General Sikorski’s traces in London

A short post today. Recently we had a 73rd anniversary of Gibraltar aircrash. Three years ago I attended at the Polish Embassy in London a ceremony celebrating 70th anniversary of the catastrophe. Continue reading

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Polish submarine seamen in Sweden

Flag Day, May 3rd Constitution Day are a very good reason to write something. Today’s topic is not new, a doctoral dissertation has been written on the subject. Let me tell you then a few words about my short but eventful visit to Sweden.

I started my first visit to my girlfriend’s country in her hometown, Mariefred. Seemingly normal, sleepy town on the shores of Lake Mälaren but surprisingly with many Polish traces. Continue reading

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Swedish Christmas

Christmas is over… In order to keep the Christmas spirit for a little longer I’ll describe my holidays in Sweden. It was my first non-Polish Christmas and I have to admit I liked it.

Before you ask let me just say that there was no snow. It started to snow on the way to the airport and covered everything very quickly. My girlfriend comes from Mariefred, a small town 30 mins by train from Stockholm so it is in the south and apparently snow does not fall until beginning of year. But I guess it’s time to start the post. Continue reading

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Poles from Santa Rosa

Because of the Bank Holidays at the beginning of May in Poland and the 70th anniversary of taking Monte Cassino by Poles today I’m going to serve you a bit of history.

As you probably know, tens of thousands of civilians left USSR with the Anders Army, including many children and orphans and something had to be done with them. Civilians were deployed in such exotic places as Iran (at the Sikorski Museum in London you can see a Persian rug, woven by Polish orphans in 1943 in Isfahan – a gift for General Anders), Africa, India and… Mexico. And the Mexican chapter will be described today. Continue reading

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A New Hope…

It’s about time to start catching up. The post title suggests that the author should move his butt and start blogging regularly 🙂

We return today to Merida (again), and more specifically to the ruins nearby called Mayapan. My trip to this site was one of the most enjoyable so far. This is due to four factors: my starting point was Merida, which I love, the entire cost of the trip (transportation, entrance) closed at 76 pesos (£3.50), had the whole site almost exclusively for myself and was able to climb every building. Continue reading

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Mexico again…

The coach to Valladolid (second class of course) took us 3.5 hours. Our CS host, Tony picked us up from the bus station and took us to his restaurant, although it looked more like a bar in a small village in Poland. It was Friday 4pm, the bar half full, a guy was playing melancholic love songs on the keyboard, some elderly couple awkwardly danced around, the tables were occupied by men who probably happened to be on a leave from prison, and their lady companions were probably reinforcing themselves prior to the night shift in the world’s oldest profession, a very dodgy place. Unfortunately I have no pictures as I didn’t think it was safe to take out my camera at that place… Continue reading

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Viva Mexico Cabrones!

I have a small delay, but do not worry not much was happening 🙂 I had to take a break from traveling and rest on the beach – I went, among others, to the island of Holbox, but this time I had the sun all week. Probably I’ll go back again. But to the point, considering it has been 10 days I was in the States, it’s time to catch up. Continue reading

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First steps in Mexico

Time for the first entry of the trip (finally!). The first twelve days I spent with Maria, a friend I met in London. For her it was a holiday, for me, a beginning of the journey into… unknown? Certainly, past experience has shown that you can not plan everything. This is not just another continent, everything else is so different from what we know from Europe. Starting from simple things like weather, through food, music, and the people most of all. Continue reading

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Polish cemeteries in Vilnius

The day after my wanderings in Vilnius, I decided to go to the Rasos cemetery, where is buried the urn containing the heart of the Marshal Pilsudski (Marshal’s tomb is located on Wawel Hill, about which I wrote here). Continue reading

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Vilnius stories – Part II

Time  to continue wandering around Vilnius. During my “marathon” on the first day I managed to see quite a lot. Although a non-believer, always with great pleasure I visit churches, what attracts and captivates me is the peace and tranquility prevailing inside. The first sight was the Basilica of St. Peter and Paul in Antakalnis (Vilnius district). The first wooden church on the site was built during the reign of Wladyslaw Jagiello, was burned at the end of the sixteenth century and later rebuilt lasted only until 1655 when it was again destroyed, this time by the Russians. The building in its present form was started in 1668 and completed in 1684, and was founded by Lithuanian hetman Michał Kazimierz Pac. The curiosities worth mentioning are the crystal chandelier in the shape of a boat (a reminder of the sinking of the transport of the main altar with the crystal columns ordered by Pac in Italy) and placed somewhere close to the entrance a large Lithuanian drum (litaur) brought by hetman Pac after the battle of Chocim in 1673 (unfortunately I did not see this as I did not know during my visit about it and I certainly would find a way to see it). The interior is really impressive but I also recommend a walk around the basilica, because there are plenty of Polish traces out there (as in entire Vilnius). In the years 1951-1989 the church served as an art gallery, but it is often encountered situation in Lithuania, that the churches in the communist era were used for other purposes e.g. warehouses.

