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Published: January 8th 2008
If you are ever lucky enough to be invited to spend Christmas in Poland - GO!!! I have been really blessed that people keep opening their homes to me and one family has been no exception. Magda who I met (yes again) in India invited me to visit with her family and as this is not the year to say no, I of course took her up on that.
So at 2.40am on Monday 24 December I climbed out of bed to dress, catch the night bus to Stockwell, to wander the streets looking for (and finding) the National Express Gatwick Bus, waited, it came (wooo hooo), trundled out to Gatwick, all to catch the the 6.55am Sleazyjet to Gdansk, Poland. I am not unhappy to state that I remember the wheels leaving the tarmac (just) and then blessed nothing until about 30 mins out of Gdansk. This meant that although slightly weary I was able to enjoy the sight of frosty, misty Poland coming up to meet the plane on landing.
I was mega excited as I hadn't seen the lovely Miss Magda for 9 months and her happy smiley face was there to greet me as I
came out the exit gate. Given Czulchow where Magda's family lives is actually 140kms from Gdansk (the closest international airport) she took me on a walking tour of the old city before we headed off for the couple of hour drive. The old city is set around squares, churches and the port and is really, really pretty. Gdansk recently had an anniversary and for that they put a lot of time and effort into restoring the beautiful building facades in the main square, whether by painting or recreating the original frescos and sculptures, consequently the town is all colourful and even on a cold, grey day a pretty sight. We wandered through the old town, along the canals and then back via a little street, which unfortunatley for my pocket, but luckily for my 'christmas pressie to oneself' philosophy contained some lovely amber jewellery which managed to stay with me when we left Gdansk.
The drive to Czluchow was along foggy and icy roads edged with trees either laden down with ice or if sheltered still green. The ice clings to everything and as the wind blows it shakes it loose and the ground looks all white and snowy,
in patches! Now Polish drivers, much like those everywhere, are slightly mad and overtake at a rush everywhere. We slowly and steadily made our way and eventually arrived at Madga's family house to a warm welcome from the family.
After a bit of a rest, (it was a tiring day) it was downstairs to help/get in the way as the family prepared for Christmas Eve dinner which traditionally in Poland is the main Christmas celebration. The meal cannot commence until good wishes are shared with all around the table. Everyone takes a piece of wafer which the church provides and you take a little piece of each others and share your good wishes with them for the year ahead. Once this is completed it is all about the food, which with a minimum 12 dishes (representing the number of apostles) is a veritable feast. One other thing that is different to back home is that no meat is eaten, only fish, but that means a plethora of ways of preparation plus Borsch (beetroot soup), salad, pierogi (dumplings), polish pancakes ... on and on. Then after that there is cake ... an essential part of every
much set the tone for the days which were to follow - wake up, sit down to a full, multi dish breakfast followed by cake (about 2 or so hours), chat to visitors or go for a walk around Czluchow which is in the middle of the Polish lakes district (most frozen now). After a walk it was back for more food (multi dish), more cake, then more visitors or cards in the evening, usually with cake, ocassionally with vodka, local wine or other tasty treat. Sometimes the visitors could speak English, sometimes they just looked at me ... my polish phrase book didn't help much as my Polish pronunciation was about as good as my German when I was in Berlin!
Overall I had a lovely visit and everyone in Madga's family was so lovely and welcoming. It is definitely on my repeat list, perhaps in the summer.
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