Dream trip Day 108 Mom joins, Guinness Brewery, the Black Sheep

I was in Dublin for 1 specific reason, to meet my mom! She had wanted to see Ireland forever, but our family couldn’t ever settle on taking a family trip there.

Once I began my dream trip, we corresponded. She mentioned maybe meeting in Ireland and I agreed. I hadn’t planned on seeing the country but then again, I hadn’t planned on seeing most of the places I went.

Take a moment, pause, call your mom, tell her you love her. If you cannot do that think about your happiest moment with your mom. Mom’s do so much for you and we, well I, probably don’t tell them how much I care, how often I think about them.

In my life I’d gone from not being able to sleep at a friend’s house across the street to flying to Europe and visiting places that made communication difficult, far far away from my mom.

I was fairly excited by the prospect of helping my mom fulfill a life goal. Our deal was she had a list of several places, cities she wanted to see. My job was to figure out how to get to these places via bus, rail or other means of transportation.

What was the most surprising was my mom adapted to my minimal travel, arriving with only a backpack, just like me. It was a lot bigger backpack but still, having seen many ladies on my trip with comedic quantities of luggage as well as the 1 piece of rolling luggage that was 2-3x as big as the lady carrying it, this was quite minimal.

It is a lot harder being a lady, all the clothes, garments, shoes and things that men, society expect women to have is astounding. I didn’t ever feel under dressed despite having basically parachute pants that zipped off at the knees illustrated the level of expectations between men and women’s fashion.

We met at the Spire and hugged! She did it, she had made it! Now what to do?!

Always good idea to lighten your load and drop luggage off where you’re staying.

To my shock our place was on top of a pub, the Black Sheep. I’d passed by it and made a note to check it out. Now I had my evenings planned, just go downstairs!

My mom was quite accommodating as she doesn’t drink alcohol but was ok with me taking her to the most special of breweries, Guinness!

gate

This was one of the better brewery tours I’ve been on I have to say. In many ways, Guinness and Dublin are one in the same, at least that is what the tour infers.

barrel

I love the idea that at one time beer, wine, most liquids were shipped and stored in wooden barrels.

 

dublin view

For sure the Guinness Brewery is one of the tallest buildings in Dublin affording one a stunning 360° view of the city, provided it isn’t an overcast day.

At the end of the tour is a bar with free Guinness.

There is a process to pour a Guinness as it is very thick and can easily get heady. Begin pouring with the glass at an angle until it is a bit past half full, let rest for at least a minute. No matter how long the line is, you do not pour faster, they’d just line up pints on the bar to settle.

Once a pint was ready, then it would get filled up and have about a priest’s collar thickness of white head. A keen system that always worked, I don’t think I ever saw a pint poured straight through. I also didn’t hear anyone complain about how long it was taking for a pint. You waited for that pint.

It is also so far the only place I’ve seen their Dublin Porter on draught. The Guinness you think of is a stout.

The difference between a stout and a porter boils down, literally, to malts. They are both thicker beers than most people are used to in the US. Both styles, to me, are only drinkable when it is cool or cold out.

I don’t know too many people who would reach for a creamy stout in 100° Texas heat. But in the cool, Irish environment, nothing’s better.

We wandered all over the River area near the brewery until it was clear we weren’t going to stumble upon anything cool.

Heading back into town, we stop into a pub to eat and discuss our strategy for the trip. It was a very nice spot, The Quays, though we were in search of a music pub.

There did seem to be much more of a focus on live music in Dublin than in previous places I’d been. Not so much for the digital playlists here.

Consulting a map, she listed the must visit cities and sights. Using my apps, I located the National Bus of Ireland, Bus Eireann.

The crazy fact is that you could bus from Dublin to the Cliffs of Mohr and back same day as it is only a 2 hour trip 1 way, coast to coast!

There was a place south, Wexford, that made crystal glassware she wanted to see. Cork was on the list, a whale watch to the south, Cliffs of Mohr, were all on the list.

I was excited to just be here! I hadn’t planned on visiting the island so I didn’t get to do much research on what to do, see. It was all new to me anyway. Plus it is cool to hang out with your parents.

