My good intentions to blog frequently and wittily went to He!! in a handbasket. No internet for five days and an intense dose of family time served to undermine those goals. My working theory is that my brain gets overdosed with external energy and it really takes quite a bit of solitude and internal energy to write effectively. So now that I’m back to my more regular routine we’ll see if the groove picks up again.
Our last four days in Poland were quite lovely. Although we didn’t have the best of weather, our accommodations were great, near to tourist attractions and the main square as well as everyday shopping. The apartment was in a lovely neighborhood and although the building itself faced a busy street; the apartment faced a quiet courtyard and was large enough to accommodate our three generations. And had internet which I’ve discovered I’ve come to rely on for research and information as well as communications. We did typical “tourist” things that I almost never do while traveling: bus tours, attraction tours, souvenir shopping and the like. But this fit the parameters of traveling with two seniors so I went with it, understanding that I would very much like to return to the area someday with my sweetie.
I had been to Poland including two days in Krakow in the 1980’s when communism still held sway and the people had a grey and pinched look from so many years under suppressive rule. It was a very, very different world on this trip. Many people spoke very good English (although my parent’s Polish saved the day on several occasions). Shopping did not require cajoling the people behind the counter to serve you. There were even shopping centers in Krakow (we didn’t go) and a water park in Zakopane (we did go). The museum sights were well tended and curated – I heartily recommended the Galicia Jewish Museum in Krakow and the small but excellent main Tartra Museum in Zakopane. The pastries were excellent. And my mom and I enjoyed the brief snippet of culture we had at the Zakopane Folk Festival.
I did miss the freshly clotted cream that my aunt made on our first trip. Refrigeration and progress have taken over and I didn’t see fresh milk anywhere.
The trip cost was quite reasonable given that there were seven of us and we rented two cars for five days. This was due in part to the lower cost of travel in Poland but also because we kept things pretty low to the ground- we stayed in apartments or houses rather than hotels which in turn gave us the opportunity to eat in, including dinners. We had only two eat out occasions, both excellent. I can’t say our diet was varied – the kitchens were not that well equipped – but we did manage to eat pretty well.
I’ve done a fair amount of traveling (including multiple trips to India and Africa) and each time I travel there are lessons learned. The biggest lesson on this trip is one I probably could not do anything about…. we should have taken my parents on this trip at least three if not five years ago. If you’re planning to do a large expedition with people in their 80’s, I suggest you do it when they are in their 70’s or early 80’s at the latest. This past year + has brought significant mobility and other challenges to both my parents, making it much more difficult to get around on foot. Because of this, I had arranged for wheelchair service at the airport. Although my parents could have navigated these travel transitions themselves, it was so much easier to be a wheelchair for both of them as this was a very efficient way to get through the airports.
Related to traveling with oldsters, I suspected, and had confirmed, that one activity a day was usually all that they could handle. So my sisters and I would take off either before or after and do something that we wanted to do. This was a sanity saving strategy. I myself could have walked more and seen more but this trip wasn’t about me and it was important to keep that in mind.
As I get more and more immersed into my everyday life, I raise a shot of vodka to the trip – Na zdrowie Poland, til we meet again.
PS Linking up with spygirl’s theme for the week, “back to school” at http://spygirl-amb.blogspot.com/