Friday, July 29, 2005

Paris, France - DAY THREE

Again, I woke up and went for coffee while Luke prepped for the day. EIFFEL TOWER DAY!
We headed out fairly early but first stopped for ANOTHER baguette, more cheese and more veggies and fruit. If I never see another baguette again it will be too soon!
The Eiffel Tower was awesome. From far away it looks fantastic but once you're under it is amazing. We opted to climb the stairs (Some 600+) rather than take the lift because that's part of the adventure, right? It was a fairly quick walk (Probably faster for those that don't smoke and drink like we do, but whatever) and the view on the way up was great - but the view once we were up was incredible (See photos). We didn't take the lift to the top cause we figured we'd save that for an evening when we're back there in October. The view at night should be fabulous with all of the lights of the city twinkling.
After the tower we walked to Rue Cler, which is kinda like Sparks street as it is pedestrian only. From there we hopped onto the subway and made a quick stop at the shopping mall we had heard about. I know, I know, a shopping mall in Paris?? Why? Well, take a look at the photo. It was NUTS. There was no way I could afford to buy anything there (Even though I HAVE ruined even more clothes since the two white sweaters) so we snapped some photos, poked around and jumped back on the subway for the Pere Lachaise Cemetary where Jim Morrison is buried. It took us about half an hour and the help of about 20 other people looking for it to finally find it (Luke enlisted the help of a Polish family). It was interesting to see but the original tombstone with all of the grafitti, his face, and "JIM MORRISON" had been replaced with a stone that read "JAMES DOUGLAS MORRISON". We were a little disappointed but were happy to see it nonetheless. We also stopped by a few other tombs - Chopin and some other Polish chap. From there we walked back to the hostel (Picking up baguette and veggies AGAIN) on the way. We also made a stop for some wine and beer as we decided to stay in for the night since we were getting up at 6:00am to catch the 8:00am bus this morning. We ended up sitting in the hostel in front of the window overlooking the street enjoying our wine (Getting toasted) and playing cards while listening to the Ipod, chatting and singing along to the music. A nice, quiet french evening (The baguette, cheese and wine).

Paris, France - DAY TWO - more photos - again

Paris, France - DAY TWO - more photos

Paris, France - DAY TWO

We woke up at about 8:00am to the sound of morning traffic ramming itself into our room through the open window. I went to the MacDonald's down the street for a cheap and good coffee (It's about 2 - 3 Euro's cheaper to grab a coffee there than it is anywhere else and nothing is open for take away at that time) while Luke woke up and got himself gussied up. The plan for the day was to see the Arc de Triomphe, etc so we headed off! The subway system here is FANTASTIC so it only took about 25 minutes for us to get there and as we ascended the escalator there it was.....! (See photo). We knew it was huge but had no idea it was THAT HUGE. Unreal. The detail, the sheer size of the thing. Beautiful. Then it was on to the Champs Elysees where we saw Cartier (Where a pair of earrings will set you back about 22,000 Euros - see photo), Luis Vitton, etc... pretty flashy stuff. From there we walked down through Place du Concorde to the Louvre. On the way we stopped for a ferris wheel ride to take in a view of the city (See photos) and continued on to see the Louvre (Yes Dad, Luke and I saw some culture while we were there - not just the bars and cafe's). We made sure to see the Mona Lisa and the Venus Di Milo (See photos). The line of to see M.L. was insane. There were about a gazillion people but Luke and I sucked it up and waited our turn (About 20 minutes - longer than it took us to get into the building). The museum itself is so beautiful that it would have been worth seeing even if the statues, paintings, etc werent' there. After that we headed home and went to the market by our hostel where we picked up baguette, cheese, etc for dinner - again. Afterwards we headed to find ourselves happy hour somewhere and were quite successful. We hit a couple of bars and headed home for bed. Had to hit the sack early cause the following day was EIFFEL TOWER day.....

Paris, France - DAY ONE

We arrived in Paris on Tuesday at about 5:00pm. We were SUPPOSED to arrive and check into our hostel by 4:00pm but the plane was delayed (And we had a hell of a time figuring out the subway/metro/bus system). Fortunately it didn't matter that we were late (Though our e-reservation stated that we had to call to let them know if we were going to be late). The hostel was great. MUCH cleaner than the one in Krakow, and there was a great big window overlooking the street so there was lots of fresh air and a view. We picked up a baguette, cheese, veggies and a bottle of wine for dinner and sat in our hotel room to eat and afterwards we went to a local bar/coffeeshop where we had a beer at a table on the street. Here if you stand at the bar to have your drink it costs you 1 Euro less than if you take it to a table which we discovered. We were feeling glitzy.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Sandwiches in the hostel

Here's Łuke making dinner in our hostel room..... with a Swiss Army knife and a map of Krakow for a cutting board. YUM.

