Sunday, April 28, 2013

Need a Lift?

Keeping up with my fascination for the public urinals of the Netherlands (click link & read #10); here are some pictures of a "URILIFT" van parked out front of our apartment the other day.  

What the EF is Efteling?

I began accumulating these "€10 Kortings Coupons" after a few trips to the Albert Heijn grocery store.  Of course, I had no idea what they were or how to use them.  But rather than asking in broken English like a normal expat, I would just nod my head at the cashier girl and she would hand me another coupon. After the fourth blank stare head nod, I worked up the courage to ask what exactly I was receiving.

At first the cashier was a bit startled by my English; my regular checkout gal wasn't working that day.  She "explained me" that the coupons were for Efteling.  Oh, okay, that clears things up, of course Efteling.  WHAT THE EF WAS EFTELING?!?  She could see my look of befuddlement with her explanation, so she proceeded to ask her cashier colleague in the next lane over "Efteling in Engles?"  Her colleague couldn't translate so she proceeded to shout down to the next cashier.  I was slowly becoming part of an odd game of "Whisper Down the Supermarket Checkout Lanes."  I was mortified.  Everyone was looking at the goofy American wearing a Phillies hat.  I was thinking to myself:  "This Efteling thing better be ef-ing fantastic."   Now the entire row of checkout girls were all shouting in Dutch to each other.  I thought I overheard one of them say "roller coaster," but she was about five lanes down. As they continued chattering and laughing, a fellow shopper came to my aid with the following words: "Amusement Park."  A-HA!  Now I remembered.  Efteling is like the Dutch DisneyWorld and these were coupons for discount admission to the park.  Brilliant!  I thanked that kind Dutch man and the entire staff of the Albert Heijn for their translation assistance with a sincere "Dank u wel" and walked home.  

Voiceover:  "Dan Szostek, you were just in the most embarrassing/most awesome Albert Heijn checkout experience of your life.  What are you going to do now?"


EDITOR'S NOTE:  After reading a few TripAdvisor reviews we decided it wasn't for us.  It does seem to be a nice place for families, thrill ride seekers and people who like stage shows with pyrotechnics; but honestly this wizard guy creeped me out .  Decide for yourself at

Screenshot from with creepy wizard.

#expatproblems: hulu

I had some time on the train last night, so I did what any other person without a data plan on their phone does while they are on a train; I played solitaire and looked through old pictures.

I stumbled upon a strange one.  It was a screen shot of  If you're unfamiliar with hulu, it's a streaming video service for television shows.  Vicki and I aren't huge television people, but there are some shows that we like to catch like: The Office, 30 Rock, Parks and Rec, ABC's The Bachelor (wait what?!?, I'll admit it, we watch ABC's The Bachelor, mostly to make fun and to get date ideas)  As we became familiar with our Dutch cable we learned that the main English comedy options were reruns of Seinfeld, Friends, Dharma & Greg, and The Ellen Show (we actual grew to like Ellen DeGeneres, she's kind of funny; who knew.) Now, don't get me wrong, this was all quality programming especially when your other options were a Dutch version of skating with the (washed up) stars; a group of Dutch people sitting around a table and and arguing in Dutch with each other; and of course the light night ladies helping you practice counting in Dutch by offering you their phone numbers.    

A commercial for Olive Garden on hulu
Then a light went off! could help!  It was wonderful, we were catching up on our comedies and judging the newest crop of wackos on ABC's The Bachelor. (Was there really a jumbotron operator this season?)  But then after two nights the party was over.  

You the reader: "Wait; Dan, you said it only worked for two night?  What happened?  Didn't you get to see who got the final rose and a proposal for a failed marriage?"

Me the writer:  "Nope."

While trying to begin an episode of 30 Rock we got the message below.  The gig was up or was it?  With a simple refresh of my screen about 3-4 times, the show would start playing.  This refresh strategy worked a few more times after that but then they caught on to my scheme and shut us down completely.  

I clicked "here", but it didn't help.  

Oh well.  We never saw the final rose but we still had Ellen Shows from October of 2012.   

