tor

S&S World tour

712 posts in this topic

Vodka, vodka, vodka...

Ah, call me perceptive - but this thread is getting a distinct flavour of 'vodka'. There are 18 mentions of vodka (before this post), of which tor is the author of 15 of them.

So, it may appear that vodka and Poland are related somehow. As evidence of this, there is not just a single Wikipedia page about Polish vodka, there are indeed 19 pages of them + one overview page:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Polish_vodkas

So, at the risk of adding to the vodka word count unnecessarily, what brands of vodka have you tried so far, tor - and do you also find that vodka is mentioned a lot in everyday Polish conversation (like I did).

BTW, vodka is a Russian word (related to the word 'water'), and is also used in the Scandinavian languages (but we also call it brännvin - 'burn wine'). Hence, the word vodka seems to have a universal appeal. The subject of vodka has a lot to it.

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Day 6: Shopping (and Vodka)

Cultural Observations:

Christmas Shopping. A rule was suggested by the Girlfriend that we do not do any shopping for ourselves, this was to be an example of military like precision as we hit shops in order and crossed off our list in an efficient manner.

I am lead to believe that the Russian culture (well the bit just over the border from here anyway) is very similar to the Polish culture (well the bit around here).

If so the military like precision with which we effected our shopping may explain the Russians failure in Afghanistan.

Vodkas I Have Tried (play along at home version sold separately):

Sobieski. Named after a Polish king who famously lead a bunch of guys on horseback to the rescue of Vienna when some southerners were besieging it. Apparently the horse guys liked to ride around with wings on their back. I didn't drink enough to attempt such apparel choices and horses have never figured high in my choice of transport. Bruce Willis is the spokesperson apparently. I had the non flavoured version. Nice enough but I am not really a vodka aficionado and probably didn't pay enough attention.

Zubrowka. Flavoured with the grass which the Bison like to eat and has a reed of it in the bottle. (Zubr is the Bison and featured on the label of the beer of the same name). I have yet to see one of these Bison. In fact I have seen very few wild animals. I have a suspicion that the vast quantities of smoked meats and sausages which appear in every second shop may have something to do with the dearth of wildlife. There are a couple of brands but the eponymous one is my favourite so far.

Old Krupnik. I can't quite work out if this is truly a vodka or not. Very sweet and honey flavoured but still in the 40% abv range. I have been drinking this as a form of medicine for my sore throat. I am hoping my throat does not fix itself. I may sneak out and lie in a snowbank for a bit to ensure this eventuality. Not only do the Poles love (and talk and sing about) Vodka they have a fondness for Honey and Mead. Apparently one of the early Kings told the Pope of the day that the Polish Knights would be unable to join the Crusades because the Holy Land did not have enough mead.

A Ukrainian honey and chilli vodka (disgusting) and a Lithuanian mead / vodka (less disgusting) have also been tried (the bottle shop had no Krupnik, I should really have gone to another one but I was tired and emotional from the militaristic shopping expedition).

Vodkas I have not tried:

The ones they sell in the stamp shop. The Girlfriend had advised that almost every shop will sell vodka. If they don't sell vodka they probably sell sausages. It was only on observing the Philatelist shop with a tidy rack of vodkas that I truly took this message to heart. The shop was closed.

Debowa: This is the vodka bottle with the football in the bottom. Apparently it is not actually very good vodka. I suspect I will fall on hard times and drink it at some point though and just take the bottle home.

Plans:

One of the cousins of the Girlfriend has arrived. He is a guy and so does not participate in the cooking aspect of the upcoming celebration and, as he arrives late in the preparation period does not bring foodstuffs either. His job is to buy booze. Apparently this is a good match of task and personal skill sets. I am attempting to wangle a seat in the booze mobile when it ventures forth to sit at the figurative feet of a master.

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Day 6: Shopping (and Vodka)

Cultural Observations:

Christmas Shopping. A rule was suggested by the Girlfriend that we do not do any shopping for ourselves, this was to be an example of military like precision as we hit shops in order and crossed off our list in an efficient manner.

I am lead to believe that the Russian culture (well the bit just over the border from here anyway) is very similar to the Polish culture (well the bit around here).

If so the military like precision with which we effected our shopping may explain the Russians failure in Afghanistan.

Vodkas I Have Tried (play along at home version sold separately):

Sobieski. Named after a Polish king who famously lead a bunch of guys on horseback to the rescue of Vienna when some southerners were besieging it. Apparently the horse guys liked to ride around with wings on their back. I didn't drink enough to attempt such apparel choices and horses have never figured high in my choice of transport. Bruce Willis is the spokesperson apparently. I had the non flavoured version. Nice enough but I am not really a vodka aficionado and probably didn't pay enough attention.

Zubrowka. Flavoured with the grass which the Bison like to eat and has a reed of it in the bottle. (Zubr is the Bison and featured on the label of the beer of the same name). I have yet to see one of these Bison. In fact I have seen very few wild animals. I have a suspicion that the vast quantities of smoked meats and sausages which appear in every second shop may have something to do with the dearth of wildlife. There are a couple of brands but the eponymous one is my favourite so far.

Old Krupnik. I can't quite work out if this is truly a vodka or not. Very sweet and honey flavoured but still in the 40% abv range. I have been drinking this as a form of medicine for my sore throat. I am hoping my throat does not fix itself. I may sneak out and lie in a snowbank for a bit to ensure this eventuality. Not only do the Poles love (and talk and sing about) Vodka they have a fondness for Honey and Mead. Apparently one of the early Kings told the Pope of the day that the Polish Knights would be unable to join the Crusades because the Holy Land did not have enough mead.

A Ukrainian honey and chilli vodka (disgusting) and a Lithuanian mead / vodka (less disgusting) have also been tried (the bottle shop had no Krupnik, I should really have gone to another one but I was tired and emotional from the militaristic shopping expedition).

Vodkas I have not tried:

The ones they sell in the stamp shop. The Girlfriend had advised that almost every shop will sell vodka. If they don't sell vodka they probably sell sausages. It was only on observing the Philatelist shop with a tidy rack of vodkas that I truly took this message to heart. The shop was closed.

Debowa: This is the vodka bottle with the football in the bottom. Apparently it is not actually very good vodka. I suspect I will fall on hard times and drink it at some point though and just take the bottle home.

Plans:

One of the cousins of the Girlfriend has arrived. He is a guy and so does not participate in the cooking aspect of the upcoming celebration and, as he arrives late in the preparation period does not bring foodstuffs either. His job is to buy booze. Apparently this is a good match of task and personal skill sets. I am attempting to wangle a seat in the booze mobile when it ventures forth to sit at the figurative feet of a master.

Good to hear that vodka is still popular in Poland - was worried for a while that the country would stop drinking alcohol tongue.gif

I mainly drank Sobieski and Wybrowa when I was there. Couldn't figure out which one I liked best, since I was already in a condition where judgement was impaired.