Our destination discussion continued as we walked through the city back to our place where we connected to WiFi and did some real planning for the next few days.

I like to look at a map and decide on a location, then see if anything is along the way there, try to break up the trips into 2-3 hour bus rides if possible. I just couldn’t see it being fun hoping a bus around 7am, drive to the west coast and then back around 7pm.

Our plan was set to check out Dublin College and Book of Kels tomorrow as well as Dublin Castle. I’d never heard of this book before so I was in for some learning.

We are all into different things, so I think it is very cool to check out what others are into, especially your parents. Hey they put up with you when you were a screaming kid, so walk with them, go on an adventure.

Around 10pm I headed downstairs to have a pint at The Black Sheep.

So far this is the only place I can think of that didn’t have a Guinness on tap in Dublin.

As I was the only one at the bar I was able to talk to them about some beers they liked and so they suggested another stout they felt was better than Guinness.

‘Quite literally you can get Guinness everywhere in this town and it is a great beer. We are just a place for people who may want to drink something else occasionally.’ the bartender explained.

He gave me a Galway Bay Brewery stout that was similar to Guinness. It was good and besides, I’d already had my daily Guinness. Time to try something new!

It wasn’t very busy at the bar so I was able to talk to a couple of bartenders about the Irish independent brewery scene. Sadly, it was about the same story as in the US.

Beer and liquor distributors controlled everything in Europe too. Another trend were pubs that looked old and authentic but were actually chains were buying up historic pubs across the country.

It was similar to the Wal Mart effect whereby the pub chain would come in, charge lower prices as well as carrying a couple good beers. Once the family pub closed, up went the prices, out went the independent beers.

Pretty much things had come full circle in that if you were a brewery that wanted to sell beers, you also had to open and run your own pub to sell your beer. This was why BrewDog had so many pubs across Europe, it was the best way to guarantee freshness.

You see whoever controls the distribution and/or warehouses controlled the industry. You piss off one of these entities, well maybe your beer doesn’t get refrigerated or maybe it doesn’t get delivered regularly, but hey, we have this fine similar beer made by huge beer company and we are never out.

The free market is hardly free don’t you see. Most things are manipulated in a couple of companies favor.

All night, we talked beer and they would slide a sample my way. I got quite an education on the emerging brew scene on the islands.

 

Song: Rollerskate Skinney   Speed to my Side

Beer: Buried at Sea

Advertisements

Dream trip Day 107 River Liffey stroll, Beckett Bridge, country music discussion

The room I was sharing at the hostel had a large window that overlooked the back courtyard, a very nice view. The window also faced east so the room filled with each morning, thus I was always up by 9am.

No worries from me though, I just roll with it. A few moments of research yielded another cool breakfast spot a block away.

Aside from its proximity, I chose Bleeker Street Cafe due totally to it’s name, which it shares with a street in NYC where CBGB’s was located, plus a lot of folkies lived on the block too.

There is a Simon & Garfunkle song about the street as well. Love me some S&G!

It was a fine place, cute gal behind the counter, nice coffee too. I went full Irish breakfast and was not disappointed.

At this spot was my first time seeing someone order a beer before 11am. What is odd is mimosas are huge in the States, brunch in general really, just not early beer.

Drinking is still a bit taboo before noon in the US, but not so much here it seems. For sure at this point of my trip, I felt quite all right with my level of drinking. It wasn’t close to what people drank in other countries, far less.

It was a muggy, overcast day so I decided to stroll along the River Liffey, try to get some cool pics. I also noticed in Europe, it was River XXX whereas in TX it was Rio Grande River.

liffey

This was moments after the tram passed over the river. Missed it by a couple of seconds.

 

tower

The history of Dublin on an under construction building. Brilliant cover up!

beckett

This is the Samuel Beckett Bridge, a modern construct named after the playwriter who was born in Dublin tho he lived and wrote in Paris…in French no less!

ship

I thought this was a real wooden ship but it is a replica of the Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship which sailed the seas to the New World, the world of opportunity, America!

It was such a grey overcast day, always threatening rain, I just wanted to hang out somewhere instead of walking.

