Tag Archives: poland

World Cooking – Poland

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Poland
Progress: 31/193

Poland isn’t one of those countries that I originally thought I would be doing for a long time. After all, I’ve been there fairly recently and there are still 160+ nations to make dinners for. However, as I mentioned in my post for Court and Spark it’s New Year’s Eve and tradition dictates that I cook something special. In 2017 I went Italian with the Zampone (filled pig’s trotter) and for 2018 it was French when I made pork belly with pearl barley flageolets. Since three things make a pattern, why not make something Polish for New Year’s 2019.

During my trip to Krakow I really fell for Polish food, mainly because it speaks to my genetic history… and also because everything I had over there was delicious. When I found out a favourite dish of mine was something that would be made for this time of year (which makes sense as it’s hearty and warming) I knew that I would have to make this.

Also, since this is a large enough country when it comes to food, I wanted to make my first dessert since the Sbrisolona for Italy. There were so many options to go for, with the main one already being internally earmarked for when I cook for Hungary. I ended up picking something that leaned in to the traditions I came to know from my Dutch in-laws, whilst still being Polish. Needless to say, despite being exhausted after not a lot of sleep, the food turned out great today.

Main: Bigos

I had Bigos on my first night in Krakow, whilst the hub went on to have it a further two times. It’s one of those quintessentially Polish stews that probably has as many recipe variations as there are Polish settlements. It was really hard to get a handle on a proper way to make it, so I went with a recipe by the Hairy Bikers as it tallied with the recipe I found in the cookbook I bought in Poland – except it used pork belly instead of feet.

The smell of this dish is just beautiful. It’s like a smokey and less spicy version of the Korean army stew, but also with that savoury hint of caraway. It’s also one of those dishes that is deceptively filling, but I guess the rye bread we had with it will have helped satiate out appetites. I was also surprised how much cabbage went into this rather than just straight sauerkraut… and just how much a difference the addition of the soaked mushroom water made to the umami nature of the dish.

We had this re-heated for dinner (which was even better than when fresh) and I already know exactly when I plan to make this again. This may be my heritage talking, but this was an unqualified success.

Dessert: Racuchy z jabłkami

When I’ve been to the Netherlands for New Years there’s always Oliebollen (Dutch donuts with raisins) and apple fritters on offer. So, when I found this recipe for Polish Apple Pancakes at Curious Cusiniere it felt like I’d found the perfect thing for this time of year.

These are yeasted pancakes, which means that they have the texture of a pancake combined with a fritter. It also means that the batter is super thick and sticky, this requiring me to use a sharp knife to remove stuck pancake from my spatula. They were thick and had just the right amount of chew, the apple providing a tart hint of sweetness. I also opted to make a cinnamon powdered sugar to go over them because what’s a better match made in heaven than apple and cinnamon.

Like with the bigos I already have plans to make these again, but I am going to further going to Dutch them up by making them apple and raisin pancakes with some cinnamon in the batter itself. That should work, and if it doesn’t it’ll still be a delicious failure.

Right, so I am back in the position where I have no idea where my next country is going to be. Statistics tell me that it needs to be from Oceania… so I guess I’ll need to find a recipe for one of the Pacific islands. There’s a few I’m tossing about, but they’ll depend on my finding some suitable fish or a place to buy banana leaves. Guess it’s time to do some research.

The Great EU Quest: Poland – Salt Mines and Ermine

It’s already come to the final day – it’s sad to be leaving such a lovely city, but I think I’ve fit in a lot of things over this extended weekend.

After a breakfast cobbled together from random delicious things we found at Carrefour, we headed off to the main focus of the day: the salt mines at the nearby town of Wieliczka. Honestly, this is probably not a place I would have booked prior to the holiday if it wasn’t for its placement on the Lonely Planet list, but when in Kraków.

List item: Visit 100 of the Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travelist
Progress: 79/100Sight: Wieliczka Salt Mine
Location: Wieliczka, Poland
Position: #213

It was another scorcher of a day, so spending a few hours underground in 16 degrees felt like a nice sojourn. I didn’t quite expect how much I would enjoy listening to the guide talk about the history of the mines or the fact that I would be given the chance to lick the walls (since the walls in most places are made of rock salt, and are therefore anti-microbial).