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Sobieski. Named after a Polish king who famously lead a bunch of guys on horseback to the rescue of Vienna when some southerners were besieging it. Apparently the horse guys liked to ride around with wings on their back. I didn't drink enough to attempt such apparel choices and horses have never figured high in my choice of transport. Bruce Willis is the spokesperson apparently. I had the non flavoured version. Nice enough but I am not really a vodka aficionado and probably didn't pay enough attention.

I always had a weakness for Leelee Sobieski.

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Day 7: Education

I have been playing board games with children. As the children's English is about as good as my polish this has actually been quite good. The children regard me as a somewhat retarded fellow and so speak very slowly when telling me what to do and I gradually pick up individual words. Occasionally the more theatrical of the children throws her hands in the air at my apparent stupidity. I believe there has been at least one conversation with the Aunties regarding _just_ how stupid the large fellow is.

As my command of the language improves (I can say Square and Triangle, know 5 & 0 and can remember a few colours when pressed) the children have hopes of me being capable of following simple instructions.

Whilst attempting to print out a picture of a couch (which had been bought as a present but wouldn't be delivered for a few days, hence the picture as the present) the Theatrical Child gave me a 5 minute lecture which I think centred around closing the door when I was finished so the dog wouldn't get into the room. I hope that was the gist of the message anyway as otherwise I have once again failed to follow simple instructions delivered with a determined simplicity.

Spending time with the Japanese I grew accustomed to my name being Salmon, at first I assumed that this was just a pronunciation thing however I have since found that they were actually trying to say Salmon. It is my Japanese name now as it is too embedded to change.

In the same way my Polish name is Sam. The children were exasperated by my inability to even respond to my name for the first few days.

Cooking has commenced in earnest. Yesterdays frenetic kitchen energy was simply a warm up. There are now piles of food accruing in the cool room. As with other cold countries I have spent time in the outside door leads to a small room which is not heated from which the house proper can be entered. This room acts as a good size walk in refrigerator. I believe a determined feasting process will have to be performed before we can leave the house.

Culinary Delights: Nalesniki z serem (Pancakes & Quark)

Pretty simple, surprisingly tasty, incredibly filling.

Create a basic crepe mix, slightly sweet

Fry crepe

Slather half with Quark mix[1]

Fold into quarters, put aside

Make another 3

Put all 4 into the pan and fry til the cheese is warm

Eat

[1] The Quark mix can be made at home and is Quark, Sour Cream, and Sugar (other families sometimes add "flavours", these families are weird though and so the actual nature of these flavours has not been specified as it is useless information). The purchased version has "flavours" and I think these might include lemon juice, alternately the sour cream is much stronger in lemon flavour than Australian sour cream.

I was told by a German that the rule is "Four or none" presumably because once quartered 4 of them fit in the pan for the final heating. There is no way I could eat 4 I don't think. 2 is a good size meal and 3 makes me need a bit of a sit down. I apologised to the German (but did not mention the war). She ate the pancakes I couldn't manage.

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Day 8: Festivities, They Are Upon Us

As with many europeans Christmas is celebrated on Christmas eve. A sensible choice as it avoids the early children excitement. The slight difference here is that Christmas dinner is served when the first star is seen, around 16:00 (in Norway it is after evening church so closer to midnight). An interesting factoid: the reason for celebrating the night before is because the day used to be considered to start at sundown rather than sun up.

Gifts here are placed under the tree (no stockings or "food for santa") during the meal so the children are not aware.

The gifts are only marked with the recipients name, not the givers. This, for me, is fascinating as it presents a situation similar to the prisoners dilemma. There is no way of knowing who bought you a gift outside of the clues presented by the gift and also there is no requirement to buy a gift for everyone. The interpretations of a gift therefore have many more facets. The Girlfriend (a trained pastry chef that dislikes baking and only does so for the Christmas feast) received a cake decorating kit of the sparkly variety more suited to children. This has 3 possible meanings:

1. The gift was intended for the Theatrical Child and labelled badly (which means it is from one of the guys as only they would be half arsed enough to make such a mistake)

2. It is a message that the time is upon the Girlfriend to have children of her own (which means it is from the Mother or Aunty)

3. Someone wanted to annoy her a little (which opens the field considerably)

This practice of not labelling the gifts fully makes the traditional Australian "quiet discussions by females in semi private areas post present giving" look like a watery imitation of the real ritual.

I Like It!

The Christmas dinner is 12 courses (one for each month of the year) unless you are vegetarian (7 courses; one for each day of the week). It is meat free[1]. The fish of choice is carp, I know these fish well as the bath tub has been full of them for the past few days and I chat to them while showering. I am mildly allergic to fish which has created a psychological aversion to strong fish flavours. Carp is a very strong fish flavour.

I dislike people that proclaim "oh I am allergic to that" and therefore upset rituals so I determined to eat the fish despite my aversion. A simple plan was evident: take small portions of each fish dish and smother it in the potato salad to mask the flavour and swallow with a minimum of chewing. Bread could be used as a clean up device.

This plan (as with many of my plans) didn't work as well as I anticipated. I surmised that carp is an _incredibly_ strong flavour and was somehow leeching through the potato salad.

This theory was exploded when the Girlfriend asked me to pass the Fish Salad, next time I will have a different game plan.

Best Christmas Dish (and the connotations therein): Uszka & Barszcz

I had asked which Pierogi the family would have for Christmas dinner as Wikipedia had lead me to believe it was quite a traditional member of the Christmas repast. Borscht I also expected to see.

Oh Wikipedia, you have so much to answer for.

I was informed that this family does not have pierogi or borscht for Christmas dinner.

My plate of Uszka (stuffed with mushroom) & Barszcz was not small pierogi in borscht. It is completely different.

The small pierogi were delicious and the warm borscht, while a little sweet for me, was an excellent starter to the meal.

[1] The meal is meat free due to old Catholic traditions. This family is firmly anti-church. The church recently proclaimed that meat was acceptable in the Christmas dinner. This family has announced that the Church can keep their damn nose out of their traditions and that it will remain staunchly meat free for Christmas Dinner.

Attempts to explain the self referential irony of this stance has removed the perceived intelligence which learning to say "Square" had garnered me. Tomorrow I shall try and learn some more colours and see if this puts me back into the "smarter than a beetroot" category.

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Day 9: Games Prove Intelligence (and stave off cabin fever)

Christmas day is a traditional day for visiting cemeteries and remembering the dead. A noble feat of consumption in the morning finally cleared a path through the cool room and so exiting the house was possible again. Today is warm, only a couple of degrees below zero. We have had -12 to -18 for the past few days and the snow has been about knee deep.

Cemeteries here (I have seen one and therefore this is a universal truth) have a marked sameness grave to grave. A slightly off centred cross is the dominant theme. I have yet to find to find out what this is from. A distinct lack of the angels and more fanciful headstones I am used to in NZ cemeteries.

