowd blithely enjoying the throng of beach bars, deck chairs and food stalls.  Boats bobbed serenely, while overhead trams clanged past and bikes dominated the footpath.

Appetising smells beguiled my nose, but a drink seemed more pressingly urgent, in the sultry evening air.  Dusk was beginning to fall, the warmth felt heavy with insects and an awareness that we were far from home.  How to get back on the bridge presented something of a challenge, but I dared a few words of Polish and waved my arms at the bridge.  The two young men politely gestured to where the steps were hidden.  Gilly and I agreed that we would not have chanced it after dark.

What else?  Hop another bus to take us nearer to the centre, a little judicious food purchasing and a bit of naughty jay walking.  Subways can get tedious, can’t they?  But please don’t tell.  I’d hate to be in trouble with the authorities.  The bottle top on my cider didn’t look promising, but it did unscrew.  I had no spoon for the delicious yogurt though.  Collapsed in my room with just my diary for company, I really didn’t care.

I hope you enjoyed our adventure.  I really didn’t intend to post today, but realising that next Monday I will be on my way to the Algarve, and that I have a fine collection of your walks ready to share, I thought it best.  Meantime, I’ll be off to see my daughter in Nottingham on Thursday.  And yes, I did manage to get those tickets reprinted.  Thank you all for your concern.

Where will we find Lady Lee this week?

In the country

A treat or two in store, from lovely Sherri.  Anyone else get to the Bash?

Surprises, Diana’s Dresses and the Annual Blogger’s Bash 2018

A bargain ‘two for one’ from Anabel, and both just a short walk apart :

The Kelpies to the Falkirk Wheel

A glimpse of ‘that’ wedding and lots more food, from Jackie :

Beer Money

When Sue shows willing, you simply have to sit up and take notice :

A stroll around Chartwell

‘Join the fun!’ says Jesh.  You know you want to :

Rounding up May

Suzanne delights me with fossils, shells and a little Autumn gold :

A walk to Shelly Beach

The end of Autumn

Calvi and Honfleur- two of the most scenic of places, shared by Drake :

Backdrop but scene too

The sunny side

Remember my lovely rhododendrons?  Eunice has found me some more :

A quarry walk with a difference

And Carol turns up some interesting treasure of her own :

From Trash to Treasure

How do you think of New York?  Jane’s wonderful photos show us it’s calmer side :

Hudson River Ramble

And a wonderfully scenic hike with Cathy ends in tears, but don’t worry- she’s ok!

The Mt. Sanitas hike in Boulder, Colorado

Not too very sure when I’ll be posting again.  Life does seem a little hectic.  Meanwhile, enjoy the sunshine, thanks for your company, and I’ll visit you all as soon as I can.

Anticipation and angst

I can’t remember a trip when I was quite so angst-ridden.  I do angst very thoroughly, and most trips, unless it’s my beloved Algarve, as the date for departure approaches I lose sleep worrying over the ‘what ifs?’  In my head I’m a control freak, but reality is often far beyond my control.

Lake Czorsztyn in the Pieniny Mountains

I well remember being let loose by the Polish family in the Pieniny Mountains.  A trip river rafting in the Dunajec Gorge was in the offing, but where to catch the bus?  My other half always reads timetables meticulously and was unconvinced either that we were in the right place, or that the bus would turn up.  This despite a visit to Tourist Information to enquire.  ‘You’re the one who speaks Polish!’ he said, accusingly.  If only this were so!  The sun beat down, and we waited.  And waited.  Eventually a tiny minibus pulled to the curb, destination unknown.  We looked at each other.  This one?  Fortunately a good-hearted, English speaking couple had witnessed our confusion.  They were going hiking in the Gorge.  “Come on!  We’ll tell you where to get off.”  Huge relief and, ultimately, one of my best ever days in Poland.

But I digress.  What makes this particular trip so worrisome?  I had always known that I would return to Dad’s homeland one day, even though Dad was no longer with me.  The Polish family were so kind, and so accepting when we walked into their lives after all those years of absence.  Dad was welcomed with open arms.  Here I was, going back alone, and still without the benefit of Polish language, try as I might to make sense of it.

You might recall from My Call to Poland that I have elderly family.  The need to see them is pressing, but I want to cause the least possible inconvenience.  This means not flying into Kraków and expecting to be driven 3 and a half hours north to the family home, which is what always happened when Dad was alive.  A wild notion had occurred to me.  My lovely Australian friend, Meg, was back in Warsaw for 6 weeks.  This might be an opportunity to see her again, however briefly.  It all hinged on whether I could find transport from Warsaw to Bełchatów.  When Gilly leapt, with gay abandon, onto the scene, announcing she had booked 3 days in Warsaw and was going to see Meg, it was just the catalyst I needed.

