Hospitality Club Winter Camp

Trip Start Jul 01, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

December 28

The night train is a long ride and overcrowded, I manage to walk in it and get a place to sit by the end of the train. I bought a student ticket which is reserved only for Polish people, I think nobody would have cared but the place I found was actually a second class car changed to a first class car, so obviously the controller noticed I wasn't polish. Although they asked me to pay to full fare, I claim I don't have money and finally they don't bother and simply tells me to go somewhere else in the train. First I try in the restaurant car, but I got kicked again by the selling man since I'm not buying anything and stick to the queue of the train where I'm alone and have place and access to a toilet to pee, sneeze and drink water quietly as my cold is still quite bad.

After the long all night ride I arrive in Warsaw after 5am, manage to find the bus stop and reach Wojtek's place (HC:qumpel) by 6am. Wojtek will be my host for the coming days but he is also the main organisator of the whole Winter Camp.

I get a short talk with him and finally go to sleep until the afternoon. Later on we all eat something together and move to the registration point in town (which is a little pub located in the centre quite nearby the Train Station: Vasar Club in Chlodna Str). We went there with Pawel (HC:kitek84), it was still early and not the official opening yet. But some members were already in town so it was cool to meet with them... although I didn't know many of them.

I was still on medication from my jaw inflammation so I didn't drink and after a while, the smoke in the basement of that pub was a bit bothering me. As I was getting hell tired I didn't go back too late to sleep. And greatly as I was one of the first guests to arrive (nearly 15 HC members would be staying at qumpel over the week end) I had a place in a bed.

December 29

Today was the big day of the opening of the activities and the programme:,,5 ,1,0,0-Programme.html

After breakfast and having some of the german guests arriving, we move moved by midday to the registration point to prepare the room and everything and gathered together with the already arrived guests and those arriving afterwards. I met with Ken (HC:uaflyer) immediately and also with Zach (HC:zach) when he arrived. It was great to see him after such a long time.

I also met for the first time with Fabian (HC:fabzgy) and his little sister... which were both pretty cool. Anyhow the day went on and later on we went to eat at the local Palmeny thing... basically has I had explain in some other cities I was in, it's the popular worker cafeteria from the communistic time. Which is having delicious and so inexpensive Polish food. We went there with a group - Zach, Fabian and his sister, John (HC:welostjc) from the US, Marlene from France and Ken �" having a walk to reach and ordering food while other members also arrived a bit later (mainly people from Russia). At first, I was a bit surprised by the so typical French behaviour of Marlene but at least it has annoyed and cold our relation only for that moment (I mean not few days later at the party).

So we ate the tasty dishes, pierogy and other sort of vegetarian kotelett. After that meal it was time to go for the program and join the bowling. We did after a walk and finally arrived at the bowling allee (which is having a funny name in Polish but I don't remember it) quite in advance. So we waited and took it relax until the group arrived.

It was quite cool, the whole 30+ alike group shared 2 bowling lanes and did all these silly thing. Well I score only a 100, so nothing to be proud of :P

I got to talk randomly with some people as well once at the bowling... but nobody whom I really hooked or talked particularly. After the bowling, by evening, we were all heading to different clubs that were in the same area that we were so we happened to be the first one there too (Around Dobra Str).

We waited and gradually during the whole evening, the club got packed to finally be overcrowded by HC member by the late evening. I talked and met with people (HC:ghoti, lourensenm, mkc has arrived...). And also with Florian with whom I joined for some ahoy vodka, which helped my throat at least. I still had a cold and a really deep bad cough.

So I stayed there and talked with people as long as I could but later on, with the smoke and the crowd, I also got tired and without energy. So finally Wojtek, made me responsible for the keys and I went back home with some of the last bus. Wojtek was living at the complete western part of the city. Then I could relax, did some email and went to sleep at last. Letting the people come in when they arrived... in the early morning.

December 30

Today, the other still left early and I left later with the Russian and Gero (HC:gero82) from Germany, they were going to walk downtown and I went first to find a pharmacy to get some cough, throat caps. Then I was searching the registration point which took me a while... finally I did find the spot and went directly to the Local Volunteer meeting that has just started.

So the local volunteer for HC was quite a success, we had plenty of members who stayed some to get answer to their questions, other out of curiosity. But it was great and to meet with several of them, we did a pretty great group brainstorm which could be use greatly for the future development of the community.

