Krynica – Hiking / Festiwal Biegowy


Apparently it was snowing in the Tatras this weekend so our plans to spend 4 days hiking were scuppered somewhat. Plunging temperatures to -1C and a total lack of suitable gear meant that alternative plans were needed. A few Skype calls with our friends and we chose a hotel in Krynica which happened to look quite lively with the Annual Krynica Economic Forum happening in town, followed by the Festiwal Biegowy.

After an early morning drive of around 6,5 hours, we checked in and hit the heart of Krynica…at this point still full of currency traders and government executives poncing around in suits. I can get away with saying this as I too ponce around in a suit 5 days a week. A quick walk round, a cup of coffee, a check on the book-in times for the organised runs and we went back to the hotel for a swim and a sauna. A hard day so far.

The next day, we rose fairly early, had a good breakfast in the hotel, packed our backpacks and headed up the Jaworzyna-Krynicka cable car to the top of the mountain to start our hike. We chose a circular route of about 15km which provided a few impressive views but nothing too strenuous with regards hiking. A surprising number of people on the trail and a few mountain bikes…a plan for next year perhaps.20150911_142938_HDR

Once we returned after the hike, Lukasz and I drove into town to book us into a coupe of runs. We chose the 22:30pm 5k for myself, Lucy and Lukasz, and the 10k the following morning for all of us. I had not run for a few weeks, Malgosia had a bad knee and Lukasz was more into cycling…it was going to be interesting. Still, we are fit people and intend to stay fit!


A fresh looking threesome before the 5k

The 5k involved quite a climb in Krynica for about 1 km before pulling a u-ey at the top and dropping back down again. For people who train in the unending flatness of Warsaw, the ‘hilly bits’ proved challenging. Knees, thighs and ankles are not used to this – time to move nearer the mountains? Still, the atmosphere was good, running in the dark through the town centre was fun and everybody was in good spirits. No PBs achieved, but that’s not what it’s all about!

The next morning…


…all smiles and keen to go. A little stiff, but nothing a good run couldn’t cure! The route started in Krynica and ran down the main road to Muszyna, a formal distance of 10k, although we were cheated a little with the double start line. We all thought the clock had started and ran for over a km, before passing the actual start line where our tags were activated. By which time, I suppose we were well and truly warmed up! Some complaints as most people were prepared for a 10k run, not an 11k run. Nevermind, the route was mainly downhill, so gravity helped push us through the last km.

Lucy and I ran together as we had been running the most, Lukasz followed and Malgosia brought up the rear, taking her time and protecting her knee. The R’s came in around 57 minutes, Mr L crossed the line at 1:03 and Miss M at a very impressive 1:16, hobbling and full of emotion as she crossed the line. Running a 10k after a knee operation 9 months ago was not bad. The happy-to-be-alive and slightly sweaty over-the-line shot…


Finished by 13:00, back to the hotel and into the pool for a cool down and muscle relaxation sesh in the sauna. We may not have been hiking in the mountains, but it was still a pretty active weekend, finished off by a trip to the Krynica Zdroj well and some water-tasting. The sulphuric smell and strong minerals putting everyone off buying any more than the small taster cup provided! Pretty horrible stuff but probably healthy.

All in all a great weekend and my favourite way of spending time away…a little exercise, offset with time to relax and forget about work. Plus a few medals as mementos…


Rock climbing in Jura


Our latest family hobby recently took us south to Jura Krakowsko-Częstochowska, the ‘climbing mecca’ of Poland. A line of limestone rocks stretching between Częstochowa and Kraków ensures there is climbing for all skill levels. Just as well really as this was our first time on the rocks and outside of the Warszawianka indoor climbing wall.


Our instructor, Stefan, has been climbing most of his life and lives for the passion and competition that climbing attracts. The idea of this weekend was to show us how to secure ourselves with the ropes, tie the right knots and introduce us to the pleasures of outdoor climbing. So far my experience on the indoor wall has been an unnerving mixture of enochlophobia, a belief that I am too old to start climbing at 38 and hours of sweaty anxiety hanging off the grips with arms shaking as people shout instructions at me in a language I don’t altogether understand. Needless to say, my wife ‘gently persuaded’ me to go away this weekend!


