Monday, 31 December 2018

New Years Eve ...

Last day of the year  - and still having fun in Krakow ...

So for breakfast we went on the tram, over the river to Kazimierz - The Old Jewish Quarter.

Now I have never had a bagel/beigel, either in the UK or New York, so why not try one here instead. Seems the first known mention of the bagel/beigel, was in 1610, in the Jewish community in Kraków, Poland. So it seems we are in the right place ...

Bagelmama:

I had done my research, and we found the place in a back street, opposite the synagogue, its a small building and the walls are decorated by cinema posters. It has an american feel as the owner apparently was John McEnroe's chef in Paris ...

Friendly service, great coffee and we all ordered the bagels which are fresh and very tasty indeed, you just have to choose the type of bagel and filling ...

Bagelmama ...
My Breakfast bagel ...
SWMBO: Woody Allen bagel ...
Juniors, nutella and banana ...


JH said Looks lovely but nowhere in the world can beat Brick lane bagels. I don't know, but will go and give it a try. LKB said 'I've never really understood bagels. A bun with a major design flaw'.

However the egg in mine was cooked like an omelette so pleased to report, did not run out of the middle. However the seeds went everywhere ...

Great place, Great breakfast, do visit its worth it as a starting point to explore the area ...

We decided to head back for a quick warm up, and some shopping as the shops would probably close early.

So on our way back from the tram (The only way to travel) we had popped into a local shop. the booze was flying off the shelves. You could see the shop staff, were being overwhelmed by the demand for last minute supplies of Wodka at just 26zl - €5/£6 a bottle.

SWMBO looked at the Prosecco, which was 27zl - €5.50/£6 a bottle. and grabbed the Russian version. 'This is it, this is what we partied with' in university days ...

I said 'get some cherry Soplica' (The famous Skiathos cough medicine) as she headed off to the till ...

Note: My favourite champagne was on offer at the airport at £25 a bottle (Two for fifty quid). However SWMBO said no you cant have that, (even after I had treated her to her favourite perfume) and the bubbly had remained on the shelf, for another day.

Russian bubbly it is ...

I headed off to a portacabin over the road, with junior, which had a great selection of fruit. Honey and local home made pickles, which are a big thing here. I had been seriously tempted to buy more of the dried mushrooms, but we had plenty of those already to take home ...

SWMBO arrived clutching the bottles in a bag, and bought a selection of the excellent fruit. Telling me how great this place was. strangely no mention, that it was us having shown her it and what was on offer ...


After a short pit stop, and a warm up we headed off into the rain, via another tram route back to ...

Wawel Castle:

Home to a dragon, which very impressed Junior, until we found out the Dragons lair is open from April to October. I cant say we blame him hibernating, Its cold grey and usually damp here, so If I were a dragon, I would not come out until after Easter either.

Mind you the dragons blowlamp could come in very handy. Everyone here is wrapped up with gloves, scarves, balaclavas and thick coats. Layers are the way to go ...




Lovely views and architecture, we visited the tomb of the last president and his wife, (Died in a plane crash in Russia) and someone else in a copper coffin, everything surrounded by floral tributes and respectful silence ...

I did ask SWMBO why they were here and not somewhere else. but the ongoing story about why would make you want to jump off the castle 'rock' into the river below. I was saved as it started to rain, and we wanted an early dinner, before the end of year table reservations kicked in, so headed off back to Kazimierz, to find a restaurant.

Its virtualy impossible to find a place that suits all tastes. Me I just wanted meat, after five days of Mushroom Pierogis,  Croquettes, Cheesecake and a couple of pints of Borscht, and my one small vodka shot a day (Driver), I was desperate to try the Argentinian steak house, and a glass of red. SWMBO wanted veggie and Junior Pizza of any sort ...

We found a great many places to try, but not a menu that suited everyone. The Steak place was 'firmly denied' by SWMBO. but would be 'No 1 on any return trip here' for sure ....

Zalewajka:

On the third menu lap we looked through the window of Zalewajka. Which was setting up for the evening, but had tables set aside for walk in customers, as long as we were out by 19:30.

Having found this place almost by accident. We were all very pleased that we did. The best meal we had in Krakow, and we had tried some good ones. The food, service and friendliness of staff was first rate. So glad we found it, and well worth a visit if you are heading there one day ...

My Banquet went like this, but with a glass of red ...

Veal and Lamb sausage, confit red onion, and mustard ...
Beef cheeks, fried cabbage, mashed potatoes ...
Chocolate souffle ...
Hennesey ...
Feeling well satisfied we took the tram home, to put up weary feet after watching fireworks over the river ...


... and to celebrate 'Old Years night' back at the apartment ...

Previous Blog: Mad Mad Mad ...

Mad Mad Mad ...

That was our day yesterday ...

I had tickets to visit the Wieliczka salt mine. Having asked SWMBO for days now to get there, I was told it's easy don't worry, 'blah blah blah' ...