A sequence of emails took place.  Kind Adam, in Kraków, declared that I was welcome in his home at any time.  Lovely Jadzia in Bełchatów said that my timing was perfect to celebrate her birthday with her.  Meg, more than generously, offered to put me up for the night on my arrival in Warsaw.  I didn’t contact Gilly,  hoping to surprise her.  Now all I had to do was pore over online timetables.  Endless timetables!  Until my head hurt.  It wasn’t simple, but finally I secured a prized bus ticket from a Russian company- the small print indecipherable.

And speaking of language, it was again time to seek out my ‘Colloquial Polish’.  I started a course at a local college about 10 years ago and purchased the required book.  The course was discontinued, due to funding, long before I reached the end of the book, but I did acquire a lasting friendship- another lady with a Polish Dad.  Each time I have visited Poland I have started the book again, with renewed enthusiasm.  Never have I reached the last page, but it has accompanied me proudly on each of my visits, and sat on the table as a declaration of intent.  This time it must stay home as I need to travel light.  A pocket dictionary will have to do.

Transferring from Bełchatów to Kraków is equally problematic.  The train service I relied on has changed providers and disappeared.  Buses go in random directions, sometimes taking as long as 13 hours.  I could reach the Pacific in less time.  Angst heightens.  Meantime, Gilly asks questions about my visit.  Nothing to do but confess and hope she won’t mind my gatecrashing her meeting with Meg.  Assuming I can find them in the teeming metropolis.

And just as I’m about to embark on this journey, I discover that I’ve lost the coach tickets to visit my daughter in Nottingham, scheduled just days after my return from Poland!  I can’t reprint them because I don’t have the ticket number.  Much hunting and an email to the coach company.  It can only get better?  By the time you read this I should know the answer.

Meantime I’m linking to Cathy’s Anticipation & Preparation: Spain and Portugal in 2013 on Wander.essence.  It holds many fond memories for me.

Six word Saturday

Shout it from the roof tops!

It’s June, and Becky’s back again with a brand new series of squares.  Knowing how much everyone enjoyed the last series, I can’t help but feel I’ll be missing out, but I’m off to Poland tomorrow.  Plac Zamkowy (Castle Square) in Warsaw will be my only contribution to Roof Squares for now, but I’ll be keeping a watchful eye on those roof tops.

No Monday walk next week, but I have a post scheduled for Thursday, when I hope to be on my way to Kraków with a fistful of happy memories.  Apologies if my responses are slow.  Till then, have a great weekend and don’t forget to share your Six Words with Debbie.

Six word Saturday

The 3 Day Quote Challenge #3

 “Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.”― Jack Kerouac

It’s the last day of my 3 Day Quote challenge, but it’s also Saturday, and we all know what that means.  I’m sure lovely Annika won’t mind sharing me, just this once.  I’ve found her some beautiful photographs of the Dunajec Gorge in Poland to say thank you.

The rules of the challenge :

  • Thank the person who nominated you.
  • Post a quote on 3 consecutive days.
  • Share why this quote appeals so much to you.
  • Nominate 3 different bloggers for each day.

I always loved the image of Jack Kerouac.  The spontaneity of his writing, the freedom of life on the open road.  I was desperate to be a part of it, to escape the everyday.  Mostly it was in my imagination.  I spent many, long years in an office.  So today, whenever I get the chance, I’m out there.  Never truly ‘On the Road’, but always aspiring.

My final nominees.  Take part if you’d like, or if you have the time :

Lovely Gilly at Lucid Gypsy

Brian at Bushboy’s World

And Patti of Pilotfish

If you’ve not been nominated and are itching to give this a go, please do.  Not all of the nominees are able to take part.  And please don’t forget your Six Words for Debbie.

My Call to Poland

Sukiennice, the impressive Medieval Cloth Hall, in  Kraków’s Rynek Glowny

You might call me unimaginative, but I’d never thought a great deal about Poland until that strange evening, 12 years ago, when Dad got a phone call from ‘home’.  For 64 years he’d had no contact with his Polish family, leaving the farm aged just 15, and in German custody.  That phone call turned our lives upside down.  Until then Dad had been my only Polish relative.  Imagine, overnight, you belong in an enormous family, who don’t even speak the same language as you.  But who welcome you with open arms.

That’s just how it was, and when Cathy asks ‘what is it that draws you to a place?’ then the lure of family surely has a part to play.  Over at Wanderessence she’s been exploring the reasons why we travel, and so much more.  I’ve always had that restless urge, but my first visit to Poland was a revelation.  I’ve never been hugged and kissed so much in my life.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  Outside of family and friends, Polish people are not normally smiling nor especially welcoming.  Given their history, they have good cause to hold a little in reserve.  But Dad was the long lost brother, and was treated like Polish royalty, while I followed along in his wake, smiling fondly but often with little real idea of what was going on.  The language barrier, you see.

