Good times with family

Trip Start Aug 09, 2009
Trip End Oct 28, 2009

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Where I stayed
Mum's house

Flag of Poland  , Central Poland,
Saturday, October 10, 2009

Day 1 – Saturday October 10th – We arrived in Warsaw at about 5:15pm and went to collect our bags. They were the first to come out as they had little 'Priority' stickers on them, I guess due to us being in Business Class.

Witek’s mum, Barbara, was picking us up from the airport and we were then driving to Kalisz to stay with her and Witek’s grandma. We figured we had a two hour drive ahead of us.

We found Barbara and it was really nice to have someone waiting for us at the airport for once, I actually had a little cry!

She took us out to the car and told us she had plenty of drinks and snacks for our journey, to which we said it wasn’t necessary, it’s only a couple of hours. We were somewhat shocked when she told us it was actually a five hour drive!! Whoops! We had no idea!! We felt really bad but there wasn’t much we could do now.

Witek and Barbara shared the driving and it was actually an enjoyable trip. We had a good catch up and stopped for dinner along the way at a Polish restaurant. We had to negotiate petrol stations and closed roads and it was all good fun. Witek only went on the wrong side of the road once so that was good!

By the time we got to Barbara’s it was about midnight and Babcia was still waiting up for us despite Barbara’s insistence that she should go to bed! I guess that’s what mums do though. She was very happy to see us and gave us both very big hugs.

We had a quick chat on the couch then turned in for bed finally. We were exhausted after a long day and needed it!

Day 2 – Sunday 11th October – We slept until about 10:30am which I guess is no surprise. We were greeted with a beautiful breakfast and didn’t really know where to start! Big bonus was that Barbara had Vegemite! Yay! Apparently Babcia isn’t a big fan and couldn’t understand it, but we were happy to finally have some. It was one of the few things we had forgotten to pack!

Barbara and Babcia went to church after breakfast so we had some time to check our emails and have showers etc. When they got back it was time for lunch, such is Polish life! Eat, eat and eat!!

We all helped prepare the lunch of different salads and meats and it was really nice to have everyone in the kitchen together. I was really enjoying some family time after so long on our own.

We sat down to a long lunch which was really enjoyable. The salads we had put together were fabulous and Barbara even had a bottle of Penfolds wine which topped it all off nicely!

We cleaned up after lunch and Barbara showed us her beautiful garden. They really have a bit of space there and she has so many plants! It’s really gorgeous. Although it wasn’t in flower at the time, she showed us her Magnolia tree and judging by the photos it is really impressive in season.

We went with Barbara for a drive to the local bakery after this to get some bread for dinner that night. All of the other relatives were coming over for dinner at Barbara’s.

After the trip to the bakery we all set about helping get ready for dinner. There wasn’t much to do as Barbara had already prepared everything a couple of days earlier, but we helped get it all set up then we moved in to the lounge room to sit and relax before everyone arrived.

Barbara had made some cherry liqueur from the sour cherries on her tree and so we all had a bit of a taste. It was really yummy! It was a nice relaxing time just sitting around and chatting while waiting for the guests to arrive and sipping cherry liqueur.

Everyone arrived about ten minutes early and we all said hello to Barbara’s cousin Dorota and her husband Piotrek, Dorota’s parents, and Dorota and Piotrek’s daughter Karolina, who was eleven last time we saw her and was now about to celebrate her eighteenth birthday!

It was great to see everyone again after such a long time. It took a minute for everyone to relax and get chatting but once we got started it didn’t stop. We had a really good night full of laughs – and full of vodka! Piotrek was especially funny, he even had Babcia in stitches!

Barbara bought out a belated birthday cake for me which I thought was very nice and everyone sang Happy Birthday and Sto Lat to me. We got talking about our day in Munich celebrating and Barbara wanted to see my costume, so next thing you know I was getting changed into my Bavarian costume. I had a few vodkas under my belt by now but was still a bit shy so I was back in my jeans as soon as I had posed for the obligatory photographs!

We had a lot of fun and by the time we went to bed we were exhausted from all the laughing! One particular highlight was stirring Piotrek about Karolina’s new boyfriend, who he insisted was only a ‘friend, nothing more!’

Before bed Barbara kindly insisted that I call my parents from her phone and say hello. It was great as I hadn’t had the chance to speak to them since my birthday and I am sure they were happy to hear from me too. It was really good to actually be able to speak to them instead of just chatting via email and Facebook.