Combined with the snow and the general sombre aspect of the visitors the cemetery had more of a feeling of a war cemetery than cemeteries I am used to.

Recommended Games:

Set, wikipedia.org/wiki/set_(game)

Any lover of board games should have themselves an excursion to Germany. The range of games is quite astounding (not that I have been there this trip, just a comment from previous expeditions). One of the Aunties[1] now resides in Germany and brought the game of Set to the family gathering several years back.

Even though my current skill level is below that of "5 yr old" (but higher than "Potato") it is a great game and very simple to learn the rules to.

A similar game in terms of basic principles is "Blink, The World's Fastest Game". Much easier and much more frenetic. The Girlfriend and I discovered this game so a wee bit of cachet rubbed off on me there.

Both highly recommended for days when snow or food has closed off access to the outside world.

[1] The word for Aunty isn't really used in the local language, neither is cousin. Hence the Girlfriend has referred to several people as her sister but when I added up the numbers she had more sisters than there were people in her family. Her brother also has two names, one used by school / work people and one by the family, this meant she had more brothers than people in her family as well. This was slightly confusing and did nothing to increase my perceived intelligence.

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Day 10: Accelerated Hair growth

In Germany foreign shows and movies are dubbed into German by voice actors.

In Norway foreign shows and movies have Norwegian subtitles.

The French simply chose not to sully their culture with foreign nonsense.

The Poles have a tradition of hiring one guy to do the localisation for foreign language productions. As far as I can tell he sits in the corner watching the movie and comments in a deadpan manner as to what is happening, his comments are recorded and played over the top of the original soundtrack.

I believe it is the same guy whether it be a drama, swords and sorcery film or cartoon re runs from the 80's. His emotional input is the same in each case.

My brother and I used to do exactly this when we were young; we would sing along with songs such as Def Leppards "Pour some sugar on me" in monotones just to annoy everyone else around us. The Polish translator / commentator for last nights Russian Swords and Sorcery Fantasy film made me feel at home.

Polish reading habits tend heavily towards fantasy (I have met one family and been to 2 bookshops so this a universal fact).

One of the trips to the bookshop was today (I am looking for an English translation of the cookbook every household has - Kuchnia Polska). Poland has delivered the required White Christmas with an apparently out of season series of cold days and large snow fall. Now that Christmas has been completed in a manner satisfactory to the foreigner (me) the weather has returned to a more typical variety. Walking to the book store the weather was 3 degrees above zero and it started to rain.

Apparently my Viking heritage has kicked in as this weather felt quite comfortable and warm. I had to push the sleeves of my jumper up several times as I was getting too hot.

Unfortunately my Viking heritage has not quite cottoned on to the vagaries of modern fashion. Not that I am a significantly fashionable type of fellow at the best of times but I do make a vague effort occasionally. Largely this consists of keeping all hair at reasonably short lengths and putting some form of goo into the hair on my head then making it messy.

For immensely practical thermo-dynamic reasons my Viking heritage is currently attempting to cover all exposed areas of my body with an insulating layer. The Girlfriend claims the hair on my head has grown a centimetre in the 10 days so far. Even my eyebrows seem to be in on the act. This is hilarious apparently.

Score Card So Far (Primary Goals):

1. Go to Poland.

2. Celebrate Christmas.

3. Meet Girlfriends family.

All 3 goals achieved.

Secondary Evaluation:

1. I have made it to Poland without issues such as expired passports, missed flights or intransigent customs officials. This gets a 100% success rating compared to previous journeys

2. Celebrating Christmas has been achieved with large amounts of "White", significant volumes of tradition and minimal strategic errors (the notable exception is the failed potato salad gambit). Success ratio can therefore be considered on the order of 86%

3. The girlfriends family has been met and no significant lapses in protocol have been commented on to my knowledge. Errors regarding numbers of brothers and sisters and exact relationship of Person A to Person B (e.g. is it a cousin, an aunty or are they in fact the same person) have been received with self deprecating humour so we shall score this as 93%

Overall a satisfactory score by any measure and certainly very high in the annals of the Half Arsed Traveller.

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Good to hear that your Christmas trip to Poland was a success, tor.

Perhaps your viking influenced lack of dress sense is because you dress like a viking? Mate, that's been out of fashion for over a thousand years!

Celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve makes a lot of sense. Who celebrates New Years Day? For consistency's sake Christmas Eve should be the main event also.

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Day 11: New Challenges

As all previous challenges for the trip have been met with a better than passing grade a new series of challenges has been called for.

Shopping For Ourselves

I am prepped and ready, I have a version of Set (see approved games) on my phone and it is fully charged for sitting on the courtesy "male bench" outside clothing shops. The Girlfriend has ramped lady like tendencies to full (seriously, no straw or beer is safe) and we have no list as this is no time for lists; this is rampant consumerism at a professional level.

Result: Epic Failure. A single pair of shoes and a single shirt was purchased. I don't know if we have burned ourselves out or what has happened.

Navigating Iconography

Post shopping failure we retired to a bar to ascertain where our failure was. Socks were bought on the way so the new shoes (Hiking boots with heels, ladylike but also providing traction) can be tried on. A couple of spiced beers and I needed to use the men's room. Presented with a choice of circle or triangle (point down) I was tempted to go for circle as the "Map of Tasmania" indicated to me that it was the Ladies room. Fortunately I was informed that Poland does not have Tasmania and _men_ have a triangle (I worked it out eventually, the Girlfriend is allowed to prod at parts of my anatomy which would have me calling sexual harassment if it was a bartender).

Result: Success, although by the skin of my teeth.

Blending In

This is a cold climate, even now in the balmy positive figures it is still pretty cold if the wind gets up. As a result I wear my scarf (as mentioned, suitable for most Bedouin requirements and black with a hint of stylish grey at the end) and my thick coat (grey, single breasted, fur trim around the hood - I wear the fur in a jaunty fashion). Shopping malls are heated. I enter the mall and start to sweat almost immediately so I remove my coat and scarf.

Result: I should tattoo foreigner on my forehead. Actually I don't need to. Everyone can tell that the idiot in a T shirt carrying a coat is not from here before I even open my mouth. I live in hope they will think I am from a much tougher climate and respect me for my behaviour. Opinions vary in this regard.

Given these results I don't know why I even bothered coming up with a list of goals for the future. But I did. I like to think it shows a determination which the Poles will respect given their history of sitting between Germany and Russia and somehow surviving.

Plans:

Go to Krakow (way down South)

Appease elderly aunties with gifts of walnuts (not my idea, some kind of tradition I think)

5 minutes later adjustment to Plans

Stay in Bialystok one more day

Appease elderly parents who can do math and realised we would be in Krakow longer than in Bialystok and exactly who are we? your parents or some crazy old lady that wants walnuts.

