tor

S&S World tour

712 posts in this topic

Today is the last day of our holiday proper, tomorrow we both start the flights home.

And. It. All. Came. Crashing. Down.

I think if we all pool our resources we can keep Tor (and Anders) on an endless holiday.

That way we can maintain the daily fix of travel stories.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think if we all pool our resources we can keep Tor (and Anders) on an endless holiday.

That way we can maintain the daily fix of travel stories.

Hear, hear! Listen to Ugg - a wise person indeed. And probably highly attractive too!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Listen to Ugg - a wise person indeed. And probably highly attractive too!

not bad for a gormless gimp.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Day 36.1: Home again Home again Jiggity Jog

"Slapper" is, I believe, an English slang term. I would like to say they have the complete moral rights to claim it. No one does slapper like the English. Boobs, Tats and Bums. Shoes of a precarious nature requiring scissor style walking (no knee bending possible from that height). White lipstick and blue eyeshadow applied by Kevin, an out of work spray painter from Essex. Mini skirts designed for a child and stretched out to see through thicknesses. Tramp Stamps of Louvre like dimensions. And G strings to supply an orchestra for a decade.

Hilariously refreshing after the French summer elegance, Belgian bra-less beer matrons, and Scandinavian steed borne valkyrie.

A lack of surprise nocturnal visitors (I guess the Brazen Scots Hussy is stuck on her island). Al left for the airport early. He is missing me already and sent a stream of text messages regarding amusing things he saw during his time at the airport. Mercifully these stopped when his flight departed and I slept on.

Any plans of sightseeing were forgotten once I amassed my luggage, I am carrying most of Al's armour and weapons as well as my own; he has a detour planned and I have a bigger weight allowance. Various bottles of booze have also found their way into my entourage and somehow not been consumed. I shall consider these mementos and claim to have planned to bring them home all along. A famous person once said that the booze you bought at the source tasted better than the same brand bought around the corner.

Heathrow airport is, well, an airport. Miles from town, ludicrous check in times, boring over priced bars and various other things which make me dream of the day when I will be able to catch a train back to Australia, first class of course. Fortunately I have some memento beer to consume whilst sitting here waiting for the airline lounge to open. I shall use them to reminisce on the journey that has been.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think if we all pool our resources we can keep Tor (and Anders) on an endless holiday.

That way we can maintain the daily fix of travel stories.

Can I just start making up travel stories instead? I am tired and my brain hurts and my eyes are full of colours!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The baton has simply been passed. I'm looking at a panorama of HK as I write.

Day 1 : Wall of heat

From -1 to 30 with 95% humidity after 14 hours stuck in a middle aisle seat with my

knees against my chin and I can appreciate how the black birders prey must have felt.

Beer doesn't just taste good in these climes it is a matter of life and death.

Hydration isn't a lifestyle choice. Canberra has killed my love for the bulk intake of beer.

Far too cold. Growing up in Qld it was easy as you perspired beer as fast as it could be drunk.

In Canberra you just get fatter.

The man at the desk talked me into a room upgrade when we arrived. I have an executive suite now.

36th floor with cracker views, a separate lounge room, two bathrooms and a dressing room.

In all seriousness it is bigger than my house.

The extra expense has it's benefits though. I was consuming heinekens up in the executive bar

at a rate of knots and only as we were leaving discovered they were complimentary with the room!

I tried a quick U-turn back into the bar but was cruelly headed off my Ms clown.

One disappointing aspect is that I did think the smoking laws were a lot more lax in china.

They're not. I could have selected a smoking room but I hate the stink as much as anyone

else. Also my willpower levels meant that I would spend the time smoking and drinking

looking at the view from the room and not partaken of the sights at all. There is even an

ipod dock and because I bought 60Gb with me I could conceivably set this place up better my own home.

For me this would be a dream holiday but again Ms clown begs to differ.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And with such perfection of timing, the baton is passed.