Friday, April 26, 2013

What A Difference a Week Makes

Seriously, what a difference a week makes.  Last week I felt this:

Today I feel like THIS!
Um, yeah, this is the kind of stuff I walk out of the grocery store with.

I'm king of the world again!   Not only did I remember my debit card and not only did I walk out of the Albert Heijn grocery store with this little orange guy (you had to spend €15 or more) I scored a six pack of Heineken for 25% korting! That's .62 euro cents a can!

Three Fingers for Willem and a Sixer for Danny
Check out the video that's driving the Dutch crazy.  It also explains the 3 fingers for Willem thing.

Chât-OH! Living in Saint Emilion, France

Vicki and I realized that all of our Euro travels this year have been to major metropolitan areas.  It was time for a trip to the country; wine country that is!
We immediately knew we would like it here when this greets you at the airport

The Highlights from a Long Weekend in 
Saint-Emilion, France 
Dates: April 20-23, 2013

-€10 RyanAir Flight
Transcript from an actual conversation:
Vicki: "Hey Dan, want to go to France?"
Me: "Pass."
Vicki: "It's €10."
Me: "When do we leave."

To be honest, Vicki and I have never really been fans of French wine, matter of preference I guess. But when you see a RyanAir flight from Eindhoven, Netherlands to Bordeaux, France for €10, you figure you could at least go to France to try to obtain an appreciation for their wines right?

-Our Château
We stayed at Les Belles Perdrix a B&B run by Château Troplong Mondot.  This Château has been in the same family for almost a century and the estate has ties back to Louis XVI, it was the home of his tax lawyer.  Centuries of wine making have enabled this Château to have been classified as Premier Grand Cru Class B (according to the super easy to learn/understand classification system of Saint Emilion wine, ends sarcasm).  Classified or not, they made some very nice wine and their property situated on the Saint Emilion hillside was stunning.

Perhaps our favorite part of our stay was our personal guided tour of the property with Felix. He accompanied us on our walk through the vineyards showing us how he irrigates the rose bushes at the end of each row of vines.   It was fascinating.  The only strange thing was when Felix joined us for breakfast.  We were enjoying our coffee and croissants when out of the blue he decides to put his head on my wife's lap.  I knew that French men were amorous  but come on man, I'm right here!  So my wife gave him a nibble of her croissant, patted him on the head, scratched him under the chin and said, "Good Boy."  After that Felix was content to just lie next to our table on the floor.  Oh, Felix, you lucky dog.

Felix about to "irrigate" the roses.
-Wine tour with "Bruno."(BD Tours)
Bruno (right) and Winemaker
I'll have to admit, I had some doubts taking a French Wine Tour with a guy named "Bruno," but the TripAdvisors raved, so we caved and took his tour.  We were not disappointed, Bruno was the real deal in terms of wine knowledge.  He was actually one of the wine tasters on the classification commission for Saint Emillion wines.  Trust me, it's a big deal.  I'll spare you the details of this classification business; because honestly, I'm still confused by it. But some of these Châteaux live and die by their rating.

Our Wine Tour: One Word Reactions:
1.) Château Mangot (Saint-Emilion) = Stuffy
-painted middle of wine barrels red, so not to see spills
2.) Château du Tailhas (Pomerol) = Genuine
-our favorite, family run, toured with owner's son
3.) Château Soutard (Saint-Emilion) = Corporate
-conglomerate run by insurance company
4.) Château Le Chatelet (Saint-Emilion) = CAVES!
-very cool cave exhibit; free tasting
5.) Château Troplong Mondot (Saint-Emilion) = One?
-only one tasting provided

Can you guess which Château is owned by an Insurance Company and which is family owned?  It's tough, but try.

-San Emilion or Saint Emilion
Prehistoric town about 25 miles (40km) from Bordeaux.  From what I understand the town was named after an 8th Century traveling confessor monk named Emilion.  We thank him and the other monks that followed him to the area for the region's fine wine that we taste today.

The town is like stepping back in time, er more like climbing back in time, with it's steep cobblestone streets.  The hike up to the top of the town is worth it.  The bell tower of the monolithic church was closed during our visit, but the views from the upper landing outside the church are breathtaking. (see pic below)

PRO TIP: Head to the Saint Emilion Tourist Office when you arrive. Free maps, free guide book to the area and information on wine tasting tours.  The staff is very friendly, and most, if not all speak English.

