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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

Back from Poland

Yesterday we pulled into Prague railway station at 7.46, and by 8.38 I was at my first class (after having raced home with some luck from precient metro & tram action). Not bad after a long slumber over the rails from Warsaw.

AsiaMark on Warsaw-bound train

Last Wednesday we reversed that route, leaving Prague at 8.17 on the “Chopin” routing eventually all the way to Moscow. We got into the wagon and our 2-person berth with little fanfare, and found a big group of Chinese tourists putting themselves into their berths. When one man passed by our still-open door and spoke enviously of our large (!) space, we got to talking in the corridor while the train moved slowly through Prague and on into the northern countryside.

Daniel was from a western province, in a large city beside a lake of which I can’t remember (and probably couldn’t pronounce, nor spell, its name). He said that he and his family found Prague to be a relaxing city, and scenic, and that their several days were sadly ending. But on they were to Warsaw. Daniel’s English was quite good, and he was friendly, but there was my newly minted wife waiting in our cabin, so I said my good-bye.

Asia in the Train Cabin … looking quite sexy!

We slept like babies on the overnight trip. When we got into Warsaw at 7.30-ish, the weather was cool and bright, blue skies, and a busy Thursday workday for the Polish folk moving about beside the big Stalinist cultural building next to the main rail station. We dropped off our luggage and found we had six hours to play in town before our trans-country train left.

Asia at the kilometer-stone

We made our way to Old Town, where we found lots of closed shops and a few open coffee houses. Life is better after a good cuppa joe and a handful of snacks to keep cranky-pants Mark from going ballistic (Asia once quoted a home-country proverb: “A hungry Pole is an angry Pole”).

Mark in Warsaw

The trip across to Gdynia was long again because of all the reconstruction going on for next year’s Euro Soccer championships held in Poland & Ukraine. The country is getting a nice facelift and infrastructure boost. This time next year, the trip via Warsaw – Gdynia is scheduled for 3.5 hrs. Bonus LIFE-TIME points!

Warsaw main square

At Gdynia Glowna, Asia’s brother, Adam, picked us up. This was the first I’ve met him, and in the car, he pulled out words from his bag of English: “Mark! We’re now brothers-in-law. I hope you’ll be the last I have!” Asia chuckled.

Polish plaque at the supreme court

At Adam & Natalia’s house, we bedded down upstairs in their bi-level apartment, under the skylight that opened for cool night air. Young Wojtek was happy to see his auntie Asia. And then Adam used more of his English (which is far better than my Polish!): “Mark! Do you want a beer?” We sort of fell asleep pretty quickly that first night, as train travel is, at best, a mugging.

Friday was a day of buzzing about for Asia, with bits & bundles of Poland-errands. I tagged along and got fed, watered, and shopped around. Later then, we stopped at Babcia Helena’s house (“Asia!”), who is doing quite well living alone at 84 years old. She complained about politics and enjoyed the story of our wedding day. Then we were off to say hello to Wladyslaw and Ewa. This was a good visit, because it cut the nerves that would have been there (for me and Asia) on Saturday, with the big group.

The Asia-tattoo (fake)

Here Asia re-aquainted with her paternal Babcia Andzia, whom she hadn’t seen in about 10 years. Andzia presented us with knitted slippers and socks, which she claimed were easy enough to knock out and “Robienie na drutach jest bardzo relaksujace.” Well, of course, right? So we had a snack of batter-fried fish and potatoes and coleslaw … all homemade by Asia dad & mum. Just out-of-this-world good.

Asia w/Wojtek

More tales tomorrow, including: 1) visiting Adam & Natalia’s newly built home in little village; 2) the sit-down luncheon with AsiaMark as newlywed honories; and 3) packing up the leftovers for later munchies over beer and Polish-English-Polish discussion at AdNat’s place.


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