poland · Uncategorized

Journey to Krakow

Here’s another post from my trip to Poland! Originally published 7 May 2012.

Sunday morning came early! I had the typical European breakfast: bread with cheese and what looked to be salami or some other cold cut, tomatoes, apple, and jelly for the bread. That was enough to get me through for a bit. I ended up just hanging out in the common room after breakfast and checked e-mail, caught up on my blog, etc. The church building is literally just around the corner from the place where I was staying, so that made things really easy! I checked out and left my stuff in the luggage room, then off I went to meet my Christian brothers and sisters in Warsaw!

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Breakfast time!

The congregation seemed glad to have a visitor, and I was glad to be there! I think they have about 15 or so members, including a couple of American families from the State Department. The service was in Polish AND English—hooray! We sang some songs in only Polish, some in alternating English and Polish, and some in Polish and English at the same time! In case you’re interested, the songs we sang that I recognized were:

  • What a Friend We Have in Jesus
  • I Will Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving
  • Blue Skies and Rainbows
  • Standing on the Promises
  • Mansion Over the Hilltop
  • Jesus is Lord; this one we sang in Polish and English simultaneously—beautiful! I love that because it really emphasized to me that we speak different languages, but we are all one in Christ.
  • When We All Get to Heaven

Prayers were also in English and Polish, as were the Scripture readings, Lord’s Supper, and the lesson. The preacher and his wife are probably in their late 20s and early 30s, she’s American, and he’s Russian. He’s the full-time preacher, and the two of them met because she was a missionary!

At any rate, the lesson was excellent, and exactly something that’s been on my heart over the last year. It was about how to treat those who have been disfellowshipped and how to talk with and act toward members of the church who are living with sin. He used a lot of passages from I Corinthians, many of which I’ve heard used in this context a lot over the last year. Something about the way he put made the most sense to me—perhaps because he HAD to be concise and efficient with his message because of the languages… sometimes that language barrier is handy for thinking twice about how you can say something to be most effective! =)

After church I stuck around to talk with the members for a few minutes afterward, and they gave me some good info on what to eat while I’m here! They also let me know about a Christian from Slovakia who can get me in touch with a church in Bratislava. I hope I get to meet some of them! The preacher and his wife also know the church in Prague very well (my last city on this trip), so I can’t wait to meet them, too!

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Warsaw Castle!

I had a bit more time after church than I thought I would, so I decided to go back to Old Town Warsaw one more time. I ate at a fancy, but inexpensive, place on the Main Market Square called Kamienne Schodki I think, and I got yummy pierogis again! This time I got some stuffed with veal and greaves—not sure what greaves are, but I might not need to know. It was great!

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And then it was back to the hostel to pick up my stuff and change before heading to the train station. With my duffel bag on my back and my backpack on the front of me, off I went! The train station was only about 3 or maybe 4 km away, so I decided to walk it so I could see more of the city.

It started getting windy, then started raining as I got close, and then it started POURING! Luckily enough I was next to a place where I could get shelter from the weather and sit for a bit while it passed. I had some trouble finding the train station and getting to the right platform, but I thought I had it right since I asked police officers patrolling the platforms. They seemed irritated, but they pointed me in the right direction.

So things were going smoothly for a while. The lady came through the train with complementary coffee and cookies, I was typing up a blog post, minding my own business, and when the train ticket checker came by, I gave him my ticket. After some confused looks, angry-sounding words, a few things lost in translation, and another 22.50 zlotys, he graciously let me stay in the seat. Luckily the Polish girl next to me spoke English, so she helped out with the confusion part. Apparently, the ticket for the train does not come with a seat—one has to buy that separately, but I sure didn’t know about that! I was really upset because I had no idea I’d even done anything wrong or that I didn’t have the right paperwork. Don’t use Rail Europe to buy tickets in advance. It’s better to just get it at the train station! Oh well. Hopefully my next two train trips won’t be so upsetting!

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On the bright side, I got coffee and a smiley cookie!

Moving right along! When we arrived in Krakow, I realized the directions I got to the hostel were going to be confusing. I started out in the wrong direction, but luckily enough there was a kindly Polish man selling pretzels. He didn’t speak much English, but he was willing to help out poor American girl in need of a break!

The hostel is actually very close to the train station, but as soon as I walked in, I knew I was in for an… experience. Without going into too much woe, there was no one at the reception, but a woman came rushing in from the back of the hostel to give me an envelope with keys in it and a short note from the hostel owner. She was speaking Polish like there was no tomorrow, and despite my confused, bewildered, discombobulated expression, she just smiled! I kind of needed a smile, even if I had NO idea what she could possibly be saying!

At any rate, the envelope had the number 9 on it (meaning I was to go to room number 9), and the note said room 9 is on the second floor and gave me the Internet password. I got up there, unloaded, and tried my best to figure out why the Internet wasn’t working (come to find out I needed to be in the common room, as it doesn’t work in the individual rooms). I went out to explore what was around, so I walked over to the Old Town Square.

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What a treat! It’s big and beautiful, and there are all kinds of things to see and do around it. I ate at a place called Staropolski and got what the preacher in Warsaw had recommended: the bigos!

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It’s a hunter’s stew with venison, beef, other gamey-type stuff, and sausage with spices made into a stew. Yummy! It’s a definite winner for Whitney scale of dinner winners and losers. =) Not to mention my waiter was really cute! I also got apple pie for dessert, which was more like a mix of cobbler and pie, with the apple filling having the consistency of pumpkin pie filling. And there was some spice in it that I recognized, but that surprised me, too. It was hot and delicious. Krakow was chillier than Warsaw!

And then it was time to come back to the hostel and try to sleep. Whew. And then came the first full day in Krakow! And what a day it was… more to come soon!

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