Posts Tagged With: Poles in Brazil

Great City of Amsterdam

As promised, here it is – post about Amsterdam. Last time I briefly described the whole journey so now it’s time for some details.

The first stage was Megabus from London to Amsterdam. It’s a really good way of going to Amsterdam if you don’t mind coaches. It was £15 one way, much cheaper than flying. Up until Brussels I was sitting alone, so I actually got a good few hours of sleep. Only a few as we had to take a ferry across the English Channel. Our coach was one of the last vehicles to get onboard and as a result there was no place to sit – people lying everywhere. Fortunately I found a place on the floor. It’s an amazing experience to stand in the middle of the night on the top deck of a ferry leaving the port. You’re leaving all the lights behind you and you enter the darkness – it was kind of fascinating and scary at the same time, so I quickly left the top deck 🙂

The second thing disrupting my sleep were two American girls sitting behind me. As they couldn’t sleep they’d decided to chat, not caring about the rest of us. Thank you God for MP3 players 🙂

We arrived in Amsterdam around 9am. There’s a direct tram to city centre from the car park where Megabus finishes. Luckily I had some change so I could buy a ticket. I was surprised to see on the tram a small booth with a guy selling tickets. Maybe that’s how Dutch deal with unemployment? Because anywhere else there’s only a ticket machine.

Museum and "Amsterdam"

Museum and “Amsterdam”

East Indiaman "Amsterdam"

East Indiaman “Amsterdam”

For €5.95 you can leave your bag at the Central Station in one of the lockers for 24 hours. You can pay with your card. After leaving the bag I walked to the National Maritime Museum (15-20 minute walk) where after buying the ticket (€15) I had a quick breakfast.

Before getting to the Museum first thing you see from the distance is the replica of East Indiaman “Amsterdam”, a vessel that sank in 1749 in English Channel during its maiden voyage to Batavia (today’s Jakarta) and the Museum building (the main land store of the Amsterdam Admiralty dating from 1656).

The Museum is very spacious, modern and… disappointing. Maybe I spend too much time at the Sikorski Museum in London, which is a bit cluttered, but in Amsterdam there’s just too much unused space. I mean, we’re talking about the museum dedicated to the Dutch Navy, the most powerful navy in 17th century and most of the rooms at the museum were half empty (or half full) at best. There are a few really good rooms. I spent more than 30 minutes admiring globes from 15th and 16th century. I even found Poland on couple of them, unfortunately it was too dark to take a good picture. The Ship Decorations and Navigational Instruments were also pretty good. The ship was the best, you can easily spend an hour looking into every corner. After reading so many travel reports and Conrad’s books my imagination almost teleported me into 16th century 🙂 But if I compared this museum to the Maritime Museum in Madrid, Madrid would take the first place, no doubts. I was a bit disappointed with the Museum and I wouldn’t recommend going to Amsterdam only to see that. But the city itself has a lot to offer 🙂 But I definitely had fun traveling to Poland for 40 hours instead of two.

Globes

Globes

The ship decorations

The ship decorations

Hand-held measuring probe

Hand-held measuring probe

After the museum I still had time for some sightseeing, a pint of Heineken and a nice chat with two Norwegian guys in one of the bars. At 7pm I boarded the Jan Kiepura train and had begun another overnight part of my journey, to Poznan, where I arrived in the morning and found everything under snow. I quickly grabbed some breakfast and took the train to my beloved Wroclaw.

Krzysztof Arciszewski

Krzysztof Arciszewski

So it’s time for Polish trace 🙂 I’m going to tell about first Polish cartographer and ethnographer in South America. Krzysztof (Christopher) Arciszewski, of Prawdzic Coat of Arms, was born on 9th December 1592 in Rogalin, near Poznan. After studying in Arian schools he served under Krzysztof Radziwill. He would’ve probably stayed in Poland but he was condemned to infamy and exile after killing Kacper Brzeznicki, a lawyer who allegedly illegally took over Arciszewskis’ lands. He left in 1623 and went to Holland, where with support of Krzysztof Radziwill he studied artillery, military engineering and navigation. He took part in the Thirty Years’ War fighting inter alia in France in Cardinal Richelieu’s army. In 1629 he joined Dutch West India Company and was sent to Brazil to fight the Spanish and Portuguese. If you ever wondered why people speak Portuguese only in Brazil, I’m here to give you an explanation 🙂 It’s all because of the Treaty of Tordesillas signed in 1494 and dividing the New World between Spain and Portugal along a meridian 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde islands. The lands to the east would belonged to Portugal and the lands to the west to Spain. As you may know Brazil was discovered by Pedro Cabral in 1500. Et voila, mystery solved 🙂 I mentioned before the Maritime Museum in Madrid – this is the place to see the front page of the Treaty of Tordesillas!