See what I mean?  Breathtaking. (Saint Emilion, from the bell tower entrance of the monolithic church)

-Dune du Pilat
Incredible sand dune located 55 minutes from Bordeaux.  I'll let the video and pics speak for themselves.  BEAUTIFUL!

Thanks for reading!  Have you been to Saint Emilion?  Did you like the wine? The views? The town? Did you climb the Dunes?  Leave a comment and share your story.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Alley Biking

I promise more interesting, informative and exciting posts to come.  But in the meantime, here's me riding a bike in an alley on one of the nicest days we've had so far in Oss.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday Fail: Supermarket Edition

We've been doing so well adjusting to our new "home."  But just when you think you've mastered a simple task such as going to your Dutch grocery store; life comes and bites you in the ezel.

An Ezel
It was a routine shopping trip for tonight's dinner menu, lemon chicken. I  breezed up the produce aisle snagging the last head of broccoli; there was a guy next to me that had his eye on it too, but I was the victor!  As a reward I decided to pick up a La Trappe Tripel, one of my favorite Trappists and brewed in the Netherlands.  Fighting temptation to buy a few more brews, I moved on to the cheese counter, to snap two free samples of Jong Belegen (young belgian) [EDITOR'S NOTE: It was politely pointed out to me I miss translated "Belegen;" it's not "Belgian." See the comment below for correct translation].  Then a quick turn down the wine aisle. There I had to leap over a women's cart who was blocking the entire shelf of Albert Heijn (AH) box wine.  That was it, I was done; off to checkout.

Friday, at 5:30pm usually finds the AH busy with shoppers, and tonight was no exception.   But for some reason I found myself slipping right into the "Pin Only;" no cash, lane with no line.  Could this really be happening?  Placing my items on the belt with a sense of confidence I then handed in my AH bonus card.  Then it hit me.  I FORGOT MY PIN CARD.  I was trapped; another shopper began to place their items on the belt.  Now what?  The sweat began to build on my forehead.  I then tried to explain in broken English how I forgot my pin and started collecting my items. This brought great amusement to the checker.  So I figured no worries I'd jump in the cash lane; only one problem, NO EUROS either.  BLAST!

So again in broken English, I ask the same checker if it was ok to leave my basket and return with my card.  Smiling, since she witnessed my entire conversion from confidence to cowardice she agreed. I then sleeked out of the store, pulled my Philles hat down, and started a light jog back to the apartment. Lucky, I was sporting my Adidas track suit, so it added to my quickness.

Upon my return, the check out girl was ready for me, I think she was "impressed with my speed." Too embarrassed to look her in the eye and out of breath I tried to say "dank u wel" or "thank you" but the words came out jumbled, I have no idea what I said.

Defeated, I began to walk out with my purchases but not without first giving a friendly wave to my friend the Afghani Olive Salesmen. He was with customers so I didn't interrupt him.  Besides, I just wanted to get back and forget about this trip.

On the bright side, I'm guessing the jog back and forth worked off those free samples of cheese.

32 Hours to Philadelphia

Two, Dutch Trains

One, 1-hour Dutch Taxi Ride to Rotterdam Airport

One, grounded lightening struck plane

One, 55-minute propeller plane to London City Airport

One, 1-hour British Taxi Ride (that got pulled over by British Police in front of Buckingham Palace)

Two, missed flight connections

One, night in London Airport Hotel

One, free drink from Polish bartender at London Heathrow

And, we would have done it all again if it meant being there  for our friends.

Sorry for the brief writing hiatus friends. It was a hell of a two weeks.  Within 4 days time, we learned that the fathers of two very good friends had passed.  And here we were an ocean apart, in the Netherlands.  When we woke up Friday morning, we knew what we had to do; we needed to get home.

That's exactly what we did, with just the clothes on our back we raced out of our apartment thinking to ourselves: Philadelphia or Bust.  Last minute trips come with their share of pitfalls and hiccups but dam, did we hit the jackpot with this journey.  Yes, everything mentioned above happened in the span of 32 hours. But as I said, if we had to, we'd do it all again to support our friends in their time of need.  Love you guys.

