Wednesday, September 28, 2016

My Hit and Miss of my Last Trip and Trip Planning Advice

My Hit and Miss of my Last Trip and Trip Planning Advice

Even road warrior travelers make mistakes. I collect several stories about packing tips every month, and these anecdotes are very helpful. After all, we don’t often share what worked and what didn’t on our trips. And the truth is that everyone appreciates value shopping and saving a few dollars here and there. Of course, every trip is different. Few people take international trips as frequently as they travel domestically. Packing for longer trips is a different matter than getting ready for an overnight business trip or a pleasure trip right here in the USA.

My main advice which I can’t help but reiterate here, is to pack lightly. For your wardrobe, choose two or three colors that you can mix and match. Hand-wash your clothes during your trip. And when it comes to planning for your getaway, use a Pinterest board like this one to save the items that you want to purchase.

Cold December day at the Wartburg Castle, overlooking the town of Eisenach, Germany

My Miss on My Trip

My miss on my last international trip was with my luggage. I got caught up in searching for the best deals on luggage and forgot about the consequences of my decisions — like how easy the bags would be to lug around on trips. Remember, you have to carry your bags with your belongings inside!

My usual practice is to take one piece of luggage with wheels and a handle — a standard size, nothing huge — that I check in with the airline, and then to bring two carry-on bags with me on the plane. These are bags that I sling over my shoulder. I use one to carry an extra set of clothing and tech tools like my laptop, phone, cords, chargers, writing pad, etc. The other is my daypack, which comes with a shoulder strap, and which I keep in front of me like I would a purse.

On longer trips, I look for an oversized personal bag into which I can slip my small daypack during the flight. When I arrive, I have both my daypack and my larger bag to carry any purchased items on my return flight.

I blew it on my last trip. The new oversized bag (picture) that I thought would be perfect for my daypack and any extra items turned out to be way too big and awkward for my height. I’ll say it again — don’t forget that you still need to carry your bags with you at the airport and times like during transfers to hotels.

My Awkward Carry On Bag on this Trip

I know better than to stray from my usual practice. However, I wanted to try something different (though I should have tested this on a shorter trip).

Now I’ve returned to my old carry-on (a comfortable shoulder bag) along with my daypack. And I recently found this convenient carry-on bag, which has plenty of room for a laptop. It converts into a backpack as well.

My Hit on the Trip

Traveling in the winter from California poses a new set of challenges for travelers. And yes, we do have coats in Northern California. I own lightweight jackets and all-weather coats that I wear on cooler days and in the rain.

I am familiar with heavy coats from when I grew up in the cold, icy, snowy weather of Central USA. I added this item to my Pinterest board and eventually found the fabulous black wool coat, which came with a hood. It was the perfect length and went down to right above my knees, yet was long enough to cover the tops of my legs. And as a bonus, it was a designer coat on sale since I’d shopped for it ahead of time! It kept me warm on the cold, winter December days I spent in Germany.

Heavy Black Coat and Day Pack in Ruhland, Germany
 Trips should be fun, one-of-a-kind experiences. Most of us don’t get away all that often, and we don’t want to create unpleasant situations. In order to make the most of your next trip, remember these basic tips:

Let's have fun. Where am I going next? From the The Fun Tour Guru 

What are your Hits and Misses - what worked or didn't work for you from your last trip? Tell me in the comments below.  

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Monday, September 5, 2016

Brunch, Plazas, History, Nature in Cedynia, Poland

I love to go out for breakfast and brunch with friends and family.  I started thinking about all of the places I have gone for breakfasts and brunches both locally and on my trips.  There is a one in 2014 that stands out.  Is it the surprise factor of where I was going why I recall this one?

I will not be writing about the delicious German and Polish foods this time, I am going to  describe the “where” I went for the first time. 

Going out for breakfast in Cedynia, Poland

This particular morning I was whisked off in my carriage on a chilly December Saturday morning for our delicious brunch and get acquainted reunion conversation. The countryside I went through looked much like I remember growing up in Missouri as we crossed over the Oder River and the Poland border outside Bad Freienwalde, Germany. 

This is northeast of Berlin, Germany.  I went from my favorite urban city, to a small town, to a find this tiny village. I watched the rolling hills, forests, and wide open space pass by me through my carriage window.