Arciszewski returned to Brazil two more times, he became vice governor of Brazil, chief commander of Dutch army and navy in Brazil. Unfortunately quarrels with governor Count de Nassau forced Arciszewski to resign. Despite being very busy while commanding the Dutch forces, he found time to draw one of the first maps in Brazil. He also collected artefacts and stories of Indians Tupi. He always treated Indians well even those who were forced by Portuguese to fight against Dutch. Arciszewski was going to publish the notes taken in Brazil, but he didn’t unfortunately. He was first of many Poles discovering South America.

In 1646 he returned to Poland where he accepted from king Wladyslaw IV the position of General of the Royal Artillery. He fought with Cossacks and Tartars. He was defending Lviv and was in charge of Royal Artillery during the relief of Zbarazh. He’s mentioned in With Fire and Sword, the first part of Trilogy by Henryk Sienkiewicz.

He resigned in 1650 and on 7th April 1656 died and was buried in Leszno.

A wee update regarding this year’s holiday plans which have developed a bit. I’m going to Lithuania in June and Morocco in July. I also bought ticket to Cancun, Mexico, and am flying on New Year’s Day! That will be beginning of the Journey. Cheerio!

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An update

Wow, the last few weeks at work have been hectic. I even forgot to count down the days, and it’s only 241 days left 🙂 I’ve started my vaccinations last week and that was when I felt that I’m really going on a trip! Today’s post will be just a quick update on the Big Plan. Thanks to the lovely couple from Brazil, Edu and Cinthia (Beijos guys :)), we’ve decided to add Brazil to our list. We hosted them through Couchsurfing and I must say we “clicked” immediately. It felt as if we’ve known each other for ten years at least. They were just starting their trip in June and London was their first stop. They’re both from Sao Paolo and hopefully they’ll be home when we get there 🙂 Sao Paolo is a city where I hope to see some of the Sanguszko Collection’s exhibits. The Sanguszko family (Pogon Litewska coat of arms) is an old polish-lithuanian noble family related to Polish king Wladyslaw Jagiello (1362-1434), through his brother Fiodor. The family collection suffered a lot during the WWI so when the WWII started in 1939 Count Roman Sanguszko decided to save it. He loaded everything on trucks and from Pidhirtsi in Ukraine via Romania he got most of it to Brazil. A Sanguszko Cultural Foundation is looking after the collection now, with Count Pawel Sanguszko in charge. But don’t worry if you can’t go to Brazil – a huge part of collection is at the Regional Museum in Tarnow, Poland.

Sanguszko palace in Pidhirtsi, Ukraine

But Brazil means much more to me. It was a destination for many immigrants from Poland, mostly in 19th century. Because of nationalization in ‘30s whole generations of Polish immigrants lost their touch with the language, culture and the Old Country. Luckily from ‘80s it’s all coming back to normal. People learn Polish, go to polish churches, read polish books. Some say it’s got something to do with the Polish Pope…

The second change to our Plan is slightly bigger. We were planning to fly to Tashkent from Crimea, but instead we’ll take a ferry to Georgia. We’ll visit Georgia, Armenia (which became a first Christian country, in 301 AD, even before Roman Empire converting to christianity) and we’ll travel  through Turkey from East to West and from Istanbul we’ll take a plane to Uzbekistan.

Tatev monastery in Armenia

Another detour will take place in China.  I think I’ve mentioned Harbin before, a city in NE China founded by Poles building railway for Tsar. I didn’t know how to convince my dear wife to go there. And the solution came to me thanks to Eden Channel and a program called Wild China. The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival takes place in Harbin each year and it starts on 5th January. There are full-size buildings made of ice! They’re all illuminated and in the evening they look simply magical. I googled it, showed it to my wife and I knew she won’t be able to resist 🙂

Full-size illuminated buildings made of ice in Harbin, China

The last major change regards USA. I said we won’t go there but maybe we will… If we still have money in Mexico we’ll go to States. I found a blog of a Polish guy, who bought some old piece of junk and just drove it through States. The car, taxes, fees cost him around $1000 plus he had someone there who helped him with the formalities. We don’t have that luxury. With no high hopes I checked Avis in States. I was checking Avis in Georgia before and they wanted £600 for a car for two weeks, but in States… A new car, with the insurance, for two months… $1000 🙂 Yay!!! We’re going to America! And if I’m in States, I may as well visit my cousin in Edmonton and friends in Toronto 🙂 If we still have money in Mexico. Or if we ever get to Mexico 😀

So that’s the update. Autumn has come, soon the time will come to buy pumpkins and make some Halloween Jack-o-Lanterns. I’m going to spend long evenings reading guidebooks, because time’s running fast. Stay warm (says me, sipping hot tea with raspberries…).

Categories: RTW trip | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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