A note about one odd moment in the day’s events (conference that is). A British woman, Baroness someone was describing efforts to improve the situation in prisons. She explained at one point, in a very royal sounding voice, that hers was not a hereditary title but simply one given to members of parliament. Nonetheless, it seemed bizarre to hear recounts of condom distributions and nonconsensual sex in prisons in that particular dialect. Not unlike the queen doing the voiceover for a foreign porn film.
We had decided the night before to move to the Bristol and worked out late that night online. That morning after breakfast we moved our bags into storage and while we went back to the conference C hung out in the room a little and then tootled off to the other hotel just before lunch. We had already electrical issues with my shaver practically flying out of my hand: we had a converter but it did nothing to help with the more powerful current. C on the other hand became curly haired for the rest of the trip since her straightener blew out entirely.
I was able to get over to the hotel around seven or so and C and I wandered the few blocks to the square to look for a place to eat. We were looking at the menu at one place and were cajoled in by a very young waiter. He got us down a long hall and then downstairs into a series of crowded rooms. We said “no smoking” and he said ‘yes” and made for what we thought must be that but he was shooed out by a woman who ended up being our waitress. They were full there so we were seated in the room next to it right next to a table of four Russians chain smoking the foulest cigarettes on Earth. We realized that when you ask for no smoking in a Polish restaurant that translates into “oh no, you do not have to smoke at your table unless you want to”. But the meal was good…she warned me off the game and towards the goulash and roast potatoes.
At the end of the meal I found out they did not take mc so I had to find a bankomart. I asked the waiter and he beckoned for me to follow him. He set off at a good clip out the door and across the square pausing to light a cigarette and then to hail others outside of other establishments. It was a very warm night and it made me feel like I was following Eric Idle at the end of Meaning of Life. He took me to a machine about two blocks away and then told me he had to get back to the restaurant. I got my money and took my time strolling back, perfectly content to be walking beside the old buildings over the rough cobblestones down the narrow street to the square in this perfect night in a city so far from home.
We paid and decided to have coffee and or dessert somewhere else. C told me that when I was gone the smoky Russians had tried to sweet talk her but with no common languages it was a bit of a chore.
Heading back in the general direction of the hotel we chanced on a hopping little student vodka bar. We got two cool shots of vodka and a couple of espressos. Never been a big fan but this was very good…..it came out of some bottle with a red stripe and started with an S I think. (We are going to find it again one of these days; we were hoping they would be selling it on the flight back but no such luck). We wanted to have more but we were already on a few glasses of wine but at least for a bit there we felt a little Polish. And maybe it was partly the alcohol but it felt very warm and good to be there; felt like part of the crowd rather than tourists. Next posting there will be pictures for sure….walking the morning rain in old Warsaw….cold, beautiful and old.