Monday, 7 April 2008

Zabłocie (Beyond the Mud)

We spent this Sunday town-based. We ate a hardy meal at the local Bar Mleczny (ala diner) on Grodzka (the quintessential cheap homemade food stop that prices its food on how much it weighs). I had the Ukrainian borsch (barszcz ukrainski), a rissole with stewed carrots and peas (duszona marchewka) for a main, which was all washed down with freshly squeezed carrot juice (sok z marchwi). My nails have been giving me grief lately. Michal had żurek (a soup made out of fermented bread things – don’t ask – it is tangy and very tasty), and the Hungarian hash-browns (placki ziemniaczane po węgiersku), a salad made out of three types of cabbage (red, white and sauerkrauted) and celery root, also followed with freshly squeezed carrot juice and an apple cake (szarlotka).

Filled with the required starches and vitamins (hidden deeply amongst all the boiled crap) we headed off on our bikes exploring Zabłocie. This is an industrial area of Krakow on the river which is being gentrified. The old mills and bread factories are being converted into lofts. But the speed with which it is all happening is hardly mindblowing, so the area was suitably grey and depressing. What I noticed though is that the commies used to take trees into account when erecting factory zones. This was definitely a plus, since the horrible architecture is nicely covered by big oaks and pines. It is a pity that the developers of new business parks are not as green orientated when it comes to camouflaging their ugly concrete slabs.

After five hours on the bikes, with arses sore a plenty (first riding of the season does that), we popped the bikes on the tram and went home.

This Trabant was photographed for its excellent leather bonnet straps. How secure!

Marketing at its most imaginative: “Cheap coal” followed by the telephone number.

This truck is always parked on Starowiślna. Wonder what the owner does during the summer time...

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

winter v spring v winter

We made a trip to the Baltic sea the other week. It was still winter then. This is the only time I like the Polish sea-side. Mainly because it is not inflated by plastic pink floaties, sardine-like conditions of orange-tanned bodies segregated by their “parawany” (cloth and stick structures resembling wind breakers to keep in as much heat as possible), and the condensed amount of urine that is released by hordes of ‘swimming enthusiasts’ who battle for a spare piece of water to waddle in. In contrast, the winter time by the sea is calm, peopleless and somehow charming. We walked for ages and skidded stones on the flat, calm water. Turns out my mum is quite the skimmer (or ‘duck’ chucker – as it is called in Polish). She also shrieks like a 12 year old when she’s kicking arse. I think her record was 12 skims. Then we ate smoked herring. Then my dad bought 2 kilos of fresh herrings to take home to smoke himself.

Baltic sea with the Jaskies

This is a 'kutra' - old fishing boat. I got told off for taking photos of the fishermen.
Turns out there is some illegal labour going on there. And the boys are on the dole.
Social security workers have already come around sniffing.
Fraudulent buggers.

Then we went skiing. In spring. It was sunny but there was still plenty of snow. The conditions were rad. We ate sweaty fried Slovak cheese and drank a lot of their beer. Then we found out from the ski hire dude that Michal’s surname means “pot/weed” in Slovak.

Strbskie Pleso, Slovakia - High Tatras

And now it really is spring and I even had bare feet and my slip on shoes. But then the temperature fell by about 8 degrees and I was left looking like a 'tard on the street wondering whether the Biedronka at Nowy Sacz sold any cheap socks.

Most importantly though, I had to post something. It’s been a month. And people are announcing their engagements in the comments section! I am thrilled for the lucky Libby and Hugh couple. Because they both rule. Congratulations!