Two hours before, I said Mr Google thinks, its 20km away, how are we getting there? and was told she had checked, it was eight minutes away, and had checked again. Stop panicking, plenty of time ...

I said 'let's get a taxi just in case'

She said 'plenty of time, we can walk'

OK give in, and we set off 45 minutes before entry time. Which is good for us, you see, I always like to be early, on time at worst, and never late. SWMBO, does not do mornings, barely afternoons, but is pretty good at evening onwards.

SWMBO is usually late for everything, and bursting through the door just as the event is starting, or as the school is securing the gates ...

Which for me, is as near as you can get me to a nervous breakdown ...

Airports, train stations, meetings with friends, you name it we have been there late ...

This is how we ended up on a back street, in the middle of God knows where, at twenty to ten, for our 10am trip. About 20km away from a salt mine.

'Its the right address' she said.

'Of course it is, just the wrong ************** town ...

This is when someone, who is very clever, cannot accept that they can't plan anything, and has been rumbled once again, and the brain, no longer fails to compute ...

This is the moment when the planner, had to once again press the get out of jail buttons very quickly indeed.

It was a very quick retrace of steps to a main road, and fruitless attempts to find a taxi. However the fifth or sixth. A miracle was empty and we piled in. Twenty minutes to get there.

'That's fine' said SWMBO
'No it's not, call the agency' I said ...

Reluctantly SWMBO did as I suggested.
'No it's not, we have an extra ten minutes, and that's it' said SWMBO ...

Negotiations with the taxi driver took place in Polish, and our very own F1 Robert Kubica, was putting the Skoda through its paces. Even though we had a few stop and go penalties held at traffic lights. He was not hanging about, and the taxi meter was not either ...

 We stopped outside the gates, of the salt mine at ten past ten ...

'Find the group' said SWMBO as she paid our own Robert Kubica ...

There were a out 500 people assembled in groups, and after a two way search, I eventually found our group about five minutes later ...

It was a bit frosty in the queue, and nothing to do with the weather. I keep my mouth shut, so I don't say what's going through my brain box. SWMBO does not say anything in case she hears 'what what's going through my brain box'

So SWMBO said that taxi fare was expensive. He must have put us on the highest rate. I said, Really? Is 70 zloty expensive, how much is that?

About £15 it's getting really expensive here ..............

How far would £15/€15 get you in a taxi?
(Insert destination here)

Me: Not very far indeed ...

We were underground about three hours, it's very warm down there, and you certainly sweat a bit. It took me about that long to cool off, that's because they have a restaurant down there 135m below ground.

I had a beer its cost 5zl which is £1 ...
A hip flask sized wodka bottle (10 flavours to choose from) 10zl which is £2 ...

The trip back on a very nice train, cost 3.50zl each. The ticket machine is not the easiest machine in the world. SWMBO managed to get back just as they locked the doors.

I pressed the button just too late ...

The train made that noise as the power goes on, we missed it. Then the button went from red to green. It was that moment when for a second, I thought that beer and the change in air pressure, I have gone colourblind ...

The step came out and the doors opened, a very pretty lady guard, said 'Dziene Dobre' I was speechless. She had held the train ...

Last time this happened was in Volos, once again late after chemo treatment. she just missed the ferry, they re-lowered the ramp, and let her on. Only she left her purse in our friends car. No ticket, no purse, and on the Proteus ferry, who's lovely crew said no problem ...

SWMBO had only been able to extract one ticket from the machine, two lady conductors provided the others onboard.

Quote of the day, SWMBO said, 'we should have taken the train today, instead' ...

Outside the main train station Krakow Glowny, is a mini Christmas market. Mulled wine, warm beer (could not drink it) hot food stalls, and an open air  mini ice rink.

Junior was 'please please please can I go on it' and rightly so. We spent the next two hours, standing in the slush by the rink, watching Junior, doing circuits, bumps and tumbles, as light rain, became rain, and then sleet, and snow flurries began to fall as it got dark ...

Later Junior and SWMBO wanted nothing other than fish and chips. We found somewhere and they did that. They said it was excellent.
We went to the Christmas market in Rynek, and later ended up in Santos coffee shop, with hot chocolate, a double espresso for me, and a very pretty waitress, serving me a nice line in Wodka shots ...

We met some Greeks from Kalamata, t the team stop. I had a great time chatting with them. My fault as having fun, we missed the tram.
We said Kalo taxidi and SWMBO dragged me away from my Greek friends, and on the tram. Two stops later we get off as we are going the wrong way. Guess who's fault that was once again, with making travel arrangements ...

(If you are not sure, read this blog post once again)

What a great day we had ...

Previous blog: Good morning from ...

Note: Will post photos (Next year) of the salt mine, (excellent) and other places. Too many photos to scroll through, and to upload at the moment.



Sunday, 30 December 2018

Good morning from ...

Krakow ...

After a 5 hour and 490km or so canter, down the Polish fast roads, (EU funded- signs everywhere) we have arrived in Krakow.

It was a grey and damp drive down, here, and at times foggy.