I also didn’t quite expect just how beautiful a lot of the chambers would be. Some contained artificial brine lakes (which were very well lit), many contained sculptures carved out of the grey rock salt and most had marble-like floor tiles that (again) were made from the rock salt.

The biggest shocker of them all was St Kinga’s chapel. This monumentally large chapel was carved of rock salt with statues, friezes, floor tiles and chandeliers all made from the rock salt found in this very mine (some of the pink salt sculptures were made form salt from a neighbouring mine). Some of the most impressive elements of this chapel included a carving of Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper and a weirdly lifelike statue of Pope John Paul II.

Honestly the 2-3 hours underground just flew by about as swiftly as the lift that took us back to the surface and I am thankful for the Lonely Planet list for giving me the proper push to something a bit different. It’s been too long (probably 17 years) since I last saw such impressive underground structures although, being completely man made, this was a different experience.

Lunch was brief and was decided the moment we got to the salt mines and I saw a man cooking kielbasa for 10zl a pop. I cannot believe that it has taken me until Day 4 before I had a proper Polish kielbasa, but boy did it not disappoint with some mustard and a kaiser roll (side note: I wish you could get kaiser rolls in the UK outside of speciality stores, it really is the perfect all purpose roll).

After finishing lunch and enjoying some of the midday sun, we made our way back to Kraków to visit the National Museum. Why? Well, as the Uber driver correctly deduced, we were here to see Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Lady with an Ermine. This is a painting I’ve always loved and it’s a privilege to see it up close.

I can really see how this is considered one of Poland’s National Treasures (above: a picture of the poster outside as, for obvious reasons, photographs of the real painting are forbidden). If there had been a bench in the room, I would have been able to stare at it for at least 15-20 minutes. As it is, it was just my husband and I (and two guards) alone with the painting in a darkened room. It just felt like one of those special moments where I could have as long as I wanted to appreciate an art object and there was no one around to hurry me along.

Since we’d already paid for the museum it only made to spend a lot of time in,their permanent collections. Doing a museum like this on the final day really works as it helps to contextualise a lot of things that you pick up about the local history via osmosis. It also helps that I have been devouring the ‘In Our Time’ and ‘A History of the World in 100 Objects’ podcasts as I was able to play some fun games of historical detective with certain exhibits.

This was typified by a long time that I spent just analysing this chess set that was on display. Not only unpacking the history behind its depiction of a battle between Poles and Ottomans on the board, but also knowing the cultural reasons why the queen piece was replaced by a vizier/advisor. I felt like a proper clever clogs and it felt great.

There were also galleries featuring modern art by Polish artists and one containing a wealth of armour and weapons. At this point, pretty much anything we saw was a bonus seeing how the main reason for us to come here was for a single painting. There was also an exhibition on Polish comics, but we had to miss it as we forgot to include there in our ticket.

By the time we left the museum it was early evening and, seeing that Kraków old town looks it’s prettiest under the bubblegum sky of sunset, we went on an extended to explore the streets we’d yet to visit. Did we get a lot of guys coming up to us and telling us about the beautiful girls we could see at their employers strip club? Sure, but that didn’t detract from the beauty of the town, just from the respect that I have for my own gender.

We saw so many new churches and other places of interest on this route. There are surely countless buildings that we missed, but it was time for dinner and boy were we ravenous.

It was a long walk to tonight’s restaurant (one that was stupidly close to the hotel) and it was exactly the place we wanted. Proper Polish food and am interior that was decorated like some sort of ski chalet. The sour soup that I had to start was exactly what I was looking for, even if it wasn’t served in a bread bowl.

The star of the show was the main – a huge platter of Polish things that, between the three of us, we struggled to finish. On it there was two types of sauerkraut, pierogi, grilled kielbasa, potatoes, a cabbage roll, pork knuckle, pork steaks in a tomato sauce and bigos (a sauerkraut stew with meat). This is exactly the sort of food I was looking to find and I made sure to make the most of it.