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Day 12: Couches

Staying in Bialystok had a fortunate side effect. We were present when The Couch was delivered. The Couch is a gift from The Girlfriend to her parents (anonymously of course - see the Christmas presents labelling post - although I suspect the excitement on the girlfriends face just might have given the game away).

We spent an enchanting morning at a furniture warehouse (more military precision) looking for this couch. My opinion was sought regarding the final choice. I suspect this may have been a cultural thing; Polish Ladies like being Ladies and part of being a Lady is seeking a man's opinion. Polish Ladies also like to have their independence though and my opinion may have been sought in a more ritualistic fashion than in any meaningful sense.

Seemingly all Polish couches fold out into beds. I don't buy a lot of couches in Australia but, from memory, this is not overly common on our couches and the ones which do fold out, from memory, are rather flimsy. The Polish ones seem to me to be a much more robust style. With fewer springs and levers to catch fingers in than I remember in fold out couches.

The reason for the couches all folding out has become apparent to me. It appears a significant percentage of the population here live in apartments. Mostly in 2 room apartments. In Australia this would mean 2 bedrooms. Here the lounge room is included in the room count. I think "2 room" would be the most common apartment in each country for a couple. A 2 room apartment here is usually between 30 and 70 square metres I am told (mostly at the lower end of that scale) I believe the average Sydney 2 room apartment is about 80 square metres. Quite a difference.

So lounge rooms are needed to double as guest rooms if visitors stay. And Poles do seem to enjoy visiting each other. Extended families are strongly tied here (one family experienced and so another universal truth). In contrast I think I saw my sister this year but am not really sure. I know I saw my brother at some point.

Plans:

Go to Krakow

Visit Salt Mine

Appease elderly aunty with a huge bag of walnuts (I must find the meaning of this)

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Day 13: Furry

To Krakow. Polish trains don't have power supplies or wifi even in first class. It is tempting to consider them a third world country in some respects. There are two problems with that though:

1. I think 1st World was US & allies, 2nd World was USSR and Allies and 3rd World was countries that have no bearing in that arena. So 3rd World would be inaccurate even if widely understood.

2. Australian trains are just as bad, if not worse.

In Krakow we are staying at a cousin and his wifes place. We started chatting about music and we had one of my favourite joke types happen. Translation / accent humour.

The cousin informed me that a certain metal band had their own whores. I said that seemed fair enough and was probably the reason many fine musicians move into the popular genres. He seemed to think it was quite unusual.

Later we discovered that he was saying "choir".

Which I agree is probably much less common than a band having it's own whores.

For dinner we went to one of the few "not polish" restaurants in the area. As I have been eating almost exclusively at Polish places this was a bit of an eye opener. It was a Chinese / Vietnamese restaurant. The food was nice enough but was definitely in the vein of New Zealand Chinese from the early 80's; very little spice and lots of deep fried. Not much in the way of what I think of as signature Vietnamese food (tons of fresh herbs etc). Discussing food was difficult as the Cousin and Wife seemed to be under the impression Australia would have a recognisable cuisine. The idea that fusion was probably the closest we have just underscored to them how young a country we are.

After dinner the Girlfriend and I strolled through the old town smelling the vast array of meats cooking (I may be a glutton but I am not suicidal and the Polish "snacks for drinking" are genuinely hearty meals) and drinking from the vast array of hot wines. The wine is sold from shops shaped as barrels.

I saw a shop which appeared to be named "Polski Crapski". Apt for a tourist area I thought. Must have been the wine as it was actually a hat shop and the Girlfriend took this as a chance to make up for our failed consumerism from the other day. She now has a delightfully warm hat which she won't be able to wear in Australia. Partly because there is no way it will ever be cold enough and partly because it is actual animal fur.

Of course I doubt anyone in Australia would even consider that some fur would be real nowadays. The idea didn't even occur to me. Apparently much of the fur I have been seeing over the past few weeks has probably been real fur. I have to say it doesn't really bother me conceptually that much, seems no worse than eating meat or wearing leather shoes, but I am guessing that PETA probably has Poland on a "No Visit" list.

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The train between Warsaw and Łódź goes all the way to Berlin and is of a very high standard. But some of the regional trains were probably made before the 2nd World War it seems.

I never got to see Krakow, unfortunately. While very little of the old grandeur of Poland remains in Warsaw after having the crap bombed out of them during the war, Krakow was very much left intact. Krakow has historically been a very important city and was the capital of Poland for half a millennium, which would make it a beautiful city to visit.

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Day 14: Standards Should Be Set And Adhered To

Dinner must be had at a restaurant that has wooden utensils. And a fire place. The entire room must be wooden. I think this was the first thing I heard upon waking. Even in my whole-hearted half-arsedness I can recognise when I should go along with an idea.

We managed to get a statue of a Polish Hussar thrown in for free and plus a nativity scene. Bonus.

Manly Men decide on the meals while Ladylike Ladies drink hot wine. Sensible Manly Men order _way_ too much food because they want to try everything. Inebriate Manly Men get vodka too. I am at least partially Manly.

Wikipedia claims that Duck is exceptionally popular with the Polish people because it used to be popular with the rich people and Poland has such a strong hunting history. Wikipedia is a dirty lying whore. But the Girlfriend likes a bit of duck.

They were out of the local version of black pudding / boudin noir / blutwurst / blood sausage so I can't add another countries tradition of eating the whole damn pig to my list. Yet. This shall be rectified if possible.

  • Smalec: the traditional cup of fat with a few roast meat trimmings smeared on bread, this time with a slice of cured meat on top
  • Steak Tartare: This is the Girlfriends primary culinary weakness and, if I can find the right gherkins at home, will supplant her desire for Friday Night Frites which has been my primary method of keeping her interested in me to this point.
  • Thick kielbasa sausage flame roasted on a bed of fried sauerkraut (I think kielbasa just means sausage but I keep forgetting to check which type I have ordered, this was one of the big fat garlicky ones which I think (based on Wikipedia and we all know how reliable that lying whore is) are named after Krakow)
  • Duck with cherry sauce
  • Zurek: A garlicky / horseradishy regional soup which is served with a chopping board covered in bread, sausage, bacon and hardboiled egg to be mixed in before eating (I like food that has participation games)
  • Golonka: Pork knuckle, this time with crispy skin (the disgusting version served at Sydney German chain restaurants cannot be compared with this treat).

All of which delicious and served in portions large enough that we have a spare dinner in leftovers.

Throw in some Meads, Vodkas, Beers and Hot Wines and you have dinner for four all up at the $140 mark, in a semi tourist area. I am starting to think Poland may be the best value tourist destination I have been to in a long while.