But here’s me on the wall. Relaxed, precariously balanced…and strangely enjoying myself. It turns out that climbing amongst competitive, sweaty, corporate animals after work indoors is not the same as this! Space, fresh air, cool rock, no people, plenty of grips and great views make it a very different climbing experience. One that I soon learned to enjoy. Plus, the only person shouting at me was my instructor (in English) and my wife. We climbed ‘z dołem’ which meant we carried quickdraws on our harnesses and clipped into the metal loops drilled into the rock, followed by our rope. The second person belayed at the bottom, feeding the rope as needed, but always keeping it locked into their harness in case of a fall.


Stefan took us onto several rock formations, slowly moving up the difficulty levels until we were sufficiently tired and struggling to reach the top. The difficulty of a route can be graded a certain level due to a number of reasons. It might be the first few metres which are difficult, or a tricky overhang to tackle. Small handgrips or awkward feet positioning also affect the grade. Interestingly, Lucy and I found that we encountered different problems on the same route. A part that she found easy, I spent ridiculous amounts of energy trying to tackle, and my longer reach meant that I passed other sections quicker.


The other main difference was the vista. On an indoor climbing wall, you soon acclimatise to the height and size of the room. On a rock, 15 metres up, with a little wind and when the ground drops away at the base of the rock, the sensation of space is increased significantly. In a good way for me. I particularly enjoyed this part of the climbing.


The only downside was that my shoes are too large and I think, the wrong shape for my feet. Both of my big toes ended up black and bruised which was quite painful by the end of the weekend. Still, I managed all the routes and although struggled at the end of each day, felt a sense of accomplishment.


The outcome of the weekend was that I now see why I climb indoors. The wall at Warszawianka seems to be much more difficult and stressful to climb, but I had already learnt enough technique over a few months to enjoy scaling the rocks in Jura. Although not tricky routes, the enjoyment factor was definately present and I realised that I have nothing to prove to anyone. I enjoy running, cycling and varying my fitness too much for climbing to take over my life like many people, but if I can learn enough to be able to enjoy an adventure weekend away with Lucy in stunning surroundings, it’s worth a little anxiety now and again indoors!


A trip down the Wisła

Warsaw as a capital city has many attractions for its visitors and inhabitants, but it’s river is not known to be one of them. The River Wisła is the largest in Poland and runs for 651 miles from the Western Carpathians in the south to the Baltic Sea in the north, in effect dividing the country in half and running through 11 large cities on its route. Being such a large part of the Polish countryside, you would have thought it would have been utilised to good effect. To date, there are very few places on the side of the river where people can socially congregate or drink beer next to the swirling waters.

A few days ago, I had the opportunity to take a boat trip down the river in honour of the opening of a new office building called ‘The Tides’ currently being constructed on the western bank close to the Poniatowskiego Bridge. Following a few cocktails on a barge, we hopped onto a tourist motorboat and headed south towards the site from near Gdanski Bridge in the north. As the light fell, we had time to admire the lights of Warsaw and especially the bridges. The first point of interest was the President’s Palace.


The river is quite fast flowing and the trip ‘up’ the river took just over 1.5 hours, but gave us plenty of time to take photographs. For these, I used my recently purchased Canon 7D Mark II. The high ISO settings allows excellent picture quality in low light and hand held – even on a boat. Below: Gdański Bridge to the north.



Irrespective of the strong undercurrents and swirling waters, the feeling and sound of gently chugging up the river was a very enjoyable sensation. The next photo op was the Świętokrzyski Bridge – probably the most recognised of all the bridges in Warsaw.


As we neared the site, we motored past the Poniatowskiego Bridge and the National Stadium on the east bank. The red and white lights can be programmed to flash in certain sequences and easily recognisable as a landmark.


Finally we arrived at the site to the deafening sound of the boat’s speaker system playing dramatic music and a huge fireworks display set off from the site – much to the surprise of those quiet bystanders sitting on the side of the river enjoying the peace and quiet! The return journey took around 20 minutes which left just enough time for cake and another glass of champagne.


Chopok, Slovakia


For the past few years I have been coming to Chopok in Slovakia for a boys’ snowboarding weekend in March, but this year we had the chance to come as a family via a slight discount through the boy’s karate club. We are staying for a week at the Hotel Repiska, a short drive from the Lúčky lift – the first of three as you drive up the mountain. The hotel is mediocre, the food could be better (no fresh juice in the morning, pretty awful quality meat and the same food every day with little change day-to-day), but the location is impressive. Situated high on the hillside with a snowy drive through the forests to reach it, we have impressive views first thing in the morning. Compared to the Grand Jasna Hotel where I will be staying in March, the cost is half which makes a difference for a family of four. But the pool is very nice and the sauna (although extra at EUR 5 per person per session!) is a welcome facility after a long day on the slopes.


