Europe Trip 2012 Links

In case you haven’t read them all and want to start at the beginning, or you’ve been reading since the beginning, but it’s taken me so long to blog that you’ve forgotten most of it, here’s a list of the links to our trip. 🙂

May-June 2012

Part 1 – Scotland

Part 2 – England, Lake District

Part 3 – England; Yorkshire

Part 4 – London

Part 5 – England in a Day

Part 6 – Wales

Part 7 – Ireland A

Part 8 – Ireland B

Part 9 – Ireland C

Part 10 – Ireland D

Part 11 – Poland & Friends

Part 12 – Krakow [FINAL]

Part 12 – Krakow [FINAL]

Krakow is one of the oldest Polish cities and the brick and mortar of the city was largely was untouched by the Nazis during their takeover. The Nazis used this as their headquarters. It also became the site of a very large concentration camp. We ladies took a trip down to visit this area. Lolita came with us and Lavern blessed us by making all of our lodging arrangements for us.

We took an older train south to Krakow leaving very early on Monday morning. It was fairly crowded and did we ever rock on!! Literally. As I said it was an older train but it traveled at the speed of the newer trains so because it wasn’t built for those speeds, it bumped back and forth every time it got over a certain speed. It was quite a bit cheaper but on the way home we knew we’d be tired so we took a better train with private compartments. It worked out well because we really were  pretty much worn out by the trip coming back! 🙂

Poland 136

[train on return trip]

Poland 302

[Polish countryside]

Poland 142

Poland 140

Poland 138

Poland 298

Poland 308

Poland 296

Our first plan for the day was catching a bus to the Auschwitz concentration camp. There are 2 sites to this large camp. The one site has many buildings which had been a military training camp for the Polish army. The Nazis took this over as well as adding a site several miles away where the masses of people were trained into.

I’m not going to add much information on this. This is the second concentration camp I’ve seen and it is hard to put into words, well, actually, it’s hard to even comprehend a smidgen of what happened in these camps. It is just as hard to put into words what visiting a place like this does to you.

You can read more at the Auschwitz website.

[One way in. No way out alive.]

Poland 166

Poland 150

Poland 157

Poland 158

Poland 161

Poland 163 mix

Poland 145

Poland 146


Poland 144

[bunk house]

Poland 147

This next set of pictures are from the site that had been the Polish army compound previous to Nazi takeover.

Poland 169

[a sign of false promises over the entrance below: works makes free]

Poland 190

Poland 173 mix

Poland 171

Items from prisoners

[prayer shawls]

Poland 181

[suitcases & shoes]

Poland 187 mix


Poland 182


Poland 183

While Jews were the main target, they were not the only ones imprisoned and killed.

Poland 179


We stayed a cool European apartment in the old town. I forgot to take any pictures of the apartment. Lolita had hoped to have us eat at a restaurant they’ve eaten at before but we couldn’t get in.  We found a Georgian restaurant.

Poland 197

I had some kind of chicken dish smothered with mushrooms and cheese. It was delicious!

Poland 205 mix

Poland 202

We wondered around the square for a while, chatting and de-compressing after the nearly overwhelming evil depicted at the camps.

Poland 192 Poland 191

Poland 232 Poland 211

I went all paparazzi on them (I can’t remember what started it) and even though they aren’t good pictures technically, is a good shot of what is right and good in life.

Poland 216 Poland 217 Poland 221


The second day we visited some salt mine. In Wales, we descended into the slate mines via a tiny car. In the salt mines we walked down wooden steps. Down, down, down. There were lots of other people touring this day and surprisingly it didn’t feel claustrophobic.

Some of the rooms of the salt mine were huge!

Salt Mines 12

This mine is around 900 years old.

Salt Mines 11

Because salt is good and not harmful to the lungs, working down here could be considered therapeutic! In fact, there is a sanatorium for people with asthma & allergy problems 300-400 ft. down.

Salt Mines 10

This is a small restaurant deep down in the mine.

Salt Mines 9

Salt Mines 8

Here’s a closeup of the chandelier. All of the “crystal” are made of salt.

Salt Mines 14 mix

Salt Mines 15

We went into an undground cathedral. See the 3-D Bible scenes carved into the salt walls …..

