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Wawel Cathedral (Katedra Wawelska), Krakow 21/04/2012

A Polish Acropolis

Wawel Cathedral (Katedra Wawelska), Krakow I have been meaning to write about Wawel Cathedral for a while now but there is so much of it to describe I have put it off knowing that a review would probably read like a long essay so I will try and keep this review as short as possible.Orientation Where is Wawel Cathedral? In Krakow, southern Poland. The Cathedral is a magnificent building situated amongst the series of buildings that comprise Wawel Hill. Best way to view the Cathedral I have visited Wawel Cathedral three times. The first time was with a tour guide as part of an all-in holiday to Zakopane many years ago. This was a disaster in my opinion as I just found the guide really boring and ended up wandering off on my own. Since then I have visited without a guide. This can be a bit tricky if you want to see more than the cathedral as Wawel Hill is a popular destination due to the fact that most of the buildings close at 3pm so everyone wants to fit as much in as possible. However, a ticket isn't necessary for viewing most of the cathedral so my best advice is to go early in the morning, beat the crowds and view the cathedral first. The Importance of the Cathedral As you may or may not know Krakow was the capital of Poland until it was moved to Warsaw in the 17th century. This cathedral was the shrine of monarchs and from 1930 Polish kings were crowned and buried in the crypts along side Polish statesmen, religious leaders and cultural figures such as Poland's greatest poet Adam Mickiewicz. This is still the case ...

Sanok, Poland 15/04/2012

A Good Starting Point for Excursions into the Bieszczady Mountains

Sanok, Poland The route from Warsaw to the Bieszczady Mountains in the south east of Poland is a very interesting one and in many parts quite untamed and beautiful. Krasiczyn marks the start of the most beautiful stretch of this route, the road winding through magnificent mountain scenery with panoramic views of green valleys. Whether visitors come from Warsaw or not they will all have to pass through the town of Sanok to reach the high mountains and Lake Solina. This old and pretty town is an ideal starting point for excursions in the Bieszczady; a range of mountains forming part of the Polish Carpathians. I am glad we took time to see Sanok last summer when visiting the Bieszczady. The town had been recommended to me by several people and I had heard so many stories about the wonderful skansen and museums. My first port of call was the Palace of Sanok, high up on the banks of the San. It is here where an interesting collection of icons are on display in the Historical Museum. This Castle has changed architectural styles from Gothic to Renaissance and was originally a Ruthenian fortification. The museum does not display all of the 700 icons (the biggest collection in Poland and the second largest in the world after Moscow) owned due to refurbishments in progress on the castle but will eventually show the full display when work has finished. Of the 300 on display you will see icons from the 15th right through to the 18th century. I was pleased to see that they had been placed in ...

Papryczka , Warsaw 04/04/2012

A restaurant that's right up my street

Papryczka , Warsaw It seems very odd reviewing a restaurant that is only 5 or 6 strides away from the front entrance of my apartment block. This smashing little Italian restaurant opened in June, two years ago now and the owners have spent a lot of time, money and energy into making it very appealing. The Papryczka (pepper) restaurant is situated on ul. Zawiszy in Wola, a very old district of Warsaw that is about 25 minutes away from the centre by tram. Of course I don't have to travel very far as it is on the street where I live. This is great for me as I am quite lazy in the winter and don't like to venture too far in snow, ice and howling winds from Siberia. The restaurant itself sits in a parade of shops including a top class bakery, cake-shop and travel agents. The apartment block above the parade is very stylish and trendy and houses a lot of young business people and university students. During the summer months the restaurant was packed out every night inside and outside so the owners have chosen a good location. Before we step inside the Papryczka, let's have a look at the outside. Such beauty has been created in such a small area just by planting a few conifers, placing wicker chairs and pine tables and on each table and window sills a vast amount of candles; all different shapes, sizes and colours. Candles are carried through to the interior, some really large and hidden in wrought iron lanterns. The walls of the restaurant have been painted a shade that looks like a faded terracotta ...

