Saturday, 29 December 2012

Turkey Take One!

Hey everyone I am in turkey! Apologıes for my grammar, turkish keyboards are really dıfferent from polısh or portugese!
Gettıng here was a bıt of an adventure, as per usual. We left prague about 7pm and arrıved around 11pm Turkısh tıme, whıch ıs one hour ahead of Poland.

Me, Louıse and Leo only had carry on luggage, but customs was really busy and hot. Luckıly the queue moved fast, I swear the offıcers were tryıng to get everyone through as quıck as possıble, not even lookıng at peoples passports. Then we had to fınd the metro. I dont know why we dıdnt look for staırs straıght away, we wandered around the aırport.
Once safely on the metro, whıch became a traın, we whızzed ınto town. I was becomıng more dısenheartened that turkey looked really ındustrıalısed wıth lots of burger kıngs, not the exotıc place I had ımagıned! But once we got off we were standıng ın a busy alley way fılled wıth bars and faıry lıghts... and heaps of stray cats! We asked a man for dırectıons, as we once agaın had a hopeless map. Hıs englısh was margınal but he poınted us the rıght way. Then we were standıng outsıde Aya Sofıa, a huge mosque. Me and Louıse had become suddenly aware there were only men around us, and no foreıgners! We wandered lost for a whıle untıl a taxı pulled up besıde us.
Hop ın my cab!
No thank you, no money!
Okay I wıll help you
No thanks!
No serıously, I can help you, where are you tryıng to go?

We showed hım the address and he saıd he knew the place. Agaın he asked us to get the taxı and he would drıve us free of charge. We got ın, apprehensıve that he was goıng to lock the doors and demand our money, but wıth no other choıce as we truely were lost.
It was our lucky day, he was so nıce, droppıng us at the door of Best Island Hostel and askıng for nothıng.

Once ınsıde there was the next twıst. The hostel was really cheap, potentıally for a reason. The guy at the desk was awesome, he even knew some of Louıses frıends from Australıa! The fırst clue was when he saıd, just take any bed, you are not assıgned one. We had to clımb 4 storeys to our room. The fırst staırcase was a cırcular concrete one wıth a pretty raıl. The second and paınted red one wıth dents and chıps ın ıt. The fourth was lıterally a sımple step ladder made from faux bamboo. We arrıved ın a favela. 16 beds, 8 bunks, random blankets everywhere, a toılet wıth a swıngdoor that dıdnt shut under the staırs, no space, and more ımportantly no free beds!

We went back to the desk straıght away. He walked up and saıd, oh sorry, I wıll gıve you another room. Thıs was fantastıc as the second room only had sıx beds, wıth two amerıcans ın them and a lock, and a better bathroom.

Insıde Aya Sofıa
Drama asıde, Turkey ıs great! We have spent the day beıng tourısts, one of my least favourıte actıvıtıes to do overseas. We went to the old Sultans place, very old, very beautıful. The tıles and patterns are gorgeous, too bad they are surrounded by swarms of tourısts. Serıously, we thought Prague was bad! We ate a type of bagel wıth cheese ın the street and drank some kınd of mılky cınnamon drınk that tastes lıke chaı but ıs thıcker! We also saw Aya Sofıa mosque, buılt ın the 6th century. Stunnıngly beautıful. Then we ended our day wıth photos outsıde Blue Mosque (ıt was prayer tıme), turkısh food... really cheap and really good... and a shısha and tea. The owner of the last restaurant was lovely, as ıs everyone else. They know about Kıwıs, Aussıes and Gallıpolı. One man told us Kıwıs and Aussıes are the nıcest people ın the world, although I suspect he wanted us to buy hıs tour. We are a lıttle on edge about pıckpocketıng, especıally because so many people approach you ın the street. When walkıng past restaurants, the waıter wıll leap at you even when ınsıde! Even when there are three restaurants ın a row!
Tıle detaıl
Outsıde blue mosque

We stıll have a week ın Turkey and I am really lookıng forward to ıt!