Salt Mines 5

Salt Mines 3

Salt Mines 2

Poland 276

When leaving we went through a large room used for formal occasions including concerts. We were funneled down into a small room. This was probably the most claustrophobic room of all. While we were waiting for our turn to ride the elevator up, they brought a lady through who was having a panic attack. They took her to the front of the line. When we finally made it to our turn, we discovered they “squished” the cages full before sending them. It was so funny! There was us 5 ladies, an older couple, and 2 cute guys who looked Italian. The doors swing in so whoever was in front of them had to squish into the group to close it. Thankfully, it really was cage so we could see out, kinda, and there was plenty of air. We giggled our way to the top and the others in the cage with us were laughing too. When we got to the top, the exit door opened on the opposite side of the cage from the entrance door. The look on Lita’s face was priceless when she realized she would have to “squish” into us for the door to swing open. So squish we did and as we walked out through the groups of people waiting to go down, we were still laughing. I’m sure they were wondering what in the world was so humorous about a salt mine!

There is much more to Krakow than just salt mines and a concentration camp. We didn’t have time to see much else. There is a castle which had been the residence of kings for centuries …

Poland 240

And we saw the bus of the soccer team from the Netherlands. They were probably doing a little sightseeing before the Euro Cup in Warsaw.

Poland 293


One of the first days were were in Poland we visited a local market. Peonies were starting to bloom and I was delighted to buy a big bunch for everyone to enjoy at Lavern & Lita’s house. This was taken about 4:30 AM on the Monday when we left to go to Krakow. I think I was still sleeping, even if my eyes are open.

Poland 132

This is the conclusion of the trip. At long last I’ve gotten it all posted, even though there are many stories and details un-posted. I hope you have enjoyed following along, despite the way it has dragged out!!!

Part 11 – Poland & Friends

The final leg of our trip was Poland. Adding it on to our trip added little cost compared to what it would cost to fly from US to Poland. It is with the EU so the flight from Ireland to Poland was considered a domestic flight. Our flights cost about $1100 US. We flew into Glasgow, Scotland. A few weeks later we had a flight from Dublin, Ireland to Warsaw, Poland, and then from Warsaw back to the states.

Our purpose in going to Poland was to spend time with friends. Sightseeing was on the list but not the priority. It was a great way to end the trip. We stayed with Laverne, Lolita and family. Lita grew up in the same church that I did until I was 10. I’m a few years older so though I haven’t seen her much in the last 30 years, it only took 2 minutes to see she is a “kindred spirit” as Anne of GG would say.

They welcomed us with open arms and we made ourselves at home. 🙂 Totally!

Carolyn stayed across the road with Anita. I’ve kinda “known” Anita through the blogging world so it was delightful to actually meet her in real life. The other teachers, Matt (a cousin – 3rd?) and Maria made us feel welcome as well.

Poland 102

I guess I only got a picture of their whole family when they were singing. They sing beautifully! Their daughters did a “What a Wonderful World” puppet song a la Louis Armstrong and we four travelers did a skit based on our travel experiences, greatly exaggerating everything. 🙂

We made supper for them one evening, a Mexican style meal, with Fiesta Lime Chicken, rice, re-fried beans, etc. I was grateful for Anita’s help at the grocery store. Otherwise, there’s no telling what we might’ve ended up eating. After all, the picture on the box doesn’t guarantee that’s what’s inside. It may be an ingredient for the final product. I can’t remember who this story happened to, but we know of someone who emigrated to the US years ago. They were delighted to find a can of fried chicken on the shelf. Imagine their shock and disappointment when they found shortening instead!!

Another evening we singles were together and solved the world’s problems. Imagine that!!

Poland 125

Poland 123

Poland 121

Backing up a little … when we flew into Warsaw, Lita braved the city driving and came to pick us up. She did well and we only had to circle the block maybe once?

We started with lunch at the Gessler Restaurant. It was a unique experience!!! I wish I had pictures of the open kitchen. Here are  few pictures.

Poland 002

Most of us ordered the special, which gave a bigger variety of Polish flavors. We started with a horseradish soup ^that was very tasty!!