St. Peter and St. Paul's Church

St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church

The interior of the basilica with the boat-shaped chandelier

The interior of the basilica with the boat-shaped chandelier

Polish trace on the church's wall

Polish trace on the church’s wall

The next stop was the Adam Mickiewicz Museum, located in the house where our poet lived and worked. I was able to get to the museum in front of a large Polish tour, with which I then “raced” to next sights 🙂  Further proof that you can organize everything yourself and see exactly the same things as on organized trip, without having to be rushed from place to place. But everyone explores how he/she wants.

Plaque above the entrance to the Museum

Plaque above the entrance to the Museum

Gentlemen at the Museum (with a lovely Vilnius accent) asked me if I’m alone (I think groups are more common), to which I replied, yes, but that I do not lose hope 🙂 and then they warned me that if I chose Lithuanian girl, I have to take a skinny one, because, according to the Lithuanian custom, the bride must be carried across the bridge (as indeed I saw near the castle in Kaunas). While visiting museum at the same time as Polish trip, I was listening to their guide, telling various tidbits of life of our poet (in this very house he wrote “Grazyna”). I highly recommend the museum, because admission is not expensive, and you can learn something new. Museum is not very big, so you won’t be bored.

Adam Mickiewicz's death mask

Adam Mickiewicz’s death mask

At this desk Mickiewicz created in Vilnius

At this desk Mickiewicz created in Vilnius

A museum board from the beginning of twentieth century

A museum board from the beginning of twentieth century

On the way to the image of Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn I visited beautiful St. Anna’s Church. Napoleon liked this church so much that he wished he could move it to Paris. Founded by Alexander Jagiellonczyk in the late fifteenth century as the Bernardine monastery chapel, the church was rebuilt several times after fires. Beautiful interior stopped me for a while (until the appearance of the Polish tour). Right next to the church is a monument of Adam Mickiewicz.

St. Anne's church (left) and behind the St. Francis and St. Bernard's church.

St. Anne’s Church (left) and behind the St. Francis and St. Bernard’s Church.

St. Anne's church inside

St. Anne’s Church inside

St. Francis and St. Bernard's church inside

St. Francis and St. Bernard’s Church inside

Adam Mickiewicz monument

Adam Mickiewicz monument

Finally it was time for the Gate of Dawn. Madame Wala from Sikorski Museum keeps saying that she prays only to the Virgin of Gate of Dawn and I had a strange feeling that Lady of the Gate of Dawn is closer to the people than the one from Czestochowa. There are no wild crowds like in Czestochowa, people passing by kneel and make the sign of the cross. You can approach the image at a very close distance, I felt a little intimidated standing next to it, but the moment of reflection was ruined by another tour wearing sandals and socks…

The Gate of Dawn

The Gate of Dawn

Painting of Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn

Image of Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn

A short walk away from the Gate of Dawn is St’ Casimir’s Church. Wonderfully restored facade and rich interior meant that I was distracted for a moment and thought about the power of the old Polish Republic, when the aristocracy had the money and the willingness to fund such masterpieces. The church was built in the first half of the seventeenth century, burned down during the Russian invasion in 1655. The fire destroyed the church twice. Napoleon’s army used it as a granary, and from 1839 until 1917, the church was converted to the Orthodox. Since 1963, there was… a Museum of Atheism (an example of Soviet sense of humor). In 1991 large crypt from the early seventeenth century was discovered under the main altar. You can view the interesting black and dark-blue drawing, forming the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, the Virgin Mary and praying monks. Drawings are accompanied by similarly made ​​subtitles in Latin.

St. Casimir's church

St. Casimir’s Church

The interior

The interior

One of the drawings in the crypt

One of the drawings in the crypt

That was the end of my tour, I had to run to meet my CS host. Renata took me to a delicious Lithuanian dinner, mushroom soup served in bread and zeppelins – dumplings filled with meat stuffing with bacon (the name comes from the similarity in appearance to the Zeppelin airships). At the end of the day, after a delicious unpasteurized beer, Renata showed me the Presidential Palace, from a less popular among tourists side.

Presidential Palace from the back

Presidential Palace from the back

It was a very intense day, I did 25 kilometers on foot and legs almost refused to work at the end. Another episode of Vilnius escapades soon.


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