Mielec and Kolbuszowa

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Today we went to visit relatives in Mielec and in Kolbuszowa, a bit east of Krakow. The plan was to take a train to Tarnow and be collected for a stay overnight in Mielec. Alas the best laid plans of mice and men oft gang aglay.

Sin Bus

Sin Bus

We had plenty of time so we took it easy at home with the packing. We thought we would call a taxi about 30 minutes before departure. Our neighbour, Witek changed that with an offer of a lift. We arrived at Krakow Glowney with well over an hour to spare. Great, we will buy our tickets and have a relaxing coffee.

Our train was listed on the departures board but there was an ominous word beside it- bus. We went to the usual ticket booth. It was closed. We walked to the other side of the station to a ticket booth. It was closed. We walked to the main booking hall. It was closed. What is going on? We walked back towards the station and followed the signs to the ticket office under Galeria Krakowska. There was one lady before us. She was having trouble. I think she was a tourist. First her debit card would not work, then her Amex card would not work. The assistant was particularly unhelpful. Eventually she left. Then the assistant had to reverse the myriad of entries she had made for the first lady. This took ages and produced lots of paper, all of which had to be stamped and filed.

Eventually it is our turn. Anna asks to buy tickets. The assistant abruptly tells her she cant sell her tickets as it is a bus, not a train. Where do I get a ticket? On the bus. Where? Just go down there, turn left, turn right, turn left, stand on your head etc. Is there a map. NO. End of conversation.

We walked on trying to remember her instructions. We found ourselves approaching the main bus station. Then a very angry man started screaming about scandal. It turned out he had come from our bus stop but was trying to confirm it was correct. Despite my reservations he directed us to a stop about as far away from where we started as possible. It looked like a normal suburban bus stop. There was no signage at all but other people waiting confirmed we were in the right spot.

If you did not speak Polish you never would have found it.

While we were waiting a mini bus turned up with the logo “SINBUS”. Sounds like my sort of transport but Anna would not let me escape.

By this stage all our coffee time had evaporated and we only had a short wait. Lucky we did not follow plan A.

It turned out that the railways have bought some very fast Italian trains. They can do 200 Km/h + but the rails cant cope. They are being rebuilt. Hence the trains are off.

Anyway, the coach was air-conditioned and very comfortable and we shared it with less than 10 other people. It flew along the A4. Fortunately I had my book. We arrived in Tarnow in what seemed no time flat. Anna had phoned ahead and Andrzej, Anna’s former brother-in-law, was waiting for us… at the bus station. We were dropped at the railway station. Thankfully they are near each other and a call resolved that hiccup.

Ania, Bartek, Andrzej, Anna, Maria

Ania, Bartek, Andrzej, Anna, Maria

A quick drive through Tarnow as we headed for Mielec showed off a few lovely cathedrals and some attractive parks and gardens.

More expressway. Thankfully I had my book. Anna and Andrzej chatted. Eventually we arrived in Mielec. It is a thriving city of some 60,000 souls. It has a range of industries and is going gang busters.

Andrzej and Maria's Home

Andrzej and Maria’s Home

We arrived at Andrzej’s home and were greeted by Maria his wife, Ania,

The garden

The garden

his daughter and her husband Bartek. And what a house. It has been mostly rebuilt and completely refurbished. Wow. And the garden… flowers, vegies, fruit trees and vines and a lovely lawn. The bumble bees were loving the lavender.

GriffinAfter a sumptuous lunch we went for a walk to the main square. It was seriously impressive. At the far end was a statue of a Griffin, the symbol of Mielec. Continuing on, we walked towards the river. It flooded some years ago and inundated many of the nearby houses. They showed no sign today and were all looking fresh and modern.

St Matthew's

St Matthew’s

This river bank is dominated by St Matthew’s Church. It is quite impressive. We could not resist going inside. Lucky it was Saturday and we had it to ourselves. Inside was simply beautiful.

We processed on towards the river. There was a long footbridge, maybe 150 metres over a 3 metre wide river. They built it after the flood. The occasional pushbike made walking across interesting but what really set it apart were the motorcycles. Yes, motorcycles using a footbridge. At least they were clearly audible, unlike the stealth pushies.

St Matthew's

St Matthew’s

Our walk continued and we arrived safely home where we spent the evening over barbecue, conversation and liquid libations.

Sunday morning broke with a beautiful blue sky and promises of a warm day. We went to the cemetery to pay respects to late relatives.

Andrzej at Graveside

Andrzej at Graveside

Polish cemeteries are outstandingly pretty as everyone visits them and leaves flowers and candles.

Roadside Shrine

Roadside Shrine

I am told that on All Souls Day they are almost beyond belief. After the cemetery we visited a shrine in a forest out of town. This is looked after by volunteers. The late Jan Gancarz has his name inscribed on it as one of the major carers. The ladies pumped water from the well and put on the garden.

After a tour of the industrial area and a look at some historic Soviet aircraft (no photos allowed) we returned home to be picked up by Piotr from Anna’s side of the family and be taken to Kolbuszowa, 20 km away.

Family grave

Family grave

Family grave

Family grave

On the way we visited Kolbuszowa cemetery to pay our respects to past relatives. This cemetery has no trees which is quite unusual. Not long ago a tree was blown over and injured a visitor. The caretakers decided to take no chances.

Katyn memorial

Katyn memorial

 

World War II Memorial

World War II Memorial

Aside from the relatives there were also some remarkable memorials to WWII fighters and to Katyn, the site where the Soviets massacred thousands of Polish soldiers.

Piotr took us to lunch at his restaurant. A very welcome serve of soup, salads and pork cutlet. Here he took me on a tour around his green houses. Vast amounts of tomatoes and chrysanthemums. He gave us a selection of tomatoes. Yummo.

Anna at Wisienka

Anna at Wisienka

The highlight for me though was Aza, Piotr’s female german shepherd “guard

Aza

Aza

dog”. From her approach to me I think any uninvited visitors would be in most danger of being licked to death. Her best friend is a cat. We saw it but it was camera shy.

After lunch we toured the cousins after visiting a palace where Piotr took our photo. Very sadly Adam had cancer and was unable to see us. He passed away a week later. The other cousins we met all shared stories and made us feel very welcome. We also met Piotr’s lady friend Grazyna. She gave us coffee in her beautiful house in a village. Piotr poured some Ukrainian Cognac. It was remarkably good and I planned to buy some on our trip to Lwow which fell through due to visa charges.

Our plan was to go back to Tarnow and take the “train” but Piotr said it would take no longer to drive back to Krakow. We learnt why when we hit the A4. Piotr’s lovely Citroen has 6 automatic gears and they all work very well. We sat on 190 – 200 Km/h all the way. Thankfully I had my book. Believe it or not, we were still being passed by other cars.

And so ended our weekend with the relos.