Bravo!

My withdrawal symptoms can be staved off by vicarious wanderlust for a little while longer.

Write on, gentlemen... :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Day 36.2: This Jiggity Jog is taking a while

In the recent past a trip of 5 hours would usually cover at least 2 or 3 countries each of which would have had numerous local speciality foods and probably a spectrum of dialects reflected in their long term jokes / derogatory comments / ethnic cleansings.

Maybe I am just a snob.

This trip of many hours has been reflected in pretty much a culture of the eighties. The business class lounges have so little local or national airline flavour; the SAS lounge at Heathrow had pretty much the same food and booze that the Thai lounge in Bangkok has. And the booze is so eighties: hennessey cognac and glenlivet scotch dominate. Local flavour is shown in the one area it probably shouldn't be. Local beers with Heineken thrown in for those afraid of change.

I am not so much of a snob that I ignore sensible planning procedures. Spare undies & socks in carry on luggage are simply gold. A T shirt & deodorant if you want to chase ladies in the transit lounge I guess. For me the weight dividend and desire ratio is not high enough for them, plus I don't think you can take terrorist deodorants on board now and I really don't like roll on so much.

I am not the only person that has figured this out. In the bathrooms at the gate an Australian fellow was changing his socks. Given that he wasn't using a cubicle I am glad he hasn't figured out the undies trick yet.

I always spend time at the gate trying to figure out who I will end up sitting next to. At the moment the odds of "grumpy old Aussie guy with a mo'" or "Obnoxious Fat American Teenager" are looking equal in the percentages. Ahhh well I have successfully performed the smart move on the first flight (tons of water and switch to Sydney time for sleeping) and have done the groundwork in the lounge bar for the next trip (lots of booze) so with any luck I will be a gently sleeping angel for this flight and fully coordinated with the Sydney people on landing.

Al is not here to remind me that my "gently sleeping angel" has levels and varieties of snore which would induce shame in anyone less cosmopolitan than myself which is also a bonus I guess.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The baton has simply been passed. I'm looking at a panorama of HK as I write.

Hooray!

Also my willpower levels meant that I would spend the time smoking and drinking

looking at the view from the room and not partaken of the sights at all.

Al acted in that role for me. The only advice I can give is that this roleholder will be annoying at times but is worth it in the long run so be nice to them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Day 2: Too many rules

So far I've been busted for multiple offenses.

Sitting down on some steps reading a map

Eating an icy pole on the peak tram

Standing with intent to loiter.

The main discovery from these offenses is that certain Chinese love telling you you're doing

something wrong. It's all very serious. Luckily I was let off with a warning on all occasions.

The thing is there is a lot of people employed to tell you what to do. For instance there ws a dedicated

guy for telling you which way to insert your tram ticket into the machine. The tram ticket itself

had arrows showing how to do it. There is a lot of busy work being done. But when the minimum wage

is $28 HKD you can afford 5 guys administering the hotel pool and 6 people diving to open the door for

you as you enter the lobby. I've been betting Ms clown that I can open beat the door opening army but

so far I haven't managed to catch them off guard. I have managed to make them sprint on two occasions.

After attempting to explore HK on foot I have a couple of observations.

Don't even try - it's pointless. I tried navigating with google maps and the blue dot

jumps around randomly. I went in a big circle and after an hour ended up where I started.

Must be something to do with the buildings. My advice is to go to pier 7 and get the big bus.

Once you resign yourself to this idea things become much easier. Conformity is peace.

The big bus commentary lays it all out for you. Hong Kong people are immensely proud of their

top end shopping. Wearing prada shoes, rolex watches, burberry, tiffany, dunhill and every other

brand name under the sun shows how successful you've been. It's that simple. Never in my life have I

seen a culture so obsessed with the prestige only money can buy. TBH I find it a tad disturbing.

Australia doesn't even know what "aspirational" means.

