Poland. Probably the most beautiful country I have ever visited.
Poland was completely out of the way of the Western European trip I was planning over my semester break back in 2007. But I just had to go. Two reasons, really:
- I watched The Pianist. Before viewing this film, I was very ignorant in regards to any worldwide history. This film inspired me to learn more about the world around me, both past and present. This film was so beautiful and moving. I was very interested in learning more about the Holocaust and Poland was an eye-opening place to start.
- I watched The Pianist. And I discovered Chopin, who is now my absolute favourite composer. I love how melancholic and romantic his music is. He is amazing.
So it was decided. I had only four days to visit Poland, so I chose to visit the two biggest cities, Warsaw and Krakow.
Warsaw was stunning. Its beauty resonated well with its gorgeous denizens.
I think I fell in love with Poland because it was the first country I ever visited alone. I felt the most amazing freedom on this trip. That, alongside the country’s beauty. I went in summer, and the weather was agreeably warm.
And what’s a trip to Warsaw without visiting the humongous statue of Mr Frederic Chopin himself?
After two glorious days in Warsaw, it was time to get a move on to Krakow. I’m not sure how it was possible, but Krakow was even more stunning than Warsaw, in my eyes. I departed my train with my darling bulky backpack and traipsed around, looking for my hostel, lost, as was the norm on this trip. I eventually stumbled upon the majestic town square, Rynek Główny, which, to my astonishment, was right in front of my hostel.
I spent my time in Krakow wandering around, inhaling the Polish air, sampling the local cuisine and meeting new people. I can’t remember how I got by in Poland only knowing a few words, but somehow I managed.
My first experience with Polish cuisine was interesting to say the least. On my first night, my room mate and I decided to roam the streets of Warsaw for dinner. We found what looked like a kebab shop. As I have mentioned before, I totally love kebabs. The shop had little photos of the kebabs so I pointed to one and dinner was served. I took a bite and then realised I had no idea what kind of meat was in my kebab. It was something I’d never seen before. As someone who is fussy with meat, you’d think I’d stop eating meat. But no. My room mate ate the kebab and I had an ice-cream for dinner instead. Silly fussy tourist.
The next day I enjoyed a day in Warsaw city. I walked kilometres to see Chopin’s statue, and ended up lost (the best way to travel). I was awful hungry so I decided to go and see what all the fuss was about at a nearby busy street vendor. He was selling zapiekanka. Whaaat? Basically it’s a Polish pizza – one long baguette, halved, covered with mushrooms, cheese and tomato sauce. Yum. Was very pleased with my new, meat-free discovery, although had a lot of difficulty trying to eat it in its enormity.
Then it started absolutely pelting down with rain, and I was stuck there, lost, waiting for the rain to stop. I eventually found my way home. That night, another room mate and I went to dinner and we ordered pierogi, which is a fried, doughy, cheese-filled ravioli type meal. Very delicious!
But, back to the subject at hand. It seems I’m getting distracted, again. Recently I decided that I wanted to make zapiekanka. I mean, come on, how hard could it be?
Not hard at all, it turns out. I made mini zapiekanka. They were very lovely, filling and a great lunch idea.
- long baguette
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 2 cups cheese, grated
- dried oregano
- tomato sauce (ketchup)
- canola spray
- Slice baguette length-ways, then in half, so that you have 4 mini-baguettes.
- Grease a frying pan with canola spray and cook mushrooms for about 2 minutes, or until slightly tender.
- Spread cooked mushrooms evenly on the open top of each baguette piece.
- Cover baguettes evenly with cheese. You can use more or less cheese, to your liking.
- Sprinkle with oregano.
- Place under medium grill (broiler) until bread is crisp and cheese is melted.
- Squeeze some tomato sauce (ketchup) on top in a nice pattern and serve.