I had macabre dreams of cannibalistic surfing ghouls all night. ( no joke ) But it wasn’t scary, because they weren’t trying to eat me. They wanted to possess my body, but they couldn’t because of my weird “Brain Waves” ( not the surfing kind ). Instead they tried to entice me into their cannibalistic lifestyle with glossy menu pictures and fancy brochures.
There is a certain point while touring galleries and sightseeing where you hit a saturation point. Yesterday at the Louvre Sarah and I both hit that stage. So much happens on a trip like this that it becomes hard to share it all… I will have blog fodder for months!
So far Paris has been an amazing city. The contrast between the smaller less urbane cities of Poland and the hype-cosmopolitan Paris are abtut of a system shock. Paris is such a… city. Things are always happening and when you are at museum like the Orsay or Louvre you are constantly surrounded by the crowd.
The weather has been not so good, it rains a bit each day and is overcast. It has made the humidity crazy. When it rains this whole new level of fashion appears. Colourful umbrellas for some, jackets over heads for others, dotted with a few souls who seem to plan outfits for being rained on. Shirtless men in drenched suit jackets and fabrics that shimmer when wet. Quite fascinating.
Sarah seems to be on a mission to eat fois gras and creme bruile every day, and my mission to eat as many cheeses as I can goes well. I am at eleven so far.
Out appartment is quite large and has floors that creak. The hot water on the fifth floor is in short supply so no long north American style showers. Having a fridge and kitchen is a huge boon, we eat some meals in and save money for fancier cafe fare.
At the Orsay we saw Van Gogh’s famous self portraite, a bunch of Monet and Manet, and for me the prize of the museum: The Death of Marat by David. For a paint that we spent so muchtime on in art history to ve seen in person was awesome. It is smaller then I expected, which ususally is a sign of a good painting.
At the Louvre we did mostly German, Dutch, Flemish, and Russian paintings. Totally the way to go if you are tired of people, they are at the far top side of the Louvre about as far from Mona Lisa as you can get. Mona did get what Sarah and I called a ‘Drive by Viewing’ though I did stop to take pictures of the crowd around the Mona Lisa. We then wandered about and saw the Venus de Milo. The Rubens room and a bunch of Rembrants.
By the end of our day at the Louvre we were people watching instead of art.
Lechek and Beata have a cabin in the woods on a lake about 45 minutes outside of Olzstyn. It is amazing. They had the after wedding reception out there and rented some neighbouring cabins for the twenty-some odd people who came out. We spent about three days out in Polish lake country hanging out and celebrating the wedding some more. It was a good chance to meet more of the family and friends.
And eat an endless supply of kielbasa.
Piotre ( Peter ) was kind enough to do a lot of driving on sightseeing trips and Lechek and Beata were amazing hosts and did justice to Polish hospitality. They did a lot of work on the weekend and for the wedding and it was much appreciated.
The weather was lovely, the Mosquitos enjoyed Canadian blood, and ear plugs mitigated snoring.
Things we did:
Enjoyed the lake
Enjoyed the people
Went on a walk too see a local modernist style church.
Relaxed in the woods.
Ate local fish and chips.
Went on a tour of a locale Buddhist retreat.
Visited a cathedral which had this cool pipe organ ( I forget the name right now but will post about it later )
Visited a castle.
Visited Hitler’s Wolves Den bunker installation.
A busy couple days for sure!
Polish weddings really do last for days. Hence no posts.
Even though this wedding was small for Polish standards it was big enough for me. I would guess there were about 45-50 people. Mostly non English speaking. A mix of friends and family brought together to celebrate Aaron and Gosia’s marraige.
The wedding was held at this sort of boat/dinner club house on one of the main lakes ( lek ) around Olzstyn. Maybe a 15 minute drive from our hotel. The evening started with Aaron and Gosia arriving via motorboat. There was a live oompah band ( standing bass, clarinet, drums, accordian ) and they played for most of the evening. I think there were about four or five suppers during the evening…
Supper the First: champaign and tapas served on the docks as the reception line welcomed Aaron and Gosia.
Supper the Second: sit down meal with soup, salad, turkey in cream sauce and potatoes, and lody ( ice cream ).
