Day Tripping

5 09 2008

Gage and I are lazy. We know this about ourselves, though we usually do a good job of hiding it from others. The truth is that we are both perfectly content spending the day reading books, sketching pictures, napping, exercising, and making good food; none of which involves leaving the house. Because of this, it’s a good thing we live with a person as restless as Monika. Every day she comes home and asks, ‘What did you do today?’ After several days of responding ‘not much’ we started to feel guilty enough to get off of our well-rested rumps and plan some day trips.

Chelmno, Poland

Only a one hour bus ride from Torun is the City of Lovers, Chelmno. Picture an old Polish city with year-round Valentine’s Day decorations, and you’ve got Chelmno. We walked to the charming old town square via the main road, passing beneath the big red hearts strung overhead. The main square held the gigantic town hall, surrounded by a perpetual farmers & flea market. Our map revealed that the old town area was almost as big as Torun’s, so we set out to explore. While it did turn out to be a fairly large old town, it also turned out to be a very residential old town, so walking past the main square held as much tourist attraction as an apartment complex.

More importantly it was one of our favorite times of the day, food time. So we went into the central tourist office and asked the friendly lady there where we might find a good restaurant that was not too expensive. She recommended what Monika later explained was the only decent restaurant in Chelmno. Unfortunately the owners of said restaurant were well aware that they were the only decent restaurant and had jacked up their prices accordingly. Hungry or not, Gage and I decided to find cheaper eats and so we went to another restaurant on the main road. This is where we encountered a now familiar phenomenon – restaurants that run out of food. This restaurant was one of many we have been to throughout our stay in Poland where they had run out of several items on the menu and informed us of this by simply shaking their head no when we pointed to something on the menu. The first time this happened to us was in Krakow and we thought the waitress was telling us not to order the item, perhaps assuming that we wouldn’t like it, or giving us her honest assessment of it’s quality. When we assured her that we did indeed want the item we were pointing to and she kept shaking her head, we finally got the point. In any event, after our meal we wandered a bit more and then opted to head back, deciding that an afternoon in Chelmno was enough to see the sites and enjoy the town.

Gruczno, Poland

The following weekend we went with Monika to a small village north of Chelmno to Festiwal Smaku, or Tasting Festival. Monika warned us that the village was small, so we shouldn’t expect anything too big, but to our delight we were greated with food stands spread as far as the eye could see. Jen and Gage paradise! We walked past some 200 stands, surveying each one’s wares, as we planned our attack. There were fish smokers, soup wagons, pastries, smoked cheeses, gingerbreads, gigantic dumplings, grills with any and every kind of meat, wine tastings, liqueur tastings, and even an entire section of honey. Monika kept her cool, having seen all of these foods before and wisely eating an apple so that she wouldn’t overeat. Gage and I, on the other hand, prepared for the festival by starving ourselves, and showing up with every intention of spending a fortune in order to sate ourselves. Much like going grocery shopping on an empty stomach, this was probably dangerous, as we helped ourselves to pretty much everything I mentioned above. Needless to say we left fat and happy.

Golub-Dobrzyn, Poland

Our next day trip should actually be called an evening trip. In the late afternoon Monika drove us 30 minutes to the town of Golub-Dobrzyn to see another one of the Teutonic castles. We arrived about 15 minutes before closing time and walked around the courtyard of this big, two-tone, square castle. We were admiring old canons and gothic architecture while watching various men in nice suits mill about before realizing that we had just walked into a wedding being held at the castle. When the bride walked out to have her pictures taken, we decided to enjoy walking around the outside of the castle, so as not to immortalize ourselves in her wedding pictures.

We also drove into the suprisingly nice market square and wandered around. Of course there was nothing open because this was a weekend evening and the Polish people take weekends very seriously. Unless you’re the unlucky employee of a restaurant or major grocery store, weekends often mean stores are closed completely or at least closed very early. Although the market square was really nice, walking around the small town had all three of us agreeing that it was a bit strange and desolate. Perhaps Golub-Dobrzyn is best seen on a weekday morning.

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