Friday, 28 December 2012

Czeching out Prague

Wow Prague! Its such a cool city. I have just spent three days there and really like the atmosphere of the place. Everywhere are art posters, theatre advertisements and concerts. The buildings are so beautiful and so old. The place teems with history.
But there are also tonnes of tourists, I had to keep reminding myself I was one of them. We haven't really seen tourists in Poland and don't feel like ones ourselves.

Me and Leo left Emsi's house at 6pm. Then we got a bus to Lodz. When we arrived there was just an outdoor station covered in graffiti and grandmothers catching buses home after christmas. It was freeezing! We had a two hour wait, but after one hour I wanted to walk anywhere... under the motorways surrounding us... just to warm up! We found a trainstation immediately. It was warm but dirty there, filled with homeless people being ushered out continuously by guards.

Then we had our 9 hour ride to Prague. We arrived with only a couple of hours sleep at 5.45am. From there we tried to change currency. 25 czech Koruna is 1 Euro. Go work that out, I freaked out when a t shirt was 600 k! We then got the metro too far, caught it back, then found the hostel at about 7am. They told us check was at 3pm, so we stashed our bags and went to explore the city, exhausted and without a shower.

Louise and Leo dancing Gangnam style

City by night

Charles Bridge

John Lennon wall

The painted cathedral at Vsehrad

The view from the fortress

Sunset at 5pm

The streets below the castle

We wandered along the river to watch the sunrise, saw Charles Bridge. Walked up to the castle and waited until midday for the Cathedral to open. It was really nice. Then Leo had the great idea of going to the national theatre. We looked up the timetable and there was a matinee performance of the Nutcracker by the Prague Ballet company with a full orchestra starting in a hour. We dashed to buy tickets and they were only 2 Euros! Bargain! We sat pretty much in the roof, staring down on all the nicely dressed families going out on Boxing Day. We were dressed in puffer jackets, docs and backpacks. I have never been so embarrassed about my appearance before. I fell asleep in the second half.
After the ballet we went to the hostel. I fell asleep but met Leo and another Brazilian he found, seriously Prague was absolutely packed with Brazilians, Raphael. We had dinner and went to a Czech bar to find some authentic beer. The bar was awful because everyone was smoking inside but the beer was nice.

Day two! More sightseeing! We wanted to go to this amazing Gothic museum but we accidentally went to a really boring modern one. It had the entire Czech history in it, some which I already knew from History 118 at Victoria. We spent most of the day getting lost and trying to find ourselves again because neither of us are any good at reading maps. We visited Vsehrad Fortress, the oldest castle in the country. There was a painted church inside. Louise met up with us in the evening. We planned to go out, but were stopped in our tracks by ordering a cocktail bucket to share. The night ended very quickly after that.

The thrid day was pretty empty, just wandering the streets and killing time before going to the airport.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Wesołych Świąt - Merry Christmas

I had always presumed that Christmas traditions across the Christian world are more or less similar. However, after spending Christmas in a Polish family I can tell you it is quite different from in New Zealand!

New Zealand's Christmas seems to start around November when shops begin to advertise their sales. It started much later in Poland. There were Christmas markets for the entire December, but the family didn't start to prepare until two days beforehand. Emsi's mother started cooking in the kitchen the same day we put up the Christmas tree and decorated it. This was heaps of fun with Emsi's little brother Michael. The next day we wrapped the presents and put them under the tree, cleaned the dining room and set the table.

Christmas dinner starts on the 24th in the evening, with a tradition of sharing wishes. Each person has a piece of wafer similar to bread in Catholic churches and must individual wish something to everyone in the room. Obviously the language barrier made it difficult for us, as well as trying to think of original wishes for people you have just met. We internationals wished things like 'good health', 'a happy 2013' and 'that your family is always together'. In return we were told to enjoy our travels, do well in study and be happy in life. It was really touching.

