Polish Toledo

This blog is associated with www.polishtoledo.com

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Cracking Krakow

Internet users have coined a new term – “cracking”.

This year is the year of cracking Krakow. “Krakow is a cracking place to visit”, is the advice on Tripadvisor.com. Another tourist website writes about “Poland’s cracking old capital”. An airline advertises flights with the slogan: “It’s time to get kraking”.

You’re bound to see the word “cracking” spelt either with al “k” or “c” on tourist and travel websites all over the place. Even journalists and correspondents are using the term on a everyday basis in the EU.

“Cracking” is used both as a noun and as an adjective and refers to the great time one has in the ancient royal capital of Poland. It is synonymous with much fun, good mood and positive energy that Krakow stimulates. It also means some crazy ideas and lots of unexpected events that may happen to you while basking in the city’s unique atmosphere.

The powerful advertising slogan has been taking the Internet by storm. City officials themselves say they’ll use “cracking Krakow” in future international campaigns promoting the city.

Hence, one has nothing else to do but wish everyone visiting Krakow the best “cracking” time.

Polish Girls Too Pretty

Deutsche Presse-Agentur - Mar 30, 2007 - Warsaw

Pretty Polish girls have become targets of jealousy andbullying by British schools girls, while British school boys keen towin a Polish girlfriend have picked fist-fights with their Polishrivals, Poland's Zycie Warszawy daily reported Friday.

Most of the Polish teens arrived in Great Britain as part of themassive wave of migrants following Poland's 2004 entry into theEuropean Union. Tall, thin and a blue-eyed blond, Magda Kwiatkowska turned the headsof local boys as soon as she showed up at a high school in London'sActon district. 'It began two years ago with English girls making ironic comments,finger pointing and pushing her around,' Kwiatkowska's mother toldZycie Warszawy. As the threats became more severe, Madga developed anaemia, depression, ulcers and Crone's Disease - an illness of the digestivesystem.

'My daughter was terrorised by other girls who the boys no longerpaid attention to,' says Kwiatkowska's father. 'She begged me topick her up on time after school and was afraid to walk around townalone.' At first he found it hard to believe his daughter's good looks wereat the root of her woes. But even after she transferred to anotherschool, Magda was bullied again by British school girls jealous ofher good looks and the attention she received from boys. Eventually the mean-spirited attacks forced Magda's returned toPoland, where she is attending school and seeing a therapist toovercome the trauma of bullying. Zycie Warszawy also reports that fist fights over Polish girls havebroken out between gangs of British and Polish teenage boys in Lincoln, near Nottingham.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Polish TV Shocker

Norwegian black metal band Gorgoroth staged a special concert that made Janet Jackson's breast-baring look like nursery school antics and left Catholic Poland outraged. A police investigation has begun after a show that included dozens of sheep heads on stakes, a literal blood bath and a naked, crucified woman.

The band gave Polish TV far more than they bargained for.

Gorgoroth's concert in Krakow was recorded by state TV and the resulting scandal was the center of attention in Polish media. The band is now being investigated for causing religious offense, which can be punished by two years in prison.

The police are also considering an investigation of cruelty to animals.

There was blood everywhere. About ten decapitated sheep heads and naked people, alive, on large crosses. Everyone was painted with sheep blood. Also there were Satanist symbols everywhere. One of the hanging female models fainted and an ambulance had to be called.

TVP staff were terrified and reported the show to police. They wanted to halt the concert but feared a riot from enthusiastic, bloodied fans who had paid for tickets.

The band were recording a concert DVD and had promised fans a very special show in Poland, and had rigged the stage behind curtains to keep the content secret.

Recent troubles with sects and Satanist groups have made the issue especially sensitive in Poland.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Chopin's grand piano discovered in Britain

A grand piano that once belonged to Frederic Chopin has been discovered in a country house in Britain, more than 150 years after the composer's death.The French-made piano, which Chopin shipped to Britain in 1848 and used in his last concert tour, was found in antique collector Alec Cobbe's home by a renowned Chopin scholar, The Times of London reported.

Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger tracked the instrument to Cobbe -- who paid a mere $3,880 for the instrument without knowing its history -- and informed him of its illustrious past owner.The Pleyel piano is now on display at the National Trust house in the county of Surrey, where fans of the Polish-born composer can hear his compositions from the instrument on which he personally played them. Cobbe said the difference is clear to the trained ear as the aged instrument plays such compositions with an unrequited beauty. The pianos of today produce lone, sustaining, liquid notes, whereas with the Pleyel the notes die away much more quickly and this gives a completely different texture to the music, he told the newspaper.

Source: UPI 17 Mar 2007 LONDON

Off to Afghanistan

A group of 100 Polish troops has left for Afghanistan from Wroclaw, the capital of south-western Lower Silesia.

They are led by general Marek Tomaszycki, commander of the Polish contingent which is to be stationed in the southern part of Afghanistan to secure the strategic Kabul to Khandahar route.

This area is no picnic or walk in the park.

Poles will be cooperating with the legendary American 82nd airborne division. The entire Polish contingent is to number 1200 by mid May. Its mission has been initially set for one year. The Poles are to be equipped with Polish and US military hardware. Additionally, they will have APCs which are a joint Polish-Finnish construction currently undergoing tests in Israel. In a few months they will also receive Polish helicopters.

The farewell ceremony at Wroclaw airport has been attended by President Lech Kaczynski, Defence Minister Aleksander Szczyglo and top military brass.

Liberals : iść do piekło

In her article published in the large Spanish El Pais daily, Pilar Rahola, left-wing politician and journalist accused Poland of participation in the Holocaust. Poles are taken aback.

Joanna Najfeld reports for Radio Polskie 3-21-07

Poland is responsible for mass genocide of two-thirds of the European Jewish population, the current Polish government oppresses the people by making them come clean about their communist past and discrimination of all sorts flourishes in the heart of Europe, claims a radical leftist journalist and politician in a controversial article published in the Spanish El Pais daily. It's ridiculous, judgmental and totally at odds with facts, responds the Polish side.

Paweł Zalewski, head of the Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Affairs, suggests that the El Pais article author, Pilar Rahola might want to take an educational trip to Poland to see how absurd her accusations are:

'All the theses presented in the article are absurd. It's very difficult to discuss with them. The only reaction could be to invite the author of this article to Poland. I think that this lady has never been to our country. Probably visiting it personally she would realize that the actual situation here is totally different that what she described in her text.'

Polish MEP and history professor Wojciech Roszkowski shares Paweł Zalewski's reception of Rahola's claims:

'To quote some of the theses of Ms. Rahola would be enough to showwhat kind of quality of journalism she presents. She wrote that Poland played a key role in these operations that led to the extermination of 2/3 of the whole Jewish population in Europe and I ask her how could Poles exterminate Jews in Europe while they were occupied by the Nazis.'

One of the other issues in Rahola's article was the juxtaposition of the accusations of anti-semitism and the so-called 'homophobia' .

Professor Roszkowski finds this intentional and symptomatic:

'It's very fashionable today to compare the so-called "homophobia" with anti-semitism. I strongly reject these accusations. Homophobia is a term invented by the gay and lesbian community to present this community as an oppressed community. And this is absurd. It's a result of a long series of promotion of the gay and lesbian style of life. It's already twenty years that this manifesto of the gay and lesbian movement was designed: first, to speak as often as possible about this community, to always present them as victims, and to present those who stick to the traditional values and traditional moral standards as oppressors, to present them in one line with the Nazis, with war criminals and so on. It's absolutely unacceptable. '

The article in El Pais also attacked Poland's recent vetting, or 'lustration' law. History Professor Wojciech Roszkowski was stunned at the level of what he evaluates as factual ignorance displayed in that accusation:

'Ms. Rahola presents our new vetting law as a violation of human rights. You know, she doesn't know what she's talking about. She hasn't read the law and she doesn't know at all what vetting is all about. And also, she has no idea whatsoever about what the former communist security apparatus was. So, I would prefer that she simply kept silent on things that she has no idea about whatsoever.'

