Click through to see the first two sets, the rest should be up over the course of the next couple days…
Well, Twizzles and I have been Home for a day now. Having had time to sleep and reflect on our adventure I’m ready to write my concluding post.
It feels like we were away for months but in reality it was 12 days.. 304 hours.. It sounds so small but this time last week we were flying back to Poland from Kyiv. I worked out that we covered 3304miles in 304hours which means our total average speed was 10.86mph lol. I’m rather pleased with that score :-)
So to sum up for anyone who wishes to follow us… Auschwitz is incredible (lonely planet is a bit wrong here, it takes 2hours to get there from Krakow by train and you can easily walk to the museum and to Birkenau… Allow a day). Wieliczka salt mines are an absolute must (20 mins by train from Krakow but check times coming back. If you come out of the ‘miners entrance’ afterwards head down towards the square and head left, if it’s hot there’s an ice cream kiosk on the edge of the square, allow a day if you want both tours). Kyiv is amazing, definitely a must see. Make your life easier and learn how to translate Cyrillic letters to Roman letters but make sure you learn Ukrainian not Russian as there are differences in the two alphabets just as you find in European languages.
Finally my beloved Gdansk…. Take a few days, wander the streets, visit Hel and Sopot, take a boat around the shipyards… Go and see the monument at Westerplatte and at the shipyard gates. You will never find hospitality like you find in Poland.
This has been the most amazing experience and Twizzles and I are already planning our next.
I’ll finish by thanking everyone who helped make this journey for us. Firstly, and most importantly, let us all give thanks to the Liquidators of Chernobyl, without their sacrifices the long term effects of the disaster would be far far worse than they are today, Twizzles and I saw their work first hand and they deserve the highest honour. They truly did save the world.
Thank you to the staff at the hotels and hostel we stayed in. The people at the restaurants, particularly in Kyiv who were so patient with me whilst I butchered their language into some weird Polglishrainian. The friends we made who shared little slices of our lives. To my family near Gdansk and once again to our readers and followers.
We wish you all fair winds and clear skies
Zombie & Twizzles
Today we went for a wander round the town we’ve been staying in for the last five days Pruszcz (Proo-sh-ch) and to the village his Mum & Grandmother used to live in Cieplewo (Ch-ple-voh). Zombie hasn’t been back here in 20 years but much is still the same, they’ve just multiplied almost infinitely. The route to the train station being the main thing he wanted to see and the plot where their houses used to stand, it’s a road now.
We walked from his Uncle’s block (flats were, and are still, the main abode of the Poles) down the route over the river to Pruszcz Railway Station and from there a winding 3K route mostly along the railway line to Cieplewo. We stopped a few times to take photos of this and that and we had been in the village for quite a while before they mentioned that we were in “Stare Cieplewo” the old part of the village. Just a couple of houses later and the road narrowed before letting out again to the plot where Zombie’s Mum’s and Gran’s houses were. The “cottage” was three houses stuck together, the end two only being one level each. Here’s a before and after photo from the same spot as best we could do.
After some reminiscing we continued up the street and going to “drop in” on some friends. The Polish way is you just turn up somewhere and you’ll be greeted warmly and presented with coffee almost before you’ve sat down. It’s really nice and not something that ever happens in England, you turn up un-announced you’d be lucky to get an invite in let alone hospitality.
Anyway, we ended up staying for a few hours during which I took more photos (flowers, kittens, grape vines, butterflies), we picked walnuts & apples and we had Polish sausage barbecued for lunch.
Whilst I may only have command of 80-100 words of Polish I have begun to understand a lot more of what people are saying in the context of a conversation so even though three of the four people spoke exclusively Polish it was a wonderful time. I’m glad that boything’s family friends & uncle like me so much, makes me know I’m doing something right by learning Polish and coming to this wonderful country, though apparently my name means “small crying girl” in Polish! We got a lift home round 2 and since then we’ve just been packing and reading.
Flight tomorrow is at 10.15 local time so this will be posted when we have Internet, hopefully before the flight.
Thank you, Poland, for a very wonderful holiday and don’t forget to be awesome.
The Hel Peninsula is the bit that sticks out the top of Poland in the Baltic Sea, we had planned on getting a train there as at some points it’s a single track that’s you can throw a stone across the width of the land but turns out that would take far too much time. So we took a ferry, or “sea tram” as the translation would be, taking just under two hours to cross. There was a slow departure along the river through the well known Gdansk Shipyard and then we were in the Baltic Sea! Well enough that it got choppy and horrible half way across but we were technically never in open sea as we didn’t leave the peninsular.
Arriving there we decided on finding the first beach spot we could and parked up, unfortunately whilst it was lovely when the sun was out it was far too cloudy to be much good. Zombie got his attempt at swimming in the sea and I braved a short paddle but it was far too cold.