Poland 010

The restaurant itself is unique because it had been an apartment building and they opened some of it up and turned it into a restaurant.

Poland 006

In looking for information on it online, I’m not seeing much. In fact, on trip advisor, from several different contributors, I’m seeing that it either moved or closed. Bummer.

Poland 005

We went to Piłsudski Square, the largest city square and a good place to stretch the legs while experiencing Warsaw.

Poland 026

Poland 025

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Poland 012

And beautiful gardens …

Poland 017

Poland 019

Poland 020

Poland 021

One of the days, Anita, Carolyn, Ruby & I took the train back into Warsaw for a closer look.

I joked that we ate our way around Warsaw. It was kind of true!!

We started out at E. Wedel, a place with chocolate, chocolate and chocolate.

Poland 030

We discussed many issues including singleness (is that a word?). And I we daintily sipped chocolate drinks that were exquisite. Think candy bar/hot chocolate drink in an elegant setting. There were many different combinations and this, I believe, was a chocolate caramel variety.

Poland 027 bb

We ate a Polish meal later in a touristy area.

Poland 056


Poland 058

We stopped for dessert late afternoon in a coffee shop. I totally forgot to get pictures there.

Poland 077

Poland 072

It was  a bit of a rainy day, which was good because there were fewer tourists around. It was also bad because we had to dodge showers and outside vendors were closed down.

Poland 070

Poland 069

The flowers were gorgeous!

Poland 061 Poland 054

Poland 052

The architecture beautiful!

Poland 089

Apartment buildings nestled in a corner of the city.

Poland 049 Poland 048

Poland 045

The presidential palace:

Poland 043

Poland 041

Poland 040

Poland was gearing up to host the Europe Cup the week after we were there, so there was some activity and excitement in the city. I believe it was the first time Poland has ever hosted it which made it an even bigger deal for them!

Poland 031

At some point we trained past the stadium.

Poland 050

Poland 001

More of Poland coming soon!

Part 10 – Ireland D

The last part of our trip we spent in Dublin, Ireland with Gabriel & Jenn and their adorable babies. I didn’t know Jenn very well before, even though she grew up in the south, only 4 hours from where I live. And I hadn’t met Gabriel before this trip. They opened their home up and just made us feel so welcome! And we hadn’t had little children around much so it was treat to spend time with them too!

[Carolyn reading them stories]

Ireland 576 b

I had been emailing Jenn before the trip to get some ideas of what were some highlights to see and do in Ireland. Several suggestions she had included Dingle Peninsula and the  Bunratty Castle.

Ireland 577 b

There was a beautiful walled park near their apartment, and we spent a bit of time there.

Ireland 560 b

We made time to take their family pictures.

Jantzi Fam 2 vintage b

Too bad you can’t see Carolyn who was doing some very funny things to keep their attention on me and the camera! 🙂

Jantzi Fam 16 vintage

Isn’t she just a doll! 🙂

We enjoyed a meal on their back veranda. Another evening we played a couple of (verbally energetic) games of Clue. 🙂

Ireland 590 b

A beautiful rose on her veranda.

Ireland 578 b

One afternoon Jenn joined us on a trip into the city. We caught a bus and went first to Trinity College.

Ireland 567 b


Ireland_-29 b

This is also where the Book of Kells is located. We all opted to not tour it. I kind of wish now I would’ve. Like I said earlier, after you tour so many places in such a short amount of time, you get to the place where you can’t take in much more. And you have to decide where you want to spend your money because most places cost to get in.

Jenn took us to some fun shopping spots. Unfortunately I had long since quit taking notes of things so some details are a little sketchy by now. I can’t remember the really cool store we shopped in that also had a bakery/restaurant in the lower level. Jenn, if you read this, can you help me out?? 🙂 We also walked to a cathedral but again, opted not to tour it. And I forget which one. I did get a picture of a celtic cross, though. 🙂 You know when you have this visual that you want to capture or create?

Well, I had one involving a Celtic cross and a sunset.

Ireland 573 b

Yup. You’re right. It didn’t happen.

This was not sunset, and I had to shoot through a wrought iron fence to get this one, thus leaving me one option in the use of available light. Yeah, it could be worse. Like glaring mid-day light.

