by Hans Kok
- Thursday, December 30, 2010
With just an hour to go and no scheduled delays I should be almost there. Actually I have a stopover in Warsaw, so will arrive at 4 PM. Next entry will be from Poland, I hope :).
It was too good to be true :), no info yet on when we will fly. Hope I will still be on time to have some Pierogy (or other typical Polish food). I had it once, cooked by Maja who I will meet in 2 days again. It is the Polish version of the Italian Ravioli, different in size and fillings, but also very tasty.
The recipe below as I have nothing to do. BTW free Internet from ING, great service.
1. Potato and Cheese Filling: Cook the onion in butter until tender.
2. Combine it with potatoes and cheese.
3. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Vary the proportions and ingredients in this recipe to suit your taste.
5. Mix the flour with the salt in a deep bowl.
6. Add the egg, oil and water to make a medium soft dough.
7. Knead on a floured board until the dough is smooth.
8. Caution: Too much kneading will toughen the dough.
9. Divide the dough into 2 parts.
10. Cover and let stand for at least 10 minutes.
11. Prepare the filling.
12. The filling should be thick enough to hold its shape.
13. Roll the dough quite thin on a floured board.
14. Cut rounds with a large biscuit cutter, or the open end of a glass.
15. Put the round in the palm of your hand.
16. Place a spoonful of filling in it, fold over to form a half circle and press the edges together with the fingers.
17. The edges should be free of filling.
18. Be sure the edges are sealed well to prevent the filling from running out.
19. Place the pierogi on a floured board or tea towel and then cover with another tea towel to prevent them from drying out.
20. COOKING: Drop a few pierogies into a large quantity of rapidly boiling salted water.
21. Do not attempt to cook too many at a time.
22. Stir VERY gently with a wooden spoon to separate them and to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
23. Continue boiling for 3-4 minutes.
24. The cooling period will depend upon the size you made it, the thickness of the dough and the filling.
25. Pierogies will be ready when they are puffed.
26. Remove them with a perforated spoon or skimmer to a colander and drain thoroughly.
27. Place in a deep dish, sprinkle generously with melted butter to prevent them from sticking.
28. Cover and keep them hot until all are cooked.
29. Serve in a large dish without piling or crowding them.
30. Top with melted butter- chopped crisp bacon and/or chopped onions lightly browned in butter.
31. REHEATING: One of the great things about pierogies, is that they can be made in large quantities, refrigerated, frozen and reheated without lost of quality.
32. Many prefer reheated pierogies as compared to freshly boiled ones.
33. To re-heat, you can: 1) pan fry pierogies in butter or bacon fat until they are light in color or, 2) heat the pierogies in the top of a double boiler or in the oven until they are hot and plump or, 3) deep fry them.
The delay took in the end almost 3 hours. When finally out, it was so cold that due to waiting in front of the old propellor plain, I still was not warm again arriving in Cracow. But that took not very long, as the welcome was very good, both by my driver who took me to the hotel as by the receptionist. Very nice hotel, Hotel Polski, great room and vey conveniently located. From the reception I got three names for restaurants, but I ended up in a very cosy restaurant, having a perfect dinner. From the first minutes in Cracow I think it is a very nice city, a mix of Berlin and Vienna. Will write more about it after the walking tour on Sunday. Ending the night early, tomorrow long day in Auschwitz.
- Friday, December 31, 2010
Auschwitz-Birkenau State MuseumWięźniów Oświęcimia 20, Gmina Oświęcim, Poland | 33 843 21 33In the same bus as yesterday with a Jewish family on my way to Auschwitz and Birkenau. The family is from Australia and their relatives lived during the second World War in the UK, so they lost no one during the war. Today it is cold again, with windchill factor close to -15. You can not describe how I feel now, let alone describing anything I see both in Auschwitz as later in the much bigger Birkenay, actually 25 times bigger. Everything is so close, but many younger people do not feel that as posing for a picture und the sign of Arbeit Macht Frei ..... Is has a huge impact, Birkenau even more, as there I see the wooden buildings which were originally for a few horses and used for housing close to 2.000 people per building. Outside is as cold as inside, and no facilities at all .... We are ending the tour at the memorial where in 20 languages is written we should never forget. Impressive day, I think everybody should take the tour once .....
That must have been expensive. Huge party at the square, mostly very loud music by a DJ but also some live music, like from Kellis which is rather famous in Poland, but I never heard of her.
There were about 100.000 people on the square, and many were an hour before midnight already very drunk, Wodka is a killer ....
But for the rest rather enjoyable and great fireworks.
Some calling and SMS with family and friends, at 02.00 ending the impressive day.
- Saturday, January 1, 2011
Early rise to get to the busstation to try to get a ticket for Zakopane. That was easy, no que like yesterday and I got me a bus for the 110 Km ride for 18 Zloties (4,5 Euro), not bad.
As soos as we left Cracow the Wonderland began, all white and soon many mountains in sight. If you do not master the language some things can be tricky, so actually seeing the sign of Zakopane was a nice sight :-).