And now, something to make you laugh.  Here's me, giving  real time feedback of my "security experience" at London Heathrow Airport.  Cheers.

I LOVED Heathrow.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Easter in Prague: A Video

Our overnight train pulled safely into Praha Hlavni Nadrazi (Prague Central Station) at approximately 9:30 AM Saturday, March 29th.  We really enjoyed experiencing all the sights, sounds, and smells of this amazing city.  Czech out the highlights from our Easter in Prague.  Cheers.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Overnight Train to Prague

Can I make a suggestion to your Travel Bucket List?  Take an overnight train trip somewhere, anywhere.  It's so much fun, especially when you bring snacks (and wine).  On March 29th, Vicki and I took the City Night Line (CNL) train bound for Prague, Czech Republic.  This was our second overnight train, our first adventure was a CNL from Paris to Munich for Oktoberfest with our friends Lorie & Dan.  You can see hightlights from that trip here.

So here it is, our overnight train trip to Prague.  Enjoy.  

"SUN"day in Amsterdam with AmsterDAN

I just realized the title of this blog is "Pennsylvania Dutch" and I've been a little light on posting "Dutch Stuff."  That ends now.  On Sunday, April 7th, Vicki and I ventured to Amsterdam.  A trip that usually takes about an hour and a half; instead, took us a good 2 hours due to construction on the rails.  But it was worth the trip; we had a gorgeous day.  Here are some of the highlights, in picture form.  Enjoy.

This street has it all, tattos & piercing; a coffeehouse and fries. And it's a stone's throw away from the Red Light District.

Little to the right there slick.

Here's this guy in action.

AmsterDAN enjoying a Westmalle.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, April 8, 2013

10 Thoughts That May Cross The Mind of An Expat in the Netherlands

A few weeks ago I entered a writing contest with  I received so much support from family and friends through comments and social sharing of my entry I was blown away.  Didn't win the contest however; but that wasn't important, it was fun to participate and feel the love from everyone.  Thanks again to all.  Here's my entry in case you missed it.  Enjoy.

The Thoughts That May Cross An Expat’s Mind During Their First Month in the Netherlands

By: Dan Szostek
  1. You’ll discover that “Punta Nell” is not a tropical destination. It’s the ending to Dutch websites. punt nl = dot nl = .nl

    “Where is this ‘Punta Nell’ place? Somewhere near Punta Cana? And why is it constantly being mentioned on the radio and TV?” 
  2. You’ll wonder how Expats before you survived during the times of “BG” or “Before Google.”

    “Am I really typing these Dutch cooking directions for pasta into Google Translate?”
  3. You’ll have fries with mayonnaise, and really, really enjoy it.

    “Fries with mayonnaise! That’s what John Travolta was talking about in Pulp Fiction!”


  4. You’ll be starving at the train station and see everyone else snacking so you’ll buy a pastry filled with a meat substance from the Kiosk.

    “Did I just eat a pastry with some type of meat baked inside? I better get another one just to confirm.” 
  5. You’ll have one too many Trappist beers and think horsemeat on fries sounds like a good idea.

    “ I just ordered horsemeat on my fries because a guy in the snack bar said ‘iz good.’ Am I going to regret this? Eh, I’ll just put some mayonnaise on it.”
  6. You’ll drink milk for lunch.

    “Milk, it’s not just for breakfast anymore I guess.”

    It does a body good
    It does a body good

  7. You’ll get bumped, pushed, and practically stiffed armed when you go grocery shopping, and that’s just in the vegetable aisle.

    “Looks like I’m going to need to throw some elbows to get a bag of carrots.”
  8. You’ll panic and stare blankly at the cheese counter at your local supermarket.

    “Um, how many types of Gouda are there?”
  9. You’ll be offered a cup of coffee EVERYWHERE! At work, at the supermarket, at the barber…

    You [Waiting to get your hair cut]: “You know a cup of coffee really does sound good right now.” 
  10. You’ll see people pulling sandwiches out of their pockets EVERYWHERE. On the train, on the street, at their desks at work.

