Saturday, July 28, 2012

Walking Around Warsaw

This post is about interesting things I saw in Warsaw. It doesn't have every museum or castle, just things that seemed interesting.

On Friday afternoon, July 20, when we were done with teaching our classes, my fellow volunteers and I took the train to Warsaw. We went to the Boutique B & B on Smolna where I have stayed many times. As soon as I had checked in I went back to a train station and went to visit with one of my former students. As his family was leaving the next morning for a vacation trip, my visit was short. I was back to Smolna by 8:00 PM or so, and interested in finding something to eat.

I noticed several new small restaurants on my route -- probably started to serve the Euro 2012 crowds, for this B & B is very close to the new Warsaw stadium. I ducked into a courtyard and found this interesting view of buildings.

I continued walking towards a main street in Warsaw and noticed this attractive railing on a building. I've been in this Coffee Heaven many times, but somehow never before noticed the railing on the building.

I found a Fiesta restaurant and ordered a quesadilla made with forest mushrooms -- a version I'm certain I could not find in the United States. While eating in a sidewalk cafe, this man was entertaining us.

Walking back to the B & B I noticed this on lamp post.

I thought it was a ghost. One of my fellow volunteers who is a medical technologist had a whole different idea on what this is -- but we both agreed it is cute!

The next morning I set out to explore in directions I had never before visited.

I went past the Palm Tree and continued south on Nowy Swiat. Yes, I've seen the Palm Tree many times, but today the sky and light was very perfect for this and other photos.

I found the Poland School for the Blind and Deaf.

The street turns into Al Ujazdowskie and looks like an embassy row. At Piekna Street I turned into Ujazdowskie Park. What a lovely place. At the entrance there is a sign explaining the park was renovated in 2010. It contains many commemorative statutes of famous Polish persons but it was the view of nature that took my eye.
First I found a very formal garden.

Then I found a children's play area.

And then this lovely pond.

The pond is crossed by a path and bridge. Look carefully and you will see a man in a white shirt taking a photo of a woman. This is almost easier to see if you look at the reflection view.

I started back towards the business district and decided to have a cup of coffee. I noticed that the menu had a fruit plate. That seemed perfect for 11:00 on Saturday morning.

From here I headed out to visit some museums that I've never seen.

My route took me by the Saxon Gardens.

Then I found some interesting reflections in a modern Warsaw building showing the older buildings across the street.

I happened upon a marker showing the Warsaw Ghetto Wall.

My reason for coming into this neighborhood was to visit the Jewish Historical Museum. I didn't think about it being Saturday and the Jewish Sabbath, so when I found it, it was closed. Nearby was the Museum of Independence.

Glad I found this. One of the exhibit concerned military uniforms from the early 19th century. The hats were terrific.

One can see paintings that show these actually being worn. Hard to believe. This is not at all only a Polish tradition. Napoleon's army was well decked out like this as well.

After visiting the museum I headed for Castle Square.

The light was perfect for pictures!

You can see walking around Warsaw is fun!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Today's Adventures

Today my lesson for my students was to put together cut-up sentences. Here's the work of two of my students. These students are 8 and 9 years old. They have studied English but are just beginning to put all the vocabulary they know into sentences, so I used this way to help them begin to understand sentence structures.

We have only two days of camp left and last evening was the camp wedding-- apparently a tradition in many camps for children in Poland. The children today seemed tired -- well we were too -- it was a rainy morning and would have been a nice one for sleeping late!

The girls who completed the assignment above got done with everything I had planned for Lesson 1 and then got busy with the white board. This is what I found later.

People often are surprised to find out I pay to volunteer. Well, truthfully I do get "paid" too! This photo will be a treasure. Glad I stuck my camera in my pocket before class today, because I'll have to erase this before tomorrow's lessons.

And a new experience! One of my students pulled out her mobile phone and wanted to take pictures of me leading the class in Hokey-Pokey.

If you look at the girl on the left you will see the mobile phone in her hand. In her other hand, she is holding her favorite stuffed giraffe. I could only reflect on how things have changed since I first came to Poland in 2002. Then we could only make a phone call by going to the post office. And WI-FI for either a computer or a mobile phone wasn't even a dream!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Polish Night

It is a camp tradition that the students put on a Polish Night for their volunteer teachers. I love this event. Each one is different, creative, and fun!

