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Day Three and Four. – Wierzbiny & Gdansk.

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Day Three and Four. – Wierzbiny & Gdansk.

Firstly apologies for the delay, and yesterday’s entry, my head was packed, and I was distracted by driving, distracted that I was unable to stop to take any photos of the things I whizzed past poking out of the forest wonderland. I don’t want to write minute by minute, hour by hour, to cure insomnia. It’s bat guano boring to write as well as read. I’m days ahead on the road and in another country, and driving today, I thought more about condensing and summarising the experience.

I drove as I said from Warsaw to my Airbnb destination in Wierzbiny, Poland. It’s a blink, and you’ll miss it town, and Google has stopped me outside an old people’s home. Airbnb asks me to check in, but I refrain from knocking on the locked double doors. Google doesn’t know this place very well at all, but I see the humour in it. It has the roads, but locations are low in accuracy. I review the Air BnB listing and copy the address exactly which updates the location. I’m about five minutes drive away.

It's the same routine with most of the Airbnb’s where the host sits on a beach in Majorca and sends cryptic instructions and codes to unlock key boxes to give me access. It’s a small place to stay that becomes smaller as I realise there are four apartments in the one double-storeyed house, maximising the value of the property, I guess. I have a double bed, a kitchenette and a toilet and shower. The photo of the lake that attracted my attention isn’t the view I have at all; though I sense we are close to where that photo was professionally taken. There’s a Schlep across the road, and a restaurant that sells traditional Polish fare, and the menus are all in Polish. I borrow their toaltey (toilet) and go next door to the schlep (shop) to buy water. A simple task, except nothing, is simple in another language. The schlep has more alcohol than Dan Murphy’s with a small reserved section for items that you’d recognise in a milk bar/dairy. I point to water bottles, and the mature blonde woman at the counter asks me a question in Polish, which I work out is “Do I want to be gassed or not?” I’ don’t do holocaust jokes anymore. I incinerated them all. It’s the same word for gassed or non-gassed but plain water starting with NIE which is NO in Polish. NO GAS. I can’t drink soda water. I buy a beer bottle called Zubr with a wolf howling on it. And a bottle of “niegazowana” or water sans GAS. The last thing Andy needs is more gas kids. Its branding makes me giggle. “Cisowianka” which I think they should give out at the next CISCO IT Networks conference in Australia because it reads like ‘Cisco Wanker.’ Sorry kids, it’s necessary for context and comedic purposes. I sit down at a chair and table set made cleverly out of used wooden pallets and painted grey. It’s comfortable and the Zubr beer I succumbed to is cold. More guests arrive, but despite what you might believe, not everyone wants to talk and interact like I like to. They say 'Czesc' to me, which is 'Gidday or Hi', but that’s it. It’s four huge guys who are carrying enough food for the onset of the nuclear holocaust. I imagine them massaging in another in pig lard, and sumo wrestling each other for entertainment.

I check the rating on the place across the road, and it’s showing two stars from a review six months ago. I up the rating and discover a Polish restaurant two kilometres away to try out some of the local cuisine. The restaurant is large with round tables like a Chinese Yum Char without the lazy Susans. I’m seated on my own at one, like Andy, no friends, and I order from the menu, which has a few English clues. I order some Zupy (soup) called Flaczki (tripe) and Kolet Schabowy na cafy talerz. (Pork chop for the whole plate, with potatoes and salad.) The people who know me in here understand I’m a bit of a foodie, and I have a litmus for most restaurants I dine at. If I think I can make this dish better myself, then they get a below-par rating. Here goes:

The Zupy was delicious, and I know some people are still receiving counselling from the tripe their Mum fed them as kids. It’s a minestrone base with bay leaves, carrots, onions and a packet of barley soup mix. It’s hot (heat, not spice) and has an excellent peppery taste. It is served with two slices of unbuttered bread. Tick. The next dish is enormous, as it suggests, and the pork cutlet looks like a map of Poland on my plate. It is served with a basic salad (coleslaw is salad here, of course) that has been dressed properly (tick), but it’s not mayo heavy (think KFC) and is served with mashed potatoes (not whole boiled ones as I imagined) that have lumps in it and nothing like the creamy whipped smooth, dreamy stuff Andrea in Melbourne can nail. I wash it down with a Zwiec (type of beer) and pay 60PLN for the whole thing. Three out of ten.

Sleep comes quickly, with a drive to Malbork Castle tomorrow and onto Gdansk. I’m glad I didn’t book two nights here, as it was less fun after about an hour and a half. More driving on narrow roads, which are becoming more uneven. I’m glad of the height of the Kia SUV, which is throwing me around and up and down like a fairground ride. Malbork Castle is the largest brick castle in Europe. It’s nothing short of breathtaking, and the last castle that took my breath away was Edinburgh Castle in Scotland) and is home to the order of the Teutonic knights. Yes, the kick (swear word) ones in Age of Empires II. I purchase a figurine of a knight with a shield and axe from the gift stall and stroll the perimeter of the castle, which occupies (its base) at just over 52 acres. It has millions of bricks and kids, and the walls are 15-20 metres high. More LEGO than Mum and Dad could afford. The high walls have narrow slits for the archers to shoot arrows from, and I imagine having marched a hundred miles just to catch one through the gut and dying slowly for days on the grass outside in agony going, wow, this castle is amazing. It’s onward to Gdansk to sort my accommodation. I forgot to mention it's grey, overcast and raining, which kind of suits where I end up in Gdansk in a pre-war apartment block. My room, the code and key box access are on the 3rd floor, so I set up for the night and gaze out at more rows of these concrete blocks of flats that feel oppressive, to say the least. It has a balcony to swan dive from should it get too much for guests.

Not wanting to repeat the lumpy potatoes, I look for something different to eat that is close. I find a Sushi restaurant that has five stars, rave reviews, and photos of dishes that belong in Japan. I’m in. I’d walk, but it's cats and dogs or keeping to the Japanese theme, Datsun Cogs. Raining kids. The place is packed with Polish faces that have flattened, and their noses have all grown larger. The waitress speaks good English after I say “Good Evening”. I order a glass of German Riesling, and overestimate the size of what I have ordered, which is delivered on a platter like one would see at a corporate event for four guests. There’s a pile of Wasabi the size of Mount Fuji and sliced fresh ginger as big as Buderim on the Sunshine Coast. They have white soy sauce (clear) tick, as well as the awesome brown-black aged stuff. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie arrive and sit at a table by the window in an advertisement. They are a good-looking couple but are at the relationship stage where they are more interested in their phones than each other. He’s got a sleeve tattoo and biceps the size of my neck. I’m giving you the skinny here. The sushi, sashimi and plate of food are worth getting lost in as time stops. I eat everything except that last piece of sushi (18 pieces) that I abandoned, so I’m able to leave the place without wheelchair assistance or the need to call an ambulance. I swear the waitress asked me if I wanted dessert. 'C’mon, it’s just a single chocolate after-dinner mint wafer. Bring me a bucket?" I thought she would give me a certificate for finishing, but not a hug. A handclap, at least. I pay nearly 280PLN for the feast, but I’m happy, fully tired, and off to bed as I’m catching up with Alexei and the Hare Krishna tomorrow in a place further down the coast; Niechorze (Knee Horch Hee phonetically).

Hare Krishna, Rama Rama. I dream of a Kare Sansui (Japanese Garden), and my feet disappear under my large swollen Japanese belly and transform into a fishtail. I feel like a wakin (giant goldfish) out of the water with the Yakuza hunting a bowel movement. Sleep comes quickly.

End of Day.

Posted by Andy_in_Europe 13:11 Archived in Poland

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