From Katowice, onwards, you could see the yellow tinge of the smog from the coal fire burning population. However it's fine here, and very nice it is here too.

Absolutely buzzing, a great atmosphere in the old town, Rynek, and the surrounding streets.


The Christmas market is still ongoing, excellent street food, horse drawn carriages, transporting the very well dressed ladies around the town.




Rynek is packed with tourists, enjoying the fun, and must say the beer here is very good too ...


Found a lovely restaurant, in the back streets. Just the place for a Polish Rabbit stifado ...


Not that it needed any salt, am off to a salt mine to find some ...

Previous Blog: Back on the road ...

Saturday, 29 December 2018

Back on the road ...

That's Zielona Gora, and base camp Polish mamma over and done.

We have been spending each day here visiting SWMBO'S mother and 'daddy uber' has been very busy. Last night I was allowed a glass of wine. Not bad after 400km of driving duties.

This was due to us strolling into town ...

Zielona Gora:



Here I am updating the blog ...


It's been a dry Christmas and the spaghetti carbonara last night, was heaven. It's been a pierogi and a 'couple of pints of Borscht' laden couple of days ...

Back in the trabant at first light, for today's canter south, and perhaps tonight perhaps even a beer 🍺 ...

Weather update: Its 'dark and damp' expect 'grey and damp' again later ...

Previous Blog: Tom Dick and their famous brother Harry ...

Friday, 28 December 2018

Tom Dick and their famous brother Harry ...

This is Sagan now known as Zagan ...

Or more exactly, I am at Stalag Luft 111, the site of one of the most audacious escapes, from a Prisoner of War camps back in 1944.

The Great Escape:

You have seen the film, well it's nothing like that at all, but I did spend most of the day in the forest, and ended up meeting with Harry ...

The Great Escape tunnel 'Harry' where 76 RAF prisoners of war escaped, and 50 were murdered after capture, by the Gestapo. It's the same camp, where the 'Trojan horse' escape took place.

I spent four hours yesterday with a Polish guide Mirek, who showed me everything he could. Well worth the visit, and the exhibits and relics ...

I was able to see the records, for a friend back on Skiathos, and stood exactly where the room was, where my friends father, was imprisoned there as a POW, just two days after the Great escape took place ...

I have photos, which will be shared with the family, of how it looks today and the records/drawings of the camp at that time ...

Names in Black, were murdered by the Gestapo on the direct order from Hitler.
Names in Blue, were captured and sent to different camps or concentration camps.
Names in green, made a successful escape to Sweden.













The weather the last few days has been nothing like it was back then. But the windchill here at times, with just sleet or fine grain snow is more than enough.

Let alone trying to get away from here, as it was your duty to escape ...

Previous Blog: Dzien Dobre ...


Thursday, 27 December 2018

Dzien Dobre ...

From Poland ....

Where we have been exploring the homeland of SWMBO with junior ...

I hope you have enjoyed your Christmas, mine certainly has been very different, but I have tried everything, had fun with friends from London, met family and kept junior entertained whilst we have been on the road ...

I will be back filling the blog, with our last few days, enjoying the Christmas market, a glass or two of the local hooch, great street food, open fires, wood smoke, with a waft of coal smoke ...

Plenty of photos to come ...

Today I am off on my own, a second attempt (last was seven years ago foiled by the weather) to explore something that fascinated me from childhood. To meet Tom Dick and their famous brother Harry.
Hopefully to press a few buttons, for a friend back on Skiathos, who could not be here today. But will be very interested in my trip ...

Now off to fire up the trabant for a 60km trundle around the countryside ...

Previous Blog: Christmas day ...

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Christmas day ...

Καλά Χριστούγεννα or as they say here Wesołych Świąt Bożego Narodzenia ...

Which roughly translated means, crack open the Wodka!

Nearly time to start the trabant, for our 40km trip back to base camp 'Polish mamma'


We must be there by the time it gets dark, as we only have a torch for headlights. The engine struggles a bit on the hills, and can be a bit whiffy,  but as the man at Hertz said, its only one horse power and very environmentally friendly 🤐

Happy Christmas everyone, off to crack the whip ...

Later update:

The in-laws just tried our British delicacy, the Christmas pudding. Rather like going to the dentist, they very reluctant at first.

However I ate the Carp, so national pride at heart.

They tried it, and they liked it. The mince pies being still being treated with suspicion 😏 ...

Of course, Christmas day would not be the same, without #loveactually on TV ❤

Only here its the Polish version ...


... and some bloke is narrating all the words 🤔 someone called a lektor. Hope he is not related to Hannibal ...

Know it off by heart anyway ...

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Wroclaw by night ...

Walking off the Christmas market fun ...

Well after a mulled wine, a honey wodka, a ham hock and a hot chocolate, its a very good idea; So in the chill of the evening air, we headed off down to the river ...

There are some unusual creatures about ...


  



Try not to step on a goblin ...




You will find snowflakes down by the cathedral ...


 







Previous Blog: Christmas Market fun ...