On the bright side the food is fantastic. I may have more to say later about the food. (Not enough bandwidth for photos)

Shopping wise I have achieved all my goals. I have a communist green cap with a red star and a Mao

lighter that plays "The east is red". I am replete. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Al acted in that role for me. The only advice I can give is that this roleholder will be annoying at times but is worth it in the long run so be nice to them.

Ms clown forgot to pack any long trousers for me. Yet she packed five formal dining outfits for herself. Before you say "why didn't you pack your own dickhead?" I was doing other tasks like cleaning AND I put all my stuff on the bed ready to be packed.

She's lucky we have gone out at all... :laugh:

Still apart from a few machismo wars with a couple of yanks I have been nice to everybody so far. :flex:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alas the trip is over.

Learned some interesting facts about the HK property market.

Average cost of a high rise unit $20000 HKD (AUD 2666) m2. The average unit size is 150 m2 so you can pick up a fairly ordinary apartment for HKD 2.1 million (AUD 400K). The minimum wage is HKD 28 per hour. My driver earned around HKD 40 per hour. He also worked 14 hours per day in two jobs 6 days a week.

SO the upshot is that there is a lot of public housing (the funding for public housing was cut back significantly after the 97 handover by the british according to my cab driver) that is available for rent @ HKD 2000 per month. There is a 7 year waiting list to get public housing.

The gap between rich and poor was startling. There are modern shopping malls with every brand name known to humankind. None of these are cheap. There are cheap markets and cheap eats. We tried some noodle soup at a little place near Mongkok and fed both of us for HKD 56 (AUD 9) I thought I was OK with chopsticks but after a painful few minutes of watching me try to eat my noodles the proprietress mercifully provided me with a fork. Much to the amusement of the other patrons. :yes:

I wondered who was paying the huge prices for property. My driver claimed that Mainland Chinese with large pockets were buying a lot of it. It might put into perspective why Chinese buyers see Australia as comparatively cheap.

The Hong Kong government are limiting the number of properties that can be purchased by foreigners for certain new developments in response.

All in all it was an enjoyable trip. Though next time I'll try and go in winter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Day One: Lessons have not been Learned.

I suppose the volume of steam issuing forth from the mouth of the burly fellow driving the machine clearing up the snow from the runway should have given me a clue regarding prevailing sartorial styles. However the lack of nicotine for 20 odd hours meant I paid little heed to how my personal dress sense was meshing with the locals as I dashed to the exit for a quick fix.

Not a single one of my fellow wretches was displaying a humorous slogan or picture on his chest. My T Shirt featuring a skull with an eye patch quite won the fashion stakes as far as I could tell. The time I have spent on my bike recently was proudly displayed with my exquisitely toned calves peeping out from my knee length shorts.

I suppose all the time under communism has meant none of these poor fellows has quite cottoned on to the commoditisation of the skateboarding style. They were all wearing huge coats and hats and beanies and such, very Gorky Park and maybe too retro in my opinion.

Unfortunately I have spent the last 3 months learning french and either my french is not that good or it is not widely used in Poland. None of my fellow smokers seemed likely to change their attire to be more western and cool like me anyway. I did get an awful lot of, what I take to have been admiring, glances though.

Perhaps I should have studied Polish. That would have required a semblance of a plan however. Once again I have none to speak of.

I shall venture forth into the city tomorrow and purchase clothing which is better suited to my observations of a culture in situ.

Zubr:

I am assuming is pronounced "Zoo Beer": it has a bison on the label (you see them at a zoo) and it is a beer. Sensible people these Poles, I like their logic.

Fairly normal pilsner, comes in a big can though and appears to be 6% alcohol.

If I can remember how to walk on snow in skateboarding shoes with no tread left I shall attempt to purchase more from the little shop across the way.

Edited by tor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wahoo! More trip reports from Hunter S Tor!