Pilar Rahola is a former deputy for the Spanish parliament where she represented a radical left-wing party. She has also worked as a reporter and is just a contributor, not a full time employee of El Pais. But it's not the first time that El Pais gives voice to these kinds of radical attacks on Poland, says Professor Roszkowski:

'It has already been many times that El Pais published articles criticizing not only this or that Polish government but Poland as a nation, Poland en bloc. And now Ms. Rahola exceeded all limits of ignorance, bad will and prejudice. My conclusion is that although it's a daily of the largest circulation in Spain, the quality of journalism in this paper and the control of these articles by the editor in chief, puts it in one category with the worst tabloids.'

The El Pais daily defends the publication saying that the paper presents many opinions. It also promises to publish letters questioning Pilar Rahola's beliefs.

source: Radio Polskie 3/21/07

European Commission taking Poland to Court

The EU will ask a court to order Poland to stop building a highway through a protected environmental area that is home to rare plants and animals.

Poland wants to build a section of a highway linking Warsaw to Helsinki via the Baltic states through the northeastern Rospuda Valley, one of Europe's unique peat lands.

The area is recognised by Brussels and Warsaw as having special environmental interest and has protected status under the union's Natura 2000 network of conservation sites. Poland has disputed the Commission's view that building the highway would violate the bloc's environment protection laws.

The EU wants the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice to order Poland to halt building the route so no irreparable damage to the environment is done before the court gives a final verdict on the legality of the highway.

If Poland does not comply, the Commission can launch a new round of legal proceedings, which could lead to fines.

Environment protection activists are protesting against the highway but many local residents back the route as it would ease heavy truck traffic that cuts through towns such as Augustow.

Where was the EU when Toledo built the Greenbelt Parkway? Bad joke, never mind.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Poland will become bigger in territory

Poland will become bigger and the Czech Republic smaller as the Polish government wants to gain 368 hectares of land from the Czech Republic it lost through a rectification of border half a century ago.

Until recently, Czechs did not agree with the change, but they have softened their stand.

Preparations of an agreement have started. The report is good for some 400 Polish farmers living alongside the Czech border as the change from 1958 split their fields and has made their lives very difficult.

"I have to be careful and I must not allow my cows to nibble the grass at the Czech side since border guards immediately intervene," a local Polish farmer said. "When I want to plough behind the border, I have to go first to the border crossing, a one-kilometre distance," he added.

If you're going to San Fran-Krakow, be sure to wear a kilt around your waste...

Calls are growing in Poland for a ban on "men in skirts" because drunken Scottish flashers have been upsetting locals.

Agnieska Gaspar, 23, from Krakow, said: "You can't go round the corner without seeing a Scot showing off what he has under his kilt while one of his mates photographs him."I saw one lying in the gutter the other day with his kilt round his waist. He was drunk, and it was freezing cold - I am surprised he did not get frostbite.

"Poland has become a major destination for UK tourists mainly attracted by the cheap beer.Authorities in major towns like Warsaw and Krakow have already complained about the drunken British tourists often coming for stag parties, but now they say the kilted Scots have added an extra dimension.

In the city of Wroclaw, officials are exploring a kilt ban after being horrified by groups of drunk Scottish men who lifted their kilts to strangers.Local police who have born the brunt of the complaints say a kilt ban would not be possible, but have promised to crack down on the partying Scots and make sure they keep their kilts down at all times.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Irena Sendler Honored

On Wednesday March 14, 2007 the Sejm honored 97-year-old Irena Sendler for her heroic rescue of more than 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II.

Sendler began helping Jews well before they were herded into the Warsaw Ghetto, or concentration camps where thousands died of starvation or execution.

Born in 1920, about 15 miles southeast of Warsaw, Sendler was very much a product of her upbringing. Her father, Stanislaw Krzyzanowski, was a physician who treated many impoverished Jewish families.

