The Romantic composer Frederic Chopin, a Pole by birth, requested that, upon his death, his heart be removed and buried in Poland, with the rest of his earthly remains to be buried in France.
To this day, then, his heart is interred at Holy Cross Church (Kosciol Swietego Krzyza) in Warsaw.
Our family, during our summer trip to Poland, had a chance to visit this site.
Thankfully, this is about all that happened to us.
This is the entrance to a public bathroom in the main train station in Krakow, Poland. That turnstile is there to prevent people from entering without paying.
“Enter without paying?!” you might be thinking.
That’s right: many of the public bathrooms in Poland are accessible only after paying a fee, usually two zloty, which would be about $0.60. When I first arrived in 1996, all public bathrooms were fee-based. There was a little window by the bathroom door where a janitor sat and collected money.
These days, most public restrooms are more Westernized, i.e., free. Most of the restrooms I saw in Warsaw, for example, were free. (The one pay restroom I saw was in Warszawa Centralna, the main train station — must be a train station thing.) Still, it was a little jarring to see a pay toilets again.
I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
by William Wordsworth
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
My daughter is a bit on the silly side. Well, to say she’s a bit on the silly side is an understatement. She prides herself on being silly. Every now and then, I get a picture of her that shows that side perfectly.
Like this one, taken in Chocholawska Valley in the Tatra Mountains of southern Poland this summer.
In the Tatra Mountains of south of Poland, there is a cheese that seems to be a pure, unadulterated Platonic form of cheese: oscypek. It’s made of sheep and cow milk which is turned into a cottage cheese, pressed, and left to sit in a brine for up to forty-eight hours. Afterward, it is slow-smoked for up to two weeks. It’s a cheese unique to the region and is protected under the European Union’s Protected Designation of Origin geographical marker and has to have at least 40% sheep milk to be considered real oscypek.
The cheese is made in a wooden hut called a bacówka, which is where the shepherds also sleep. A small fire pit is built into the corner of the hut over which the unpasturized milk is heated until it curdles, making a cottage-cheese-like substance. Those curds are then gathered by hand and pressed into football-like masses which then are placed in salt water. Finally, it’s taken out and placed on shelves high in the hut where it slowly takes on the smoke of the fire used to curdle the next batch.
Visitors to the bacówka can drink the whey (what’s left behind), which is sour, strong, and delicious.
More information is here. It also mentions bryndza, another of my personal favorite cheeses.