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Monday, 29 June 2015

343: More sore than Warsaw

I'm sitting at Stansted airport on my way back to Warsaw having squeezed in an extra flight over the weekend so that I could take part in the Ramsey Road Runners 10 KM on Sunday morning and attend a party to celebrate the 40th (Ruby) Wedding Anniversary of my good friends Gwen & Clive on Sunday afternoon. 
A picture of a rather exhausted Des at the end of the race. I came in 250th out of 255 but was still faster than last year. I'll know when it's time to hang up the running shoes when I come in 255th out of 255. My run number this year was 2. Perhaps 'they' expected I would come in 2nd (from the end). Only wish it hadn't been raining. Again. It was very nice to be joined by son and daughter this year for the first time ever. Pay no attention to the title of the blog - artistic license. I'm not sore at all today. 
I had also flown to Warsaw (Modlin) the previous weekend and had had some 'fun and games', and not for the first time, at Modlin railway station. A 10 minute shuttle bus journey from  Modlin airport to Modlin station and there was a train waiting so I got on it. Turns out it wasn't to be leaving for another 20 minutes or so. I got off and had a more careful look at the timetable. The train standing at the platform was for Warsaw Centralnaya and was due to leave at 16.29. At 16.36 a train was due to go to Warsaw Gdanska which suited me better. I decided to wait for the 16.36. What a mistaka to maka. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. The 16.29 pulled off on time and the 16.36 didn't arrive until about 17.15 and by then it was full - standing room only. Never mind. There are 6 links in my 'travel chain' and to expect all 6 to be on time is perhaps a little unrealistic. On Friday it was the National Express coach from Stansted to Trumpington Park and Ride that gave me grief. It had been delayed going round the M25 with Friday evening traffic and was an hour and a half late getting to Stansted. Tempers were beginning to fray, not mine I hasten to add, and I thought there was going to be a punch-up between an impatient customer and a member of National Express staff. Luckily it didn't happen, or we would have been even later.
Modlin airport, some 40 miles or so outside Warsaw, is used exclusively by Ryanair. It is a bit of a one man and his dog kind of operation but in the Summer it is pleasant to sit outside the airport building at the burger van and have a cold beer and a hot dog.
Must  finish and report to the departure gate. Which may or may not be a short train ride away. Ryanair improve their turnaround times by checking everybody through the departure gate and holding them on the stairs while the plane is being cleaned/prepped from its previous journey.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

342: A few notes from your man in Warsaw

3 blogs in 4 days. But rest assured, I'm rapidly running out of steam. Today's blog is in response to a request from Bob Ames, a Face Book friend, who asked if the following was real:

Off into town I went to try and discover its authenticity. I can report that the picture is, probably, of a real crossing. The crossing that looks vaguely like a piano keyboard that I managed to track down didn't have the 'island' in the middle so either the picture is a photo-shopped version or there are several of them in the city. I will keep looking but in the meantime here is the one that I found. It is on Emilii Plater street (Emilia Plater was a Polish noblewoman and revolutionary). Unfortunately I entered the street in the middle of its length with the option of turning left or right to look for this particular crossing, which I hadn't seen before. Of course I got it wrong. I turned left and walked the length of half Emilii Plater street before having to retrace my steps and start looking in the other half. Oh well, it keeps me fit. Took a few more pictures while I was in the area. Love the juxtaposition of the Hard Rock cafĂ© trade mark guitar with the Palace of Culture (a present to the people of Warsaw from that 'nice' Mr Stalin). 
Just in case, I mean the monolith and not the guitar!

Friday, 5 June 2015

341: Corpus Christi day

 Carl Emil Doepler Fronleichnamsprozession.jpg
Just been reading up in Wikipedia, so it must be right (?), about the meaning of  the feast of Corpus Christi (Latin for body of Christ). I see that it is observed as a public holiday in 21 different countries, including Poland. For a change I'm in the right place at the right time to take advantage of a day off. In this instance it was two days off. Corpus Christi always falls on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday (i.e. 60 days after Easter) and many Polish offices close for both Thursday and Friday, giving employees a long weekend. One of my students told me that many companies require employees to take a day from their annual leave entitlement in order to have the Friday off. So, if the offices are locked there can be no English lessons.

Lots of church services yesterday and temporary "places of worship" (?) erected on the streets. Here is a picture of one such. There were two nuns "on patrol".

I took the opportunity to see more of Warsaw. In the morning a 5KM run in the local woods and in the afternoon a wander around the largest park in Warsaw - Wazienki Park. Follow the Wikipedia link for an insight into the history of the park and a description of some of the many buildings therein. With it being a national holiday there were many thousands of Varsovians and visitors milling around the many attractive buildings and gardens. Here are a few of the pictures I took. The first picture is of a particularly mangy half-wild but used-to-the-crowds squirrel. He hopped onto my bench looking for some nuts! The second picture immediately reminded me of "don't look Ethel" from The Streak by Ray Stevens (1974 !). I've added a You Tube clip at the end of the blog in case anybody wants to listen to it again.

Finally I just wanted to illustrate that a rip-off is a rip-off wherever in the world it is perpetrated. I stopped for something to eat on the way home from the park. This was billed as Nachos and cost me about a fiver. It was just a dish of crisps. The 'cheese dip', such as it was, came in the smallest dish in the world. There was not even a whiff of chilli-con-carne or guacamole. I wouldn't have minded quite so much, well yes I would, if the crisps had all been crisp sized but underneath the top layer it looked as though they had given me the dregs from the bottom of so many packets. Never mind, worse things happen at sea. At least I know not to go there again.

Thursday, 4 June 2015


This blog has the benefit of 2 Gin & tonics but needs to be done now as there is another one backed up behind it with pictures from my visit to Warsaw's Wasienski Park earlier today. (Today was a holiday in Poland - Corpus Christi day). More about that another time. Tomorrow?
Lots of pics today then, starting with a map of Torun (to show you how big the old town is) and a picture of a statue of Copernicus himself.

And now some pictures of the hotel I stayed in - the Black Rose. It is located in the old town and is full of character (i.e. old furniture). I recommend it (unless you need there to be a lift as there wasn't one).

Now the (old) town itself. I like it very much and will doubtless return. Perhaps next time I will forego the dubious pleasures of Polski Bus (3 hours 15) and stick to the train (2 hours 45). Not the train in the photo!