Monday, 13 August 2007

The highest railway station in Poland - Szklarska Poreba

The train station in Szklarska Poreba is the highest in Poland and the first time I saw this train station, I was impressed. The sheer rock face on one side opposite the station building, and on the other side a view of all of Szklarska, Szrenica mountain and some others I can not remember the name of in the Karkonosze range.

However despite the impressive natural surroundings, I actually thought the station had stopped being used as it is in a poor state and seemed deserted. There was no one around even though it was tourist season and there was a space where once a shop had serviced commuters. Trains do depart nowadays, although quite rarely compared with in the past but the station looks like it's last legs largely due to the decrease in stone mining in the Szklarska Poreba area and a cease in the connection to the Czech Republic (Tanvald in 1945). I think the state of the building and area around serve as an analogy to how during different times Szklarska boomed. During Communism when there were closed borders, Szklarska boomed as one of leading holiday destinations for Polish people to go but as the borders opened with the fall of Communism, it's popularity inevitably declined as people could leave Poland for their holiday. There was a golden age in Szklarska Poreba's history which is not now but I think there is the possibility of mountain towns booming again in Poland especially with it's recent inclusion in to the EU. Skiing resorts like this are beginning to rival the Alps and their associated resort towns. Time will tell, and perhaps Szklarska Poreba gorna will be busy once again.

Polish passion for sunflower seeds

When I was a child I would feed my rabbit something that resembled muesli with many bits and bobs in it that I did not recognise. One thing I remember Bosco particularly liked were these striped seeds that were the first thing to run out as I used to feed them individually to him (I had a lot of free time as a kid). It was when I came to Poland and I saw people with bags of them or carrying round a huge sunflower that I realised these striped seeds were sunflower seeds and also realised they were edible (I used to pick out some for me before the rabbit could gobble them all out of curiosity. Also most striped things are poisonous or dangerous so there was a tinge of adrenaline charged excitement as I continued to up my dosage with my increasing courage).
Anyway I found out they were sunflower seeds on my 30 hour coach ride to Poland when only one of these was my food for the entire trip (I got that feeling I had forgot something originating from my stomach!). Furthermore they are an incredibly powerful aid when giving up smoking probably because they are so fiddly to open and not filling at all that people's minds are taken off wanting to smoke. I see people everywhere from bus stations to pubs resembling my rabbit as they battle with and nibble at them. Of course becoming addicted to these is a problem also, it's only a substitute. Instead of ashtrays or the floor being saturated with fag butts, there are millions of the empty seed cases which look just as bad. I gave up smoking while living in Poland and I am thankful that I did not take up the sunflower habit because I would hate the thought of robbing more rabbits of the most tasty part of their meal in the future to literally feed my habit.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Polish festyn

It was Sunday, we were bored but luckily there was a festyn on down the road at the local church. I was very holy as a child being brought up a Catholic and being a skillful altar boy for many seasons, however this all waned as my teenage years kicked in.

A festyn is a church charity event to raise money through selling cakes, food, raffles etc. Not being a practising Catholic, I have since had a fear I will be grilled as to why I have not attended Mass every time a priest is in my vicinity or I attend anything religious in England. However my apprehension about this festyn being slightly uncomfortable disappeared as soon as I saw a monk on some kind of music equaliser system mixin' a tune!

In fact there was a monk band from Krakow who played instruments and sang while in their robes. They were actually good with songs resembling reggae intermixed with rock and indie. The place was rockin'. There were hand actions to one song in which everyone got involved. I have not uploaded the videos to you tube yet but I will soon so you can hear the saintly songs yourself.

Of course one thing I was looking forward to was trying the food on offer and I was not disappointed. I had just eaten breakfast but nothing was stopping me from trying bigos and pierogi ruskie but unfortunately I did not have room for kielbasa :( The food was delicious, the little girl in the picture was not strapped in for safety, it was to stop her nabbing the cakes!

We won a variety of prizes including two skipping ropes, and elephant and a green Copernicus hat (the hat was not only practical in the bright sun, but also educational because I learnt Copernicus was Polish!)

For recipes on Polish cuisine visit my site about Polish food and recipes and look for bigos and/or pierogi ruskie!

Sunday, 5 August 2007

An interview with me

If your interested in relocating abroad then why not check out this site where you can read interviews with people who have already done it. I think this site is very useful for finding out things that you might not even consider as being relevant or would never think of until after you were already living there.

To be honest the main reason I am plugging this site is because I am one of the people that has been interviewed and I want you to read it.

If I inspire you to relocate in Poland or help you in any way in your relocation, I would love to know about it.