Since the Polish heritage is the second most prominent ancestry in the Almond-Bancroft community, we were inspired to discover more of this culture. In July we will be visiting the cities of Warsaw and Poznan, and the rural community of Gulcz. Our focus is to immerse ourselves into the culture, and bring back experiences and authentic materials to enhance our elementary curriculum.
|This day was yet another filled with many sites and experiences, thanks to our wonderful friends! We went to Wileen to meet with the Mayor and learn more about his role in the government. We were fortunate enough to get a personal tour of the county building and meet some of the friendly staff on our rounds. Following, we were able to stop at another school for a quick visit before going on to a central historical building used for many community gatherings and events. Here we learned more about some of the men and women who played an important role in the make up of the area and were able to view several "Coat of Arm" shields displayed in the ceiling.
From here we took a ride to a small beach area along the Notec river that was actually on an isthmus, a very nice and serene area for the people to enjoy. We then went on to visit some other area landmarks and sites. A very special highlight was the opportunity to meet and visit with the very popular, well-known Polish poet Stanislov Newert, who is a resident of Gulcz. It was great hearing about his work, which unfortunately is not published in English because it often loses the meaning in the translation. I must mention that this gentleman built his house with his own two hands and went above and beyond when he created the mosaic art work that makes up two of his floors. The detail and design is a work of art, almost to beautiful to walk on We then traveled on to another nearby city for a little shopping and another fabulous meal, which was followed by a spontaneous treat with a couple we bumped into from Gulcz. Our time with the director and his wife was fulled with many laughs and wonderful experiences, we thank them dearly (along with our translator Kasia!).
Back at the Lipinski's we had the opportunity to meet their daughter and son-in-law and their two children. It was a very pleasant visit and gave us the chance to hear more about their up coming visit to Canada. This was followed by another fabulous home-cooked meal
Then it was on to visit with a family we had met during our welcoming party on our first evening. Jacob, his wife, and three young children live just outside of Gulcz in a very rural country setting. It was fun having the opportunity to interact with them and their children in a relaxed and casual setting. Despite the language barrier, we were able to have fun with the kids and some how find a mutual understanding through facial expressions and hand gestures. A great and enjoyable evening was completed with a little piano music and lots of pictures.
Off to bed after a busy day!!!
|To add a little from Amanda about the school, a few things stuck out in my mind as different than what we have here at home.
First, their school day starts around 7:45 and ends around 1:00. Due to the busing of some students, they may have to stick around and participate in something like an after school program run by the teachers. Each teacher needs to put in an extra two hours a week, so this is one way they can do that. Their school year also runs 200 days to our 180.
Second, they do not offer a lunch to everyone. They will only provide lunches to those that send in the paperwork demonstrating they need assistance.
Next, they offer small breaks through out the day besides the one lunch recess. Their thoughts were that the teachers know the students and will recognize when they need a break, so it will vary from day to day and can last from 5 to 15 minutes. The teachers with the younger students tend to need / take more breaks
Then after talking to some people in Warsaw and then in Gulcz we found that they generally do not offer organized after school sports like we know it to be. If they want to be involved in something at that level, the families would have to pay for it and get them to and from the practices. They do, or may, have fun competitions between the schools, especially in soccer, but generally not to the level we have here.
Next, they talked about how their Art, Music, and Gym were all integrated into the classroom curriculum so the teachers would include these lessons in their plans.
Things may be different from what we know, but I think Amanda said it earlier....We all have one very strong and common goal, we want to provide our students with the best education possible!!
After enjoying another fabulous meal at the Lipinskis, we headed out on a tour with the director and his wife, who is a director at a middle school. This year she is also adding on a kindergarten to her building and one in an area community to help bring up numbers.
We toured her school, which is a bilingual school. They teach in both polish and German, and still learn English! Isn't it amazing how these students can pick up languages? It's very inspirational, makes you want to go out and become fluent in another language. We also toured the area forest, where the locals pick these delicious mushrooms. There was a large part of the forest that was burned down in 1992, we were able to climb an observatory to see the immensity of the forest. The area is a beautiful countryside.
