Thursday, June 29, 2017

Reporting for Gnome Patrol!

Friendly Dwarf
Finding dwarves (or gnomes as we like to call them) is one of the top tourist activities in Wroclaw.  Turns out, it is also a great way to get the kids excited to explore the city and even practice some map reading skills.

Motorcyclist Dwarf
There are between 300-400 gnomes scattered around the city.  Nobody seems to know the exact count and the tourist map only listed about 200.  The kids set an early goal of finding all of them during our month long stay.  We made an honest effort, but came up short, only finding a measly 98.  I know this because we took pictures of every. single. one.

Dwarf riding a lion

Barton Ice Cream Dwarf
 The history of the dwarves began in 2001, when the Orange Alternative (a Polish anti-communist movement) used a dwarf as it's symbol.  The city honored the group and placed the first official dwarf on Świdnicka Street.  Since then over 350 have appeared around the city.  Some are related to the businesses they are near, some are just funny, some represent professions or local foods.

Firefighter Dwarves for Uncle Seth
Distiller and Drinker Dwarves
All in all, this was a super fun way to get out and about to see different parts of the city.  We clocked many miles in Wroclaw, and the kids' stamina improved tremendously.  The excitement of finding them never wore off, they would scream "gnome!" and run every time.  After the first couple of sightings, we began to pose with the gnomes or mimic their actions.

Love and Mrs. Dwarf
I have a picture of the kids kissing too.  But we'll save that one for blackmail later.

Dwarf at ATM
It was hard to choose our favorites, they are all pretty cute.

Gnomes and Love from Wroclaw!
The Axley Family
May 2017

Film Fan Dwarf
Dwarf Orchestra
1 of 3 Pole Dwarves

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Quirky Poland: Parking

It was something I noticed immediately as we first ventured out from our apartment in Wrocław.  Cars parked... on the sidewalk?!  Is that even legal?  I wondered if that was just a quirk of this particular Polish city. 

In the coming days, I would see this practice throughout the city.  The cars tended to be lined up as if they were parked normally on the side of the street.  However, I would occasionally come across cars that were parked in any direction that happened to fit in the space between the car in front and behind.  Were Polish drivers just bad parkers?  Maybe they don't have to learn parallel parking to pass their driver's test like I did in Washington state? Regardless, I planned on being extra vigilant when walking with the kids to watch out for cars on the road and the sidewalk.  This blog post even caught official signs for how one should park. I never noticed these signs in Wrocław though.

During our stay in Poland, we took two side-trips to other cities.  We took the train from Wrocław up to Gdansk and spent a few days there.  Then, we took the train from there to Krakow for a few days before we headed back to Wrocław.  Same thing!  Some Sidewalks even had lines painted to indicate separate parking spots. That gave me a couple other data points to show that it was more widespread than just Wrocław.

I looked up the parking laws in Poland (Parkowanie na chodnikutranslation) and it appears it is all legal.  So long as the vehicle is under 2.5 tons and you leave a walkway of at least 1.5 m (along with some other caveats], it is perfectly legal.  It is even legal to park partway on the sidewalk and roadway (as you see some cars at odd angles, as in the above photo) so long as the portion of the car in the roadway doesn't block traffic!  There is even a nuance to the applicability of no parking signs.
In Poland 'no parking' sign applies also to the sidewalk unless there is a notice below that reads 'Nie dotyczy chodnika". 
'Nie dotyczy chodnika' means, 'Not applicable to the sidewalk'

In Seattle, on the other hand, it's definitely not legal. Don't try this at home.

11.72.320 - Planting strip No person shall stop, stand or park a vehicle on a planting strip unless the vehicle bears a special placard or license plate issued under RCW Chapter 46.19
11.72.360 - Sidewalk No person shall stop, stand or park a vehicle on or over a sidewalk, whether constructed or not.

It is a fascinating example that evinces how different cultures can evaluate risk of the same activity and come to completely different laws and practices.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

False Cognate Enounter in Hungary

In the first day or two of being in Hungary, I noticed some eladó signs on buildings while passing by on the tram and my first thought was that perhaps the Hungarian word for "ice cream" was similar to the Spanish "helado".  Fortunately, this was a false cognate.  Otherwise, Hungary would be quite sad as it seemed that all of the ice cream places were shuttered. (Eladó means "for sale")

Monday, June 19, 2017

Adele's letter to school friends

Dear Mr. P. And Room 203,

Hello from the other side! (Budapest, Hungary)

I miss you so much!  We are having a great time traveling.  We have been to England, Morocco, Spain, Poland and are halfway through Hungary.

Around the world, there are lots of cool playgrounds (except for Morocco - there were NO playgrounds)  In Hungary, my favorite one so far is a big park called Olympic Park.  I met two friends named Hannah and Sophie. There are lots of different shaped swings at that park.  We like to play in the sandboxes.  They have a water fountain to make mud!  In Spain every corner you turn, there is a playground!  Around the world, baby swings look like zoo cages!

Poland is my favorite country so far. It has the best playgrounds, ever.  There was a cool water fountain show. And Poland has lots of bright colors in the dancing outfits and pottery.  Before we went to Poland, I thought there were just only going to be poles and kids bumping into poles.  I was wrong (except my dad bumped into a pole in Poland)! We learned about our family heritage too. We visited museums, found their gravestones and visited the towns where they were born and lived.

There are lots of ice cream / gelato stands around the world.  My favorite ice cream flavor was date flavor that I had in Morocco.🍦Yummy!  I like to try new foods everywhere we go. I once ate a shrimp head and a whole fish (including the head and the bones!). Two of my favorite new foods are Pastilla (in Morocco) and Pierogi (in Poland).

We are going to keep doing our school in the summer. But we still get to do fun things. We go to fun aqua parks and we are going camping on the beach in Croatia. I am excited!  We are also going on a safari in Kenya. I want to see lions, giraffes and elephants.

I got all the Wonder Woman books on my Kindle and then we watched the movie in the theater. We were the only kids in the theater.

Please write back. I would love to know what is going on back home. What are you doing for summer break?  Your parents can send your messages and videos to me by messaging my mom Kerry Axley on Facebook. You can also read about our travels on our blog



Spencer's letter to school friends

Dear Mr. Warbington and room 104,
Thank you for the letter. I felt happy to get it. I hope you have a good last day of school.  I hope you are having fun at school and have a good summer break.

I like trying new foods.  My favorite foods I've tried are goulash and dough noodles (a Hungarian meat stew), perogi (Polish dumplings), they give me perogi power and paella (a Spanish rice).

I have been to England, Morocco, Spain, Poland and Hungary.  In England I got to see Big Ben and go on the London Eye (ferris wheel), it looked like we were going to go underwater.  In Morocco I got to ride camels in the desert and an atv in the sand dunes.  In Spain we celebrated Easter and they do Semana Santa and we saw a flamenco dance.  In Poland we found gnomes (they are statues all over Wroclaw) and learned about my family history.  In Hungary I went to an awesome playground right next to our house, saw a light up fountain show and saw Wonder Woman at the movies in the middle of the day.

For summer we're going to go camping at the beach in Croatia, we won't even have to ask to play on the beach!  And we're going on a safari in Kenya!

My daddy walked into a pole in Poland while looking at a map.  That was funny and silly.
I lost my first tooth in Morocco and my second tooth in Hungary.  The tooth fairy comes to these countries too.

Have fun in first grade next year.  I'll see you in second grade.
I miss you!