Saturday, July 13, 2013

Milestones and Celebrations

Yesterday, I realized that I had passed the one-month mark that Andy and I have been in Poland.  And this means that as of yesterday, I've been in Europe longer than I was last year.  Plus, I still have about three and a half weeks left here!

The other major news of yesterday was that, for the second year in a row, Andy found out the results of his exam while in Kraków.  In case you haven't checked Facebook in the past 24 hours, he passed!!  After seven years of studying, he is completely done with actuarial exams.  This is part of the reason I didn't write this post yesterday: we had to go out and celebrate!  I'm actually writing this post on a bus as we ride to Wrocław for the weekend.

While Andy was busy hitting "refresh" on the results website yesterday, I was out doing more exploring.  I went to two branches of the National Museums of Kraków: The Arsenal (a collection of ancient artifacts of an established family of Polish magnates), and the house of Jan Matejko, Poland's most famous artist.  I was slightly disappointed by the ancient collections, partially because it only consisted of one gallery of items, but I was pleasantly surprised by the Jan Matejko house.  I felt like I learned a lot about the nineteenth-century artist.  For example, he owned a large variety of historic clothing, objects, and weapons from different periods of Polish history, which he used as models in his historic paintings.  Some of these objects are in the photos below.  Matejko earned several artistic honors in France, Germany, and Poland.  He was actively involved in restoration projects of some of Kraków's most well-known landmarks.  He was even visited in his own home by the Austrian Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph!

 Some mummified body parts.

 Jan Matejko's awards.

The artist's home studio.

After we found out that Andy passed the exam, we had a wonderful dinner at one of our favorite old town restaurants and went to see a friend of ours from the language clubs play harmonica in a blues club.  Yes, this is our friend Piotr, the Polish ornithologist.

Andy edit: A note for our native English-speaking friends: "Wrocław" is not pronounced anything like you probably think it is.  If you guessed "roh-claw," you're wrong.  You're not just a little wrong.  You're so wrong that Polish people would have no idea where you were talking about.  The correct pronunciation is closer to "VROHT-swaff."  W in Polish = v in English, ł in Polish = w in English, and c in Polish = "ts" in English.  Just FYI.  Try your luck out on Łancut, another Polish city. (answer at the end).

Answer to pronunciation question above: Łancut = "WAHNT-soot".  It actually sounds a little like "wine-sooth" when said quickly.


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