One of the dinner party had to go to church and after a walk through the Jewish quarter I decided to avail myself of a vodka and beer at one of my own places of worship. Earlier in the day I had been asked if I wanted a double vodka or a single, I was shown the glasses, a single appeared to be 20ml and a double 40ml. When asked at my new temple I opted for the double. Doubles at this establishment are volumetrically closer to the volume required to shave with. I didn't shave.

I thought the European Union was supposed to make these measurement issues go away. I happily volunteer to aid in ferreting out the establishment serving vodkas which are too small.

In the cab home Guns n Roses came on. The driver was of a "speed is the key" nature and I was full of food and vodka. This felt very good to me

Still have the walnuts.

Edited by tor

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Good to see that you don't have to go hungry, tor. happy.gif

When I was in Poland in 2008 an Australian dollar got you 2.1 zloty. It seems the exchange rate is now around 3.2 per dollar.

Hmmm.... your regaling stories about the place make me want to visit again sometime. Friendly people and great food and drink at 1/2 the price we are used to here. One of my future holiday dreams is to drive to the Baltic states. I'll make sure to drive around in Poland on the way there.

Be careful with those walnuts!

Edited by AndersB

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Playing catchup on the holidays thread after a Xmas computer failure. Man, poland sounds fantastic. (well the food does at least) Not a genre which has received a lot of attention on the mandatory recipe thread but come the next canberra winter requires some further examination. I have an excellent supplier of polish sausage (they come down from sydney every saturday pay week) and I have a polish friend for authenticity reference. Bought back a tin of duck fat from Melbourne. I'm all aquiver with excitement. Roll on winter! :thumbsup:

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Day 15 'Coz I'm Workin' On The Chain Gang.

Far be it from me to make jokes regarding working in the salt mines to pay for the girlfriends fancy new hat. However I went to the salt mines. These are just outside Krakow and are ripe with factual inaccuracies. We were told we would walk down 400 stairs to reach the first level, there were only 378. I cannot abide by this kind of inaccuracy.

We only saw 1% of the Salt Mines according to the guide. However after the stairs debacle I am putting his facts in the same bucket as that lying whore wikipedia. I gave him a bit of a glaring but am not sure if he noticed.

The 1% (if you believe that) we saw is apparently the same 1% people see each time (The Girlfriend has been several times before, presumably to set other poor males into lives of indentured servitude) was a 2km stroll and quite pleasant. The guide practically begged me to taste the walls so I knew they were salt. After the Warsaw experience searching for sugar I politely declined, I am quite aware of what Polish salt tastes like thank you very much kind sir.

It is actually quite neat. There is a splendid churchy type room which has bas reliefs of Jesus doing stuff. Even the tiles are salt in that room apparently. Again I declined to taste them to check. There is also a pretty damn good statue of Pope John Paul II. He never went to the mine as a pope which is apparently unfortunate.

After the mines food was required. The city square meat fest beckoned. Flame roasted Kielbasa (I really do like this), mushrooms and potatoes lightly fried in 5 foot wide pans and Haggis. Yep, Polish Haggis (kaszanka). I have to say it was better haggis than the one I had in Glasgow that I was very happy with at the time.

No doubt this opinion is going to win me many friends in the Scottish ex pat community. Perhaps I should avoid them for a while.

Fortunately while doing a quick check of my spelling for the word I have discovered that not only is it a great haggis it is also a blood sausage. Another country checked off my list of eating the whole damn pig. Awesome and accidental! The Half Arsed Traveller Strikes Again. I live up to my nom de guerre once more.

New Years Eve!

Hooray. We went to a Goth Club. This was fun, I think goths are funny. The ticket included half a litre of vodka. I may have drunk too much. I did not get in trouble though, I have a very forgiving Girlfriend.

At a few minutes before midnight (before I got too drunk) we went and watched the fireworks. I am accustomed to the Sydney fireworks. Personally I find them to be a bit boring. Pretty and all but there is no involvement.

Fortunately for me Krakow went and bankrupted itself the other year and so didn't have fireworks. Fortunately for me Poland has fireworks and alcohol for all.

So a bunch of drunk people turned up for fireworks and bloody well brought their own. A big bunch of people.

Fireworks which are less pretty but you can smell them and the bang is right over your head are way better fireworks. Throw in a 30 or 40 foot square of grilling pork and several barrel shaped shops selling mulled wine and it is a damn good party.

I am heartily in favour of fireworks for all at the cost of a few stupid kids taking off a few fingers. All things being equal those kids are the ones that need instructions on their toothpicks.

Edited by tor

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Day 16

New Years Day. I made up for my disgraceful drunkenness by getting up early and working. Comments were made on my manliness as other Polish gentlemen that had been drinking with me were still in bed at 1700. This display of my awesome viking constituency might have saved me some face. Making an early morning coffee for the girlfriend didn't hurt either.

Recollections of last night: I am a Russian Gangster

I have a theory which is readily disprovable and yet I cling to it desperately. The theory is that Norwegian is a foreign language and if I meet someone that doesn't speak English they are sure to understand Norwegian because they are foreign and so is Norwegian. My Norwegian isn't even good enough for Norwegians to understand any more and Polish people have even worse Norwegian than the French I attempted at Carrefour for equally sound reasons (French company, they probably speak French).

This theory extends to languages. If I don't recognise a word I assume it is pronounced the way a Norwegian would pronounce it and then attempt to do so (badly).

When Norwegian doesn't seem to work I reach into a grab bag of accents I have heard in movies.

As a result my Polish (which is even worse than my French which is less comprehensible than my Norwegian which no one understands) has no recognisable accent which would be associated with Kiwis (okay), Australians (good), English (even better) or Americans (thank the sweet lord above for that).

What it does have is a distinct Russian sound on two of the special "letters": sz (pronounced shhhh) and rz (ch). In the absence of any other dialectic clues Poles assume I am Russian.

Where this gets interesting is that I have a Polish girlfriend. Poles only consider two types of Russian male as eligible mates; Professor types (smart) and Gangsters (rich). I don't have a beard.

This will work well for me as no Pole would try and steal a girl off a Russian gangster. Any other foreigner with a Polish Girlfriend is considered to be stealing the woman from virtuous Polish men and so the Lady deserves to be liberated from her bonds of servitude. Except maybe a Czech guy. They will still have the Polish Lady liberated but it is because Czechs are the nice little brothers of the Poles and the Polish Gentleman knows the sweet little Czech boy will get chewed up and spit out by a Real (Polish) Lady. It is in his best interests really.

Well being a Russian Gangster will work well for me until I meet a real Russian Gangster when I suspect it may go spectacularly awry.

Tourist Attractions Of Krakow: Underground Bars

Krakow is an old city. Krakow is (like most of Poland) a place where the Vodka flows freely. The city square has been resurfaced several times. No doubt the Vodka lead to the decision to simply cover over the old surface with dirt and lay a new set of cobbles down as required.