After the wishes we ate. The first drink was a type of juice which smelt so strongly of BBQ smoke I found it hard to drink. After this there was beetroot soup with bigos, pierogi ruski and mushroom ones (baked and fried not boiled), potato based salads, eggs with mayonnaise, and fish. There was a type of juice made from plums. Meat is not meant to be eaten on the 24th. There were also some other unique traditions present while eating; there was some hay under the table cloth to represent jesus's crib, and an extra seat was prepared in case of an unexpected visitor or a homeless person. In New Zealand we sit down together to eat Christmas lunch, but here the mother kept getting up to make more pierogi, and Emsi's brother's baby was distracting everyone, so it was a bit chaotic!
After dinner, presents were opened, very different from the Santa rush on the 25th morning in NZ! We gave Emsi some skincare, her brother Michael some playing cards, and her family chocolates. In return we received sweets, a polish cookbook and 'learn to speak polish kits' each. We weren't expecting anything so it was a nice surprise!

Once presents were opened it was back to the kitchen to start making cakes. I made a Pavlova from New Zealand, Leo made a type of truffle from condensed milk and coconut that is popular in Brazil, and Sara made a type of Colombian fried biscuit. They all went down a treat.

Then the vodka was brought out. Everyone drank a lot, but I'm afraid it was us internationals and Emsi who were last to bed in a sorry state with three finlandia bottles down. The next day was very slow. We were ushered out of bed at midday to set the table for Christmas breakfast. This was typical European one with bread, tomatos, cheese and ham. Then after more cakes we had a quick dinner of turkey before Leo and I had to get our bus to Prague.

After decorating the Christmas tree

International Christmas - boot from Brazil, Tiki from NZ, and truck from Colombia


Our presents

Mum's still cooking
General chaos over dinner

Some of the family!
But overall Polish Christmas was a really amazing experience and I don't think I will forget it. It really was quite different. I already have a invitation for next year to Piotrkow!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Trendy Two Thousand and Twelve

We had a christmas party for AIESEC the other day. It was really nice, Favela managed to be on time for once, minus Louise! We got dressed up for the first time ever, girls wore dresses and boys wore shirts. We ate pierogi (so much pierogi - we took some back to the hostel) and did this really cool polish tradition; sharing wishes with each other for the next year while breaking bread similar to that from a catholic church. I also tried polish beer with cherry syrup in it, surprisingly not too bad! The party ended when Louise kicked the stereo chord on accident, hahaha. On the bus home three men came and stood behind us, then at one stop grabbed Louise's blackberry and sprinted away. A bit of a downer to the night and a wake up call about living in a city centre. This is the first theft we have experienced in Poland.
Since the next day the end of the world was predicted, Favela hosted a party. We drank way too much vodka, and partied hard, the hostel manager kept telling us to shh! The photos are truely terrible! But we survived and that is what counts.
Now I am in Piotrkow Trybunalski, a small town in Central Poland. I am so glad to be out of Hostel Babel. We got here via a six hour traffic jam on a really uncomfortable bus. I am spending Christmas with Emsi and her large family, plus Leo and Sara (from Colombia). We went shopping today. Polish people have quite a distinctive sense of style, something my sister would call the 'Svetlana collection of Supre'. Thigh high socks, high heel boots are a must. Sometimes with skin coloured tights. Skirts are small and tight, coats are fur-lined. After spending quite a bit of time in shops because Leo needs clothes (he has packed three pairs of underwear and two shirts for two weeks travelling... ew) I have started to like Polish fashion. Its growing on me. I really want some high heeled fur lined boots that every polish girl seems to own. I bought a dress today for christmas or new years, but its quite modest for Poland!
Speaking of which, I am heading to Prague after Christmas, then going to Turkey for a week, I can't wait! Right now we are lying in Emsi's room after making desserts from our countries. I burnt my pavlova because I didn't notice the oven was on grill! Eek. The Colombian and Brazilian things were really nice. Today I also cut Leo's hair and it was a near disaster because I thought using an electric shaver would be easy. Haha, Emsi luckily had some skills. One night Emsi said 'trendy 2012' while having her photo taken in Wroclaw and I found it so funny especially with her accent. Apparently this is a normal phrase in Poland - 'fashionable' and the date. Now I want to use it as much as possible before the end of the year!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012


