Now we are in Warsaw, and have settled in, we will be doing some catch up blogs and stories, so here is the first, hope you like it.

Saturday 26/09/2015 – Salzburg to Warsaw – 1070km

Great name for a Chinese motel / restaurant
Great name for a Chinese motel / restaurant

Stayed at an ‘interesting’ Chinese restaurant / motel  just over the Austrian border in Germany!   Interesting name!!

What a day lay ahead! Promised Jacko we would be in Warsaw by the 29th, as more information is required by the foreigner’s office in relation to our visas.  After a brilliant  few days in Salzburg (a story for another time), we hit the road towards Warsaw at 8.15am.

 

Refugees waiting to board the buses
Refugees waiting to board the buses

As we came to the Austrian / German border, the many Syrian refugees we had seen on the roadside the day before were now being loaded onto buses.  There were so many men, women and children, but mostly men, just sitting, standing or still sleeping by the road. Amazing scenes, to say the least.

It was perfect riding conditions; a little cool but clear and great roads. We stopped only for coffee and fuel… for the bike and us! Had initially planned to stop about halfway for the night, but were both ‘wide eyed and bushy tailed’… as the saying goes, so we just kept on riding. It is strange how some days a few 100km can be so tiring, yet today we did in excess of 1000km, no worries at all! Just a couple of ‘old iron butts’ I guess!

Today we left from Germany….. then into Austria…. through the Czech Republic and on to Poland.  Travelling through  4 countries in one day is an amazing thing for us Aussies to do, because it would take around 4 days for us to ride from one side of Australia to the other (Melbourne to Perth)!

In Austria we needed to buy a Vigniette  (toll pass) to enable us to travel on the motorways. They are readily available at most service stations, and a 10 day Vignette for the motorbike cost the princely sum of €5, not a bank breaker at all.  When we passed into the Czech Republic, there was a  Vignette office  conveniently  located just inside their border. Happily went into pay to use their roads, anticipating around another €5, only to find out that motorbikes do not require a Vignette here! Yeah… better still !

Some cars passed by so very quickly on the unlimited speed motorways, that it felt  as if we were only doing around 40kmph. We usually cruise at around 110 – 120kmph when on the  motorways (fully loaded), so they were certainly going a might quicker. One such car  slowed a little as it passed by. The lady passenger was laughing, waving madly  and giving the thumbs up sign repeatedly. Think she must have been happy to see us with the Aussie numberplate!!! We certainly do attract some looks as we motor along.

Job done... with a knowing hand!
Job done… with a knowing hand!

At one fuel stop, Span decided to put some air in the tyres. The ‘air machine’ looked a bit like a portable weed sprayer, and took a bit to figure out, however with the assistance of a local lad all was good. The portable ‘air container’  needed to be pressurised, then taken to the tyre to fill it! Span adjusted the chain while stopped, then we were off again.

   

There were a lot of trucks on the road, and from many, many countries. Here are a ‘few’ of the initials we saw. Hope you have as much fun working them out as we did! … SK; SLOV; TR; EST; RO; H; A; D; PL; CZ; LV; RUS; I.

Vertix Raptor head set on side of John’s helmet
Vertix Raptor head set on side of John’s helmet

To keep ourselves occupied, we  sometimes play games with the alphabet, saying animals, places, peoples names etc, starting at the letter A, until we have worked our way through to Z. This is all made possible because we have Vertix Wraptor wireless  (bluetooth) intercom communication. They are just brilliant, so very clear, and the batteries last around 10 hours. They are also very portable.   These little Vertix beauties attach to the side of the helmet with the best, heaviest velcro ever.  When leaving the bike to go walking, we often lock the helmets onto the handle bars sooooo…..they are simple to detach and slip into our pockets. It can also be rather amusing going into a servo to pay. Because of the flip top helmet, there is no longer  any need take it off to go in. Span will often talk from the bike, and in answering him,  I often receive some very funny looks indeed….weird Aussies talking to themselves!!!  Seriously though, we thoroughly recommend Vertix to anyone considering purchasing headsets…… they are a real winner, and best of all … simple to use and lots of fun, as well as being very practical!