Coach and horses have right of way in Rynek Glowny

The country looked so very different to the one I was used to calling home.  The chalet style houses looked different, out in the countryside.  One of the things I found really strange was that pipes often ran overhead alongside the country roads, rather than underground, as I was used.  But in the historic centres of the cities, the intricately painted and decorated facades had me stand and gaze in awe.   Kraków and Wrocław- I’ve been privileged to know both of these beautiful cities, because of my family.

Polish eating habits are different too.  Second breakfast, lunch at 3 in the afternoon, and cake before and after almost everything! (that must be where I get it from 🙂  )  In the previous year, I and my husband had acquired a holiday home in Portugal.  Totally different culturally and in climate too, yet I found myself wondering, if we had known of the existence of the Polish family sooner, would I have been looking for a house in Poland?  I suspect I might.  I’ve always had the sea on my doorstep, and Poland is landlocked on 3 sides.  The Baltic coast is too far from family, but I’ve always been drawn to lakes and mountains too.  A visit to the Pieniny Mountain range, and the spa resort Szczawnica, linger in my memory.  Rafting through the Dunajec Gorge was a totally unforgettable experience.

I have shared some wonderful times with my Polish family, and written about them extensively, while trying not to give embarrassment.  The series My Personal A-Z of Poland has many tales to tell.  Dad died in October 2016 and I haven’t been back to Poland since.  But I can still feel the call.  Writing Easter cards took me back into each of their homes.  New youngsters have been born since my last visit, but my elders are growing older and, in some cases, frail.  I’m feeling the need to return, just once more, before starting my new life in the Algarve.

Dad with Uncle Wlodek, at home in Zgorzelec

I’m linking this to Cathy, on her series A Call to Place.  The lady is a human dynamo, seeking to improve her travel writing and to entertain us along the way.  Pay her a call.  She’ll be so glad to see you.

A walking retrospective

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You probably think you’re seeing double!  This is the opening photo for my most recent walk, Boxing Day Blues.  It’s hard to select favourites but my criteria is often that a photo takes you back to a moment in time. For me this was a clear, bright, quite unparalleled December day.

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Would you believe that this one was taken in August, but how could I leave out such a winning smile? Gargrave in the rain was one of the most joyful moments of my past year.  A wedding anniversary weekend!

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By contrast, Autumn this year was a riot of colour, and I can still feel that warm November sun on my back as I stood in the churchyard, surveying the magnificent ruins of Flamboyant Autumn at Easby Abbey.

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October was a time of great sadness for me.  I never could have guessed that, as I looked up at this church in Alternative Ayamonte, my Dad had only hours to live.  I was abroad in my beautiful Algarve, but my heart really wasn’t in it.

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How could it only have been a couple of weeks before that I was so joyfully walking the Water of Leith, excited to meet for the first time with my lovely friend Jude?  A landmark event!

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Can’t help but share a moment of north eastern pride with the celebrated Tall Ships Regatta at Blyth in August.  How proud Dad would have been of the Polish ships taking part.  He was always a patriot.

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Which transports me back to July, when I met a lady with a fabulous smile in the City of Birmingham.  It was my first time in the city and I loved it. Thanks, Gilly!  I know I made a friend for life.

It was a water lily Summer.  They were everywhere!  I visited many beautiful gardens, such as Newby Hall, in June.  Funny how so many of you were more interested in the cake than the flowers!

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I spent two wonderful weeks in Poland to coincide with the May Bank Holiday.  My cousin Adam is a baker but always manages a few days off that weekend for his birthday.  It was Dad’s favourite time to go, and I was so happy that I got to spend this precious time with him.  Naughtily though, I did manage to escape, into the arms of another friend for life- Meeting Meg!

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In that early part of the year I was leading a charmed life.  My visit to Poland was sandwiched with trips to the Algarve and many walking excursions. A day at Mertola in the Alentejo was particularly memorable.

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April, always the time for lambs, I threw one little chap into total panic as I held a gate open for him. Lambkins and Bikes– a winning combination?

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I was delighted to have my lovely daughter home for Easter, in March.  The highlight of that weekend was the Butterfly Trail in nearby Preston Park. They are incredible creatures, and almost as exotic as my daughter.

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February in the Algarve is synonymous with Amendoeira– Almond Blossom.  And, of course, Carnival, but that’s an entirely different story.

IMG_2245 And so we find ourselves in January, and Saltburn in Winter.  It’s a lovely seaside town on the North Yorkshire coast, a place I like to stroll at any time of year.

What a year of highs and lows it’s been.  I have Paula to thank for leading me back through the months. Thursday’s Special this week is Retrospective.  Don’t miss it!