I want to tell you about my day. Woke up at 7.15 and jumped out of bed in a panic. Joao later said he could hear me swearing under my breath. The bus left at 7.24am, miraculously our whole team made it! No one else in favela was up yet.
I took breakfast (two slices of plain bread and a mandarin) plus my toothbrush to school with me. I hadn't even attempted the bathroom line. We taught our three classes, 90 minutes each. The kids were hyper, I think we the teachers were more excited than the kids when the bell rang. I know a new word - silence! I think its spelt cisza but I could be wrong. Luckily Christine is now in our group, she's amazing and held the whole completely unplanned thing together today. The real teachers sat in on our lessons, which was distressing and put us on the spot. One of the highlights today was one teacher yelling at the class in polish (truely terrifying) to which one student responded cheekily, 'English only!' which we had been telling him off with eariler. Also, a student tryied to describe 'female' in front of the class without saying the word, 'Like male! Like transvestite! A grandmother!' Maybe you had to be there. Haha. Another kid was describing things he liked, 'speedway, drifting, volleyball...' I can't believe he knew those words with his limited english!
After school we trekked across the city for lunch. I didn't manage to order what I wanted by pointing while the chef glared at me, so I ended up with grilled cheese, grilled chicken, and coleslaw. I wanted salad and potato! We got stopped on the tram by a ticket warden. We have never seen one before, so usually don't bother to buy tickets because the machine never seems to accept our credit cards and you can't use cash. Leo pretended his English was really bad, Rachel legitimately complained her card didn't work, and I half-lied that we had only been in Wroclaw a couple of days. He let us off our 150 zloty fine! Eeek.
After lunch/dinner we went to biedronka - a popular supermarket (especially in Olkusz). I thought I had a successful coversation with an old lady but she was actually asking me to move out of her way, oops! My discussion with the cashier was in polish though! Outside I saw a man selling really nice looking tomatos. I went up to him, (in polish) 'Good day, can I have two please?' He started to give me two punnets! 'Ah, nie, nie! Two!' Turns out you can only buy by the punnet, so now I have eight tomatos next to my bed. Haha. At least they were a bargain!
Everyone is back at the favela now... its 5.25pm. We probably should plan something for tomorrows classes but the kids really don't care, they just want to play games!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Wroclaw Revisited

Hi! I have had a few days in Wroclaw, which has been great to finally look around the city. The first weekend here I had AIESEC training so did not get a chance to see much. I found a more beautiful part of the city although the mix of architecture is mad everywhere. Gothic, modern, baroque, soviet... crazy!

Wroclaws mixed architecture
Living in Hostel Babel has been a bit of a shock after the luxury of a homestay. Now the only option for food is bread or cup noodles, and we only get one meal a day in a Soviet era milk bar on the other side of the city. Because we cant afford much more, this is lunch and dinner (and sometimes breakfast too). The water isnt safe to drink so we have to buy it. The queue to use the two toilets (between about usually 30 people) in the hostel is 15 minutes to half an hour in the morning. The internet is poor to awful. Some of the people here have been getting a little annoyed with AIESEC and I can see why. We live with random travellers (one who went to hospital yesterday from alcohol poisoning) have to lock our valuables during the day and share bedrooms with 16 others, which means no sleep, but we still have to get up (and queue for bathrooms) every morning. We have to commute to the schools by 8am - the buses here are crammed ten times the legal limit in New Zealand! Eek! The brazilians have named our dorm The Favela - slum in Portugese. Everyone just laughs about it. (are you hungry? have some bread)

Inside the favela
Living aside, the city is starting to grow on me. We tend to only see it at night because of work or sleeping, but there is always something happening. Last night we saw street musicians playing at the Christmas market in the square, and all these polish people started folk dancing.