Arrived in Warsaw (wide awake) at around 11pm, almost 15 hours later! All in all, not a bad day’s riding!!

Sunday 27/9/15 –  Warsaw …. for the next 6 months or so.

The view from our 10th story apartment is great. We can see to the main city of Warsaw if we look left, and as the day progresses, so the view changes… just lovely! For the time being, the bike is just below our window, protected by a big leafy tree. Span puts the wheel lock on it, but really we are in a very safe area; there are other bikes parked in the street, so we are not concerned at all. We will be garaging the bike for the winter with a kind friend of Jacko’s.

Went to a local cafe for breaky, before heading to the local supermarket (about 200m from our flat), for a few things to ’tide us over’ until we can do a proper shop tomorrow. Did the ‘domestic stuff’ of washing clothes, unpacking all our gear etc and spent a nice day just getting the flat sorted. Surprisingly neither of us were tired, rather…. more excited at the prospect of starting our ‘winter sojourn’ in Warsaw.

Monday 28/9/11 – Warsaw

Jacko hard at work writing Polish letter of application
Jacko hard at work writing Polish letter of application

Went to see  our friends Jacko and Jadwiga to sort out the  further docs needed by the foreigner’s office, and spent most of the day with them. Jacko did a sterling job of writing further justifications for us to stay (in Polish), then it was off to the translator’s office to pick up other documents that had required ‘official translations’. We needed proof of an income etc, so these documents had to be translated by an official/approved translator.

Tuesday 29/9/11 – Warsaw

Outside the Foreigner’s office
Outside the Foreigner’s office

Met Jacko at the ‘Foreigner’s office’ to lodge further documents. Docs lodged, and all duly stamped, it was off for a coffee before heading home.  We have our formal face to face interviews tomorrow…. fingers crossed!

We are getting pretty good with the Met (underground rail) now, and have to say it is most efficient indeed. Trams are good too, however we still have a little work to do on the buses. They tend to go around corners that we do not want, which makes for a hasty exit at the next stop. Ahh well, we are getting to see lots of Warsaw and the walking is good for us! Did a big shop for food, made appointments to have our hair cut tomorrow at 8.30, then back to the flat to unpack our groceries and  for a cold beer / wine!

Motorbikes for sale in Tescos supermarket store!!!!!
Motorbikes for sale in Tescos supermarket store!!!!!

The big supermarkets here are an absolute adventure to say the least! They stock so much more than ours at home. Imagine our surprise …. and delight, when next to plastics, we found motorbikes!! Yep, no kidding, at Tescos here in Warsaw they sell motorbikes!

 

 

Wednesday 30/9/15 – Warsaw

Very quiet day today, just went for a long walk

Thursday 1/10/15 – Warsaw

Up early for our much needed 8.30 hair apps. Only problem was that we were 12 hours too early…. the appointments were for 8.30pm…. not am! Our first hiccup with language! Ahh well, if that’s the worst we will be OK.

Went to the foreigner’s office for our face to face interviews, fortunately they allowed Jacko to be our interpreter. Phew that was rather gruelling to say the least. For once, it would have been preferable that ladies did not go first. I was in there for over an hour,  and poor Jacko was translating flat out as the young lady flashed question after question. Span in next…. he was only in for about 20 minutes… lucky buggar.  There was a ‘technical’ hiccup with our travel health insurance so the short story is that we were advised to take out some local health insurance for a month to ‘get us over the line’.  Interviews done n dusted, it was off for a MUCH NEEDED beer!

Took the long way home, through the old town and one of the many parks. The autumn  leaves are beginning to fall, and we wait with excited anticipation to see Warsaw in autumn.  It was then off home to make sure we were not late for our 8.30PM haircuts.

