My personal A-Z of Poland

I started my personal A-Z challenge, in line with Julie Dawn Fox’s excellent idea, with an A-Z of Portugal.  I’ve had a home in the Algarve for many years and love the place dearly, so it seemed quite natural to me.  Barely had I got into my stride when it occurred to me that I should in fact be writing a personal A-Z of Poland.

My Dad is Polish and has quite an amazing life story, some of which I’ve already shared in Exploring the Polish Connection.  Well, if you like to write, you like to write, so I’ve started model no.2!  I’m writing mostly about personal history, but as I can never unharness the traveler in me, I’ll include Polish places that I’ve visited (or would like to!)

I started with A is for Alphabet, and also for Aunts.  I was named for my lovely Aunt Anna but didn’t get to meet her till I was in my late 50s. Next came B is for Bełchatów, a town with the largest coal-fuelled thermal nucleur plant in Europe on its doorstep.  More importantly to me, it’s the home of most of my Polish family. C is for Cousins came next- more than 20 of them! (I haven’t yet named them all) D just had to be D is for Dobry – the Polish word for “good”. A couple of contributors to the challenge posted letters out of alphabetical sequence.  It’s not against the rules, so I couldn’t resist writing about my visit to the Polish capital in W is for Warsaw

Talking of survivors, where better than Warsaw's Stare Miasto?

Warsaw’s Stare Miasto?

After Warsaw, it had to be the ancient southern capital of Poland, Kraków, home to my cousin Adam: K is for Krakow.

The wall in the Jewish Cemetery speaks a thousand words

Back on course now with E is for Eagle, elokwentny and Edyta, featuring the Polish coat of arms, the White Eagle. A recent visit to Wrocław and the lovely twin towns of Zgorzelec/Goerlitz on the German border prompted Z is for Zgorzelec and Zakopane down at the bottom of the alphabet. And when I got home, memories of the Summer just had to be captured in G is for Grazyna.  The Norfolk Polish family came visiting. Continuing this topsy turvy alphabet, I returned to fill up with F is for Food (jedzenie).  And I do mean fill up!  Second breakfast, anyone?

Grilled kielbasa

Grilled kielbasa

It took me a little while to think of it, but next I wrote H is for Hotel, featuring some of the lovely ones I know, and of course more tales of family.

The foyer in Hotel Jan PaweI Il on Ostrow Tumski, Wroclaw

The foyer in Hotel Jan PaweI Il on Ostrow Tumski, Wroclaw

My visit to Poland in May 2013 inspired O is for “okropny” and the Ojcow Valley.  The weather was dismal but the scenery stunning.  Some day I’d like to see more of the surrounding area.

Italianate gardens at Pieskowa Skala

Italianate gardens at Pieskowa Skala

J is for Jadwiga was a pleasure to write, both for the interesting history of Queen Jadwiga and because I have a lovely cousin of that name.

Jadwiga, "king" of Poland- image from Wikipedia

Jadwiga, “king” of Poland- image from Wikipedia

L is for Lusia, Lodzia and Łódź introduces a little-known but interesting Polish city and tells a little about Aunt Lusia and about Lodzia- Jadwiga’s mother.  I came back here to see what I’d written about Łódź, after meeting my friend Meg there recently.

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

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

St. Mary’s is one of Krakow’s most beautiful churches.  Read all about it, and another cousin of course, in M is for Mariacki and Marysia.

Mariacki Church seen from the tower of Ratusz, the town hall.

Mariacki Church seen from the tower of Ratusz, the town hall.

Pope John Paul II was a charismatic and dynamic Pope, but more importantly, he was Polish.  I tell a little of his history in P is for Pope, Piotrek and Przemek.

Statue of John Paul II in the grounds of na Skalce

Statue of John Paul II in the grounds of na Skalce

R is for rodzina of course.  What else could it be?  And very wonderful they are too. This is Dad at Weronika’s wedding in Krakow.

Dad 'dancing' with his walking stick and cousin Irena

Dad ‘dancing’ with his walking stick and cousin Irena

After the wedding I found a mountain retreat in Southern Poland, leading to S is for Szczawnica.  A truly beautiful place!

Plac Dietla and Cafe Helenka in Szczawnica

Plac Dietla and Cafe Helenka in Szczawnica

The scenery just gets better if you come for a ride in T is for Tatry Mountains, I promise you.

The snow capped Tatry Mountains, seen from Lake Czorsztyn

The snow capped Tatry Mountains, seen from Lake Czorsztyn

Urszula, Ursulines and urodziny is a story of sisters, as is U is for Ula.

Ula, 'sparkling' at her sister's wedding

Ula, ‘sparkling’ at her sister’s wedding

After a little updating, I’ve added Zawady to the collection.

I need to make a sad amendment to my journey.  Dad died on 2nd October, 2016.  Our time in Poland together was very special.  The family keeps on expanding and already Weronika, whose wedding he danced at, has 2 small children.  I will go back to beautiful Poland, but right now I’m not sure when.

You can find out more by clicking on the logo below which will take you to Julie’s hub site, where you can also read some of the other contributions.  Feel free to browse my personal A-Z of Portugal too. Banner4 Have fun!  Hope to see you again soon.


  1. We toured Poland this summer in our caravan. We fell in love with Ojcow – I am just writing about that now! We had better weather than you by the looks of things… I also adored Wroclaw and Krakow and can even pronounce them all correctly now!
    Sadly, we had to cut our trip short because of Coronavirus, but we would love to go back and see the Tatry mountains and we still intend to go to Hel…!

    1. It’s a lovely place, isn’t it? I’ve both melted and frozen on different occasions. I feel very privileged to have seen rural Poland through family eyes. And there’s always more 🤣💕

  2. Jo, I truly love your A-Z Lists. And being very fond of Poland I was particularly excited to see this one. You mention many small towns I haven’t yet visited, and I must admit Zawady looks particularly fetching. Thanks for the inspiration! All the best, Terri

    1. Hi Terri 🤗. Zawady is a small village and not one I would know if I didn’t have family there. I think it’s typical of many small communities in that area. Land is cheap but it must be great to know that your youngsters can at some point build their own home close by. Something mine could never do. 🤔💕 Thanks for your company and stay well!

  3. I too love the A to Z idea. I tend to ramble all over the map with my blog, but this would be a great organizing idea. I actually had to look up Algarve, so now I know all about a new place. Happy travels.

    1. I rambled a fair bit too, and the challenges often take you down that path, but you can give this one your own direction. Which I much prefer 😉. Glad you’ve found me 💕💕

  4. I didn’t know of your polish connection before I read this, Jo, but I absolutely feel the love you have for Poland. I visited there last year and fell in love with it too! There is just something about the place!!!

    1. My daughter was in Krakow for a wedding (in Slovakia, just over the border) the weekend before last, Amanda, and she spent some time with the family. It’s a lovely connection to have. 🙂 🙂

    1. I wish I had seen more of your home country, but the death of my father last October brought things to an end for a while, Agness. Thank you! 🙂

  5. This is wonderful!! I love the whole concept of this A-Z of Poland!
    made me smile, made me think,made me appreciate all the bits of info I learned about your country and your beautiful family!
    I met a Polish guy here in Kuwait through a common friend and my husband have frequent visit in Poland when he was young.
    Your Blog is really interesting.

    1. Thank you very much 🙂 I’m not sure if the challenge is still running but I did think it a good idea. You could do your own variation on it if that appealed to you.

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