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!

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A wee jaunt to dusty sneezy Katowice

This post is pretty picture heavy, which is kind of a surprise because, in reality, it seemed to me that there was really very little to see or do in poor old Katowice.  The city is pretty shabby and is all over the place, something which is not helped by the rebuilding of the railway station and some of the tram lines in the ‘city centre’ (in inverted commas because it is actually quite hard to tell exactly where the city centre is…)

We stayed at a friend of Marta’s.  An old flat that she had inherited and has sat mostly empty for the past six years, meaning it is full of dust and causing some major allergic nasal floods the whole time we were there.  I spent most of Saturday and Sunday wandering around the city in the sweltering heat, it was a rather exotic 34’C!  Thank goodness for Biedronka and giant cartons of Ice Tea, and their delightful portions of chocolate halva (extremely dangerous)!!

The city isn’t a complete bore though, there are some interesting buildings, from every era, starting with the old German-Bavarian mansions, to the huge UFO of a concert hall from the 1970’s right up to the library building, which seems to be carrying on the tradition of being plonked right in the middle of where you would least expect it to be.

The city is, on the whole a rather poor place, and there are plenty of rather dodgy looking characters unafraid to eye-up your camera and back pockets, but it does definitely have it’s interesting bits that are worth visiting, though try and avoid the hottest days of the year!

Oh, and the trams are a bit like being on a scary rollercoaster (scary because you could fall off the tracks at any point…)

Hot-Dog?  Bon Appetit!

Close Encounters?

The library building

Beware of fire-tailed Goats?


Over the rainbow and far away…. well, as far as Radom anyway.

This installation, by the artist Julita Wójcik has moved from it’s temporary home in Brussels to it’s new permanent (I hope) home on the super trendy, hipsterville of Plac Zbawiciela.  You can read more about it by clicking here.

Next a just a smattering of photos from my latest trip to Radom, there was a huge thunderstorm in the night, and although I didn’t manage to catch an actual lightning strike, I did do some long exposure photographs that have a strange glow in them when the lightning struck part way through the exposure time.


Riding the Magic Tandem in the Magic Bike District (aka Praga)

 

I call Praga Magic Bike District mostly due to this sweet little find we had at the top of a creepy old beaten up staircase in the Praga district of Warsaw.  So this day became the magic day, riding a Cafe Beigu Tandem around the city trying not to crash or kill anyone, including ourselves.  The tandem came (kind of) free from cafe Beigu, a coffee shop just off of Plac Zbawiciela near the city centre (you had to spend 40zl on food and drink).  It was a lovely sunny day and we covered a good few miles on the bike.  This was all a day or two before the start of Euro 2012, so the town was starting to buzz and there were lots of tourists around.  This first photo is taken at the Narodowa Stadium, the new national stadium in Warsaw, which was gearing up to host the opening night and game.

The last picture of the palm tree before it rather sadly and unceremoniously had a haircut, resulting in the removal of about 3/4 of it’s beautiful fronds.

Do you wanna be in the bus stop band?

Probably my favorite photograph so far, showing the tomb of the unknown soldier.


Day 41, Warsaw, February 19th 2012

Tea 41, Genmaicha, Same Fusy, Warsaw.

Today was my first proper day in Warsaw, well, I say proper, still didn’t leave the flat until late because I had stayed up until stupid o’clock in the morning last night chatting, my brain sleeping but my body still awake because all I had done all day long was sit on a bus.  I’ve never been so glad to see +1’C in my life!  And, for the first time since I started to travel, today it rained!  After living in Glasgow for 6 years you would think I’d dread the sight of rain, but it actually makes you miss it to some extent.  And it wasn’t too heavy so that probably helped.  The puddles were dreadful though, as the rain was melting the big piles of snow making the streets flooded with an inch or two of water in most places.