I was deported to Poland for 4 months in the winter season by a previous employer. It felt like groundhog day over and over again with a grumpy client muttering 'kurwa australii' (or something like that). I hope your trip is more pleasant than that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Knee length shorts in Poland in winter. I would substitute "incredulous glances" for "admiring glances". But I agree with Anders that I'm glad we'll be hearing tales from Eastern europe. :) What's the itinerary? (Beyond buying a duffle coat and a scarf)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Day -x: Explanations are in Order

Students of my instructional postings may recall that for my last trip there was some hoofrah about actually being able to travel. A brief summary of which:

  • Buy ticket, must be transferable & refundable as I am half arsed
  • Go to airport, check in, nice fellow at desk gives me boarding pass
  • Go to customs, am advised that passports which expired 6 months ago are not valid any more
  • Go get new passport
  • Call Flight Centre, tell them get me on the evening flight
  • Am advised ticket is not refundable and can only be transferred to a week from now
  • Question what "ticket insurance", "refundable" and "transferable" mean in their world
  • Buy new ticket because I'm going anyway

--merriment ensues--

  • Come back
  • Argue with Flight Centre in a desultory manner
  • Get partial refund from BA which has to be used within 6 months
  • Have no plans to travel again, vaguely determine to try and sell refund
  • Meet new girlfriend, she is Polish

--heels and heads switch places--

  • New girlfriend is going home for christmas
  • Have no other plans, decide to tag along
  • Cleaning lady proclaims this as "very romantic"
  • New girlfriend has faith in my planning skills
  • New girlfriend does not know story of going to Scottish islands in jeans and dying of heat
  • New girlfriend allows me on to plane in shorts and t-shirt
  • New girlfriend may have shown me pictures of snow but I have seen snow before and am not impressed

--impress polish people with steely resolve and slippery shoes--

Primary Goals:

1. Go to Poland.

2. Celebrate Christmas.

3. Meet Girlfriends family.

Current Status:

1/3 success.

2/3 has a time factor for success

3/3 girlfriend not here yet, best wait til she gets here

Edited by tor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You do this country proud with plans that are simultaneously half arsed and romantic. :)/>

I especially like the idea of arriving before the GF to ascertain the lie of the land and suss out the Polish! Although I don't know why you are persevering with beer in the land of the worlds best vodka. Poland is to vodka as Scotland is to malt!

I envy that you are about guaranteed to have a white christmas.

I wish you every success with the 3/3.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Day 2: The Movies Lied!

In the movies all the commies chain smoke those really nasty cigarettes.

In my memory snow was fun and brought out the gleeful child in me.

In the movies _and_ my memory commies have huge shops but you can't buy anything.

Now that I am old the commies stopped being commies and stopped smoking inside so I have to play on the balcony while I wait for Australian computers to do what they are told.

Now that I am old my serious winter gear is designed for Australian winters. Gleeful childlike wonder is reduced somewhat when your stupid shoes are stupid cold. Stupid Shoes!

I spent quite some time in the supermarket (Carrefour, a French import), I do find them to be fascinating places at home or abroad. At first I assumed the prices were roughly the same across most products (although the range was extravagant in the extreme. Nothing like the movies or my memory).

Then I remembered the exchange rate, 3 Polish zloty to the $AUS. So pretty much everything was about a third of the price of Sydney, this seemed to hold true across all food and booze products I know the prices of.

I do enjoy saying zloty, the girlfriend is yet to arrive so she has not left me yet for saying zloty. I plan to get it out of my system before she arrives. Today I shall say zloty a lottie.

At least these (ex) commies kept one movie tradition alive. Vodka! Piles of vodka! Different types of vodka! Serried ranks of crystalline spirits! An aisle of vodka and me with a shopping trolley!