Irena was working for Warsaw's Social Welfare Department,and she used every opportunity to distribute food, clothing and medicine to needy families.

When the city's Jewish population was "relocated" to the ghetto, Irena joined Zegota (The Council for Aid to Jews), organized by the Polish Underground. she transported desperately needed food and supplies to the imprisoned population, as she began formulating plans to rescue the children.

Armed guards stationed on the walls stood ready to shoot anyone suspected of smuggling food to the starving population. Young children were among their many victims.

The heart-wrenching task of separating children from their parents and siblings was just the beginning. Convincing gentile families outside the ghetto to take them in was almost as difficult.

Using every means at her disposal, Irena transported the children in ambulances, garbage cans, coffins, potato sacks, or anything else she could use to hide them from the Gestapo. She even feigned contagious diseases to keep the enemy at bay.

With impunity, she drew up hundreds of false identity papers, and in a daring and creative move, hid documentation of the children's true identities in jars that she buried in a neighbor's back yard. Later she would dig them up and work to unite the children with family members who survived the death camps.

In October 1943, the Germans arrested and imprisoned her. They tortured her, Gestapo-style, breaking her legs and feet, but they were unable to wrest the names of her co-workers or the hiding places of her Jewish charges.

Finally, they sentenced her to death, but under a pretext of further interrogation, a German soldier orchestrated her escape. Her name even appeared on a list of executed Poles. She later learned that members of Zegota had bribed the Germans.

Using a false identity, she continued her work through the end of the war. As soon as she was able, she dug up the jars and began the task of reuniting the children with their families, most of whom had perished at the hands of the Nazis.

In 1965, Irena was among the first to be named a righteous gentile by Jerusalem's Yad VaShem, the Holocaust's Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority. She also received honorary Israeli citizenship at that time.

Too frail to attend yesterday's award ceremony, Irena sent a letter, which was read by a woman she'd rescued as a baby.

"Every child saved with my help and the help of all the wonderful secret messengers, who today are no longer living, is the justification of my existence on the Earth and not a title to glory."

Here's a switch

Instead of stealing Polish computer engineers and programmers, firms like IBM, Google and Motorola are opening research labs in Poland.

According to Marek Zaionc, head of the computer-science department at Krakow's Jagiellonian University, "We have a lot of good young people in these fields, and we're still a lot less expensive than other parts of Europe."

Poland and other Eastern Europeans have dominated international programming
competitions in recent years, attracting the attention of high tech firms.

Tomasz Czajka, a 2004 graduate of Warsaw University, became a national celebrity in Poland after winning three TopCoder competitions in 2004-2005, racking up winnings of more than $100,000.

"When we saw these trends, of people from Eastern Europe winning these contests, we decided to take a closer look," says Kannan Pashupathy, Google's head of international engineering operations. "People have a huge interest in software, and there's a much deeper grounding in mathematics in the curriculum in these

Cultural, geographic, and economic proximity to Western Europe has given the region an advantage over global competitors like India. Salaries in the region are much higher than in India, but still one-third to half of those in Western Europe.

Krakow, and other cities are a short flight from London, Paris, or Berlin. EU membership makes investing all that much easier for western firms.

Mr. Czajka's celebrated TopCoder victories have made programming particularly attractive to young Poles. "Everyone knows Tomasz Czajka and everyone wants to be like him," says Hibner, who recently won an international math competition. "Last time I was in Warsaw, there was a huge poster of him in the center of the city."

VISA not every where you want to be

The US senate has passed a security bill to deal with terrorist attacks, a part of which is a conditional abolishment of the visa requirement for Washington's allies in the war on terrorism. Poland is one of its staunchest supporters, but what are the chances for the visa waver to materialize in the near future?

The bill, passed on the strength of 60 votes against 38, is only a first step towards visa abolishment. It must go to the House of Representatives and be signed by W, who threatens to veto it for reasons not connected with the visas.

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Ukraine Black Balled by EU

Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko said March 7 after a meeting with President Lech Kaczynski in Płock, "Ukraine is counting on Poland's active support in its talks with the European Union."

