Potatoes, Cabbages, Blue Jays and Mosquitos

So at the weekend we decided to escape the city a little, and ventured south on the bus to the Park Kultury, a bit of forest and fields and holiday ‘huts’.  The sun was shining hard as it has been for the last week or two, but the bus was nicely air-conditioned (apparently if the drivers don’t have it switched on they are getting fined).  We arrived at it was as though the whole of Warsaw had descended on the place.  There were men, women and children everywhere, all fairly scantily clad burning nicely in the midday sun.

We arrived and took a little walk through the park, then to the forest area where there were far less people.  However it soon became apparent why people might not be populating the  more covered areas, MOSQUITOS!  The Polish ones are MASSIVE!!!  And they are incessant! You’d think living in Scotland for the past 6 years would of hardened me against midges and all thing Vampiric, but these guys are a whole different class!  And, what was worse, the so-called ‘repellant’ we had bought with us (thinking ourselves to be very clever) actually seemed to be ATTRACTING the bloomin’ things!  They buzzed around my head like some sort of tiny version of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre!  We escaped as quickly as we could, Mosquitos in hot pursuit.  We finally made it out the other side and fended off the last few brave enough to head out into the heat of the daylight.

Walking trying hard to resist the urge to scratch the various parts of our bodies, we were treated to some lovely views of long strips of land, all planted up with different crops, from Cabbages and Wheat to a lovely field of Potatoes.  We managed to ‘liberate’ a few from the edges of the field to take home and cook, just to see what they were like.  Then we headed back to the main part of the park, where the number of bodies to mosquitos lowered our chances of being bitten.  We sat in the sunshine for a while, watching people of all shapes and sizes stroll around the park, playing volleyball, chess or cards and drinking over priced beer.  We stayed until the temperature lowered enough to bring the Mosquitos back out, and then we headed back to the bus and homewards.

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Two Trees

The sun is out constantly, the air is hot and humid.  Sometimes I struggle to believe I’m still in Northern Europe, this weather is a far cry from what I was so used to in Scotland.  Thunderstorms roll in most nights, which aren’t usually that unwelcome, as they clear and refresh the muggy air.  32-34’C average the last few days, BRILLIANT!


Day 59, Krakow, March 8th 2012

Tea 59, Long Jing “Tiger Springs”, Czajovnia, Krakow

So, the unavailability of internet has wreaked havoc on my postings, a terrible, terrible neglect and I must apologise, but sometimes that’s how things go…

So, I think my last post was on the 7th of march, it is now the 13th!!  :.S  oops!

So, going back into my memory banks to the 8th… This day started slowly, I stayed in the apartment / dorm of my hosts for most of the morning.  Malgorzata stayed home too and we spent most of the time talking and I also helped her with a script she is writing at the minute.  She wants the film she intends to make to be in English and so I helped her with word order and the usual things, such as expressions and the simple way of how to say things, or how not to say things….one notable example being the English expression of being ‘pissed off’ with someone, this had become to ‘piss on’ someone!  This provided a lot of laughter!  She also showed me a few films she is into, and we watched bits and bobs of all of them.  In the afternoon I had organised to meet another traveller and to go to this tea house called Czajownia.  This is a very similar name to a place in Glasgow called ChaiOvna.

We met at about 3 and went straight in.  This place is really amazing, it is divided into different loose themes, Japan, India, China (I think) and with different decoration and furniture in each.  We were in a more Chinese styled area.  The menu is really massive, a comprehensive list of teas from all over!  I was in tea Nirvana!  We were given the menus and a little bell to ring when we were ready to be served, a neat touch, though we both felt a little rude about ringing for attention!

I initially chose a really exciting sounding Putuo Fo Cha, a rare and exclusive tea from the island of Putuo Shan.  To my disappointment this tea was so rare they had run out of it!  I was a little upset, but then asked what would be a good alternative.  I was recommended Long Jing “Tiger Springs”, and I took this.

It was a good tea, delicate, light in colour and flavour.  Extreme clarity came with the tea, both in appearance and in flavour.  The guy who prepares the tea does so with extreme care and consideration, he really knows what he is doing and he has turned his preparation into something of a show (albeit unintentionally), timing, pouring, heating, all the proper processes to make each and every tea according to each and every teas requirements.  This is really a great, great place, unfortunately I never made it back there before I left Krakow, but the next time I’m there I will make that my first stop.

After this tea we were both still chatting about life and travel, and tea of course.  So we ordered another.  This time it was not strictly a tea, but a traditional Turkish drink called Sahlep.  This is a milky warm spiced tea that is only served in the winter in Turkey apparently.  Isabel (the woman I had gone for tea with) had had it before, during her various trips to Istanbul, her favourite place in the world it would seem.  She was very excited about trying such a drink outside of Turkey.  She assured me it was quite a good one, so I’m confident I had a decent Sahlep experience.

EVENTUALLY we left the tea house and I went to meet my host.  We were meeting around the corner in Kazimierz, near the famous Zapiekanka stall on Plac Nowy.  We then went to a little bar, the name of which I have forgotten.  We ordered a beer each and waited for Malgorzata’s friend to arrive.  She had organised that we meet so I could talk to her about Glasgow School of Art, she was hoping to go there on her Erasmus exchange, and wanted to find out more about it (I studied there).  She arrived a while later with a friend, and we spoke for a while about it and about travel and all those things.  Then they both had to leave and so we all went.  Malgorzata and I went back home via the Zapiekanka stall, this was my first experience of it.  Put very simply it’s a bit like a Polish version of Pizza.  Bread, cheese and a mushroom sauce base on which you can have different toppings.  I had spinach and onions, and it was a very good choice.  They taste great!  And the serving is MASSIVE!  Really, really great!  Especially so when it’s 11pm and you still haven’t had dinner!