Stuffed like thanksgiving turkeys we did a final tour of Rynek Główny to say goodbye, ice creams in hand (mine was rose flavoured and I feel inspired to make my own once I get home). I couldn’t help but linger as long as I could – this is definitely one of the loveliest squares that I have ever seen.

We are technically leaving tomorrow afternoon but, since it really is just a case of getting up and leaving for the airport, I guess that it is goodbye to Poland – for the moment at least. I have so enjoyed my time here and felt so at home in the culture that there will be a return visit in the next few years. Maybe it’ll be Warsaw or Gdansk or some place I haven’t event thought of yet; I just know that this is not my last time in Poland.

The Great EU Quest: Poland – Auschwitz-Birkenau

There are cities around the world that bear scars of their troubled past. I’m thinking along the lines of Hiroshima’s Peace Park, The 9/11 Memorial in New York City and the former site of the Berlin Wall. For Kraków, and the surrounding area of Southern Poland, there is no scar deeper or more visible than the death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau. No one goes here as part of a holiday to find enjoyment, but to learn and pay tribute to what happened to over 1.1 million people some 70-odd years ago.

List item: Visit 100 of the Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travelist
Progress: 78/100Sight: Auschwitz-Birkenau
Location: Oświęcim, Poland
Position: #104

The trip out from Kraków doesn’t take too long, especially if you book a tour that picks you up from your hotel. The advantage: you don’t have to think about getting there and back as everything is sorted for you; the disadvantage: the driver put on a short documentary about the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau which meant half of the journey there was spent watching footage of the camp – including what looked like the autopsies of a newborn baby and a young child. I get why the ride there might be spent learning some history of the camp, but that was a lot to see at 8:30 in the morning.

It’s hard to talk about visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau as so much of it is about the feelings. By now we all know what happened from TV, books, films and school – but it’s a profoundly odd place to visit, especially on a beautiful sunny day in May. For a lot of the tour the closest analog I can find from my own experience is when I went to Herculaneum as a student. In what is now actually quite lovely surroundings, something devastating and unthinkable happened. It’s trite to say this, but it really does feel haunted.

This is all surface stuff when walking around Auschwitz’s immaculate brick barracks. Once you go inside and see the conditions of the cells, the piles of belongings that were recovered (including a whole room of shaven hair… which I cannot find an adequate word to describe) and, eventually, the gas chambers – everything suddenly becomes incredibly real.

Honestly, I didn’t feel right with the idea of taking pictures inside the buildings – especially the gas chambers/furnaces and rooms containing the possessions. I know that lots of people around me were snapping away, but in certain places The feeling of it being disrespectful outweighed my own morbid curiosity.

So that was Auschwitz. Birkenau, due to it being mostly destroyed, feels incredibly different. I have seen those famous train tracks in so many films (like Shoah and Schindler’s List) and even listened to a classical album about makes reference to the train journeys (Different Trains), which makes it incredibly weird to see in real life. It’s a similar sort of haunting feeling that I got from the Peace Pagoda in Hiroshima.

The big thing for me at Birkenau, rather than the remains of the demolished gas chambers and the memorial, was all the chimneys. A massive field containing a sparse forest of brick chimneys that are the remaining parts of the wooden barracks that were burnt down in the vain attempt to conceal the war crimes that were occurring.

Like I said before, it’s difficult to put into words just how this visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau made me feel. It was only a few hours after leaving that I made the contesting that this was where Anne Frank died, which means I have now seen her home, read her diary and seen the place she was killed. That human connection there is probably what ended up affecting me the most.

On the way back I slept on the minibus. After that morning it was probably my brain feeling the need to refresh itself so I could compartmentalise a bit and enjoy the afternoon.

For the afternoon we took the opportunity to visit St Mary’s Basilica in Rynek Główny. After all, I’ve already spent part of an evening watching the swallows hunting for insects in the dusk, so I might as well see the inside.