The Polish president called it a meeting of "strategic partners and allies." Yushchenko stressed that the most important thing for Ukraine was active dialogue over the coming months on winning support for the country's entry into the EU. A new mandate adopted by EU member states in January makes no mention of Ukraine's EU accession. Poland, supported by Britain, Sweden and Hungary, insisted that the talks on the new agreement should highlight the fact that the door to the EU was open to Ukraine, but to no avail.

Given the climate of change in Russia recently, it would appear, a priori, that putting Ukraine firmly in the EU column would be a strategic step for the common wealth and security of Europe.

I can understand hesitation regarding Turkey by some EU countries, but Ukraine? Gimme a break.

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Pole introduced coffee to Europe

The history of the European coffeehouse goes back to the legend of Kulczycki, a Polish-Ukrainian soldier who fought at the Battle of Vienna of 1683, when King Jan Sobieski drove back the Ottomans. It is said that this soldier found large sacks of coffee beans in an abandoned camp and then decided to open the first coffeehouse in Europe.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Fine Polish Restaurant

Ever wonder what it would be like to dine at a fine Polish restaurant in America? See a video review of a place in San Francisco called Old Krakow. Almost makes you want to make reservations for tonight.

[Click Here]

Video is in Real format. If you don't have this media player you can download a free version at

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Croissant invented in Poland, so was the Bagel

Who made what first? Both Poland and Russia claim to have invented vodka. There's also debate regarding the origin of the bagel and croissant.

The origin of the bagel seems to be credited to Poland. The first printed mention occurs in Krakow. A list of community regulations in 1610 stipulated that bagels are to be given to pregnant women. No mention of religion or practice thereof was included. We've covered the Bagel issue in a previous post (see link at bottom).

Now we investigate the croissant. Sounds French doesn't it? Well, so does polonaise. There has always been a intercultural thread between France and Poland. After all, the Presidential Palace in Poland is named Belvedere, and famous French author Victor Hugo once exclaimed, "I am Polish because I am French!" We can argue too, about who first made the crepe, but let's try to keep on track.

Many people have heard that the croissant was created in 1686 in Budapest, Hungary by a courageous and watchful baker, at a time when the city was being attacked by the Turks. Working late one night, he heard odd rumbling noises and alerted the city's military leaders. They found that the Turks were trying to get into the city by tunneling under the city's walls. The tunnel was destroyed and the baker was a hero, but a humble hero — all he wanted in reward was the sole right to bake a special pastry commemorating the fight. The pastry was shaped like a crescent, the symbol of Islam, and presumably meant that the Hungarians had eaten the Turks for lunch.

The problem with this story is that it's all made up. It first showed up in the first version of the great French food reference Larousse Gastronmique, in 1938. Later on, the story switched locations to Vienna, during the Turkish siege there in 1863, but that was also a fabrication.

Burt Wolf the famous journalist with a television program on PBS devotes an entire show to the culture and food of Krakow. In episode #509 in addition to an explanation of the croissant's birth in the ancient Polish city, he also lets us find out how the immodest sight of a woman's legs saved the town's Medieval wall.

Burt Wolf is an American journalist, writer and TV producer. He is the host of the PBS series Travels and Traditions [1] He has written or edited more than 60 books, authored a weekly column for The Washington Post[2], and is was columnist at Salon.com. [3]

Although I can't find a schedule listing for broadcast of episode #509 regarding the birth of the croissant in Krakow anytime soon - Burt's program on the Shrine at Czestochowa will broadcast 4 times this month on WBGU-TV, the PBS affiliate in Bowling Green, Ohio.

Burt Wolf: Travels & Traditions : The Shrine at Czestochowa, Poland
Tuesday, March 27, 8:30am
Burt Wolf: Travels & Traditions : The Shrine at Czestochowa, Poland
Tuesday, March 27, 2:30pm
Burt Wolf: Travels & Traditions : The Shrine at Czestochowa, Poland
Tuesday, March 27, 8:30pm
Burt Wolf: Travels & Traditions : The Shrine at Czestochowa, Poland
Wednesday, March 28, 2:30am

[See Post on Bagel invented in Krakow]

[Link to Cusine Polonaise] A French Website

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Go Forth and Multiply . . . Damn it!

