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Reporting From Gdańsk Posted by on Oct 22, 2008 in Culture

Al from the Polish-American Genealogy blog, which by the way is a great resource for anyone interested in tracing their Polish roots, tagged me with the 10 Years Ago tag…
I’m not much for blog tags and normally ignore them, but how could I say “no” to a fellow Kashub (“Kaszub” in Polish)? I couldn’t. Especially since I’ve just arrived in Gdańsk, had my first dinner of “schabowy” and “mizeria” and I’m feeling great.

I told Al I was going to modify the questions somewhat so you won’t be bored to death when reading about my 5 jobs and 5 favorite places were I used to live.

So here we go:

  • 1. Ten years ago I…

– was young and beautiful and had no interest whatsoever in the Polish language. And especially – no interest in sharing my Polish knowledge. And look at me now, huh?
– was wondering what was happening to Polish soccer. In 1998 the FIFA World Cup was held in France and Poland didn’t even manage to qualify at all. Sadly not much has changed since then. Polish soccer is still pathetic. And the players are ugly, too.
– was shaking my head with disbelief when reading about Polish politics. Those were the times of Aleksander Kwaśniewski. I still can’t decide whether things have gotten better or worse since then, but fortunately, these days I’m not interested in politics anymore.
– wanted to know why so few American universities offered Polish classes. I’m not even talking here about Polish as a major, general Slavic Studies would have made me happy, but even those were hard to come by. Or maybe I simply wasn’t looking in the right places.
– was wondering why every piece of garbage literature (if you could call it literature) was being translated into Polish and why so few books by Polish authors were translated into English. And I still wonder about it.

  • 2. Five things on my to do list for today (actually for tomorrow, too late to do anything today):

– buy a map of Gdańsk
– go to St Mary’s Church (Kościół Mariacki) and see if the tower’s open for climbing
– stroll around the Old Town and buy bags and bags of souvenirs
– eat ridiculous amounts of ptasie mleczko
– determine whether Bary Mleczne still exist (singular – Bar Mleczny, a cafeteria-style joint with super cheap food, mostly vegetarian, mostly yucky. But cheap, so all is forgiven.)

  • 3. Five foods I enjoy:

bigos, but that goes without saying. I’m a huge fan of bigos, and I even learned to make it myself.
gołąbki (stuffed cabbage) as long as I don’t have to make them myself. In fact, I’ve never actually made them myself.
sałatka z czerwonych buraczków (red beet salad) like my grandma used to make.
pierogi, but only the savory kind. I don’t like those with sweet stuffing. And needless to say, I don’t like to make them myself. Why is making Polish food always so time consuming?
– Polish style pickles – which, as my friend says, come in only two varieties: sour and super sour.

4. Five places I’ve lived.
If you excuse me, this is a boring question, so I’m going to skip it.

5. Five jobs I’ve had.
Since I haven’t had that many jobs in my life, I’m going to skip it, too.

  • 6. Six places I want to visit that I haven’t yet visited:

– to be honest, I haven’t been to very many places in Poland besides Warsaw and Gdańsk.
– ideally, I’d like to visit all UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Poland. There are quite a few of them: Toruń, Zamość, Białowieża National Park. I want to see the baroque cathedral in Frombork and the Bieszczady Mountains. But most of all, I want to go to Hel. And if all goes well, I’ll be there this weekend.

In the meantime. check out this blog with photos of Gdańsk, the blog is written in Polish, but you don’t need to understand the language to admire the absolutely gorgeous photographs.

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Comments:

  1. Taylor:

    Very entertaining, as always!
    I think Lukas Podolski, the Polish soccer player is quite attractive though.
    =)

    Do you suppose you could do a lesson on the genitive one day?
    ten–>tego always confuse me!

  2. Lori:

    I’m proud that I understood this all, even ptasie mleczko. That made me remember last summer in Zakopane. I reached up on a candy shelf attempting to take a package down to show another American who was shopping for things to take home. A whole pile of boxed candy came tumbling down. It was like something Lucille Ball would have done in a store.

    But I always go directly to a store to buy the krowki as soon as I can upon arrival in Poland.

