Dziękuję!

Dziękuję – the only Polish word I know, means Thank You. According to Google Translate it’s pronounced ‘gin-koo-ya’, which means though it’s my only only word, I’ve been saying it all wrong.

I just took a whirlwind Polish Pottery shopping adventure with the Spouses’ Club. We departed by bus at 10:00pm Monday, arrived at our first store at 6:30am Tuesday, shopped all day with a lunch break, and set out to return at 5:30pm. We finally pulled back into my neighborhood at 1:40 this morning. That’s about 950 miles and more than 10 shops with 23 other women in 27 hours if you’re keeping track. To say I was exhausted would be a gigantic understatement. I probably won’t do that again, but I’m so glad I did. Fun times, great deals, and an added bonus: memorable election results from friends in the States via text message and e-mail.

1:15am rest stop.
Rest stop on the Germany/Poland border for breakfast.

rest stop election results
I stood at this spot for the longest time…

And as I was walking back to our bus? I got a message from my sister that said, “OMG!!!!!!! Yayy!!!!!! Bronco Bama!!!! YAY!!!!!!! Omg omg omg!!!!!!!!!!

And another from Carey that said, “Obama WINS!!!!!!

And one from Angie that read, “Woo hoo! Yes, I’m crying and I have chill bumps. Empire state bldg is blue!!!!

All at the same time.

I was so sad that I wasn’t on the couch watching cable news with them, but I am so glad I’ll always have that memory.

Back on board the bus, I donned my Ojamas and popped a bottle of champagne to celebrate.

Celebrating Obama's victory

And then we shopped, shopped, shopped.

Polish Pottery

Polish Pottery

Hello from Poland!

We had delicious Perogies, apple pancakes, local beer, and Honey Vodka(!) for lunch.
Perogies and apple pancakes.

Honey Vodka shots

Honey Vodka shots

And after lunch? More shopping.

Polish Pottery

I won’t disclose how many hours I slept today! And as soon as I hit ‘publish’ on this post, I am going to bed.

Dziękuję for the memories, Poland!

Polski Festiwal Ceramiki

Every Army wife has at least one piece of Polish Pottery. And the longer I’m around, the more I acquire. Is it issued to us? Feels like it. I’ve received some pieces as gifts, I’ve won some items at Spouses’ Club events and I bought a piece or two somewhere along the way.

It seems like forever ago, but its only been two years since our group all lived in the same neighborhood. We called ourselves The Ohne Kinder (German for “without children”) but found out the neighbors were calling our little clique “The Evens” since we lived in apartments two, four, and six. We are scattered now, and one of us (not me!) is a new mom. I miss the old days, when we were together and had fun adventures like taking a road trip to Bolesławiec, Poland to shop at the annual Ceramics Festival.

The first day had us in many different shops, each with its own overwhelming selection options…
compemplating purchases at our first stop

So much so, that occasionally we just sat down and sorted through it all…
Tricia and Angel

The town has some super cute features, like this:
Angel, Jen, me & Tricia

We stayed in a fun castle in the country, where we saw local kids riding in a cart pulled by a horse. They were thrilled and we enjoying seeing simple things making people happy.
Kliczków Castle

We explored the city the next day, where I was surprised to see Solidarity flags flying – we were there on the 30th anniversary.
Bolesławiec, Poland

Bolesławieckie

The festival featured more than just pottery – I bought a lot of gifts and a treasure or two for myself.

Chicken Run at Bolesławieckie Święto Ceramiki
(35zł is about $11 US)

And the whole town turned out for a late afternoon parade.
Ceramiczna Parada

watching the Ceramiczna Parada

I’m headed back in November. Let me know if you want anything!
at the festival

More pictures from our trip are on Flickr.

Adventures with Angie: Everything Else

One of the reasons Angie visited during August was to attend Rheingauer Weinwoche – the annual Wiesbaden Wine Festival. And attend we did!

Our first visit on Saturday, August 11th, was with a heap of friends – some old, some we met as the night progressed. It goes without saying, but for the record: We had a great time, lots of food and a ton of wine.

Wiesbaden Wine Fest

The Rheingau Wine Festival has turns the centre of Wiesbaden into the “longest wine bar in the world” – and represents an attraction for more than ten thousand visitors. At about 100 stands, winegrowers present their wines and bubbly sparkling wines.

Angie & Christian

All of the travel and wine caught up with us and Sunday, August 12th marked the start of our new preferred schedule: We’d sleep until about 11:00am, play too many rounds of Scramble With Friends on our iPhones, drink coffee, (maybe have an Advil or two?) and watch Downton Abbey before getting on with our day (i.e. more wine.)

