A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: familyineurope

Warsaw, Gdansk, Sopot, and Polish Highways

Speeding along Poland's new highways and enjoying great weather.

Day 15 - Drive from Prague to Warsaw

We began the day knowing it would be the longest drive of the trip. We alternated between Poland's new autostradas and tiny little two lane roads full of farm equipment. It's easy to drive around 90-100 mph on the highways. So fast! The new Polish highways often have tall walls on each side. I've never seen a highway walled in for so long. The walls have an unknown purpose. Noise control, wind, aesthetics, fewer distractions for drivers?

We happened to drive right by the town of Boleslawiec which is famous for its beautiful ceramics. I was able to buy several pieces to bring home at discount prices! I have always loved these popular blue dishes so I was in heaven with so many choices at great prices.
The kids in car mode. They were mostly quite good the entire trip. We are starting to put up with more bickering. I think they are getting a little tired of each other.
We continued our long drive with a quick stop for lunch. We were so excited to finally arrive in Warsaw to see our friends that we haven't seen in ages! Their little boy "J" is almost two and so much fun. The girls were quickly big fans and a great help.

We enjoyed dinner at their lovely home, catching up and getting some rest before checking out Warsaw tomorrow.

Day 16 - Warsaw

I began the day with a run around a couple of nearby parks. Thank goodness the GPS works on my iPhone or I'd still be running around Warsaw! The city is huge and I did not have my bearings yet.

Our friend "big J" took us to their favorite little cafe for coffee and pastry. Delicious!
We took a bus down to the old town, walked the royal walk, climbed a church tower, and had lunch in the new town. Warsaw was completely rebuilt after being leveled in WWII. I found the rebuilt areas really nice and easy to navigate with fewer crowds.
This hosted many of the 2012 Euro Cup matches.
DD#2 was more than excited to run into a rollerblading panda!
A famous palm tree on Jerusalem Street, lazing away on the royal away, Chopin's heart, and Copernicus Statue!
Kid fun - sprinklers, chasing pigeons, eating pierogi - all with a view!
We really enjoyed our day checking out Warsaw.
Before dinner, we checked out a local waterpark complete with three very awesome waterslides without lines. Woopee! Again, they didn't allow pictures so I'm using one I found online.
We had a blast on the slides and might check the place out again before we leave. Big J and R (our good friends) took us out to one of their favorite restaurants in a pretty park. We had great grilled meal outside with a fun play area for kids. Another very relaxing meal.

Day 17 - Drive to Gdansk via Torun

We awoke to more sun, had coffee and pastries at another great place, and began our journey to Gdansk. Gdansk is a large city on the Baltic Sea with wonderful architecture and history. Luckily, most of the roads were autostradas so we made great time.

We stopped in the University town of Torun for lunch and to look around. The town is known for its fabulous gingerbread. I bought lots to bring home. Yummy! We ate at a recommended pierogi place that served baked, fried, or boiled pierogi. The grocery stores have entire pierogi sections. It's quite the cuisine around here.
You can buy soft contact lenses on the drugstore shelf!
Here is one of the many gingerbread shops:
Torun had a lovely town center and was a nice way to break up the 3.5 hour drive to Gdansk.

We arrived in Gdansk and found our apartment in a residential part of town not too far from the city center. Our friends met us around dinner time. We were feeling lazy and ordered pizza to be delivered. Actually, the apartment manager helped us order since we can barely speak a word in Polish. It's a really difficult language. The kids played in the small playground in the backyard and we made plans for our time in the Gdansk area.