After the meeting, I stayed there with few other member that are also involved in Hcvol (ghoti, fabzgy) to discuss a little bit more about it. The others all went to the Ice Skating, so after that we simply waited that they came back. I went to eat some 'American Chinese take away... in Warsaw?' And chilled until the organisator presented the planning for the evening. Usually it was suppose to be in three different bars. People started walking and it got into confusion, we needed to catch several tram (singing in them... and overpacking them!). and arrived somewhere with the people not knowing anymore what was suppose to be done, where were the different bars and so on... and not moving, then of course it leads to people complaining and so. But I fastly said we are here we get in, and so nearly everyone did. The problem being that usually the group, which was big, was suppose to be splitted in different venues. Anyway, we all fit in and many of the others also came later. So basically we surely were a little 100.

It was a rock bar quite Harley alike, not fully friendly at the gate by the bouncer but anyway.

I drank a little anyway (I stopped taking my medication to enjoy the party time...) and ended up dancing like hell as well. Really getting lots of anger and energy away... dancing and sweating in what became alike a sauna with the many friends and Hcers partying around. It was really cool.

I only went back by taxi with Martin, Wojtek and Pawel by early morning.

December 31

With the previous night, I slept late and was energyless for a part of the day, so most of the people left anyway to take part of the activities. I did not and stayed relax, keeping my energy for the New Year Eve party of the night. So later some came back to eat something and its only by evening that I went with them to go to the venue where the party was (in Praga)... I missed the singing and other things but still arrived good on time to meet people one after another, having several drinks and exchanging hugs!

I mainly walked and drank the whole evening (did also some volunteering at the registration point). And I moved in the whole building (which was a school, one dancing room �" one clothes room �" one with the food �" halls and so...) and meeting with people talking a little and getting on. Hugs, Kisses, Talks... A really great evening until Midnight!

Then it was more evil, party, champagne, hundreds of hugs with everyone I crossed. All smily, all good mood and all friendly people. And we were above 400 of us over there. Not a single bad moment. Of course some couple as well, but I wasn't part of that. I more enjoyed myself and kept moving the whole time, so.

That last until the early morning, then back with the public transport and sleep!

Happy New Year!!!

Bonne Année!!

Gelukigge Nieuw Jaar!!

May a decent positive New Year start!

One thing too... the previous night dancing and sauna alike environment had fully killed my cough for the day and the party. So I was relieved and cured for the New Year Party.

January 1

Waaahh so dead of course I slept late and didn't make it at all to eventually help cleaning the venue, its only later that I moved back in the historic downtown to meet and farewell at the Pizza Hut. Which was the last meeting spot before that many of us left back home.

So it was good food and the sad Au Revoir!

For the remaining people, those who weren't sprawled over town met again later on, after some difficulty to make a meeting point and after that Ken, me and a little group went for a little city tour. We manage to bump into a part of the people who end up in an Irish pub back where we were near the Pizza Hut.

I met there with some more cool people, talking about our views of Canada with Zach and with other people. Getting some talks with Ukrainians and also sharing talks with Asia (HC:etna) from Lublin which was going to be my next destination.

Then I left later to have a bus back to Wojtek. Arriving back with Gero and Sophie (HC:wiebkesophie), we found Wojtek drunk on vodka with the belarussian-russian couple (whom had been quite unpleasant to us during the week end so mostly we stopped caring about them... but at least they revealed to me on a more positive sign that night).

Since Wojtek had been so overwhelm by the organisation, it was actually the first night he could relax and party while having no responsibilities. Which I could notice then ;)!

They were quite funny and quite drunk, so as we got offered vodka and joined for a while. It was a cool night then and great to party a little with Wojtek as well.
Then everyone felt asleep... until that ghoti came in to get his thing with someone he hooked up tttt :P

January 2

It has been quite a dead day at qumpel, relaxing, sleeping and talking... at last being lazy.

The thing though is he smokes a lot indeed... that has quite surprised me, I presume it isn't such a good thing that cigarettes are so cheap in the east and easily available :S. Well it does go through my bag.

I ended up going to do some grocery at the local shop to have things to eat and finally back in bed for some long sleep.

January 3
This was another calm lost day... awaiting to move away mainly I took the time to do my laundry and cleaning of the apartment as well. For the rest nothing special, We watched some videos of ads through the net and had a good laugh.

January 4

Finally later today Olga (HC: Olia) has arrived in Warsaw and I'm moving to her place for the coming days. She was at her family in Minsk for the holiday and just came back. We had got in touch through HC and it was good. So finally I spent the day quiet at Wojtek still talking and so and letting him know that I would intend to leave because I was starting to feel weird as I had been there for already several days.

But still it was really cool, but I was looking forward to move up and get into the moving rythm again, because when you are travelling it isn't always good to get long somewhere without moving. It makes you lazy and feel like everything is set.

