I got back from Poland on Monday, pretty lucky really as the big freeze started Tuesday I don't think I would have made it back.
I had an amazing trip and met so many new people. Starting at Warsaw airport I met Kaths friend Mike (Goofy) who was kind enough to Pick me up from the airport. I was so nice to see Kath again. It took about 3 hours to drive from Warsaw to Białystok, we chatted about many things. The drive was a bit longer because we got a bit turned around on the way out of Warsaw and we had to stop for fuel. During the drive I got a chance to look out at a lot of snow!
When we arrived at Kath apartment I got to meet her family, including her Mum, Sister, Brother and Grandmother. Kath myself, her brother and sister ate a nice dinner of brie and chorizo toasts with salad. After which we headed to bed, I felt tired after travelling, it was great to go to sleep.
Second day in Poland, Kath had to go to her work to pick up some documents. After which we took a walk through a nearby park and around Białystok zoo. Probably the smallest Zoo in the world certainly the smallest I have been to, but then it was free and I did get too see bison and a Polish horse.
It was pretty cold walking around so we went into a Pizzeria for a coffee and a ricotta cake. Then it was off to do the food shopping round two of Białystok's malls. Like every other mall I have ever been in apart from the Polish writing you could be anywhere similar shops, brands. In the evening it was a big family dinner at Kath's house. I met her cousins, aunt, and uncle. We ate a lot of food, including herring, and a sort of cabbage stew with pork sausage called Bigos, soup called Flaki, baked meat olives, pickles, we drank some vodka and fruit juice. Like the people I met in Belarus the Poles don't mix the Vodka into the fruit juice, rather we drank shots neat then washed it down with a sip of juice. Everyone was very nice but it was a bit overwhelming and not for the first time I wished I could understand some Polish.
After the meal Kath her brother and cousins went out for drinks, meeting up with her other friends at a bar called Rejs. Kath's brother got quite drunk which was very amusing. Also there was Kath's other cousin Agnes, Goofy and his girlfriend Ela and Kath's friends Sylvia and Wojtek. It was a farewell for Agnes too as she was about to leave for university in Tallinn.
Next day was New Years eve, Kath and I would be spending the evening at her friends finances parental home. Before that though we had to prepare some food for the evening. We made turkey wrapped in ham stuffed with mozzarella. Kath's friend Mike was going to pick us up and take us to the party, but before that we managed to sneak out for a coffee together at a lovely coffee at a little coffee shop near her apartment. It was wonderful to have some alone time sitting drinking wonderful coffee and eating a cake.
Mike picked us up about 14.30 and after a short stop to pick up some beer and Caroline's friends and college Magda we were on our way to Monki. Mikes girlfriend Caroline greeted my at the door saying "Welcome to Poland fucking cold isn't it". We then met Caroline's Mum a very happy woman who didn't seem to mind her house being invaded at all :) Apparently the trick to drinking Vodka is to intersperse drinking with eating food like Bigus. Everyone prepared some food and while we waited for Goofy, Ela, Sylvia and Wojtek we prepared the table. We had a beer and a chat, Mike told me I had a phone which was a call a cue to start drinking vodka. We were waiting for the other Mike aka goofy to arrive, he was slightly delayed as he had to stop off and buy tampons for Kath! The Caroline talked good Mike into going out to buy tights and to pick up her dress. Goofy arrived with his dog and another guy Paul aka the Goat. He also brought his home improved Vodka mixed with black current. I drank and ate and chatted, and drank, laughing taking photos of each other. Our food went down really well with everyone the turkeys disappeared quickly while Wojtek made short work of the salad. The cuisine here was a mix of traditional Russian, Ukrainian and Belarussian cuisine after midnight we had Potato Babka.
After the initial eating Wojtek played some Russian songs and the girls were dancing, while I drank some more Vodka, the Mike's determined that I would get a taste! The gin we brought with us ended up going spare;unfortunately by 11 drinking from 6 was taking its toll so I had to go have a lie down for a few minutes. Fortunately a power nap was refreshing enough to get me up in time to see in New Years Eve, stood on the porch watching fireworks and drinking sparkling wine. Kath and I cuddled and watched.