Day 18 - Sopot Beach and Gdansk

I began the day with a great run through Gdansk. Once again, I was extra thankful for my iPhone and Google maps. We had plenty of groceries and an awesome coffee machine for breakfast in the apartment. We took our two cars to the nearby town of Sopot for beach fun and lunch. The water was actually warm in the Baltic Sea! DD#1 seemed particularly excited to swim in a new ocean. Lots of Polish people seemed just as excited for a sunny day to enjoy the lovely beach. It was crowded but still very pleasant.
We enjoyed a simple lunch in Sopot after walking down the main pedestrian drag.
DD#2 and I walked to the top of a historic lighthouse for some great views of the area, I love trekking to the top of any tower in any town but the rest of my family isn't quite as enthused. I was glad to have one taker for this short trip up some stairs.
We drove back to Gdansk and took a bus to the city center for a great al fresco dinner on a lovely street. The bus is still a novelty for us.
The weather was rather hot today and we were worn out. Kids are all crashing later than usual - so are the adults. We are enjoying being with great friends who are fantastic travel companions.

Posted by familyineurope 23:33 Archived in Poland Comments (2)

Prague - last two days

More parks, boating, exploring, eating & drinking!

Day 13
This picture seems to sum up Prague: Beautiful architecture, scenery, and BEER.

I'm running a few days behind on the blog so this next entry might be brief!

We began our day later than we should have - as has become the norm. It's easy to stay up too late on these lovely summer days! We wandered around the Mala Strana neighborhood in search of breakfast. On the way, we spotted the John Lennon Freedom Wall as well as a charming peeing statue. Ha ha!

We found the somewhat hidden Wallenstein Palace Gardens near our apartment. Somehow all the tour groups had found it as well. Oh well.

We took the metro to the Zizkov neighborhood to avoid crowds and to see the impressive TV tower. The tower is huge and also known for its crawling babies. That's right. There are huge crawling babies all over the tower. I believe the artist responsible for the babies is also created the peeing statue above. We took the speedy elevator to the top for some impressive views over the city. Our hometown feels so small after seeing the size of some of these European cities.
We found a nearby playgrounnd (Vrch Svateho Kriz) with a historic pub nearby (Parukarka). A great hour diversion for the kids to let off some steam.

DD#2 has become quite obsessed with fresh apricots. They are in season here and fruit is sold at little stands all over the place. She has eaten a ridiculous number of apricots and insists we buy more whenever we see them. It's hard to say no when your kid wants fruit so we've been indulging her passion. It's pretty cute.

We decided to keep the playground streak alive and head to one far from the town center - Krouzky na Vltave. The tram ride was relaxing and gave us energy for what was the most challenging (and dangerous) of all the playgrounds I have seen. Holy cow! I actually climbed up to the top of this thing and braved a slide just to see. Scary! We were actually happy a storm came through with heavy rain so we had an excuse to leave the playground before someone broke an arm.
We enjoyed the dry tram ride back into the city center. DH was especially happy that I found a beer stop that reminded us somewhat of our favorite beer haunt back home. Pivovarsky Klub is highly recommended.
After a break at our apartment, we headed out yet again for dinner. We found a nice Czech place in the Old Town that happened to be playing the final World Cup game. Perfect!

Day 14 - Last Day in Prague

I attempted to get up sort of early for a nice run along the Vlatva River. We finally got ourselves together and headed into the main part of the city. After four nights, we realized that we had spent little time in the city's center. We were set on a grand cafe experience on our last morning in Prague. The Grand Orient Cafe was certainly grand and the cake and coffee/hot chocolate was a sugary start to the day!
So many beautiful views all around the city.

DH and I visited Prague twice about 11 years ago. Since then, it seems tourism has escalated and capitalism is going strong. Who knew KFC would be so popular in Eastern Europe? Street entertainers were everywhere. We were particularly intrigued by this man floating mid-air. Clearly some sort of contraption is involved. Hmmm...
We probably walked 5-6 miles today wandering, shopping, gawking, and enjoying the scene. Eventually we ended up back at the river and decided to rent a paddle boat for an hour. A great work-out and wonderful views. Again.
We ended our 5 nights in Prague with an outdoor Indian meal. We were craving some spicy food! Even though Prague has become more crowded I know I will be back again someday. It's such a beautiful city and still affordable. We really enjoyed exploring some of the neighborhoods away from the city center.

Posted by familyineurope 22:49 Comments (1)

More Prague and Mirakulum Adventure Park

So much fun navigating around Prague!

