Polish Travels

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So, it’s been a while again and a lot has happened! In mid-June Adam and I were finally able to get away from the constant noise and dust of our downstairs neighbors renovation project and off we went to Poland, but not before getting engaged on June 14th! I had sort of been expecting him to pop the question for a while, but he still managed to surprise me and the proposal was so simple and perfect and romantic and so completely US! As many of you know, planning has been going full steam ahead and most of the big things are already dealt with. THANK YOU to everyone for your good wishes, encouragement and help so far, we love you all dearly and feel very fortunate to have all you in our lives 🙂

Now, on to Poland! We were very busy during our trip since Adam wanted me to see as much of his country as possible. We changed cities six times in two and a half weeks, beginning with Warsaw. We then traveled to Adam’s mother’s home town for a two-day visit with his family there before going to Czestochowa, Krakow, Zakopane and back to Krakow. My favorite place to visit was definitely Krakow. I love the architecture and laid back, small town feel of the city and also the fact that the entire historic center of it is pedestrian. A major highlight of Adam and I’s time there was being able to spend a few minutes alone in a room with Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘Lady with an Ermine’, which is temporarily on display at the Wawel Palace while the Czartorinsky museum where it is normally exhibited is renovated. Pretty much every single person in Poland has seen Lady with an Ermine because it is a point of pride for Poles that they have one of the only completed Da Vincis in the world outside of the Louvre Museum in Paris. Since most Poles have already seen the painting and the country is not nearly as overrun by tourists as France is, it is incredibly easy to spend time alone with the painting if you’re willing to wait in the room a little while until it empties out. What a treat! Another must-see in the Krakow area is the Wieliczka salt mine. They have tours in several different languages, including French and English, but be prepared to go down a ton of stairs at the beginning of the tour and to walk a lot. One of the most impressive things you will see during your tour of the mine is its chapel which, as with everything else in the mine, is carved directly into the salt bed.

Another treat during our trip was our lovely, long hike in the mountains in Zakopane, barring a rather traumatizing episode when we ended up in a rather more challenging area than we should have been. Heed this warning: If you go hiking in the mountains in Zakopane, do not rely on the tourist maps, difficulty levels of the trails are not indicated and the locals have a rather distorted view of what is difficult and what is not since they have grown up in the area and are very proficient hikers and rock climbers. Czestochowa is beautiful as well and I absolutely loved visiting the Jasna Gora sanctuary.

As for the food, it is generally excellent and authentic. Do not go to Poland expecting to have an easy time finding sushi and Italian food, you will be grievously disappointed. Enjoy the Polish food, it is hearty, made with local ingredients and not full of all the nasty funk we have in processed foods almost everywhere else nowadays. You will wait for a while for your food anywhere other than in a milk bar (Polish fast food restaurant) and that is a very good thing because guess what? You’re getting fresh stuff made just for you! I was only disappointed by my food twice and both times we ate in a flashy tourist trap because we were starving and it was what was easiest to do. It can happen to the best of us, so just steer clear of tourist traps that seem to be full of Americans and you will be fine 🙂

The only downside to this trip was the language barrier. I have a basic knowledge of the Polish language and I still ended up feeling homesick about 3/4 of the way through the trip because I just could not process what was being said around me most of the time. Polish is a very difficult language to master (this coming from a girl who is completely french/english bilingual and has studied and done not too badly in three other languages) and even when you do okay in a basic situation, like being able to ask for the washroom or a tram line, you will end up being completely befuddled when trying to comprehend what people are talking about around you because there are so many different tenses and gender variations depending on just about everything under the sun, like whether you are referring to a table, a table with something on it, a table with something under it, or dancing on a table at your grandparents 70th wedding anniversary. I kid you not. I’m not saying communicating in English is an issue in Poland, everyone who works with the public in any capacity speaks very good English, but it is definitely a good idea to have some basics of the Polish language under your belt before travelling there, or make sure you have a very good Polish/English dictionary in the back of your travel book just in case.

All in all, I highly recommend a visit to Poland, it is a beautiful and authentic country, with plenty to offer and that is not, as with so many other European destinations, completely overrun by foreign tourists. It is also wonderful for travelers on a budget, because the country has kept its own currency, the Zloty, which is much friendlier for Canadian travellers since you can typically get about three Zlotys for every Canadian Dollar. Your biggest expense will be your plane ticket there, but once that is paid for, you will be stunned by how little you will spend on food, attractions, accommodation and shopping. Enjoy!