Thursday 1/10/15, Friday 2/10/15  & Saturday 3/10/15 – Warsaw

Hard to believe it is October already, and that we have now been away for just over 6 months…. it feels like only a few weeks! Spent a quiet few days, as I am lousy with a cold…. first time since we left home! grrrrr Big thanks to our friend Joe for loading lots of things for us to watch on an external hard drive….. Life saver!!!!!!

A most beautiful sunset from our window
A most beautiful sunset from our window

Went for a few short walks, and enjoyed the spectacular sunsets from our 10th storey flat.

The internet in the flat is brilliant, so we made lots of calls home. One does not feel so far away from home with modern technology and communications.

 

Sunday 4/10/15 – Warsaw

One of the many roadside shrines - just beautiful
One of the many roadside shrines – just beautiful

Today we hopped on the bike and headed  out of town to go to Treblinka.  Along the way we saw many more roadside shrines of Our Lady, crucifixes and crosses. Many are decorated with ribbons and flowers, and have candles burning in coloured glass urns.

Sunday morning cake stall outside church on the way to Treblinka
Sunday morning cake stall outside church on the way to Treblinka

As we went through one town, we saw two women manning the Sunday morning cake stall outside the church, so of course we had to stop and buy. What a hoot… They spoke no English, and we have only the basics in Polish, yet we all clearly understood each other. Chose a chocolate roll cake, but the lady shook her head and insisted on another indicating it was better.  As it turns out she was right. It was like a very fine, light sponge roll, with a chocolate ganache and cherries, with real chocolate and chocolate flakes on the outside. Are your mouth’s watering yet… they should be, it was bloody good!!!!. Next we chose a loaf cake. Gave it to the lady, she shook her head and gave us another from another pile, indicating again that it was better/ fresher.  We also bought some local donuts… just in case we got peckish later on, which we did. With many smiles and laughter we waved goodbye, our cakes safely stowed in the top box.

It was a lovely ride to Treblinka, although in places the road was ‘a bit average’,  which was unusual, as on the whole, the roads in Poland have been excellent. The sun was shining, and the countryside and towns had so much for us to see; some towns so very, very old. Being a Sunday,  there were people just standing around or going to church, or riding their bikes etc.

 

 

TREBLINKA

Treblinka
Treblinka

Treblinka l was  a  forced labour camp (stone quarry), and Treblinka ll a most terrible extermination camp.

Students listening to their guide
Students listening to their guide

The 17 hectare Treblinka site was purchased by the Polish government post war, and the Museum of Fighting and Martyrdom was established here between 1959-64. As we entered the  site, there were buses of Jewish students visiting, as well as small family groups. It was a picture perfect sunny day.

Because the camp was liquidated in 1944,  and turnips oversewn on the site, there is little left. Instead, there are many symbolic monuments, such as the large concrete blocks for the entry gate. There are also rectangular concrete blocks  laid on the ground leading in, that symbolise the pathway of the railway tracks that led to a platform siding in the camp. This railway carried the trains and hundreds of thousands of people who were brought here to their deaths.  There is a cobbled road that symbolises the ‘black road’; so named because of the cartloads of human ash that were dropped there on a daily basis that made the roadway black.

It was with very sobering feelings that we walked the symbolic train track to the railway siding, knowing that here, the more than 800,000 men, women and children who perished at Treblinka were unloaded. One can not begin to imagine how they felt! They came from villages in Poland, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria (Macedonia and Thrace were part of Bulgaria at the time), Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, Yugoslavia, Germany and the Soviet Union.   

View across the railway tracks and siding where the train stopped to the main monument area. On the left the small corner stone; on the right the large stones with the names of countries
View across the railway tracks and siding where the train stopped to the main monument area. On the left the small corner stone; on the right the large stones with the names of countries
Large stones bearing the names of countries from which people were deported to Treblinka
Large stones bearing the names of countries from which people were deported to Treblinka

From the railway siding, we see  the cobbled pathway  that leads to the  symbolic cemetery. At the beginning of this pathway, on the left, there is a corner stone that marks the entrance to where the gas chambers were, and on the right are large stones with the names of  countries people were brought from.

