• Ski Patrol!

    Zakopane, Poland…another day, another bus trip! Luckily, the weather has improved and the sun is out…so in order to take advantage of it we headed to Poland’s famous mountain resort of Zakopane. Known for its winter sports, it is a little over 2 hour ride from Krakow navigating past cows, sheep, and roosters before arriving at the busy village. It’s August which means the height of European vacation time and this getaway for Poles is brimming with holidaying residents from Krakow and Warsaw.

    Very scenic, the village is packed with shops and peddlers pushing the local speciality of grilled heavily smoked cheese served with cranberry compote. Not my cup of tea, but very popular! As I strolled past the various offerings, I loved the chunky Nordic sweaters and accessories handknit by Polish grandmas…One of these grandmas didn’t look too pleased with my picture taking.

    To get a birds eye view, a funicular, toboggan, or ski lift is available to get visitors up the mountainside. The sight from the top is gorgeous; rolling hills and valleys between mountain vistas dotted with chalet style houses. It must be breath taking in the winter when it’s all pristine white with snow!

    Multiple manners of transport were used today: car, bus, funicular, ski lift, horse and carriage, and a lot of walking! The ski lift proved to be the most visually stimulating and the horse and carriage driver’s Polish mountain man costume was the most entertaining.

    It is a lovely spot, but a bit over-run with commercialism…kids rides, bad souvenirs, bungee jumps, on and on! If you are looking for an unspoiled spot in the mountains, you will need to go further away from Zakopane to find it.

    I really did feel like a local today as you would have been hard pressed to find anyone other than Poles around, but that made the experience all that more fun for me..an authentic Polish outing!


  • Delicious Memories!

    Krakow, Poland…well, the weather still won’t cooperate! I see people in sweaters and shearlings, but I refuse to give in; shorts for me! It’s August and it’s cold and dreary…today is a public holiday in Poland as they celebrate the Assumption of Mary and honor their military. More importantly, it’s the start of the famous Pierogi Festival…Polish dumplings of every kind…meat, cheese, fruit, you name it! I am a traditionalist and I prefer classic versions such as potato & cheese (“ruski”) or cabbage (“kapusta”). I may get my fill for a lifetime!

    Women dressed in traditional Polish costumes and freshly picked wild flowers decorate the square. People line up to get their Pierogi fix…this is Poland’s treasured food and they celebrate it in a big way! Of course, none can compete with my grandmother’s pierogis; I remember spending all day with her as she prepared them and then I would sneak the potato filling when she wasn’t looking!

    The four day fest will last through the weekend and I cannot imagine how many of those hand pinched dumplings will be consumed!

    Alot more carbs and a bit of nostalgia here in Poland! I feels as if I am reliving all my favorite food moments of my childhood.






  • Pass the Salt!

    Wieliczka, Poland…the weather in Krakow is getting me down! Cold, rainy, overcast…it feels like late October! So, a short trip outside of Krakow seemed like a good idea and off we went to the UNESCO heritage site of “Kopalonia Soli Wieliczka”; the salt mines of Wieliczka.

    It is probably the silliest thing I have done this trip…it is a recommended sight, but I really never thought of visiting a salt mine! A three hour tour at 135 meters below ground is a bit ambitious, but I thought “what the hell!”…I have now garnered more info than I really ever needed on salt and the history of salt mining!

    It is interesting. Additionally, how it was all built is an incredible feat of man made engineering. The underground cathedral carved fully out of salt is an amazing accomplishment and display of artistry. One of the coolest things down below were the beautiful chandeliers made entirely of salt crystals. But, did I need to see this…NO! But I, along with over a million other visitors a year, have done it.

    I am praying the weather will get better and I can re-claim summer before it slips through my fingers!





  • Carb Loading!

    Krakow, Poland…my first day in Poland was met with Fall like weather! 50 degrees and periods of pounding rain sent a chill down my spine…I definitely felt that summer had escaped and I was in shock…this is going to take some getting used to…

    The town’s main focal point is the huge market square with the massive cloth hall market in the center of it all and flanked on one side by the exquisite St. Mary’s church. The largest square in Eastern Europe, it is something to behold…Ornate and colorful frescos fill the domes and steeples of the church and cafes and vendors flood the square.

    Polish food is in my bones, so I was overcome sampling it all…bread, potato pancakes, pierogis! Yum! I even scored a new accessory: the bread necklace! A statement in carbohydrates!

    Wawel Castle was a trip back in time…to the royal period in Poland’s history. It was as if I entered the “knights of the roundtable”, who knew this existed in Poland! Highly opulent and grand in scale, even after weeks of castles, I was impressed!

    Even in the rain, crowds were out in full force and nothing could cloud the surprising beauty of Krakow!






  • Back to my Roots!

    Krakow, Poland…today is a big day, I have arrived in Krakow! My father is from this country and I grew up with all things Polish…his entire family fled Poland during World War II and eventually settled in the USA. I spent my childhood being regaled by stories of his homeland. I have heard so much but yet I know so little of my father’s birthplace! I arrive for the first time today joined by my sister on a very special part of my trip; to connect with my heritage and put the pieces of a large puzzle together from the years of mythical storytelling.

    I feel like I am 5 years old again: excited, naive, and curious about coming to a place like this which holds the key to so much of my family history! I didn’t grow up with home movies of my grandparents, picture albums of my ancestors, or any keepsakes from the village…only stories embellished and heard over and over again at family gatherings. Poland is a pilgrimage for me, a full circle moment that I hope to have and an experience I have thought about for decades.

    It’s fitting that I arrive through a birch wood forest which is my father’s favorite tree. I get emotional upon my arrival and I am greeted by a chilly ominous sky. Krakow is my first stop on the next 12 days of Polish discovery which will take me throughout this land. I hope connecting to my past will give me a new perspective on my life and my future!