September 28, 2012

Food Nerd Friday: McDonald's

We made a promise to ourselves that we would avoid American food joints while on our stay abroad. When you can have the stuff any day, why partake when there's the opportunity to discover places you otherwise wouldn't be able to.

   When we hit the road to Belgium, a hungry kid decided that breakfast could not wait. With frequent McDonald's restaurants along the road, just this one time we said we would stop. And unexpectedly, the Polish restaurant is so different from the American version and both are so different from the German restaurants. It's kind of exciting to check them out.

Poland McDonald's

September 26, 2012

Road Trip: Berlin

A short 5 hour drive from our flat in Katowice is Berlin, the capitol of Germany. Once we hit the German border, the driving became fast and focused. Most of the highway is three lanes and it's a three lane system that actually works.

   The slow lane is composed of trucks and two horse trailers loaded with two horses being pulled by either a Subaru Legacy or a Mercedes wagon. Camp trailers are also common and are pulled by your typical car, heck we even saw a Smart car pulling a small trailer and there is a reason it was in the slow lane. The middle lane is for us commoners cruising in the 130 km/hour range and the fast lane is for the frequent Ferrari and Porsche whom made 130 seem like standing still.

   New York is known for being up all night. Berlin is known for being up later than New York. And when walking on the lonely morning sidewalks (of a city composed of 3.5 million people) you will have no doubt that it is true. A very trendy and electric city, I was amazed by how the new architecture melded so well with the old. The train stations are extravagant and the statues that populate the city seem to welcome the modern day.
Modern Berlin Architecture

September 19, 2012

Intro to Brussels

From the time that we had known we would be traveling to Brussels, I couldn't have been more excited. Beer and chocolate, life's almost perfect marriage, right? The drive here was so beautiful with many breath taking moments. The scenery matching that of the drive through LaCrosse Wisconsin as you cross the Mississippi River, one of my favorite pieces of nature's beauty. This city had nothing but potential.

September 10, 2012

Welcome to my Town

If Katowice had a long-lost cousin, it would be Butte Montana. Built on coal mining and steel, it's a working mans' city. The sky is bright blue today. Grey skies and a quick occasional sprinkle of rain seem to be the normal, however it never seems to slow anyone down and the sidewalks stay bustling. When the sun peaks out, you soak in the rays. Once it's gray again, the chill returns the need for a sweater.

Join me, on a walk around town. Located first from where we stepped off of the trolley from our flat is the Muzeum Slaskie (Silesian Museum - Silesia is the region in which Katowice is located). Founded in 1929, the Nazis took the museum's collections to a different city in 1940 and tore the building down. In 1984 the museum returned it's collections to the current location which was formerly a hotel.

Muzeum Slaskie

September 7, 2012

At Home in Poland

We have arrived and are settling in. It is amazing how at home we feel when we are a ways from home. Our journey here had an almost crazy start. First, checking into our flight, we were informed that our airline's staff was on strike and there were cancellations and delays (we faced neither, so all was well). Then while awaiting our taxi to take us to meet the bus to the airport, he never showed. But, quick on our feet with two very helpful friends, we caught the bus without the taxi's help.
  The very nice bus driver informed us that our flight was out of terminal 5. We dropped people off at terminal 1, 2, etc. and then a drive later, it was our turn to find our airline counter... We unloaded our 3 large suitcases, 2 carry-on suitcases, backpacks, car seat and our 2 year old. Paid for a cart and got it loaded up to haul our mountain of stuff. (Side Note: we have no stroller with us at this time.) We enter the airport to immediately discover that our gate is in Terminal 1.
   We load up on one elevator (with a sign that says no carts, but we have no choice). Find the second elevator.. Then arrive at the train to Terminal 1. With a sign and guards that say no carts! Our freshly financed and life important cart became worthless. Troy worked out a strategy and we were able to throw ourselves and our luggage onto the train. At this point we're hiking along with more than we can carry and a 2 year old who has joined in on the strike.
   With the help of some friendly people in line with us, they help entertain Lottie and she soaks it up. When we found our seats at the spa, I mean plane, it was life-altering. A place to sit with people waiting on you, a sleeping 2 year old and all luggage off of our hands, we finally were able to breathe. (And the airline (Lufthansa) gave Lottie a bag of gummy bears upon stepping onto the plane and a puzzle when she found her seat. Lottie was pretty sure she was royalty.)
   Our new landlords met us at our apartment, and expecting our exhaustion, they had made up the beds. Placed a basket on the table full of apples and chocolate. Stocked the fridge with milk, cheeses, ham, yogurt and water. Placed a fresh loaf of bread in the bread box. Set up a tea station on the counter. And installed a child gate on the stairway - having a 10 month old grandchild, they couldn't rest easy without us having the stairs blocked. They have been so nice and generous that our place feels like nothing but home.
   Of course, I have to share with you our first breakfast. Perhaps it was because we were exhausted and starving, but this sandwich was the best that I've ever had. I am not a fan of ham so very much, but let me tell you that this ham will change your life. And the cheese spread. The cheese spread. We've only tried the plain yet, the other flavors are bell pepper and ham.

At an outing yesterday to our local Tesco to pick up some items (I think of Tesco as a very large Pamida), a very kind lady was oogling at Lottie and was asking me a question, and I didn't know how to respond. Luckily she asked "Sprechen sie Deutsch?" and Troy was able to converse in German. She simply asked how old Lottie was. My lesson for today, if in Poland, say "Mówisz po angielsku?" to ask if a person speaks English (unless of course you would like to converse in German).

With that, do zobaczenia (see you later).