 According to a pamphlet we obtained from the visitors centre, ‘The great monument in Treblinka is a homage of the Polish people, to those ashes lying under the concrete plates of the symbolic cemetery. It is one of the most tragic moments of martyrdom in Poland’.

A beautiful peaceful forest today, with a horrific, not so peaceful past
A beautiful peaceful forest today, with a horrific, not so peaceful past

The sun was shining, the forest so quiet and beautiful and a family with young children were laughing and playing as children do….. a far cry from the horrors of this place, now more than 70 years ago.

Main monument near site of gas chambers and cremation pyres
Main monument near site of gas chambers and cremation pyres

The 26 foot high granite memorial stone was designed to resemble a  Jewish tombstone. There is a Menorah  (Symbol of devine light spreading throughout the world)  at the top/back and the crack through the middle was intentional, part of the design.

Symbolic cemetery - cremation Pyre to the right; rear view of main monument
Symbolic cemetery – cremation Pyre to the right; rear view of main monument

A blackened rectangular  area nestled in the grass, behind the monument,  symbolises the mass cremation pits. 

 

Symbolic cemetery stones with village names
Symbolic cemetery stones with village names

There are 1700  quarry stones of various sizes, set in a concrete circle to represent the symbolic cemetery. The stones symbolise those who perished here and the towns they came from. Some stones have  names of villages, most do not.  The largest of these stones bears the name of Warsaw from where the greatest number of people were deported to Treblinka.

Monument to Dr Janusz Korzak and the orphan children he cared for. Many small stones left by visitors here

There is but one  stone that bears the name of an individual person and that is Janusz Korczak, he is the only person to have his name on a stone. This name is the pseudonym for Dr Henry Goldszmit, physician, writer and educator, and clearly a lover of children.  He was a published children’s author who cared for the poor and needy in his early career. He went on to work in a Jewish children’s hospital, and had a particular caring for orphans. Around 1912 he became director  of a new Jewish orphanage in Warsaw and in 1914 was called up to serve time in the Russian army.  Much later, when the Warsaw ghetto was formed, he was once again with his orphans. He declined an offer of asylum and safety for himself, to remain with the children. He walked hand in hand with them, and went with them to Treblinka where they all perished…. almost 200 children were in his loving care.   

Flag of Zion left to blow in the breeze
Flag of Zion waving in the breeze

On and amongst the  stones, we see  flowers, the remains of candles, small stones in piles as per Jewish tradition, and one had a small Jewish flag waving every so gently in the breeze…. all left by others who have visited here.

The remains of Treblinka are nothing like Auchwich for example, where there are many intact buildings remaining. Here, deep in the forest, all that remains are the footings of buildings.   It was such a beautiful sunny day with the wind whispering in the trees, yet there was an overriding feeling of sadness, as the story boards left nothing to the imagination in describing the terrible things that happened here, so long ago. One does not come away smiling.

So many crosses...
So many crosses…

One shudders to contemplate that 12,00 – 15,000 people were killed here every day, and we came away feeling very sober indeed. It is hard to imagine why / how people would be so very cruel and sadistic…. it is simply horrifying. The strength, resiliance and courage of the Polish people both here and at so many other sites during this terrible, terrible time is simply inspiring.

Our thanks to the Jewish Virtual Library for the brilliant information on their website. To be able to come home and read, certainly makes the visit so much more memorable, because we have further increased our knowledge and understanding of what we have seen.

Monday 5/10/15 – one sleep to go to the BIG 60!

Still working through the visa process… Have had the interview, and local health insurance was recommended (long story!), so we spent today sorting that. Went to the local AXA office, and the lady there was so very kind and helpful, however the upshot was that we had to do it online, so back to the flat we go.

Purchased the AXA medical insurance (around $10) online and dropped the docs onto a USB in readiness to look for somewhere to print them tomorrow.

It was now 4.05pm in Warsaw, which is  5 past midnight in Australia, so Span is officially 60!!!.

