Laundry in Munich, now to dry it.

We had two types of laundry rope. One was a twisted rope with suction cups that could not hold the weight of damp socks. It’s saving grace were the hooks that could be hooked on the rope after winding the rope arould say the shower rod and towel holder. The second rope was a tightly braided Rick Steves laundry rope with velcrow straps on each end. This was a better deisgn since the braid was woven so tightly that it held all items well and the velcrow could stand up to the weight of wet clothes. Unfortunately we ran out of room in the bathroom to use it well.


Laundry in Munich, rain, beer, and nap time

Today was supposed to be the Audi museum day, but the fatigue of time change and Nicholas’ adjustment to time change, driving, and lack of clean clothes caught up with us. Instead today was, well, it started of as an easy going day that had us running latter on and laughing later.
Laundry – we finally found a laundry mat with the help of the ladies running our hotel. 30 washing machines at EUR 4 a load, and 2 driers at EUR 0.6 a load. Why? one might ask: because the driers don’t dry, they shake the container for 5 minutes shaking the water out of the clothes, resulting in damp but not dripping clothes that you take home and hang all over your apartment, or on travel laundry ropes in our case (see Laundry blog w/ picture).
We decided to visit one of the local beer houses and have some Bavarian food. It was good, meat and potato dumplings, the beer was ok. When it was time to leave however; the thunder storm we have been avoiding for the last 2 days finally caught up with us. It just kept on pouring as we stood by the entrance to the beer house facing the decision: to get wet or not to get wet. Every time we went out, so far, we had our rain gear with us, except this time. We realized that we forgot the rain shield for the stroller at home in Seattle. Standing there looking at the rain we finally decided to go for it and run since we did not know how long the rain would fall. We had a water proof Rick Steeves bag with us that we put Nicholas’ lower half in and hang the handles of it on the side hooks of the stroller. Nick looked as if he was a loaf of bread sticking out of a grocery sack. Once nicely packaged we made a run for it, and the rain only got worse. By the time we reached our hotel 10 minutes later Nicholas was the least soaked of all of us, although he did not mind any of it, happily chewing on his teether the whole time. After a bath to warm up we all took a nap. The food, beer, and the unexpected exercise made us tired.
In the late afternoon we needed some caffeine but going to the local Starbucks was not an option. Yes, just like McDonalds, Starbucks is everywhere now. So we walked to the city center and were pleasantly surprised at all the old buildings, pained facades, and a huge Gothic “Glock….” something or other, it looked like a church but wasn’t. (more on the Glock thing tomorrow). When planning this trip we knew we would be limited by having Nicholas with us so all we planned for was the car museums and the the German equivalent of the Smithsonian; hence, we did not read about the all the other cool stuff in Munich. We will probably cram for the rest of our time in Munich at breakfast tomorrow since we will be wondering around that area again. Anyway, we found a nice restaurant with friendly waiters, had a great meal, and wondered around the area until we got lost and were not sure which direction to go. It was a pleasant weather and since we did not feel exhausted we did not worry about it. It was time to use the “where the hell are we” application on the iPhone. It was a good day, even thought it was not what we originally planned. We look foreword to getting lost tomorrow night as well.


Our son the pickup artist

Who among you can chat up a woman using jiberish and your smile alone and have her want to take you home in 15 minutes flat? Our son, that’s who. We stopped at a gas station/ trucker stop/ small restaurant. A group of old ladies was stoping ther on their way to a pilgrimage to Rome. Jason got situated with Nicholas and I went to the register to order food. When I came back Nick had two ladies playing with him making cute faces at him and calling him a little angel. Ten minutes later as they were leaving one came by again, kissed him and sai she would take him home if she could. The whole thing was very cute and made us giggle when we were there. This happens a lot. On the plane when we were holding him Nick eaould stand on Jason’s legs and smile at the lady behind him. Just about everywhere he can get the undivided attention of someone he will smile at them and try to get an exchange of chit chat and giggles going. The one place this does not work is at playgrounds cause parents are there with their own kids and don’t give him that attention, but then at playgrounds he ignores the adults and scoots towards the other children.


