Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Strange And The Wonderful Of Poland

Travel anywhere in the world and you are going to see things you've never seen before.  Travel anywhere in the world and you're going to see things you never knew existed.  That is the excitement of traveling for me.

Let me share some the strange and wonderful things we saw in Poland.

I am going to start with this clock.

As you can see it wasn't even 5 o'clock, I am talking PM here, and it was pitch black outside already!  We did a lot of our sight seeing in the dark because in the winter they have less than 8 hours a day of sunlight. The sun would come up around 7:45 AM and be ready to call it a day by 3:30 PM!

Not even 5 PM and already dark

Now let's move on to signs.

In this first one I am not sure what exactly is going on here.  From what I can gather, a man and his child are playing soccer in the street and a car is coming.  But it seems that they will be safe because their house which is on skis will stop any car from hitting them.

Yes, this HAS to be the correct translation of the sign!

Unsual sign in Poland

Caution!  There is an exclamation point 2 meters ahead!!

Puncuation ahead sign in Poland

This one I completely understood, it just cracked me up that the vehicle being towed was a 1960's station wagon.

70s Car Tow Sign Warsaw

Any guesses as to what this Coca-Cola toting Santa is saying?  After a quick Google translate, I found out it means, "Merry Christmas, Warsaw!"  I might have guessed that, but it didn't look like any resemblance to any Merry Christmas in any language that I have seen so far.

Merry Christmas Warsaw sign

Since I mentioned the American brand Coca-Cola, let me show you this other American company's sign.  (Hey, look!  There is Santa again but this time ON the Coca-Cola can!)

Subway!  (There have been Subway restaurants in every country we have been to so far.) Now this may make me laugh harder than some people because of the fact that I live in south Texas.  You can't just stick avocado on it and call it Mexican food!

Mexicana Fiesta Subway Poland

Speaking of Mexican food...

There was a restaurant in Warsaw called The Mexican.  Their website is only in Polish, but Google Chrome browser will translate for you.  What I found funny was the Virgin of Guadalupe painted on the wall.  Poland is a very Catholic country, but the Virgin of Guadalupe is a Mexico thing.  I wasn't expecting to see her in Poland!  It made me smile.

The Mexican Restaurant Warsaw


That is a nice segue into the next sign.  Why the sign is in English when we were in Poland is a mystery, but if it hadn't been then I wouldn't have known a picture needed to be taken.

By the way, I gave him a smile.

Just Give Me a Smile Guitarist Warsaw

These next two would have been soooo confusing if it hadn't been for Rick Steves.  We had bought a travel guidebook by him and one small section in the front mentioned this might happen. So one of these, ether circle or triangle is the women's restroom and the other is the men's.  We saw this only two times thankfully but were prepared!

Any guesses??  You really don't want to have to take a guess as you stand in front of those doors!

Womens Restroom Poland

Mens Restroom Poland

As it turns out, the circle is women's and the triangle is men's.

Hey, while I am on the topic of that kind of business, now is a good time to tell you that while the country of Poland as a whole has really overcome the days of Communism, I don't feel their toilet paper has!

That was the roughest stuff EVER!  Should you be able to SEE (and feel) the texture of your t.p.???

Communist era toilet paper in Poland

Last sign.  I am not sure if it is false advertising or not since they were honest about it all.

Store Open for 24 Hours with a break in Poland

Ok, now let's move on to the BEST shop EVER!   It was really just a small space that was filled with vending machines.

Best Self-Service Store Ever in Poland

There was a coffee and tea machine.  I have seen a few of these so that wasn't surprising.

Coffee and Tea Machine in Self-Service Store in Poland

A food vending machine with your typical junk food.

Vending Machine 1 in Self-Service Store in Poland

But did you happen to notice the Snickers?  Hazelnut Snickers?!?!  Oh yes! Oh yes!  I made sure to have one of those and it was soooo good!

Hazelnut Snickers from Vending Machine in Self-Service Store in Poland

There was another vending machine in the room and it held some food and drink but it was....different.

Take for instance this particular row.

Kleenex, lotion, and cigarette lighters.  Ok.....

Kleenex Lotion Lighter in Vending Machine  in Self-Service Store in Poland

Then there was this.....I am sure it has a different meaning than in America.  I am not sure what that would be, but I highly doubt it is the same.

Black Energy in Vending Machine in Self-Service Store in Poland

Then there was this!  Again, I am sure, different meaning!!  (I don't even know.....)