All of them about $6-10 a bottle (well actually there are cheaper but I am in a fancy area so they mostly have the good stuff here). The vodka aisle is bigger than the average bottle shop in Sydney. There is vodka with a toy football in the bottom, I assume a prop for some kind of splendid drinking game. No one else seemed interested in playing a test round of the game in the aisle. One fellow did appear intrigued but my French failed me.

They also have 96%. This is a beverage I have consumed in the past but given my current old man status I have decided I will not sample it today. I can tell you what it tastes like from memory though:

96%

A clear liquid. Drink some then wake up with the taste of bus seats in your mouth because you have good friends and they wouldn't let you walk home but they are poor friends and can't afford a cab for your sorry arse. I have no idea what this stuff is really meant for. Wikipedia claims it can be used as a household solvent. I suppose if you dissolve enough of the opposite sexes underwear you end up with a household.

Goals Achieved:

I have new boots.

They are warm and have traction in the 6 inches of snow that fell overnight.

I believe this may have reduced the 24hr bump in the general amusement experienced by the people of Warsaw.

Plans:

Tonight I shall sup the delights of the old city with a pleasant young Polish fellow whose apartment I am staying at. Kielbasa and beer have been mentioned. I believe vodka is assumed.

Tomorrow the girlfriend arrives. I am unsure if sobriety when meeting her is required and suspect that drunkenness may express the anguish I had to drink away due to her absence.

I shall ask the Polish fellow what the local customs are in this regard.

The girlfriend and I shall shop for clothing.

This is for the best as today's 5 minute trip to get boots would by many measures be considered a vodka expedition where I accidentally ended up with new shoes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You have a Polish girlfriend, you lucky duck!

Polish women seem to be very friendly and traditionally feminine. But perhaps that was just in the city of Łódź where I stayed. If work hadn't been so taxing I could have ended up in a whole world of trouble over there. Not even my hideously disfigured exterior seemed to repel the charming Polish women. When I finally checked out of the hotel after 4 months the ladies at the hotel reception gave me chocolate and a nice card.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now that I am old my serious winter gear is designed for Australian winters. Gleeful childlike wonder is reduced somewhat when your stupid shoes are stupid cold. Stupid Shoes!

...

This is for the best as today's 5 minute trip to get boots would by many measures be considered a vodka expedition where I accidentally ended up with new shoes.

Snow...ur doin' it wrong... :)/>

With good boots (& girlfriend) it will make you childishly gleeful once again.

Despite being born here, I have what must be a genetic yearning for snow, it doesn't matter what kind of snow or when or where, it is always good snow... sigh, now I'm missing those snowy Christmases in the US... :sadwalk:/>

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Day 3: I am a Romantic Fool

The Girlfriend arrived today. Hooray. 3 days without her presence have been grey and drab. The snow melts in her presence. Flowers and Kisses at the airport and so on. I am such a softy underneath the chaotic drunkenness. She enjoys the attention.

Polish girls in general, I am informed, always like to be doing something that makes it clear they are girls. Last nights sojourn to the old part of town involved a Polish restaurant (Bazyliszek) which had 1 litre beers. I like 1 litre beers. The ladies here apparently like them too. But not in that crass German way where you can't tell the boys from the girls because the girls just grab their steins and drink away. No, the Ladies here have a straw in their 1 litre stein. This way they are being lady like. I decided I like the custom. I find it hard not to like a lady that wants a 1 litre beer though.

Prior to dinner we strolled the old town, they sure do like Christmas here, makes Martin Place look like it was done by Scrooge pre nocturnal wraith based awakening. As it was a little chilly we stopped at Shaakonski Zaakonski. They serve vodka. Apparently their signwriter had drunk quite a bit of this prior to doing the sign as he managed to spell it as Przekaski Zakaski, even I know that can't be how it is spelled. Excellent little bar about the size of a small living room, They sell beer (one brand), vodka (one brand) and food (maybe 5 things to choose from). All drinks are 4 zloty (just over a buck) and all food is 8 zloty (almost 3 bucks). Convivial and friendly. Open 24 hrs. Excellent establishment in my opinion, I didn't try the food though as I had already had a decent size lunch (Tuesday lunch special - tomato soup followed by ribs done in gravy with mashed potato and ghurkins and a beer).

