January 6, 2013

words paint pictures...Poland

My last blog on the subject was very much about the trip aspect of Poland, the pottery...the stores...the accident.  I'd like to take a moment to use pretty flowery words to describe Poland in general.  The parts that we saw.  The people we met.  Not just the shopping and such, but Poland itself and the feel I got from it.  I am huge on feelings, I feel like certain cities/towns speak to you.  If you pay attention you can see the history through the paint, you can see the struggle or opulence.  It's even more obvious in Europe, I believe.  So let's begin, I will take you on a fantastical journey called "Poland, trip one".

As we began the drive crossing from Germany into Poland things began looking more...oddly like driving down the interstate in the states.  Just at first.  When you start entering populated areas you could see the difference.  The homes, the yards, even the land itself.  While on the autobahn, the most common sights were farms.  Some of the farm houses were very beautiful and preserved, others were a bit run down.  We noticed right away that there was a common building color.  Grey.

Once we got into Bolesławiec, our beginning hours were spent seeking out pottery.  Even during this time I was taking note of the landscape and homes.  The sky was grey and overcast, many buildings were grey, the trees had lost their leaves leaving only naked grey-looking trees interspersed with the evergreens.  We came across a home.  A yellow home.  The yard was still a bit stark but I could imagine it with spring green grass and the trees full of leaves.  I could imagine laundry hanging on the line getting that fresh smell only the sun can bring.  I imagined the people living there in this large home making borscht to eat for their midday meal.  But as it was, things looked a bit bleak.  I would love to revisit during spring or summer to see if the reality matches my imagination.

As we left the pottery area and drove to the restaurant, we saw large stores we recognized from Germany.  We noticed little stores, boutiques and grocery stores.  Then we hit a very residential area where most of the buildings were those I have become accustomed to seeing in eastern parts of  Europe.  Large rectangle apartment style buildings, very functional but not very stylish.  I equate these things with living behind the Iron Curtain, countries that lived with communism for many years.  Function was key, comfort was not.  The things that we take for granted were frivolous and not needed in communistic countries.  Most of these buildings were grey, fitting the theme I had been seeing.  Some buildings had been painted brightly, trying to convey a new message of hope and happiness.  Bright yellows, greens, oranges, reds.  Still very geometric, straight lines...still the same rectangle functional buildings.  Just bright and cheerful.  Trying.

As we exited that part of town we entered the countryside again.  We came across more of the fully functional farms, beautiful land, stone houses.  We stumbled upon several large brick or stone homes that you could just tell had once been stunning and gorgeous...windows now bricked over or completely open with no screens or covering.  Parts of roofs caved in, a bit of tagging here or there.  I wanted to live in those places, I wanted to crawl into an open window and make myself a home.  Start small, then transform it to it's former beauty...a traditional Polish home filled with beautiful pottery and walls in that blue so popularly used in the traditional patterns.  Lots of candle light, dim lights, nothing over powering.  I could see myself inside this stately home with my Great Dane laying by the fire and Stella on a faux fur rug.  These are the things I was seeing as I saw these homes.  I know most people saw crumbling and decaying facades and nothing more.  Sometimes having a very active creative imagination gets me into trouble.  Sometimes it creates beautiful images that only I can see, that only I can describe.  It is usually a blessing.  I enjoy finding beauty in things that others view as decay.

As we continued driving we came across a new housing development, some homes still being built.  They were large homes made of stucco with clay tile roofs very much like the ones I often see in Bavaria.  The architecture was gorgeous with many curves and arches, details missing from the functional apartment buildings.  They were beautiful, but far less beautiful than the homes I had been creating in my mind.  They seemed very out of place.

Once we neared the restaurant we were eating at, some of the homes were rather large and seemed more like the ones I had created.  But directly next to that home would be one of the ones I had already fallen in love with, a beautiful stone home with blemishes beyond many peoples abilities to see the beauty.  The restaurant itself was gorgeous.  It is also an inn and for my future trips, I plan on staying in that inn and exploring more of the surrounding area.  There appeared to be a working farm that was either part of the inn or at least attached to it.  There were horses, farm cats, and dogs.  Basically Bri heaven.

By the time we were leaving the restaurant, not only was the sky still grey, dusk was setting in casting even more shadow on places that already seemed dark.  From that point, I was sitting in a back seat and was less able to see reality so I kept focusing on the beauty that others don't see, the beauty my mind was creating for me.