A room with a view

The bottom ski lift at Lúčky is great for beginners. The first lift is a new chairlift which takes you to the top of one of the best blue slopes on the mountain. The piste is wide and long; perfect for all levels. Over the past few days we have seen the boys’ confidence build with their instructor to the point where we are struggling to keep up with them. Benji has no fear and the biggest problem is speed control – nothing new here then. Yesterday they hit their first red slope. Lucy and I left them at the top and after a quick toilet stop and a drink at the bottom, we headed slightly uphill to wait for them thinking they would be making slow process. As it happened, they had sped past us at some point and jumped back on the lift to the top of the blue slope – so much faster than we thought. As I said – no speed control!

Some photos from the last few days, all taken on my LG G3 phone. The shutter has voice control which has caused much amusement with the boys. Standing on the slope shouting ‘whisky!’ at the camera has attracted some strange looks!


Snaking after their instructor, Leszek, down the mountain.


Group photo!


Mamusia leading the way…


The enjoyable blue slope to the bottom of the lift


Sunshine at the top after 3 days of skiing under cloud….

2014 travel summary

When we look back, 2014 was a busy year for us with an unusual amount of travel in and out of Poland. Since we bought the house in 2010, we have realised that the garden and work needed to maintain the ‘grounds’ has kept us occupied most weekends and we have stayed at home, rather than made the effort to see new places. Comfort can be a disadvantage and adventure only begins once you leave your front door.

First trip of the year was Thailand with some friends. A once in a lifetime trip without the children – adults only so that we could spend some serious time hiking in the jungle etc. The almost 3 weeks was packed with travel from one place to another. A stunning country and culture and spending NYE in Chiang Mai was breathtaking. Some highlights:

19. IMG_0057

King Prawns cooked on the side of the street in Bangkok. Delicious…

289A. IMG_1343

Tuk Tuk – the quickest and most thrilling way to travel around Bangkok. Not the most healthy though!

89. IMG_0334

Releasing Chinese Lanterns into the sky in Chiang Mai on NYE. Thousands filled the air above the city – an amazing and unique sight.

103. IMG_0501

Prepared for our 3-day hike in the jungles above Chiang Mai. Giant spiders, waterfalls, snakes and endless jungle vistas – we saw them all.

131. IMG_0715

Early morning village wildlife in the jungle.

117B. IMG_0595

Our jungle cook smoking Banana Tobacco – readily available here. The ‘Rat Stew’ he prepared was not as popular as he thought it would be…


Beautiful sandy beaches, beach barbecues, coral reef snorkelling, fresh seafood and hikes in the hills – a mix of everything on Kao Tao.


These are a selection of many photos taken. We took cookery classes, hired mopeds in the mountains, hiked in the jungle and spent a few days snorkelling watching colourful parrot fish, small octopus and and long, strange pipefish. A truly remarkable place with friendly people, unfortunately scarred by the tragic events last year on the party beaches of Kao Tao. We stayed away from the half-moon parties and kept to the quieter parts of the island. The heat was wonderful and a perfect way to break up the Polish winter.

A few months later in April, we drove to the south of France to meet my family for a few weeks at the house. A time for construction and teamwork in the rain, rather than relaxation and warmth! We did get a few days sunshine – this is one of my favourite photos, Lucy sunbathing in the south of France in her wellies!


Other than this, it was all hands to work building walls…




A long term project to say the least! But spending time down there in the quiet French countryside is always fun. The fresh baguettes, local wine and variety of cheeses an added benefit…

In the summer, we headed to England for two weeks which was well documented here. More quality time with the kids hiking in the Yorkshire hills. The weather was perfect and the crisp air of the British countryside is hard to beat. An ideal opportunity for the kids to speak English to everyone around them – it’s surprising how much they can when they choose to!


And of course a few weekends away in Poland – the first to the Beskidy Hills to spend a couple of days walking. The old fashion method of harvesting can still be seen here with the hay forked onto wooden spindles and left to dry. None of the huge bailing machines to be seen. The fields aren’t big enough to justify the expense and the farmers just don’t have the money. All done by the family, by hand.



“The path is here somewhere, I know it!”

The second was our weekend to Babia Góra National Park with a group of friends. More hiking in the hills with an overnight stop in a shelter on the mountainside. An evening of singing with a guitar and playing board games with the kids. Very enjoyable even though we didn’t make it to the summit. Just as well as those that did told us that it was zero visibility and snow everywhere, even in September.