Cemetery Mausoleum of Soldiers of Russian Army, Warsaw 01/04/2012

Red Army Cemetery on Wigury Street

Cemetery Mausoleum of Soldiers of Russian Army, Warsaw I’m not sure if it’s the same with every traveller but when you first go to a new country/city/town you often see landmarks or highlights that stay in your mind for a long time afterwards. When I first visited Warsaw eight years ago I remember seeing an outstanding obelisk standing back off the main road. The road, Zwirki I Wigury is one of the routes to the airport. I saw it again on the way back home but on that trip I never actually visited the obelisk and the mausoleum. It has taken me eight years to go back to that spot to visit this impressive cemetery. The bus stops outside the mausoleum and cemetery. As soon as I jumped down from the bus I felt an air of melancholy all around me. I don’t always experience this feeling when visiting war cemeteries but I definitely felt strange here. I think it was because I didn’t really know the historical background of the place. At first I wasn’t sure who was buried underneath these 19 hectares of ground. You might ask – does it matter? Yes, it does. I wanted to know if the bodies were of Polish nationality. They were not. The blood and the bones under the damp soil belonged to soldiers of the Red Army who fought on the Belarusian Popular Front. Some historical texts say 21,668 soldiers were exhumed from local cemeteries; other texts give a number of 21,500. Whatever the number it is huge. These figures definitely disturbed my karma. You may find yourself going straight to the obelisk, it’s quite magnetic standing 38 metres high but ...

Joszef Pilsudski Park 29/03/2012

Mokotow's Old Airfield

Joszef Pilsudski Park The park named after Jozef Pilsudski is sometimes called Pole Mokotowskie (Mokotow Field). I must admit that from a distance it does look like one huge field but there is a lot more to this park than meets the eye. Before I tell you about all the good things I found I’d like to mention a bit about the park’s history. Also, if you haven't realised the park is situated in Warsaw. The address and transport information are at the bottom of the page. In the old days the main field and fields beyond were owned by arable farmers until the land was taken from them by the authorities so it could be used for military parades and training. Mokotow Field was also a battleground from 1818 and a race course in 1884. The tsarist authorities eventually granted permission for air workshops to be built. These became the property of the air company known as “Aviata”. In the area of Pole Mokotowskie where the fields are actually situated a school was formed to train pilots. Many years later aeroplane hangars and machine factories were built. The area known as Mokotow Airport, in 1912, became property of the Russian Army who stopped the airport being used. The Russians left Warsaw in 1915 to be replaced by German authorities. They re-built the airport placing a huge hangar in the centre of the field. This was mainly to accommodate zeppelins. Three years later the airport was taken over by Poles and in 1921 the first Polish air regiment was formed and stationed at Mokotow Airport as well as the ...

Darkness on the Edge of Town - Bruce Springsteen 23/03/2012

Dark but not hopeless

Darkness on the Edge of Town - Bruce Springsteen Overview and Background Information Darkness on the Edge of Town is an album that has had so many words written about it. It's an album that took a long time to come to fruition and Bruce and the band spent many a sleepless night creating songs for this album. Some people say that this album was the turning point in Bruce's life where he changed from a boy into a man. I'm not so sure about that as he was 27 years old when he wrote the songs for Darkness and that's not really a boy! Admittedly, he was a very giddy kipper in his earlier years - you only have to listen to the old songs and view the concerts; they are bursting with high energy and giddiness. For me, Darkness was a total change of direction. It was a new project and Bruce loves nothing more than a project. He wanted to write about his life and the people he had grown up with, the tensions of his family life -where his Ma and Pa had to work all hours to make ends meet. There's an old clip from 'Old Grey Whistle Test' where Bruce tells Bob Harris that he wanted his Ma to go and see him at Madison Square Garden and she said she couldn't because she was working. He said. 'Oh for God's Sake, just take the day off!' She did eventually and he was thrilled but I think throughout most of his life he has always regretted that his folks had a bad start in life and has tried to write music about similar characters in similar circumstances. A bit clichéd I know but if you have had hardships in your life you will find that they ...

