Deadly train crash in Poland

Posted on 04. Mar, 2012 by in Countries, Current News, Transport, travel

Two trains running on the same track collided head-on (zderzyły się czołowo) in southern Poland last night, killing 15 people and leaving 56 injured.

The accident (wypadek), which is the worst train disaster (katastrofa) in Poland in more than 20 years, happened late last night on the Warsaw-Kraków mainline in the small town of Szczękociny.

As the severity (drastyczność) of the crash  became known army helicopters (helikoptery) were deployed to the scene to race the most seriously injured (ciężko ranni) to hospital while a fleet of 450 emergency vehicles, 100 policemen and dozens of volunteer firemen clawed at the wreckage (wrak).

Officials have said it is too early to say what had caused the crash and Polish prosecutors have opened an investigation into how the head-on collision happened.

The two mangled (zniekształcone) trains, comprising 10 carriages in total, were carrying an estimated 350 passengers at the time of the crash.

Several of the passengers were foreigners, including people from Ukraine, Spain and France, but none of them appeared to be among the dead or badly injured. 

‘The rescue is difficult and complicated,’ firefighter Jarosław Wojtasik told Polish television.

‘The damage to the wagons is huge. We have contact with victims. We are approaching very cautiously.’

Three coaches are reported to be especially damaged, and the rescue operation focused on finding passengers there.

Rescue workers ended their search for the wounded and prosecutors opened their investigation early Sunday.

One passenger estimated that his train was travelling about 120km/h (75 mph), when it started braking very sharply.

‘Then we felt a powerful impact, and we were thrown about the compartment,’ the passenger told TVN24.

Andrzej Pawłowski, a member of the board of the state railway company PKP, said in an interview that one of the trains, which was traveling south from Warsaw to Kraków, should not have been on the track.

The other train, headed from the eastern city of Przemyśl to Warsaw, was on the correct track, Mr Pawlowski said.

It wasn’t immediately clear how the southbound train ended up on the wrong track.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk called the accident the most tragic train catastrophe in Poland in recent years after visiting the site in the early hours of today.

‘Even more dramatic than the pictures are the facts,’ Mr Tusk said. ‘This is our most tragic train disaster in many, many years.’

He arrived at the scene early on Sunday morning, with three other cabinet ministers.

Maintenance work was being carried out on one of the tracks where the collision occurred.

Polish President Bronisław Komorowski was also planning to visit the site on Sunday, his office said.

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

“Crazy Guides” Communism Tours in Kraków

Posted on 02. Mar, 2012 by in Culture, Geography, Organizations, Places to visit, Transport, travel

These tours are not your average guided tour (wycieczka z przewodnikiem). With a little help from a ‘Crazy Guide’ driving around in a brightly painted Eastern bloc Trabant, visitors to Kraków are taken back in time to discover the city’s Communist history.

“We try to make our customers understand and feel what the real Poland is about, and to show them things that cannot be found on postcards and in guide books“, explains ‘Crazy Mike’, founder of the now legendary tours of Kraków’s Communist past. Visitors are met from their hotel by a Crazy Guide, all of whom are carefully selected by Mike for their enthusiasm for history and their easy-going nature, and then driven around the purpose-built socialist district of Nowa Huta in a car from the Communist era.

Each tour aims to give visitors to Kraków a unique insight into life in Communist Poland. Mike explains, “We almost always visit Nowa Huta, the so-called ‘Communist District’ which is kind of like a time-warp. We also take visitors to a milk bar canteen that hasn’t changed since the 1980s; gives visitors a feel for how things used to be.” The Crazy Guides team has also recreated an apartment complete with authentic 1970s interiors – right down to every last detail.

Thanks to the guides’ in-depth knowledge of Nowa Huta and their enthusiasm for sharing the district’s history with visitors to Kraków. “Sometimes the guides take visitors off the beaten track and show them places like vegetable markets and tower block estates on the edge of the city that they probably would not have found on their own” says Mike.

The idea of creating alternative tours of Kraków that brought the city’s Communist history to life came to Mike while he was studying law and working part time as a hotel receptionist. While he found the job dull, he enjoyed chatting to the guests, and would regularly have a beer with them during his night-shifts. One day, an Amercian couple asked if he could give them a two hour guided tour of the city.

Mike turned up in his rather beaten-up Fiat 126, ready to take the couple around the city’s most popular sights, but on realising that they already knew Kraków quite well, he decided to skip the usual tourist haunts and show them some of the city’s hidden gems that were a bit more off the beaten track. He drove them to the mounds and barrows on the edge of the city, and then took them to the bohemian bars of the Jewish district, before taking them back to his apartment and cooking them dinner. The couple thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and tipped him generously. As a bonus, Mike took them to Nowa Huta and filled them in on its crazy history behind the Socialist city. Over a few beers afterwards, they told Mike that they had enjoyed the tour so much that he simply had to set up his own tour company. So, with bags of energy and a large dollop of fun, he invested in an East German Trabant, made a few quirky modifications… and Crazy Guides was born, though nobody seems to remember where the name came from!

The Crazy Guides’ Communism Tours started out as an alternative tour to the run of the mill historic tours, but it has since become a popular fixture on most sightseeing itineraries. In recent years, the tour has been featured in international media, including the BBC, Lonely Planet, Reuters, CNN Traveller, New York Times, Der Spiegel, La Republica among others.

The original Trabant that Mike first bought is still going strong, although the fleet has grown to include Polish Fiats and Russia Ladas. Mike has since built up a team of energetic, young guides who are extremely knowledgeable about Communist history, and are passionate about sharing it with visitors to Kraków. Of course success breeds imitators, and there have been attempts – albeit unsuccessful ones – to copy the formula, however Mike maintains that the Crazy Guides’ Communism Tours are the original and still the best. Why? Mike concludes, “we have always done this for the love of it, for the good times, the memories and the smile on our clients’ faces.”

Have anyone try it before? If not, definitely do it next time you are in Kraków. Here is their website:

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

Poszła Pani do sklepu…how to draw a person

Posted on 01. Mar, 2012 by in Arts, Education, Games, Kids, Languages, Polish Language, Rhymes

I remember learning how to draw a person when I was a little child…Most of the kids like pictures and fun way to introduce them how to learn something.

This is how my mother taught me how to draw a person (osoba, człowiek):

While you are drawing, you tell the story:

Poszła Pani do sklepu…(one lady went grocery shopping ….)  i kupiła (and bought):

2 cebule 2 onions (we are drawing eyes)

marchewkę carrot (we are drawing nose)

pietruszkę parsley (we are drawing mouth)

zawinęła to w chusteczkę she wrapped it all in a handkerchief/towel (we are drawing a circle around it all as face and close it with a little bow on the top as hair)

bochenek chleba loaf of bread (we are drawing torso/belly)

pieprz pepper (we are drawing belly button)

2 cukierki 2 pieces of candy (we are drawing  hands)

2 nóżki wołowe 2 beef legs (we are drawing legs)

I dziecko gotowe/ i człowiek gotowy and baby/person is ready

YouTube Preview Image

You can always change the story and things you buy…whatever makes you happy and as long as it looks like things you are drawing:)

Have fun!

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)