You probably know by now that museums are not my thing. I typically flee like Usain Bolt from any exhibition that details more dates than the Bachelor. But on wet, foggy, two-pairs-of-socks kind of days when odds are high for a more miserable experience let alone miserable photos, the options get considerably slimmer for indoor fun in history-thriving European cities. So since there hasn't been even one partial sun icon in my iPhone's weather forecast for the past several days until I leave, I needed to think fast to squeeze as much out of every day left as possible. As a result, my days have been filled with trips seeking castles, cookies, and croissants.
Of course my quirky, simplistic brain realizes that my answer for rainy day activities (that appeal to me, anyway) all must start then with the letter C. It's like on Sesame Street when an episode is brought to you by the letter C and the number 9. Needless to say, the mother of them all, cafes, is at the top of the list. Don't worry though. They'll have their day in this blog. One with a big ol' parade if I have any say about it. But for now, let's scout out castles.
Granted, my castle quest has been a trip-long endeavor. Poland is silly with castles. Hundreds of them all over a country the size of New Mexico from various historic eras, in various states of ruin, and of various degrees of grandeur. I've probably visited about 20 Polish castles and not one has let its stunning architecture or cultural importance get by me. Somehow in a regal castle, the history and daunting dates seem less formidable. There are, of course, better rainy day choices than others (like the ones with roofs!) but a castle visit can turn any day from dreary to delightful.
The gothic Malbork Castle is the largest castle in the world by surface area
Cookies. Gingerbread to be exact. When I saw that the charming, gothic town of Torun is known for gingerbread and its hands-on gingerbread museum, I knew this was a museum I could get behind. The fog-filled view for the three hour train ride didn't bother me in the least with the scent of gingerbread already wafting through my nose. And the experience was worth it. Producing our own dough from the secret recipe. Rolling to the perfect consistency. Molding into folksy, decorative shapes. And taking my own handcrafted creation home. A sweet treat on a dismal day.
Molding the dough at Muzeum Piernika, the Gingerbread Museum, in Torun
Croissants. Yes, Polish croissants. So popular that they have their own holiday- St. Martin's Day on November 11. Well, OK, it's also Polish Independence Day but these legally-protected croissants are a big part of it. Six hundred tons of them will be consumed on the holiday! The town of Poznan (the home of the St. Martin's croissant) single-handedly eats like 700,000. And like the gingerbread, they have their own interactive, hands-on museum a few hours away from Gdansk. Where have these museums been all my life? Unlike the flaky French kind, this croissant is more like a sweet roll. The delicious white poppyseed and almond filling are just a few of its unique traits. The certified bakers, 81 layers of pastry, exact ingredients, and individual croissant weight that falls between 150-250 grams are imperative to its St. Martin's claim. The gooey icing drizzled over the top alone greatly trumped the drizzly day outside.
A true St. Martin's croissant. Yum!
And I'd like to state for the record that I did duck into (and experience in awe, I might add) many, many churches. Also starting with a C and also good shelter on a cold, rainy day. While I didn't spend any significant amount of time in these spectacular places of worship, I did lose my breath several times climbing massive church towers and appreciate the peaceful silence during a few Our Fathers. Well, whaddya know? Even being a conscientious Catholic managed to make the C-List.
Niedzica Castle built in the 14th century
The beautifully restored Bobolice Castle
Poland's most important castle; the Royal Wawel Castle in Krakow
Ready to roll at Torun's Gingerbread Museum
Weighing the perfect 150-250 gram St. Martin's croissant
Just a few of the countless, breathtaking churches in Poland