Gurko, Veliko Tarnovo 12/03/2012

I didn't see any Gurkas only Bulgarians

Gurko, Veliko Tarnovo You can find Hotel Gurko on 33 Gurko Street in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria. It's a tavern and a hotel joined together and situated on one of the prettiest streets in Veliko. The street is ancient and a treat to walk down with it's old houses overhanging and bulging with bright red geraniums, trailing foliage, potted plants and lots of handcrafted watering cans, wheelbarrows, troughs. You can't miss the folk art - it is everywhere on this street. How did I find this hotel? We came across the Gurko when we were staying in a pension just a little further up the street. On the first night in Veliko we decided to go out to eat and this tavern, brightly lit with candles inviting us in. We had a first class meal with a jug of Bulgarian wine and decided we really liked the decor and atmosphere and would probably visit again for a meal. As our pension was basic and we were staying for a few days I decided that it would be more comfortable if we could stay at the Gurko. The following morning as we were walking down the street we bumped into a lady busy with her cleaning duties outside the Gurko Hotel. She was one bundle of energy and never stopped sweeping and watering plants all the time we were talking to her. The lady in question was the owner of the hotel. We asked if she had any vacancies and she said she could fit us in if we came back at 3pm when the rooms would be ready. My husband wanted to see the room on offer and asked the price. I could see she wanted to get on with her work ...

Eddie Stobart - Trucks And Trailers - Series 1 - Complete (DVD) 03/03/2012

It ain't Ice Road Truckers!

Eddie Stobart - Trucks And Trailers - Series 1 - Complete (DVD) The last time I lived in UK I lived in a remote hamlet not far away from Longtown near Carlisle and close to Langholm in Scotland. My husband did a lot of travelling in this part of the world as well as the North East and Northumbria for his job. I often went with him on most of his trips and this is the time I started to get really interested in trucks. The ones that always made me smile when we passed them by on motorways were the ones with the distinctive Eddie Stobart branding. These trucks shone like a new penny and I loved the fact that each one had an individual name. I wouldn't say I was an anorak like some people who follow these trucks everywhere and spend time at the different depots taking photos and getting to know the drivers but I'm not far off. I was very pleased to receive as a Xmas present a box set featuring Series One which consists of 4 DVDs including 6 episodes and a Xmas Special. The packaging is eye catching using the green and red striped colouring of the lorries with the name Eddie Stobart looming out in front. On the front of each DVD there is a photograph of one of the drivers taking part in that particular episode. The back covers are split into two sections showing smaller photos of highlights of the episodes with an introduction to the individual DVDs. I wouldn't say the illustrations are dynamic - they depict a more homely/family feel to trucking than an adventurous one. The collection features the complete series of Eddie Stobart - Trucks and ...

ML Publishing Group Bruce Springsteen Calendar 2012 27/02/2012

Big, bold and beautiful - that's the Boss!

ML Publishing Group Bruce Springsteen Calendar 2012 I think I'm a bit old to own a calendar of my favourite rock star but when I was given a Bruce Springsteen 2012 calendar for a Xmas present I was thrilled, hugged it close to my chest and gave the front cover loads of kisses. Probably about time I grew up but when it comes to Bruce I'm still a child at heart. It's quite a big calendar: measuring 42.4 x 29.8 x 0.8cm. I have it hung up in my office space to the left of my desk and it does tend to dominate the whole space. Still, this is a good thing - he is looking down on me, telling me to stop slacking and get on with my work. There are 14 pages altogether. The front and back of the calendar are made from strong, glossy card and the inner pages are still very good quality but a bit lighter in weight. Each page is attached to the usual double white spiral top with a white plastic rod threaded through with a loop so you can hang it on a wall. The pages turn easily and flip over with ease when you want to move on to the next month. The picture quality is excellent and all photographs are very bold and beautiful. Well, I would say that - I'm a Bruce Springsteen fan! The choice of photographs pleases me because all of them except one are photos of him as an older man which I like. I much prefer the wise, old Bruce than the flash, giddy kipper but I suppose this aspect might not please fans who like to see photos of him as a youngster. Ten out of the 12 calendar pages show Bruce looking serious and the other two show him laughing. ...