I headed back towards my side of town, this time turning left at the Spire, I hadn’t seen this side of the city yet.

It was an avenue of shops, eateries and the odd bar now and again. There was a church that had been converted into a club! It had a very cool glass encased staircase out front.

Seemed more like a heavy bass dance club however, not for me.

I saw a cool spot just as drops of rain hit my head. Slattery’s will do!

A fine old pub. I selected a chair at the bar and ordered a pint. My goal in Ireland was to have at least 1 pint of Guinness per day. Check!

A guy elbows me, ‘You from America or are ye English?’ he was already slurring and it was only a bit past 3 in the afternoon.

We talked for a bit and he revealed he loved, loved country music. He was rattling off names, but stopped at John Denver.

Well he didn’t really stop so much as pause to fully canonized him. ‘The best fooking songwriter of them all!’

Now I grew up listening to Denver and he is great, but the best, no. I tossed out Dylan and Hank Williams names to gauge his reaction. Nope, Denver!

The fact that there wouldn’t be a Denver without Hank, much less Dylan seemed lost on this guy. His arguments grew louder and louder.

For some reason they let him by us a round. We clinked pints and left the music discussion for later. I diverted him by asking what he recommended I see or do whilst in Dublin.

He didn’t quite make it through his pint before calling for another. This time they told him his day was over. Well at least there it was, I suspected he had a couple of spots he went to quench his thirst.

I tried talking to the as always cute bartendress but it was shift change time. She had better things to do than talk to a tourist.

I finished my pint, it was past dinner time now, time to move on.

After walking around for a while passing many small pubs, I ventured into a place called The Library, seemed cool enough.

This place was deceivingly large. I was in the very dive-y front section where there were TV’s. Nothing remarkable so I kept walking.

When I went to find the restroom, I learned how cavernous this place was. It opened up into a huge outdoor area. To one side were several pool tables, the other tables had TV’s around them as well as a wall used to project a footy match.

The restroom was huge, a pee on the wall with trough on the floor type situation.

I found  an area to hang out it, no seats available so I too stared at the big match even though I had no dog in the fight.

My gaze was soon dominated by a group of ladies, all dressed in 80’s streetware, askew ballcaps, tracksuits (1 leg rolled up at to the knee!), white sneakers, guy style crew haircut that were high and tight.

They took an incredible amount of shots throughout the evening, getting more and more handsy with each other with each drink.

These drunk ladies were way more entertaining than any game. They actually whistled whenever a cute girl walked by, or would doff their hat and try for conversation.

I want to say they had some sort of workout discussion because  at one point they took turns lifting up their shirts. These ladies were also deceptively fit, very much in shape though you wouldn’t know it from their baggy shirts.

They also fancied Calvin Klein boxer brief undergarments, which is always a very sexy choice for ladies.

I tried talking to a few people throughout the evening, most were more concerned about the pool game or the match on TV.

After a couple pints the time grew late and I headed back to the hostel.

Song: the Swell Season    Low Rising

Beer: Cute Hoor Irish Pale

Dream trip Day 106 St. Steven’s Green, Phil Lynott and Shepard’s pie

Woke up to an empty room. Didn’t realize the showers here were gym style, a row of shower heads in a room for the guys.

This hostel did not have a meal option that didn’t come out of a vending machine, so I searched via phone maps for good breakfast places near and located a tiny cafe about a block away.

I don’t know how I was so lucky with my picks were but this was such a homey feeling small place. I mean the lady behind the counter didn’t greet me so much as she procured a cup and asked me if was tea or coffee time.

Make mine coffee. I don’t think I ever did get tea with milk on my trip though I should’ve.

She brought my coffee with the newspaper, ‘just the parts I’ve read !’ she cackled. ‘and don’t go filling out the crosswords, lad. That’s my afternoon!’

I got eggs in basket, fried egg in the middle of toast. A nice light breakfast.

Several locals came in, she knew them not only by name, but what they usually ordered.

As far as I could tell, it was 1 women doing everything, greeting guests, filling up coffee, tea and cooking mainly egg meals.