Well, the inside is beyond beautiful – especially the main alter piece by Viet Stoss. The level of detail in the wood carvings depicting the many sufferings of Mary (especially the work put into them beards) are beyond a lot of what I’ve seen before. Considering this is the minor church of Kraków compared to Wawel Cathedral, it surprises me how St Mary’s is the more impressively decorated. Some of the portraiture feel like something I have seen in Orthodox churches, but maybe that’s more the Baroque style coming through.

Sadly the tower was closed when we went, so we exited and headed to the Cloth Hall to do some souvenir shopping. Honestly there is so much that I wanted to buy, but regrettably we only brought hand luggage – meaning that I’ve had to stick to a few items that are not breakable (which ruled out a lot of Christmas decorations and ceramics). Still, I found a bunch of nice things before I we headed back to the hotel to have a bit of a chill before dinner.

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die
Progress: 741/751Food item: Roe Deer

When I want to try roe deer in the UK, it’s likely that I, going to pay £75 for the meal, in Kraków my share of the meal came to about £20. Just stunning. It’s gotten to the point where I feel like 70 zloty is too much for a main meal… which shows just how much I have started to adapt to the pricing.

The roe deer medallions themselves were seasoned with herbs and a generous amount of pepper. The accompanying sauce was flavoured with sour cherry and the meat was accompanied by whole sour cherry and there are a generous number of wild mushrooms. All flavours worked in perfect harmony in this zloty dish. The meat itself was tender with a slight gaminess to it, which puts it on par with hare. The way it was cooked makes me want to refer to this delight as a ‘wild steak’.

For dessert we all had the apple pancakes where the star of the show was the vanilla-caramel sauce. It’s one of the few times where I’ve had someone turn to me and ask what I was having. So yes, a good time was had by all at Miód Malina.

Tomorrow we will be off to the salt mines at Wieliczka for what is our final full day. After the last few days in the heat, I am looking forward to some time in a cold cave.

The Great EU Quest: Poland – The Many Faces of Kraków

It’s one of those travelling truths that whenever you want to properly get to know a city, you need to find and experience a number of its different personalities. This is even more important when you are in a city that is at least 500 years old. I think that, with today’s packed itinerary, I have gotten to know a few of the many sides of Kraków.

After a small breakfast at the hotel, composed of a bunch of things we found in the local Carrefour Express, we made a beeline straight for the second of the four Lonely Planet sites that I plan to see whilst in Kraków.

List item: Visit 100 of the Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travelist
Progress: 77/100Sight: Wawel Castle
Location: Kraków, Poland
Position: #487

It’s located at the southern tip of the old town and is at the top of Wawel Hill, overlooking the city and the river. The whole complex is huge and also contains Wawel Cathedral (more on that later).

Now if there is one piece of advice that I want to pass on, because no one told me, it’s this: do not buy your tickets from the ticket office on the slope – instead head inside and buy it at the ticket office near the tower. Why? More open windows, it’s inside away from the blazing sunshine and the visitors come in ones and twos rather than large groups buying conflicting tickets. We wasted nearly an hour because we did not know this, so you are welcome.

I can see how people can spend pretty much an entire day here. There are plenty of things to see, do and eat – all at the typically inexpensive Kraków prices (I mean 3zl for a scoop of ice cream in a castle café is loving the Kraków dream). Since we had no desire to be led around by the nose, we went for most of the things that did not require a guided tour (except the Oriental art exhibition, because timing and money).

For good views of the surrounding city, you’ll want to pay a visit to the Sandomierska Tower (and for 4zl it’s a bargain) – but that’s hardly one of the big ticket items here. For that you’ll want to head to the State Rooms, houses a large number of tapestries, paintings and come of the most interesting ceiling work that I have seen in a European stately home. It’s a real shame that, throughout the castle complex, they are militantly anti-camera – otherwise I’d have posted a picture of one the weirdest ceilings I ever saw (imagine a bunch of heads peering down at you and you’ll get an idea).

This trip around the State Rooms really made me wish I knew more about Polish history before coming to Kraków (aside from the story of St Hedwig and her many water glasses). At least today I’ve managed to pick up a few stories about King Stephen Bathory and some of the other monarchs that came before him.