One of the highlights of the tour was Kaplichka, where Karol Wojtyla took kayaking holidays. It was an indescribable feeling to be standing where he stood, with the serene landscape of northern Poland. There was a small shrine and an original picture of him relaxing by the lake.
In the middle of our tour, we stopped for a bite to eat and tried wild boar and lard. They were both very good, I didn't try anything that I didn't like!
Tour of the government building by Mayor...
Visit with Stanislov Newert (poet) ....
Visit with Jacob and his family...
When I finally get the time to catch up on our blog, and I've had a post completely finished our power went out!!! So here is the post, the best I can remember it.
After the craziness of water balloons and football we received a tour of the school, we were able to see their classrooms and facilities. We also had a chance to sit down with the teachers and discuss our project, and how their school runs. No matter where I travel it still amazes me about how each place can have its unique characteristics, yet still be so similar to us. The products they showed us and the stories they told were so familiar. With the grant we were able to provide web cams and will be developing a pen pal relationship with the students, and even the community.
While were were there and discussing art curriculum, we had a little surprise. One of the teachers brought out artwork and writing from Almond-Bancroft second graders from 1999-2000! We had traveled thousands of miles and came across something from home. Check out a few of the pictures in the album, you may recognize a name.
We would like to express our appreciation for the time the parents, students, and staff took to meet us, especially on their summer vacation.
|After a delicious breakfast we set out walking down the road to the village school. This was our opportunity to meet parents and students, and then to discuss our plans/goals with the teachers and director (principal).
First, we were introduced to everyone with a brief explanation of where we were from, what our profession was, and what we hoped to accomplish. Please understand that the schools there are also on summer break, so this was something extra for everyone in the community to attend if they chose. They had sent out buses that morning to pick up anyone that wanted to come and even though some of the buses came back empty, we still had about 20 students participate. Following our introduction, the students moved to another room to prepare a special welcoming for us. This included a group of five young ladies singing two Polish songs for us, and another young lady singing a solo. Even though we could not understand the words, their voices and the music sounded beautiful One of the songs sung by the group was the schools anthem. This anthem was written by a famous Polish poet, who also happens to be a resident of Gulcz, and it was put to music by the school's music teacher. An incredible and heartwarming welcome!
At this time the mayor of the township and the township's district administrator of schools came for a meeting. We were able to learn more about the problems they are facing in some schools with attendance and some general information.
Next, we shared what we had brought along with us for the school and students. First we passed around the books and post cards about Wisconsin for them to look at, which was not all that exciting for kids during the summer. Then we distributed some licorice for one and all to try, this is not a common candy in Poland. After everyone had the opportunity to try a piece we let them grab extra from the bag, you could tell at this point who really liked it or didn't We explained the jar of peanut butter to them, as this is not available in Poland. The tasting of this will wait until school is back in session, so more students can try it. A cheesehead was brought out and put on the head of a willing student to demonstrate how it was worn, then others were able to try it on! Then we showed a few more American games, the teacher of English will read and learn these and then explain them to the students when they are back in school.
Our next activity took us outside for a water balloon toss! With the help of a couple of parents, students, our translator, and others, we were able to get 50 balloons filled and ready. Once we demonstrated how to do it, the fun and laughter was on by the students, parents, and teachers We will definitely be sending more for them to have fun with! Then we brought out an American football. This was not easy to explain through an interpreter, but we tried a couple of downs and then gave everyone an opportunity to give it a kick. We're sure they will be creative once they are back at school.
Unfortunately this was all the time we had to spend with the students, however there will be more interactions with them during the school year.
On this day we met our wonderful guide / translator Kasia. We had been emailing her for months, so it was very nice to finally meet her. Before she took us to Gulcz she took us around the city of Poznan. Poznan is a city of about half a million people with a very interesting Old Town and a story of goats:
"One evening in 1551 the clock master decided to present the city with his new work of art - the tower clock. For the special opening ceremony all the nobles were invited as well as the city fathers and citizens. Unfortunately the meat that was being cooked in the kitchen fell into the fire and was burnt completely! The assistant chef was told to find new meat. But it was late and all the butchers were closed and there was no place to buy any meat. Disaster loomed for all the kitchen staff, then at the last moment the assistant saw two goats in a green pasture nearby. He grabbed them and ran to the kitchen. The goats understood what was happening and did not wanted to end up in the pot so they ran from the kitchen, climbed the stairs and jumped out of a window right onto the building and to the high clock tower. When the nobleman saw his dinner on the top of the tower prancing about he began to laugh, and so did everyone else. The lack of meat at the feast was overlooked and they ordered a mechanism built to remind everyone of the funny event. And today the 12 o'clock opening of the clock tower and the two goats always draws a crowd." (http://www.thevisitor.pl/index.php?id=464)...there are many goat souvenirs too!