At the Christmas market
The folk dancing
It was really cute. Other nights we visit pubs and takeaway places - there is one place that does a slice of pizza for 2 zloty - about NZ 80 cents)
On the weekend we went to the Cathedral and climbed it for the view. It had been totally destroyed in the war, so it was spookily empty inside. We also went to see the Panorama of Raclawice, recommended to me by my Grandmothers friend, Wanda. She saw it before it was hidden during the WW2, only to be recovered at the end of the cold war. It was amazing. When we walked up the spiral staircase it was like stepping into another world. It was huge, and there was fences and earth giving it an optical illusion of being real. It gave me goosebumps for about 5 minutes, the first time Ive experienced it from a painting. Honestly, the detail was insane and it seemed more real than any painting. I am not sure if the others liked it as much.

At the top of the Cathedral

At bridge covered in padlocks with lovers names written on them

Right now am I getting ready for bed, while some people are asleep in our dorm and the brazilians are talking loudly about a photo! Sorry for my grammer, I am using a portugese keyboard and all the keys make different letters!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Photo Essay


Krakow from Wawel Cathedral

Me, Rachel and Leo outside Wawel

Wisla River

Schindlers Factory


Work sets you free

Me and Joao in Aushwitz

Polish Forest

Polish cooking


Christmas Markets in Krakow

My second family

Me and Noemi

Kasper, Me, Wojciech (Leos homestay)

Krakow Sunset
I am in Wroclaw with all my friends, its good to be back! We are living in Hostel Babel still, which is right next to the train station, very handy. I also have better computer and internet access so I can finally upload all my photos in one go for you! Yesterday it was sad to leave. Kaspers parents took it upon themselves to feed me as much as physically possible for the journey back, I am so grateful because I now have to provide for myself and as the hostel has no kitchen, just a microwave it looks like sandwiches are going to be my staple meal. What they fed me - three cups of tea, a cup of coffee, tuna sandwiches, bread and butter, a plate of tomato and mozzarella, a plate of cake, plus for the bus - two sandwiches, four oranges, four bottles of juice, four chocolate bars... I think that was all!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Goodbye Olkusz

My two weeks are up in Olkusz. After initially not wanting to come, I now don't want to leave! This town has so much history and the families are so lovely I will miss it a lot. I have been learning more about the town because the schools and families keep giving me information booklets as leaving presents. This is one of the oldest areas in Poland. What looks like general roadworks around the town is actually various archeology sites where they are digging up the ancient town buried under the ground. Kasper told me certain streets were made by Nazis during the occupation, and that Klucze had a strong resistant army. It has a rich mining history, with some old mines now lakes. Also, Noemi's house was next door to the place where the first paper making factory in the world was. More than these amazing facts, the people are great here, although I strongly suspect it is the same across Poland. Noemi and Kaspers families have constantly gone out of their way to make my life comfortable. For example, this morning we had scrambled eggs for breakfast. I gulped it down, rejoicing it was kiwi. Kasper's dad asked me if I wanted some more, and I said yes presuming there was some more on the stove. But no, there wasn't. Despite my protests he sprinted to the neighbouring chicken farm to get more eggs and made a whole new batch. I am careful to never take their generousity for granted, although it would be easy seeing as they hold open every door for me, hang up my coat, take my plate and pay for everything. I think NZers could learn quite a bit from the polish. We don't treat guests in the same way. We mean well but do expect them to pull their weight and occasionally take their own plate to the dishwasher. Anyway, I am so grateful for these families and school staff looking after me the way they did in my first weeks in Poland. It has shaped the way I see the country.
On another note, today has been awesome. On top of scrambled eggs, crowded house has played not once but twice on the radio! Hearing 'don't dream its over' made me feel a mix of homesick and extremely happy. Kasper and his girlfriend Anna took us shopping in Krakow... New clothes! This was initially stressful because it was really busy and I had no idea what my size was in European scale. But after I calmed down I managed to hold a conversation in polish! The shop assistant did most of the talking and I just grasped a few key words, nodded and said thank you and good day at the appropriate moments. It counts, okay? We also had polish hot chocolate by the christmas markets. School was fun today, we only had 4 classes, and they were mostly rowdy interactive ones, the best kind. Now I am sitting in the living room having a beer (I have had at least one drink everynight this week) while Kasper and his Dad watch the Big Bang Theory in Polish. Haha. I can't wait to find out what the next weeks will hold for me. Dobranoc.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