Femina, Warsaw 22/02/2012

My Kinda cinema

Femina, Warsaw Warsaw seems to be a city filled with cinemas – there is always one around the corner and in every suburb of the city. When I first moved to the city nearly 4 years ago now I was pleased to find so many cinemas and that it wasn’t such an expensive hobby. I am a great movie fan and much prefer to go to the cinema than sit in the house with a DVD. At first I visited the big multiplex cinema at Arkadia shopping centre which is within walking distance from my flat but this complex is always busy and the individual movie theatres here are very noisy. Plus you usually have to book tickets in advance especially at weekends.My son had mentioned Kino Femina, a cinema in his neck of the woods and a straight run from my flat on the 13 or 23 tram. In fact the tram and buses stop practically outside the cinema. Kino Femina is a small cinema with 4 screens. The films showing for the week are advertised in the main front window and are changed every week on a Thursday. You can book online and in advance if you wish to but you can also just walk in off the street and buy a ticket. If you go Tuesdays and Thursdays you will get a discounted price. I have never been on these days as for some reason I always like to go to the cinema on a Friday evening or Sunday afternoon. There are usually about 4 or 5 showings per day depending on the films showing. Times can be found on the home page of the cinema’s website.,Warszawa/Repe​rtuarFilms shown are a mixed bag; some ...

Morskie Oko Park, Warsaw 17/02/2012

Eye of the sea in Mokotow

Morskie Oko Park, Warsaw Morskie Oko is an odd name for a park. When I first saw the name I was reminded of Norway for some reason but then I remembered where I had seen not only the name but the beauty spot that the name describes. Morskie Oko literally means 'eye of the sea' and is one of the most popular attractions in the Polish Tatra Mountains; a beautiful lake located at the height of 1,400 metres.Not sure why the park is called after this beauty spot as there aren't any lakes as such but there are three large ponds surrounded by some stunning willow trees and the park's location is on a scarp leading down to the Vistula. This is another Warsaw park I stumbled upon by accident as I really liked the monument dedicated to Jan Matejko which stands on Ulica PuÅ‚awska close to the entrance of the park. As he was one of Poland's famous historical artists I wanted to get a good look at him. After looking at the monument and taking photos I noticed that the area behind the statue looked like a park but couldn't see any signs. I decided to take a stroll and as it was a very hot day thought it was a good idea to keep in the shade especially as my granddaughter has very fair skin.This area of old Mokotów is very pleasant with its stylish apartments and old buildings, some that survived the Second World War. As you enter the park you will notice two towers and a small maisonette. There are wooden benches and rose gardens; a very genteel setting. The building that caught my eye which is part of the park ...

Almería (Spain) 15/02/2012

A diverse and interesting landscape

Almería (Spain) The town of Almeria lies in a broad bay overlooked by mountains. This part of Andalusia is one of the driest regions on the Iberian peninsula - indeed the whole of Europe. Almeria's harbour is one of the busiest on the Spanish Mediterranean coast. Exports include iron ore from the mines in the Sierra de los Filabres and agricultural produce from the Andrax basin and the other valleys along the coastal strip, where early fruit crops are grown under polythene. Thanks to its hot, dry climate in summer and very mild winters - some 3,000 hours of sunshine a year - Almeria has become an important centre for solar energy technology as well as a major tourist centre. Towering over the Old Town are the ruins of the Alcazaba, which can be reached on foot from the Plaza de la Constitucion (Tuesday to Sunday, 9am-8.30pm; winter - reduced times). This imposing fortification consisting of three battlemented compounds was begun under Abd ar Rahman III, the first caliph of Cordoba. The last major additions date from the time of Catholic Monarchs. Excavation work in the second compound has exposed the ground plan of the former palace. The Torre del Homanaje (15th century) and the upper area has largely survived the ravages of time. A defensive wall links the Alcazaba site with the Castillo de San Cristobal on the neighbouring hill. Almeria's cathedral is sited close to the Plaza de la Constitucion. Work started on the church in 1524, on the site of a mosque destroyed in an earthquake two ...