Unfortunately, we spent a good hour or so in the bank filling out paperwork to exchange our traveler's cheques, which made us late to Gulcz. We want to take the time to re-emphasize, don't bring traveler's cheques!!!
We then drove to about two hours to Gulcz. We were met by the Lipinski family whom we were staying with (keep in mind in all the stories we tell, most people in this town are not fluent in English, and you all know we do not know much Polish!). After a fantastic traditional Polish dinner we went for a walk around the countryside. We learned first hand that most people eat a large meal during lunch and a smaller meal during dinner. We were very well fed by Krisia, the host mother. With two wonderful and filling meals under our belt, we were surprised by a welcome party from the mayor and citizens of the town. It was very touching. There were so many nice people, and our limited Polish did not get a far, but we had Kasia to translate their good wishes and our sincere thanks to the people for opening up their town to us for a few days.
|I have taken a train in a foreign country before, so I thought I could maneuver my way through the Warsaw Central Train Station. However it proved more difficult than expected. We couldn't read our ticket, but thought we understood the schedule. I was pretty sure which platform to stand on, but I needed to double-check. I used one phrase quite a few times: przepraszam, nie mowi po polsku ( Sorry, I don't speak Polish.) and then I would ask if they could help us in English. Each time the person smiled at me, almost in pity. We had talked to a few people, and finally thought we knew what we were doing, but low and behold we were in the wrong car! Which was fun to move our increasingly heavy luggage. We did arrive safely and in the correct car.
Thankfully, we had a couple that was very nice and helped us, though neither of us spoke the same language.
|On Monday we began our day by visiting a quaint little village set on the higher ground about a two hour drive from Warsaw.
Through the narration from our guide, we learned about the history and culture of the area. We walked along cobblestone streets to view some of the buildings that either withstood the many wars or that were damaged. When we got to the top of the stairs to the village outlook, we were generously rewarded with a breath taking view of the entire area. Back in the village, we were warned not to talk to the gypsy ladies looking to tell your fortune for a "sum" of money and we purchased bread that was baked in the shape of an area symbol...the rooster. This is where we were also able to witness a "fender-bender," just like back home. The drivers exchanged information and no police came, everything was done and they were on their way.
Our next stop took us to the museum and memorial Majdanek, one of the biggest former Nazi extermination camps. This was a lot different than Treblinka as it was out right out in the open. There was a remembrance or celebration going on when we approached the monument, so we remained back in the distance out of respect to those in attendance. After some background from our guide, we took a walk through the grounds and some of the buildings that have remained standing.
While were reading some of the postings from survivors in one of the wooden blocks, we came in contact with a lady that had survived the horror at this camp. When she came into the block she took her cane and pointed at one of the bunks and talked quietly to the woman with her. You didn't have to understand what she said, because you could see it in her face and how she spoke. After we were back outside, our guide confirmed what we had thought...she had been pointing out the bunk that she stayed in while imprisoned here. At the back of the grounds there is another monument next to the crematorium and trenches that became the grave for so many innocent people. It was a heartrending experience that we hope the world has learned from and that will never happen again.
The last part of our day took us to the city of Lublin. Once again our guide provided us with many facts about the culture and history of the area. We were able to visit the older part of town and see all the grand architecture. We enjoyed a nice authentic lunch at cafe along the market place while listening to some more information. There is certainly a lot of history in this country! After our tour here it was time to head back to Warsaw to get some much needed rest for the next half or our experience
|Here are some more facts that we found interesting...
1) Storks arrive from Africa at the end of March or early April and then migrate back at the end of August. There are usually 2 or 3 young at one time. They do not make any vocal sounds but will clap their beak together to make noise or calls.
