Poland so far.
I’m in Poland. Here’s some stuff I wrote yesterday in my French school notebook:
So, Poland. A land that makes fools of us all. At least of me, anyway.
The last few weeks of work have made me extremely stupid and deeply unprepared for this much-needed holiday. A key thing that I should have done, for example, is learn some Polish.
Instead, I have thus far been a near-mute asshole, saying ‘Cześć’ and ‘Dziękuję’ once in a while, but generally just standing there like a fool, pointing at things on menus (in touristy places in Kraków, these are bilingual even when the staff aren’t, though), and hoping that I’m pronouncing Okocim correctly.
Unfortunately, aside from my tendency to gap at ancient churches and taking photos of graffiti I enjoy, I don’t look like a typical tourist. How do I know this? I get asked for directions frequently. Three people had stopped me to ask me for advice before I even got on a train to Kraków Główny from the airport. I have a Polish face (or a British one or an Icelandic one) or an air that I know what the fuck I’m doing. I don’t, I assure you. I’m generally, if possible, more lost than you are. Do not trust this face.
Anyway, here’s a list of some of the things that I did and saw in Kraków:
1. Watched a really keen (is there any other kind?) British trainspotter who took dozens of photos and extensive notes on the airport shuttle, then inserting his papers into a book on “Key Phrases for European Rail Travel” (or similar).
2. Saw/heard the bugler of Kościół Mariacki in the town square (more than once).
3. Ate pierogi ruskie (yeah, I don’t know either).
4. Went to a chamber music concert in an ancient (well, to Canadian standards) church. The first violinist looked like Burton Cummings and was clearly fighting off the flu or something. Still brilliant, though.
5. Went to bed early-ish (10:30) and was awoken an hour later by a shouting couple in the street, then by several more people over the course of the night.
6. Queued for almost an hour for a ticket to Wawel Castle. Then said ticket blew away (I think – it vanished, anyway) while I was eating lunch. As a result, no state rooms for me, but I did see the archaeological bits and the Dragon’s Den (no investors there, though).
7. Found out that Kraków Głowny makes Birmingham New Street look like the Taj Mahal.
8. Visited the Galicia Holocaust Museum (no, didn’t make it to Auschwitz this time), which was excellent, and walked around Kazimierz (the old Jewish Quarter) for ages.
9. Forgot to take a photo of the Bonerowski Hotel (sorry, Jovana).
As I write this, I’m on my very long train journey to Gdansk to stay with Piotr and Chelsea. I’m hoping to have a lazy few days with them (ed. note – day one a total success) and let my finances recover after the money-sucking, yet lovely, stay in the UK before heading on to Germany on Saturday morning.