Poland needs babies. "A pro-birth policy is needed to ensure that we continue as a nation," Kaczynski said at a news conference. He acknowledged, however, that it is a "costly policy."

Details were laid out by Joanna Kluzik-Rostkowska, deputy minister for labor and social policy, who said it would cost $5.6 billion. She said the plan would provide tax exemptions for each child, gradually extending maternity leave to 26 weeks in 2014 from the current 18, and strengthening the system of preschools.

"If we do not avert the negative demographic tendency, the costs in the future will be much higher," she said, adding that in 15 years, the country of 38 million risks not having enough young, working people to support society.

Poland has the lowest birth rate in the EU.

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Kaczynski wants Christian values in EU Constitution

President Lech Kaczynski, who is participating in the EU Brussels summit, has appealed to include references to Christian values in the Berlin Declaration to be adopted in connection with the 50th anniversary of European integration.

The Polish head of state acknowledged the proposition is not acceptable to France, but declared Poland's willingness to work for a change in this stand. 'Not every European has the duty of being a Christian. But the statement that Christianity lay at the roots of European culture is clearly historic and not ideological in nature. It's all about respect for facts, said President Kaczynski.

Kaczynski also repeated the plea for EU solidarity with reference to energy security matters. However, his statement had been echoed only by representatives of Lithuania and the UK.

See related topics from this blog:



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Not enough security from NATO for Polsh tastes?

NATO does not meet Poland's security expectations and Poland should negotiate another bilateral military agreement with the United States according to Witold Waszczykowski Poland's Assistant Foreign Minister. The statement was received with mixed reactions in the country.

NATO is not seen as prepared for the possibility of a military conflict. Since 1999, when Poland joined the Alliance, NATO has not updated its military systems due to lack of immediate threat.

A new military agreement Between Poland and the US, it is said, would bring new substance to Polish - American relations and at the same time enhance Poland's security.

This view caused mixed reactions in Poland. According to Rzeczpospolita daily, many diplomats unofficially support the view. Others disagree. Professor Roman Kuniar from the Institute of International Studies at Warsaw University points to the fact that such a critical statement may provoke a reaction among our European partners. "It's a very wrong signal also to other members of the Atlantic Allliance becasue they may think, you know, if Poland once regarded as most pro-Atlantic country of the Atlantic Alliance is losing its faith in NATO the others may begin to feel the same way."

An expert from "Polska Zbrojna" military magazine says that if Poland were to negotiate a new treaty with the Americans now is the time to do so. Since Poland is about to negotiate with the U.S. on the installation of a anti-missile shield on its soil another agreement on mutual security would only seem natural.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

In Search of the Abominable Snowman of Cleveland

The day after Janet and I saw Ich Troje in Concert a couple of blocks from my sister's house in Independence, Ohio we set out on expedition in the near by forest where I grew up to attempt to make contact with Zbigniew Białypalec the legendary Abominable Snowman of Cleveland.

Adventures are always exciting. I think that perhaps in a prior life I was Skuba Dratewka the shoemaker who slayed Smok the Wawal Dragon by loading a sheep’s stomach with sulfur. That made the dragon explode after he ate it, thus winning the hand of King Krak’s daughter Princess Wanda. In this life however I am only interested in preservation of endangered species.

The last time I think I caught a glimpse of the old creature was the winter of my senior high school year decades ago when a few friends and members of my polka band had a Mid-Winter's Eve krupnik party in the dangerously deep crevasse near Deer Lick Cave. Brecksville Reservation, largest of the Cleveland Metroparks, is deeply carved into seven separate valleys and has many different trails throughout its beautiful forested land. But, like Hansel and Gretel, you'd be advised to sprinkle some bread crumbs behind you if you ever hope to find your way back home.

