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Germany and Poland


Cologne (Köln), Germany

We had met friends, Alex & Henno from Cologne, last fall in France. They invited us to their city and we enjoyed a lovely evening with them.   The Cathedral of Cologne, not only has incredibly tall towers, but inside has a coffin holding the remains of the Three Wise Men.

Where to eat in Köln:

Obergärige Hausbrauerei Päffgen, Friesenstr. 64-66 - Tel. 02 21/ 13 54 61 - wonderful atmosphere in an old brauhaus, locals only, great food and low prices!

Where to stay and eat in Wiesmoor:

Engelbrecht's Bauernhof, Anni Engelbrecht, Bentstreeker Str. 2, 26639 Wiesmoor - Tel 04944/2226 - friendly couple - wonderful bed and fantastic breakfast, lovely large home just 3 minutes from the town center - only 40 Euros/ngiht

Hotel zur Post, Am Rathaus 6, 26639 Wiesmoor, - Tel. 04944/91060 - great place for dinner - atrium seating - traditional German and Italian food - free appetizer and schnapps served topped with a lemon slice and flaming sugar cube after the meal


Wiesmoor, Germany & the Family Tree

Engelbrecht's Bauernhof - garage and barn to the left and home at center and right - was a great place to stay. The owners provided a huge breakfast each morning and invited us for schnapps, wine and kuchen in the evening.
We spent several days doing genealogical research
and visited Colnrade where
Vicki's father's family lived in the 1600s.
  Then we found this house in Lienen
where Vicki's mother's family lived in the early 1800s before they came to America.
Read more about our family search in our BLAB.

Moving east across Germany

As we moved east across northern Germany, we started seeing less brick and more half timbered buildings with carved and painted wood like these in Höxter. . .   and in the Market Square of Goslar,
at the foot of the Harz Mountains.
Our holiday house in Goslar was a cute little cottage with a garden room looking out into the forest.
The name of the cottage was the Altes Waschhaus (the Old Wash House).

Where to stay in Goslar:

Altes Waschhaus - owned by the Familie Eysel - Rammelsberger Strasse 52 - Tel 0049(05321) 40806 - horst@eysel.de - www.eysel.de/ferienhaus - nice, quiet location


Dresden, Germany

The heavy, dark details of the architecture in Dresden let us know that we were getting closer to the East European countries. We even saw Cyrillic (Russian) letters
on the signs and menus.
  Since we are going to Poland tomorrow; we had to say good-bye to the wonderful schnitzels
and grilled potatoes we have been eating.

Wroclaw, Poland

The highway from Germany to Wroclaw (pronounced VROTS-wahv) was one of the most modern we had ever driven. Digital signs gave air and road temperatures and flashed speed limits. The beautiful city center looked more like Amsterdam than Russia; but the surrounding area was bleak with grey, concrete apartment buildings. Happily, our dollar is strong against the Polish zlotych (zwah-tee) and meals in most restaurants are under $10.00 per person.
There were no less than 10 churches reflected in the Górna River. Poland is one of the most Catholic countries in the world, with 90% of the population church members and 75% practicing.   Near the river, we found some sculptures
left from the Communist days;
but there were also some very modern apartments,
shopping centers and parks.

Auschwitz, Poland

We spent a somber 3 1/2 hours on a guided tour of the Auchwitz & Birkenau concentration camps.   It was so sad to see the incinerators where so many people were cremated after their execution.

Krakow, Poland

Krakow has a huge market under a canopy that sells food, clothes and about anything else.   Farmers cut and sell their fresh cheese.
The church in the Main Square plays a trumpeters song each hour on the hour, but half way through the melody it cuts off abruptly. This is to commemorate a bugler who saved the city in 1241 by warning them of the invading Tartars, but was killed in the attempt.  

They say you either love or hate Bigos Staropolski
(a combination of cabbage, sausage and mushrooms).
Put me in the camp of "love it!".

A 40 minute bus ride from Krakow (for $1.07 USD) takes you to the Wieliczka Salt Mine.
We walked 130 meters (42 stories below ground) to the St. Kinga's Chapel where the ceiling, floors and chandeliers are made of salt. The walls are decorated in bas relief carvings depicting scenes from the Bible.
The tour, which lasts 2 1/2 hours takes you to an underground salt lake, plus a maze of chambers and sculptures.

The Tatras Range in the Carpathian Mountains

Our pension "Za Lasem" was fantastic. It was located in the village of Stasikówka, looked like an upscale mountain retreat with fountains, outdoor fire pits, pool & ping pong table, free Wifi, and this lovely breakfast -
all included for the great price of $35.90 per night!!
The Zakopane region is famous for their smoked artisan sheep cheese, oscypek.   In the city Zakopane there are a ton of great restaurants with fun atmospheres that serve huge slabs of grilled ribs and delicious pork knuckles.
We took a rafting trip through the Dunajec Gorge in a raft that was actually 5 canoes strapped together. The seats just sat unattached on top of the sides. The front was "padded" with pine branches instead of rubber bumpers.   For two hours our guide worked us down the river that is part of the Pieninski National Park with Slovakia on the right bank and Poland on the left.

It started out clear and in the 60s;
but became cloudy and dropped into the 50s.

  Our new Polish friends were ready for the cold weather and broke out their full set of travel shot glasses.
Each of us was treated to Vodka shots.

Where to stay in the Zakopane area:

Pensjonat "Za Lasem", 34-52 Poronin, Stasikówka 24a - tel. (018) 20 740 96 - www.zalasem.pl - pensjonat@zalasem.pl - wonderful mountain lodge - great breakfast included - no English

Where to eat:

Watra, ul. Zamoyskiego 2, Zakopane - tel. 0 512 351 742 - great grilled meats, salad bar, fun atmosphere, heavy wooden picnic tables, food served on wooden boards, servers dressed in Highlander traditional costumes.