As quickly as these trips pass it is worth it for the new people we meet, the first glimpses into new places and their histories, the foods we haven't heard of, the signs we can't read and the distinctions in cultural and life ways that remind us how much we want the same things from life even if we don't achieve them in the same ways.
I was more comfortable in Poland than I expected. It's a country with which I didn't think I'd have any particular affinity. But I'd forgotten art history, the earliest of which - for western culture - is so grounded in architecture and public art. Less so in Wroclaw, but amazingly so in Krakow, I found myself extremely comfortable, really excited to be seeing the buildings and materials that I only knew from small photos, exhaustive slide shows and finally in documentaries on television or the backdrops of countless movies.
One thing is very clear. Back in the day people really did believe that bigger and taller means closer to heaven, and therefore bigger was better. Not the mundane stuff of regular folk. But places of worship and markers of power. Churches that look like cathedrals. Cathedrals that look like castles. Castles. Well, we only saw one and it was HUGE.
Phil was determined that he would learn one Polish word each day. And he worked at it. There was two words that seemed to present challenges for us. Dziękuję means Thank you. But every time we said it, people laughed. At first we thought they thought we were charmingly bad at our attempt to say it properly. But really, they laughed, and no other words we used elicited that response. Złoty is the name of Polish unit of currency and for some reason we just couldn't remember it's proper pronunciation: swotny, slotty, svolty. We did learn that it means golden.