    “Hold up, did that guy just pull a sandwich out of his pocket? Wait, that lady did it too. And that guy’s sandwich has sprinkles on it!”
    [Moments later, in a sad voice to yourself]
    “I wish I had a pocket sandwich.”

    For your ice cream sundae or your pocket sandwich
    For your ice cream sundae or your pocket sandwich

  11. You’ll panic because you’re at a train station with no ticket window and you don’t have the €18 euro in exact change needed for your train journey

    “€18.90 in EXACT change to get from Den Hague to Oss????”
  12. You’ll get a bike but be too nervous to make a left so your journeys consist of all right hand turns.

    “Wow, cars are yielding to me I feel so powerful! WAIT, how do I make a left hand turn?”
  13. You’ll get adjusted to washing your hands with only cold water.

    “I’ll just keep my hands here until the water warms up. Um, it’s not warming up.” 
  14. You’ll think your developing calves of steel from walking up your steps.

    “My calves are going to be like tree trunks after climbing these stairs everyday.”

    Our Stairmaster
    Our Stairmaster

  15. You’ll manage homesickness somewhat effectively until someone asks you how you are managing homesickness.

    “You know, I was coping with homesickness pretty well until you asked me what I missed most from home. Thanks!” 
  16. You’ll develop an amazing broken English accent even though English is your native language.

    “Oh jeez, am I really communicating like this, I must sound ridiculous.”
  17. You’ll be doing your best to stick out from the crowd and not dress like a local by wearing your baggiest jeans, sneakers and worn out Philadelphia Phillies baseball hat and still get asked for directions from on the street.

    Random Car Driver Stopped in Traffic: [Shouts something in Dutch]
    You: [Realizing they are talking to you in Dutch, responds in confusing tone]: Sorry, I’m new here.
    You: [Says to self]: Did I just say that?

  18. This One’s For Guys: You’ll use an outdoor public urinal that comes out of the ground like the one pictured.

    “Where’s the cold water to wash my hands? Guess I’ll just use some snow.”

    An outdoor urinal on a crisp winter’s day
    An outdoor urinal on a crisp winter’s day

  19. You’ll feel like a rock star when the simplest things work, like you debit card or your ov-chipkaart (train pass).

    “Wait, my card actually worked? I’M KING OF THE WORLD!”
  20. You’ll experience all this crazy, funny, and amazing cultural differences and think that you should be recording all your adventures.

    “You know, I should really start a blog about all this stuff.”

Dan is originally from outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA and now living in the southern portion of the Netherlands with his wife. He enjoys traveling, European grocery stores, and getting himself into confusing situations while wearing his Phillies hat.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Pennsylvanians Polka Through Poland

Warsaw in 14 Pictures
St. Patrick's Day Weekend in Warsaw
March 15-17th

You the Reader:  "Wait, Dan, you went to Poland for St. Patrick's Day weekend?  Why not Ireland, since you're so close?"

Standard RyanAir Wing Pic
Great question and one that led to many discussions between Vicki and I.  We opted for Warsaw over Dublin since we lived in Ireland for six months last year, so we felt funny going back when there was so much more of Europe to explore.  Don't get me wrong, Dublin is amazing; one of my favorite cities IN. THE. WORLD. and I would recommend EVERYONE "to go to there."

Immediately after we booked our RyanAir Flight to Warsaw, I researched the locations of the Irish Pubs in the vicinity of Warsaw. For the record, there were three within stumbling distance of our hotel.  Even though we were headed to Warsaw for a Pierogi-Kielbasa bender, I was determined to have a pint of the black stuff in Polish/Irish Pub.

The Highlights From Our Paddy's Day Weekend in Poland:
(Before I begin, a big shout out to my good friend on Twitter and fellow blogger @escapebrussels for all the fantastic Warsaw tips! Follow her and check out her blog because she's cool & knows where to find good pierogi)

Low light pic Hotel Bristol
  • The Hotel Bristol (Krakowskie Przedmieście 42/44): One word: Amazing.  Beautiful hotel and a great room with views of the Presidential Palace.  Plus it's right in the center of Warsaw and just a short walk to Old Town (check out the video below especially if you like furry hats).  If you stay, have a night cap in their Column Bar, fun cocktails and great atmosphere.  