As I was going through the manor house to the tent, a girl stopped me, dancing fast on her feet, saying, "I'm going to dance tonight." By her movements I thought something more than I knew about was planned, so I  asked her if it was a fast dance. She replied, "No, it's a slow dance, you have to hold hands and I don't what to call it." I'll always remember that description of the Polonaise. Here is a video -- long, but fun -- of the kids doing this dance.

This dance is done at formal events, such as wedding receptions or the 100 days dance before leaving high school, so for most of these children, it is their first time to do it. Near the end there is a young boy that seems to raise his hands in joy conveying the idea, "That's done.

Next we heard a presentation about Polish geography, history, and famous people.

They ended their performance with Kocham Cie Polsko.

We danced American dances after such as YMCA and Cotton--Eye Joe.

A great evening. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Finding Hungary in Tarnow

While I have now moved to Reymontowka for language camps, I'm still remembering and reflecting on my visit to Tarnow.

One thing that surprised me was walking down the street in Tarnow and suddenly finding a gate that had the name Petofi on it. What country am I in?

Inside is the gate is a beautiful memorial.  At the very rear there is a bust of Petofi.
In the photo above of the memorial area, one can see a wooden stake at each side. These are called steles. The one as you view it on the left is in honor of Forgon Milaly. He was born in Mihalyfalu, and as a very young man already regarded as a gifted lawyer and historian. He is most noted for  work documenting Gomor Kishont -- which actually doesn't make much sense when one cannot use Hungarian characters to write the words. His career was cut short when he was inducted in the army during World War I. He was injured in a battle and brought to Tarnow where he died. Somehow his grave in Tarnow was destroyed during the 1970s, so this marked is truly his memorial.

The stele on the right as you view the picture is in honor of Norbert Lippoczy. He was born in Tallya, near Tokay. He came to Tarnow in 1929. At the beginning of World War II he was arrested by the Soviet Union Secret Police and imprisoned there for several years, and then held there even after release from a harsh prison. He finally was able to return to Tarnow in 1953. He enjoyed collecting transparencies, Dutch tiles, and ecclesiastical  statuaries. .He gave much of his collection to the Diocesan Museum in Tarnow  as a reflection of his gratitude for the support of the people of Tarnow to the Hungarians during the 1956 uprising. He was also the co-founder of Tarnow's Association of Hungarian friends.

Finding this all was quite a surprise.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Reymontowka Night View

I am now in Reymontowka, getting ready to teach 8 lovely little girls. They come from either Siedlce or Warsaw. I met them briefly this early evening and  have activities planned for tomorrow. We will see how this all works out.

After getting done with planning I decided just to take a short walk. I found to my surprise that the pond in front of the manor house is now lighted. Just as darkness fell, the view became quite interesting.

The front door of the manor house is also quite beautiful.

The flags in the circle represent the home nations of people who have recently been to the manor house. Obviously the U.S. flag is for we volunteers -- a gracious gesture by our host. The other flags are from several European nations. About three weeks ago, Reymontowka hosted a multi-country conference in which representatives strategized how the lives of children in the EU could be improved.

Hope you all enjoy this bit of night time beauty. It was unexpected, a great surprise to me. Glad I went out the door for a few minutes.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tarnow Adventure -- Part 3

About 4 PM I ventured our into very warm Tarnow for some more sight-seeing. I first noticed some charming views of buildings and walls.I was basically walking on the street that makes a circle around the Old Town area.

Next I found a monument to King Lotetki (probably not spelled entirely correctly and certainly the first letter is wrong because it is not an L but rather the Polish alphabet letter, Wa -- only that letter doesn't appear on an American keyboard.  This king is remembered in Tarnow because he issued the charter creating this city.  According to the In Your Pocket guidebook this monument was saved from destruction during World War II by convincing the Nazi soldiers that it was Goethe.
Next I found an interesting statute called Reading.

 I turned into a small square and the monument to an Unknown Soldier.

This is located in the Katyn Victims Square.

Continuing on I found this monument, here in remembrance of the first 728 people sent to Auschwitz. All were  from Tarnow, and most were considered Polish rather than Jewish, although at noted in other reports about Tarnow, the city had a significant Jewish population. Those were sent there later.
Here is some the detail on the monument.

Nearby in another square is a monument erected to remember the victims of Stalin violence.