Hike 4

Hike 3

The aim is to keep the boys interested in seeing new places and spending time with good friends. Sitting at home, the computer or the telly beckons and the kids zombie out for more than a few hours. Not good for them and they are learning zilch. I’m not sure 2015 will have the same variety, but I think it will be as interesting as there are several places in Poland on the must-see list. Some we have visited sometime ago and would like to revisit, Białowieża National Park for instance.

I also need more excuses to get my camera out and shoot something new which is getting harder the more places we visit. My wife knows Poland so it is her challenge for this year. I hear a few days around Pilsko in the Beskidy Hills plus a a week around the Tatras is already being planned…

The Essence of France


Deep in the heart of the Dordogne region of France is a little stone cottage with an inconspicuous wooden door facing the busy N21 between Bergerac and Perigueux. Small, indiscreet signage labels this hut as the ‘Chateau La Vieille Bergerie’. When open for business, the proprietor, a genial, English-speaking Frenchman is clearly proud to show you his small, well stocked storeroom hidden in the rocky hillside housing several large casks of aging wines.

Only 75,000 bottles are produced here per year and sold in 4 varieties: a Bergerac Dry, a Rosé Bergerac, a Red Bergerac and a Monbazillac. Having spent time picking grapes in Californian vineyards, the owner understands the care needed and the intricacies of picking the fruit at the right time of year to produce a specific wine. His passion is clear in the description of each glass of wine held up to the light.

We are not connoisseurs, but enjoy a glass of red now and then with our meal once the kids are in bed. Perhaps because we took the ‘taste test’ and know a little about this region, this is one of our favourite wines. We bought a couple of crates and hauled them across land back to Warsaw in the packed boot of our car, which perhaps adds to the enjoyment of every sip. The quality evident in the absence of any heady aromas and clear, smooth texture.

We are both fans of wine from the Rioja region of northern Spain, and have toured the Marlborough vineyard in New Zealand, but the wine from Chateau La Vielle is still by far the best….especially enjoyed with some local ‘Confit de Canard’.

This was our last bottle and we enjoyed every moment of it.


Happy New Year!

Yes, the new year is upon us. Tomorrow we in Poland return to the office to face the grind for another 12 months again – hitting targets and keeping the bosses happy with long hours. But let’s not dwell on that!

After a lethargic 2 weeks off work, I am now relaxed and have started to prepare myself for some changes. Sitting around over the Christmas period has caused sciatica to flare up due to my lack of exercise. A few stretches, long walks and a run yesterday in the frosty air, and it’s feeling better already. A lesson in the discomforts caused by inactivity and laziness! The richness of the food over Christmas has also made us both feel heavy, bloated and keen to return to our lighter diet. As much as I enjoyed the pork pie, roast turkey and copious mince pies, my digestive system felt the effects. Lucy managed to control her urges to gorge (but made up for it by scoffing Terry’s Chocolate Oranges and handfuls of ‘Celebrations’!) and did more running than me in England – her ability to get out of bed when she wakes up helps. I caught up with my rest and helped my Dad do a few DIY jobs on the house. Electric and gas is a useful addition when the house is full of people…

So once we returned from our trip to the UK as well as our little NYE excursion to Wisła skiing….



…and Alex had recovered from the traditionally bad mountain music and I had recovered from my 24-hour bout of food poisoning, we headed back into our little routine at home.

We have both agreed that we feel better when mainly vegetarian with a little meat in our diets, excluding fish. This will be our focus for the foreseeable future and the challenge for me will be managing lunches at work. I eat out too often and the food I eat depends on where I go – Polish cuisine is not known for its meatless menu options! Forethought, planning and preparation are key and taking food to work is always my preference anyway. The ingredients are known, it’s usually home-cooked and it’s something I enjoy eating. Challenge no. 1 for 2015.

Challenge no. 2 will be exercising in the week. Leaving the house for the office at around 7am and returning between 7pm and 8pm is not conducive to healthy living. Working at a desk and sitting in the car for 2 hours a day means I definately need to move more. Before Christmas I tried taking my running gear to work and getting changed in the underground car park after work. This actually proved a good idea and I enjoyed my run around Saski Park and back to the office before getting in the car and driving home – after rush hour had finished. Logical all round really. If I can combine this with a few nights at the gym around the corner, I may start to achieve something. Sounds easy, but any change in routine is hard. The upside is that any frustration felt after work will be burned away on the footpath – the downside is that running in the city means poor air quality, noise, bright lights and people on the pavement to avoid.