This photo shows Janet mugging for the camera as we make our way down the treacherous rocky path to the bottom of Devil's Pocket. The elevation at the bottom of the pit could be the lowest point in reference to sea level in all of Ohio.

Notice Zamrażana tęcza (frozen rainbow) caused in cold weather by bio-force energy of the human body when passing two magnetic boulders. Also note szpada stycznia (swords of January) hanging precariously above head on the narrow trail.

Taking a rest to warm our toes near a natural cascade about 140 meters down, Janet's artistic eye catches an opportunity for an interesting picture composition of the seasonal elements. While snapping photos, we heard loud echoing moans and growls that ricochet off the stone faces of the canyon.

The time is just before 2 o'clock and the winter sun is nearly directly perpendicular to the earth's surface providing light into the crevasse. We have scant time left before the sun's angle darkness what light is available.

We frantically rub our Popsicle toes for the last time before trudging down another 100 meters to the floor of this frigid wonderland of snow and ice. The temperature at this depth was minus 10C but we are lucky there is not much of a wind chill this particular day.

Since there are no doorbells or doorknockers to announce one's presence in Zbigniew's neighborhood, one must look in each cave or recess to see if anyone is at home. This picture shows me making a hasty retreat and slipping on shiny ice exiting from a small cave after detecting methane gas. Though methane is usually orderless, there is a faint smell of kapusta, signaling that Zbiggy was in the area not long ago.

Notice the funny headcover. Janet let me use her knit babushka to keep my ears warm as they were beet red and felt like they would actually fall off.

Besides the hypothermia affecting either side of my head, I now have another injury to contend with in a rugged environment where balance and agility is mandatory for survival. Cell phones are of no use to call for help this far down from the thick forest floor nearly 3 football fields in height above us. Yes, I started saying the first of many Hail Mary's....

Both Janet and I marvel at the naturally formed ice wall in front of this particular cave. Notice the small window opening that looks like the State of Idaho upside down conveniently allowing for ventilation and the supply of oxygen necessary for mammals - even abominable snowmen to breathe.

We are sure Zbigniew must be inside. Peering into the dark cave, I see what appears to be the glint of a pair of illuminated eyes. It is very strange and eerie that as cold as it is neither Janet nor I can see our breath. But, there seems to be a little steam coming from a nose or noses inside the cave. To top that off - we can detect an ever so faint sound of a clarinet playing what we think we recognize as the Fleet Avenue Polka. We strain our ears to listen, but the sound mysteriously stops like the hejnal played from the spier of St. Mary's in Krakow at noon everyday.

Here I am seen offering a package of Sliwka Naleczowska w czekoladzie to the occupant(s) inside the cave through the window of the icy facade. The idea of an offering was entirely Janet's idea. Initially I thought that would be a great good-will gesture and would be an "ice breaker" (no pun intended). Then I thought...Why isn't Janet doing this??? I got my hand out of there fast.

Sunlight was staring to fade and we knew we had to head back up the trail or be forced to spend the night huddled in a cave without heat or indoor plumbing. So, we started to pack up and turn towards the trail of crumbs we laid down on our descent.

As we started climbing the first set of stones we heard a big crash. Sounded like a huge sheet of ice crumbling down with deafening noise. The echoing sounds and the tons of falling ice shook the ground like an earthquake. As the chunks of ice hit powdered snow on the floor of the pit white out conditions bellowed as if a blizzard of blinding snow instead of falling from the sky went in reverse from down to up. Janet snapped this shot as we made our hasty retreat. Can you see a faint outline of a snowy looking creature?

Well, let me tell you boys and girls, that was one heck of an adventure. Legend has it that Zbiggy came to America from the mountain areas in Galicja around the year 1911. The winter when Niagara Falls even froze. It was so cold that year a solid sheet of ice extended from Poland across the North Pole and down into North America and Zbigniew walked the whole distance.

Maybe next year we'll try again to visit with Zbiggy.


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