They did have wifi on the beach though! Europe seems to have a great love of contactless bank cards and free wifi, it was in every air port and lots of other places too get back to England and you’re lucky to find wifi you have to pay for in the airport let alone free stuff. But I digress, we gave it about half an hour and decided to go for a walk and find sme brunch, we had had breakfast as like every morning Zombie’s uncle kindly made us eggs & cold meat on bread (v yummy) but it seemed like quite a while ago. We bought some souvenirs and found a little waffle/ice cream place. We had seen signs for “Gofry” in quite a few places but didn’t know what it was, turns out the most awesome waffles ever. Cream and your choice of about 10 different fresh fruits. Boything had raspberries and strawberries and I had ice cream (lody) which was amazing and neon colours.
As the peninsula is pretty easily walkable we followed a sign post for Plaza which is beach in Polish and what did we find but another amazing beach and strangely this one was warmer and sunnier! So Zombie went for his proper swim in the sea and I read my book enjoying the sun and heat, making sure every so often he hadn’t disappeared or drowned.
After a lovely few hours we went to find some lunch, we had fish and chips of course! Can’t not at the sea side, even if you are 800 miles from home. We had to make the 3:30 boat back as we’d booked on to it so we hoofed it and got there in plenty of time, this crossing was much nicer as the sea had calmed a lot.
We wandered back through old Gdansk and caught the bus back home. There will be lots of photos to post once I’ve had a go through all of them but here’s one of me and Neptune.
So the journey from Kiev to Warsaw was relatively uneventful. The only real panics were at Kiev airport when our STA travel card declined on us! There was money there but when you can’t explain what’s happened and you barely speak the language, it’s good to have a second card. That’s the second time it’s declined on us too!
Also at Warsaw railway station, the display boards only show some of the station stops, we had a quick dash into the passenger office to check but all was fine. So 6hrs later I come across some familiar sights, it’s been 20 years since my last visit here but everything is just as familiar as if I was here 20 days ago. And yet it’s all so different, towns and villages have expanded, Tesco is here!!! But my Uncle’s flat is more or less how I left it and I still know all of the streets and paths.
We visited the family plot in the cemetery too, there have been a few more names added to the tablet since I last saw it,but I cleaned it down and placed some flowers and a candle there which was really special :-)
I’m going to wrap this up here, it’s so so wonderful, please make sure you come and visit Gdansk, you will love it
First of all I’d like to apologise for not including any pictures from yesterday so here are a couple for you. The iconic Pripyat sign which gives the illusion that it stands at the start of a long road leading into Pripyat, it doesn’t really, it sits on a fork. The road from behind runs through the “red forest” which is so badly contaminated that even driving at speed the Geiger counters started screaming warnings of 5uSv/h… Much the same as when we were at the reactor. As you face the sign the road to the left is the one for Pripyat where as the right hand road leads back to the power station.
The other picture is the iconic Ferris wheel of course, I’ve posted this pic because its Twizzles’ favourite :-)
As for Kiev, we had a lovely touristy day, buying birthday presents and tat for everyone else. Friendship arch was pretty but the most amazing thing of all was the view from the top.. This is really a stunning country; communist history, friendly people, amazing food.
***misty eyed tangent***
The furnunculer is a cable hauled train which drags up the side of the mountain on which half of Kiev is perched, this made Twizzles panic a little, to be honest, it was a bit worrying but great fun. A market on a back street hill yielded some lovely presents for the family and at the bottom we visited the Chernobyl museum and signed the book. It seemed like the right thing to and whilst we didn’t understand most of the details, what we saw put our visit into perspective, this wasn’t just about a disaster, these were real people.
I would recommend Kiev for a short visit, say for 3-4 days. Learn some Ukrainian Cyrillic, include a trip to Chernobyl (We used http://www.lupinetravel.co.uk if you don’t live in the UK visit http://www.tourkiev.com). And finally, be ready for some long walks and a beautiful city.
Дякую Київ! Дуже Дякую to Yulia, Anastasia, Sean and Igor, you all helped make this one to really remember!
Evening from Kiev or Kyiv to be correct about it.
This is a fascinating city. We haven’t seen much yet as we have only been out to find dinner… Which was delicious btw, a similar style to that of Poland with a lot of meat and fish mixed with preserved foods.
Julia who runs our Hostel or Хостел in Ukrainian is lovely and really friendly, we chat together with me in Polish and her in Ukrainian, resorting to English where we have to. The people are lovely but do have some funny ideas about traffic, eg park and drive anywhere including the pavements lol. The Metro is a soviet relic which means that many of the original stations are almost palatial in design. Bit grotty now though, shame really as it was one thing the soviets did right.
Not going to put much more in here as we have to be up early to fulfil a dream I have had for many years.
One last thing tho… If you can, fly Ukrainian international airlines, the stewardesses are gorgeous lol. Twizzles won’t mind me putting that, she knows i’ll always behave myself.
Till tomorrow then,
Peace love and DFTBA