Zakopane, Poland

Sunday at noon we grabbed a bus to Zakopane (The tallest mountains in Poland from what Łuke tells me). We weren't able to make it last year so we made a point to go this year. The bus ride was a little over 2 hours long so we were there at about 2:30pm. Our bus dropped us at the central bus station in Zakopane where we took a city bus to the base of the mountain. The line to get on the lift to the top of the mountain was CRAZY long and by that time it was about 3:30pm so we opted to explore the town and find ourselves somewhere to have dinner. The view of the mountains from the main strip (See photo) was beautiful. We were dead tired after dinner so we rented ourselves a hotel room and crashed early as we planned to get up at 7:00am in order to beat the crowd.
Once we reached the mountain we were disappointed to see that EVERYONE ELSE in town had gotten up at 7:00am to beat the crowd as well! We waited in line for a little over 2 hours but it was well worth it. The view from the lift was fabulous but when we got to the top of the mountain we were dumbfounded. (See photo). The peak we got to was approximately 4000 feet! The wind was nuts, there were clouds everywhere and the temperature was 9 degrees celcius but felt more like -2 degrees. We walked around up there for a bit and then headed into the chalet thingy where Łuke had soup and a tea. We then headed back down the hill, went for a beer and took the bus back to Krakow. Once we were back here (About 5 1/2 hours ago) we hit the market, bought ourselves some buns, meat, cheese and fresh veggies and made ourselves some sandwiches for dinner. (See photo on next entry). Now we're at the internet cafe writing to all of you after having had a couple of martini's and then we're heading back to the hostel to hit the sack cause.... WE'RE FLYING TO PARIS TOMORROW!!!

Wieliczka, Poland (Salt Mines)

Saturday we went to Wieliczka (Salt Mines) where we took a 2 hour tour of the caves and underground salt carvings which are about 250 feet under the surface! It was interesting, but Łuke had to translate what the tour guide was saying cause it cost about 100 złoty more to have an English speaking tour guide. The most beautiful part of the tour was the large chapel where they actually have weddings and masses (See photo - EVERYTHING, even the chandeliers, are made from salt!). The most exciting part of the tour was the lift back up. They cram 7 people into this tiny elevator that is/was actually used by the miners. It was crazy scary, dark, and fast. Kind of like a ride at the Ex but scarier cause it's even older than some of the Carnie's and their crappy rides. Once we got back to Krakow we hit our hostel, freshened up and headed out to some fancy shmancy martini bar where we got a little tipsy as we had been drinking beer and straight Vodka for the last week. From there we went to that jazz bar/pub that we were at the night before. The owners were happy to see us as they didn't expect us to show up again just cause we promised to. The band was less than awesome - a singer (If you can even call him that) and a drummer. Łuke had passed his CD on to the owners of the bar so they knew that he could play so they pretty much BEGGED him to save the band. Łuke, the knight in shining armour that he is, ran back to the hostel, grabbed his harmonicas and proceeded to save the band! (See photo - top right). The owners, very grateful, gave him a half litre of Zywiec as a thank you. At about midnight we were ready for bed so we headed back to the hostel (After grabbing a quick Zapiekanka) and hit the sack so we would be ready to catch the bus to Zakopane.....

Krakow, Poland

We arrived in Krakow on Friday at about 4:00pm, just in time to walk to our hostel (It took a while as we were lugging our 50 lb backpacks.....), freshen up and head to downtown Krakow where we were meeting Mike and Anna (For those of you that don't know them, Łuke and I went to their wedding reception in New Jersey last summer) at 5:00pm for dinner and drinks. It was exciting to see someone from home (Well, the same continent) in Poland. We then went for dinner at a place Łuke and I went to the last time we were here (See photo) where we all ordered Flaki (Tripe soup) as a starter. The FUNNY thing about this was that Mike asked what part of the chicken they used in the soup! Apparently his lovely wife Anna withheld information from him when she introduced him to the soup. When I heard him ask this question, I of course told him that it was cow intestines because I couldn't let Łuke and Anna (Who are both Polish) continue to laugh at him while he naively sorted through the chewy, stringy goop looking for a recognizable part of the chicken. The silly boy actually believed that he was eating chicken soup! From there we left to meet Anna's friends who were coming to Krakow to meet her and we all went for drinks at a lovely outdoor patio in Krakow's main square. Once the beers were finished we went to see Wawel Castle (It was closed but we did see the fire-breathing dragon statue... very cool) and then headed to a more fun bar for a drink or two. Again, Łuke and I took the gang to a place we had gone to in November where we had met some great people and listened to Iron Maiden on the Jukebox. It was a little shifty as it is dark, dingy, cave-like, and underground and we were surrounded by rocker/biker type people but we all had a laugh being out of our element. Once the drinks were done, Anna's friends headed home (They had an 1 1/2 drive back home) and the rest of us hit a jazz bar/pub that Łuke and I had stumbled upon the last time we were here. We had a beer, chatted with the owners and promised that we would be back the following night to see a band. We split up with Mike and Anna and headed back to our hostel (Which I might add is definitely NOT the Holiday Inn that Mike and Anna were staying at!).

