Sunday, October 14, 2012

Girls' weekend in Poland (and lots of Polish pottery)

The boys are off training, and for those of us without kids this means a lot of quiet houses, quiet dinners, and falling asleep in cold beds. I'm so glad that this time I've made a lot of kid-less girlfriends because once the boys left we were like, ok! When are we hanging out?

Thursday we all met up at my house to make bracelets. Usually on Thursdays there is a craft class and since we've all had to get creative furnishing European houses, I feel like I've embraced my crafty side and met other ladies who do the same. Well it turned out the class was cancelled, so I invited everyone over to my house and said I'd teach them how to make the bracelets I learned how to make in another class.

It was really fun! Everyone's turned out really nice and it was fun just sitting around and chatting.

We had talked about planning trips while the guys were gone and Poland was one of our ideas. Then we heard there was a sponsored trip to Poland going on that weekend. It was pretty whirlwind, but the whole focus was Polish pottery shopping, which is what we all wanted to do anyway. So we thought, why not? Me and two other girls signed up (the other two couldn't make it unfortunately) and we all met at my house Friday night to go out for dinner and then talk and watch Friends. We had to stay up since the bus left at 2 am, but we managed pretty well :)

Two AM rolls around and we all pile on the bus. The bus was only half full, so there was plenty of room to stretch out and try to get some sleep. Surprise, surprise, the ENTIRE group was women ;) We drove all night to Poland (about 5 hours by car, closer to 6 hours on the bus with the stops) and woke up around 8:30 at the Polish border.

We crossed the border into Poland and made our way to the town of Boleslawiec, which is famous for its pottery. There were giant examples of pottery all over the town, and just about every corner had a sign advertising pottery for sale.

First stop was naturally at a ceramics store. We weren't sure what to expect-we'd all seen the colorful, super sturdy pottery at the bazaars on post, and any Army wife can wax poetic on how awesome Polish pottery is, but we were kind of skeptical, especially because it tends to be expensive ($12 for a mug, anywhere from $60-100 or more for the big, nice pieces). We walked in and all the prices were in Polish zloty so we were like, is 30 zloty a deal? The more experienced women were running around picking up everything so that was heartening. I picked up a medium sized beautiful bowl with flowers and walked to the register, and my jaw dropped when she showed me the price in euros. 8 euros?? For this bowl?? Anywhere else it would have been at least 30!! I almost felt bad handing her a 10 euro note.

Once we realized the exchange rate was 4 zloty to 1 euro AND that every store had a sale rack where you could find pieces at 20, 30, or even 50% off because of a minor defect we definitely went a little crazy :) I had gone on the trip thinking I'd only be able to afford one or two pieces and had expected my 100 euros to not go very far. But after three stops and only 45 euros spent I knew this was going to be an awesome day!

Every store was full of American women, not just from our group, but others as well as women who came over by themselves. Things got really excited when someone would discover a cache of giant serving platters at around $12-15 because of a tiny chip or slightly crooked pattern. And the peer pressure was also helpful. When I had a basket full of pottery I looked at a big scalloped serving plate and wondered aloud if I really needed it. Immediately 4 women turned around and were like, "what are you talking about! Get it! It's so cheap!!"

Every time I went to the register, expecting to wince at the final price I was surprised by getting a box full of pottery for only €30 or €40. My friend Melissa did all her Christmas shopping and left with a huge box-final price €42! It felt like Christmas!

We stopped for lunch at a little restaurant called Elric's and each had a plate full of tasty pierogies and a drink. The total came out to €4 per person. I don't think I've ever paid €4 for lunch except at the university Mensa!

Carly and I both bought beautiful handmade wicker baskets for around €15, and pretty soon the small laundry basket I'd brought for the three of us was full. We had hoped to find some Christmas stuff but we only found Christmas themed dishes and I wanted more ornament type things. But they had a ton of Easter stuff which now I'm sad I didn't pick up. That'll be the next trip :)

By our last stop we were a bit pottery-ed out and had pretty much gotten everything we'd come for. We stopped in a really cool antiques store where I picked up some WWII memorabilia for my fellow history nerd of a husband. Then it was back on the bus where we passed out for a while (shopped til we dropped literally) and then talked the rest of the way back to Bavaria (planning more trips!). Packing the car was hilarious by the way...all of us were really excited about all the beautiful pottery we got, and I'm sure the husbands will be happy we were able to do so without breaking the bank. I got 12 pieces and a basket for around €80.

the spoils

Poland was a nice change from Germany since the dollar hasn't done so well against the euro lately, so it was nice to go somewhere and NOT get fleeced for a change.

All in all, it was a great girls' weekend. I would love to go to Poland again and see Krakow and Warsaw with my man, but the Polish pottery aspect of the trip is definitely a girls-only thing. We were pretty sure the boys would have been ready to kill themselves an hour into the trip had we brought them along :) I'm pretty sure we'll be signing up for the trip the next time it's offered.

This week has a lot of girly activities planned (some day trips and a wine night!) and I'm so glad I've made friends my age finally so we can all hang out and make the month go by faster.

Want to read more about Polish pottery? Check out my shopping tips here or read about my second trip to Boleslawiec here!


  1. I know I'm not your man, but if I can come to Europe this summer, I will DEFINITELY go to Krakow and Warsaw with you.

    1. Yeah!! That'd be awesome! Pieter's already gone but he said Krakow was one of his favorite cities.

  2. Thank you for all your wonderful posts. I've been reading all about your Polish pottery trips. We've been in Germany for four years and I can't wait to get to Poland.


  3. Hi, I'm planning to visit this awesome city after Christmas. Thanks for the post, I'm already sooo excited! Gonna read your next pottery trip post :)

  4. Hi, I'm from Bamberg - I love your Posts about polish pottery!! Are you usually going on your own or in a group? Susi