Black Sex Energy in Vending Machine in Self-Service Store in Poland

But maybe if you drink that last one, you might need this next one???

Pregnancy Test in Vending Machine in Self-Service Store in Poland

No matter what, it was all available in this one small self-serve shop!!

Then there was this refrigerated vending machine.  I have never seen one like this.  Now I know I live in a small town and there will not be stuff like this, but I haven't seen one like this ANYWHERE else and we have been to several major cities in the world!  It was neat, the little door slid open and you had to get your product out before the door slid shut again.  There was plenty of time, but if you got distracted....well sorry for you!  Pay again!

Vending Machine 3 in Self-Service Store in Poland

The most unusual thing we saw in there was this jar of pickles.  Pickles!   I regret not buying them!

Pickles in Vending Machine  in Self-Service Store in Poland

Ok, we did stay in that little shop probably longer than any other person, but we were fascinated by it!  But now let's move on to some interesting transportation options.

Well, this may never be an option for Frankie, unless he wore it as a shoe!  I, however, would probably finally be comfortable!  Unless you too are 5 foot 1 inch, you will NEVER understand!

The Tiny Car and Frankie Warsaw

If public transportation is your thing, then check out this bus line.  If you happen to know where you are going, it isn't too bad to figure out.  The buses were mostly on time, which is a good thing when it is 18 degrees Fahrenheit outside and you are out there waiting on the bus!

Bus Route Warsaw

I personally like trams and subways better than buses.  You can't really get too lost when the tram or subway stays on the exactly same line all day everyday!  Of course, they don't always go exactly where you need them to, but you figure something out to get where you need to get.

Warsaw Tram

I think it is time to move on to the last category of wonderfulness.

We were walking around Wawel hill and stopped to gaze at the river.  Suddenly, there was a roar and out of the corner of my eye I saw something on fire!   This had to be investigated!

So we slipped and slid our way down the many many ice and snow covered steps to get to the river where I saw the fire. We discovered that what I saw was a fire breathing dragon!!

In Krakow legend has it that there was a dragon that lived at the bottom of Wawel Hill and terrorized the villagers.  He was eventually killed and much later in time a statue was built of the dragon.

Fire Breathing Dragon Statue in Krakow

AND every 15 minutes or so... It. Breaths. Fire.   How cool is that?!!

Fire of Fire breathing dragon statue in Krakow

Oh, by the way, the view of the Vistula River in Krakow is pretty at night!

Vistula River at Night Krakow

But you know what?  The Vistula River is pretty nice in Warsaw during the day too!

Vistula River Daytime Warsaw

These last few photos were all taken in Warsaw and it is just a hodgepodge of wonderfulness.

Did you know that there is a palm tree in Warsaw?  Now you do!  It is not real of course, because that would just infuriate me!  You see, no matter what I try I kill almost every plant that anyone has ever given me.  I don't do it on purpose!  I can grow a mesquite tree in south Texas like nobody's business though!  (like that is difficult) So IF this palm tree was growing all happy like in the frigid winters of Poland then how much more of a plant loser would I feel like???

The palm tree in Warsaw has its own website describing the hows and whys of it.  It is fairly interesting if you want to learn more about it.

Palm Tree in Warsaw

My favorite sculpture that we saw in Poland was this extremely large on of Frédéric Chopin.  Since those people wouldn't get out of the way for me to take a picture without them in it, I shall use them so you can judge the size of the statue for yourself.

Massive, right!?

Chopin Momument Warsaw

Let's take a closer look, because really it was just too cool, especially with the icicles on it. 

Chopin Momument Close Warsaw

Lost in Warsaw?  Look for this building.  It will help guide your way, mainly because it is so tall!!  It is the Palace of Culture and Science.  It was a gift from Stalin to the city of Warsaw after WWII.  I have no idea what it is.  We even went in and I still can't tell you what it is used for!  I am sure if I search online I can find out, but I just can't get enough interest in it to do so.

Palace of Culture and Science Warsaw

Here is a different view.

Palace of Culture and Science no color Warsaw

The only reason to show you the view above to show you the one below.  This was the most interesting part of the building.  At night every so many minutes the tower has beautiful colored lights projected on it.  Now that I am interested in!

It's so PRETTY!!  I could have just looked at it like that all the time.

Palace of Culture and Science Color Warsaw

Speaking of pretty colors, we just happened to stumble on these Pegasuses in the snow.  I don't know anything about them, except that I liked them.  And really, do I need to know more?