After the State Room was a visit to the ‘Lost Wawel’ exhibition that contains archeological remnants from excavations. This is fine enough, but the real point of interest is near the end where you descend down a ramp and see parts of the first church built on Wawel Hill, which dates to around 1000 AD. Utterly astonishing and so well preserved considering how much restoration work is having to be done on other areas of the castle.

Before leaving the hill, you have to pay a visit to Wawel Cathedral. The ticket includes a trip around the cathedral itself, a bell tower (where you get to see the heaviest bell in Poland) and the royal tombs (which lacked the grandeur of Vienna’s Habsburg coffins, but were still good to see). The interior of the cathedral itself is a real mix of different styles with a large number of chapels to different saints – the largest being to St Hedwig herself. Again, wish I could have taken pictures.

We left the castle via the Dragon’s Den, which is a small limestone cave that is the best way to exit. It’s one of the most famous caves in Poland because it is attached to the myth of the Wawel dragon… which explains all the dragon paraphernalia in the Kraków souvenir shops.

It was already getting to the mid-to-late afternoon so it was time to march on to Kazimierz (aka the Jewish Quarter) and pick up some lunch along the way. We ended up in a pub-restaurant en route and, between us, had a pile of three types of pierogi (meat, cabbage and Russian) and a plate of bread, lard and pickles. Honestly I am falling more and more in love with the food in this city/country plus any restaurant that allows three guys to order a carafe each filled with different fruit juices (mine was blackcurrant) is alright by me. Also, these pierogi and that lard was delicious. Hopefully I can find more of this before I leave for London.

We roamed the Jewish Quarter for a bit before reaching the Galicia Jewish Museum. It’s not that big, but it houses some really interesting photographic exhibition is about Jewish life in the Galicia region (which included Kraków) pre and post Holocaust. The photographs and the initial exhibition about the importance of blood in Jewish lore really helped open my eyes and my heart in preparation for tomorrow’s devastating visit to Auschwitz. I’d really recommend the Galicia Jewish Museum if you need a bit more context of you need a bit of a history lesson about how Jews were seen in Europe before the Holocaust happened.

From here the idea was to pay a visit to the Oskar Schindler factory, but they had sold out of tickets by the time we got there – so we stared at the outside before slowly making our way back to the Old Town. After all, I booked us tickets to a concert.

List Item: Listen to half of the 1001 Classical Works You Must Hear Before You Die
Progress:
 36/501Title: Ballades
Composer: Frédéric Chopin
Nationality: Polish
Year:
1835-1841

Despite having nothing to do with the city of Kraków, there is an hour long Chopin concert every day at 7pm for the low price of 60zl (which comes with a free glass of sparkling wine). It starts with a short talk about the life of Chopin before moving into an hour long recital of a number of Chopin pieces – including some mazurkas, a nocturne, a waltz (which was mesmerising) and enough of his ballades for me to consider is crossed off.

Aside from loud Italians in front of us, the experience of seeing a piano virtuoso playing these pieces live completely beats listening to them via headphones. It’s utterly breathtaking to see someone with so much talent and has worked so hard to learn this skill. He was also easy on the eyes, which helped to make the waltz he played just that extra bit dreamy.

After this was dinner at a steakhouse across the road called Ed Red. It’s one of the higher rated restaurants in Kraków and sometimes you just want to have steak. It also helps that it had two food items on the menu.

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die
Progress: 739/751Food item: Bull’s Testicle

I’m really getting through the offal at the moment aren’t I. Since I didn’t want two starters to myself, I managed to convince my husband to order the plate of assorted veal offal whilst I order the ‘mountain oyster’ for myself.

Just to start off, this ‘oyster’ was served with a smoked white chocolate sauce – which may be one of the more unusual and delicious sauces that I have ever had. It really went well with the ‘oyster’ which was surprisingly delicious. I has expected something more chewy and gelatinous, when it was actually very delicate and tender with a vaguely beefy taste. It’s a bit like if leberkase contained puréed steak alongside the pork. At least that’s what I think. It’s weird to say this, but I would happily have bull testicle again in the future.