Finally, I need to pursue my hobbies more outside work hours. I have neglected my piano, photography and Polish lessons due to the pressures of work and this is not how I want to go on. More travel in Poland and hiking at weekends with the family will encourage my photography, my Polish lessons need to be at lunchtime, rather than at 8am when I am sometimes late and the iPad needs to be ignored in the evenings so I sit down at the piano more often. I sometimes consider myself to be a little less interesting than others, but with all these hobbies to pursue (plus blogging), I am far too busy to follow the football!!

Oh, and Lucy and I have officially decided to run our own cooking blog to help keep a record of our adventures in the kitchen. We both enjoy cooking interesting and varied dishes so this should be fun for both of us. Challenge no. …?…

Yesterday evening we made this…..

burrito 1

…healthy Adzuki Bean and Spinach Burritos – full of goodness and energy. The only part that Alex didn’t eat was the actual flour tortilla! Go figure.

The first early morning tomorrow in 2 weeks for all of us. From last year’s experience, the secret to lasting the Polish winter is to stay fit, get fresh air and eat a healthy diet. Without this, depression and stress set in. A healthy body and mind and the body’s immune system suppresses most winter illnesses and positive spirit remains high.

So that is the plan. No promises, no major quick changes at this point. Just a will to make a few small adjustments.

Warsaw’s Brooklyn Burger Joint


Warsaw is developing and new food joints are opening all the time. A recent article in the Warsaw Insider identified the best 5 burgers bars in town so we thought we would try one out yesterday evening after our walk in Łazienki Park. We tried the top 4 on the list, but they were all inaccessible thanks to the annual Independence Day riots around Marszałkowska, so we ended up at No. 5 – the Brooklyn Burger & Wings run by an American called Alan Bohinski. We chose the the sit-in restaurant on Jana Pawła, not the better known bar on Nowy Swiat. A true American burger experience according to the internet reviews.

Lucy has been wearing a brace in her mouth for the last 18 months and only recently had it removed. I have been promising her a burger or a good steak for a while, so this was the ideal opportunity. The family opinion was very positive – the meat was good quality and succulent (no dryness like the ones at Hard Rock Cafe or TGI Fridays) and the sauces homemade.


Benji and Alex both had the standard ‘Cheeseburger’, Lucy had the ‘Bacon Blues’ and I chose the ‘Brooklyn BBQ’. Coleslaw came on the side, but chips were extra – a fact that the waiter failed to mention! Still, with a side dish of onion rings, there was plenty to go round. So far, this is the best burger we have eaten in Warsaw and we will be happy to return. Although we are mostly vegetarian at home, a good burger is an occasional treat for us. And the kids won’t grow big and strong on salad alone!

We have usually frequented the big chains such as HRC, mainly due to their location and the convenience of ‘dropping in’, but this proves that the best eateries are never in the most populated areas of Warsaw. The kids are not usually fans of fast food, but they both devoured their adult-sized burgers in full. The quality of the meat was clear and they actually cooked it how it was requested. My medium-rare was actually pink in the middle. At HRC, it’s black. Highly recommended and 4 more burger joints to check out…


(All photos taken on my new LG G3 smartphone – the first private phone I have owned in 8 years! The 13 megapixel camera is impressive!).

Salmon & Sweet Potato Curry


Dark, damp afternoons call for warm, hearty dinners. This is a recipe I found in Runner’s World a few months back and we have prepared it many times since. It incorporates earthy vegetables and salmon cooked slowly in coconut milk and tomato paste, mixed with the spicyness of curry powder, ginger, cumin and chilli to provide a healthy boost to the immune system. I can never find the recipe when we need it, so I’m going to place it somewhere I can find it easily!


  • ½ kg of fresh salmon
  • 3 sweet potatoes
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 small onions
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 tin of green peas
  • a small cube of fresh sliced ginger
  • 1  jar of coconut milk (400g)
  • a carton of tomato paste (400g)
  • 2 tsp of cumin
  • 2 tsp of curry powder
  • 1 tsp of chilli powder


Method: lightly fry the sliced onions and garlic in a large pan on oil. Once soft, add the cumin, curry powder and chilli and stir well. Add the coconut milk and tomato puree and mix, before adding the diced sweet potato, sliced carrots, ginger and sliced bell pepper. Leave to simmer until the potato softens and add the salmon and peas. Mix and leave to cook for a 5 – 10 minutes before serving.

