Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bydgoszcz District Meeting....and a tour of Torun!

This picture was taken in April of this year. I wanted to include it so you could remember the state of the building where we meet in Bydgoszcz. It is an historical building, so in order to have any improvements made to it, one has to go through a bunch of 'red tape'.

As you can see, it is in need of some repair.

We arrived in Bydgoszcz this morning to find ...
...the stairs being replaced! This is good news and a step in the right direction. The downside: these workers have been here for several days! Ok, so it's a slow process! At least someone is doing something...and it looks great!

Meeting with the Bydgoszcz Missionaries for District Meeting. (L to R): Elders Nielson, Lundin (District Leader), Murphey, and Fletcher. In the front: Sisters Garcia and Steadman. Another great District Meeting, and it was good to see these missionaries again.

After District Meeting, we were in for a treat! Ewa, a member who lives in Bydgoszcz and just graduated from Law School in Torun, has consented to take us on a whirlwind tour of this beautiful town.
Our first stop was this 'leaning' tower. The tower is part of the walls that were built in the 14th century. It leans 1.4 meters. I have heard two legends regarding being able to stand with your back against the tower and not fall over: 1) whoever can do this, will get married soon AND 2) whoever can do this, always tells the truth!

Two young lawyers that seem to be able to do this. But wait! They are both cheating! Ewa is holding herself up with an umbrella, and Dane is holding onto a brick. Something tells me they will be very good lawyers! Meaning....they are creative!!!! (I don't want any feedback from our lawyer friends!)

A statue of the most famous citizen of Torun....Copernicus!

This is the house where Copernicus was born (1473). The family resided here from 1463-1480. Torun is full of spectacular Gothic Architecture and a large collection of redbrick churches. What is extra nice about this town is that it was virtually undamaged in WWII.

The largest and most impressive church in the area is the Cathedral of John the Baptist and John the Evangelist. It was so big and surrounded with beautiful green trees that I could not get a decent picture of it....again, the red brick was amazing.

This fountain and statue is Torun's own 'Pied Piper' story. Legend has it that a witch came to visit but wasn't welcomed. As she was leaving she invoked a curse, and the town was invaded by frogs. The mayor offered a sack of gold and his daughter to anyone who could rid the town of the frogs. A humble peasant boy appeared and began to play his fiddle luring all the frogs into the woods. The town was saved, and the boy received his prizes.
This is the site of the original medival castle that was built and inhabited by the Teutonic Knights. WWII didn't destroy it.....it's destruction came centuries before. It was actually destroyed by the inhabitants of the town in 1454 who were protesting all the economic restrictions the Knights put on them. (They must have been really ticked off...Teutonic castles are built to last! See Malbork Castle!)

Now, you CAN'T go to Torun and NOT buy gingerbread! The tradition of baking gingerbread in Torun is almost as long as it's history. This town was located at the crossing of the most important European trade routes so there were no problems with attaining ingredients like ginger, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. from the East.

Torun gingerbread is still baked in the traditional shape of carriages, coats of arms, knights, townspeople at work, hearts and Katarzynki---the most famous shape. A legend of how this shape came to be: There was a master baker who had a daughter named Katarzyna (Kasia) who helped him with his work. One day the baker got very sick and could not work. Kasia loved her father and wanted to help so she decided to make the gingerbread. Not being able to find the baking tray her father always used, she cut little circles with a glass and baked them. However, the cookies attached in a bunch of 6 and turned into the shape that is well known today. Kasia worried that she wouldn't be able to sell the gingerbread, but the people loved it. Not only did they taste good but loved the new shape! Some say that it was not just the flour, the honey, the spices that made the gingerbread so good; but also Kasia's love for her father that made the cookies so special.

Why did I enclose this story? Well, grandkids, Uncle Dane is bringing home Katarzynki gingerbread for all of you! Hope you like it....and remember, Grandpa and Grandma love you!

Sidenote: Thank you, Ewa, for a great tour! We loved it!

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