As a result the old ground floor rooms are now below ground level. Many of these have been converted into bars. They are pretty cool and I am surprised the Goth culture isn't larger here as they are pretty much the ideal for a Goth nightclub.

Lots of columns and arches made of old stone and exposed brickwork. Add a few black curtains and some low lighting and you ought to have Ladies in corsets and Gentlemen in top hats queued around the corner.

It doesn't work so well as a Scottish bar however.

I did not mention that Kaszanka is like Haggis but done properly. This probably explains why I do not have broken legs more than my Russian Gangster accent.

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Day 17: Cock Ring Museum

I am a dominant male. Either that or my particular foibles are infectious. Only a few days ago I was giggling every time we passed a sign which had "BUM" in big letters and the girlfriend would correct me "It is BOOM and it is about a price explosion". I would reply "BUM that goes BOOM" and giggle more.

Today as we strolled through a market the Girlfriend said "Boobs!". My undercover spy situational awareness hadn't noticed boobs worth commenting on and I was confused. There was a little wooden cabinet on which the drawers were arguably shaped like boobs. I was so proud.

Later in the day (and several wines) the Girlfriend went to the bathroom and forgot her Lady Bag in the stall. By the time she returned it had been taken and it hadn't been handed in to the centre information desk. The Girlfriend was not surprised as years under communism apparently have made people a little more opportunistic than is desirable. Fortunately the bag only contained a tiny amount of cash and a couple of cards, even more fortunately it held some sunglasses I have never liked much but never felt brave enough to comment on.

I consoled the girlfriend with the thought that being a half arsed traveller does have a few downsides but it is a lifestyle I have chosen and those downsides are part of that choice.

I also noticed a sign saying "Małe Frytki", this made me giggle as of course chips are male, all long and pointy and hard. The Girlfriend pointed out "Małe means small which makes it even more apt" We giggled together. Ahhh translation humour is there no sadness you can't solve?

Tourist Attractions of Krakow Pt 2: Underground Market

As noted previously the level of Krakow market has been growing over the years with each new set of cobbles being drunkenly piled on top of the previous ones. During a recent renovation of the square lots of interesting bits and bobs from the past were found so a significant part of the square was excavated, archaeologists went through it all and then they covered it over with a new set of cobbles but kept the underneath as a museum. We visited.

Many little trinkets on display as expected. Little bits of gold jewellery etc. I always wonder if I am looking at the Tiffanies of the day or the Michael Hill.

Traditional Polish execution methods are interesting. Two Swedish rebels had been executed and their bodies found in the excavation. The only accoutrements with the bodies were metal cock rings. Apparently the men had the cock rings attired and then were knocked on the head and buried. This sent my puerile mind into a whirl.

As we were leaving the museum it was observed that the museum vodka shop was open. Vodka shops _everywhere_.

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Day 18: The KGB

"I will take you to the KGB" Terrifying words to be woken to, when you are an undercover spy even more so.

The bag has been found; money, cards and (unfortunately) sunglasses in situ. The Girlfriend is happy. Partly because of getting the stuff back but more so that a negative side of Poland is no longer. Others have also expressed their happiness at this aspect as they all thought it would all be gone.

The bag is being held at the KGB offices, everyone keeps saying Police Station but I know when my cover has been blown and am steeled for the retribution of the KGB if I can't fool them all.

To enhance my cover I spent the cab ride to the KGB practising my Polish by reading the notification sticker on the back of the seat in front of me. Polish has (wikipedia (the lying whore) says 9, the Girlfriend says 8 but is under stress during this cab ride) secret letters: ć, ń, ó, ś, ź, ż, ą, ę, ł

Add to that the combination letters such as sz, rz and cz and my half arsed brain just can't remember the correct pronunciations for all of them. My brain also gets offended when ł is used close to w (as ł is pronounced as a w and w as a v).

On arrival at the KGB the cab driver at least had fallen for my cover of "American Doofus". The KGB guys were nice enough and didn't even demand to see identity papers or anything. The Girlfriend was impressed with their niceness. Rather button downed straight types but nice and not power mad caricatures.

Food Experience of the Day: Zapiekanka

A wide baguette maybe a foot long, halved and topped with cheese, mushrooms, kielbasa etc. Grilled until the cheese melts and then tomato sauce splashed all over it.

Tasty "drunk person" food (which here means "every person" food and probably from 10:00 onwards)

Apparently the variations of these delights have increased wildly since the Girlfriend was last here. No doubt the volume of foreigners has caused this.

Whilst we were ordering another group of three were ordering. A foreign guy with 2 polish girls. This is a common thing to see and could easily be used as a marketing campaign for Poland: "Our girls will find _something_ attractive about you". The Girlfriend and I are superficially in the same boat except of course she came to Australia and stole the most attractive man available. I expect Australian girls feel the same way about her that Polish men feel about the marauding foreign men.

Apparently it is quite an issue in some of the villages as all the desirable Ladies have up and left for the cities or for foreign parts. Some of the village guys that are staying (because they have their family farm etc) are feeling (understandably) miffed about this state of affairs. I think I should get a small explanation card made up explaining that _I_ am the prey in our particular relationship and pass it out to any miffed Polish Gentlemen I encounter.

Post Bread Unlooked For Excitement

The weather is warmer (low positive numbers) and so the precipitation is in the form of rain rather than snow. This makes the temperature feel excessively worse than, say, a windless -20 in Bialystok. Respite from the daggers of cold was sought in a bar called Alchemia in the Kazimierz (Jewish area). Funky looking bar, all dark and exposed stone. Had a big cupboard in the corner.

Then the cupboard door opened and people came out! Inside the cupboard was another bar which allowed smoking!

It was a drunken version of Narnia. I love these guys.

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Day 19: Milk Bar

Well the KGB may have a friendly face nowadays but some people are like those Japanese guys in the Pacific that weren't told the war was over.

Wikipedia claims that during the 60's (?) Poland had a milk surplus and a vodka drinking problem. To try and solve two problems with one idea the Government started up Milk Bars. Initially only serving milk very cheaply these expanded to include a largely milk / vegetable based food service as well. Still very cheap and popular with students, the elderly and other lower income people.

Some of these have survived. The Girlfriend made it clear to the direction giving people that I would not be interested in seeing a modernised tourist friendly version (one such had a Christmas tree in it! these places should be cheerless and efficient). We visited a Bar Mleczny (generic name for all milk bars) in Nowa Huta (a new city built built just outside Krakow after the war by the commies for effectively a single factory and worker accommodation).

The food is rather simple and largely meat free. Pierogi with cabbage, Pierogi dough done like gnocci, an ersatz coffee, a hot barszcz and a croquet (fetchingly pronounced as cricket by the Girlfriend). The milk was good and made the ersatz coffee actually better than instant coffee with UHT milk.

