Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Painful adventures

My blog has been silent for sometime because I haven't had many wonderful adventures. I've been sidelined too much by painful arthritis. That slowed down my ability to get out in the world to do things. My next big adventure is hip replacement surgery on March 14. Will write more about that when I feel better. I find when searching the web I don't find much in the way of personal experiences with such surgery, only what organizations want to write. If they are reputable ones like the Mayo Clinic that is Ok, but I would enjoy hearing from a real person. Hope I can soon write after surgery.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Visiting a Country Church in Eastern Poland

In May before doing the school teaching program in Poland I spent a day with a guide who took me to places east of Siedlce that require an auto for access. I have written about some of these adventures in previous posts, but am still catching up with life after a busy summer.

After lunch in Zaborek, we drove a short distance to a church located in the countryside. Here is the sign for it.

This sign explains it is now a Roman Catholic church but in the past it has also been an Orthodox church. The type of church practices depended upon what type of government was/is in control.

Here is how it looks from the roadway. It is easy to notice the red awnings in the front. The church actually has a porch on three sides. I have never before seen a church with a porch. At the end of the visit here my guide came back from a conversation with church attendants to tell me why it had a porch. Some of the people attending this church had to travel so far -- in the days when travel would have been by horses -- that they could not make the trip on Sunday morning. Thus, they started out on Saturday afternoon and stayed all night on the porch outside the church.

Walking in I noticed this script written in what I presume is Cyrillic.

Here is what the inside of the church looks like.

This was indeed an interesting stop out in the middle of the rural area east of Siedlce.


A Saturday with Language Camp Kids

I went to Poland and participated in two language camps. I am still not walking well enough to go away on the weekends, having to walk up and down steps at train stations, for example. So Dorota, the Poland country manager, suggested I might like to go away with the campers for their Saturday field trip. All of the other volunteer teachers had left on Friday for weekend adventures so I had the pleasure of eating my meals and doing the Friday evening activities with the campers and the Polish camp staff.

On Saturday morning we had a very nice breakfast and then walked out to the road in front of Reymontowka to board the bus. I had the seat immediately behind the driver, so I had a good view of the road and enjoyed watching the GPS.

Our destination was the Arkadia Galleria (galleria being the word used in Central Europe for shopping mall) in Warsaw. This trip took about 90 minutes, about an hour to get to Warsaw with weekend traffic and then another 30 minutes to wind our way through the city toward the northern end. It had been 10 years since I had been to this galleria -- and hard to believe that I now have that much history in Poland !!!

We parked along the railroad track about 3 blocks away from the galleria and then a had a long walk through the galleria to get to the cinema area.  I was really glad to find a place to sit down when this walk was done.

The campers of course went immediately to the concession line.

While I was waiting one of the counselors showed me a voucher for free coffee received when buying tickets, They graciously walked to the nearby coffee shop to get the coffee for me. Now the campers purchased exactly what you might expect.


The film we saw was the Big Friendly Giant.

The dialogue was all in Polish and I don't understand more than 20% of the Polish I hear. However, the film was produced so well that I could easily follow the story without having to understand all the Polish dialogue.

After the film we walked back to the bus and from the luggage area appeared crates holding sandwiches and bottles of water.

Our next destination was the Copernicus Science Museum. I had been to this museum before and asked them not to buy me a ticket to walk through it again. But when we arrived I was totally puzzled. The line was coming out the door and about two blocks long. I couldn't figure out why so many people had decided to go to the museum that on a sunny summer day. The museum was not showing any special collection -- the whole thing was a mystery.



People in the line had to wait until others left before they would be admitted. And it appeared to me everyone in line was local, not tourists. I spent the time in the cafeteria area with my nose stuck in a book. It was a good place to people watch.

After about 2 hours we walked back to the bus and then made our way to the outskirts of Warsaw. We stopped at a gas station and the luggage area opened up again.

This time pastries, candy bars, and fruit juice appeared. It was a good late afternoon snack break.

Back to Reymontowka we had a very nice kolacja, too.

I so enjoy these kind of experiences.





Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Walking in Xenia

I drove two days from Saint Paul to a hotel in Beavercreek, Ohio in order to do a walk in Xenia, Ohio. I only had X left in my Walking the USA from A-Z. By the rules of this I could have substituted any other walk for X, but really wanted to do the X. I really wanted to do this walk in April when the weather was cooler, but those days got away from me. Instead I found myself in Ohio in the midst of a heat wave in that part of the US.

Sunday morning was to be in the low 80s so I set out by 9 AM or so to do the last few miles to Xenia. I found the hotel where the walk box was held and was graciously helped. However, I was so very glad I did not stay there as the hotel smelled badly of cigarette smoke.

In reading before the walk I found out Xenia got its name at the suggestion of an early visitor/settler who said he felt the people there were very hospitable and Xenia is the Greek word for that.