Pegasuses in the Snow Warsaw

This is a statue of the Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.  The reason he got his picture taken by me is because he has a compass in his hand.  (Go math!)

Plus he looks pretty cool with the snow on him.  (Remember I am from south Texas where snow is only followed by the word "cone".)

Nicolaus Copernicus Statue Warsaw

Since I am on the topic of snow, while we were in Warsaw we were able to see a snowstorm rolling in.  It looked amazing!  And then it was cold.  It was a confusing time.  (Again, south Texas, 18 degrees Fahrenheit is something that is talked about to describe a cold so frigid that death can only be the next thing to happen.)

Snow Storm Rolling in Warsaw

And finally, because we WERE there and Frankie was sure his face was going to freeze right off, a photo of us.  

Frankie and Jennifer in Cold Warsaw

I hope you will stay tuned.  My next post will be about the Auschwitz Concentration Camp just outside of Krakow.

Until then!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Christmas In Poland

So, what does Poland look like at Christmas time?  Beautiful!


But beautiful!

Poland has an interesting nativity scene and it not like anything I have seen anywhere else.  It is called a Kraków szopka.  We saw them in all different sizes and made out of all different materials.

The largest one we saw was at St. Francis Basilica in Krakow. It had moving parts and everything!

Large Kraków szopka-Nativity Scene at St Francis Basilica

At many of the churches we went into we saw some made by children.  There was even one made out of pasta!

There were, of course, ones pre-made ready to buy at the Christmas market.

Kraków szopka-Nativity Scene

Speaking of the Christmas market.....

Grilled Meat at the Christmas Market Krakow

Let's take a closer look at what was going on there.

Closeup Grilled Meat at Christmas Market Krakow

Not into grilled meat?  How about pierogis and all the possibilities they can contain?  (Ok, really, I don't know what the sign says, but isn't it pretty??)

List of Pierogi Flavors Christmas Market Krakow

For a true Christmas in Poland experience, we had some smoked Polish cheese with cranberry jam.  Oh my!  Yum!

Smoked Polish Cheese with Cranberry Jam at Christmas Market Krakow

There were all kinds of sweets to be had.  You didn't even need to look hard for them!

The most interesting were these chocolates in the shapes of tools!  How cool is that!

Tool Shaped Chocolates at Christmas Market Krakow

For just around a mere $2 they had chocolate covered tangerines, grapes, or even a chili pepper on a stick!!  I did have the grapes and they were so good!  The market was a wonderful wonderful magical place my friends!

Chocolate Covered Grapes at Christmas Market Krakow

One last photo from the Christmas market. Lollipops, just because they were pretty!

Lollipops at Christmas Market Krakow

How about some Christmas decorations?

This is one of my favorite photos of the trip.  There is just something about that tree in with the European city buildings that makes me happy.

Outdoor Christmas Tree-Krakow

In Old Town Warsaw they had lights projected onto the buildings.  It made for a lovely sight to see!

Lights and stars Old Town Warsaw

What was really neat in Warsaw was the lights projected onto the Royal Castle.  


Snowflakes on Royal Castle Warsaw

We didn't go into the castle, but the outside was nice.  In front of the castle was even more Christmas decorations.  It included a massive tree, presents, and ornaments.

Christmas tree and ornaments in front of Royal Castle Warsaw

Here is a different view of the Christmas tree.  I loved it!  So sparkly!

Christmas Tree at Royal Castle Warsaw

What I have loved in the cities we have gone to at Christmas time have been the lights that get strung across the streets.  I don't get to see that often since were we live isn't set-up for such things.  So when I do get to see it, I soak it in!  Here are three for your gazing pleasure.

Christmas Street Decoration Krakow

Street lights Warsaw

String Street Lights Warsaw

One last thing to share are these giant outdoor ornaments and presents.  I haven't seen anything like them in another city.  They were so neat!

There were plain ball ornaments.

Large Outside Christmas Ornament Krakow

Plain ball ornaments that you could walk through.

Large Walk Through Outside Christmas Ornament Krakow

And as my final picture for this post, sparkly presents that you could walk through.

Lighted Present Warsaw

These were sprinkled all through out both Krakow and Warsaw.  It was nice to see all the decorations and lights for Christmas!

I hope you stay tuned for my next post which will be the strange and great things we came across while in Krakow and Warsaw!

Until then!