Once we exited Poland things got back to being common place for me.  This section of Germany may have been East Germany and also behind the Iron Curtain but it seemed that if that was the case, they had rebounded much more quickly than the still recovering portion of Poland we had just left.

All in all, I loved the trip to Poland, I loved the things that were seen and unseen.  I plan on returning very soon, with or without buying pottery.  I want to check and double check that I have my SD card this time, make sure it is clear and ready for an absurd amount of pictures.  I want to make people see things the way that I see them or at least help create a better scene for them.  These things will happen, I am determined.

The way I saw Poland reminded me very much of the way that I saw Croatia, which I have not blogged about - but I will.

I hope that you have enjoyed my verbal tour of Bolesławiec and the surrounding countryside.


January 5, 2013

"Super Secret Trip"

I was recently presented the opportunity to go to a country that I have been hoping to go to since we got here.  Not for myself.  Don't get me wrong, I like traveling.  I want to go EVERYWHERE.  But if I didn't have loved ones that had a vested interest in this country, it wouldn't have made my list most likely...my HAVE TO GO OR ELSE list.  But alas, I do love them.  So when this opportunity popped up, I jumped on it.

Poland.  I have mentioned my dear friend Lajo in previous blogs, both here and on the other blog.  Her family is like my family...whether they like it or not.  I adore her side of the family and I love her husbands family.  I just adore them.  And I like to think that they adore me.  Well I don't mention last names on my blogs, but I will just say there are some "...ski"s involved.  Very Polish.  So I wanted to go to Poland and find the boys something, find Milf (that's her name, I don't care what anyone else says).  I was also able to find a couple of things for St. Babs, which shocked me a little bit, but it was still good.

The whole point of this trip was to buy Polish Pottery.  It's kind of a big thing.  Polish Pottery.  It's very popular and there are all of these outlets where we went.  Plus...well...it was Poland.

So.  The trip started by us leaving very early in the morning and heading to the Sparkasse in town to get Euro and into the bakery for breakfast.  I somehow managed to lock us out of the car.  Awesome.  We sent Kodie and Taylor to the house to go get the extra key.  I am a genius.  Luckily it wasn't far.  So we get on the road.  I can't remember who started driving lol, all I remember is that at some point I'm driving (I believe after the rest stop).  I drive til Dresden which is where we stopped for gas.  I didn't lock anyone out.  YAY!! Denise took over driving because we were close to the Polish border and I don't have an international license.  We get into town and find a great shop.  We went into several, made some good purchases.  Things begin to get interesting right about here.

We go into an Antique shop.  I'm in love, there are so many amazing antiques! I'm mentally making a list of the things I want to buy.  Then I see a little shrunk type thing...however because it sounds creepier, I am calling it a closet.  A closet of horrors.  I look in and I literally stop breathing...I can't move...I just stare.

Allllll nazi memorabilia.  We're talking rings, medals, SS stuff, swastika stuff...Hitler specific stuff...helmets, sharp stabby knives with swastika's on them...just...wow.  I know that there is a lot of history involving Poland and the nazi's...but it just felt very...wrong.  You don't really see stuff like that in Germany.  I'm sure there is some here, but it's not on display in a little pottery/antique shop.

So Rachel and I left the building and we were doing that weird "super awkward laugh" thing...we didn't even know how to react or what to think.  It honestly made me feel ill as opposed to historical.

The next shop was a great pottery shop where I made several of my discoveries and purchases.  After that we hit one more shop where I bought several more pieces, then we headed to lunch.

Food was AMAZING.  I ate perogies.  In Poland.  Kind of awesome.  I also drank an "organic on tap" Polish beer.  It's right up there with my favorite Croatian beer, it was SO good.  Delicious and great service, plus it was very well priced.

After that we went back to the first pottery shop and picked up a few things I had initially seen and wasn't sure about but decided I wanted.  Then we began the journey home.

Denise drove until Dresden, then Maryanne took over.  This is where things get...we'll go with funny, now that it's over.

7 American women, 2 Polish men, and 2 German Polizei park at a gas station...

That's the start of a pretty great joke, right?

No.  It's the ending of a pretty traumatic event haha.

So everything is going fine, it's raining but it's not too terrible.  So we think.  The speed limit was around 130km there and we were pushing 80km at the most...just taking it easy.  All of a sudden we were HYDROPLANING.  We were all over the place, literally swerving across the lanes, fishtailing everywhere....it was awful.  We were all kind of yelling, Maryanne was silent but trying to regain control over the vehicle.  Finally she was able to stop. In the fast lane.  On the autobahn.  What I haven't mentioned is that in our journey across the lanes we were rear ended.  By a diesel.  On the autobahn.  They pulled over off to the right so we eventually were able to make it over to them.

