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Day 12 - Warsaw, Poland
We got to the airport 10 minutes before take off thanks to Ziggys' grooming herself after showering and 30 minutes gazing at herself in the mirror. We just made it to our seats when the pilot thanked everyone for flying Polskie Linie Lotnicze. I thought he sneezed. But that was the name of the airlines. As a matter of fact, that's what Polskie Linie Lotnicze is... Polish Airlines.

On the way to Warsaw, Poland, I was thinking of all the Polish jokes I've heard in my lifetime. Very, very not political correct these days. Making a joke about anyones race, religion, or ethnic background is not a good thing. Especially when you're in Poland.

However, as I sat there looking out the window, I began thinking about how Polish jokes could have ever gotten started in the first place. Then, over the speaker, the Captain announced, "We are landing in Warsaw, Poland in 10 minutes. Please fasten your seatbelts and thank you for flying Polskie Linie Lotnicze. By the way, you know where Polish airplanes land? In an airport...duh!." Polish people have a great sense of humor.

The plane landed and we made our way through the airport and found a cab right away. The cab driver stopped Ziggy and said, "No cats!" We looked at each other and then the cab driver. Then he said, "I'm just joking with you!" I thought it was funny. Ziggy didn't. Told you Polish people had a sense of humor.

I told him to take us to Old Town Square in Warsaw. In many ways, Warsaw's Old Town Square is the very embodiment of this city's spirit. Like most of the city, it was utterly leveled during the second World War. Thanks to the efforts of all Poles, local and country-wide, the entire Old Town Square was rebuilt, brick by brick. Today it stands as a proud testament to the city's historical heritage as well as its resilient spirit.

There's places we can stay and places we can eat and try out the local cuisine. But first, what caught Ziggy's eye was the horse and carriage waiting for us to take a little ride around town. So, we grabbed one and rode around for a few hours. I was getting really cold, so we headed back.

When we got back, and settled at a place near the Old Town Square, the first thing we asked was where we could go to get something to eat. This beautiful elderly lady pointed us in the direction of a place called Karczma Gessler.

The Karczma Gessler is really two restaurants. One upstairs that is sophisticated gourmet dining and the other is underground that has a bit of a medi-evil atmosphere, with many Polish specialties on the menu. We went to the one downstairs to the lower level where a trio of very good Gypsy musicians with a whole bunch of Gypsy belly dancers entertained us as we ate.

We had Golabki. Golabki are cabbage roll-ups that are simply amazing. Of course I had to have the recipe. Here it is.

Golabki
(Cabbage Roll-Ups)

1 large head of cabbage,center core removed
1 lb.each of ground beef, ground pork & ground veal
2 cups cooked white rice
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped salt pork
1 cup ketchup
2 cans tomato soup
1 and 1/2 cans water
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. each of salt, pepper
1/4 tsp. each of celery salt, sweet basil, nutmeg and worchestire sauce
1/2 stick of butter or margarine

Parboil cabbage in a large pot, removing leafs as they fall off into the water and are tender. Cook till all leaves are tender, but not ripping apart; usually 15. Run under cold water and drain.

Cut the thick membrane off back of each leaf. While cabbage is cooking saute onion in butter or marg. until lightly browned. Put all the uncooked meat into a large mixing bowl. Add the sauted onions. In same pan, brown the salt pork, then using a slotted spoon, add salt pork to meat. Next add dry seasonings, worchestire sauce and ketchup, along with the cooked rice. Mix thoroughly; Use your hands!

Lay out leaves and depending upon their size, place 2-3 Tbsp. of meat mixture on the wider side. Roll leaf up and over meat, tuck in sides of leaf, and continue to roll. Place rolls, seam down into a greased roasting pan. Continue rolling remainder cabbage rolls.

Mix together the tomato soup, water and brown sugar and pour evenly over all the rolls. If your roaster doesn't have a lid, cover with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake at 325 degrees for 2 to 2 and 1/2 hours.

Note: after baking for 1and 1/2 hours, check to make sure there's enough liquid; additional water can be added. To serve, spoon sauce over rolls. Leftover rolls (once cool) can be put into ziplock bags and frozen up to 3 months.

Buon appetito!

After dinner, Ziggy had to dance with the Gypsys. They came over to the table, took Ziggy and carried her around on their shoulders singing and dancing. Ziggy looked as though she was really having a good time.

After the song and dance was over, they set Ziggy down on a chair in front of the little stage. A man and woman came to Ziggy and they sang this song to her. It wasn't long before the whole place chimed in. Click the play button on the player or the written music below to listen. I just happened to have a little recorder.

After the song was over, I asked what it was. They told me "Sto Lat! - May you live a hundred years. It's the Polish Birthday Song!"

Then I asked why then sang it to Ziggy and the Gypsies told me it was because of the hat Ziggy was wearing.

Oh well, that silly little birthday hat she wears got us free ice cream. We thanked everyone and said our goodbyes and headed back to the room.

One our subscribers told us it was much older in Minsk, Belaris so we're leaving first thing in the morning. We're going to bundle up and take a bus of all things. Ziggy had a nice seat in the back. A lady came in and didn't see her and started to sit down on Ziggy. What did Ziggy do? It's not what you think. Tune in tomorrow and find out.

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