Our new best friends in Poland take us sightseeing!

I know this one is long, but bear with me – I get a whole day done and I promise, not even pictures of dinner – you’ll see why at the end.

So last night’s dinner and the concert the night before were not the end of the generosity and friendship shown to us by Janusz and Hanna Malinowski. When we mentioned we planned to rent a car to drive to some sites 30-60 minutes away the next day, they offered to go with us and drive! Turned out to be fun for them too because Hanna had never seen these places and Janusz had last seen the castle 40 years ago when it was not much more than a ruin.
The first stop was a former large farm and manor home that now is used for seminars and training and raising horses.  It had formerly belonged to James Helmuth Von Moltke 

The estate is now used to hold conferences and it seemed to further the ideas of solidarity begun in the 1980’s.
We walked through some of the rooms of the big house that are set up as a kind of museum of the history of Wroclaw and resistance.

Church just outside the grounds – this church is very old but we were not able to get inside as it wouldn’t be opened until later in the afternoon before Mass.

A piece of the Berlin Wall – I wonder how many of those there are!

Some parts from the exhibition in the house. The first one shows the movement of people that took place at Russia’s command. Poles who were in Eastern Poland (which Russia wanted) and those who had been deported to Siberia previously were brought to the formerly German lands around Breslau, now Wroclaw. In addition, all the Germans and, in fact, everything German including many graves were removed from the area. The people were put on trains until there was no room, then they were forced to walk to Dresden in the winter – many died along the way and many died in Dresden during the Fire Bombing. This would have included some not so distant relatives of mine also.

A picture of Wroclaw after the war.

Next stop was the Peace Church in Swidnica. This Lutheran Church is the largest wooden church in Europe, at least.   It is a Lutheran Evangelical Church built with permission from the Emperor given in 1652. It was the third of three that could be built with the restriction that they be built all of wood and be finished within a year of beginning.  It almost was not finished until Hans Heinrich of Ksiaz (visiting that castle next) donated 2000 trees from his forest.  It was completed in 1657.  It can accommodate 7500 people! Of course parts were done later – the altar was in 1750’s and renovation has been done over the years.


The very baroque interior does’nt even seem to belong to the same building!



The organ was completed in 1666 and is still working. It’s absolutely beautiful.

Last but not least,  Ksiac Castle. Standing dramatically on a steep rocky hill, encircled by a gorge, Ksiaz Castle towers majestically over the area. After visiting some of its grand chambers, it is worthwhile to take a stroll down the excellent castle terraces and landscaped gardens where you can admire a magnificent views of the surrounding area. There was also a grim episode in the history of the castle. During the World War II it was intended to be transformed into one of Hitler’s headquarters. Some mysterious underground halls and corridors were built here as it became part of the Project Riese – the biggest mining enterprise of Nazi Germany which led to construction of a complex of tunnels inside the Owl Mountains.

There were a few rooms decorated to look as they might have before the war.  Janusz told us that he was last here 40 years ago when it was still mostly rubble and he was amazed at the reconstruction that has been done.  Besides the displays of art works, some beautifully decorated rooms, there was also an extensive photo collection of the family who lived there mostly taken by the head chef who was a photography lover. His granddaughter donated the negatives so large pictures could be printed. I didn’t really photograph most of them but here are a couple.

We did not have time for the guided tour and tour of some of the tunnels where Nazi gold/treasures were sought (but have not been found).  But you can see pictures below of some of those areas.

This is the stables that belonged to the castle.  They are still used and horses are bred here.

Display of carriages

And a few of the many beautiful horses.

The nursery

Indoor riding ring

Also the greenhouse/conservatory which was beautiful and where we learned that Janusz knew most of the plants – not only by one name, often by three names, Latin, Polish and English!

So end of the day and we drove back to their house to eat leftovers from the great dinner we had the night before! That’s why no picture needed this time.

Wroclaw Museum and the Malinowski’s

In the morning we both did some work and then headed out to the new Wroclaw Museum which had been recommended to us. It was basically a history of Poland and in particular Wroclaw from the time between the two world wars up through the present day, presented with models like the home below of the times and many articles and artifacts from each time period. 

Box car representing the “repatriation” of the Wroclaw area with Poles from Eastern Poland (a forced movement to get them out of land the Russians wanted) and also the related movement out of everyone and everything German. Three millions Germans were forced to leave Lower Silesia and while some got on trains, others walked. Many died along the way in the winter weather and many of the rest died not long after reaching Dresden in the Fire Bombing. 

I had read about the war destruction in this area, reports range from 50 to 80 percent of Wroclaw was destroyed. Then Russians removed equipment and even bricks from some of the buildings for their own use. The Poles forced to move here were left with a lot of rubble to live in. And driving around the city you can’t help but remember that this was under Russia for years, the reminder being in the Soviet style buildings from the 1950-70’s.  But I did not really remember well the solidarity movement, Lech Walesa and the resistance to communism and that it lasted until the end of the 1980’s. That’s when Wroclaw’s future began to look up.  Picture below is Lech Walesa speaking in Wroclaw. 