An older guy came in and promptly greeted everyone ‘good marn-ing’ with a wave!

It was a glimpse of what I enjoy stumbling upon while traveling, just a normal day at the breakfast spot. Nothing contrived, or an artificial show for tourists, all real people going about their day and I was just a part of it.

I thanked the lady behind the counter for the lovely meal and breakfast experience.

Out into the street, currently under major construction. I think they were putting in rail lines for a tram.

Cross the bridge over to the Temple District, the heart of tourist town. There is a busy bar here I don’t recommend you go to as the price of a pint changes based on how busy they are and it is pretty busy most of the time. Plenty of places to get a proper pint but whatever you like, you should do.

It was a bit warm out so I popped into an old, oaken pub, many a stuffed animal head with antlers adorned the walls. This was appropriate as it was named The Stag’s Head.

Selecting a spot at the bar, I saw there were a couple of partitioned booths at the far end.

They resembled private booths so they could still order but didn’t have to get up from their spot at the end of the bar.

The bar was tended by a female w long curly blonde hair who told me about these things they called a snuggary.

Back in the day it wasn’t proper for men to be seen in public with women who weren’t their wives much less women drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes. Perish the thought, those aren’t lady like activities.

Sometimes this meant just gender segregation, ladies had to sit unseen behind the partition while the men drank in the pub.

Other times this may mean a couple who are not married to each other but are married may hang out but again, be unseen.

I presume it was mainly along gender lines though, yet now there was a female behind the bar and the sky had not fallen nor had the island slid into the ocean.

 

20160905_151800

The statue was the singer of a great band from Dublin, Thin Lizzy. I knew he was from the city but didn’t know he was statue worthy to others. I was happy to stumble on it.

A few more blocks and I was in a huge green space, St. Stephen’s Green. I do love big city parks and this was one of the best on my trip.

There are a lot of signs all around the park with info about various events that have occurred during the park’s history starting out as a private space for the wealthy, being occupied by insurgents during the 1919 Easter Uprising to a conversion to a tent hospital space during other conflicts.

Once in the park, I came across several large, 2 sided displays with text written by an Irish historian.

The pictures showed places on the island affected by the war as well as stories about Irish exploits in other battlefronts. Only 1 Irish county didn’t suffer casualties during the war.

I thought I knew about the effects of WWII but seeing these changes in person, the physical change in geography due to bombing, was all too real on this trip.

The US may have sacrificed lives, but most of Europe was physically changed, geographically, politically, socially changed by the horror of war.

I lingered reading each photo, learning some of the history of the Irish in WWII.

Nearly on cue, I heard a loud voice. Across a stream a tour guide in full military fatigues was leading a group.

It isn’t too hard to overhear these tours, some of which require money. Since this guy was dressed up, I guessed this tour wasn’t free.

He was also talking about the park’s military history which sadly had seen a couple of world wars as well as a civil war.

Following a path, I circled the whole park a couple of times, walking around it in both directions.

Benches were full of businessmen munching their lunch, university kids talking in a circle, musicians practicing. It is a truly wonderful park, a must visit in Dublin.

I headed north and walked through Trinity College, though uni wasn’t in session at the moment so the fields were empty.

The hunt had begun for a Shepard’s pie, the real version. To me it was the acceptable, adult version of pot pie, which I ate my fair share of growing up.

It was a long walk from the College past my hostel to get to Kavanaghs, but it turned out great! A small restaurant/pub with many local reviewers stating this was one of the best pies in all the city.

I found a table and surveyed the scene. Most people were eating and watching a football match on  TV.

There was 1 guy who waited on the entire floor, dude had probably 15-ish tables, yet he kept circling, grabbing empty glasses, delivering food and still had time to linger for a joke or 2 at a couple of tables.

The table just across from me had some twats seated. I say this because they were arguing about who could eat the most chips, fries. Saying you can eat the most of anything is pretty pathetic if you ask me.

They were young however and having silly contests is just part of that age I reckon. Great! You can eat 2 full plates of fries and gravy, high 5!

The pie here was served with chips, hell every dish I saw came with a side of chips.