  • Browarmia Królewska (Kroleska 1): Our lunch stop on our first day.  It was just a short stroll from our hotel.  We were in search of beer and pierogis and this place delivered, well eventually.  The service was crazy slow, but we couldn't complain -- the pierogis were delicious and the shots of Zubrowka were insanely good.  Oh, and the waitress says to me at the end when she looked at my credit card: "Your surname is Polish."  I responded: "Why yes it is."  She seemed very confused as to why I was in Warsaw.  I confused her even more with saying we were from America but now living in the Netherlands, and we were in Poland to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.  

  • The Warsaw Uprising Museum (Grzybowska 79): This came highly recommended and I can see why.  A wonderful museum and sobering experience (even after a shot of Zubrowka). It's a bit difficult to put our visit down in words, so put this on your list when you visit Warsaw to get what I mean.    

    Figured it was creepy to get pic w/ actual waitress
  • Zapiecek (multiple locations):  So nice we ate here twice, at two different locations.  The first night, we went to the one at Swietojanska 13 and loved it.  Very small, but it was warm and very homey like.  The hot wine was delicous and a perfect winter warmer.  The next night we went to the Nowy Swiat 64 location and gave it another try because we were in love with their menu (and someone else was in love with the waitresses, he'll remain nameless.)  Go here and order everything, especially the bigos that comes with a shot of vodka, no joke. 
I have no idea, I blame the bigos.
  • Free Walking Tour Warsaw (Meets 12pm at Column of Sigismund III): One of the greatest travel lessons we have learned while touring Europe, is that Walking Tours are the best way to see a city and get advice about customs, practices and restaurants.  These tours are even better when they're free, well sort of.  It's customary to give the guide a tip after the tour, but you decide on the amount.  Whatever city in Europe you are visiting do a quick search for "Free Walking Tour (insert city)" then pack comfortable shoes and you're good to go.  Here's a quick look at one of the spots included on our Warsaw Tour. 

  • Molly Malone's Irish Pub (Krakowskie Przedmiescie 41): I know you were just waiting for an Irish Pub to show up on this highlight list, well here it is.  Something I learned while living in Ireland is how the Irish value the art of story telling.  So here is my best attempt at a story:
"Two Americans sit down with an Scottsman and a Russian in an Irish Bar in Warsaw,, it's not the start of a joke, it happened and it was a blast.  One of our favorite parts of traveling is meeting people and hearing their stories.  On a friggin' cold Friday evening in Warsaw, Vicki and I walked into Molly Malone's.

The Pub was packed; not an empty table in sight.  There was live entertainment that night, a Polish-Irish band..  BTW they did a kick ass version of Alana Mile's "Black Velvet."  So looking like two lost kids Vicki and I circled the pub defeated because there was no place to sit and enjoy the band.  Then we spotted a couple at a table with some space for two.  So we built up some nerve and asked in our best broken English if we could join them.  They acknowledged and allowed us to join.

There was a slight awkwardness at first, after all we did crash their date.  But our order of two shots of cherry vodka peaked the interest of our table mates.  At first they thought we were doing Jager.  We explained how we became fans of Polish flavored vodkas on our trips to Krakow and Sopot.  Then before I knew it we were ordering rounds of shots for the table.  The evening continued with good conversation set to a great soundtrack.  It was the perfect start to Paddy's Day weekend."  

  • Pierogarnia na Bednarskiej (ul. Bednarska 28/30): Found this place during my research for Warsaw.  The TripAdvisor reviews really delivered.  This place was great.  Delicious sour rye soup and amazing pierogis.  All served up fast and cheap. I wrote a Trip Advisor review of this place.  You can read it here.
Vicki leaving her "tag" on Na Bednarskiej"
  • Our First Raccoon.  You have to watch this to believe it.  