The two of us hit the fest that afternoon (and spent most of our time people watching. We texted Jen: “We are at the corner of Snarky McStrasse and Passing Judgement Weg. This is better people watching than an airport!) and were home in time to watch the Olympic Closing Ceremony, which ended much later than we anticipated. Staying up late helped cement that new schedule, by which I mean I turned off the alarm and slept much later than we planned the next morning.

So… Monday, August 13th had us revising our itinerary. After we finally rallied, we took the train to Frankfurt to tour, shop, and… you guessed it: enjoy a glass of wine on the river banks before returning home for more Downton Abbey.

Frankfurt

Frankfurt

We were finally rested (sober?) and got up early Tuesday, August 14th, to head to Soufflenheim, France to shop for pottery, have lunch, and visit a Cora “hypermarket.” Think SuperTarget, but rather than regular grocery items, it’s full of French wines, cheeses, baked goods, etc. YUM.

And now that I think of it… in the non-YUM department: A guy seated at the table next to us ordered a tartare dish including an elaborate table-side display of beating a raw egg and mixing it with raw ground beef and herbs, which was mounded into a giant patty and served to him with a big spoon. We were equally intrigued and grossed out, and I’ll spare you the photos. Your mental image is probably accurate, though.

Soufflenheim, France

On the way home that afternoon, we wondered just why Angie would leave on Thursday, since I was convinced she wouldn’t be productive at work on Friday. She agreed and after a few phone calls to her office and the airline, she changed her ticket and extended her visit. I was thrilled!!

We were back to our regular sleep in / coffee / Downton schedule on Wednesday, August 15th. We visited Schloss Johannisberg for a late lunch where the scenery, food and wine (yes, more wine) were all equally fantastic.

Schloss Johannisberg

lunch view at Schloss Johannisberg

Schloss Johannisberg vineyard

That evening, we grilled out with Jen & Gary, who had just returned from Ireland.

And speaking of Jen & Gary: Wine Fest visit number three was with them on Thursday, August 16th.

Guess where we are...

Wiesbaden Marktkirche

One of the factors weighing into Angie’s decision to stay longer was that Big D arrived home from a few months in the States on Friday, August 17th. He napped to get over the jet lag while Ang and I… you guessed it: drank coffee and watched Downton Abbey. And that evening, we hit the fest a fourth and final time.

It’s particularly rare for Big D and Gary to be in town at the same time. And apparently, even rarer still for them to both smile in the same photo.

Wiesbaden Wine Fest

Wiesbaden Wine Fest

Big D & me

But after the drinks flowed, the jokes were told, and general craziness ensued, the whole night looked like this in our fuzzy brains:

final night at the Wine Fest

And I loved every minute of it.

I was so sad when it was time to take Angie to the airport the next morning. Thankfully, as soon as Jen & Gary have New Years plans inked in, we’ll crash them. Or we’ll figure out something to do on our own. And I’m positive more great times are in store.

We’re in France!

When the aforementioned Tricia invited me to dinner for the first time, somehow the evening featured my suggested viewing: Laser Cats. Then, she and her husband, Lee, introduced me to Bunny with a Pancake on its Head. And if that’s not the start of a beautiful friendship, I don’t know what is.

Later that same week, Tricia took me to Soufflenheim, France – a town so idyllic it feels like a movie set. We shopped and photographed our way through the day, unable to determine which of us is the bigger “Polly Polaroid.”

Throughout the adventure, I frequently announced “We’re in France!” excited, since it was my first trip outside of Germany .

Soufflenheim, France

our first stop of the day

One potter invited us into her garden where we both fell in love with some crazy ostrich heads which were mounted on rebar. We regretted not buying them as soon as we drove away that afternoon.

I loved these chicken heads

What really cemented our newfound friendship was an unfortunate situation during lunch at a very quiet crêperie.  Somehow, I flung a glass of red wine all over Tricia’s crisp white shirt and brand new pants. I apologized profusely, the waitress scolded me for attempting to mop up the mess with a cloth napkin, and Tricia brushed off the whole incident without making me feel awful. Later, while we were replaying the mess in a conversation, I wondered what my alternatives were to using the napkin and supposed that if nothing else, I could have offered to suck the wine out of her pants…

And now, it’s all part of our vernacular.

We’ve Polly Polaroided our way around Europe, offering to suck wine from each others pants, announcing “We’re in Poland!” “We’re in Ireland!” “We’re in Italy!” and “We’re in the Netherlands!” together with giddy excitement on countless occasions. In fact, since neither of us takes it for granted, we still pinch each other and say, “We’re in Germany!”  It’s always an adventure when we’re together.

I managed to secretly buy a string of pottery hearts Tricia was admiring that day and surprised her with it on her birthday that year. And on my birthday last year? You guessed it. My very own rebar ostrich head.

More pictures from our first outing, and a return trip are on Flickr.