Supper the Third: plates of these Polish pate type things. Pork with dried fruits in one, mushrooms and chicken in another. There was also some sort of pork and pear head cheese. More salads, cheese, smoked fish of various unknown species ( probably eel and pickperch ).
Supper the Fourth: Pyrogie stuffed with duck ( amazing ), stuffed with bacon and mushrooms, and vegitarian. Pickled herring in sour cream ( one of my favourite dishes ), and more pate things.
Supper the Fifth: desserts and cakes. I count this as a full meal because of the sheer volume of cakes.
The eatfest ended with a beet broth soup.
Throughout this the band played a mix of Polish folk music, with sets of iTunes playing all the Polish wedding faves ( which includes the soundtrack to Flashdance, Saturday Night Fever, and Top Gun and a LOT of Roy Orbesson ). It was pretty sweet. The band was amazing at what they did and they had great personalities. They worked hard at bringing the English speakers into the party and did a ton of traditional ( or silly ) Polish dances. Great group of musicians. I am on the hunt for their music, I believe they were called something like Yesterday’s Famous something …
So I polka’d my face off, did the Penguine Dance ( not to be confused with the chicken dance that the Germans and I were expecting ), and a couple walking dances. Lots of fun, but be warned: Polish dance songs run long, very long and get faster as they go. It wasn’t until Sarah and I just about exhausted ourselves during a particularly long polka that we found out you are not obligated to dance the full song.
It was an amazing wedding reception.
The next day was informal wedding reception part two…
So taking the train from Krakow to Olsztyn was a lot easier this time around. We bought our tickets well in advance so we were in pretty good shape for the treck to Olsztyn. Though getting up at 4:30 am to catch the train was… grand.
We got to the train station and were desperate for kawa ( ka va ) but things don’t really open until later. There was an automatic coffee machine so I slotted my 2 Zloty ( zwa ta ) and picked what seemed to be the largest instabrew in the list. Machine starts up. Gurgles. Coffee pours out of the machine into a non-existant cup.
Precious kawa wasted!
After much puzzlement we went to the next machine in the station. There were two rows of choices on this machine. One labelled kubek. A look in our phrase book set us straight. Kubek ( Coo Beck ) means cup. Apparently most of the machines assume you have one. Sadly machine number two refused to take our coin. So we got the horribly over priced instant coffee from one of the kiosks under the peron ( pear on : train platform ). 8 Zlaty ( about $3.50 ) for Nescafe instant coffee.
Getting on the train was easier this time, even with coffee sans lids. We lucked out for the train car. Though it was full we did have a fellow who could speak very good English. We talked mostly about where we were from, the growing trouble with Polish trains running late ( the train from Krakow to Warsaw used to run in 2 hours and now takes about 3 ), and the weather. Weather is a good international small talk topic, people must complain about the weather around the world.
After that it was EIC complimentary kawa and kielbasa from my backpack. Switching trains in the tiny town to catch the non- direct train (TLK) to Olsztyn involved us looking at the analog posters of travel times and platforms followed by the station personel yelling in Polish and waving their arms to tell us to ignore the train schedules. I guess they are out of date or something. We got ourselves onto the right platform and train. Got into Olsztyn and when we tried to get off at our station everyone was nyie! nyie! ( no in Polish ) because the station near Gosia’s parents house ( Lezeck and Beata ) is very small.
Of course the second we go get off the train it starts barfing rain. Like Vancouver style God wants to drown the sinners type rain. Wet but happy we arrived at Lezeck and Beata’s house and were greeted with warm herbata ( tea ) and their wonderful hospitality.
Another Polish train trip in the bag.
So we are wandering about the lower side of Wawel ( vay-vell ) castle and we stop to get some water from a touristy booth thing. The lady selling water says in a thick Polish accent ‘gas or no gas?’ which I miss heard as ‘glass’. So I said ‘no glass’ and got a weird look and a bottle of water ( and mockage from Sarah.)
Later in Olsztyn ( oll shtine ) Janice ( Sarah’s mom ) ordered water in a resturant and was asked the same thing and her response? Yes I want a glass.
So now water here in Poland is glass or non glass. ( Carbonated or non )
More to post but there is lots to do before the wedding part duex.