Saturday, March 14, 2009

Poland Revisted

I promised more pictures and stories from my recent trip to Poland.

So let's go back to the beginning since I wasn't able to post any pictures while I was there.

We arrived in Warsaw (Warszawa) around 5 p.m. Flying over the city was interesting. My eye was drawn to all of the large concrete housing projects that were erected by the communist regime after the bombings during WWII.

Arriving over Warsaw

Our hotel in Warsaw was directly across the street from the airport terminal. When we awoke on Tuesday morning, it was snowing. That helped to make an interesting drive out of Warsaw when combined with the morning rush hour traffic.

Warsaw Airport Terminal

Snowing in Warsaw

Warsaw looked like a beautiful city and I wish we would have had time to do some exploring. Maybe on a future trip I can see more of it.

On the outskirts of Warsaw, we passed a large shopping area that included...

The highway coming out of Warsaw was very nice. And then...OMG! Try taking four lanes of traffic, including heavy truck traffic, and put them onto two narrow lanes, sometimes without much of a shoulder, and you experience some harrowing situations!

Our group was in a large American made conversion van. I made sure to sit in the back next to a window so I could watch out the side, not the front. With good reason. The couple of times I looked forward, I think we were three feet from the back end of a semi-truck in front of us. Our driver would edge out to see if he could pass the truck. If all was clear, zoom! Off we'd go around the truck, ducking quickly back into our lane. Over and over this situation was repeated. I felt it was best for me not to look forward.

We made a short stop in the town of Lomza (pronounce Womsa) at none other than...

Our hotel in Augustow was interesting. The Hotel Warszawa is a resort hotel that I'm sure is very enjoyable in the summer months. It is located on Lake Necko. My room was very different from any other room I've ever stayed in over in the U.S.

Hotel View from Lake Necko side

For starters, the tiny beds. The room configuration was two "twin" beds complete with wooden bed rails pushed together. The height of the beds were about eighteen inches off the floor. The bed consisted of a box spring type thing with a folded up comforter on top of it. The sheet over the box spring didn't even cover it at the head and foot of the bed. Strange. The pillow was a large flat square that when folded in half was similar in size to a standard pillow. And there was also a smaller square pillow. All under the bedspread.

It pays to be short

One of the guys in our group said his feet hung off the end of the bed.

To sleep, I unfolded the comforter thing, rotated it so that it would cover most of the boxspring, and then got a blanket out of the closet to sleep under. It was a heavy fleece blanket so that was nice. The sheet and pillow case were about 80-thread count. Very scratchy and I also think my skin did not like the detergent being used. I couldn't keep enough lotion on my skin to stop it from drying out in patches.

The carpet on the floor was almost like felt. Nothing like a typical rug or even commercial grade carpet. And the drapes over the was a trick to get them closed because they barely fit across. If you pulled on one side too much, you now had an uncovered window on the other side.

The bath was small but decent...a nice shower and the heater allowed you to hang your towel over it to warm it up. Good thing I brought my own shower sponge. The hotel did not provide washcloths. I understand that this is a fairly standard practice for European hotels any way.

I did have nice views of the frozen lake from my room(s). I ended up switching rooms and moved from the Internet dead zone on the first floor to the second floor after a few days.

Views from balcony

We ate most of our meals at the restaurant in the hotel. Between our group, we probably ate everything on the menu at least once. It was starting to get boring by the end of the second week there. They offered regional Polish dishes and I tried several of them in addition to the usual fare found on most menus. For the most part, the food was good although I think I was served shoe leather one night for dinner instead of a New York strip steak.

For breakfast each morning, I settled on cereal, yogurt, some fresh fruit and a cup of coffee along with a glass of juice. They did have scrambled eggs and sausages, but I just couldn't bring myself to eat runny scrambled eggs. So I stuck with Honey Nut Cheerios until we cleaned those out and then switched to Sugar Puffs. No Cocoa Puffs for me!

To be continued...

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