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. 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.

    1. The A-Z challenge was going strong when I started this. It’s fallen by the wayside a bit lately and some of my site needs a good shake. Thank you for having a look around. 🙂

    1. Both are great cities, Indah. Wroclaw is well worth a visit too. I would like to venture to the north some day but my family are in central and southern Poland, and… well, you know it! Life’s just not long enough. Many thanks for your support. I’d love to see you doing an A-Z. 🙂

    1. It certainly keeps me out of mischief. 🙂 I need to update it for the last couple of posts but you know there are only so many hours in the day. I’m going to knit a few more 🙂

  2. Hey Jo. Terri and I will be spending a month in Eastern Europe in Sept-Oct, and part of this time will be in Poland. We’re visiting Wroclaw and Krakow, so we’ll be reading all of your Poland posts for juicy tips. Thanks in advance for the info. And BTW, your Dad’s story is fascinating and heartwarming. ~James

    1. I think you’ll like it, James. Polish people are not overtly friendly unless they know you, but there are some beautiful places to see. If you possibly can you should do a day or so in Warsaw too. I can’t be much help with accommodation as I usually stay with family, but if I can help any other way or you have questions, shout up.
      I’d love to do a bit of travelling over there myself, but getting away from family stuff is tricky. Dad’s 85 now and got a whole new lease of life when he found his family again.
      Where else is on the itinerary? (I’m nosy!) 🙂

      1. We’re also visiting Kiev, Bratislava (with side trip to Vienna) and Budapest. Unfortunately, we couldn’t easily work out a stop in Warsaw. We’re flying “open jaws”, and with flights, trains, and trying to limit backtracking, we just couldn’t work it out. Also, we’re always guilty of trying to do too much. Over the years we’ve learned that we prefer to see fewer things, and see them well, rather than seeing lots of things quickly. We also like to base ourselves somewhere (with an apartment) and take day trips when possible. Great news about your Dad. ~James

  3. As a native Pole I couldn’t be happier to see my country finally being recognized and promoted after so many years of obscurity and unawareness from the rest of the world. It’s such a beautiful place with a certain deepness and vibe that is impossible to find anywhere else. Brilliant work restlessjo!

    1. Thank you very much for that, and for following. Where is home? On my way to the Algarve this evening so I’ll check in with you when I get back. 🙂

  4. Hi,
    One of the best website I have never seen. This about most a beautiful pictures and articles.Krakow it’s very a beautiful cities in Poland.I will read more later about this blog it’s wonderful.Rimas

    1. Thank you so much, Rimas. Apologies for the delay. I thought I had already replied to you, but I discover this morning that I haven’t. Meanwhile, I’ve been browsing your beautiful photos too.

      1. Hi, Thank you so much for visiting my website, your website it’s fabulous so much a beauty.What town do you live in Poland. How long you use a website. I am going more to see your blog. The best regards Rimas Meleshyus


      2. I live in north east England but I have family in Krakow and Wroclaw. Dad is Polish and came originally from Belchatow, south of Lodz. I’ve been blogging just over a year.

  5. Pani Jo – I recommend obwarzanki for the letter ‘o’. Mmmmm nothing like strolling around Krakow’s Rynek with a large poppy seed obwarzanek in your hand… 🙂

  6. Poland is on my must see list. The place has so much history that I would love to explore. I love personal histories. I’m looking forward to more.

    1. Hi Sonia! Why not start your own personal A-Z? It can be on any subject- not just travel. I got sidetracked into other challenges, but I still have lots of ideas for the Polish and Portuguese A-Z’s- just never enough time.

  7. A lovely scene you’ve captured in Krakow – how I enjoyed my time there! We also stopped in Wroclaw, which had a very scenic city center. I’m looking forward to someday seeing Warsaw too.

    1. Hi Tricia. Nice to have you on board. Funnily enough I’m going to Wroclaw in 3 weeks time (after the football, of course). I have a cousin there and have been keen to see the city for some time. Warsaw is tremendous. I only had one day there and would happily go back.

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