2) A limo service in Poland should not imply that you will have a limousine, but instead a car of higher quality.
3) If your a guy your last name would be Struzynski, but if your a female it would be Struzynska.
4) Bathrooms are not always labeled with the words men and women or with the pictures we are used too! Some are labeled with a circle or triangle...we will let you guess which is which. If you ask us we may tell you a very funny story in regards to this topic
5) Not all villages have fire departments, but will get help from neighboring communities.
6) The weather here can get very humid! Yesterday the temperature was 31 degrees Celsius.
7) If one electric commuter train breaks down, it will stop the entire line. Talk about an inconvenience!
8) Cemeteries are very honored places, as people visit them often and leave flowers or candles. They will also, after 25 years, bury someone on top of an already existing coffin and add the name to the stone.
9) There are fields of cabbages grown here.
10) Recently in the smaller community schools they have added Kindergarten to attract more students. Hopefully this will help keep them open, due to some declining numbers.
11) You may go kayaking on the Notec River. There is a peninsula in one area, which helped to create a small beach for the community members to enjoy.
12) Fishing has begun to come back in the areas around Gulcz! They even have a festival for it
13) To help cool down, children will run through the fountain springs found in some of the market squares.
14) During the mushroom season, that last about 3 weeks, one person can pick up to 50 kilos of mushrooms in one day. (It really helps if you know where to go and get an early start.)
15) Announcements on the train between cities were done only in Polish, so we were really at a loss.
16) Wedding rings are worn on the right hand not the left like we do.
We are sorry we did not update about yesterday, but we had some Internet issues, and couldn't get onto the school webpage.
This is the end of our time in Warsaw, and we are headed to a small town, which may or may not have Internet access. If we can we'll update, otherwise we will update on the 27th, which is when we head back to Warsaw to head home. Thanks again for all your wonderful comments.
This is a small town that meant to show what it looked like before the war. We entered into a synagogue that was used as a magazine distributor during the war. Most synagogues were turned into cinemas or other buildings the German Nazis used, or even destroyed. This was a synagogue that they were able to renovate to look almost exactly like it was, and is used today. However, because the Jewish population is so much smaller (before the war it was 40 %, now it is less that 2%) the only Jews that use it are tourists. Our guide explained that before the war the villages and cities were very diverse in ethnicity, however because of the war they are now more of just Poles in these areas. We also walked along the streets to view the Jewish market square and the larger Christian square. This was a quaint town where we learned more about how the villagers lived before the war. We will experience more of modern village life in a few days in Gulcz.
We went to the 2nd largest concentration / death camp today, it is called Treblinka. This camp was destroyed so that no one would know of the horrors done at the camp, so it is more of a memorial than a museum. There is a museum that had a few pictures and a model of the place. This modeled imagine helped more when we were out on the actual grounds. It also showed how much they tried to hide the killing. For example, they disguised a storage building as a train station making victims believe they were coming to a safe place. They played the deception for these people until the very end. One of the strangest places was found in the soldier's area, where they had gardens, a zoo, and very nice living condition near the death camp.
One of the comments the guide said that gave me the chills was: "Imagine you are a Jew and you have to dispose of the corpses of your friends and family. They must have been hurting badly." He also talked about how the Nazi soldiers wanted to ashame the victims, which is one of the reasons they had them undress and shaved off the Jewish men's beards. Darek, th guide, also wanted to make if very clear that even though Poland had a lot of these camps they were not Polish concentration camps, they were German Nazi camps. He said that many people believe that the Polish helped the Nazis, while some did, not all did and Poles today know at least one family member or friend who was effected by the war. He also said that some Polish are accused of living the past too much, but it said it is something hard to forget when it is so close to home and family.
When out on the grounds there were stones that represented the places and people. These stones were in the area of the gas chamber, the cremation area, and lastly where the mass pits were located. This was very hard to take in, to be so close to these locations was quite moving. We also viewed where the labor camp was and the final execution part of the camp. This camp was very different from Auschwitz, but had it own distinct respect and way of showing honor. This place is less visited than Auschwitz, so it gave us more time for quiet reflection.
|Here we go with some more interesting facts that we have either observed or learned about through our chats with our driver and guide...