Gave him his first gifts and card… and ‘Old Guys Rule’ T-shirt and hip flask, from Chedder Gorge, when in England with Colleen.  A big thanks to Col and Cavin for covertly making the purchases!

Next was to play ‘It’s Johnny’s birthday’ (George Harrison) and have first go at the birthday cake.  Home made Spaghetti Bol for tea, with a nice bottle of red (Nero D’Avola, at 14.99 zl = $5.39). Span off to bed, while the flat was ’transformed’ into a  60th birthday  flat!

Funny story re the hip flask…. Went down to the local bottle shop the night before to buy ‘something’ to put in the flask…. can’t give a bloke an empty flask after all!  Told John I was going for a bottle of wine, and would put the rubbish down in the bins as well. All good so far. The apartment block has large dumpsters at the back of the building, including recycling bins. Had our ‘empties’ in a plastic shopping bag, along with the hip flask. Bought the wine and a nice bottle of cherry Vodka, then off to the dumper. Tipped the cherry Vodka into the hip flask, but there was about 50ml too much, so waste not want not…… thought nothing of slurping the remainder from the bottle, then chucked it into the bottle bin.. ‘with gay abandon”. Only problem was there was an elderly lady behind me who had some rubbish as well. She took one look at me …. the bag of empties,  and having just finished the Cherry Vodka and gave a very disgusted grunt as she pushed past to dispose of her rubbish!  mmmm ……. probably wasn’t a good look, but the Cherry Vodka was damn fine!

Tuesday  6/10/15 – Span’s 60th

Top of 10 and low of -2 degrees today…

Officially SPAN’s BIG 60 in Warsaw. Woke to a very, very grey and cool day, but that did not daunt the birthday boy one bit.

Gave him the main gift being his Apple watch, and a pair of  ’60′ sox. Thanks Liam for getting the watch in London.

Spent the morning talking with kids, grandkids, family and friends which was really good. Lit the birthday cake candles lit again and again, so the grandkids could blow out the candles with Pop. FaceTime is a marvellous thing indeed!

Tiny , tiny printing office
Tiny , tiny printing office

Headed into the Old town of Warsaw and the ‘Immigration building’ to lodge the insurance docs with our Visa application.  As always, the staff are so helpful, and we found a little printing office to print off the insurance docs, before heading back to take a ticket and wait to lodge them.

There were about 140 tickets ahead of ours, so we settled in to wait, however  many people had apparently decided not to wait, so we were in and out in about 45minutes. Insurance docs handed in and duly stamped, we headed off to see some more of the old town and have a fitting 60th birthday tea.

Ended up in a lovely restaurant in the square, with a wonderful meal and atmosphere. There was a guy playing Base, and whistling the Jazz and Blues as he played; he was was really good, and had the longest dreadlocks ever.  It was somewhat chilly, and there was a lot of low cloud over the city, but we were cosy and warm with the gas heaters and rugs supplied.  Well, ‘the birthday boy’ snuggled under a rug…..  guess his age must be showing… ha… ha….

Enjoyed a lovely walk back to the train station, the long way, and made our way home. It was cool, but very pleasant walking, and we are well rugged up.

Now re the Apple watch… think we may have unleashed Span’s IT monster with this little beauty … bless. He loves it and all the gadgety things it does, such as heart rate, calorie counts, distance walked each day etc… it even buzzes every hour if he is sitting, to remind him to get up and mobilise!! Quite a nifty ‘bit of kit’.

A Kangaroo to add to the brand!
A Kangaroo to add to the brand!

Thursday 8/10/15 – Jadwiga’s birthday

October is a busy time for celebrations this year in Warsaw. The 6th being John’s 60th, the 8th – Jadwiga’s 60th and our 10th wedding anniversary, the 10th Jacko’s 60th!

So, today being Jadwiga’s 60th birthday, we went to visit with flowers and a cake, and on our way home, settled for a pizza for our anniversary tea. Another beautiful sunny day, but a little cool.