Normally this is ok, but the key to Shepard’s pie is the mashed potato lid that turns into sort of a baked, mashed potato thing. It is the savory equivalent of crème brûlée, you have to pierce the tater lid!

It was a potato overload is all. The sole vegetable in this dish were peas. Real meat and potato meal right here.

I’d also had my share of spuds on this trip by this point too. Still this was one of the best Shepard pies I have eaten.

After finishing my meal I decided on 1 more pint to see if the crowd would pick up. It didn’t other than a group of doctors, nurses who took over the bar area.

There was a hospital across the street so that accounted for their presence. I always enjoy the contradictory scene of medical personnel in their work scrubs pounding shots and beers. Do as I say, not as I do, that sort of thing.

Still early, I set off in the hunt for music, any singer songwriter will do. Maybe someone from one of the bands I like will be playing their local pub gig, who knows?

I walked back to the river area and hear a guy singing from out of an open pub door. I ventured in and it felt and looked like someone’s living room.

He was set up in front of a brick fireplace using 1 amp and mic. A narrow walkway between wooden tables, chairs and booths lead to a backroom, then outside smoker’s patio. Even the ceiling here was wooden.

They had beer on tap so I got one and sat in a back room where I could still hear the music. All the seats were full in the ‘living room.’

The singer lead the group in several local tunes I’d never heard but everyone else sang along. When he tried to sing the standard “Wild Rover” he stopped the song several times.

‘Aye c’mon ya! You all know this one and we will do it fooking properly or not at all. No Nay Never, then 4 claps.’

(Start song again, then stops) ‘You aren’t clapping in time!’

(Begins song again) ‘Still shite but improving! It’s 1-2-3-4 da da da da.’

(plays song again) ‘Aye now you’ve got it!’

On the outside tables were empty liquor bottles, mostly Jameson, that had a candle in the mouth. The wax had coagulated into thick stream down most of the bottles. It was a bit of accidental art.

Once the songs ended I moved outside after getting another pint. The smokers patio had a lot more people than inside.

Across from me sat a couple of lads and a couple of girls. The girls were from Belfast and the lads from England, both groups were on holiday.

They were talking about the Troubles and the whole UK vs Ireland issue, delicately at first, though the ladies did get a bit heated. The guys kept their cool as I presumed they were trying to take these ladies home so they didn’t get out of hand.

“We aren’t our government and neither are you! We get on right? That’s all we can do because we can all try to change things at home, but right now, this is how things are so let’s have a pint, a laugh, you know?” one of the lads said while raising his pint for a toast. Cheers!

I didn’t stick around to see if the lads were able to take these ladies home. I was a bit tired from all the day’s walking so I headed back to the hostel for some much-needed shuteye.

Song:  Thin Lizzy  The Emerald

Beer: O’Hara’s

Dream trip Day 91 Burger, beers, Mastodon

I woke up in a daze, I couldn’t wait!

Throughout my trip, I checked local venues for rocks shows. I also checked out many of my favorite band’s tour dates to see if I could see a show. Finally towards the end of my EU trip, things aligned.

Mastodon was playing tonight in Warsaw! That was pretty much the thing that took me to Warsaw.

I’d seen them before so it was going to be extra cool to see them in a foreign country.

I tried to buy an advance ticket but it was a little complicated. Or maybe I just didn’t want to do it their way.

The venue wanted me to go to a bank, give them cash and to deposit it to this account #. At least all the money was going to the venue, bands. No 3rd party ticket guys.

I spent the morning at a local coffee shop, where I stared at the ways to drink coffee chart: flat white, espresso, cappuccino, and so on.

Since this was a coffee shop, they had free wi-fi so I took advantage by listening to some Mastodon.

While I did like their newest record, on this trip I really got into their cover of a Fiest song, A Commotion. Very intriguing vocals, crunchy guitar tones, nice solo. Well that describes most Mastodon’s songs haha.

What to do with the day? Old town stroll then a nice meal before the show. I decided after my 2nd cup of coffee with a little milk. Americano with milk this time, but sometimes a flat white.

I wanted to go back to have more time to really look at the mermaid and walk around the bell for good luck.