The cafeteria

On the way back we saw the Church of St Elizabeth of Hungary and thought that the steeple which was most likely rebuilt this way after the war, seemed to be made to look like a bombed out steeple. We wonder if that was the intention in creating this metal framework only on a brick building.

And balcony where Hitler once spoke at the Monopol Hotel – made all the more poignant after visiting the history museum.

We walked the 2 ½ miles back to our apartment, rested an hour and were taken to Janusz and Hanna’s house first for “lunch” which includes plates of meats, a big bowl of herring (my favorite!), salad, bread, cheeses.  

We then got a tour of the house and gardens. They built this house over a period of some time while they lived in a small finished area – house of their dreams (and mine!). It’s just beautiful with amazing features. Can’t go into all that so here are just a couple of pictures. 

Hanka is the indoor designer and Janusz planted each item in the garden himself and can tell you what every tree, flower and shrub is. The yard even includes an endangered Metasequoia (Dawn Redwood) from China. I think that one is one he said he grew from a cutting he took from a botanical garden and its beautiful.

Then came the hot dinner! All prepared by Hanka including the dessert. Lots of traditional Polish food.

And if we weren’t already spoiled by them, they are driving us to see some sights today. One more day here and then on to Dresden for two days and then home.

NICU and Classical Music 

Today I met with Dr Janusz Malinowski, a doctor that Bill meet on a train one time he was here in Poland. He is the head of OB/GYN at a hospital in Wroclaw and took me to see their obstetrics unit and NICU. It was quite interesting although I did not take any pictures. I had donated clothing to them twice when 3M people were coming over (one was Bill and one other person brought some) and they loved them so I brought a new supply including some of my tiniest shirts. They have one very tiny baby right now who will be able to try those on – only about 900 grams. 

In the past few years they have updated their NICU and it is quite high tech now but I was very impressed with how quiet it was and relaxed. No monitors beeping or alarms alarming – although I’m sure they do on occasion. The neonatologist that took me around told me they only rarely intubate a baby (put them on a respirator) and use only CPAP on most of them. They feel they get better results with less lung damage. If you know nothing about NICUs this will not mean much to you but I found their more gentle approach interesting. They get a good result so it must work ok! While the NICU has lots of high tech equipment and the ultrasound and C-Section room have all the normal equipment, the overall feel was a very homey, non-high tech one that makes birth seem more normal not so much a medical procedure. On the other hand, they keep moms there 2-3 days for a normal birth and probably 5-6 days for a C-Section. 

My tour of the hospital included talking with some moms who had recently given birth and some recovering from c-sections, meeting nurses and doctors, who exclaimed over the new clothes – I’m hoping to get some pictures.  One of the moms there had herself been delivered by Janusz and now her child was born there. We got a chance to discuss hospitals in our two countries, medical education and also some politics. After Trump’s election its impossible to avoid being asked about it.  The time was very enjoyable. 

We then went for lunch at a restaurant on an island near the old town. First I was shown a new construction project, this will include underground (under water?) parking and a restaurant and maybe other things on the upper levels and the whole thing is designed to look like a ship on the water. 

Very nice restaurant where I got a smoked fish salad and “chocolate mousse” dessert, which was a little different than the usual. Dessert only shown….

Walking back to the apartment we saw this poster and both of us immediately thought of our daughter Colleen. Anyone else think it looks a bit like her? Although obviously in extreme makeup and pose.

Next Janusz and his wife took us to a concert at the National Forum of Music Concert Hall.  Here’s a picture of the main stage although we’ll be at a smaller one – kind of chamber orchestra size.

And pictures from our small performance – two pieces were 9 piece orchestra “Nonet” by Bohuslav Martinu and Nonet by Josef Rheinberger, and the third was a quintet – and was one of my favorites – Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet KV581. 

All of them were excellent and wonderful acoustics.   Then after our usual walk around the square, the day is done. Tomorrow we go to a Museum about the history of Wroclaw and then to dinner at the home of Janusz and Hania. And again I’m all caught up!

My day “off”

Finally came down with the cold Bill had earlier in the trip so was kind of glad to have not too much planned for this cool, cloudy day. We had gotten groceries last night. Bill happily had Honey Nut Cherrios for breakfast before going off to work. I did a load of laundry in the apartment and then made scrambled eggs for breakfast. Caught up on the blog – can’t believe I’m actually writing in real time right now. Finished a book I was reading and now in a French Cafe in Wroclaw. Giselle’s – it was recommended by our Airbnb host so decided to give it a try.

Galette (pancake in French, not a crepe) with spinach, chicken and cheese – very good and did remind me of France. And coffee, they do have good coffee, seems like they use a lot of Brazilian coffee.  All this for the price of a fancy Starbucks at home…

Wandered around and just took a few pictures – I somehow lost many of my picture from last time so it seemed worthwhile to take a few more so – you win, you get to see them!

While we saw no graffiti in Burghausen, there is quite a bit in Wroclaw. Some is political and some I have no idea…

Love the pretty streets of the old town.

I’ve been here before, visited many areas, many many churches but unfortunately my blog from that time was on blogger and when google bought it, many pictures disappeared AND I can’t find most of my pictures from that trip.  So I did visit one church yesterday and took pictures.

