"matching tracksuits and everything"
|My Home for Six Years||Wednesday 22 May 2013 ][ Back ]|
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I first came to Poland in June 1996. I arrived, in fact, on 3 June 1996. I can remember the exact day though I have trouble remember the exact date of my parents' wedding anniversary (the seventh of June, not the ninth) because it was the beginning of a "grand adventure," so to say: three years in the Peace Corps.
(That still doesn't explain why I can't remember my folks' anniversary until it's too late, but never mind.)
To say that Poland is special to me is an understatement. For more than six years it's been my home, and I've traveled through quite a lot of it, though I would hesitate to say "extensively."
My first stay in Poland lasted three years. I came back in 2001 with the intention of staying a year.
I stayed a bit longer.
I write this while still in Poland, but tend to write as if I've already returned to the States.
I lived in Lipnica Wielka, which means "Great Lipnica." Lipnica is situated at the bottom of Babia Góra.
The nearest neighboring village was Jabłonka (pronounced "Ya-bwan-ka"). My wife grew up there.
Jabłonka is a bit larger population than Lipnica, but don't let anyone tell you it's a "town" will Lipnica is a backwater village. (There's a bit of rivalry between the villages, as one might expect.)
Whenever I needed a bit of "culture" (i.e., a decent meal at a good restaurant or a outing to the cinema) I went to Nowy Targ. It doesn't look like it from the first impression I've presented here at right, but it is a genuine "town." You might even call it a "city" if you're feeling frisky.
Zakopane ("buried") was for nature (i.e., long walks in the valleys, hikes in the mountains). It's sort of like the American Gatlenburg.
Kraków was for city life (i.e., symphony, theater, etc.). It's unlike any city in the States, so what's the point of comparing. Like Prague, Kraków was one of the cities Hitler so graciously "spared" from destruction.
Both of course were for tourists. There are probably no other more tourist-infested cities in Poland, but there are reasons for that.
When I leave, I usually go through Warsaw — "Warszawa" in Polish, pronounced "Var-shav-a." There are often tourists there, but it's certainly not touristy. The Germans took care of that in the Second World War, and the Soviets during the Cold War with their lovely Stalinist architecture. "Social Realism" it was called. I can think of a few other terms.
And speaking of Germans, I would be remiss not to mention the city where the Second World War all started — sort of. The Poles call it Gdańsk. The Germans insisted on calling it "Danzig" and went to war over it.
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