My host Marta took me into town.  We got the Metro, a small one line system that leads into the city centre.  We got off one stop before Centrum and walked around for a bit, she showed me where she works and we walked into the city centre along streets lined with a mixture of huge blocky Soviet buildings, many still with Soviet sculptures carved into them off workmen and women with children, and some of the few that survived the bombing and destruction during and after World War 2 which destroyed around 80% of the city.  We walked a little way down this huge wide street, whose name I don’t remember, but that has loads of the embassy buildings along it.  The American Embassy being clearly obvious from it’s paranoid 12 inch concrete barriers and thick black metal fencing.  We kept wandering in the snow and rain until the old town, past a view point of the new football stadium, built ready for the Euro 2012 competition, which will be held in Poland and the Ukraine.  The Warsaw castle to one side of the view and another old building to the right.  It looks quite good there somehow, but maybe it was the low lying cloud making it seem all mystical or something…

We then went deeper into the old town, the cobbled streets getting smaller and smaller until you reach the centre, which is very much like most old town squares, a big open space surrounded by attractive old buildings.  We then went down a little street and found Same Fusy and Tea House and Coffee shop. This is a funny little place, decorated in dark terracotta colours and african masks dotted about all over the place, but which was playing some CSS when we walked in, and turned out to be the whole album, an unusual choice if you ask me.  This place is pretty expensive.  I paid 22Zloty for my tea, which is around 5 Euro, so definitely not cheap, basically similar to Helsinki.  But then this is the old town, that is what tends to happen.  We sat for quite a while, the tea was a basic Genmaicha (Green Tea with Roasted Brown Rice), but it was nice, it usually is.  But nothing spectacular, and for the price, nothing special.  After that we then decided we were a bit hungry so we popped into another place and shared a plate of mixed Pierogi.  This is a traditional Polish dish of dumplings made from Wheat or spelt pastry with various fillings, many of them Veggie, which is good.  These were boiled, though in the past I have had fried ones.  They were tasty, but I find the fried ones much better, more flavoursome.

This filled us up so we decided to head home, via the city centre for Marta to buy a new map.  The city has it’s own version of Stalin’s Birthday Cake, similar to the one in Riga, but built of grey stone, not the red stone of Riga.  At night it is lit up with a rainbow of colours, making it look quite cool, and with the cloud still low, the mystical-ness came out once more.  We got on the Metro again and went home, watched a movie, and then it was time to sleep.

As you may be able to tell, these last two posts have been late, due to the internet availability here, it is likely to become the norm for a while…


Day 7, Denmark & Sweden, January 16th 2012

Tea 7: Earl Grey, Tom’s Apartment.

Today I left for Stockholm on the train. Packed up and now on the second leg of my travels.  Was sad to say good bye to everyone who had given me such a lovely week in Copenhagen, and such a gentle introduction into my travels.  My train left at 1137 from Kobenhaven H (Copenhagen Central station) and arrived in Stockholm Central at 1650.  The journey was comfortable and quiet, I even managed to get a little sleep.  The train service was much better than our UK equivalent.  The carriage was clean, comfortable and despite being near to the toilet you actually couldn’t smell it!  The journey was pleasant, very flat and easy going, the view was good, but nothing of huge note apart from one small town, I think called Nässjö which was beautifully picturesque. Set on a currently frozen lake with traditional Scandinavian buildings coloured yellow, but totally dominated by the 324m television mast that pokes up from the top of a hill behind the town.

I arrived in Stockholm and was greeted by Jessica, my host for the next few days, in the main hall of the train station.  We headed down onto the T-Bana and got on the metro train to her home in Skärholmen, to the west of the city.  At her home I was introduced to her flatmate and friend Tiffany.  A warm cup of black tea was made for me and a wonderful dinner of Tortellini pasta and sauce.  I’ve just met the Budgies, Conan and Candyfloss and am looking forward to a good nights sleep in a real proper bed!!!

Tea this morning was an ‘A.C. Perch’s The-Salon’ Earl Grey, fragrant and deep and enough caffeine to get me up and ready to face the fully laden rucksack!