Omg Aus I love you I have somewhere to ramble.. REALLY long post coming up.
Forgive me, I just realized none of my photography from Poland is on this computer, but I will post some photos later on. :)
I had a laugh at the restaurant- Borsch, Vodka and Tears. I thought to myself "must be Polish." Then I read the next line.
Even though I was born and raised in Canada, I'm going to talk about Poland. My whole family is Polish. I don't know, I just feel more at home there than I ever have in Canada.
As a country, it's a pretty historic place. Our land is scarred with remains of concentration camps, most of which are now turned into desolate, quiet tourist attractions. Old buildings from the era of communism still stand strong; windows barred, properties fenced off, painted those pastel colours one would typically associate with the tropics. Alongside that, huge castles hundreds of years old stand. Museums remind us of our pagan origins- where we had everything from vampires and werewolves, to mermaids, dragons, and sun gods. Painting Easter eggs is actually an Eastern European tradition that was originally pagan and then become Christian. Our Easter eggs are called "pisanki" and we mad]ke the patterns by putting hot wax along the eggs before dyeing them. As you can see, these hand painted eggs are much more complicated than Eastern eggs these days. I never mastered this art, but I do know of a few people who can produce similar eggs.
Wildlife wise, Poland remains another stronghold. Probably our most notable animal is the white stork, also familiar in modern culture as the bird that brings children to the world... lol. These birds are a sign of luck. We build special poles for them to nest on. Having a nest on your property or even your house is a sign of great luck.
A lesser known bird is the black stork. This shy bird isn't rare- but it's much harder to see. They prefer to live in the forest. Seeing one of these is an even greater sign of good luck.
Poland is also home to the oldest forest left in Europe. Białowieża Forest was preserved for centuries as an ancient hunting ground for kings. Today it exists as a wildlife preserve. It's the only part of Europe where the European bison- the wisent- still roams wild. Also a sanctuary for other animals that are becoming hard to find in Europe. Haven't gone yet but I plan to on my next trip.
Phew. That's all for now. O__O