March 4th, 2009
Today's a lazy day -- mostly because of the toll that the last two days of marching around Warsaw has taken on me. In part, I feel like I've seen the entire city, so I've run out of steam. Anyway, I'll catch up on my posts...
This was yesterday's march around Poland. I made it back around 3:30p or so and then went down to meet meerkat. Follow it through the placemarks and you'll get an idea of how far I was travelling.
We went to an Italian place I discovered the day before (Restaurant Frascati). I ordered tagliatelle with fresh cream and gorgonzola the day before and it forced me to look up the word "doskonaly". It was that good. Yesterday, I had fusilli al greca -- Fusilli in olive oil with feta cheese and olives. That was particularly good. This is by far one of the best places I've eaten in a while.
Food, by the way, has been very good on the whole. I'll get to more about that later.
I suppose another thing that's holding me back is my limited knowledge of Polish. I don't really know enough to have a conversation with anyone, so my wanderings tend to be somewhat cerebral affairs which depend on the city being interesting enough to stare at. It is to an extent -- it seems like Warsaw was destroyed by the Germans, left to burn by the Russians, and rebuilt by the Polish as a monument to the old Warsaw. On almost every corner, there's a plaque with the names of those executed. The walls of the ghettos are in tiles across the sidewalks, parks, and streets. Statues are everywhere and it's rare that they're for someone other than the fallen during World War II.
It's interesting, but you get the message after a while and you start to wonder what else the city has going for it.
Before I came here, I had a lot of people tell me that having no knowledge of Polish would not be a problem. In some ways, they're right. About one out of six people can speak to you in broken English and get you the food that you want or point where you need to go. The consequence though is that you don't really get the opportunity to meet Polish people and it seems to me that they're the most interesting part of the city.
In the meantime, I've been amusing myself trying to see how long it takes for people to realize I'm not Polish. I've had a number of people come up to me and say things to me which require me to eventually say "Nie mowie po Polski" -- I always knew that hobby would come in handy. Not looking like a tourist, to my mind, is a good thing.
An interesting bit about eating in a Polish restaurant. You don't walk into the restaurant and wait for someone to seat you. You walk in, find a table, sit down, and someone will bring you menus at length (if they aren't already on the table). Eventually, someone comes by to bring you your order. No one asks you how things are and they don't generally bring the bill over without you asking for it. It's kinda nice -- it means you can really take your time and you don't have someone pestering you over the course of the meal.
Beers so far: Zywiec, Okocim, Paulaner, Pilsner Urquell, Tyskie, Harnas, and another one with a label in Polish that I remember translating (Characterstically strong, long lasting. Had a pic of a dude in a Swiss-like brown hat and vest [EDIT: Tatra is what I'm thinking of]). For the most part, it's been devoid of stouts or porters -- the stuff that meerkat really likes.
So far -- of the Polish ones -- I'd rank them Zywiec, Okocim, Tyskie, Harnas. To give you an idea of the high end of the scale, Zywiec has approximately the characteristics of water. The other ones have increasing amounts of a skunky taste. All of them tend to be fairly high in alcohol content -- 2 half-liter glasses with dinner gets me tipsy.
meerkat and I have a couple of beers in the fridge which we're going to drink one of these nights.
Oooh, now you're making me hungry for pasta!
Well, if you ever come to Warsaw, then I'm sure meerkat
can point you to the place to go for good pasta. 8D