I admit I was a somewhat apprehensive passenger following along on this day to unknown places especially since I do not speak the language and I was not able to do my own research first.  I do love to embrace new regions and I found familiar fun excitement rising inside me again.  How often do we really get to go to new, not familiar, and unknown places? I am grateful for cousins and friends that helped show me the way.

Poland Countryside in December

Why is it the time that passes going to a new place appears to move slowly when in reality, it may only be a half hour?  The distance (per Google maps) from Bad Freienwalde, Germany to Cedynia, Poland is  7.7 km or 10 mi and about 20 minutes. With my imagination, it seemed like a day journey in my carriage.

As we turned off the main two lane highway into Cedynia, I was reminded again of the Missouri town rolling hills. Of course I see the old Church building in the center of town that I recognize in pictures when I surf the web that is close to our restaurant.
The Village of Cedynia, Poland
The popular places people visit and write about of Poland are Krakow and Warsaw, there is not so much information about this village where I went.
I found this description from National Geographic website on Poland, “Café patrons enjoy a view of St Mary’s Church across from Krakow’s picturesque Rynek Glowny, one of the largest public plazas in Europe.”

This is true of Cedynia.  I admired the very old architecture still standing and the mural on the side of the building next to our restaurant in this off the beaten path village plaza.  And I saw one of the other buildings next to the museum undergoing historical renovation.

The drive through central Cedynia, Poland

Restaurants are usually called chata, gospoda or oberża, translated roughly as "tavern" or "inn". The ones I went into were made of wood and with plenty of colorful ornaments hanging on the walls. I did feel as if I was in a 19th century family house. Many of their menus include traditional dishes and beverages with food served on decorated tableware.

Murals, Plaza, History, Cedynia, Poland

I am grateful that I was with friends and family who translated the menu words to help me – this is when my Word Lens app would be an asset to read the words had I been on my own.

I love ordering a “Radler” with my meals. Radler also means 'cyclist' in German, this is your favorite Pilsner or Lager with lemonade or soda (Sprite or 7-Up) added. Why don’t we have this option more often in the USA?

An inside tip to remember is the tradition meal times, the Polish (and even Germans in rural areas) generally take their meals following the standard continental schedule with a light breakfast in the morning (usually some sandwiches with tea/coffee), then dinner at around 4PM or 5PM, then supper at around 7PM or 8 PM.

I found the impressive website (and translated) of Hotel and Restaurant Piast Cedynia  of our restaurant of our fabulous brunch – one of two or three places to eat in this village. My mouth waters when I think about the taste of the combination of delicious European breads and rolls, meats, and American scrambled eggs I ate. There was the fun surprise of candies in this special tiny little wooden box after our meal. Again, I probably would not have found this place on my own.
After Meal Candies!

Country drive around Cedynia, Poland

After our brunch we drove around the countryside through Cedynia Landscape Park, a wilderness forest with lots of history. Of course in December season, it was a very different look that you may see in the summer.  I am still researching my memories of the history spots that I saw on this drive. There is more information about this Park: 

 “Cedynia Landscape Park is a protected area in north-western Poland, bordering Germany. It was established on 1 April 1993, by order of the governor of the then Szczecin Voivodeship. The Park covers an area of 308.5 square kilometres (119.1 square miles).” 

I found this list of things to do from the AlltheCities website:

  1. The parish church of the thirteenth century in Cedynia.
  2. The observation tower of the nineteenth century in Cedynia.
  3. Settlement in Cedynia.
  4. Granite church from the thirteenth century in the Upper Lubiechowie.
  5. The church from the second half of the thirteenth century in Cząchowie.
  6. The church from the second half of the thirteenth century in Orzechowo.
  7. The church from the second half of the thirteenth century in Golice.
  8. Monument at the top Czcibor.
  9. Shrine of Our Lady of Peace in Siekierki.
  10. Cedynski park.
  11. Reserve "cabbage".
  12. Reserve Moors Cedyńskie. 

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Oh, the places I find myself wandering about these days! ~ The Fun Tour Guru 

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I paid for my trip and pictures are mine taken on a cold December day.   My favorite and helpful research websites (some with Facebook pages) I found on my own about Poland and used with this story are: 

Poland's Official Travel Website
Guide to Poland from National Geographic website
Guide to Central Europe from Lighthouse Travel and Tours destinations
About Cedynia, Poland from AllTheCities
Hoteland Restaurant Piast
Radler Beer from the Wishful Chef 
Things to do with kids in Poznan Poland from Travel with Bender