The ladies (note the lower case l) behind the counter are the Polish version of the Japanese guys in the Pacific. I took a photo of the Girlfriend in the queue and almost exploded from the sheer disdain radiating from behind the counter. The loud complaints "what is wrong with you? just order!" and the exasperation at the lack of gratitude from the customers "I gave you food! shut up and maintain some sense of stoicism" are lacking any Seinfeld referential irony.

A half-arsed traveller tends to navigate in a rather haphazard fashion: "roughly that way and I think there is a polyteknic nearby" is completely acceptable. We found the polyteknic but couldn't find the aircraft museum nearby (my "Undercover Clint Eastwood in Firefox" plans are coming to fruition). Apparently Krakow has 2 polyteknics. Who Knew? The Girlfriend was doing the navigation and I take this as further evidence that my style is infectious.

A half-arsed traveller seeks out the acceptable alternatives. We found a church, St. Mary's Basilica. The altar is built like a vast book, maybe 60 feet high with statues in it. Apparently Mary (mother of god, all holy and various other attributes) went to sleep once and the apostles stood around watching. Then she might have gone for a bit of a fly up to heaven for a bit. This was all important enough to recreate in gold and silver inside a huge book.

One of the local vodka companies (Debowa.pl) has taken this book idea and created a series of 5 large books each with a bottle inside. I love the secret book and am in the process of building a library room back at home. The set of 5 "bottles in a book" are probably easier to take home as a souvenir than the "Mary sleeping in a book" but I am not sure even they are small enough to fit into my luggage.

More wine (uncanny how the Girlfriend can find Mulled Wine nearby at almost any location) and then a visit to a famous Bard Bar. The Girlfriend hired us a bard who would sing many traditional Polish songs. Unfortunately she then had to go and get drinks, then she had to go to the bathroom and then several other pressing matters demanded her attention. This left me sitting listening to a not very good guitarist singing songs at me in a language I can't understand. I can only hope they were not love songs as this country is very catholic and that kind of love is not to be paraded around here (The Mayor of Warsaw apparently recently cancelled a Gay Pride Parade because "no one would be that way").

I was unable to sing along with the Bard Of Secret Love as his songs contained more cz's, rz's and other z's than I believe are possible for the untrained mouth to expel. We did have a bit of a dance in the square though. Cultural, that's me.

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Day 20: The Movies Lied Pt. II

Today the Firefox plan goes into effect. Locals have been insinuated into the plot, my cover is good enough to throw off the KGB and I have a Pretty Polish Princess to distract any nosy guards.

And so to the Krakow Aircraft Museum. Situated at an old WWII landing strip. Entrance fee 10 zloty.

In the movies the cutting edge plane would be guarded by either:

  • A bumbling Russian that would have his eyes pop comically when my Princess showed a bit of leg or boob
  • An angry Russian that wouldn't notice when the pilot no longer spoke to him while I knocked the pilot out and stole his flight suit

Also the cutting edge plane would be fueled up and ready to go. Probably with lots of bombs and missiles.

The majority of these planes are stored outside and if the mechanic had said "I can have her ready, say, next Tuesday. How's that boss?" I would have known he was lying. There were no guards. Given the temperatures I don't think the Girlfriend was going to show any legs or boobs to any one for any reason.

I like planes, I am not a freak for them but I like them. I was thinking that, given the nature of Poland's history they would have tons of Russian planes which I have never seen in real life before. In this regard I was not disappointed. Row up on row of Mig and Sukhoi variants. They had a nice Mig 29 which I have always thought was a very cool looking plane. Loads of Mig 15s which look maybe 1 foot longer than their engine.

Interestingly (but also obvious in many ways) the planes which have been highly restored and are kept inside the hangers tended much more towards Western planes. I guess in the same way that I have seen mostly Western planes in my life and am not so interested anyone from the Warsaw pact has probably seen enough Migs that they can sit out in the cold.

The locals helping with the Firefox plot (Girlfriend's Cousin and his wife) strolled around with us until the two Ladies got too excited and had to go sit down in the warm reception area while we Manly Men looked at a final hangar and some field artillery. Somehow the Girlfriend could not find mulled wine in this location.

The Ladies had decided that for our last night in Krakow we could go dancing but it appears the excitement from the Airplane museum got to them and instead a night in of quiet contemplation would be more suitable. The Girlfriends Cousin seemed somewhat relieved.

I contemplated the Cold War and the survival guides which were used as wallpaper in one of the hangers. It must have been a constant low level stress if the advice from the Government was "Nuclear Bomb? It Can Happen Here! When It Does lie in a ditch and maybe put your briefcase over your head for added protection".

My zen like trance of Governmental idiocy contemplation was interrupted by French. In choosing a movie the Cousin and his Wife were playing snippets of films and the one they wanted to watch was in French. I actually understood some of it. Then the Wife of the cousin asked in French if I would like to watch a movie. For a moment I thought I could understand Polish better.

The Intouchables: a review

Rich French tetraplegic guy gets a petty criminal to look after him. They live, learn and love. They laugh a lot too. Nice enough little movie showing that special effects aren't required for a good movie. This movie is based on a true story apparently so maybe not all movies lie.

Plans:

Visit the Aunt, see if she really likes walnuts

Go to Warsaw in preparation for the long trip home

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Day 21: Farewell Krakow

Finally I have discovered a practical use for Classical Ballet for the Young Male. No one (I asked the Girlfriend, she didn't know, therefore no one does, she is the brains of this operation) knows why but Polish showers drain very slowly. I am assuming smaller pipes for some kind of "not freezing" reason but don't recall this occurring in Norway. Perhaps I was less of the considerate (and handsome) man that I am now. A shower that drains slowly means at the end of your shower you are ankle deep in water. Being a considerate (and patient) man you don't want to splash this all over the floor.

Classical ballet to the rescue. Allegro training means I can lift one foot up sort of high (it has been a while and I am less flexible), dry it without getting the towel in the water, put it on the bathroom floor, pivot and repeat with the other foot still over the shower floor. I assume this looks erotic but the Girlfriend will not come to view the performance. An Artist Must Suffer.

No drips on floor and dry feet. Classy.

After drying off I use my travelling personal hygiene kit. It gives me a smile every morning as it is full of items I have purchased while travelling. Current stocks include:

  • Japanese: Disposable razor. Very good value purchase. 1.5 yrs old, still going strong.
  • French: Deodorant. Worst value purchase ever. I suspect the French attempt to cover their effete behaviour by reeking of manliness or perhaps their deodorant only works on effete fellows. I am a Manly Man.
  • Swedish: Toothbrush. Efficient and boring. Maybe I should have bought a Swiss one so I could make a comparative joke.
  • Brisbanean: Shaving Foam. I don't think of them as Australian, it has pictures on how to use it so I figure I am safe in my preconceptions.
  • English: Nail clippers. For some reason this make me laugh. Probably something Fawlty Towers related.
  • American: After shave. This is many years old. It has lasted because I have never had a Lady as a girlfriend before so my preening has never required aftershave regularly. I am probably going to have to go back to the States for more aftershave soon given the current situation.
  • Australian: Hair goo. It is apt that my half arsedness in hair styling is using a product bought in a country famous for its half arsedery

  • And now Polish: Shampoo. I would make a joke but will remove myself from Poland before making fun of the culture.