Day 11 - Prague

  • I'm half-way watching the World Cup as I type this so sorry if the writing is a little choppy.

I began the day with a run through the old town and along the river as the city was waking up. We had a small breakfast in our room and enjoyed an easy, relaxing morning. Eventually, we set out to explore Petrin Hill. On the way, we checked out the swans near our apartment and found a nearby cafe with a couple sweet treats and more coffee.
Before getting up Petrin Hill, we stopped at a park. The parks in Prague are fantastic! Many seem new and have very creative play equipment. The kids loved it!
We hiked up Petrin Hill and went through the mirror maze (kind of a rip-off) and climbed the mini Eiffel Tower. It's about 1/4 the size of the real tower but has over 400 steps. We enjoyed the view from the top.
After a quick lunch, DD#2 and I split off for a different route back to our apartment. We went by the Prague castle and had to duck inside a little cafe due to a huge rain storm! We saw a couple having wedding photos taken as we made our way down the hill. Such a pretty area. We did a little souvenir shopping on the way back.
We made reservations for dinner at a nearby place. I couldn't believe that DH ordered the beef tongue! I stayed safe with some kind of pork skewer.
We all love watching the scene on the street below our apartment. Here are a few pics looking up at our windows. Our car sits comfortably in a private courtyard. It's a good thing in a town known for auto theft!

Day 12 - Mirakulum Adventure Playground!

After a run around Letna Park, we had a quick breakfast before heading to Mirakulum Adventure Park. It was about 40 minutes outside of Prague on an old army property. When we approached the park, it seemed we were in some sort of condemned area! We wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. Luckily, the park was so much fun! Great play equipment for climbing, sliding, tunnels, mazes, trampolines, and more. The park was filled with Czech families. We didn't hear anyone speak English the entire day. We all enjoyed the sunshine and creative park. It helped that prices were great. It cost around $25 for the whole family. Beers were around $1.25 and food was reasonable. It's nice to go to an attraction and not feel ripped off.
Because the park was using old army property, they offered rides on disused tanks. Weird!
We headed back to Prague. DD#2 and I were both extra tired and napped on the short drive back. Despite this, we rallied and took the tram to a new neighborhood in Prague that had a fun playground and restaurant. This was one of my favorite meals yet! It was relaxing to eat nice food outdoors while the kids could play happily on zip-lines and crazy climbing contraptions.
Goodnight from lovely Prague. Two more days to enjoy the city!

Posted by familyineurope 13:59 Comments (1)

Bayern Park & Prague

A little rain doesn't stop Oregonians from having fun!

Day Nine - Bayern Park
I forgot to mention how much fun it has been to be in a country with an amazing soccer team during the World Cup. It seems like all German people are excited. After Germany beat Brazil, the horns and racket in the streets went on and on! We were in a very small town so I'm sure the celebrations were even louder and bigger in larger cities.

We were all especially excited for a fun day at a smallish German amusement park. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't great but we didn't let it stop us from having a ball. There were no lines for any rides and we could continue riding the same ride over and over again without exiting. DD#1 is fearless and would have liked to go on every ride by herself. DD#2 is more cautious but warmed up to some of the more daring rides. The wet log ride was a favorite today. The park was nearly empty and felt like a ghost town. Most of the park employees were senior citizens who seemed friendly and patient. The girls went on a little roller coaster around 15 times without getting off! Sadly, the park closed two hours early due to the cruddy weather. We couldn't understand the announcement and didn't see the written explanation at the entrance. DD#1 and I were saving the best roller coaster for last and struck out when the park closed without warning. Darn it! It was such a low-key, inexpensive (relatively) park that I wouldn't be surprised if we return someday.
Notice how we are the ONLY ones on the ride. This was the norm for the day.
There were very few staff members or warnings before getting on a ride. These cool frog pendulums had zero staff around. Completely self-operated!
They even had an enormous rock climbing wall.
A few more pictures from our fun, rainy day:

Day 10 - Drive from Germany to Prague!

