Happy Independence, Poland!

Happy 100 years of independence Poland!

The most resilient country celebrates 100 years of freedom on November 11. To celebrate, here are 100 things I love about Poland: 

  1. Your resilience. You survived two world wars, decades of Communist rule and being erased from the map for far too long.
  2. Marie Skladowski, A.K.A, Marie Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize who actually ended up winning two. Since radiation treatments helped save my life, I’m particularly fond of her.
  3. Lech Walesa.
  4. All those shipyard workers who cracked a hole in Communism and watched it fall like dominos in countries all over the world.
  5. Frederic Chopin.
  6. Pope John Paul II.
  7. Black Madonna.
  8. Wrocław gnomes.
  9. Old town Warsaw.
  10. Wawel chocolate.
  11. E. Wedel chocolate.
  12. Dyngus Day.
  13. Pisanki and all the work that goes into painting those lovely eggs.
  14. That crazy palm tree in the middle of the street in Warsaw.
  15. Potatoes. (And I thought the Irish loved them.)
  16. The gay rights rainbow that now lights up so no fire can extinguish it.
  17. Name Day.
  18. Kracow’s lovely market square.
  19. St. Mary’s Church. That ceiling!
  20. Gdańsk.
  21. Amber everything.
  22. The Vistula River.
  23. Bison. Or so I hear you have them. In my four visits, I have not seen one.
  24. Preserving Auschwitz-Birkenau for the world so we never forget what unchecked hate can do.
  25. Museum of the History of Polish Jews.
  26. The Pier at Sopot.
  27. Wawel Castle.
  28. Maximilion Kolbe.
  29. Krzywy Domek, that crazy crooked house.
  30. Ice cream.
  31. Sunsets.
  32. The Warsaw mermaid.
  33. Kazimierz.
  34. Insignis Media, publisher of my six books.
  35. Astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.
  36. The Solidarity museum.
  37. The shipyard workers’ hard hats on the ceiling.
  38. Statue of the Little Insurgent.
  39. National parks galore.
  40. Tatra Mountains.
  41. Baltic coastline.
  42. Statue of Neptune in Gdańsk.
  43. Gestapo Headquarters preserved to teach the world.
  44. Shopping malls that are more cosmopolitan than the ones in the U.S.
  45. Salt mine Wieliczka.
  46. Oskar Schindler’s Factory.
  47. All that lovely hand painted pottery.
  48. Borscht.
  49. Sunsets.
  50. The Polish tongue that can make sz, sh, cz, sch, zh, rz sound so beautiful and so simple.
  51. Hospitality.
  52. UNESCO World Heritage Sights, all 15 of them.
  53. Beata Szydto. Poland had a female prime minister, long before the United States had a woman president – oh, wait, we’ve never had one.
  54. Flag. Bold and simple red and white.
  55. Hot chocolate so thick it’s like drinking pudding.
  56. Playing piano with Artur Rubinstein’s sculpture.
  57. All those trees. All those forests. All that nature.
  58. Palace of Culture and Science. You either love it or hate it.
  59. Train ride from Warsaw to Kracow. It’s like watching the world turn from black and white to color.
  60. Stuffed hedgehogs at the toy store in Kracow.
  61. Dumplings. Those pierogi are filled with everything imaginable.
  62. Łódź.
  63. Warsaw Uprising Museum.
  64. Best tomato soup in the world.
  65. The sacred art in Katawice.
  66. Vibrant radio hosts.
  67. Cab drivers who can’t speak English but somehow understand it.
  68. Communist architecture in Warsaw that is so solid and gray.
  69. Memorials everywhere with fresh flowers to remember and honor Poles killed by the Nazis and Communists.
  70. Wrocław market square.
  71. Castles. Not every country has them.
  72. Monasteries.
  73. Palaces.
  74. The trumpeter on the hour every hour in Kracow square.
  75. Churches. Everywhere.
  76. The faith of people who never gave up in the face of the unspeakable.
  77. Changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
  78. All that bread in all those lovely shapes and twists and turns.
  79. Złoty.The money is so colorful and pretty.
  80. Football.
  81. Rzeszów.
  82. The tall, thin, “feminist” monument in Rzeszów that makes people blush.
  83. The mystical foggy mornings.
  84. The brick outline of the Warsaw Ghetto so the world can never forget.
  85. All that flowery art in colors bolder than nature created.
  86. Milka.
  87. Dominikah, Olga, Tomasz and Maria. My Polish BFFs.
  88. All those bridal shops in Kracow.
  89. Poznań market square.
  90. The Polish language sounds lovely whether whispered or shouted.
  91. Empik. What a book store!
  92. Hand painted chocolates.
  93. Strange outdoor art.
  94. Funky cafes.
  95. The great food on the trains.
  96. Werther’s Original soft caramels.
  97. The weather. It’s like Cleveland, so I feel at home.
  98. All that beauty in the square in Kracow.
  99. Democracy. Sweet freedom after all those years without it.

100. The people. They tell me that they love to complain, but they actually love Poland more than me, which is an awful lot.