Two days in Québec

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So, you have undoubtedly noticed that I have been away for a while. We have some new downstairs neighbors and it has been a bumpy ride since they took possession of the lower half of the duplex in mid-March and began demolishing it in order to renovate it. A bumpy ride as in beyond the usual irritating consequences of a nearly hundred year-old house being gutted to the studs and rebuilt. We were expecting noise, dust and a few issues being discovered with our home as well, but on top of that we got work being done on common elements of the building without our permission, legal threats, express instructions that  only electricians cut wires being ignored and therefore power to sections of our home being cut, our alarm system being damaged and our phone line being cut. We were also treated to personal accusations and insults being thrown our way through the hypocritical medium of e-mail which led me to put my foot down and cut all ties with the neighbors except for requests for bills being paid or permission being requested for work to be done on common elements.With all this going on, to say that I have been lacking inspiration to create anything at all would be an understatement. I have actually been lacking the time and energy to get anything done beyond dealing with the mess being created by the new neighbors at all. The one thing that has been able to give me a reprieve from the confused heap our life has recently become was a two day trip to Quebec City we ran off on at the drop of a hat two weeks ago so Adam could attend a conference. It gave me a chance to spend some time wandering around one of the most photogenic cities I have ever seen, reconnect with my mother’s family history and disconnect from anything neighbor related. Oh, and Adam and I got to have a nice, romantic dinner in one of our favorite restaurants as well. We discovered it on our last trip to Quebec City two years ago and were so happy to be able to go back.

Quebec City is a beautiful little jewel of a place filled with colorful row houses and its oldest section is surrounded by the only intact fortified walls to be found in America north of Mexico which were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. The city is one of the oldest in North America and was founded by Samuel de Champlain in 1608. While all of this makes the city exceptional in and of itself, it is the history of my family that always makes me happy to go back and visit it. My mother’s family has its roots in Quebec City and can be traced back to the 17th century in the area, so needless to say I always feel at home when I am there and love remembering all the stories my grandmother has told me about growing up in Quebec City. I love walking through Quebec’s narrow streets and feeling my family’s past around me. This was the first time I really had the time to photograph the city as well and my goodness did I enjoy every second of those two days.

Finally, I’ve decided to post only in English from now on to make life simpler for myself on here. One language to post in means it takes me half the time to get a post up which is a good thing. All the photos featured in the slideshow in this post will be added to the travel photography page, so if you want to get a close look at them, you can pop over there.

 

New York…much more than just a city!/New York…bien plus qu’une simple ville!

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The Empire State Building seen from the High Line/L’Empire State Building vue de la High Line

As I mentioned in my introduction to my travel photography page, New York City holds a very special place in my heart since it was the city I traveled to on my very first trip away from home without my family. That first trip took place when I was in high school and I have since been back to the City That Never Sleeps twice, once in the Spring of 2002 and again in the Spring of 2014 with my Darling. My experience of New York has been completely different on each of my visits. My first impression of New York was that it was an overwhelmingly crowded, loud, busy and exciting city that was bursting with confidence after rising out of some very troubled time during the eighties. On my second visit to the Big Apple, there was a very hushed, wounded feel to it and its people since I was there just months after the September 11th attacks. New York was still struggling to get back to normal and traces of the attack were still clearly visible. Of all the sides of New York I have seen, however, my favorite one is the one I saw during my most recent visit there in Spring two years ago. The city was vibrant, clean and oh, so resilient. I smiled through the entire five days we were there because I was so happy to see the city I loved not only back to the way I had first known it, but better.

This post is not only about New York City though! So many people forget that there is much more to New York State than one city. New York also has some extremely beautiful countryside on offer and one of the best places to enjoy it, aside from the Adirondack State Park, is the nearby town of Lake Placid which sits right by the beautiful Mirror Lake. My aunt and uncle have been going there for years and not long ago, my brother and sister in-law got in on the fun and relaxation, so My Darling and I decided we had better give it a try as well and oh, my word…What a treat! We stayed at the pampering hub of Lake Placid, the beautiful Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa, which features incredible food, a perfect view on Mirror Lake and Whiteface Mountain and we also had a wonderfully bubbly little brook right outside our room. Relaxation at its best!

You can find some more photos from my time in New York City and Lake Placid in the travel section and a few photos from Lake Placid are also on Déco Photo Plus.


 

Comme je vous l’ai déjà mentionné, la ville de New York m’est très chère puisqu’elle a été ma première destination de voyage ‘en solo’ en quelque sorte, donc à l’extérieur d’un cadre familial. J’y a ai voyagé pour la première fois au secondaire et depuis, j’y suis retourné à deux reprises, en 2002 et avec mon conjoint en 2014. J’ai eu la chance, lors de ces voyages, d’observer plusieurs facettes de New York allant d’une première impression d’un ville énorme, bondée, bruyante et excitante à une ville blessée et tentant tant bien que mal de se relever des attentats du 11 septembre 2001. Je n’ai jamais autant appréciée New York que lors de ma dernière visite par contre. Après une absence de plus de dix ans, j’y suis retournée pour trouver une ville qui vivait une renaissance incroyable. La Grosse Pomme était résiliante, propre, vivante et sereine comme je ne l’avais jamais connue. J’ai sourit tout le long de notre visite cinq jours tellement j’étais heureuse de retrouver la ville non seulement comme je l’avais vue lors de ma première visite quand j’en étais tombée amoureuse, mais encore plus splendide.