We tried to get up sort of early so we could make a couple of stops on the way to Prague. The weather was still cool and rainy. The big bummer about the rain is that luges and bobsleds are unable to run. The tracks must be dry so that the brakes can operate. Both the luge and bobsled track were closed at Bayern Park yesterday. We would encounter the same problem at Zilverberg mountain on the way to Prague today. Drat!

However, we were able to stop at an amazing glass blowing operation called Joska Glass. The forested area between Germany and the Czech Republic has been known for its glass for hundreds of years. The tradition goes back to having access to all the trees for burning hot fires required for making glass. Joska is unique because they allow kids to blow their own glass for 5 Euros - and they get to keep their creation! The girls were so proud of their beautiful creations. Now I wonder how we will get them home in one piece...
As always, another cool German playground:
We made our way into the Czech Republic and stopped at Karlstejn Castle. The drive was less than three hours but we were still ready to stretch our legs.
We stopped on the outskirts of town at a grocery store. We spent less than $30 on two bags of fun grocery items! We would finally have a kitchen in our new digs. After some serious old city driving, we made it to our apartment for the next 5 nights right near the famous Charles Bridge in Mala Strana. DH was happy to have a private courtyard to park the new wheels.
We found a neat basement restaurant with typical Czech food.
The rain had finally stopped so we took a quick stroll and decided to climb the tower on our end of the Charles Bridge. We were the only ones up there!
The girls couldn't resist a big smooch by all those love locks near the Charles Bridge. Cracked me up!

Posted by familyineurope 23:07 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (1)

More Munich, BMW Welt, & Bier Welt

Day Seven

We awoke to another big breakfast in our hotel before heading to the BMW Welt to check things out and get access to the VIP lounge. We will return to the Welt a couple more times before picking up our new car tomorrow.
We spent a little time in Munich's city center - the Marienplatz:
We climbed to the top of St. Peter's cathedral. Great views and a lovely church.
DH had to stop for some wurst. No shortage of meat products in Germany.
We used Munich's easy subways many times each day. Kind of fun!
After exploring downtown in the heat, the kids and I gave DH a break and went for a swim at one of Munich's outdoor public pools. Prinzegentenbad was a hit! There were very few people and we made great use of the waterslide. So fun! I left the camera back at the hotel room so here is a picture of the pool that I found online:
We skipped the biergartens tonight and opted for an easy Italian place close to the hotel.
I ditched the family and found an awesome jazz club that was having a Monday night jam. If you're ever in Munich, check out Vogler's Jazz Club. I thought it was everything a jazz club should be. Great crowd, amazing musicians, good prices, and friendly atmosphere. I heard three different pianists. Two of them were absolute monsters on the keys. Wow! I should have played a tune but chickened out. Oh well.

Day Eight - BMW Delivery!

After another wonderful hotel breakfast, we headed back to the BMW Welt to collect our new car!

We thoroughly enjoyed the free goodies in the BMW lounge. The kids liked playing in the play area.

After delivery, we drove a victory lap inside the welt before valet parking the car for a while. DH went on a factory tour while the rest of us checked out the BMW museum and the Junior Campus.

After we all had our separate BMW excursions, we set off for the Bier Welt in Abensburg - about an hour from Munich. It was raining and we encountered lots of construction but still a nice drive in our new car.

The tour at the Kuchlbauer Brewery was in German and was LONG. The kids were very patient - we all were! I was most interested in the unique tower and didn't care much for the schtick with beer dwarves. Oh well. I'm still glad we checked it out.
Beer - it's what the doctor ordered:
The art work was really interesting and colorful.
We drove another hour or so to the little town of Reisbach, our home for two nights. Another nice inn with a restaurant. I was a little excited to find Tabasco sauce to spice up the German food. It's delicious but needs a little heat! Tomorrow's big plan is to check out Bayern Amusement Park. I just hope it stops raining! Prost from Germany.

Posted by familyineurope 14:50 Comments (1)

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