1) Stop signs are the same as ours, along with the stop and go lights.
2) They do have Pizza Hut!.
3) Storks will nest on top of electric poles.
4) Along the streets with lots of tourists, they have people who dance, play instruments, or sing looking for money contributions. This is common in a lot of larger cities.
5) When you are driving along, you will see signs that tell you the name of the town or city, which indicates when it begins. Then as you continue down the road, you will see a sign with the town or cities name on it that you just passed through with a read slash through the name...indicating the town/city ended.
6) Along wooded roads, there are people selling mushrooms and other fruits and vegetables.
7) If there is an accident the ambulance will come and go well before the police arrive at the scene. The emergency number like our 911 is 112 for Europe.
8) If familes own a very small number of cows they tether them to a tree or post, instead of making a pasture.
9) Traditional Polish wedding celebrations (receptions) can last up to a week!
10) They do not dance the Polka at wedding reception.
11) There is a stereotype that American travelers are generally rich and spend lots of money.
12) Motorcycles pass between cars in the middle of the road on a two-lane road.
13) Our driver, Piotr, might be driving Madonna when she comes for her concert. Instead of a police escort, she requested six similar cars so people don't know which one she will be in.
14) People use churches as gathering places, not just for mass.
15) The geography of Poland, that we have seen so far, is very similar to that in Wisconsin.
16) They do have mosquitos!
17) On the weekends, Warsaw has a population of around 1.2 million people. During the week the population rises to 2.3 million, due to the many commuters that live within the city for work.
18) The Polish language is very hard to learn, as we tried out 24 different words/phrases during our drive
Well that about covers it for today! Hope you are learning a little along with us
The final part of the tour was very close to our hostel, it is referred to as Stare Miasto and Nowe Miasto, this translates as Old Town and New Town. In World War II 85% of Warsaw was destroyed and this is the only part of town that was renovated back to it's original form before the war. Because of the destruction, in the majority of the city the buildings are very modern, but the buildings in this part of town are more like what you'd see in Venice; it reminded me of buildings I had seen in Germany as well. These buildings are very colorful and some have intricate "graffiti", not the graffiti we would normally see, but more quaint designs. As we walked, we learned about the legend of the mermaid symbol of the city, Madame Marie Saduska Curie (we actually saw where she was born, though she did much of her scientific experiments in France), and about the churches. Something that I really enjoyed was seeing the church where Bishop Stefan Wyszynksi lay to rest. This was the bishop who told Bishop Karol Wojtyla (now known as Pope John II) to accept the papacy nomination. After we had our tour we were able to walk around unescorted and enjoyed baked pierogis and went souvenir shopping. We found many good books and artifacts for school.
During World War II the Jewish Polish residents were forced to move to the same location, which became known as the Jewish Ghetto. Today there isn't much of the ghetto, but there are parts of the wall that seperated the city from the ghetto and we viewed two buildings that represented what the ghetto looked liked when in use. When visiting the wall you can see bricks that have been removed due to museums that have requests, one such museum is the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. It was quite eerie to be next to the wall, to think about all the people that were forced to live in such poor conditions. If you've seen the movie the Pianist (which documents a Jewish Polish musician during the war), it does a very good job of showing how they traveled between the wall and what the ghetto looked like. This part of the tour was in the car most of the time, so we also heard about how Warsaw was effected by the Nazis and how they were under the Red Regime (communism) from after World War II until 1989. Our guide shared with us that many Polish were not taught all of the correct history because of communism. It's sad to here their history, because it seems they would get rid of one problem and another would occur.
I have traveled internationally before but have never been in a country that wasn't predominately English speaking so this has been a new experience for me. In the city of Warsaw it hasn't been too difficult, but you really need to pay attention to the person you are talking with for pronunciations and such. When we were on the road we went into the petro station without our guide, and needed to relay to the clerk that we did not speak Polish. Thankfully she could figure this out and showed us the screen for our payment. While listening to the radio, it was great listening to the English music! However when the DJ talked, I could not understand a word of what he was saying. I found it interesting when our guide was on the phone and didn't need to worry about us listening in because he knew it didn't matter. This experience gives me a better understanding of what some of my students may be enduring when they come to school knowing limited English. This really hit home when we were in the salt mines! Our group was flagged to follow a guide to what we thought was the exit elevator up to the top. As we kept going our guide was talking in Polish, so Amanda and I began to question whether or not we were in the right group going in the right direction???? When we needed to stop, he gave directions in Polish and used vague hand signals, so we looked to others to see what they were doing. Eventually we found out we were in the right group, but the experience left us with a better understanding of the feeling of uncertainty caused by the language barrier. I'm sure this will not be our only experience like this over the next week, so the learning continues!
|Here we go with more facts that we have learned while touring around Warsaw...