In the evening, I moved downtown to meet her next to the McDonald, she lives nearby the train station and her roomates weren't there. So on this rainy polish day we spent the evening talking and playing some 'Power 4' and other board game. A quite nice evening, it was also good to listen her story. Being born in Vladivostok area from Belarussian parents who were diplomat and actually lived everywhere in the world except Belarus, she had to choose a nationality when the USSR split up... having no nation she ended up with the belarussian one.

The view from the window of her appartment was quite something, direct on the main buildings of Warsaw. The sort of view and location that would be worth a fortune anywhere else. So I enjoyed it a little before heading to sleep. I was going to sleep in her roomate room for the night.

January 5

Badly her roomate arrived in early morning like at 7am and I was sleeping in the bed. So I get to wake up, but also a friend of Olga arrived at the same time as a surprise visit from either Ukraine or Belarus, I don't remember.

From then I felt that things got wrong or strange. Of course, I can probably understand the annoyance of arriving from a night train ride and having someone in your bedroom... but anyway I got to wake up and eat and prepare. Obviously, Olga wasn't going to have any plans for the day but would need to study a little and seems she would also have to take care of her friends. Which wasn't too bad as later in the morning I got an appointment to meet with Maikel who had forgot his bank card at the bar the other day and it ended up in my hand through Ghoti... plus some other stuff.

So I met him by late morning at the train station and we spent the day together walking in the Embassy district of Warsaw before he needed to leave to get his plane back to the Netherlands.

So I found my embassy, and was quite shocked that it looked like a prison. A huge building (while I'm accustomed that Canada is only having an office in a building but not a whole building) surrounding by fence with guards. So actually how could I visit my embassy. I found funny that since it was MY embassy I had no stress to hang next to the fence and touch and so while Maikel felt unease by hanging there long... different culture, different behaviour obviously since for me this was my part of home where I could act like at home.
Anyway, we looked at the monument around and the canadian monument. This whole place must have looked pretty strange back in the communist time (as you have also the UK - Dutch - US and French Embassy around). It must not have been a place for the local.
I presumed that the embassador might even be living in the building maybe...

Later on we ended up looking for food, but Maikel needed a place that takes plastic... I needed a place cheap. The Greenway was a good option but he wasn't too keen on eating vegetarian, claiming he 'needs' meat... I hate that sentence! But I also know that you can not bring any reason over such a statement. So we ended up at a pizzeria.

Then Maikel left and took some over weight of my luguage (my christmas gift from Gdansk mainly) over with him so that I wouldn't have to carry them over to South Poland and further. I would simply have to get them later on.

Back at Olga, we prepared to go out with her roomate, friend and a couple of polish friend who were pretty cool. Actually, I seem to have understood later that the guy might be working with high status in the Embassy district... meaning he actually knew a couple of Ambassador. I think he might have been from some police secret agency or so. Funny!
So we ended up in Praga in a little cosy bar. It was great as it looked like a propaganda environment or more an illegal place, looking like a cellar, little tables and all sort of people.

I took a beer, but tried to not spend too much... my polish zloty were really going away fast now. Gosh that Poland will have been an expensive country for my budget. I will finally have to double my planned budget for the country as I'm still going to be here for a few weeks more.

Later on we came back to sleep, I slept again on the floor of her roomate.

January 6

Waking up at normal hours, my plan for the day would be to go out doing some more discovery in Warsaw... Having no plan of what to see or where to go I would simply wander in the street of that Phoenix city that was destroyed down to ashes by the end of WWII. Somehow to pass a message to the polish nation by its enemy. But the determination was still there and the city raised pretty fast back to a big metropole (sadly not well planned).

So far I would say that it is nice and not too much alienating... just a little. But I didnt feel threatened on the streets. But gosh that the people are driving bad! So be careful if you try to cross the streets in Warsaw!

Ok, as it was raining most of the morning I waited before going out for some cityscape. Olga spent most of the time talking with her friend somehow not really paying attention anymore to me. So I ended up having to talk a little to her roomate, whom I would doesn't seem to appreciate my presence.

Basically, she hold on pretty tight on asking me when do I leave and keep on bombarding me with questions. Which is not always a nice behaviour to have to answer questions like if its being an interogation. So I pretty much disliked it.
The main problem is that my next destination is Lublin, but I didn't hear anything from the person I would usually meet there (Asia) or at least about if she managed to organise me some places to go. My phone doesn't work correctly anymore, so I need new credits and eventually to stop by the Internet to know more. So I would be living for sure by the end of the week end according to the answer. It's also a point that wasn't well discussed with Olga.