I met Maja and Alessandro after 30 minutes, as I arrived too early. We walked through Zakopane and met the others. Rather international, 4 Polish, 2 Italians, 1 Scot and me. Great bunch of people, very welcoming. We took the cable cart to the top of one of the mountains and had a Gluehwein and admired the view. In the sun it was rather pleasant, but soon the sun was gone, making it again rather cold on top. So next stop a warm restaurant to have some good Polish food. To get there we walked the main street, rather touristic, but also rather Posh, but great atmosphere.
After dinner they all walked me to the bus station and now I am back in the hotel.
One half day to go, but it will again be na interesting day as I will be doing a walking tour with a private guide. Now getting a nice beer, no Wodka yet :).
This morning I did a walking tour with Joanna, a guide very knowledgeable about Cracow and the history of Poland, but due to here study also on paintings.
We covered a lot, mostly the well know things:
The main square, 200x200m in size, the Market Square of Krakow (Rynek Główny) ranks as one of the largest medieval squares in Europe, and features many historical sites and places of interest in and around it. For centuries it was the most important public place. Today it serves as Krakow's gravitation center and the natural meeting and start point for any event. As the New Year's Eve event I was in.
But first we passed at Floriańska Gate, near my hotel, and from there we went to the Sukiennice (Cloth Hall) and St. Mary's Cathedral at the mentioned Main Market Square, with the Church of St. Peter and Paul.
From there we walked through the student quarters and along the oldest university to the Wawel Castle - the most known landmark on the city.
To the south of Wawel Castle, the Old Jewish Quarter (Kazimierz) is another unmissable place. The main points of interest here are the Old Synagogue and the Remuh Synagogue and the cemetery.
Most Jewish synagogues are not active any more, not only in Cracow but all over Poland. Before the second World War, 65.000 Jews were living in Cracow, from which only 2.000 returned after the war. Most were killed in camps like Auschwitz and Birkenau, but also many did not want to return. Today only 200 Jews live in Cracow.
We followed partly Schindler's List movie sites, and I went to Schindler's factory myself after visiting the Galicia Jewish Museum after the tour ended.
One of the masterpieces we did not visit, but I already did at New Year's Eve, St. Mary's Cathedral, with the altarpiece, the blue stained glass windows and the starred ceiling of this cathedral will take your breath away, no matter how many times you see it. I totally agree.
There are many legends attached to St. Mary's. A trumpet is played on one of the towers every hour and the tune, we saw and heard it at 09.00 in the morning.
All together a perfect ending of my Cracow visit.
- Sunday, January 2, 2011
Getting to Cracow gave me almost 3 hours delay in Warsaw. Now getting to Cracow, one and a half hour, but we were already IN the plain, rather annoying (1). The flight was fast though, and took only 35 minutes, way in time for the next departure. Guess what ... another 45 minutes delay.
When in line for boarding I saw a guy and I said to myself, no not next to him .... yes you should not do that :-(, so he sitting next to me. He was already smelling from the alcohol he had before the flight and asked for several more during the flight. he also read several newspapers for the 2 hour flight, using the middle arm rest, annoying (2). I said something about it and we had a few words, so I decided to stop and leave it. He picked his nose, eat from his ears, scratches his b.... (yes he did), everything you can think o he did. But his guy was rather extreme, he also opened the lockers during the taxiing on the runway just after landing and walked to the front of the plain, annoying (3). Some other bit aggressive Polish people did the same and again I said something about it, should not have done that, I was almost in a fight with one of them.
My overall feeling about Poland is extremely positive though (great hotel, great cities, very friendly people), but these people are the ones that are also extremely annoying (4) in the Netherlands, and yes it might be stereotypes ... but they do exits, several were in the plain.
I am home and except for the last half day I enjoyed the trip very much:-).
It is of course difficult to judge after being there only 3 days, but here it is:
Cracow, one of the most interesting cities I have ever been in.
Zakopane, although bit Posh, I also enjoyed it very much.
If you love meat, go to Poland. If you need more delicate food, it is more difficult.
- Drinki (yes it is a Polish word)
I did not taste any Wodka, so actually I do not know. The local beer was ok, nothing special, although the Black Porter was great.
The warm beer, a delicacy was nasty .... , but I enjoyed the Gluehwein on top of the mountain.
Too much to cover in such short time frame, but great experience.
- Auschwitz and Birkenau
Mandatory for all people, but also all other historic info on the live of the Jews, not only in Cracow but also in Galicia and now the Ukraine.
Mostly very nice, but I think the liquor (still) is a real problem, according to the guide it was even worse.
- Landscape and scenery
Perfect, everything you can dream of is there.
- The hotel, Hotel Polski
Great location, good room, perfect shower (best I ever had), very fiendly staff, breakfast bit below standards
- The travel agency, Freebookers.com
Great and helpful people, did a good job in organising my stay and the excursions. I loved the handwritten message when I arrived in the hotel.
Overall, great city-trip, with a good mix, score 8-9.
- total distance: 1,870 miles (3.009 km)