The boys love this and it’s relatively quick to make. The ingredients are veggy based and given the poor health of the family at the moment, it was much needed. Runner’s World recommend this as a stress buster as it contains omega-3s and add to this the fact that it also tastes good, we will be eating it regularly through the winter.


Independence Day in Łazienki Park


Today is Independence Day in Poland (Dzień Niepodległości) which is celebrated on the 11th November and a national ‘non-working’ day. This year being on a Tuesday, most people have taken a long weekend. We needed to get out of the house after spending the last few days indoors, mainly due to the Benji having a nasty cough and myself and Alex having autumn colds. Fresh air was a good idea so a trip to Łazienki Park was agreed. Above: even Chopin took part in the celebrations.

First stop was a visit to the park’s residents. Over-fed red squirrels scampered amongst the damp leaves under the trees and small birds flitted around the bushes hunting for morsels dropped by visitors. Some got lucky…


Others lurked in the park’s rivers, snatching bread crumbs from around the ducks. Some of these carp must be very old and over ½ metre long.


And for the first time, we saw a deer in the park. We have visited so many times and have never seen it before. Doing a quick search on the internet it seems there is actually only one that lives here, but how it manages to stay in the park without wandering out onto the surrounding main roads is a mystery. Still, it looked quite content and was happy to pose for the camera. A healthy looking little chap too – no lack of food here.


Outside the park on Al. Ujazdowskie, the parade was approaching from the Pl. Piłsudskiego direction. Good timing on our part to see how Polish military uniforms had changed through the ages. The front of the parade was led by this rather nicely restored 1918 Renault FT tank – a French light tank that was used during WW1 and the first production tank to have a fully rotating turret – revolutionary in its design.


Following close behind were rows of military personnel wearing various garments from through the ages. Unfortunately my history of Poland is not good enough to identify the exact part of history that each of these originate from. Below: we estimate the troop here are from somewhere around the 17th century at the time of Jan III Sobieski.


Below: uniforms from the early 19th century around the time of the Napoleonic Wars.



Above: Marshal Józef Piłsudski himself travelling in a 1934 Cadillac 355D Series 30 Fleetwood 7 (the part played by the Polish actor, Daniel Olbrychski, who merrily waved to the crowd as he passed). The recently restored car was unveiled by President Komorowski a few days ago as the one owned by Piłsudski that arrived in Poland from the US a few months before Piłsudski’s death. The ‘leather jacket set’ walking behind were either protecting Olbrychski or the car, we were not sure. The 11th November is celebrated as the date that Piłsudski assumed control of Poland in 1918, creating the Second Polish Republic.

Below: partisans (partyzanci Armii Krajowej) from the Second World War.


Below: back to modern day. Each of the forces were represented – below the Polish Air Force.


Given that these were supposed to be celebrations, everyone looked very miserable. There was one small section dedicated to a band, but other than that everyone marched past very quietly, without any smiles or any level of atmosphere from either the crowd side or the parade. Olbrychski’s smile from his car was the only sign of enjoyment from the event. Not entirely true actually, the chap in the tank also looked like he was having fun. Seriously though. When will Polish people stop taking this type of event so seriously and actually ‘celebrate’. The crowd watched in silence as everyone walked past – it felt like a funeral march! Even the tents distributing free tea and ‘Grochowka’ wouldn’t give the kids any until the march was over. If this was anywhere else in Europe, there would have been more music and more parade inclusions. The tank and the car were it. Other than this guy on his bicycle…who may just have been lost!



Above: the parade ended at the monument of Piłsudski at the Belvedere gate. According to the itinerary for the day, Komorowski and Kopacz were supposed to deliver a speech here around 3pm, but there was no sign of them and the security were still milling around with no sense of urgency. The kids were bored, so we headed back into the park and back to the car. The TV reporters were set up and ready for filming, but we cannot find any reports that the speeches happened. A long and boring wait for these guys if they didn’t.

The ‘other’ Independence Day march kicked off around 4pm and headed towards the Stadium on the other side of the river. As usual, it turned into a face-off between the police and a group of far-right hooligans tearing up paving bricks from the roadside and hurling them at the police line. By 6pm, over 160 people had been hauled away to think it over in the ‘drink tank’ and probably charged. Horses, water hoses and shields were all used in the fray as means of crowd control. It seems the last march made the headlines, but then after watching the official military march, I can understand why.

It’s good to remember and celebrate history, but why do Poles always seem to do it in such a sombre fashion? A quick look at the 4th July celebrations in the US and it’s described as ‘commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games and family reunions’.

Must try harder Poland!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 37 other followers