1) The buses and electric trams are colored red and yellow. The red is for love and blood, while the yellow stands for the sun and rising up.
2) The color of Poland's flag is red and white. The red is again for love and blood, while the white is for purity.
3) There are white-tailed deer living in Wiejsk Park, which is in the middle of Warsaw.
4) The word wiejsk by itself means toilet, so if you want to go to the park you need to add the word park or you will be directed to the toilets.
5) DO NOT bring travelers cheques. These are extremely hard to cash in when the banks are not open.
6) The currency in Poland is the zloty. The exchange rate today is 3.44 for the US dollar. This changes daily.
7) There are very tame red squirrels in Wiejsk Park. Our tour guide had nuts for the occasion
8) There are oak, maple, and mountain ash trees here in the Warsaw area.
9) Mallard ducks, carp, and peacocks are also found here in Warsaw.
10) There are a lot of outside dining opportunities at many of the restaurants during the warmer months.
11) Pierogis can be either boiled or baked and stuffed with a variety of fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, or meats.
12) Police vehicles have blue and white lights, haven't seen any red flashing.
13) There are birds the size of crows, that act like crows but are dark gray, white, and black. Don't recall their name:(
14) The outlets here have only two prong holes, so we need an adapter to plug in our electric items, this is for the different voltage too!
15) Hostels are an inexpensive way to travel, if you don't need a television, refrigerator, and microwave.
Well that does it for today! Good night all...your evening is young but it is past our bed time here
We were able to sleep in a little and stay in Warsaw today...our only day, the rest of the trip is outside of the city. This was our least scheduled day, yet we were still busy from 9am - 4:30ish! The days are flying by and we are learning so much. We were met with another private tour guide, which surprised both of us. We knew we had a guide service, but we didn't expect to have such personal service. Our guide took us to Wiejska Park, a beautiful park about the size of Central Park in New York City. This was when we learned a lot about the history and government of the country. Some important points were about a famous composer Fredric Chopin, famous leaders, and the parliament buildings. We even learned that Queen Elizabeth and George W. Bush stayed right next to the park. In the park we were able to view an array of animals, most that are common in Wisconsin as well. It was a very beautiful park, and we wished we could have walked around longer.
Our next stop took us to the Salt Mines near the city of Krakow. This tour eventually took us 120 meters underground to learn historical facts (and myths) about this important economical resource for this country. We began by first decending down into the shaft, zigzagging back and forth 84 flights of stairs or around 800 stairs. Once into the mine, which is still in operation today, we were able to view "raw" salt in its pre-mined dark gray color, the salt is not white because of impurities. As we moved through the shafts and passed through the doors we were privy to view some incredible sculptures that were done entirely in raw salt and carved by only miners. There was a section that demonstrated how the mining of the salt evolved over the years, which included bringing horses down into the mine. At one point we learned that since the air in the mines in so pure that parts of the mines are used to help children with chronic breathing conditions. The treatment has them in the mine for six hours a day for a two week period, which has been proven to be an effective therapy. There were three lakes (ponds) in the mine, each of which had an extremely high concentrate of salt. Water with this high salt concentration will not allow you to sink, but instead causes you to float...like the Great Salt Lake in Utah! We were in awe of the enormous salt chapel that was carved out over time, by three of the miners. Within this underground structure they have made gift shops and a restraunt as well, it doesn't even feel like you are undergound! Even though the salt production from the mine still produces for the economy, the biggest income from the mine is the tourism with over one million visitors each year. A great place to visit and a lot was learned about this natural resource!
|Random things we learned about while riding and questioning our guide Peitro, (pronounced Peter in English).