Polish cuisine has apparently undergone a few significant changes over the centuries and is returning to many of the traditional dishes which are high calory and high salt. I discovered just how important salt is when making coffee this morning. Looking for the sugar I found and tasted 3 bowls of salt, there were also 2 salt shakers. Sugar is, of course, kept in the lounge room on a spectacularly beautiful art deco cabinet thingy with a rosewood veneer. I wonder if the fall of communism was followed by Antique dealers flooding in and buying up large on the furniture I see in houses here.

Gastronomical Observations:

When you enter a Polish restaurant look at what everyone else is eating, mostly they will all be having the same thing (I base this on 3 restaurants so it is guaranteed a universal fact). Apparently most restaurants have a special of the day and everyone has this. On the surface this sounded a tad RSL to me and my cultural preconceptions and snobbery immediately assumed "oh they are too poor to order anything not on special". Shame on me and, almost, fool on me.

Fortunately my devious side went with the "Agent Undercover" notions that are consistently running through my head (I visualise myself as a slightly more handsome (and patient) version of Clint Eastwood in FireFox (one of the best movies _and_ video games of the eighties - seriously that game ruled!) infiltrating the commies; they better not let me near an unguarded plane). To blend in seamlessly I went with the daily special; Pork Schnitzel, couple of 1 litre beers, chips and pickled vege salad. AUS$7.50 per person (or 25 zloty if you care to use such words - which I most certainly do not use a lottie).

Because everyone is ordering the same dish the service is blindingly fast. My native guide (he is a nice fellow, it is a shame he will probably be tortured and killed when I steal the plane) speculates that if you order anything other than the daily special you won't get it because the guy that cooks that dish only works on the day that it is on special.

I have also tried smalec z ogorkami (a cup of fat with bits of meat and spices but mostly rendered fat) on bread. This was the afternoon snack prior to going out tonight with the Girlfriend. It was a reward post finery shopping. It is tasty. It is also flavoured fat (with a gherkin[1]) and so now we are both tired and are not going out tonight and instead are drinking vodka. I however do have much finery, a coat that would see off a siberian storm and a scarf which would serve as a tent in most bedouin communities. I could not find a hat that did not remind the Girlfriend of her father and so I do not have a hat. Yet.

Cultural Observations:

They had "Rocky" here. I would have assumed that such rampant "Go Go America, #1, God loves us, Best Country in the World" nonsense would not have been allowed under a communist regime. Apparently not[2]. It is interesting to see how much propaganda I have absorbed as well. This will have to be reported back after I break cover.

[1] It is not a gherkin! This phrase is offensive to most Polish people but unfortunately we foolish english speakers only have one word for the cucumber which has been treated in such a manner as to make it tasty and spicy (and most certainly not vinegar[3]). The girlfriend assures me that our gustatory errors are only exacerbated by our weak language skills. We need more words for cucumbers that have been made different.

[2] I forgot to ask if they had Rocky IV though.

[3] The Girlfriend is reading this post and getting somewhat annoyed by my insistence on being innaccurate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
smalec z ogorkami (a cup of fat with bits of meat and spices but mostly rendered fat) on bread.

Sounds like "rillettes". A french dish like a meat pate served with cornichons (tiny gherkins) Yum. Let me know if you get to try Borsch.

Love your work man. Your travel writing picks up on the stuff the others miss. Keep it up! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds like "rillettes". A french dish like a meat pate served with cornichons (tiny gherkins) Yum. Let me know if you get to try Borsch.

Nah rillettes are mostly meat in my experience, this is mostly fat :)

I believe I am having meatless Borscht as one of the twelve traditional courses on Christmas eve. Poles don't eat meat on Christmas eve, they do apparently stay up til 1 minute past midnight and feast themselves senseless on meat though.