Prague

Prague is a beautiful city. Although, getting here with a baby takes longer from Czestochowa then the estimated 6 hours on Google, Nicholas needed play time outside of car, so it actually took 8 hours with the stops. Our hotel was advertised as “with a view of Charles Bridge” what that meant was that it was actually 50 feet away from our window. We could see tourists in detail running away from the rain and we could hear them sing in a drunken state at midnight. One night when Jason and I were finishing a walk with Nicholas we ran into a group of happily drunken students asking us to take their picture. Then they wanted a picture with us. Afterwords one of the fellas said to Jason “Thank you Big Boss”. There is a ton of tourists from all over n Prague and the ones in late teens early twenties enjoy staggering down cobble stone streets drunk with a beer in hand, its quite a site. There is so much wonderful old architecture that its nice just to walk down the streets and look at it. One does not have to see museums and churches to enjoy Prague, although we did go to the Mucha museum showing art of the “Art Nuvou” movement done by the artist Mucha. It was small and disappointing, but the ostrich dinner we had that night and the city overall made up for it.
Under the bridge, below our hotel there is a brand new playground, build in 2008, with swings, climbing structures, seesaws, and other cool play structures, oh yes, and a sandbox. We took Nicholas there in the morning although I think Jason and I had more fun at the playground then he did. Overall we find Prague to be child friendly, however, to find diapers or formula one has to go outside of Prague or bring their own because the grocery stores are tiny and we did not see any to carry those items. We brought enough supplies for Nicholas to not worry about it and were able to wait it out till we found a store with supplies.
That is all for Prague. As I write this we are in Munich and just had a fabulous breakfast in our hotel. Well, its time to do laundry and buy some Nick supplies, we are in a modern city today where everything we need is all around us. In Munich we leave the beautiful old architecture behind and see the modern marvels of the twentieth century: BMW museum and Audi museum. More on this tomorrow, or later.


Cousin Gosia & Family/ Czestochowa – hotel Sekwana best location ever

We had a great time visiting with my cousin Malgosia, her husband Jacek and their three year old son Ziemek. They live in Kozienice, about an hour south of Warszawa. From there it was a three and a half hour drive to Czestochowa, which means “hides a lot”. This is one of the most important places for the Polish Catholics, in other words for most Poles. Czestochowa is home to the church containig the “Black Maddona”, a very old icon of Mary and Jesus. Wikipedia has a good description and history of the “Black Maddona” so I won’t go into it.
Our hotel Sekwana, was in a great location to take the stroller up the hill where the church was. There is the museum where you can see a copy of the icon up close and without the centuries of damage, as well as other interesting things, however with the baby we focused only on the church, which was beautiful and very cool versus the sweltering heat outside. We could not have found a better location for lodgings. On the same street as our hotel there was a pharmacy, a medical suply store (get your wrist brace here if you forgot to pack it like we did), an electronics store where we got a three-way power splitter, a grocery store and restaurants. We could have even gotten haircuts if we wanted to at the local salon. All this and that’s only on the hotel side of the street. It was a good time to be in Czestochowa because it was between the religious holidays and pilgrimage seasons so the streets were not swarming with groups of pilgrims (tour groups, scouts, church clubs, and religious personale from all of Poland and surrounding countries). Be warned though; Pilgrimage season starts sometime in the summer so check before you visit, especialy if traveling with children.


Our flight to Amsterdam and why we wont fly NWA again

We made it. We will not fly Northwest again but at least we made it. To start with NWA is recently ran by Delta and the management does not know how to organize people trafic at the airport. You will no longer see sighns for NWA in Seatac. After an hour in line to get our tickets, no the machine was not an option, went through security, and finaly three trains later, we emerged by the gate only to hear our names being called. Nicholas, it seemed, had no ticket, even though we called NWA a month ago and purchased one for him, NWA never charged us for it hence there was no ticket on the books. The NWA lady behind the counter was franticaly trying to resolve the situation with customer service while another lady was making an announcement that who ever has not boarded yet will have their lugage removed from the plane. Finaly they jotted our credit card number and let us board the plane. In the plane we were expecting to be sitting at the bull head and having Nicholas in an attachable basinet. As we got to our seat it became aparent that this detail of our trip which we also arranged with the airline a month ago was also screwed up and we spend the next ten hours with Nicholas in side by side seats of aile and windndow in between rows. It was a long ride. On the bright side: we got to hold our son while he was sleeping, and looking peaceful, which helped ease our frustration.
The flight from Amsterdam to Warszawa was a breeze. No basinet but it was only a 2 hour flight, airline was KLM, much better service. Got an almost brand new rental car. Had issues with the car seat but finaly got a different car seat from Budget and headed out on the road. Our For Focus is a comfortable car, holds all the lugage well, Nicholas is comfortable.


Nicholas Allan Sturgeon has joined the family.

Marzena and I are happy to welcome Nicholas to our little family. I will start posting more when I have a chance to sleep. 🙂

photo


OS X Applications for System and Network Administrators

OS X Applications for System and Network Administrators » Nirlog.com

A good posting of some of the best stuff on mac for us geeks. I’ll be posting some cool new mac software I’ve found soon.