MIKE - As promised - to start a blog just go to and follow the directions!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Warsaw, continued....

We're in Krakow! We left Warsaw on Friday at 1:05pm, as I mentioned in my previous entry, but before that.....
On Thursday night (We were still in Warsaw), Łukasz and I went to his Father's parents for a big dinner and of course.... Vodka. Luke's Grandpa can drink like a fish, and he has this sweet, sad look that he gives you when he offers you a shot and you turn him down, SO..... I ended up doing about 9 shots of Vodka with him over dinner. Łukasz did a few as well but was offered some fancy Scotch Whisky so he opted to sip on that mainly.
Once dinner was over Łukasz's cousin Rafał swung by and picked us up to take us to Marcin's parents place to meet Marcin and Dagmara, where Marcin's Father fed us more booze (Only I drank Vodka shots, but this time I did them in the form of a Wild Dog (Wśćiekłe Psy in Polish), so it wasn't as harsh. For those of you that don't know what a Wild Dog is, it's Vodka, tobasco sauce and raspberry syrup), as he did the last time we were here. He's one of my favourite people to visit here. He's very funny and a little obnoxious (Just like me!). We get along great.
By that point it was about 11:00pm and everyone had to head home so that they could get up for work the next day. Łuke and I were still raring to go so we had Marcin drop us off at a bar/pub so that he and I could hang before heading back to his Grandparents. The place was nice, but much too classy and tame for us so we introduced ourselves to some English speaking Polish guys at the table next to us and ended up hitching a ride with them to a more happening place..... a Karaoke bar. (Polish people love Karaoke apparently, which is funny cause they sing alot of English songs but have no idea what the lyrics mean!). Łuke spoke to the guys in Polish while I danced with one of them (Neither of us were good dancers so I imagine we looked like idiots, but hell, it was fun). At about 2:00am we were hungry so we said good bye to the guys and headed to a Kebab place where we stuffed our faces (And I dumped half of mine on my OTHER white sweater). Neither of us can recollect exactly what happened after that, but we did get home safe and sound in a cab and we made it to the train station to catch our ride to Krakow in time!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

We've arrived..... Warsaw, Poland

We're here!

We left Monday night at 11:20pm (Ottawa time) and arrived at Heathrow at 11:00am (London time) for a 6 hour layover. We immediately found ourselves a cup of coffee and the smoking area so that we could perk ourselves up (It was impossible to sleep on the plane.... gotta save and fly business class next time). The cigarette and coffee didn't help much so we found ourselves a vacant bench and took a nap. Luke slept for a couple of hours but I was antsy so I grabbed a magazine and hung out in the smoking area where I proceeded to dump my Cafe Mocha all over my white sweatshirt (Big f*ing surprise......).
The flight from London was ok, only 2 hours so we had a beer and chatted to pass the time.
Luke's cousin Marcin and his new wife Dagmara picked us up from the Warsaw airport at 9:20pm (Warsaw time) and brought us straight to Luke's Grandpa's where we were told to eat, eat, eat (This was not surprising as we were told to eat every 2 hours when we here in November...). We were dead tired by that point so we headed to bed early.
This morning we ventured out on our own to the train station where we purchased our train tickets to Krakow (We leave Friday, July 22nd at 1:10pm) and then hit the Arkadia (A HUGE mall here in Warsaw). Luke told me it was warm outside so I wore a tank top but it ended up being pretty chilly so I HAD to buy myself a pretty new shrug to keep my arms warm (Bonus!). We had a beer on the patio at the mall and headed back to Luke's Grandpa's for lunch (Delicious!). Now we are at Marcin and Dagmara's for dinner, drinks and a sleepover. Tomorrow we will get up early with them (They both have to work... I've almost forgotten what that's like....!) and go out for breakfast before heading to the Warsaw Zoo. Tomorrow night we're having dinner at his other Grandparent's house and then heading to Marcin's parents for drinks and to meet up with Luke's other cousin Rafał. It's mainly family time here in Warsaw, which is nice cause I'm missing MY family and they're all huggers so it's making me feel right at home.
As I mentioned before, we're heading to Krakow on Friday (A 3 1/2 hour UN-Airconditioned train ride) where we will meet with Mike and Anna at 5:00pm for dinner and a night out and then we will plan the rest of our days in Krakow (We plan to see the salt mines, Zakopane (the mountains), and anything else we have time to see.) We leave Krakow on the 26th and fly to PARIS where the REAL ADVENTURE begins.
Until next time, Czesc.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Jess and Luke  Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 08, 2005

Trying to put together this blog.


Luke and I are still here in Ottawa and will be until July 18th. I am attempting to put together this blog so that he and I can keep you guys informed as we trek along over the next few months. Not sure that I really know what it is that I'm doing but hopefully I'll figure it out.