Love your work man. Your travel writing picks up on the stuff the others miss. Keep it up! :)/>

Thanks :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Day 4: Linguistic Capitulation

So these people simply refuse to understand my French. My teacher said I was doing well at French, I did 18 x 2 hr classes so I assume it is flawless and lay the blame squarely on these people. However I am a magnanimous (and handsome) man so I have started learning Polish. I am informed that Polish sounds like rustling leaves. It is winter and there are few leaves around for me to perform some acoustic experiments with but I seem to have mastered the language without a need for such scientific endeavours.

Just two days ago I was in a supermarket buying sundry items (Vodka! I own a bottle of vodka with a small football in the bottom! Compare your lives to mine and kill yourselves (or at least re arrange your priorities)!). Feeling somewhat rebuffed in the incomprehensible slack jawed and uncomprehending faces I decided not to lavish my Gallic turn of tongue on anyone and instead use the self service lane. This was in Polish for some reason. At that time I knew one word in Polish: Tak. I knew this because Takk is Norwegian for "Thanks" and for reasons which should remain in the boudoir had assumed it meant the same in Polish. It actually means "Yes" but, for the boudoir, either meaning is gratifying.

The self service grocery checkout machine asked me a question and offered the choice of Tak and something else. I am a positive kind of fellow and feel that even a machine should experience as much positivity as possible so I happily answered Tak. This lead to a series of screens which I was less sure of and there was no obvious way to proffer thanks or positivity to the benighted machine at which point the security Lady kindly offered her services.

Actually "kindly" might be a slight overstatement.

I had been waiting in the queue behind another fellow and there were 6 machines with 2 current users. The fellow in front of me strode forward examing the other machines and then returned to the queue. It might be wrong of me but I assumed the other machines were therefore broken. One of the 2 current users completed their negotiations with the machine and left (needless to say I do not feel he offered any moral boost to the machine). The fellow in front of me took that machine and I continued to wait for the next of the two functional machines to become free.

The security Lady was not particularly happy with me and gestured towards one of the "broken" machines. Wishing her well I stepped forward confidently and, upon discovering the machine functional, derided the other fellow as a fool and scanned my purchases. First the security Lady had to remove my backpack from the bagging area as the machine had created an incessant whine.

Scanning my purchases (Vodka!) was proceeding well until an item was found to have a severely deformed barcode. At this point I believe the security Lady was less than impressed and brusquely pushed several buttons on screen and entered the number manually. Her typo of said number did not seem to improve her opinion of me or the job she had at a French owned supermarket. I commiserated with regarding the anonymous nature of global corporates. She claimed to not understand my French.

Shortly afterward the debacle of offering thanks and positivity to the machine occurred.

Needless to say the mastery of the Polish language I now have would render such situations void and she would have received the warm glow of happiness I have bestowed upon several bartenders in Bielostock.

I have ordered several drinks in polish and each time received the beverage I believed I was asking for.

Lido:

Apple juice, Polish honey liquer and some christmassy spices, served hot.

Possibly too hot, I really should have taken a tray but I don't know the Polish for tray.

Reminiscent of the Varm och Kalt some may remember from The Swedish Sojourns (a beverage possibly responsible for bike related mishaps).

Slightly too sweet for my taste, the Girlfriend says it was not their finest attempt and it was a touch too sweet for her also.

Vino Grzaniec:

Red wine, Polish honey liquer and some christmassy spices, served hot.

Possibly too hot, I should have asked what the Polish word for tray is.

The Girlfriend likes this. I find the tannin of the wine a bit of a clash with the sweetness of the honey but can see a lot of people would enjoy it. Not far removed from Mulled wine I have had in other locales. Much harder to say than Lido.

Pivo Grzaniec:

Beer (a lager I think), Polish honey liquer and some christmassy spices, served hot.

