Sunday, 6 March 2011

My Visit To Poland

A Grand Adventure

Having made friends with many a Polish person over the last few years, it seemed fitting to visit the country of their origin. That and having someone living there to show me around, I did the decent thing, booked myself a flight and got myself over there.

Kasia was the good friend who would be helping me out on my visit, showing me the sights and allowing me to sleep on her floor for a couple of nights. But first things first, I had to get there. That was simple enough apart from the loud fidgety idiot on the flight who got himself taken into a private room by Polish security at border control.

Anyway onto the Grand Adventure

All Things Big and Small

It was more convenient for me to land in Krakow to start my visit, and so Kasia was there to meet me and inform me of what was in store. We would spend 1 night here then 3 nights in the mountains then the last couple days in Chorzow at her flat. So here I am in Krakow looking for a cheap hotel or hostel, 5 minutes in an information centre and we have directions.

No sooner have we wandered onto Florianska Street and we have found a cheap hostel and a great restaurant for what we intended to be a light snack. Here begins All Things Big and Small.

We both ordered was was described as a light bite consisting of a folded pizza type thing, but what arrived was a 12" pizza folded in half full of cheese and spicy sausage, not that I was complaining, for it tasted great and kept us fuelled up for the rest of the day. A sense of scale was needed, or maybe it is just a Krakow thing.

Fully full of folded pizza we checked into our hostel, Tutti Frutti, and set about exploring Krakow. Further along the street we were staying at was a large square surrounded by an old market, a giant head, church and assorted stalls selling cuddly dragons, and this was only the start of what we were to find.

Obviously due to the Krakow Dragon legend thing we had to visit the castle and see the Dragon. So that we did, and took many a picture, but the strange thing was that everytime I took a picture of Kasia infront of the Dragon, Flame would emerge from it's mouth, but for anyone else standing there, nothing.

Everywhere we went, the grand old buildings would have miniature versions of itself next to it, the old market, a church, even the city had a miniature. That and the traditional snack the Obwarzanki had a miniature version as well. All this wandering created a bit of a thirst, so for the evening we retired to a sequence of bars to sample Polish beer. Following this KFC and a nightcap at the bar under the hostel.

The following morning a free breakfast of toast preceeded our checking out and final wander around the square and the purchase of a cuddly Dragon for Kasia, for today was her birthday. Having gathered our bags and wits around ourselves, a coach was sat upon for 2 hours before reaching our next destination.

Next Stop The Mountains - Bukowina

Sitting on a coach for 2 hours wasn't so bad, the scenery was splendid the company wasn't so bad either. What I did notice was we were getting higher the houses became pointier and the volume of snow increased. Good job I had my thermals on.

Kasia had booked us 3 nights at a local hotel, or rather someones house which had been converted into many rooms. each with own bathroom and facilities. Considering the cost it didn't matter, warm comfortable and within easy reach of everything we needed. As we had arrived late in the afternoon, all that was left was to unpack, freshen up and head out for beer and food, for the next day I would only need my swimming shorts and a towel...........

As a surprise Kasia had arranged for us to spend the day at Terma Bukowina, a thermal pool just up the road from where we were staying, and what a surprise it was. Heated pools, spa's, jacuzzi and slides, all situated inside, and if you felt brave, a few pools outside. Considering the pool temperature was around 34 degrees celcius, and outside minus 10, it was all a bit bizarre. Yet we spent a good 4 hours there, and my back felt all the better for it. Having being pummled, jetted and generally all slid about, our stomachs grumbled and needed attention. Another restaurant was decided upon and grand food consumed, followed by a few beers of course.

Day three and we walked, walked and walked all around the town, wandering on ski slopes, viewing mountains and making many a snowy footprint as we went along. Obviously we worked up an appetite, and a third restaurant sought out and visited. You may think that I live to eat, you may be right, but when in Poland you have to sample the local food and beer, well that's my excuse, plus was on holiday.

So what did I eat
Pierogi, Bigos,Barszcz czerwony (beetroot soup), kotlet kurczeta (rolled chicken in butter and garlic), Polish Croquettes (served with the soup), minced beef grill with gerkins.

A Final Trip

Our last morning in the mountains simply comprised of getting our stuff together, catching a bus to Zakaopane then spending the afternoon on the train back to Krakow, then a connecting train to Katowice, then finally a bus to Chorzow. Where finally we got to Kasia's flat, a quick shop at the local shop, then a lazy evening of snacks and beer. The train from Zakopane to Krakow was slow, but still enjoyable, as I got to see some of the country as it passed me by and got steadily more industrial.

A new morning in a new town, following an evening spent sleeping on a camping mat, lent to Kasia by a neigbour, not the most comfortable night, but hey ho. Today Kasia would show me her town, that being after we did a little shopping for tonights food, Woody's Chicken Curry. I had brought with me a little bag of spices as a certain Polish girl missed my curry, so I could not dissapoint.

Following the shopping we ventured into the local park, and not some tiny little thing with a small pond and a few ducks, this is huge, comprising of a sculpture area, zoo, observatory and much much more. More pics taken as per usual with me, then home to cook curry, then out for beer. We were supposed to be meeting Jola, but she phoned earlier to say she wasn't feeling so good, so we stayed local and had many a beer in her honour. Another night on the camping mat followed, but with me being a little relaxed after the beer it was not so bad.

My last day in Poland was to be a visit to Kasia's mum's home to sample some traditional Silesian food Rolady kluski modra kapusta. Again you may think food is the only constant on my mind, but again I must put the record straight, we all have to eat, and when in another country you have to try the local food, and mighty tasty it was too.

Unfortunately time was against us, as I had my flight to catch. So I made my goodbye's, got the bus to the airport, said see ya later to Kasia, bought some vodka and came home.

Will I go again, well if Kasia can put up with me again, of course. But maybe when its a little warmer, and I don't have as much trouble with locks, for everywhere we went we had problems opening locked doors, closing locked doors, you name it we had problems with them.