Sunday, June 24, 2012


The flight home was hard on us.  We set our alarm for 3:00 am in Poland in order to clear security and board an early morning flight from Warsaw.007
After a flight to Munich, Germany, a layover, a long flight to Toronto, Canada, another layover, and then a flight direct to Portland, we found ourselves in the Portland airport at 8:03 Portland time.  Our neighbors picked us up and by 9:30 we crashed into bed.  Near as I can figure that was 27 1/2 hours.  Of course we slept some on the airplanes, but that was out of exhaustion and not too satisfying. 
Now, we’re slowly getting adjusted to local time.  This weekend we enjoyed the boys for two days and an overnight.  Each one got to plant his garden bed.  Casey wanted watermelons.  Since it’s too late to start seeds, we bought some plants.IMG_8485
Phelan wanted a repeat of last year’s bean crop so he planted black beans and bumble bee beans.  IMG_8482

Ryder chose cucumbers and some experimental watermelon seeds. 
The rest of the day was a delightful excursion into Canby for frozen yogurt and a visit to the new Lego store.IMG_8491  Casey’s 5th birthday is on Monday and he spent some time picking out what he would like as a gift.
IMG_8493 Then they all got involved in a Lego game on the store’s video. IMG_8498  Back home, we had another surprise.  On our visit to the Castle ruins in Poland we found some helmets that the knights of old wore.  Marlene carried them home on her lap (actually stashed them in the overhead storage once we boarded).  IMG_8500  Would you believe this is Phelan.  Casey is ready for battle.IMG_8502
All three are thinking ahead to Halloween.  IMG_8506

Thursday, June 14, 2012


We’re down to the last couple of days so this may be our last post from Poland. 
At the end of the “castle hills” lies the city of Czestochowa, the location of the largest cathedral in Poland and the home of the “Black Madonna”.  014  017 (2)
It was written that when the Communists took over in 1945 they set up a program to diminish the importance of religion in the country by turning  this city into an industrial center.  So there are several tall smoke stacks belching out smoke, but none of them ever superseded the importance or dominance of the cathedral.020  021
The story of the Black Madonna is that the image was painted by Saint Luke on the wood panel from the House of Nazareth.  First the icon was kept in Jerusalem, then in Constantinople and finally, it was brought to Poland in the 14th Century.  In 1430, the image was damaged by robbers who slashed the face with swords.  You can still see the slashes today.023 (2)  Surrounding the cathedral are several buildings housing museums.  This picture of the Pope along with the Nobel Peace Prize medallion won by Lech Walesa This is the only actual gold medallion Peace Prize that we have ever seen, but unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures of it.019 (2)  This is an aerial view of the grounds with the masses gathered to hear Pope John Paul speak.
From here, we headed towards Warsaw with two stops in mind.  One at a Skansen, an outdoor village museum with buildings representing different periods.  040  Marlene was interested to see what the living conditions were like when her ancestors lived in the area.  These are some buildings of around 1860.029 031
030 033  In one of the houses there were household implements like this loom. 028 
Here are a couple of more parting shots from our travels today.  An airliner turned into a restaurant/ gas station similar to the Bomber in Milwaukie, Oregon,027  and the rainbow building in Warsaw which was near the hotel we stayed in the first few days we were in the country.019  Last night, we stayed in a hotel about 15 minutes outside Warsaw.  We drove into the neighborhood where our first hotel was and had a celebration dinner at our favorite restaurant in Warsaw. 
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We had a great time winding down and reminiscing about our month long celebration of our 50 years together.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Before we left Krakow this morning we decided to take one last walk around the old town area.  This time we took a different route into the center and discovered some new scenes.  002  016
We entered through a different gate and were greeted by traditional Polish music.015  004  This morning everything looked new and fresh.  All the crowds from the weekend had disappeared and we were able to see things we hadn’t seen on the weekend. 006 007  012  017  Marlene was attracted to this window display of home made bread and preserved vegetables.019  We left krakow in a general north-west direction following a ridge line of limestone that runs for about 60 miles and is anywhere from 20 to 30 miles wide.  Erosion of the upland has left behind a variety of strange rock formations  as well as 500 to 1000 caves and high points on which castles were built in the 15th and 16th centuries.  023 One of our first encounters included a field of poppies.  We have seen these all over Poland, but it has never worked out to stop and take a picture.  025 When the rock formations began to appear we couldn’t resist stopping and hiking up to take a picture.030  At lunch time with the help of an old lady that spoke no English, but understood sight language well, we found a restaurant with a unique motif.  036 We didn’t realize the significance until we finished lunch and drove about 2 miles down the road and encountered our first ruined castle. 037 Of course we had to stop and hike up to examine it closer.  038 044  047           048 Marlene couldn’t resist trying on some local attire.  045 Throughout the afternoon we visited 3 more castle ruins.052  054 At the end of the day we found one of the most delightful hotels and restaurants that we have experienced anywhere in Poland.  We met the proprietor, a young man who has spent a lot of time in the U.S. and had for a while lived in Truckee, California.002 (2)        003 (2)
065  There is only one room in the hotel and we were lucky enough to get it.  061  062
095  The structure of the hotel is an original granary that was constructed in 1783.004 (2) 091  We had a view of the castle ruins from the balcony.063  Needless to say, before dinner we decided to explore the ruins.  069  073  079  081  088  Dinner was delightful and almost private.
www.spichlerz.net097100Check out  the web site at  for more pictures and description of the facility.  I'd recommend this place to anyone traveling in Poland.  In fact I think it would be a good destination point for someone wanting to explore old castles and caves.