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Exploring Family Heritage in Poland

Poland, Poland
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My great grandmother came to the US in the early 1910s from Poland. She was 16 years old. After the Great War, she was never able to return home again and built a life here in Delaware. Decades later, my family was finally able to visit Poland and see the land of our ancestors. Three generations of women -- my mother, my daughter, and myself -- along with my dad and husband spent a little over a week exploring Warsaw, Krakow and beyond. It was a treat to be able to try the foods and visit the places where my family had come from generations before. Poland may not be on your bucket list, but it is an amazing country rich in history teeming with delicious flavors, kind people, beautiful sights and treasured traditions.
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Bars and nightlife

Warsaw
Warsaw
Must try: Piwo (beer) - Zywiezc and Tyskie Vodka - Our family liked Wyborowa, but try as many as you can! Also try Krupnik - served ice cold in the summer or warm in the winter

Culture and experiences

Oswiecim
Auschwitz and Birkenau are not to be missed on any trip to Poland. Be prepared for a heart-wrenching solemn day. Regardless, this is one part of history we can all learn from.

Points of interest

Wieliczka Salt Mine
Wieliczka Salt Mine
This is an amazing place to visit. It's hard to believe everything here was hand carved into the salt by the miners who worked here.
Częstochowa
Most famous for the "Black Madonna" at the Jasna Gora monastary. We happened to be there at the time of the annual pilgrimage in early August.
Zakopane
Zakopane
Zakopane is a well-known ski resort in Tatras Mountains on the southern border of Poland / northern boarder of Slovakia. The mountain views are equally beautiful in summer! Be sure to try some of the local smoked cheese (oscypek). It's not only delicious, but beautiful as it is made in hand-carved wooden molds. My personal favorite spot in Zakopane was the Church of Our Lady of Czestochowa, an absolutely gorgeous wooden church.
Zalipie
Zalipie
This is one of the cutest, most charming little towns I have ever seen. It is way off the beaten track from Krakow, but worth the trip. It is known for a local custom of painting the cottages with decorative motifs. According to Wikipedia: This lovely tradition started with more than a century ago, when every single female resident in Zalipie begun to paint her home with floral motives, as she wanted to cover up some particular faults. And since the women didn’t have professionally made equipment, they manufactured the brushes themselves, using hair from the tails of their cows. As or the paint itself, women used fat from the dumplings they made. Very important is that each year, all the women had to repaint their charming drawings. And they did so, after the Feast of Corpus Christi, when they weren’t so busy with their farm work.

Restaurants

Warsaw
Warsaw
All of the little cafes we ate in while in old Warsaw were wonderful! Must haves: pierogi ruskie (stuffed with farmers cheese), kielbasa, Śledźie (pickled herring), golonka (pork knuckle), barscht (beet soup -- try many versions! Our favorite had a clear red broth with tiny dumplings), rosół (chicken soup), gołąbki (cabbage rolls), and pączki (the most delicious donuts you'll ever eat).

Shopping

Warsaw
Warsaw
Must buy: Pisanki (hand-painted wooden Easter eggs), Polish Pottery, hand-crafted lace items

On The Map

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