  3. Sylwia Presley:

    Hey, we would love to joing the tagging meme, can we?:)

    Great idea!

    Feel free to join our Polish food carnival:)

  4. Sylwia Presley:

    btw bar Mleczny – there is one in Krakow, and few others around Poland, there was one on Nowy Swiat in Warsaw too!:) We love them!

  5. Anna:

    Hi guys!
    Taylor, you’re right, Podolski is an OK looking dude, alas, he plays for the neighbors to the west.
    Lori, I am STUFFING my face with everything in sight. I’m sure I’ll gain a ton of weight this week.
    Sylvia, sure thing, consider yourself tagged!!! I’m zooming over to your blog to check it out now! 🙂

  6. Grazyna:

    Hey Anna,

    Wroclaw is a beautiful place to visit too, ya know? 🙂 Hope all goes well for you in Poland!

  7. Sylwia Presley:

    posted!

  8. isabella:

    One of my most treasured memories is visiting my dad’s office (Gdansk town hall behind the Neptune statue) and lunching together on nalesniki w Barze Mlecznym on Dluga Street…
    I wonder, with the exorbitant real estate prices in Gdansk, is the Milk Bar still there?

  9. Phil:

    Hi Anna.

    Your column has inspired me to try again to learn Polish, I admit that I find it difficult.

    My first trip to Poland was in 1993 and did the usual, Malbork, Gdansk, Torun and Krakow. Wanting to go somwhere different I spent 4 days in Sanok and did a trip into the Bieszczady. A wonderful place, as was the skansen and icon exhibition in Sanok.

    My second trip in 1995 I explored Warmia and Masuria. This is also a beautiful area and I was inspired to return in 1998 and do a 10 day trip along the Krutynia River with the PTTK.

    I met a young Polish guy on this trip and he invited me to stay with him and his parents in their flat in Warszawa.

    I returned to Poland this year and not only had access to the flat and a complete refusal to accept any financial offering to assist in feeding me, but I had a great time, not only exploring Warszawa, but also in Oliwa, where I went to see the Cathedral and Cisna, a small town/village in the Bieszczady where the mountains were about 1 km from the centre no matter what way you went. I spent two nights in Sanok and the transformation of the old town in the 15 years from my first trip was wonderful. A beautiful part of the world.

    Anna, keep up the good work, you have even inspired me to understand the grammar side of the language , a challange for many poles, let alone others.

  10. John:

    Hi Anna,

    You mentioned that you want to go to Białowieża National Park. My wife and I were there earlier this year. The guide who took us around the most protected part of the park (only trained guides can do so) was fantastic – one of the very best I have encountered anywhere. His enthusiasm was such that even if you weren’t interested in trees before entering the park, you would be by the time you left.

    It’s a shameless plug, but I think he deserves it. If you do go to the park, contact Sławek Przygodzki and see if he is available to guide you. His email is naturetour@wp.pl – I would definitely recommend him.

    Keep up the good work.

    John H.

  11. Anna:

    Hi John!
    I am so glad you posted it here, too, because my email box got all funky and I lost a bunch of messages. Białowieża will have to wait until next year – not sure how much fun the place would be in the winter. But when I go there I will definitely get in touch with Sławek. I will also recommend him to other people. I have nothing against shameless plugs, so long as people really reserve them 😉

    Hi Phil,
    Thank you so much for your message. It’s always very heartwarming for me to hear that this blog actually helps people. Are you planning to return to Poland? You’ve seen all the places I want to visit!

  12. John H:

    Hi Anna,

    Could you do an item about those quirky phrases that all languages have, such as nieopierzony kurchak and stary piernik please. Whilst talking to a Polish lady today I described myself as a stary piernik today – she thought it hysterical that I knew such a phrase. Calling her a nieopierzony kurchak raised a laugh too. More phrases like these would be very handy.

    Thanks,

    John H.

  13. Anna:

    Hi John!
    Great idea! I’m working on it right now.

  14. Valerio:

    In August I will go Bialowieza National Park and I’ve conctacted Slawek as u adviced!:)) let’s hope to have a wondeful holiday in the park! c u!