Friday, April 27, 2007

Cieszę się, że się cieszysz.

Polish tongue twister: "I'm happy that you're happy."

Two big hellos today as we mark the approximate half-way point for the Europe Spring 2007 expedition. I guess you could say our trip banner is:
"driving from London to Warsaw via Agrigento, and returning via Vardø (with about 5000km of diversions)"
- which reads better than the slogan:
"picking up dog poo in Europe since May 2005!"
Anyway, a special greeting from Bondi to Maria in Wales : "Hi, Zdrastuy, Dydd da and [licks]".

And to Tony & Maureen in Cornwall, who we met in Dubrovnik, Croatia one month ago, who will be visiting Krakow this week, just as we're skipping on to Lithuania.

Frustrating day in central Warsaw. The heat built up fairly quickly, and with the major streets capturing all the sun, it wasn't much fun for Bondi. Added to that, the outdoor cafes & restaurants wouldn't allow a dog at any of the (shaded) tables.

I tried to visit a few galleries and bookshops, but the more interesting ones were generally so noxious with cigarette smoke that I didn't linger to long. ( Cafés are usually worse, so like most continental destinations, I find the range of tolerable eating venues rather limited. ) In one Antikvariat (antiquarian bookstore), on the trail of Lem and Mróz, I saw a Polish paperback translation of Mervyn Peake's Titus Groan. The cover wasn't one of Peake's illustrations but the style looked familiar. Thumbing to the back, I saw it was by Lucja Mróz, whose familial relationship to Daniel I haven't figured out yet.

Krakow and Warsaw are also distinguished by the sheer number of priests and nuns about. Bratislava runs a close second, way ahead of anything I've seen in other countries (although the first ones I saw in Bratislava were actually a pair of Mormon missionaries!) I believe Krakow has a seminary, although there are many young priests in long black robes striding purposefully around both cities. Maybe on their way to a rehearsal of the Village People's YMCA.
The video was filmed in a Krakow Church. Starting with Gregorian chant, the video explodes into “YMCA” as the monks discard their traditional brown hooded cloaks. “I know who did this clip,” the ‘Przeor’ of the Dominican monastery in Krakow Adam Sulikowski told the daily newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza. “It was very wrong.”

Some fiery dancing and acrobatics in the Old Town

The satnav updates for Eastern Europe continue to be a mixed blessing. Getting around central Warsaw proved to be too much for the little thing, which seemed to be dreaming of a great green open space in the city centre which probably hasn't existed for a thousand years. The maps are already out of date, and the city is ripping up some of its central boulevards to make more pedestrian zones. I tried to get to the Chopin museum, but found myself going in circles with diversions from road closures, and after my 3rd time past my starting point, gave up and took Bondi back to Zoliborz.

The city roads have an extra dimension of thrills, in that while cars and trams share them, they don't seem to share the same signal light system. So, a green light for you may not be a red light for a tram coming at an angle from your rear blind spot...

Bondi has been a bit under the weather off and on over the last week. We ran out of the dry food I'd brought from the UK, and while it appeared that the replacement I bought in Budapest was close enough, the "poo factor" deemed otherwise. I've since found something better in Krakow, which seems to be better quality.

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