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35_holiday_2008_Gdansk_Centrum_Maritime_Museum_Friday_30th_May_2008


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The Maritime Museum is a must see in Gdansk; simply due to the fact of Gdansk's proud Maritime history. It is not housed in one building. We started seeing the South Pacific Island exhibit first, then went inside the Wooden Middle Ages Crane built in the 1300s, then took a free ferry across the Motlawa River to Spichlerze Island to see the Museum of Gdansk's maritime history and then finally the Soldek ship, which was Poland's first ship built after the Second World War. We had to rush madly near the end to see everything, as the Museum shut much too early at 4:00pm, a problem with many of Gdansk's museums. In the Summer, it is open until 6:00pm, but already the days were incredibly long, so to me, it should already have stayed open until 6:00pm. That aside, I found the museum on Spichlerze Island to be very interesting

173 files, last one added on Jul 12, 2008

36_holiday_2008_Marek_Barbara_Wedding_Saturday_31st_May_2008


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Finally, the main reason for our trip, namely Barbara and Marek's Wedding; it's day had arrived. Back in August 2007, Barbara emailed us about the wedding, then I had the seemingly crazy idea, that Sonia and I could make it. We are so glad we could. There were photos first at the Oliwa Park, then wedding was held at their church, namely the Oliwa Church (as opposed to Oliwa Cathedral) and the reception at the "Srebrny Mlyn Restauracja" or "Silver Mill Restaurant". As you would except, it was a beautiful traditional Polish wedding, and we got to sit at the table just in front of the groom and bride's table. One of my old colleague's from Radom, a Canadian teacher Julie, who is now teaching at Gdynia, we got to meet outside the church, as well as her Polish friend and teacher Marzena, who I also knew from Radom. Plenty of food and vodka was available, and by midnight I was most bloated. The reception went on until 3:00am which was a culture shock for Sonia, as Taiwanese and Chinese weddings have very short receptions, We were told for Polish weddings, this one was quite mild, as in Zakopane in the Tatra mountains go for three days!! Marek's older brother Jacek made the trip over from Atlanta Georgia for the wedding, and the first photo is of Jacek on the left, Marek, then "Mlody" or "Young"--- well Andrej.

66 files, last one added on Jul 12, 2008

37_holiday_2008_Oliwa_Park_Sunday_01st_June_2008


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Our last evening in Gdansk, the evening after the wedding, we went to Oliwa Park. It was about 09:00pm, but was still daylight as the Polish days in late spring and summer are so long. No photos of Sonia or me here, as we did not look our best so soon after the wedding!

22 files, last one added on Jul 12, 2008

38_holiday_2008_Warka_Sunset_on_Train_02nd_June_2008


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We left Gdansk at about 11:30am, then after changing trains in Warsaw, caught our train to Radom. The first two photos are taken from the outskirts of Warsaw, while the sunset is near Warka, about 40 minutes north of Radom. It was about 08:45pm, typical of the long Polish spring days.

27 files, last one added on Jul 12, 2008

39_holiday_2008_Radom_Nasza_Szkapa_03rd_June_2008


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Our first full day in Radom. I used it to show Sonia all the places that shaped my ten months there back in 2004-2005. The first few photos are of the building which contained two very important businesses which shaped my time in Radom. Firstly, it contained the asinine and ultra pedantic Oxford Study Centre, the first school which I worked at in Radom, but was unjustly sacked after an acrimonious and torturous three months. However the sacking was to work to my benefit, as it not only enriched my life in Poland, but ended up in me introducing Marek, who was now my flatmate, to Barbara. Secondly, it also houses the newspaper "Echodnia" or "Daily Echo", the newspaper which wrote the April Fool's Day story about me on page 1 and 3. We were staying with Janek and his wife Iwona, Janek being the journalist who wrote the story about me, and Iwona I knew from being the English language tutor of her daughter Ola, soon after getting sacked by those sociopathic clowns. Next door to this building, was the one of the two school's I worked for after leaving Oxford. It was "English First", but now, it seems it is called "English Point". Later, I showed Sonia the Radom Cathedral, which is relatively new by Polish standards, having been built in 1902, then the building which housed my second school, namely the Oxbridge School. The day was finished by showing Sonia my favourite pub of all time "Nasza Szkapa" where the owner Janeusz was so deliriously happy to meet me after nearly three years.

77 files, last one added on Jul 12, 2008

40_holiday_2008_Warsaw_Wednesday_04th_June_2008


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Poland's capital Warsaw. Iwona drove us there after lunch and the first few photos taken were by Sonia of the Palace of Science and Culture, which was Stalin's "gift" to Poland. A gift many say Poland could have done without, amongst many other things they received from Stalin. Most of the photos are however, of the magnificent "Zamek Krolowa" or Royal Castle, which like most of Warsaw was flattened after World War II, but was then meticulously reconstructed from 1971 to 1988. The decision to build it was made in 1596 when the capital was moved from Krakow on the decision of Zygmunt III Vasa. It was completed in 1619. Just outside the castle is a statue, elevated to a height of about 30 to 40 metres, of Zygmunt III Vasa. Photos near the end are of Warsaw's "Stare Miasto" or Old Town, which similarly was rebuilt after World War II, and Sonia was quite fond of.