Day 3 – Monday 12th October – Today we slept in for a little bit and woke up again to a wonderful breakfast. I said to Witek before we left Czech Republic that I was looking forward to Barbara’s food in Poland, I’ve missed it since she moved back over there!

After breakfast Babcia had asked Witek to help out by chopping some wood. Witek was keen to give it a go so we got him set up in the garage and off he went. It took a while to get going but once he started to get the knack he actually did quite a good job. It was funny to watch him try and break some of the really difficult ones.

He thought it would be funny if he started one off for me and then I chopped it in one go and we filmed it, so we gave it a crack. He got a piece of wood and gave it a few cracks then left the rest to me.

I took the axe as Barbara watched and Witek filmed and lined up for my swing. I pulled the axe back and took a swing and hit thin air. Yes, lots of laughter followed, but my next swing hit right in the middle and the piece of wood shattered into three pieces! This was just as funny as the miss!

Witek finished chopping the wood and Witek, Barbara and I went for a drive to get Witek a haircut and to have a quick tour around town. Babcia wasn’t keen on leaving the house because it was raining and cold and she thought we were crazy. Her words roughly translated into English were "You wouldn’t get me out of the house even if someone was chasing me". Another classic one liner from Babcia was when she saw what Witek was wearing and decided that it wasn’t nearly enough to keep him warm was “Did you fall out of a Christmas tree?” She could write stand up.

Our first stop was the hairdressers which was very busy. The hairdresser told us to come back in half hour or so and he would have someone else working with him, so Barbara took us for a drive around town.

Running in and out of the hairdressers in the rain I started to think I had fallen out of a Christmas tree because I was freezing! I definitely didn’t select the right pair of shoes when I put my black slides on this morning. I only had myself to blame though, Babcia did warn me!

Barbara took us to the main church in town as she said it was quite impressive inside. She was right, there was some great artwork on the walls. I was again haunted by my shoe choice when they started clip-clopping on the floor in the church while people were trying to pray! Don’t tell Babcia!

We went for a drive around the rest of the town then back to the hairdressers. Witek went in by himself while Barbara and I stayed in the nice warm car! I was a little worried about letting Witek go into a strange barbershop on his own, I wanted to be there to grab the clippers if I saw them going too short! But he was sure it would be safe and it was too cold to get out of the car so I waited.

Barbara and I passed the time chatting and when Witek came back his hair actually looked good, and it was so cheap! It cost the equivalent of about $5 too, bonus!

We made a stop at the supermarket on the way home to stock up on toiletries we had run short on and to pick up some Polish vodka to take both to dinner at Piotrek and Dorota’s that night and also some to take on the road with us. We had a little wait to get hold of the razor blades for Witek, they are all locked in a cupboard and no one seemed to have the key! But with everything organised we went to the train station to get our tickets organised for the next day.

Barbara and Witek wanted to come in with me to get the tickets seeing as I don’t speak a lot of Polish but I insisted I was ok. However they both ended up coming with me and though I asked for the tickets myself in Polish quite easily, it was nice to have Witek and Barbara there when there were clarifying questions! I’m sure I would have worked it out but having people that spoke the language for once was nice.

It was back to Barbara’s after this as we hadn’t eaten for at least two hours, so it was high time we rectified this problem!

We had a small lunch of leftovers from the night before as we planned on cooking some sausages on the fireplace afterwards.

Barbara and Witek got the fire going nicely and once it was ready we grabbed a stick each, threaded our sausages on and stuck them in the fire. None of us were exceptionally experienced in the art of cooking sausages on a stick but we had measured success. Mine came out pretty black but still edible! They were very tasty! The mustard blocked out most of the charcoal taste for me so I was fine.

It was such a nice afternoon just sitting around relaxing and eating sausages and drinking more cherry liqueur. Lovely!

Eventually it was time to get ready and go to Piotrek and Dorota’s. Apparently since we were there seven years ago they had extended their home upwards so we were keen to take a look! We took our laptop with us so we could show them some of the few photos we had from home as well as some from our trip.

When we got there Piotrek was keen to get us back on to the vodka and I was a little apprehensive, however, it tasted so nice! I was much more restrained than the night before though as the last thing I wanted was a hangover during a six hour train ride.

Again it was a great night, lots of laughs and we carried on until about 1am I think! The food was great, the company was fantastic and of course the vodka was wonderful. It was really hard for us to leave, but we will be back there in a couple of years so it’s not too long until we are back! This thought made it easier.