I cannot even explain how lucky we were.  There is a scratch on each side of the rear fender and the rear right light cover looks like it's popped off a little.  That is all.  We are all fine, our necks and shoulders hurt but it's from tensing up.  Denise went into shock, Maryanne did too I think...I got an adrenaline rush that made me shake like a crackhead, Taylor and Kodie were pretty freaked out...and Rachel was just glad she had taken her anxiety meds early enough that they had kicked in.  Luckily I had as well.  So oddly, Rachel and I were the most calm.  That NEVER happens lol.  We get out to talk to the diesel drivers.  Great.  Polish men who speak next to no English.  Okay.  So I get out my handy dandy iPhone and translate "Are you okay" with my translator app.  They nod and hand it back, asking the same question basically (it's amazing what hand gestures can do).  I nod and translate "scared" then grab my heart and scream lol.  He nods and points to the two of them, grabs his heart and screams too lol.  It was like a super twisted game of charades.

The Polizei show up.  They speak zero English.  And zero Polish.  So we are 3 different nationalities who cannot effectively speak to one another.  LOVELY haha.  The Polizei suggests we drive down the road 5km.  He leads, we all follow, very slowly.  He pulls into a gas station parking lot and pulls under the diesel fuel station with the covers over it - it's still raining.  I leave the girls to do the talking since I was in the backseat at the time, and I go chain smoke.  Seriously I was so...ARGH.  It took about an hour but finally everything was all hashed out, papers were filed, fault was deemed (ours), a fine was charged (35euro) and then we were free to go.  The diesel driver shook our hands which was really nice.  I know that truck drivers get shaken about this stuff just as much as the passengers in the car involved.  It is something they fear greatly.  Or any of the good ones at least.  I know all of this stuff because my ex-Step-Dad was a truck driver the entire time I lived with him, from 7 to 21.  I know a good bit about diesels and truck drivers.  I know a good bit about the lifestyle, the mindset.  The laws.  The tricks about getting around weight limits.  Oh, I know how to "adjust" log books back when they were hand written.  I know allllllll sorts of fun stuff.  I was worried about them too, and I think they appreciated it.

Denise was intent on driving but I didn't think it was a good idea.  She was still pretty shaken.  I mean, it was her car...and it was just scary in general.  So I stepped up.  I remember saying, "I got this." lol.  And I did, I was totally fine.  I drove very slow because everyone in the van was a bit traumatized.  And we made it home safe and sound.

All in all, it was a great experience.  I can even see the positive in the accident.  Who survives an accident, on the autobahn...involving a diesel? That is a definite experience I will never forget.  We lived, we're awesome and so so so lucky.

Plus, I went to POLAND!!! One more country on my list.  I want to go back when I'm healed and spend more time there, perhaps overnight.  See more than just the pottery places and the food place (which really was delightful).  The company was great...everything was just wonderful...except that last bit.  I'd really rather not experience that again, once was enough.

So that's my bit trip and adventure.  I am exhausted beyond belief so I'm going to bid adieu and hit the hay after I add a few photos here for your viewing pleasure :)

Something in Polish :)

GIANT Polish Pottery

Walking further into town

The pottery tree!! This place was cool.

I don't know why, but I really liked this house.  A lot.

Taylor being weird...in front of the pottery tree


Taylor with Marilyn Monroe outside the scary store with the closet.

A Polish Pottery palm tree!! those are all plates.  So cool!

Taylor and I at the restaurant

I'm not going to lie, even though I knew this was a toothpick, the word threw me off big time...

Taylor's Polish Coke.

Myself and my glorious beer!!

My pierogies...in Poland...it excited me greatly.

My Greek Salad...in Poland...tryin' to get some extra culture.

Apple fritters with Kiwi, icecream, and hot fudge sauce...Taylor and I shared this...ohhhh yum

So that's all.  I HIGHLY recommend a trip to Poland, for pottery or just to wander about.  It's beautiful and completely amazing.  I will be going back and I will just pray very hard that there aren't any accidents on the way home.  Cause that was terrible.

I hope everyone enjoyed my blog and I hope that my J-Boys and Milf know how much I love them...I wouldn't do things like this for just anyone!! <3 <3