The rest of the evening was a bit of a blur until we headed to sleep, we were just drifting off when I very drunk Mike appeared and warned me to watch my back in case I got "a big dick and balls in my ass", I think it was his way of saying Happy new year! Fortunately I didn't suffer any such intrusion, however Mr Goat did decide to come an sleep in the living room rather close to us!
I woke up in the morning feeling surprisingly good considering the amount of vodka, Kath and I had a cup of tea and woke up. We took clipper for a walk around the town, it was pretty refreshing walking in the snow, but I could really feel like a shower. Unfortunately for some reason the water stopped flowing. So we sat stinky and hungover drinking tea chatting waiting for Goofy to wake up. Caroline's mum made some Pasztet a kind of a meat pate and we finished off some of the leftovers from the night before. I really had a nice time with Kath's friends, it was so nice to meet them and be a part of the new year celebrations.
Caroline decided she wanted to check if she was able to drive so she went to the Police station to get a breath test. Apparently they weren't very nice about it but eventually we got underway back to Białystok. Kath's mum and gran both gave me such a wonderful New years greeting it was so touching I was really happy.
It felt so nice to take a shower! We had a nap and a nice meal of beet root soup with French pastry stuffs. Afterwards Kath and I took a walk throw the blizzard into the city we had a look around her University and at the Cathedral.
Kath's mum and family left the next day, the flat felt pretty empty without them. We had a lazy day sleeping in late and tagging the photos, finally heading out to the shops to buy food for tomorrow train ride. We also bought tickets, first class it only cost 20 Zloty more which in hindsight was too much.
In the evening I took Kath out for a meal at a lovely restaurant called Lejdis. I had lemon sole which was delicious, they did something slight batter underneath which was just lovely. Kath had a salmon pie with a spicy sauce which was also very nice. After the meal we met up with Kath's friends for a quiet drink before getting an early night in order to be awake for the train in the morning leaving at 6.48am.
Kath and I took a train to Gdansk travelling on the train in Poland was an experience. The journey took 7 hours 45 minutes, the train resembled something out of the ark. First class appeared to be exactly the same as second class just with 2 less seats per cabin. There was a hole in the window which let in an icy draft, but that was nothing compared to the toilet! Someone had left the window open so it was an icy frozen place, I was glad I didn't have to sit down!
I was so glad to Arrive in Gdansk and get off the train! Kath's cousins apartment was close to the station so we walked through the big shopping mall to Anna and Maciej's apartment. Maciej had some tasty mushroom soup, and local beer :) Their daughters Aleksandra and Lidia were so cute, Aleksandra let us borrow her room, and gave me a tour of the apartment. She also brought Kath a stack of books and proclaimed she could read them all tonight! Maciej knew so much about the city it wsa interesting to listen to him. Unfortunately I was exhausted after travelling and it was so cold it was sometimes difficult to concentrate. We had to have a cup of tea to warm up before heading back.
In the evening we all went out for a tour around Gdansk. It seemed a lovely city I wish we had more time to look around and see some other parts like the dock where the solidarity movement started.
When we got back to the apartment I got to try a drink called Goldwasser, it actually had little piece of gold in it.
The next morning I had a 6am flight home, Maciej was kind enough to give me a lift to the airport. For anyone wish to travel to Gdnask the airport is tiny and disorganised, not recommended! I was sad sad to leave Kath at the security gate, we had such an awesome time together.
Back to the UK and back to work, due to the snow I ended up working from home which meant I barely saw another person until the weekend. Friday night Phil and Caroline came round, we had a few beers and played Wii. I realised that I don't really enjoy Mario Brothers Wii very much. After the initial excitement wore off I realised its just Mario 3 with better graphics. It has all the things that irritated me about platform games, really what is the point of lives and continues this isn't an arcade, I'm not feeing twenty pence pieces in.
Bruce came round Saturday night, I made a stir fry and we watched a couple of films. He had a hard week in Gloucester.