Monday, July 13, 2015

The big visit, part 2

Tuesday, June 30.

This day we had set aside to visit the Malbork Castle.  Alicja opted not to go because she has been so many times over the years with so many friends, family and visitors.  Alicja drove us to the castle and dropped us off.

But, first, because it was a Tuesday, we went to the farmer’s market.  Malbork has a farmer’s market day on each Tuesday and Friday.  This one is a real farmer’s market where village and rural people bring their produce to sell for very reasonable prices.  Additionally, there are many vendors of clothing, shoes, leathers, etc.  Again at very reasonable prices.  Alicja laughs a lot because there are many Romanian sellers there with clothing, shoes, etc., and their Polish sounds funny to her.  (actually, a few weeks ago, I bought a pair of athletic shoes there - just to do yard work. I paid 40 złotych - about US $10. ) So, we wanted to take Shannon to see it.  I think she enjoyed it.  And, while there, I bought a new belt.  I was pleased.

THEN, to the castle.

The Malbork castle dates back to the 1200s.  It was built by the Teutonic Knights beginning in about 1200 and taking about 100 years to complete.  It is both a castle and a fortress because, back then, it was necessary to be able to fight off invaders.
The castle is huge.  It is impossible to describe to someone because it is so big and so impressive.  It is also impressive to visit and think about the fact that it was built of hand cast bricks and constructed using architectural knowledge of the day.  No calculators, no computers, no machinery.  Just manual labor.  To us, it is unbelievable.  And, it is beautiful.
The castle was pretty heavily damaged by bombing, etc. during World War II.  But, the damaged parts have been rebuilt and it closely resembles how it once was.  Of course, a large part of it is still original and shows the original, hand-cast bricks that were used in the construction.
There are guided tours available for those who wish.  But, they are not mandator.  We did not want to be in a guided group.  The admission price includes an audio guide to hang around your neck and numbered stations to tell where you are and what you are viewing.  The guides are in several languages.   Shannon and I spent over two hours touring castle and we skipped some areas.  It was fairly crowded.  The castle is a major tourist attraction in this part of Poland and many tour companies bus tourists here from other cities.

After we finished our tour of the castle, I called Alicja and she came to the castle to meet us for lunch.  We ate at one of the two castle restaurants.
The food is mostly traditional Polish and is quite good.

Alicja's potato pancakes.  Placki ziemniaczane

Shannon's bigos.

After lunch (or, as the Polish call it - obiad), it was time for the ladies to go shopping.  Alicja had promised Shannon that shoes in Poland are beautiful, excellent quality, and less expensive than in the U.S.  There must be some truth in that since Shannon bought five (FIVE) pairs while she was here.
While the girls shopped, I sat down at a little tent beer stand and had a bottle of beer from a brewery in Gościszewo, a little village near here.  They brew an excellent beer.  While I was sitting there, a couple sat down near me to have a beer.  It turns out that they were German.  Between my almost forgotten German and his very limited English, we were able to have a nice, albeit short, conversation.
And, that ended day 2...............

Next.................we take the train to Gdansk and visit Old Town.

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