Other reading I had done revealed that the Shawnee Indians called this area "the land of crazy winds." In fact, I learned that Xenia has been hit by tornadoes  29 times. The most devastating on occurred in 1974, the most recent in 1970. Thus I was surprised to find a historic district early in the walk.

I liked the above one very much.

And down the street I found these houses.


It was clear that the combination of the heat and arthritis was not a good one. I was grateful to find Xenia is a city of rocks. I could sit down frequently and relieve the discomfort in my back.

Along the main street of Xenia I came upon a couple of store fronts that now had new businesses.

I am sure readers can figure out what now is sold in this building.

And a bit further up the street I discovered a cat.

The cat was curious about a pedestrian but otherwise appeared to be very comfortable. Obviously the building was air conditioned.

I had to cut the walk short, but found that is legal as long as I am honest about the distance I walked. After returning to my car I drove the route to get the exact kilometers figured out.

Glad I did this. It was an interesting drive back and forth between Minnesota and Ohio.





Wednesday, June 1, 2016

A Visit to the Janow Podlasie Stud Farm

My blog has been silent for a long time. When I got to the place where I would teaching English my computer stopped working. I tried to turn it on for two days without success. Then I had it taken to good computer shop and they thought perhaps the part that mediates between the electrical charge entering the computer and the battery was faulty. They decided not to try to fix it because they thought doing anything with it might void the warranty on my computer. I didn't try the computer again until I was ready to pack it up. It worked just fine then. I wonder if something became loose and taking the back off the computer and then putting it back on jiggled something back in place.

So now I'm back in Minnesota and thus far the computer has been working OK.

Now to get the horse stud farm. I had no idea what this might be like. I expected to walk through barns of horses, but instead we did most of our walking outdoors, which was fine, because the weather was lovely. I used my cane for this walk.

As soon as we parked I saw this group of horses grazing in a pasture in front of us. In a little bit a guide from the farm joined us and we walked to another pasture to see horses. First I learned a bit of history here.

I learned this horse farm will be 200 years old next year. It was started after the Napoleonic wars. These wars were so hard on horses that horse numbers were very low and declining. This part of Poland was under Russian government at this time and permission had to come from Russia.

In 1863 after the Uprising, Russia removed all the horses to Russia. Another tragedy for the horses here was World War 2. The Nazi army had moved all the horses to Dresden. There only 8 lived after the bombing of Dresden. Recently there have been some political problems here after the new government took control in Poland is late 2015. I decided if the horse farm could withstand these other tragedies the farm can handle political problems, too.

Horses here can be all Arabian, all English, or a cross between the two.

These horses are about one year old and are being considered for entry into championship contests. I was surprised to see a white horse. I thought the Arabian horses were black or brown. The guide said the color didn't manner. What would be judged is how they hold their head and neck, how they walk and run, and how they carry their tail. I am sorry this picture doesn't show it very well, but I learned that Arabian horses carry their tails different than any other horse breed. This is because they have some extra bones in their spine.

Next the guide wanted us to see the mares come back from a pasture with their colts. This day was the first time they had been out to a pasture for this spring season.

video
 If you look carefully at this video you may notice how the horses carry their tail. Each colt stays very near its Mama.

In the photo above you can see how the colts stay very close to their Mama. You may able to see too how the Arabians carry their tail with a curve at the top.


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Some were highly curious about the people along the fence.

Here we learned that when the colt is old enough to separated from the mare is branded with a number on one side. It is branded  on the other side with the coat of arms for the stud farm. It is also given a name. By tradition the name begins with the first letter of its mother's name.

The photo below shows coat of arms for the Janow Podlasie Stud Farm. It is shown under the center window.

  We also walked by stones that remember horses that have died. According to EU regulations a large animal such a horse cannot be buried, but rather must be cremated. Thus a brass plate is fastened to large rocks found on the property, left there by long ago glaciers.



Walking down the road towards the car we passed this memorial to a previous farm director.

This man arrived at the horse farm as a stable boy and spent his entire life there, rising to be the farm director for many years.

I am so very glad that I got to visit the horse farm. It truly is a Polish treasure.




Saturday, May 7, 2016

Day Trip Event # 2 -- A visit to Janów Podlaski Village

About an hour after we left the Flying Fortress Monument we arrived at the outskirts of Janów Podlaski. This is a village in the county (powiat) of Biała Podlaska in the voivodeship of Lublin. It is very near the Bug River, which in this area marks the boundary between Poland and Belarus.


Much of the time spent in the village of Janów related to religious history, so I will write about the odd thing first. 

In this village there remains two gas pumps from the 1920s. 

Notice it says CPN on the top. My guide told me that even though officially the CPN company no longer exists (I think it's Orlen now), people still say they go to the CPN. 