212 files, last one added on Jul 13, 2008

41_holiday_2008_Czestochowa_Thursday_05th_June_2008


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Poland's holiest shrine of Jasna Gora in Czestochowa, built by Pauline Monks from Hungary in the late 1300s. When the Pope John Paul II visited Jasna Gora in 1979, he encountered 3 and a half million pilgrims, yes 3 and a half million pilgrims. A clear sign to the Soviets that Stalin's saying: "Turning Poland into a socialist state is like putting a saddle on a cow" was so true. A major historical event for Poland occurred at Jasna Gora in 1655, when Poland was being invaded and ravaged by the Swedes. Jasna Gora with only a few hundred men, many of them just monks held out for 40 days against 40000 Swedes. This lead to the rest of the country rallying and evicting the Swedes from Poland. This became known as the miracle of Jasna Gora, and is just one reason why this place is Poland's holiest shrine.

186 files, last one added on Jul 13, 2008

42_holiday_2008_Wieliczka_Salt_Mine_Friday_06th_June_2008


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The first few photos are taken from the train on the way to Krakow, but after that, the incredible Salt Mine of Wieliczka, just 20 Km east of Krakow, built in the 1300s is featured. It goes down to depths of hundreds of metres, maintaining a constant temperature all year round of 14 degrees celsius and the section that tourists are allowed to see is only a tiny part of the whole mine. To see the whole mine would take you a year. It contains statues made of salt, which look green due to the 5% mineral impurities, and chapels made almost exclusively of salt, the most magnificent being the Chapel of St Kinga. When I first saw it I was in awe, and so were a large group of school children who were so loud in expressing their awe, our guide had to ask them to quieten down. Huge groups of school children were large part of our time in Poland!!. The commercial production of salt ceased in 1996, but it still attracts about one million visitors a year. The temperature in the mine is constant all year round at about 14 degrees celsius.

183 files, last one added on Jul 13, 2008

43_holiday_2008_Zakopane_Friday_06th_June_to_Sunday_08th_June_2008


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After spending the afternoon at Wieliczka, we had to catch the local train to Krakow before catching our train 06:30pm to Bialy Dunajec, about 15 minutes before the end of the line at beautiful Zakopane. We got to Bialy Dunajec at about 10:00pm. The next day, we had a look around this pretty village, before catching a bus to gorgeous Zakopane. While looking around Bialy Dunajec, we saw some sheep grazing across the river, and amongst them was Baa Baa Black Sheep, but Baa Baa Rainbow Sheep, the creation of politically correct imbeciles was non existent. Once in Zakopane, some wonderful memories were brought back for me from 3 years ago when I went with Janek. Iwona and Magda. For Sonia this was a real treat, as she was also enchanted by this mountain town. Zakopane is in the Tatra mountains near the border with Slovakia and so we had done Poland from north to south, and in the town centre, we found the sign pointing to Sopot, after we had seen the sign in Sopot pointing to Zakopane about two and a half weeks earlier. We took a rail car to Gubalowka, which is a lookout from which we could see the whole panorama of the Tatra mountains. We only had time to see the town centre and Gubalowka, as we wanted to take our time after a very hectic last couple of days of travelling.

232 files, last one added on Jul 13, 2008

44_holiday_2008_Radom_to_Frankfurt_Tuesday_10th_June_2008


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It was now time to sadly start our lonnnnng trip back to Brisbane. We had to get up at the reasonable time of 03:00 in the morning to catch our train to Warsaw at 04:15. We had to catch the Berlin-Warszawa Express at 07:15am, and our experience with Polish trains made me somewhat nervous that we would make it on time to catch our train to Berlin. We did it with twenty minutes to spare, but in Poland you need every minute especially when you are carrying many heavy bags because unlike the German Rail (Deutsche Barn) website, the Polish PKP site does not give you the platform number from where the trains depart. You have to work that out at the station itself, and in this case I had to walk from one end of Warszawa Wshodnia (Warsaw East) station to the other to work this out, then walk back to meet Sonia to carry our bags to the required platform. This is one aspect of Poland, that at times drove me nuts, along with trains 50% of the time not running on time, but as Iwona's friend Magda said, all you can say is "This is Poland!". In the end however, the good far outweighed the bad, and I felt sad leaving Poland. The first few photos were taken from our train just after it left Radom with the mist and sunrise at 04:30am. Then, just after noon, photos from the Berlin-Warszawa Express are the River Oder, the border between Germany and Poland. Very soon after we go through Frankfurt on Oder, as opposed to Frankfurt on Main which was the Frankfurt we needed to catch our flight to Taipei. Next, photos of Berlin from the high speed Inter City Express that we took from Berlin to Frankfurt on Main.

38 files, last one added on Jul 13, 2008

45_holiday_2008_Frankfurt_Taipei_Sydney_Brisbane_11th_13th_June_2008


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Our flights home. Flights being the operative word as our flight from Taipei to Brisbane had to be diverted to Sydney due to fog in Brisbane. As a result we arrived in Brisbane four hours late. First couple of photos are of our hotel in Frankfurt, while the next are from the foyer of our hotel in Taipei, namely the Taoyuan Hotel. We stayed there as we had a 15 hour wait there for our flight to Brisbane, On the flight to Brisbane I took many photos of the sunrise as we flew over the west coast of Cape York Peninsula, then as we approached Sydney, and finally of Brisbane. One comment needs to be made about the airport train at Brisbane. IT IS A MONUMENTAL RIPOFF!!!!!!!! The price of $16 one way is beyond ridiculous, and the reason for this is that a private company runs it. In Frankfurt, the station at the airport is just another station, as it should be, so it only cost us about 7 Euros or $12 dollars Australian FOR BOTH OF US in an expensive country like Germany.

84 files, last one added on Jul 13, 2008

 

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