Poland-Losie-1

Homecoming Kings

Absolutely spectacular double espresso this morning at Karma Coffee Roasters in Kraków. It was made with their Columbian beans and was slowly pulled especially for me. Perfection.

I went out early this morning just to go to Karma, so I could pick up some more beans before we left town today for a week. The walk through the city at 8am is truly special and well worth the early rise. The streets are quiet, the delivery vans are out, and locals are finding their way to the start of their work day.

I walked by the Academy Of Music and from one window I heard violins, another had harpsichord wafting out into the streets, and yet another had several sopranos singing beautifully.

Rome To Russia Romania??

As we were gathering our things to leave Kraków we received word from the Russian consulate that there was a problem with our visa application. So, as I was out with Dad to pick up our rental car, Jane headed over to the consulate to try and deal with it. When she returned she brought me up to date, and everything seemed in order.

But that was very quickly outdated. We got an email from Viktoria, our helpful consulate contact. The latest is that General Counsel in Kraków had decided that they could not issue visas for us. No explanation, just “no, sorry”. We suspect it is because we don’t live in Poland, which we’ve heard has been a problem for other cyclists.

Now we don’t know if we’ll make it to Russia at all. We have a few options left, and will look into them over the next few days, but the prospect of sitting around for a couple of weeks somewhere else waiting for (very expensive) visas to come through does not thrill either of us.

White Gold

Just about every Pole we know or meet says we absolutely must visit the Wieliczka Salt Mine.

They are all wrong. We absolutely didn’t have to. In fact, we wish we hadn’t.

The fact that a mass of salt like this exists is impressive. But the tour, the silly life-size dioramas or the carved rock salt statue of Pope John Paul II is not. And the tour isn’t cheap. We could have afforded the fanciest dinner we have yet had in Poland for the same cost.

Our next stop was also a recommendation. Tomasz, who was our driver to Auschwitz, recommended we stop in the town of Nowy Sacz to check out Argasincsy, which he claims has the best ice cream in Poland. They also have a location in Kraków at ul. Jana 5 if you aren’t visiting the southeast of the country. It wasn’t vegan, but it is locally produced and was freakin’ amazing. I got chocolate, pistachio, and fresh strawberry in a cone and they were all pretty spectacular choices.

A much better recommendation than the salt mine.

Home At Łast

Not far from Nowy Sacz is the small village of Łosie. This was my grandfather’s home from his birth in 1906 until his departure for Canada in 1929. The town is in Gorlice country, near the Carpathian Mountains. It has been primarily settled by Lemko, an ethnic group who hail from the Carpathians, and whose most famous offspring was Andy Warhol. My grandfather never returned to the village so this evening when Jane, my mother, my father, and I drove into town it was the first time our side of the family had returned in approximately 84 years.

We will spend a week here, staying in a guest house in town. The town is so small the houses just have numbers, not street addresses. Over the next week we will visit with relatives who still keep homes in the area, but whom none of us have ever met. I expect it to be a very moving and unusual family reunion.  

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4 Comments

  1. […] queue wasn’t too long. We filled out the application form, glued on our photos left over from our failed Russian application, got up to the window and realised we didn’t have enough money to pay. Thankfully the clerk […]

  2. […] to find out about Chinese visas. We then had to go to their visa department a few kilometres away. This is not the first time this has happened to us. Why can’t any government’s website have the correct, up-to-date information, easily […]

  3. Cassie Van Gelder says:

    So cool, love that the family has returned after decades! Looking forward to photos and family resemblances :)

    • Stephen says:

      We will make sure to get some photos of the clan. It’s spread around, so we’ll only be meeting a few of them…