Our ultimate destination in Poland was a wedding in Trzcianka. As Americans, neither of us is able to pronounce the t-r-z-c combination, nor the name of the first city on our Germany-to-Poland drive, Wroclaw (how to pronounce Wroclaw). We read it as "rock" + "claw" which soon morphed into a nickname, "Rock Lobster". Upon hearing this, Darcie's dad reminded us that Poland and Sweden had once been at war, which was settled when Sweden got rights to all vowels and Poland got all of the consonants.
Driving through Poland, we were very entertained by the road signs. At the start of our drive, the road from Berlin to Wroclaw was one long rumble strip. We saw road signs like those below, and assumed that "Koleiny" meant "Sorry our roads are so bad!" Other indecipherable signs were the ubiquitous yellow wedge with no wording which we decided signaled "cheese ahead," and the bizarre "girl with lollipop" crossing.
When driving through towns, you frequently see two signs: the town's name crossed out, and the town's skyline profile also with a red line through it. To our surprise, it did not mean that the town has been obliterated by a meteor, merely that you were leaving the town.
Similar to the US, highway speed limits decreased significantly when driving through town centers, but we were also frustrated that speed limits would change within meters of each other. I mean, why bother slowing down from 60 kph to 40 in 10 meters, only to speed up to 80 kph in 20 more meters???
In any case, we really enjoyed our 36 hours in Wroclaw. The town is famous for its hundreds of brass dwarves located throughout the city. These were originally symbols of anti-communism but have become a tourist attraction.
Prices were much lower in Poland than in Germany. When we went into a C-store to buy drinks, Dale thought the prices were posted in Euros, not Zloty, because it seemed unreal to find sodas for less than 50 cents or chips for 25 cents. Like many European cities, Wroclaw/Rock Lobster has a town center surrounded by restaurants, bars, shops and street performers. On our walk through the square, we noticed a store window that always had long lines. Well, when in Rome...we got in line. It was a donut shop! The donuts were warm and tasty--Darcie had red currant jelly and Dale had vanilla cream--but the donuts weren't necessarily worth a 15-minute wait. The day happened to be a holiday that also commemorated the military, so we saw military vehicles and a parade.
After Wroclaw, we drove to Poznan, a shockingly pronounceable city, to meet Dale's friend Lukas. Poznan also has a large public square with lots of market stalls, restaurants and bars. Lukas told us that buildings in the square were taxed by their width, so you see very tall, skinny homes in this area.
After lunch and seeing Lukas' house and family, we drove to Smolarnia ("Samonella") to stay overnight in a hotel before the wedding in Trzcianka ("Turkistan"). This wedding was one massive food orgy interrupted by nuptials, dancing and games. We were warned by the bride that the wedding would have unfathomable quantities of food and drink that would roll into two (!!!) breakfasts the next day: one at 2:30am and one at 11am. We had a blast and wish that more weddings were like David and Dominka's--focused on fun and celebration rather than rituals and anxiety over centerpieces and family feuds. This was by far the most fun we have had at a wedding!
The next morning, we drove back to Berlin. During our drives into and out of Poland, we entertained ourselves with juvenile competitions about who could spot the word "fahrt" the most (fahrt means "journey" in German) since it is found on highway exit ramps ("ausfahrts"), entrances ("einfahrts"), and departures ("abfahrts"). Best of all is the wanderfahrt (hiking trip)! There may have been other "fahrts" during this trip but we won't talk about those. =)
Now we're headed back to Cleveland, too soon! Darcie got flagged for an extra security check for some reason, and can't check-in online. To Dale's dismay, this means she will insist on arriving at the airport even earlier. Yes, it will be one long fahrt home!