They also took us to their favorite place on the edge of the city, high up a hill and in the country, kind of, overlooking the city.

Yeah, no. I either didn’t get any pictures of that either or I accidentally deleted them.

In all of our penny-pinching travel, we had not made time in Ireland for pub food. We’d heard lots about it, and about halfway into our trip I said we mustn’t forget to do that. I would be most disappointed if we missed the chance. Gabriel and Jenn took us to one near their place that they had a carvery lunch. This is kind of a buffet. You choose a meat and whatever sides you want to go with it.

Ireland 565 b

That was delicious even though you might not think so looking at this picture!  There is roast beef underneath. The mashed potatoes which they call something different (Irish mash??) are at 1 o’clock. The orange strips are rutabagas (I think).  There’s stuffing from 9 to 11 o’clock, and cauliflower at 7 o’clock and above 6 o’clock.  The carrots are obvious. I don’t think I need to tell you their time. Have I thoroughly confused you yet? O yeah. All times noted on plate are in Dublin time. har har

Gabriel had helped Lois return our rental car to the agency so when it was time to leave, it was a trip to the airport to leave for….


Coming up next.

Part 9 – Ireland C

After leaving Kinsale, we had a couple of hour drive, some of it winding along the coastline. Or did we purposely choose the coastline? Probably both. It’s really here nor there but it was a lovely drive. I think we stopped in Cobh to see if the famine ship was there as it had been the when Carolyn was in Ireland before. No, it wasn’t there but at its home in New Ross. We hoped it would still be close enough to see. More on that later. 🙂 Cobh (pronounced Cove) and previously being named Queenstown, was the final port of call for the Titanic. At the visitor’s center there is a Titanic museum of sorts.

Coastal beauty of Ireland

Ireland 352 b

Ireland 343 b

“Oreo” cows

Ireland 354 b

We drove on into the area where the Mennonites live, along the southern coast of Ireland. We arrived at the Yoder residence and their daughter showed us our lodgings in their guest quarters. They wanted to show us the cliff walk that they enjoy and boy howdy, was it pretty! It had been another sunny day and the evening light was beautiful!!

Ireland_-22b Ireland_-23 b Ireland 411 b Ireland 377 b

Ireland_-21 b

There were so many things I didn’t get pictures of … our homey lodgings, Hannah’s pottery, lunch with the single ladies in their beautiful home, the gas station/bakery with a Choice Books room that made The Best scones!!

Another highlight was a visit to the site of the wilderness camp. It is patterned after wilderness camp schools in the US. When were there, no one was staying there yet but they were doing day trips. Carolyn had worked with Wes in Pennsylvania at a camp. Wes took us back to visit the site.

Ireland 414 b

Ireland 436 b

Ireland 445 b

Wilderness Camp b

We got details for the Dunbrody replica ship, one of the many which transported people to the US & Canada during the potato famine in the mid-1800s. This was very interesting, especially as we have an ancestor who came over on such a ship. Like many families,  our great++++grandmother lost her family on the way over due to sickness in the barely livable conditions on the boats. These boats were also called coffin ships because so many people died en route.

Ireland 450 b

Ireland 468 b

Ireland 454 b

According to the sign below, potatoes were the staple of the farmer’s diet. A working man ate between 10 and 14 lbs. of potatoes every day. Can you imagine?

Ireland 452 b

Ireland 457 b

Ireland 462 b

Ireland 469 b

These ladies represent the “first class” passenger and I use that term loosely when it comes to their lodgings, and a farmer’s wife.

Ireland 466 b

See if you can understand their rich Irish accents.



If you ever have a chance to tour it, we highly recommend it!

After a long weekend there, we headed toward Dublin. On the way we toured Cahir Castle, one of the best preserved castles.

 Ireland 489 b


Ireland 482 b Ireland 484 b

Ireland 488 b

Cannonball lodged in thick walls:

Ireland 477 b

We also drove past the Rock of Cashel, where St. Patrick lived and ministered. We had thought this would be a priority to tour, but by this point we had seen so many castles and experienced so much history, that we just stopped for pictures and then kept moving.

Ireland 542 b

An Abbey a short distance away:

Ireland 541 b

On to Dublin ….