It’s been a while ..

Soo, we’ve finished our RTW a while ago (can’t believe it’s been over a year) but this site hasn’t been updated since December 2009.

Well, it’s time to change this situation and post some additional photos from the RTW trip along with new photos taken during recent adventures.

After all – life is an adventure – a never-ending story (here comes the song by Limahl from The Neverending Story (courtesy of Youtube))

PS
Derek’s been busy with photography site (flash & blog) and you can see some of his latest photos at http://derekrak.com/blog/

Of Trains, Beers and Stones

Flight to London was .. interesting to say the least. The popular budget airline Ryanair surprised us by not having assigned seats (just sit anywhere you want) and with constant in-flight advertising, successfully preventing any rest. I guess the saying was right and you get what you paid for.

We were picked up by Derek’s older brother – Sebastian – who found us a place to sleep and spend some time at (for free, which was great – thanks bro! 🙂 ).

First few days were spent visiting London’s most popular attractions: Tower Bridge, London Bridge, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace. Days were a bit cloudy and sometimes cold, but nonetheless very good for sightseeing. Our main way of transportation around the city was London’s metro system (The Tube) – fast, and quite reliable (most of the time as it had a problems once and we were forced to take a detour).

We saw a lot of street performers in the vicinity of the largest Ferris wheel in Europe called The London Eye. But no surprise there as it is located just 5 minutes away from the Big Ben, hoarding thousands of tourists every day.

Just a short metro ride south is the Greenwich Royal Observatory which is the house to the Prime Meridian (0 longitude) and is surrounded by gorgeous parks. We visited it the following day and did the “Where East meets West” scene and both of us stood and kissed across the Prime Meridian 🙂

Few days later we decided to visit Ireland – a one-way train+ferry ticket from London to Dublin was just 29 pounds (~$50 USD). The ride was long, but extremely comfortable.   While waiting for the ferry, we managed to get a delicious fish and chips for just 6 pounds.

We spent a few days in Dublin, sightseeing and drinking beer at Guinness brewery, which coincidentally was celebrating its 250th anniversary of their 9999 year long lease. Not surprisingly, all of the pubs were serving free beer 🙂

We left Dublin after a couple of days and took off to Limerick – a beautiful region of Ireland with some magnificent castles (like the Bunratty Castle).   We stayed in a 4 star hotel where we got a fantastic view of the river and castle.  Sadly in the evenings the city looked more like a ghost town as the stores closed and the streets got empty – just like the “good” old times back in communistic Poland :-).

On our way back we stopped at a small harbour town of Barbigan – we were so tired that we almost missed our morning bus to Dublin. We packed our bags in a record time of 15 minutes, though some of the clothes were still wet after the evening wash 🙂 .  The trip back to London was smooth and uneventful.

Before we moved on with our journey we took a train to Sailsbury to visit nearby Stonehenge with the massive awe-inspiring stone circles.

Few days later we left England and took a plane to Paris, France – this time we used easyJet – no more unassigned seats – hurray!  Paris – here we come!

Of Family and History

After a long and tiresome bus trip from Frankfurt (Germany) to Wroclaw (Poland – Derek’s hometown) we knocked on Derek’s parents door and surprised them.  They weren’t expecting us to visit for at least another week or two 🙂  What a tremendous surprise it was.

We started off with a train ride to Zagan, where Derek and his family spent their earlier years.  The town was very small and rustic looking.

We then visited Krakow to see Wawel (Royal Castle), Wieliczka (salt mine), and Auschwitz-Birkenau (concentration camp), where millions of people lost their lives during the World War II.

After Krakow, we headed to Warsaw (the current capital of Poland).  Warsaw for Kama was more modernized with new buildings and busy work life-style. Compared to the rest of Poland, this city can be considered snobsville. We saw the beautiful Lazienki (Baths) park and walked around the restored Market Square as most of Warsaw was destroyed at the end of the war.

We went to visit babcie (Polish for grandma) on Derek’s mom’s side.  We saw Derek’s aunt (Ala) and her husband (Leszek) there as well since they live close to grandma (1 hour drive from Derek’s parent’s home).  After visiting grandma we went to see Derek’s cousin who also lived close by.  Ula and Andrzej has a daughter, Ania, who spoke a bit of English so Kama finally got to talk to someone without a translator.  Yea…

A week later we decided to visit Derek’s father’s side of the family.  Tato (Polish for dad) decided to drive us to his old hometown in Ostrow where he also wanted to stop by and visit Derek’s grandfather’s grave.  We took a small detour to see a cathederal where Kama and Tato went up to the towers.  It was so windy we were afraid to stand outside for too long.  Great view though and lots of fun trying to communicated to Tato that I was okay and wasn’t afraid of heights.  Where’s my translator?  LOL!!!

After a brief visit to the gravesite, we fianlly made it to Ostrow where Derek’s aunts still lives at the farm.  The town is very small with only about 500 residents and about 100 houses top.  There were cows and sheeps in the fields.  Derek’s aunt, Lidzia, and her husband was at a wedding when we arrived and so we were greeted by their sons Krystian and his wife Anita, Tomek, and Dariusz (yes, another Derek).  Tato left the next day and we stayed for a few more days visiting.  The last night was spent at Derek’s cousin’s house with Lena, Andrzej, and their son Hubert.  Both parents are teachers and had their son take English class so they were excited to have us speak with Hubert.  We had a great time seeing everyone and hope to see them again soon.  Maybe someone would visit us in the US sometime?.

The majority of our time in Poland was spent with family though.  We spent a lot of time at home with Derek’s parents while we rested and relaxed.  We pretty much got spoiled rotten here, so much food.  We also visited Derek’s friend, Marcin who also spoke English (yea!), got to see Market square, Ostrow Tumski (with 1000 year old cathederal), Derek’s old university, lots of malls, antique markets, and outdoor markets.

Now it’s time to head off to England to visit with Derek’s brother, Sebastian.