Behind the figure shown above there are small designs showing some of the groups that fell under Stalin violence. Below is an example.

By this time I had wandered around the same area trying to find something I never found! But I did find some very good things. So I guess I had a good reason to go back to Tarnow.

I had a spot picked out for kolecja, so I went there. As readers may remember, it was HOT in Tarnow. I thought I was is heaven when my drink arrived with a glass of ice. This is most unusual in Poland, but perhaps a practice in Tarnow.

I had a great pasta dish at this restaurant and then went up the street for an ice cream. I sat down on the bench by the flowers just as do the people of Tarnow while they eat ice cream from this shop. Tarnow is a lovely town -- and the slogan of the tourist agency is "Come to Tarnow before the crowds do." I so glad I did!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tarnow Adventure -- Part 2

Tarnow bills itself as the warmest city in Poland. Poland was having a heat wave so I left as soon as possible after breakfast for a bit of a walk around during the cooler morning hours.

Above is my first breakfast the hotel. I was the only person in the dining room. The hostess asked me if I wanted something hot from the kitchen and I told her I was fine with a regular Polish breakfast. However, I'm not used to having such an elegant table on which to eat breakfast -- but that doesn't mean I'm complaining about any other place. It's just that this hotel really works on elegance as you may know from reading my blog post labeled Tarnow -- Part 1.

I started to walk up the street towards the rynek.

I saw beautiful buildings such as this.

And this.

Then I got to the rynek, built in a renaissance style.

The Town Hall is in the center.

It is a beautiful building today, and it was fun to see post cards and photos around town showing it in its place 100 years ago too.

Here is a photo that show some the detail on the top of the building.

The Town Hall is surrounded on all four sides by wonderful buildings.

In one location the style is somewhat like Zamosz because of the arcade.

Others are very colorful.

Here is some details from the buildings in the rynek.

The wonderful thing was that I was seeing all this beauty without having to deal with immense crowds likes they have in Krakow.

I walked a bit away from the rynek to the Jewish Square.

When the Nazis took control of Tarnow the synagogue was burned. What didn't burn was broken. Now the city has taken pieces of stone columns and put them back together in a structure called a bimah, a representation of the place in which the Torah was read. Within this square now, commemorative activities are held remembered the Jewish residents of Tarnow as well as Jewish cultural activities.

By now it was around 10:00 and the sidewalk cafes were beginning to open so I stopped for a cappuccino. I noticed that in these early morning hours other customers were going inside to pay, so I did that. The waitress told me a cappuccino was 7 PLN. I gave her 10, and she made me change from 9! I just laughed inside my head and told her thank you in Polish!

I wandered over the cathedral area. There is a statute of Pope John Paul.
The In Your Pocket guide for Tarnow says this is the first statue of him erected in Poland after his election as Pope.

Mass was just ending so I entered the cathedral through the nearby side door.

Here is a segment of the detail on the door.

There were many people remaining in the church for prayer and meditation, and I tried to take only photos that would not disturb anyone.

Here is the ceiling in a side chapel. This view also shows that the walls are very plain. This is an unusual feature for a Polish church, probably connected to the fact that this church comes from a very different architectural time than most Polish churches. That doesn't mean there is not beauty. Look at this.

Above is another side altar.

 Here is a view of part of the main aisle of the church taken from the side.

My primary reason for coming to Tarnow was to visit the ethnographic museum and that's what I did next, but I'll write more about that in a separate entry.

While walking there I was amused to find in a store window that one can buy almost anything with a Euro 2012 logo.

After visiting the museum. I continued on down the street to a shopping center. By this time something to eat seemed like a good idea and the air conditioning in the shopping center seemed like a good idea too!!

Every time I see something like this I am reminded of the Twin Cities bus driver who told me he couldn't take his aged parents to visit their native Poland "because there is no food in Poland." And I ate every bit except for the pita bread, not because it wasn't good, but because I was certainly full and satisfied. From here I returned to the hotel.

The camera battery was complaining it wanted to be charged and it seemed like a good idea to stay out of the heat. The behavior of people here reminded of me of Mexico, for example. It is definitely wise to walk on the shady side of the street and one can see people zig-zag from one side of the street to the other as the size and shape of buildings changes the shady areas.

Well, this adventure report is getting long enough. Stayed tuned for other Tarnow activities in future posts.