So anyway, I manage to escape and get the time for myself in town. Walking around the rest of the afternoon, watching some streets exhibits about the 'Solidarnosc' revolution, which is pretty educative.
I hang so long in that district that I only reach the historic downtown by dusk. At least even if I don't get to take pictures of it (my too expensive camera does crap pictures if the ligthing is not perfect) I got a good glimpse of that identically re-built area.

Then on the way back I stop to eat at the Greenway and finally go back in the evening (remember that the nightfall are coming pretty early at this time of the year and that north) to relax a little. Finally later, a UK friend of Olga come over (it seems that she has been living in the UK too for a certain time) and we all decide to go out to a nearby club. Of course, it is going to be a money pit but I manage to not spend a single money by simply not taking anything at all.

So Olga is either talking to her UK friends or her Belarussian friends and well this becomes a pretty boring evening for me. The guy for the UK somehow also try to hit pretty much on any of them I guess. The girl from Belarus is somehow a bit of a lost behaviour (at least I don't get her really much... she doesn't seem to get us either) and the polish flatmate girl is just slightly rude behaviour.

So even if we leave altogether back to the flat later, I somehow walk alone and have to wait by the door that the people arrive. I simply feel like I don't exist anymore.
Of course Olga make out with the UK guy... anyway. Back in we simply get to sleep and I still do at the same place than the previous nights.

The main wonder now is about if I was 'expected' to make out and pay things and so... not really my behaviour, my mood nor my style. Not that I have the budget either (that remember me of the Icelandic girl statement in Brussel ''If you don't have the money you will stay alone' ... so what''.
Just wondering this has I heard so many this sort of subject in the mouth of people, but I never expect this through HC even if many people are actually still doing it, I'm quite respective of the priory objective of it that's all!

January 7

Again this morning, Olga's flatmate kept on bombarding with question about when I would leave. So since I wasn't feeling comfortable anymore I simply decided to leave and search another option somewhere else.

So I packed my things and said I was leaving today... of course one solution was that I catch a night transport so that I don't have to wonder about where I spend the night. But then I still needed to kill the day.
So by late morning, after having extended as much time as could inside (it was rainy again), I leave.

Quite a relief!

Finally, I didnt despair and found the situation quite amusing. It isn't too bad as the Polish Winter is amazingly mild this year (it rains instead of being -30C). So I head to the supermarket (of course I have to take care of my bag the whole day) and fill it with goodies to eat later in the night. Then walk around in town for a while.

This goes for the whole afternoon...

By the evening, I go to Greenway to have a tasty decent veggie meal and eat slowly and stay there for some hours until closing time. Then my first solution come over. I go to the NetCafé that I found and it happens that it is open 24h and that the night price is cheaper than a hostel. I used one hour to surf the hosting possibilities in the local hostels.. and also killed time in this warm place in a computer corner table, making myself some lunch.

The weird thing... why is there so many Polish men going to an Internet Cafe to surf Porn without any shame???? I found that behaviour so strange... and had already noticed it once in Riga before.

I go again for a walk until after 22h where I can buy some credits for the night for pretty cheap. Then I start to surf and notice that I could be in Lublin to my host by tomorrow evening.

One funny thing, everyone comes to my msn to try to give me solutions and so and contacting people. But I let them know to not worry has I'm not in panic since my mood is pretty set on spending the night in the Cybercafe. One thing though, CouchSurfing is having a feature that tells who is logged in where... and I appear on Warsaw. So I have a pretty active member who write me a email immediately through that feature... I reply, he reply and so on and we end up that he invite me over for the night.

Just the time for me to finish my credits and I get on a late bus to his place, I end up meeting with Chris (CS/HC artlite) in a nightshop to get some alcohol and move to his place for a good meal and a great talk. He is journalist, has traveled extensively in the US and knows pretty well Blink-182 and so. So we talked a lot about that. It was a great time. I even got to work on his computer a bit longer so that I could contact members for further on the road to be sure to not be short on host and contact.

I get to sleep late.

January 8

It was an early wake up with short sleep but I needed to get prepared to go out of Warsaw. As I already waste part of the morning I chose for the bus option so it would save my time and the stress related with hitch-hiking out of Warsaw.

So Chris, manage to get the information that there would be a bus by 2pm and I just needed to reach the bus station on the other side of the river in the 'old stadion'. I left and did so saying goodbye and reach the place that looked like a muddy flea market. Bought a ticket and manage to retrieve the information about where the bus would be leaving (not so obvious in Polish).

Then I waited and got on the bus and slept a part of the ride until I arrived in Lublin by dusk.
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