Friday 9/10/15

Temp today was 8 to -3 degrees, but another day with lovely sunshine.  We have a leaky tap in the kitchen, so Jacko is organising a plumber. A quiet day over all. Went for a walk, coffee n cake, then back home to watch an episode of Ray  Donovan, thanks again to our friend Joe, who downloaded a ‘heap of viewing’ onto a hard drive for us to bring….. very handy indeed. We do have a small TV, but our grasp of the Polish language is not that good yet.

Picture this if you will. Us curled up on the couch, sipping beer and wine, watching the TV in Warsaw…  movie in  Spanish….. dubbed in Polish.. yep we get it entirely!!!!

Sunday 10/10/15 – Jacko’s 60th

Jacko was busy with family today, so we will catch up with him tomorrow.

Went for a long walk this morning before breaky. Came to a large park, and the shallow pond was frozen in part. Looked very strange to see the birds ‘walking on water’!

This reads... “Place sanctified by the blood of Poles fighting for freedom"
This reads… “Place sanctified by the blood of Poles fighting for freedom”

One can not help but be moved by the number of  memorial plaques and other monuments throughout the city.  Most are in memory / recognition of those who were killed  in Warsaw during the uprising time and the ghettos.  There are  approximately 200 plaques called Tchoreck plaques, so named after their designer. They are  all made of sandstone and feature a Maltese cross with the same wording. “This place is sanctified by the blood of Poles  fighting for the freedom of their homeland”. Then underneath the cross, will be the sad details, such as of the number of people and how they died. Others  just have simple words in memory of the who lost their lives.

The Polish people had such strength and courage in the face of so much adversity and horror… just unimaginable really, and they still take the time to remember and honour. Apparently local groups such as schools, community groups etc have each  taken on the care of a plaque / memorial, so each one is cared for…. such respect, just lovely!

Memorial to children who were shot at this place
Memorial to children who were shot at this place

We came across this memorial as we were walking through a nearby park.   It roughly translates to ‘here in August 1944 Nazi criminals shot a group of small children in age 5 to 10′.  As we stand there reading (using our google translator), on such a beautiful sunny day with people walking by chattering happily, it is hard to imagine the horror and fear of that time.

Many of the memorials have candles burning, flowers and the red and white ribbons of Polish colours. It brings a whole new meaning to ‘Lest we forget’… here they most certainly do not. The candles and flowers are a daily reminder of memory and  respect.

Sunday 11/10/15

Jadwiga and Jacko - looking mighty good at 60!
Jadwiga and Jacko – looking mighty good at 60!

Called on Jacko and Jadwiga today for coffee and Jacko’s belated 60th birthday, before going to visit one of the larger shopping centres to look for some winter gear. We both got shoes and gloves…. well that’s a start.

We are slowly mastering the public transport, however mucked it up completely going to Jacko’s today. We ended up getting off the tram, and jumping on the underground rail to complete our journey. Well we did get there in the end.. just a bit later than  we planned. A worried Jacko & Jadwiga were very glad to see us.

Monday 12/10/15

Rain was forecast for today. We awoke to very grey skies, with one very small white circle high up the clouds …. that was the sun trying to peep through!  The  grey clouds are different to home, they blanket the whole sky and are, at this time, a very beautiful soft grey.

People are going about their business as usual, however we have noticed a subtle difference in the clothing, with the addition of hats. scarves,  light coats, more solid shoes and gloves. As they say in Game of Thrones … ‘winter is coming’.

Span all set for the cold winter in new furry boots and coat!
Span all set for the cold winter in new furry boots and coat!

Went to Acadia, to look for coats.. John certainly got the ‘bargain of the century’! He found a coat that was marked down to 79.99zloty  ($28.00), but it had some chocolate on the sleeve, so we decided to ask for a discount.. No problem, 10 zloty taken off, which meant that his coat cost $25.35!!! It is a great coat, with hood, fluffy collar and an extra padded layer that can zip out!

