After years of "dreaming" to visit the country of my ancestors, I finally was able to make the trip in October of last year. A good Polish friend of mine was going back to visit family and I was able to make the trip with him.
I must say I LOVED every part of it...the beautiful countrysides, the people, the customs, and the food. Every one says the "grass is greener on the other side", but I truly loved your country. I'd go back in a heartbeat if I could......
I still daydream about my trip....Hopefully, someday, I'll be able to return.
OK...a little about my trip!
We arrived in Krakow in late September and stayed at the home of my friend's son and daughter in law. We were staying only for the night as the next day we were heading to France for the World's Veteran Fencing Champion ships. So, we spent the day shopping at a factory that makes the wonderful hand painted pottery. It is so much more affordable in Poland than in the States. Came back with a lovely tea set!
On our way through Poland, we ate at various roadside restaurants. No fast food restaurants! We wanted to eat the local cuisine. I had the best chicken noodle soup ever. In fact, I now make it like it is made in Poland rather than the way it is made in the States. And the trout in Poland is outstanding!
Once back in Poland, we visited Wieliczka and spent some more time visiting with our hosts. We also spent time in Zakopane. Best food here was the ice cream parlor that served cognac over their sundaes! Also ate a LOT of ocypec. I loved this. I have found a local store that imports it and have continued eating it since I returned home!
Spent time in the open-air markets as well. Bought some souveniers, boots, a coat, and a sheep's wool blanket.
We stayed in several noclegis (hope the spelling is correct). What wonderful places! The beds were comfortable and the hosts kind. I'm glad we had our Polish friend along as very little English was spoken. ( I am trying DESPARATELY to learn to speak Polish. I find it very difficult to learn. Sure wish my parents had taught it to us when we were younger.)
The breakfasts here apparently were typical Polish fare...fresh rolls, cheese, smoked meats, a choice of cereals, yogurt, fruit, tomatoes, cucumbers, and herbata, coffe and tea.
While in Zakopane, the shepherds were moving the sheep down from the mountains. What a sight! Flocks of sheep, bouncy dogs, sounds of bells etc. Traffic stops while these flock are on the move. The locals seemed annoyed. We LOVED every minute of it!
Our trip continued along the southern border of Poland through the mountains called...The Three Kings (Crowns?). We toured the countryside east of Zakopane and visited a beautiful old castle.
We continued our trek to Tarnow and visited the graves of my friend's family. We stopped to place flowers and candles on the graves. It was late when we arrived and it was such a sight to see all of the candles burning through the night. That would never be allowed in the States. It was truly a magnificent and moving sight.
We retuned to Krakow and visited the Wawel castle and the Cathedral served by John Paul when he was the archbishop of Krakow. Had dinner at a Hungarian restaurant and then took a long walk around the square after dinner. Stopped a a local Church. The interior was beautiful and breath taking. Walked along the riverfront and saw the fire breathing Dragon!!! (Yeah...it may be "touristy" but is WAS cool!!!)
Next stop was the shrine at Czestochowa. Got there just in time for Mass. Another moving experience. On the way back to Krakow, we stopped at another roadside inn that had the best ribs I have ever tasted. There were cookied in huge cast iron skillets and you got to hand select the portion you wanted. Mmmmm....so good. On the way home , we stopped at one of the waysides where vendors were selling all sorts of mushrooms. I don't like mushrooms, but my travel mates do, so they bought a couple of baskets. We cooked them up when we returned to the home of our hosts. It was already almost midnight but they all wanted the fresh mushrooms!!!!
Our final sotp was the Church of St. Faustina.
We are already talking about our next trip. We'd love to spend some more time in Krakow, Warsaw, and the area near the Baltic Sea. As I said before, I'd go again in a heartbeat. Poland is such a beautiful country. I will never forget it.
Thank you to all of the Polish people we met for their hospitality!