Who knows if it was too hot, I know the Polish for Table Service (actually I just sat there and the Girlfriend ordered).

I actually liked this one the most of the 3. Tasted much like mead with some extra spices. The bitterness worked well in conjunction with the honey I thought but maybe it is a stretch to consider making it at home. Much easier to say than Vino Grzaniec if only because someone else said it.

Jameson:

Irish whiskey, in a glass, bit of ice, served cold.

This was actually the only drink I ordered where the waitresses came and asked the girlfriend what it was I wanted. Ergo my Polish is perfect but my English may need some work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Day 5: A Surfeit

Several times on this journey mention has been made that the Girlfriend is the brains of the operation and I am the Pretty face.

Usually by the Girlfriend, often when I do something regarded as deficient in intellectual qualities.

Whilst this has been somewhat tongue in cheek I did make an interesting observation. So far I have seen one guy with a hairstyle which could not be described as "short hair, nothing done to it". When I saw him it caused a bit of a double take in my head as it stood out so much. Every guy, for all their personal style, seems to have adopted a winter haircut. This makes sense due to the length of time to dry hair, hats and hoods probably making any attempt at a hairstyle look somewhat ridiculous very quickly and so on. I continue making what at home would be regarded as a bare minimum of effort (some gunge into hair, mix it around for 10 seconds) more out of habit than anything else. Here it probably makes me look like I care about fashion a lot more than I do though.

As mentioned before Polish Ladies like to have some kind of signifier indicating that they are indeed Ladies. In bars this is usually a straw. A beer, regardless of size, being delivered to a Lady will automatically have a straw in it.

Yesterday while enjoying a respite from the weather (-12 degrees) and Christmas shopping (for 14 people) my beer (a cold version of the mulled beer from yesterday) arrived with a straw in it.

I may have taken the Pretty Face component of the operation too far.

As part of the strategy for combating the weather Polish cuisine is rather high in calories. Breakfast consisted of good quality Kiełbasa wiejska (big thick fatty sausages), gherkins and a type of pate. The Polish pate is not as rich and creamy as the French style. To overcome this calorific deficiency it is eaten in slabs about a centimetre thick on a slice of bread (see the bread thread http://www.simplesustainable.com/topic/1449-baking-breads/page__view__findpost__p__65041 for a pretty good example of the bread type).

I would estimate the calorific content of this breakfast to be not far removed from that of one of the full Scottish breakfasts mentioned during the Islay Invasion. The rate of obesity here in the under 40 males is zero. They are all skinny. I am hoping this is due to the weather and not some secret Polish physical activity as I enjoy these breakfasts.

Further calorific protection was provided during the day in the form of Steak Tartar with chopped sweet white onions and gherkin (best dressing combo for steak tartare I have had I think), again this is eaten more like a Scandinavian open face sandwich (with the same bread) than the more common "little bits of toast" that the effete French follow.

It was a cold day and there was a chance that the preceding would only provide enough energy for me to make it to a snow bank whereupon I would collapse and die a quick death. A serving of Golonka seemed strategic. A pork hock, slow cooked and served with lightly fried onions and on a peas and garlic puree (with some more bread of course). This was delicious; the fat had rendered down beautifully and the texture was reminiscent of pulled pork in American barbecue. I am suspecting a moisture based cooking process as the skin was soft and edible.

Instead of vast quantities of fatty food children apparently combat the cold by dressing very warmly, their small stomachs cannot provide a calorific reservoir I assume, this gives them slightly globular and heavily padded appearance and inspired me to theorise a game involving Snowbanks & Children Throwing. I have been advised that this game must never be mentioned again and include it here for posterity.

Tomorrow:

Complete this shopping exercise.

Purchase the appropriate vodka for healing a sore throat - the previous bottle is empty and the throat is sore, I assume a dosing issue and will resolve it.

Consider adopting Polish winter haircut.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now