Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Okay, I take back most of the trash I was talking about Poland

Krakow is beautiful...charming, charming, charming. Beyond charming. I will post pictures, yes, when I finally find perfect digital camera/laptop/internet access trifeca.

Highlights from final days in Lodz...

1.Tour of of local Jewish history on which our chartered tour bus dropped 20 of us (all Polish non-natives) off at the end in an unknown part of town and took off with all of our stuff on board. 20 minutes of angry intercession with tourguide on the part of my academic advisor did, rather magically, cause said bus to reappear with our stuff eventually. Apparently they "needed the bus for another tour." Why they didn't think to warn us about this is beyond me. Also it isn't clear how they expected us all to get back to the university when the vast, vast majority of the dispatchers or local cabbies don't speak a word of English (or any of the other major EU languages, so far as I can tell) and none of us spoke Polish (or Russian, Czech, and other more common former Communist Bloc second languages.)


2. Group of local children that followed along after us on final leg of Jewish history tour yelling the only two English words they knew.."HELLO!!!" "HELLO, MOTHERFUCKER!!"

3. As ever, my twenty minute walk two and from my dorm over a pitted, mud road through what seems like an endless construction site. Said construction site is lined with vacant lots, gutted abandoned buildings, and the occasional deeply skeav-y bar. Cars aren't supposed to drive down this street, given the construction. But they still happily do. On the sidewalk.
I lived in Washington DC when it was still the official murder capital of the country and I can't say I ever felt quite so unsafe there as I do transversing that mud road after dark.

4. Second day in Lodz, when I saw an old guy nonchalantly pushing his car down the street. He wasn't pushing it from behind. Rather, it was one of those rattle-trap little Eastern European cars that looks like it's made out of recycled Jiffy Pop bags and was so light he could both push and steer simultaneously, by opening the driver's side door and keeping one hand on the steering wheel and one on the dash. His manner suggested there was nothing at all out of the ordinary going on, and walking hunched over alongside his car like that it looked more like he was escorting a very short friend down the middle of the highway. When he finally got to the crest of a small hill, he hopped in and rolled away.

4. Four hour drive to Krakow in back of car piloted by advisor and her husband. Headrest was oddly positioned so that it digs into the back of shoulders and very base of the neck instead of, say....reaching high enough to support the head. About five inches of leg-room. We got lost maybe eight times.

4 Comments:

Blogger dorotha said...

i just laughed out loud in my office. a little spittle landed on the screen.

6:54 AM  
Blogger birdfarm said...

Glad you're, uh, having fun. Or at least, seeing new places and doing unusual things. Which may seem fun in retrospect. OK, well, at least it's fun for us to read about it.

But uh, aren't you worried your advisor will see this? somehow? Just a thought...

Hang in there and hope you continue to enjoy Krakow...

10:46 PM  
Blogger astrid jane said...

Why should I be worried? We did get lost, no reflection on them...Polish road maps are especially difficult to read when nobody in the car speaks Polish....and maybe not that easy when everyone does...

4:59 AM  
Blogger birdfarm said...

hahaha, that reminds me of driving in Turkey... I was trying to read the map and by the time I had managed to read out a street name we were past it ten minutes ago already...

Me: OK, look for Bur- Burhani- uh, Burhaniye Adbu- no, Burhaniye Abdullah Aga Caddesi.

R: What???

Me: Well, did you already pass Ica- Icadi- Icadiye Baglarbasi Caddesi?

R: How the hell should I know???

(I looked up real Turkish street names just so you could really get the flavor of the experience)

Keep posting, dearie, and hang in there.

2:10 PM  

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