1) You can not drive a car until you are 18!
2) They listed to English music on the radio, which was a little odd after hearing the dj speak in Polish.
3) Animals have a bridge built specially for them to use to cross extremely busy roads (like our interstates). These bridges are covered with natural foliage.
4) Related to the above fact, they also do this under the roads for frogs and such!
5) Drinking age is 18.
6) You can not handle or have a gun until you are 18. Which means no hunting until you have taken classes.
7) They like to grill out, just like most of us!
8) Speed limit on an open road is 140 km...you do the conversion. Petro costs on average 5.50zls per liter (about $7.00 per gallon in Wisconsin)
9) Poland is 7 hours ahead of Wisconsin!
10) The weather here is a lot like that in Wisconsin. However around two years ago, Warsaw had 28 meters of snow and they didn't get a snow day, even though they couldn't find their car!!
11) They do have bowling here for entertainment.
12) Golf is not a sport many play, it is considered more of an elite sport.
13) They really like their men's volleyball team and think they have a great shot at winning the gold at this summers Olympics.
14) Warsaw built a stadium just for the UEFA Euro 2012 (Soccer Championship). However Madonna will be hosting a concert there this weekend.
15) They have Subway, lots of McDonald's, KFC, Burger King and Domino's Pizza!
Hope you learned a little Look for our next random learnings!
Folllowing our tour of Auschwitz I, we headed down the road approximately two miles to Birkenau, (known as Auschwitz II). To give you an idea of the area this complex covers, we can compare it approximately, to the size of the town of Almond. This location is where most of the prisoners were brought in by train from various places around Europe. Most of the wooden blocks (prisoner living quarters) had been burnt down, however the brick chimneys remain, along with many brick blocks that have withstood the hands of time. As we walked through the entrance along side the once connected railroad tracks, the stomach knots were back with even more intense feelings. As we made our way to the monument that was erected opposite the entrance, you could only imagine what all those innocent people had to endure. Many people have left tokens of their respect and rememberance around the complex, however the candle tribute placed at the end of the broken railroad tracks really had an impact on both of us. Knowing what happened at this site and seeing the lowly living conditions, really added to the overwhelming feelings of once again trying to grasp the enormity of this event in Poland's history. Please understand that this was a very emotional experience for both of us and one we will not soon forget.
Visit our scrapbook to view pictures with more detailed explainations.
We are off to a Warsaw CIty Tour, we'll be back later this afternoon to add pictures and describe yesterday and today's adventure. Miss you all, thank you for following us!
Yesterday was a very long and emotional day. We made our drive to Auschwitz, and arrived around noon. It was an amazing experience, but very difficult to put into words, however we're going to try to summarize our personal response to the artifacts and buildings. Our tour guide was a very respectful and passionate guide, he really brought out our emotions as we walked through the gate and onto the different blocks. The overall atmosphere during the tour was somber, as you tried to take in and understand as much as possible moving throughout the complex, viewing images and actual passenger suitcases, eye glasses, toothbrushes, even kitchen supplies, and told stories about the victims and soldiers involved in the atrocities performed at this concentration / death camp. Brenda and I didn't discuss how it effected us immediately, we both needed to internallize our own feelings before talking with one another, let alone blogging about it. Much later in the wee hours of the morning, we both admitted being in the actual place was quite overwhelming and made both of us physically ill.
The three things that hit home for both of us was the monument to the human ashes that were found within the complex, the quanity of human hair collected, and the pictures of some of the prisoners that included their date of arrival and their death shortly there after. During our tour we were shown living conditions and other means of punishment that the prisoners had to endure, which is extremely difficult to understand how human beings could treat another human in such a hideous way. As we approached the gas chamber that was used to kill approximately 2,000 prisoners, our stomachs began to twist with the knowledge that we were actually inside the same place, and walking the same path those innocent victims followed. Once inside, the feeling was sickening and it was overwhelming to think of what had actually taken place not that long ago.
This morning we have a 5 hour drive ahead of us to visit Auschwitz and the Salt Mines down near the city of Krakow. We will be getting back late this evening or should we say very early tomorrow morning, so we won't be blogging or posting until tomorrow afternoon. Thanks for your understanding!