My second family

Hey! I still have no way to upload photos, but i really want to! I am with a new family, well tomorrow is my last night here, so this is a bit delayed. My new buddy is Kasper and his family. He belongs to the 1st school, Noemi was from the second school. The kids at the first have better english than the second, and our timetable is easier to teach. The difference between the families from the last is very noticeable. These ones are better off, more intellectual, but no less generous. However, the last families seemed more curious, more willing to converse. Perhaps Kaspers family is just being polite. Kaspers mother is a catholic accountant, his dad works in a factory, his sister is adopted. They also have a alsatian dog. Kasper is not your typical teenager. He has anarchy symbols sketched on his walls, listens only to punk rock, loves animals, wants to be a biologist and his favourite movie is zeitergist. Go figure. He is my mouth and ears to his family, as none of them speak any english at all. This makes conversation somewhat awkward. his favourite conversation topics are current events, problems with the polish economy (this is popular with everyone, including our students) and conspiracy theories. The first thing his dad asked me was did I like polish or nz boys more haha. Kasper also called his girlfriend his 'sweetheart', it was so cute. Last night we went to Rachels homestay Asha's house, it was extremely modern, unlike anything I have seen in poland yet. We made pierogi, polish dumplings, so yum! Rachel also made chinese seaweed and egg soup... That was different haha. At least I tried it!
Today Kasper and his friend Julia took me 'to the forest'. Initially not convinced I wouldnt die, it turned out to be fun. There were frozen lakes, fox footprints in the snow. We slipped and climbed up to this place where we could overlook Europe's largest desert, (its pretty small) and the surrounding cities. Kasper and Julia really do love animals, a bird briefly flew past and they immediately knew it was a female of the largest breed of European woodpecker. They also knew what a tuatara was in a later discussion! 
I have become so comfortable in Poland I have stopped worrying about everything and just relaxed a bit. Now my biggest concern is that my jacket and pants dont match my shoes. Since those are my only options for the weather, it kills me everyday. I also split my second pair of pants... its not the amount of food Im eating, I swear! Im going to use this as justification for shopping.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Krakow and Aushwitz

Hello, I was going to wait until I had computer access which would allow me to upload photos but that might be a while! My new family only has an ipad and my new school has no internet access in the english classroom. Anyway, I need to tell you about my weekend.
On friday evening I got a bus from Olkusz to Krakow. This only cost six zloty (2NZ dollars) for an hour long trip. NZ buses need to up their game! In krakow Kamila's aunt met us. There was lots of arguing in Polish, talking on phones and walking the wrong way in order to find a cheap hostel! Although this was very very helpful, I couldn't stop myself from being annoyed because it was a nippy minus 10 degrees celcius and I was really tired from school. Once we found a suitable hostel... 'the dizzy daisy', Kamila's cousin took us out for a drink. We went to an egyptian style shisha bar which was lavishly decorated and underground. Then we went to a couple of other bars, one was very similar to library bar in Wellington.
On saturday morning we left the hostel at 10am and went to market square. There we went inside a church called St Marys, but in Polish, which was absolutely incredible. A very close second to St Peters in the Vatican. Everything in it was colourful and made from gold, with blue painted ceilings. From the church we went to Wawel Castle which overlooked the city. Very cool, an epitome of Eastern Europe castles. The cathedral in it had murals from the 14th century or something, plus tombs of Chopin, the Prime Minister who died in the air accident and medievel queens. We waited by the Wisla river, where gulls sat on floating ice for our friends to arrive from Wroclaw. Once we met up we went to the jewish quarter of the city. We walked to Schindlers factory (which was miles away). I found the factory, now a war history museum harrowing, in a way I didnt expect. There was so much information on everyday life in occupied krakow, which sounds absolutely awful, not even including what happened to the jews. After seeing it, the beautiful city streets took on a new darker history at every corner. We took a tram home and got ready to go out. The hostel held a chocolate fondou event before we left. We went to some great bars, including this one down in a cellar, where a Polish Ray Lamontagne was playing guitar. He was gorgeous, haha.