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die
Progress: 740/751Food item: Veal Sweetbread

On my husbands plate was veal sweetbreads (which is thymus gland or pancreas), brain, tongue, cheek and liver. First and foremost, the veal brain was so much nicer than the lamb brain that we had because it had been seasoned really well. But that’s by the by – the best veal offal on the plate was the sweetbread. It was like eating a very subtly flavoured white sausage that took on the flavour of the mustard underneath it. It’s one of those pieces of offal that I have been very curious to try it with different sauces.

As a main we all had some excellent Polish sirloin steak with a a number of different side dishes in the middle. For the price of the whole dinner (£24 each) we had some really good food and tried some really interesting things. If I am ever in Warsaw, I might have to hit up the other Ed Red location.

So tomorrow is going to be a trip to Auschwitz. It’s a long return journey and it’s looking to be a harrowing day. Will podcasts for the bus journey and a good meal take the sting out of it? Who knows, I guess I’ll just find out tomorrow.

The Great EU Quest: Poland – First Night in Kraków

Despite only being two months ago, it feels like forever since I last went away. So the anticipation in the build up to this trip to Kraków has been very high. However, before we get to that…

List Item: Visit all EU countries
Progress: 19/28

Despite having some genealogical roots in Poland (more specifically the Silesia region in the South West) this is my first time visiting. This really has been a long time coming seeing how I enjoy eating Polish food, watching Polish movies and, more importantly, it’s a pretty cheap holiday. Then again, after my last new EU country (Sweden) anywhere is going to feel pretty cheap.

Country: Poland
Year first visited: 2018

The journey to Kraków itself was pretty uneventful, although we did have a fantastic breakfast where we polished off the extra Belgian waffles that I had in the freezer.

I know I have said it already, but it is worth repeating, as a Londoner I cannot get over how inexpensive everything is over here. We had some problems with getting an Uber to our hotel (turns out that it was because of our hotel’s proximity to the Old Town and Uber drivers are not allowed to operate there) and we just missed the train (the next was in 90 minutes) so were getting a bit annoyed because we ended up splashing 89 zloty in a cab. Please note – this is about £20 between three people, it’s just that 89 feels like such a high number.

Our hotel is in the perfect place. It’s like having our own little apartment 5 minutes walk away from the old town and we’re close enough to some small supermarkets that I am going to be able to make breakfasts with some local ingredients as I actually have a kitchen to play with!

At about 6 in the evening, we set out of the hotel to get a first impression of the nearby areas of Kraków. The first thing that really struck me was just how much greenery there is, in fact the entire central part of the old town is surrounded by a park that also happens to contain statues and a number of water features. It would have been rude if we hadn’t taken a slight detour to get to know this area a bit better before heading to the main attraction.

List item: Visit 100 of the Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travelist
Progress: 76/100Sight: Rynek Główny
Location: Kraków, Poland
Position: #197

This main market square of Kraków is huge. It’s one of the largest medieval squares in Europe, to the point where the middle contains the large (and old) Cloth Hall, which now houses a small museum and a lot of small shops. Being so large and existing in 360 degrees, it is really hard to take pictures of the square at ground level that do it proper justice.

Size and impressive architecture aside, the energy you get from this square feels pretty unique. Its like a larger and less crowded version of Covent Garden that also has a lot of historical significance. It was the moment that I first stepped onto the square where I realised that Kraków feels like a special place. Also, this square is going to be one of those places that we keep finding our way back to during our stay.

Being out first night, it only made sense that we did the really touristy thing and had dinner on the square itself. So, we went to Restauracja Sukiennice which is actually attached to the Cloth Hall in the centre. Honestly, it was the pictures of the schnitzel on their menu that won me over.

In any other city, the mark up would be so horrendous that we’d have to get one of the cheaper things on the menu to prevent us from losing all our currency. However, this is Kraków where we ate like kings and it only cost £10-12 each. I mean we all had huge (and really well done) schnitzels, a few drinks and we shared this huge and amazing meat and sauerkraut thing that came in a huge bread bowl… and it was still so cheap. Part of me wished that we had room for dessert, but I don’t think we stood a chance after the sauerkraut bread bowl.