Casdon Sat Nav Steering Wheel 12/02/2012

Bib Bib - Here comes a back seat driver

Casdon Sat Nav Steering Wheel The Casdon Sat Nav Steering wheel was one of the presents I bought my granddaughter for Xmas. I had noticed that she liked to pretend she was driving when sat in the back of the car and loved to use an umbrella as a gear stick. Also, my son had a driving wheel when he was a child and had many years of enjoyment. I remember one time his Dad's horn wouldn't work when he was driving in the Yorkshire Dales so my son used his toy one every time we went around a corner to bib the sheep. The price was only £10 so I thought even if my granddaughter didn't care for the toy I hadn't wasted too much cash.When the present was opened on Xmas Day my son seemed more excited than my granddaughter at first. He exclaimed, 'Sat Nav! Even we don't have Sat Nav. This is cool!' Obviously he remembered his own driving wheel. As there were lots of other toys to open on this day I think the driving wheel wasn't actually played with much. Now, the wheel goes on every journey with my granddaughter and she loves the toy so I am pleased about this. So let's have a look what you get for £10 although the price has altered now and is on Amazon at £11.24. Casdon claim that this is the world's first toy Sat Nav Steering Wheel and it is certainly colourful to look at and looks like an imitation GPS system. The wheel is a hundred per cent plastic with the main colours, grey and red dominating. The Sat Nav is situated on the inner red wheel at the top and centrally placed. The steering wheel can easily be placed ...

Sushi Iro, Warsaw 06/02/2012

Give me a pizza any day

Sushi Iro, Warsaw Location, Location This little sushi restaurant is just around the corner from my apartment on Ulica Banderii. It takes 5 minutes or so to walk there. If you are coming from the city centre then you will need to take a tram 13, 23, 24. The tram stops on the opposite side of the road and the restaurant is about 2 minutes walk away. It is the first restaurant underneath a semi circular block of apartments that face the main artery of Wola that leads all the way to Plac Bankowy and eventually the Old Town. The only reason I can think of why visitors would come to visit Sush Iro is if they were doing a tour of the cemeteries or visiting the famous crowning circle where kings and Queens of Poland were originally crowned. This is across the road from my flat - I can see it from my bedroom window. Decor This is a very small restaurant with three tables only seating 5 people at a push on each table. Tables are made from pine with ladder-back chairs to match. My son has the same table and chairs in his flat. They are simply decorated with a single vase holding an orchid. Sometimes this changes and I have seen a Lucky Bamboo on each table. There are place mats, a white square plate, a set of chopsticks. At the back of the dining area is a small wash basin and the door to the toilets which are very clean but basic. The walls are painted a pale lemon colour and there is a huge Japanese fan spread out on the back wall. To the left of the dining area is a serving counter with 3 or 4 stools ...

Grycan Ice Cream Parlour, Arkadia 03/02/2012

Grycan - the masters of ice cream

Grycan Ice Cream Parlour, Arkadia If I told you that I never ate ice cream before I came to live in Poland you would probably think I was making it up just for this review. It's actually true. I've never been a big fan of ice cream - probably had the odd one on holiday but never bought tubs of ice cream to store in the freezer and never went to an ice cream parlour until I came across the name Grycan. ******Little bit of history about the company, Grycan********* Warsaw has apparently always been famous for ice cream. For the post war generations the name Zielona Budka (Green Booth) has been synonymous with ice cream of the very best quality. The Green Booth in question stood on Pulawska Street in Warsaw but the firm's history started in Buczacz in Ukraine and not in the Polish capital. Grzegorz Grycan and his son Jozef made and sold ice cream. When Buczacz became Soviet in 1945 the Grycan family moved to Wroclaw, the capital of the province of Lower Silesia, where Weronika Grycan opened the first ice cream parlour in Poland on Wroclaw's Grunwaldzki Square with a sign reading 'Lody Mis' Zbigniew'. They sold cacao, vanilla, coffee, strawberry, woodland strawberry and lemon ice cream. They also offered ice cream Penguins - an ice cream on a stick. Of the Grycan family's third generation, was a trainee at Warsaw's Bristol Hotel who, after he became a fully-qualified confectioner, bought the family business and developed it into a great factory and chain of shops, bringing this wonderful ice cream into the ...
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