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Do Widzenia

A trip to the Milk Bar ends with good bye

sunny 20 °C
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The first full day in Poland has been incredible so far. The day started with a 5 am jet lag induced wake up at our hostel? Why 5 am? Probably because we laid down to read and write last night and promptly fell asleep. So when the sun started peeking through the windows of our room and curtains, we found ourselves ready to begin the day.

Starting off after breakfast we rode the rush hour packed metro to Centrum again. The Warsaw metro during ruch hour could possibly rival the Washington D.C. during their commuter hours. Packed in with no room to move, the trip provided for some prime people watching. Upon arriving at Centrum stattion, we made our way to the TI for some needed maps and to find out about any special events going on.

With the news that free tours were offered in old town, we decided to continue with our plan of taking the Royal Way to old town Warsaw and the square. Turning on to Nowy Swiat, we ventured down it until we came upon A. Blikle pastry shop. Blikle is known for their paczki (rose flavored jelly doughnuts) that are famous inthe area and were seen on the Amazing Race.


After a doughnut with rose jelly filling the world certainly looks like a brighter place. Or perhaps it was just the extra-strong espresso like coffee that is called Americano Kawa. We headed off to see several magnificent buildings, monuments, and unique sights. One of these is the Church of the Holy Cross where composer Ffryderyk Chopin's heart is inside one of the pillars in the church. Also in this building is a memorial to Poland's 22,000 POW's massacred by Soviet soldiers in 1940 near, Katyn, now a village in today's Russia.



After a couple of more sights, we meandered over to Pilsudski Square. Once home to a torn down Russian Orthodox church, later named Adolf Hitler Platz, here now there is a stark reminder of Poland past and present. A plaque commorates the place in the square where in 1979 Pope John Paul II returned to Poland and spoke to the people. Also here is where the tomb of the Unknown Soldier is in Poland. In 1981 under the communists, when martial law was imposed, the citizens silently protested here by filling the square with a giant cross made of flowers. Today a cross is still here with the words, "Let thy spirit decend, let thy spirit descend, and renew the face of the earth -- this earth." This was one of Pope John Paul II's favorite sayings and a subtle dig against the communist regime during his visit.

Capping off our Royal Way journey was a hike up 150 steps to the top of St. Anne's Church. The sweeping views from the top of this tower give a birds-eye view of downtown Warsaw and beyond. It provides a stark contrast between the old and new city and the changes that have occured.




For lunch we ventured into a local establishment translated into English as a Milk Bar. A milk bar is a government subsidized cafeteria filled with locals seeking a cheap meal. A true cultural artifact and an experience we will never forget.

We chose Bar Mleczny Familijny. The menu, completely in polish was posted on the wall. None of the titles appeared in our guidebook, and no WiFi connection was available. We were unable to find a friendly local that could speak English to help these tourists out, and the little window you ordered from looked like a small confessional window with no hope of pointing to the dish we wanted.

As we turned to leave and look for another milk bar an elderly lady with two canes entered and we held the door open for her. She said thanks in English and that provided the chance. This kind elderly Pole helped us find a chicken dish on the menu, as well as boiled potatoes and a cooked beet dish that was out of this world. All this totaling 25 Zloty for two or about 8 USD. She explained to us that she had been coming to this milk bar since she was in college and it was still the same. The place was extremely clean and efficient, with some solid Polish cuisine. She told us that it invoked memories of her past and held a special place in her heart. Our encounter with her was too brief as we longed to hear more from her and learn what it had been like during communism. As she left she made us repeat after her: Do Widzenia or as she taught us Good-bye.

A fitting way to end our first experience with Warsaw, and its charming scenes. After this encounter, we are ready to speand more time exploring the city.

Posted by darrenesl 09:29 Archived in Poland Tagged warsaw way holy cross bar milk royal kawa paczki mlechzny Comments (0)

3 Days and Counting

Time is near, how's that packing list coming?

sunny 23 °C
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Suddenly we look up and the calendar says its the middle of June. Oh my, where has time gone? As we finish the preparations for our European journey, it is time to make the final reservations on airbnb, check all of our needs, and start pulling the traveling pack together.

Yes, we have the hybrid Caribee Skymaster 70. The exact pack, filled with 30+ lbs., that we have been walking about two miles a day with to prepare for the upcoming adventure. As we talked about before, the pack offers the best of both worlds with a combination backpack and rolling bag. Sure, we most likely will not be having to carry it on our back for 2 miles, but taking a line from the Boy Scouts, we are going to "be prepared."

Along with the whole travel planning that has been going on since last year, plans for some special happenings on this trip have been in the works as well. Celebrating ten years of marriage, Terri and I have a couples massage booked in the Hungarian baths, a dinner on-top of the tower in Vienna, and a night on a private boat in Croatia. Part of the fun of this adventure has been finding some things to do that would not be on our regular list of activities here at home.

We also have several cathedrals on the list. For anyone going to Europe and wanting to let the imagination soar ahead of time, I highly recommend reading Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett.

The book shares some of the design elements used to build these magnificent structures, with a thrilling storyline that will capture the mind of the reader.

Many more thrilling items fill our agenda, as well as plenty of time to explore areas and get to know the locals as well. How's that packing coming you ask? Well the bags are full and we are under our 44lbs. limit. Have we forgot anything, hopefully not, thanks to the travellerspoint.com packing list. Yes, it is extensive, but it is good.

We have been months in the planning stages and now the trip is upon us, we look forward to sharing our journey with you over the next couple of weeks. Keep watching here for our story and pictures and we will try to update it regularly. Please leave us your feedback and comments, we want to hear from you!

Signing off until we hop on board that plane,

~Terri and Darren

Posted by darrenesl 18:47 Archived in USA Tagged boats budapest prague vienna eastern austria warsaw poland fun air hungary croatia europe czech travels split republic krakow airlines darrenesl Comments (0)

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