First on the way to the church is the Copperplate Engraver’s House, one of two that originally surrounded St Elizabeth’s Church.  It’s the building on the left in the forefront of this picture. Behind is St Elizabeth’s Church. These two buildings were originally home to men who serviced the church, taking care of the altars.

It’s one of my favorite views near the main square, the Rynek.

St Elizabeth’s was built on the spot of a 14th century Roman temple (a common thing in many places to build a Catholic Church on top of a Roman temple) and was built at the beginning of the 14th century by Count Boleslaw III.

It was almost impossible to capture and do justice to the very bright stained glass window and still get any detail in the darker church so I’ll show it in three pictures.

There are a few modern or at least more modern buildings in this area and they seem a strange contrast. Here you can see the church on the left, other more typical buildings and the more modern Sofitel. But at least its facade blends in somewhat.

This house is called (in English) House Under the Golden Sun and was built in the 16th century, a combination of two 13th century buildings. It was remodeled in the 17th century and is now an example of baroque architecture. 

And of course, Burger King – there’s also McDonalds, Starbucks and Pizza Hut (right next to our apartment). I watched a mom and three kids and I’m pretty sure she asked where they wanted to eat, because they all enthusiastically answered “Burger King” and went running towards it. Sadly (to me anyway) it was probably more crowded than any of the other restaurants.

But we did not have dinner at Burger King! We were taken out to Pod Fredra, a beautiful and very traditional restaurant. 

Lovely decor and ambiance. 

We got an amazing assortment of appetizers. Could have happily eaten just that! The herring (not visible in the picture) was the best I’ve ever had.  Grzegorz ordered so not sure what it all was.

And I’ve never had goose before so that’s what I got with the starch being traditional Polish something like gnocchi. Cranberry sauce and oranges. It was delicious.

Bill got the rabbit, and it was hard to pass that up but I did taste some of course.

Dessert was good but not our favorite, wish we’d gotten the apple pie/torte, it looked great.

And of coarse ended the evening with vodka. I’ll update later with the flavor but it was good.

Our wonderful company for the night – sorry I missed one person in the picture.

After that, it was time for twice around the Rynek to get some Fitbit steps and we were ready for bed.  The yellow building here is ours and we are on the top floor.  Two pizza places – Pizza Hut on one side and the one you can see on the other. The stairway often is filled with the scent of cooking pizza. 

Wroclaw – will it be as nice as I remembered?

Started off bright and early (well, ok cloudy but it was early) from Burghausen to Munich by regional train.

Bill wanted me to throw in a picture of solar panels so I could comment that we saw lots of “solar farms” although, ironically, we saw very little sun.

The Munich airport. They have self-checking for your baggage which went really quickly – maybe it just wasn’t a busy time. Security was also pretty easy, the opposite of Kuwait. Their X-ray machine didn’t even see my knee replacement. No passports required – as we were just going from one EU country to another.

Have to comment on this. A lot more smoking in Europe than the US still. And the airport had several of these “smoking rooms” provided by tobacco companies. This one was small out near the furthest gates but another one we saw was quite large and full of people.

Having erred on the side of caution (is anyone who knows Bill surprised?) – we had several hours at the airport so we got a little lunch and some last beer in Bavaria, where it is not considered an alcoholic beverage but a “food”.

Interesting that Wroclaw is still also called Breslau, at least when you’re in Germany. It was Breslau before the war. Afterwards, Russia got this territory and moved Polish people from eastern Poland into this area, forcing the German people out.  The sign alternated between the two.

Did enjoy Lufthansa’s snack more than a tiny package of pretzels or peanuts.

And now we’re in Poland – Wroclaw airport. I’d never seen it as last time we came by train from Berlin.

Our apartment and our view. Bedroom and kitchen are pretty tiny but functional and the living room and bathroom are spacious. We’re on the top floor (4 sets of long stairs) but the view is worth it.

We got settled in, Bill did some email and other work while I caught up on blog posts and then we set out to find dinner.  The town square is basically a big pedestrian zone around a center set of buildings (you can see one side of them above). That area and some others near this center are no cars most of the time. Lots of people out walking in the evenings and a fun upbeat atmosphere. Lots of restaurants, we basically picked by the interesting look of the one we went to but most of them are well rated on Yelp so we had many choices. It was drizzling but not too bad and added to the atmosphere a little – restaurants are using their outside areas but they have them mostly covered and heated with lamps.

The not very Polish sounding name of this restaurant is The Whiskey Jar – they serve whiskey in a mason jar along with various flavors and crushed ice. It was a little different but I thought good, even though I had beer I got to try Bill’s Cherry Whiskey.

This shrimp was wonderful and the stuffed potato Polish style (menu said it was traditional was yummy!

Bill’s salmon, roasted potatoes and beets with feta cheese – also good! The salmon was perfect.

And of course is walking around, trying to get our 10,000 steps (difficult on travel days sometimes), we saw the required Irish Pub (seriously, every town has had one)

And I’m caught up! Bill is off to work at 3M, I’m getting ready to make myself some eggs for breakfast and then venture out as the drizzle has stopped.