Throwback Thursdays: Hunting for Polish Pottery

I’m going to restart my Throwback Thursdays series to backtrack and blog about the adventures we took over the last year or so. Those who follow me on Instagram have seen glimpses of what we’ve been up to. It’s the only platform of social media that I use consistently these days.

Hubs and I like to make use of the office holidays he gets here, and this year the dates all happened to fall on a Friday or Monday – perfect for long weekend getaways. At the beginning of May 2017, we went on a road trip to Poland. Our first visit to Poland was in summer of 2015, and we went to Krakow and Auschwitz.

The itinerary this time was Boleslawiec and Wroclaw. If you recognize the name Boleslawiec, then you know it’s world renowned for its unique pottery – in this case, think of everyday dishes bowls, mugs, etc… Many military wives and expats who live within an eight hour drive have gone on weekend expeditions (yes, multiple!) to buy heaps of this stuff.  When I mean heaps, I mean American sized SUVs/mini-vans filled to the brim with boxes and boxes of the pottery. The parking lots were filled with Jeeps, Odysseys, etc. These were dead giveaways of the presence of American military wives since they usually ship their vehicles from the states during their time overseas.

I first heard about the Polish pottery when I happened upon other expat wives blogging about day and weekend trips there. It piqued my interest and I started to do the research. Boleslawiec Pottery is only made with locally sourced clay only found in that particular region of Poland. The intricacies of these hand painted and handmade pieces are just exquisite. There are many collectors and it’s super expensive to buy authentic pieces outside of Europe. Hence, the reason why people come here to buy Costco amounts of this stuff. It’s so affordable to buy it in Poland. I love the fact that it’s dishwasher, oven, microwave safe AND super sturdy. There are many categories of the pottery and usually people buy GAT (quality) 1 or 2 for the above mentioned purposes. The other categories (below 2) are usually just “for show” or decorative pieces. As you can see from the pictures, I had a bit too much fun.

 

I also should mention that it was our very first time trying homemade Pierogis. I also had this savory potato pancake-like dish with goulash stuffed inside. OH. MY. LORD, comfort food at its best! So delicious! My mouth is watering even as I type this.

Onto to Wroclaw! We spent two nights in this charming little city. It’s often mistaken for Warsaw. What was really nice is that it’s not crawling with “English speaking” tourists-yet. Most locals couldn’t speak or understand English-which was quite refreshing. Hand gestures and pointing were greatly appreciated. We loved going on a “scavenger hunt” for the famous dwarf statues of the city. Did you know that there are over 400 of them dotted throughout the town? We found 40 of them during our short stay.

Poland has really captivated us and I have a feeling we’ll be making more road-trips back to explore more of this lovely country!

A Long Weekend in Lisbon

One by one we’re checking places off our European bucket list, with Lisbon being our latest adventure. It’s a coastal city which has elements of Mediterranean cities we’ve visited. It’s also commonly likened to its sister city, San Francisco. Having visited both, I can see the similarities of the hills, cable cars, and even having the same architect that built the famous Golden Gate bridge with a similar one of their own.  It is also considered one of the oldest cities in the world, predating other modern European capitals such as London and Rome by centuries.

Hubs and I left on Wednesday night and came back Sunday afternoon. We did a lot of sightseeing and eating, but felt like we’ve only scratched the surface. We even took a day trip to the suburbs of Lisbon – a UNESCO town of Sintra, strolled the streets of Cascais and saw the most western point of the European continent.  Does it merit another visit in the future? Maybe. But for now, I’ll let the pictures speak for how beautiful and tasty Lisbon was/is.

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Chocoholics Rejoice!

Belgium is mostly famous for two things: chocolate and beer. I don’t drink, but Hubs is a huge beer connoisseur. With that in mind, I had arranged for us to spend a Sunday afternoon, apart, tasting our favorite things.

When I first arrived in Brussels I was overwhelmed with all the chocolate shops. Every other store was a chocolate shop. You had your mainstream ones such as Godiva, Neuhaus and Leonidas and the smaller chocolatiers that are only available in Belgium. Even with all my research, it was hard to tell which ones were special and which ones would be generic enough to find at a grocery store. I signed myself up for a chocolate tasting tour that explored shops, which took us from the low to high end of the scale. Honestly, I had no expectations going in, but I was surprised how much I learned about chocolate and how to use your palette to taste. It’s akin to differentiating between wine brands.

For instance, the longer the expiration date, the lower quality chocolate brand. Usually, an extended expiration date would indicate the products include preservatives and fillers. For the really good stuff, there’s none of that crap.  Fresh chocolates with all natural products have to be eaten in less than two weeks. You know the famous brand Godiva? You will never find a Belgian wandering in those stores in Belgium or anywhere abroad for that matter. According to our guide, it has the worst value for the money. Surprising.

When I think of good chocolate I expect handmade, preservative-free quality goodness. And this tour went beyond my expectations. We even tasted a chocolate that goes through a 25 step process to be made! It was well worth the €25 for a box of nine pieces I came home with. You only live once, right?

Overall, it was a fun and informative experience and I got to see parts of the city I hadn’t yet explored. The downside to this, is, that I can never look at chocolate the same way again. I am now officially a chocolate snob!

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It took a lot of restraint not to bring home more than what I bought. We’ve already gone through the box to the far left and right.

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