Je veux pas seulement vous parler de la la ville de New York aujourd’hui par contre, mais de l’état de New York aussi, car il est tellement facile d’oublier que ce coin des États-Unis abrite bien plus que l’une des villes les plus célèbres au monde! Non, l’État de New York compte aussi de merveilleux paysages et de charmants villages dont la petite ville de Lake Placid qui est juste à côté du superbe parc des Adirondacks. Ma tante et mon oncle visitent ce coin du New York depuis des années et l’ont fait découvrir à mon frère et ma belle-soeur. Ils en chantaient tous tellement les éloges que mon Chéri et moi avons décidé de nous y rendre à notre tour et oh, que de plaisirs! Le Village de Lake Placid est charmant en soit, mais la route pour s’y rendre à partir de Montréal est tout aussi agréable puis la cerise sur le Sundae de notre séjour: le sublime Mirror Lake Inn! La nourriture dans ses restaurants est délectable, la vue sur Mirror Lake et le mont Whiteface est sublime et les chambres sont incroyablements douillets. Nous avions même un charmant petit ruisseau juste à l’extérieur de notre chambre! C’est vraiment le coin idéal pour une scéance de dorlottage et de relaxation!

Vous pouvez voir quelques photos de mon dernier voyage à New York et de notre petit séjour à Lake Placid dans la section voyage et il y a aussi quelques photos de Lake Placid dans mon Portfolio chez Déco Photo Plus.

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Mirror Lake Inn, Lake Placid, NY

Travel Photography-Photos de voyage

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My late father’s stuffed dog, Mr. Puppy, on a dirt road in PEI, Canada- Mr. Puppy, le chien en peluche de mon père, décédé en 2013, sur une route de terre rouge de l’Île-Du-Prince-Édouard

I have not always been an avid traveler. I was never actually that big on it until the first time I went to New York City with a school trip in grade nine and had the time of my life, but the travel bug really bit me when I took my first huge leap across the Atlantic at the age of 25 and went all the way to Italy by myself. I cried like a baby on my way to the airport I was so terrified and my mom cried (and did her best to hide it) on the the front doorstep of our house as she waved off my taxi cab (sorry mom, but yes, you did!). I had never been any further than California before and had never traveled outside of a structured family or group setting, so my nerves were warranted. I had been dreaming of going to Europe ever since I was a child and everything I saw and experienced on my Italian adventure far exceeded my expectations. Since then, I have tried my best to go someplace I have never been before at least once a year and oh, how enriching it has been! In order to share my love of traveling with all of you, I have created a travel photography page which I hope you will enjoy. For now, there are photos from my three most recent trips to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, Prince Edward Island and Atlanta. More of my photos from Atlanta can be found on my flower and animal photography pages. I will be adding more travel photos just as soon as I can get them edited and watermarked, so check back again soon!

Sachez que je n’ai pas toujours été une grand amatrice des voyages. Enfin, ce n’est qu’après avoir pri mon courage à deux mains pour participer à une excursion d’une fin de semaine à la grande ville de New York en secondaire trois que j’ai commencé à y prendre goût. La vrai piqûre du voyage est arrivée quand j’ai fait le grand saut de l’autre bord de l’Atlantique pour la première fois à l’âge de 25 ans afin de passer 10 jours en Italie. J’étais tellement nerveuse à l’idée de voyager seule pour la première fois que j’ai pleuré comme une Madeleine dans le taxi et même ma mère, malgré ses efforts, a pleuré sur le perron de notre maison à mon départ (désolée maman, tu sais comme c’est difficile de me cacher quoi que ce soit!). C’était une grosse affaire pour une fille qui, jusqu’à ce point, n’avait jamais voyagé sans être bien encadrée pour un groupe scolaire ou sa famille de se rendre jusqu’à Florence et ensuite à Rome par elle-même, mais mon Dieu, que ce voyage m’a fait du bien et il a été plus merveilleux que ce que j’aurais pu imaginé. C’est beaucoup en dire puisque je rêvais de me rendre en Europe depuis ma petite enfance! Depuis ce temps, j’essaie de voyager à un nouvel endroit par année, qu’il soit près ou éloigné et je ne peux pas exprimer comment cet exercice est enrichissant! Afin de partager avec vous mon amour du voyage, j’ai créé aujourd’hui une page pour les photos que je prend lors de mes petites promenades sur notre belle planète! Vous-y trouverez pour l’instant des photos de mes trois derniers voyages à Atlanta (dont vous pourrez aussi trouver des photos sur mes pages de photographie d’animaux et de fleures), Las Vegas et le Grand Canyon ainsi qu’à l’Île-Du-Prince-Édouard. J’y rajouterai des photos d’autres destinations aussitôt que j’aurai fini de les traiter, alors revenez faire un petit tour ici bientôt!