 The picture above shows the inside the pump. One literally had to hand pump gas into the two glass cylinders before being able then to use gravity into a hose to fill the gas tank of a car. 

Now back to the religious history -- and on May 5 I saw the buildings but had to come back and do some internet research to understand the story and implications of what I saw.  The first mention of this geographic area dates back to about 1326. 

The first Roman Catholic diocese was established here in 1404. Over time the church has changed back and forth between Roman Catholic to Orthodox or Uniate/Greek Catholic. My understanding of Greek Catholic is that religious practices of the Orthodox Church were used but allegiance was to the Pope rather than the head of the Orthodox Church. The changes largely related to whatever country had political control of the geographic area.

At times it was known by the diocese name of Lutsk, even as recently as 1925. One Bishop of Lutsk decided there would be more physical safety on the west side of the Bug River and so built a palace there. I believe when it was built it was in Ukraine, but as most know borders have moved back and forth in this part of the world.

That palace deteriorated over time and now is the site of new hotel. 

We went inside and were graciously given a tour that took us to the cellar area of the building where we could see the  brick walls of the Bishop's Palace. And also we could see how elegant are the rooms. I took no photos of rooms, but did take a photo of the bar. 

 Notice how elegant this is. We had coffee there.

Outside there are newly constructed buildings that look like horse stables. Everything about

Janów is "horsey" because of the famous horse stud farm there. More about the horse stud farm will be in the next blog post. These buildings hold additional hotel room for guests, not horses. 


Above is the sculpture on the wall above the reception desk for the hotel. 

A third part of this complex is a building that houses the swimming pool and the spa facilities. I was told there are actually underground tunnels that run between the buildings so guests may dress in a robe and travel to the pool or spa without having to go outdoors. 

Now back to buildings that still exist. 

 This church was the Cathedral with the diocese of Lutsk was active. The priest who gave us a tour said the church now has collegiate status.

Above is the main altar of the church, a church that is now 300 years old. I thought I could see  how it had changed in its affiliations over time, for it had been a Polish Roman Catholic Church all that time the walls would have been decorated as well. 

The priest giving us the tour called my attention to what looks like a balcony window on the left. Notice in the exterior picture of the church there is a building contiguous to the church. This was housing for the bishops and other priests associated with the cathedral. The Bishop could use this window to pray towards the altar or simply see what was happening inside the cathedral without having to leave his room. 

In what was somewhat a small church, there are many side altars. The priest explained this was  so several priests could say Mass at the same time, doing so in whispers. This photo too gives a good view of something unique about this church. It has a wooden floor. The Bishop who led construction of this building thought wooden floors would be warmer than stone floors. The oak we walked on had been there 300 years. 

At one time there had been a seminary attached to the cathedral as well. 

 
 This building now houses a high school with an agricultural emphasis. 

Also in the village is the Church of St. John. 


Its architecture is unique -- square with two columns in front. We could only drive by this church as it is closed for renovation. 

Thus, you can see I had a marvelous hour in this village, with yet more to come during this day. 




 




Friday, May 6, 2016

Day Trip Event #1 -- the Flying Fortess Memorial

On Thursday, May 5 I took a guided day trip to places east of Siedlce, Poland. I have been to many places in Poland, but never east of Siedlce and to places one can't reach unless having car transportation. My adventures on this day went from from early morning to bedtime, so I'm breaking this into several posts.

My guide picked me at the hotel at the Warsaw airport at 7:30. After the trouble with flying I was somewhat amazed I was actually walking around. I had enjoyed a good breakfast at the hotel.  I was carrying a bag with a new computer for the Poland Country Manager for Global Volunteers so our first stop was Reymontówka where I met her. My guide was seeing this place for the first time so I showed up around a bit, especially showing him all the wood carvings there. We enjoyed coffee with Dorota and the Reymontówka director. Then soon we were on our way towards Siedlce. Every time I've been in Poland I go into the central part of the city. I didn't even know there was a highway bypass to go around the town. We drove for perhaps 45 - 50 minutes when we pulled off the main highway near the village of Woroniec, Poland.

I saw this. 

In the photo one can easily see the number 38202. On the right is text engraved which can't be read on the photo. It explains U.S Army flight 38202 coming back from a mission in the Ukraine was downed in this area. The pilot and two other airmen were taken prisoner by the Nazi forces, but the remaining crew somehow escaped and were embraced by the Polish Home Army. They served with this group for about 45 days until they could be taken somehow back to the American military. 

On the reverse of monument is a statement from the Polish people. 




The script on this side is done in both Polish and English. It recognizes the 42,802 airmen who died in the quest to bring freedom to occupied Europe during World War 2. 

Someone obviously cares for this monument regularly because yesterday there were fresh flowers at the monument. 

If one steps away a bit, then one can see a representation of a plane on the ground 

And yes, it is May and the grasslands are covered with dandelions.