Wroclaw

Aug 20

We had to leave Piaski today. Jason promised Uncle Krzysiek to practice volleyball. He also promised to improve his “Dart” technique, especially since he lost miserably to Uncle Krzysiek. It was once again hard to part with family; but at least Renatka and Artur were going to the city of Wroclaw with us. We saw the “Raclawice Panorama”, a giant canvas painting (15 meters by 114 meters, and to give you an idea of how large that is: I am 5 feet 1 inch tall, or 1.55 meters). The painting is wrapped around the internal walls of the rotunda in the form of an unbroken circle and viewed from an elevated central balcony. It depicts the battle of Raclawice fought on 4 April 1794 between the Polish insurrectionist peasant army, lead by Tadeush Kosciuszko, and Russian troops.

In the evening we went to Old Town with my cousins and Renatka’s boyfriend. His last name literally means “little fishy” so we had to joke that we are related to him because Sturgeon is a fish also. We finished the evening by teaching Renatka, Artur, and “little fishy”-Lukasz, Texas Hold’em Poker. The pretzels we had with us made good chips to bet with, although we kept on loosing them through the cracks in the cafe table.
In the morning Renatka and Artur took us to the train station and we parted one last time with family in Poland. And then I felt very sad. We had one more week in Poland and we would not see any more Cousins, Uncles, Aunts, Grandma or Grandpa.


Mushroom Hunting

August 19

When you ask someone who has just come from the forest with a basket full of mushrooms “Where are the mushrooms?” they will look at you, smile, and say “In the forest.” they just won’t tell you where in the forest. The places of where mushrooms can be found are carefully guarded by mushrooms hunters/gatherers, and Uncle Krzysiek took us to just such a place. Unfortunately, no matter how much Jason, Renatka, Artur, Uncle and I looked they just were not there. It was too dry and too early, but we did not give up hope. As we drove through the forest on the designated/(ridden into a permanent state by other drivers over the years) road, we looked at the forest road till we heard Renatka scream, “Stop! I see a big one!”. Unfortunately there was only one. A few yards up the road I screamed “Stop! I see one.” there were three. A few miles further there were some more and eventualy we had half a basket of what I think in English are called “The King Boylean” or “Boylin” – Prawdziwki (look it up I don’t have an encyclopedia on me). And that was that for the wild forest, of course like true mushroom hunters we had that undying hunger to fill both of the baskets. This need brought us to Uncle’s home made forest which was crawling with Maslaki (rough slang translation accumulates to “Butter Mushrooms” because they had a slimy top, they are tasty but icky to touch).

So with these we filled up our baskets. Back home Grandma, Aunt Bogusia, and I peeled them. My finger tips were brown for three days straight from peeling those fungi. In the evening over sausages from the grill and vodka we all sang old Polish Campfire and Scout songs, even grandma surprised us by singing with us. When it was Jason’s turn to lead us in song he choose “We all live in the yellow submarine…” refrain, and we all followed to it since Beatles were big pretty much everywhere.

So here are some yummy recipes, remember you need cook the mushrooms first before canning, making soup or sauce out of them.

Cooking fresh mushrooms:
Peel mushrooms, chop from stem to cap checking for bugs, if you find holes, the worms are close and you might as well throw them away.
Put mushrooms in cold water (twice as much water as mushrooms) for 4 handfuls of mushrooms put in a tablespoon of salt. If you know now that you want to make soup now add 6 leaves of Italian (flat leaf) parsley when mushrooms are not cooked yet (remove before they become mushy). Add one small onion the size of half of a fist (or quarter of a fist if you are a football player)
Boil/simmer for an hour or until soft (thoroughly soft, not just squishy).
Next, well it depends what you want to do with them. If you want to can them then put them drained in a jar quickly, well packed, close jar, store in cool dark place for up to 3 months. Or you ca put them in zip lock bags (minus the water) and freeze them.

Soup
So you just cooked them and they are soft enough to eat pleasantly. You will use the mushrooms and the water they are swimming in to make soup. Add a pinch of pepper, 200 grams (8oz cup) of sour cream (although its in a firm state you may want to stir some of the mushroom water into the sour cream to liquid it up) and 1 tablespoon of flour for thickening (add the flour into a cup first and a tablespoon of cold/ice water to the flour and work into a thin paste). Hopefully you removed the parsley before it disintegrated. At the very end right before serving you can chop some Italian Flat Leaf Parsley and throw some on the soup. You can eat it straight, with boiled barley, or with pasta (I suggest Angel Hair pasta).

Mushroom sauce
SautĂ© chopped onions, 2 handfuls (roughly) for 4 handfuls of mushrooms, when transparent add the freshly cooked mushrooms, sautĂ© till it smells yummy, add 2 – 4 tablespoons of sour cream (with water worked in for smooth texture), bring to boling stage, add flour (with cold water worked in like for soup). Add more salt/pepper to your liking, sprinkle some freshly chopped Italian Flat Leaf Parsley, eat with boiled potatoes.

–Marzena


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