The next day the alarm went off at 8am. Our bus to aushwitz left at 9am. After being distracted by waffles and the hostel having no change for us I had to run ahead to hold the bus. Haha, the tour guide hated us by the end of the day. Aushwitz was amazing, but awful. It was around minus 15 which really added to the atmosphere. We saw the barracks at the first camp, and they had a hallway filled with photos of some of the victims. There were torture rooms, the wall where they shot people, the roll call hallway. They also had a huge room filled with human hair, collected by the nazis, as well of rooms of shoes, combs and other possessions. It is acutally incomprehensible how many peoople died and were affected. The second camp was worse. We walked the way people, mostly elderly and children were sent off the train. The fog obscured the gigantic camp and the dark shapes of freezing tourists trekking around made it seem eerily unaffected by time. We went straight to the gas chambers which are the same since the nazis blew them up at the end of the war. We saw sleeping barracks which hosted thousands and toilet quarters. It remains a warning to the world, and even after being there I still struggle with believing it actually was a reality, not a horror story. I felt sorry for the guide who had to experience that every single day for work.
We went back to krakow, had dinner and said goodbye to the others. Now I am with my new family, i will tell you more tomorrow!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Happy Santa Claus Day

Another couple of days in Olkusz have gone by! The school work is hard but I think the students are starting to like us and about 10 have added me on facebook. We constantly need to think of more group activities.
My host family is great and I think that makes up for it! The other night we had a dinner party and invited Leo and Rachel's families around. I got to help make these yum things a bit like Polish gnocchi... maybe pronounced 'klucha'?? 'Do you want a vodka... maybe just a try?' Well the night ended in Johanna, my host mother dancing me around the kitchen in her beige lycra outfit singing 'my little tomato' because my cheeks were red from alcohol!
The dinner party pre-vodka

The food is insane, there is just too much!! First there is breakfast at 7am with bread, meat, cheese, vegetables. Then snacks and a packed lunch at school. Then a cooked lunch at school. Then at 3pm we have dinner at home. Then second dinner at 6pm. Then sometimes supper at 8pm (which is also a cooked dinner). Then dessert! And every single meal contains potatoes or bread. I am SO FULL!
As well as feeding us, Noemi has been doing a great job of entertaining us. Yesterday we went bowling and saw an amazing old church. We didn't manage to find out how old it was due to translation issues, but it had these amazing clay drawings of saints up the pillars and ancient frescos cracking off the walls. Apparently the organ is the biggest in Malopolska (it's big.) We spent the evening with a atlas and Polish-English dictionary (which is present at every meal haha), talking about the country. It was nice.

The church

Today we went a medievel castle in Ogrodzieniec (I had to look up how to spell that!). Walking around it while it snowed (and slipping over!), I couldn't help but imagine how the people lived in it hundreds of years ago. It was amazing and in such good condition! The others think I will get bored of castles... think again!
We also visited a church. Mass was on, but as we quietly left, Santa Claus walked in wearing a satin cape, sunglasses (even though it was night) and holding a bag of goodies! Today is Santa Claus day in Poland! When I said 'but doesn't he visit on christmas eve?' Noemi looked at me like I was mad. Okay, so now I know your secrets Santa - you don't fly around the world in one night, you take a whole month. At the school some girls wearing thigh high leather boots and santa outfits brought lollies into the classroom.

The old castle.
Tomorrow is my last day at the first school and we are going to catch a bus to Krakow straight after. Noemi and the others are coming too for the day which is great... especially regarding previous polish bus experiences! There we will meet some other AIESECers from Wroclaw - I can't wait to see them, I have missed them already!
Also, tonight I have made Pavlova for my family... it's in the oven as I type. I am a bit worried that the ingredients apart from eggs are all wrong because I had to use google translate to find them in the kitchen. Hahaha hopefully it will be sweet. Dobranoc - goodnight!!