So, how the discount process works is that you pay full price at the register, then go to the returns counter for the 10 zloty refund. No problems.. While  standing in the  long queue, the guy in front turned and stared chatting in an animated fashion to me. I said…. ’sorry .. Australian”.  He laughed and said…’ Australie? …. mmm’. Then into his phone he goes.  Next thing he is playing  a classical version of the Aussie folk song Botany Bay.. what a hoot. He roared laughing when I joined in the song….

What a great moment!

Tuesday 13/10/15 – 18/10/15

Changing colours of Autumn
Changing colours of Autumn

Weather cold and wet on and off for the past few days, we are however enjoying ourselves.  Our apartment is on the 10th floor, and the views  are quite beautiful.  With the coming of winter, the trees are changing colour …. simply stunning. Imagine Bright in the Autumn, and we have that everywhere.

 

Autumn brilliance
Autumn brilliance

There are many big trees  in the streets, and parks dotted throughout the city. Warsaw is definitely a ‘green city’.   The trees are slowly changing to the lovely gold and orange of Autumn.

We have the flat pretty well set up now, and it is quite cosy and warm. The heating is remarkably effective, with Span in shorts n T-shirt most of the time, even though the temperature outside is less than 10 degrees. This is due to what they call ‘District heating’.  The almost complete destruction of Warsaw during the second world war allowed for the construction of an enormous network of heating pipes as Warsaw was rebuilt, these pipes go into most buildings in the city. It is a cleaner and more  efficient form of heating, and apparently less polluting as well. Added bonus is that we turn on the hot water tap and in less than 3 seconds, we have hot water.. Loving it!!!

Ahhhh... the cakes!!!!!
Ahhhh… the cakes!!!!!

Sooooo.. How do we spend our time??? Well most days we go for a long walk, and usually enjoy a coffee and cake along the way. Have we said HOW GOOD the Polish cakes are!!! The  two local coffee shops now know us quite well, and are always so very friendly, despite our poor Polish.

Tram busker
Tram busker

On the trams, it is not uncommon to have a guy playing a piano accordion, only problem is he only seems to know one song!! Sorry about the pic quality. it was a quick iPhone snap, but you get the idea.

The local markets are a real treat! So many meat, fruit, cheese stalls etc.. etc. Some stalls are small shops on either side of the aisle, some under marquis,  some have a few items for sale on the footpath only, others simply  sit or stand with only a couple of items. At the markets we see so many lovely old folk, all busy going about their day’s shopping.

We love nothing better than hopping a tram or the subway, going into  Warsaw and just wandering, looking, smelling and soaking up the local culture, cuisine, parks, buildings, history etc.. etc… Warsaw is an amazing city, and exploring it is an adventure each time we go out.

One building that stands out and is a great landmark in Warsaw is the Russian building… aka the elephant in frilly underwear.   It’s correct title is ’The Palace of Culture and Science. We are yet to explore here. We are told that this building  is hated passionately by some yet loved by others, because it symbolises the destruction and resurrection of Warsaw.   It was built in 1952 by Stalin, as a gift to the Polish people at a cost of more than 231 million. It was initially white, but with many, many years of pollution, it is now grey. It is lit up at night with different colours which really do make it a feature landmark.

 

All in all we are having a very relaxing time. The cross-stitch and knitting have come out, and John spends a good deal of time reading about Polish history, amongst other things that he shares while I stitch or knit. The flat is not luxurious, but it is warm and cosy, and we feel very secure, content and at home here. There is key pad entry to the building (as with most buildings) and another locked door to our floor level once we are out of the lift. The area we are living in is called Old Mokotow, and is very safe. There is an English speaking Primary school and Kindergarden about 100 metres from our flat, and it is lovely to hear and see the children as we walk by. We are also very close to the local hospital, so ambulance sirens are heard frequently too.

 

We had an email from a friend at home, who was astounded  when he read  the blog from the Rhine valley.   The blog had…‘Met Judy and Colin from Frankston’. Dave sent .. ‘that is amazing… Jude is my cousin, Colin is a top guy.. wait till I see her next. Gob smacked!!!  Mmmmmm ……. Not that just puts a whole new slant on 6 degrees of separation!