There is other stuff too I think but I am no globe trotting metrosexual that can catalogue his toiletry off the top of his head.

Krakow is giving us a lovely farewell with a good heavy snowfall. I love the way a cityscape turns to Black and White given an hour or two of decent snow (this is artistic appreciation, not metrosexual vapidness).

In return we are giving the Elderly Aunty a farewell. Sunday Midday Dinner. There was food, there was also Brandy, She called it Vodka but I am a tolerant fellow in others linguistic failings. She came close to matching me shot for shot. I won eventually. She got caught up in a conversation about how she used to distil her own Vodka and I pulled ahead. Sometimes not speaking the language helps.

You may recall that in Warsaw I wondered about the Art Deco style furniture and whether the fall of Communism lead to Western furniture dealers descending in droves. Apparently this did occur. Everyone sold (or threw away) their lacquered walnut veneer solid wood furniture and bought IKEA (Cowardly Swedes). The IKEA furniture ten years later is almost shorthand for how some people feel about the westernisation of Poland. The Elderly Aunt kept her furniture. It is not actually Art Deco but has many elements in common with that style. The Polish people hated it because everyone had to have it as there was only one furniture factory.

There was no walnut based dish anywhere on the menu. I assume she is hoarding them for herself. Not even a Waldorf salad. Greedy hussy. There was a suspicious looking salad which may have contained fish, I avoided this as the Girlfriend may have said it was piscine free just for the humour factor. I looked around closely and there were no walnut related items such as nut crackers either, clever, that could have jarred everyone's memories. Memories jarred may have led to a run on her walnuts.

Post dinner Mulled Wine seemed a good idea. The old city square with the snow was a beautiful goodbye to a city that has treated us well. A flame roasted Kielbasa with cabbage and the farewell was complete.

Tomorrow:

Warsaw, I have booked us a nice hotel in the Old City as it is our last night and the Girlfriend will have to suffer beer without straws when we go out in Australia. I am planning on buying a metric sh*tload of the things to maintain Ladylike standards at home. Possibly some kind of carry pack for taking straws to the pub with me.

Edited by tor

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Very good trip reports, tor.

Stay in Warsaw a while longer if you can - we have a stinker of a hot week over here.

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Day 22: Cunning Plans

We made it to the fancy hotel in Warsaw. Somehow I managed to find the Old City from the Hotel (pravo, lewo, prosto, prosto, prosto is pretty straight forward even for me now (wheeee a language joke)). We looked for gifts for those at home and then went to a bar for more immediate gifts for ourselves.

At the end of the meal / drinks I ordered the Girlfriend a last cup of hot wine. Somehow this came with an extra shot of vodka. Some may claim that this was confusion on behalf of the barman not understanding my Polish but I choose to believe he thought I deserved it. There is no way he could have done it because he thought I was cute as that kind of person doesn't exist in Warsaw apparently.

I have brought the snow with me, Warsaw currently has no snow, 2 weeks ago it was negligible and then snowed like crazy on my first night here. It was inches deep and I was falling over in my shorts and skate shoes and cursing in English (although looking striking). Due to fancy boots, I no longer fall over in snow which is fortunate as I don't know curse words in Polish (The Girlfriend is a Lady and I have no need for such language in her presence). I am hoping for an overnight snowfall like we had for the Krakow farewell as this will further encourage the Girlfriends belief that I am some form of demi-god.

I like to encourage that belief and fortunately climate and clothing have worked in my favour. Tor (Thor in English) is the Norwegian God of Thunder and Lightning. Everywhere we have been the snow has been out of character on my arrival [1]. Also frequently the Girlfriend and I exchange small static shocks due to low humidity and her stupid coat (mine is awesome) [3].

I always blame it on the romantic electricity between us but I think the subtle hint that I am a demi god is getting through.

To further enhance my stature as a demi god I make occasional small mistakes. Hence the "demi" in "demi god". For example this travelogue is provably factual. Except when I cunningly lay in a plan which makes me look like a fool so that I do not usurp the role of "A capital G God". Sort of like those carpets which have a deliberate flaw.

Cunning Deity Status Plan:

Yesterday’s suspicious salad was indeed a fearless fish free frenzy. It was actually a wickedly wonderful walnutty wersion [4] of Waldorf Salad.

The Girlfriend claims that this shows the Elderly Aunt is not crazy but that I am insane. I claim my comment was a deity differentiation device for her.

Cunning Time Adjustment Plan:

As this is the last night in Europe we have started putting ourselves onto Sydney time. This is a seemingly logical excuse for an afternoon snooze followed by an all-night drinking and eating session at Przekaski Zakaski. This introduced a nice symmetry to the trip as it was the first bar I went to when I arrived in Poland. I ordered all drinks with a casual mastery of the Polish language. They sell beer and vodka, one brand only, so my Polish is fine (Dwa Piwo i Wódka) until the barperson makes a comment at which point I smile. We left the bar at 06:00 after sampling almost every item on their menu. The white sausage was my favourite, the Polish Pate was the girlfriends. At 8 zloty (almost $3) per serving and a menu of some 10 items this was still a cheap menu surf.

Cunning Cultural Adjustment Plan:

We are being brought back to Sydney prices gradually. Over the past few weeks I have come to regard 1 zloty as being pretty much the same in purchasing power as AU$1. The exchange rate may be 3 to 1 but effectively it is a reasonable way of thinking. The Last Night Romantic Hotel is French. When I saw the minibar prices I almost lost my mind. Then I remembered to divide by three for Australian Dollars. And then I lost my mind. A 50ml bottle of vodka for the same price I can buy half a litre next door? Pffft I _like_ going outside, it lets me wear my winter finery for probably the last time until I return to these climes.

[1] Actually it is a bit weird, The Islay Invasion was marked by a summer never seen before by those blue skinned Scots, The Swedish Sojourn likewise was a summer of Scandinavian Solar Serenity (outside of the Angry Swedish Hugging) and now I have a winter following me around like some kind of Christmas Carol. Either the God Of Travelogues (A Major Deity) hates me and wants my stories to appear untruthful or the God Of Half Arsed Travellers (definitely in the third tier of gods) is really pulling one out for me. Alternately Bing Crosby thinks I am cute [2].

[2] He is not from Warsaw and so is allowed such outlandish lifestyle choices.

[3] Buying a new coat for a Lady is _way_ harder than buying a coat for a Manly Man.

[4] W is pronounced as V in Polish so my alliteration works.

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