  • Irish Pub (Waski Dunaj & Piwa):  I stumbled upon this pub while wandering the side streets off Market Square while Vicki was shopping.  It was closed when I walked by at first, then later we walked by again and the doors were open; intrigued we ventured in.  And did we venture. We went up and down a series of dark steps until we found ourselves walking into a tiny bar area.  We weren't that impressed at first, then a server approached us and asked if we wanted a table, she then led us through another labyrinth of stairs and we discovered the place was huge, and in Irish pub style there little nooks set up with tables and even a stage.  Great place to sip a few pints while watching VH1.  Seriously they were cranking VH1 classic on the TVs (they lost a point for having TVs in a pub, that' s a no-no according to Irish standards; but they were playing Falco's "Rock Me Amadeus" so I let it slide).  Good to taste Guinness again, but Vicki and I both agreed it was served a tad cold.  Yup, we've turned into our worse fear: Guinness snobs. Sorry.  
  • Pub Arkadia (Market Square, look for little door with a green light).  Watch our experience.
  • St. Paul, the Apostle of the Nations (Radna 14) This Parish holds an English speaking Mass on Sundays at 11:30am.  It was a wonderful experience, not only because it was the first English Mass we'd been to since January; but you could feel a real spirit of community among those present. Something we've been missing while abroad.  At the end a woman from Ireland in the choir serenaded the congregation with some Irish ballads, it was really moving and made me want a Guinness so bad.  
  • Ducks on Ice:  Ladies and Gentlemen, ducks on ice...

  • Blikle Cafe (Nowy Swiat 35): We couldn't leave Warsaw without trying Pączki or otherwise known as Polish donuts. Delicious.

  • Presidential Palace (Krakowskie Przedmieście 46/48) We discovered that the Palace is open for tours from 10am-4pm on Sundays.  We didn't know this at the time however.  Here's the story.  

There's a rule Vicki and I follow when ever we travel, it's simple: 

"When you see a long line...GET IN IT!"

Normally this little nugget pays dividends, however in the case of the Presidential Palace, well, not so much.  We were on our way to get a pint of the black stuff when we saw a large crowd outside the Palace and a line.  So following our own advice we got in it.  Very cold and very confused we tried to figure out the deal with the line.  I asked a lady who I thought was in line, but she looked startled by my question and shook her head.  Hmm.  Then she pulled her friend over to help us, apparently her English wasn't as good as her friend's.  So we put together that we were in line to see the Palace and we didn't need a ticket.  The line was moving at a snail's pace because they were only letting groups of 10 or so in every 5 minutes.  By our calculations we were due to stand in that line for over an hour.  

As we got closer to the front, we saw security taking things from people then looking at a list. Were they handing in tickets? Did we need tickets?  Vicki went to investigate, apparently all we needed was a photo ID and our Pennsylvania Driver's License would count.  But we still couldn't figure out why they were taking IDs then looking at a list.  Did these people have reservations?  To calm our fears, I jokingly said they were checking a list of war criminals who were not allowed into the Palace.  Then we saw an older lady get rejected from the entrance, she didn't look like war criminal   I then devised a plan; if we were rejected I would just use the "But my surname is Polish" card to see if that would help.

About an hour land twenty minutes later we arrived to the security checkpoint and guess what?  We got in.  All that worrying for nothing.  Once you were inside you had to go through the standard security/xray screening.  Getting barked at to remove my belt in Polish was the highlight of that experience.  I stood there like a deer in headlights (I've been doing that a lot the past few months.)  

Finally, we were ushered into a large room where there was a large circular table and many chairs with name plaques at each seat. Everyone was looking and taking pictures. Being the naive tourists who read nothing on the Palace prior to the trip; we were left staring and wondering.  So we asked if there were any guides or signs in English.  "No!" the woman replied, "Only Polish tour." Alrighty then.  But that was fine, afterall we were in Poland
So we followed along and took in the sites of the Palace trying to pick up a Polish word that we recognized. Would you believe our guide never mentioned at all "pieorgi" or "Sto Lat.  Our overall experience, eh...not quite Buckingham Palace, but still nice. Don't think it was worth an hour wait in the cold, better weather maybe. 

  • St. Patrick's Day Guinness(es) Back at Molly Malone's: As crazy luck may have it we bumped into our table mates again at Molly Malone's.  But this time they crashed our date.  It was too funny, what are the chances.  
Paddy's Day in Poland

Let's see, did I miss anything?

Oh yeah....

I threw some kielbasa in too.

Hope you enjoyed sharing our story.