Monday 19/10/15 – Wednesday 21/10/15

Local Dentist!
Local Dentist!

Been out riding, looking for  a dentist (John has broken a tooth) and looking for a podiatrist for me. The street addresses are tricky, and a podiatrist not easy to find, so it took a while, however it was just great to be on the bike riding around after the cool spell. The dentist is one Jacko  and Jadwiga recommended.  Appointments made, it was off to have a look at the Autumn colours……… Annnnd a coffee n cake of course!!! …… Poor bike!!!

Speaking of the bike, it was well overdue for a wash, so off to find a wash place we goes.  Not sure who enjoyed it the more … Span or the bike!!! It has been  while since the last wash, and and it was well and truly in need of a ‘good tubbing’!  Time for new tyres also before we garage for the winter, so a visit to the local Suzuki dealer was in order too.

 

Not sure who is enjoying this more????
Not sure who enjoyed it more……. John or the bike!

We had some very good advice from Helmuth (friend in Northern Italy), who told us to be off the bike by 4-4.30pm each day, as after that it is too cold….   he is absolutely right, it gets mighty cool, and DARK after that!

Span very happy with the dentist appointment and treatment. The dentist ia a lovely lass, and most professional and proficient. Dental is very cheap….  He had  a BIG filling, and full facial X-rays all for  around $80.00 Australian… not bad at all!!

Had a lovely ‘light globe’ moment while on the back of the bike today…. By the time we get home, it will be more than 18 months since I have done any ironing!!!! Now that’s gotta be GOOD!!!

Have joined a group called Internations to meet some other expats in Warsaw. They had a 2 hour talk tonight on the history of Warsaw’s buildings. Sounded like a good event to attend. Off we headed in plenty of time. Only problem was that there are a number of streets named after John Paul II in the Warsaw districts. Yep you got it.. we went to the wrong district…. on the other side of the river. Turned out the correct address was not ten minutes from us, but we travelled for over an hour and a half by going to the wrong one.. Mmmm seems we still have a little work to do with the street names!!!

Heat smart ????
Heat smart ????

We eat in most of the time, and are really enjoying the Polish cuisine… sausage, soups, dumplings, fruit vegetables .. and cakes!!   Shops are all within a few minutes walk of the apartment, and there are many small fruit and veg stalls as well. And most importantly the alcohol shop is literally ’29 steps’ from the back door of our building! Yeah….gotta be happy about that!

Thursday 22/10/15 – Warsaw / Poland

Really loving being in Poland, and fingers and toes crossed our visas will be approved soon. Today is the last day in the process for all docs etc to be reviewed, so hopefully we will have an answer soon.

‘Armed’ n ready for action
‘Armed’ n ready for action
What a cutie ...Not bad!!!
What a cutie …Not bad!!!

Went with Jacko and Jadwiga to see  where the bike will be garaged, then off for some shopping. Bought a set of hair clippers for around $26. John is in need of a haircut, and we thought we would become our own hairdressers over winter. Oh well, we can always wear a hat!! It was a bit of fun, and Johnny looked OK at the end. Mine can wait for another day.. until we BOTH have the courage!!

The 4 Js.. Jacko, Jadwiga, Jo and John (Span)
The 4 Js.. Jacko, Jadwiga, Jo and John (Span)

Jacko & Jadwiga are returning to Australia tomorrow, but not before we had time for one last pic together. We can not thank them enough for their help with our accommodation while in Poland, and especially Jacko for all his help with our residency visas.

 

Now jumping forward to today… It is New Years Eve, and we are about to head out to see all the festivities. Fire crackers and fireworks have been going off since around 4pm, and we have a lovely show from out window, in all directions. We have also heard some almighty loud BANGS, not only today, but in the preceding few days!!

When we were out today, there were fireworks for sale on the street and in the supermarket …. Tesco again.

Wishing everyone a safe and Happy New Year, and may 2016 be a good one for ALL.

IMG_6216