Day 4 – Tuesday 13th October – We woke and packed for our journey to Berlin then joined Barbara and Babcia for breakfast. Unfortunately I had failed in my quest to drink less vodka and I was nursing a bit of a sore head. Who would have thought that the next time I would be hungover would be after hanging out with the in-laws in Poland? Well, really, I should have thought that! How did I forget so quickly what the Polish did to me last time I was there? I don’t think I was sober for more than 12 hours at a time last time – and that included sleep!

Everyone was very understanding though and I had plenty of water to drink before saying good bye to Babcia and getting in the car.

It was hard for us to say goodbye as we wish we could have stayed longer but we had such limited time! We promised that next time we will stay for a lot longer, and we will. We hope to be back in 2011, assuming Tatry participate in the Rzeszow festival next time. Even if they don’t I am sure we will make the time to get over there.

We drove to the train station and discussed whether we thought Piotrek would turn up or not. The night before he had insisted that he would be there to see us off, but he was full of vodka at the time so we had our doubts. So how surprised were we when we pulled up at the train station and he pulled up next to us only a minute later! Very impressive.

We stood around and chatted and suddenly all the water I had drunk let me know that it needed to escape. I looked at my watch and we had a few minutes before our train came, so I rushed into the ‘W.C.’

I was taking care of things when I heard the train arrive, followed quickly by Barbara yelling through the door to alert me to its arrival.

I rushed out and found Witek already on the train and Barbara and Piotrek at the door waiting for me. I gave them both as big a hug as possible given my limited time and jumped to join Witek on the train.

We stood at the door and waved goodbye to Barbara and Piotrek as the train eventually pulled away then went to find our seats. I felt a bit sad as Poland really does feel like a second home to me now. I am really looking forward to our next visit in a couple of years.

We had to change trains at Poznan in Poland, which was actually a big city with a big train station. Problem was that we didn’t have any Polish money as we had used Visa whenever necessary up until now and if we needed cash it normally wasn’t a lot so Barbara kindly covered us.

We hunted the train station for somewhere for lunch and decided on KFC as they had EFTPOS and we assumed they would have toilets. We didn’t want to use the train station toilets as we knew we would have to pay for them and we had no Polish money.

We found a table and ate our lunch before realising that there was no toilet in KFC, so I went to hunt for one at the train station and hoped that it would be free.

I found the loo and there didn’t appear to be anyone there so I was about to walk straight in when I saw a sign that had a word that looked like ‘paper’ and a monetary figure on it. I had been in toilets in Europe where I had to pay for toilet paper so I assumed this is what it meant and went back to the counter to find the attendant.

I poked my head through the window and she informed me in Polish that it was about 10 cents to use the toilet. I explained in Polish that I had no money and she immediately fired up. I explained that I needed to ‘siu siu’, the equivalent of ‘wee wee’ and she got even more angry. I had no idea what she was saying so I explained in Polish that I don’t understand Polish. Kind of a contradiction on it’s own I suppose, and I got the idea that she didn’t believe me. I asked if she accepted Visa and I was subjected to another torrent of abuse. She was angry! But I didn’t want to take out money from the ATM just to pay ten cents to go to the toilet!! How ridiculous!

I contemplated walking past her anyway, she was only about 150cm tall and very slight so she couldn’t do much to me physically. I was put off by the police station in the room next door though, I didn’t know if skipping on the ten cents toilet fee was a Polish felony or not.

In the end I got nowhere. I hoped I would have had some sympathy from her, but it didn’t happen so I stormed out of there after yelling the Polish word for dog as I slammed the door behind me.

I was busting by now and very upset! I had really expected that she would have let me in, I have faced toilets in Europe before with no money and had no problems. She was a very harsh toilet door troll though and wouldn’t have a bar of it. I couldn’t help it, I started to cry. I was also very annoyed at the five women who were in the room with me at the time and didn’t offer me ten friggen cents. One of them was in front of me as I walked back to Witek in tears so I hope she felt terrible and realised how horrible ahe was for not offering me ten cents!!
I got back to Witek who was sympathetic but also slightly amused I think. We thought about going for a walk to find a free toilet, but then, would we ever find such a thing? So we bit the bullet and took out the equivalent of about $5 from the ATM. We didn’t go back to the same toilet though, I went to the other side of the station. I wasn’t about to give the troll the satisfaction of getting my ten cents!

Relieved, we went to find somewhere to sit down and wait for our train and we were lucky enough to discover a ‘chill room’ with free WIFI access and cheap (yet low alcohol) beer. Yay! So we spent the rest of our time hiding out in there before getting our train to Berlin.
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