As the sun began to set, we started to walk off dinner with a bit of an explore of the southern parts of the old town. It really does feel like a less imposing version of Vienna, or at least a Vienna that never became an important imperial capital. There really is something about the architectural style and the ever present theme of classical music that makes Kraków feel grand and cultured, yet it feels remarkably young at times as well.

Already I can also see that we’re going to be having surprises around every corner. For example, on this walk, we randomly came across a small market (with many many food stalls selling everything from smoked cheese carvings to alligators made from nougat) that has been temporarily set up to celebrate a big football match (that Poland has no stakes in).

We headed back as the stag nights began to start. On the walk back to the hotel we began to get a lot of people coming up to us with the promise of cheap beer and attractive women. Seeing how I am gay and teetotal, they could not have picked a worse mark. We also began to see some of the stag and hen nights begin to drag themselves into town… to do whatever it is they do. It kinda sucks that, because we’re three guys and none of us look native, the assumption is that we’re here to get drunk and objectify women. Whatever, it’s Sunday tomorrow and that means we can be fresh for our first full day.

So that’s the end of the first day where, already, I have been able to tick off one of the four (yes, four) Lonely Planet suggested sites that I plan to visit whilst I am in Kraków. What are the other three? See you next time where I’ll be visiting the second of four.

Around The World in 100 Films – Start Point

List Item: Watch films from 100 different nations
Progress: 22/100

Time for me to open up the second of my three film bucket list items with a rather arbitrary goal of seeing films from 100 different nations. Unlike the Oscar list item this is something that can be permanently crossed off unless I suddenly get the urge to add another batch of countries to keep this going.

Now, I have decided to count countries as long as I watched the film after I put this onto my bucket list which was (yes I made a note) on August 5th 2013. This means that some countries (e.g. Finland, South Africa, China and Israel) are not on the list yet despite me having seen them in the past. I figured using this cut off point would serve as a way to make this more challenging whilst also keeping Burkina Faso (still stoked about that one).

Whilst I was preparing this list I saw there were 21 countries on the list and instantly envisioned doing a really cool triangle number diagram as you can see below:WorldCinemaTriangleNotice the problem? Well in making that list I had forgotten that I saw a Polish film at the end of January which means poor Hungary (my most recent nation) has to lay on the outskirts since I decided to do this in order of seeing them. My inner math-geek is not impressed with this. It was later pointed out to me that a film I thought was Australian was from New Zealand, now my inner flag-geek is unhappy too.

Still 22 countries down, 78 to go. Not a bad place to start with, although there are not many of the big film nations left which will make this interesting.

Any film suggestions for yet unwatched countries will be VERY much appreciated. Bear in mind re-watches are not allowed here so films like Tsotsi, Drifting Clouds and Waltz With Bashir will not count.

  1. Germany – Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari)
  2. U.S.A. – Robocop
  3. Netherlands – De Vierde Man(The Fourth Man)
  4. Czech Republic – Kolja (Kolya)
  5. Italy – La Strada
  6. Burkina Faso – Sarraounia
  7. Argentina – El Secreto De Sus Ojos (The Secret in Their Eyes)
  8. Japan – Zatoichi Monogatari (The Story of Zatoichi)
  9. Brazil  – Cidade De Deus (City of God)
  10. Denmark – Melancholia
  11. United Kingdom – Blowup
  12. Norway – Flåklypa Grand Prix (Pinchcliffe Grand Prix)
  13. France – La règle du jeu (The Rules of the Game)
  14. New Zealand – The Piano
  15. Poland – Popiól i diament (Ashes and Diamonds)
  16. Spain – El espíritu de la colmena (The Spirit of the Beehive)
  17. Sweden – Viskningar och Rop (Cries and Whispers)
  18. Belgium – Ernest & Célestine
  19. Greece – Kynodontas (Dogtooth)
  20. Canada – The Sweet Hereafter
  21. Algeria – Z
  22. Hungary – A torinói ló(The Turin Horse)