My walking tour group scrambled a bit due to a wedding that was going on at a church across the courtyard on this part of our tour.

Since there was a lot of us, we were getting into their wedding pics.

Here goes nothing! I circled the bell 3x and repeated my wish into my head.

There is a large plaza in old town, filled with performers. I stopped by a large marionette band playing ‘Can’t Get No Satisfaction’ by the Stones.

The puppets just when up and down in time with the tune, it looked hard as it was 2 puppet masters, but 5 Stones for both to puppet.

It’s been my experience that cities with mermaid statutes aren’t worth it, they are underwhelmingly small.

Maybe I just expect a huge mermaid statute, not like doll sized. Like everyone I’d seen was the size of a Cabbage Patch doll size statue where you think, “Man, I could hold that mermaid!”

There was also a section on the road to old town of WWII memorials mixed in with blown up photos of battles, marches, and other scenes of war.

Warsaw had taken a beating several times. Always the case when Russia is next door.

I stopped off at my hostel to shower up before the big show.

I left very early for the show as I planned on dinner plus train to get there. I still had to buy a ticket and wanted to see the other bands.

Through my searches I found a burger, beer joint that was based on an auto garage.

20160822_183658.jpg

On my trip I had done well to limit my french fry intake both for my health and wallet. I had to face the fact that I was getting older so burger and fries shouldn’t be a meal.

This place took me by surprise as it was a reasonably priced I presumed fries would be more, served separate. Nope, 1 price for burger, fries and pickles that was the equivalent price of just a burger back home.

I really went all out with a bacon, jalapeno w fried egg on top. This place had about 12 burger and topping selections.

It was so good! Multi napkin good and juicy.

Now I was ready for the show, but less enthused about negotiating the tram routes.

I called for an Uber and waited along a busy road until a car arrived. Driver spoke English too, said it was taught in Polish schools.

We talked as we made a few turns, the entire time we followed the tram tracks. Seems it would’ve been way easy to tram it. I just figured it was too far and would require a couple routes.

I arrived at around the door open time posted on the website. I saw a line and duly filed in it.

Everyone already had tickets so I searched how to say ticket in Polish. It is bilet, similar to Spanish billete. Isn’t that something?

My turn came and I held up a zloty note, “Bilet, proszę?” I inquired.

I was directed to a separate lady who took my note and gave me a ticket. I was in!

Just follow the crowd to the stage was the plan when you’re in a new venue. Up some stairs when we stop for several minutes.

Even in August, you need long sleeves or a light jacket here, so we waited for coat check. I had my long sleeved shirt with another long sleeve shirt under it so I continued up the stairs.

The 1st of 3 bands was on stage. I cannot recall their name, I just remember they had a pretty skinny, pale bassist with floppy hair, his bass slung low.

The 2nd band was pretty good. They were Steak Number Eight. Really groovy metal plus they looked like regular guys in jeans. I tend to prefer that vs. the face painted metal I expected to see this close to Scandinavia.

Soon it was time for Mastodon. It was now really hot due to no ac and a lot of people so I went down to 1 shirt. Smoking was outside too which is always appreciated in Europe.

They played great! A similar set to when I’d seen them on the same tour several months ago in the US but they added/subtracted songs.

I was stoked when about 3/4 of the way through the show the bassist said they were done with this tour and were going to go home, celebrate the holidays, then record a new record.

“We will see you back here in a few months.” he said before they tore into another tune!

Like a flash of lightening, they were done, playing a Thin Lizzy tune as their closer. Bad ass dueling guitar solos ensued!

I slowly wound my way via long line down the stairs, passed the coat check and bar, then out to the street.

It was lightly sprinkling again so I again selected the Uber option. It was shockingly affordable.

My ride a few mile cost about 5$. I figured since it was still early, I may as well have a pint at the beer hall, PiwPaw, I’d been to a couple night before.

My Uber driver this time wasn’t into talking so I just sat and watched the city pass by while it drizzled rain.

A  few more people were out tonight plus I was able to talk to the bartender a bit. He enjoyed Warsaw, said people here were friendly, and loved the food.

We were only able to talk for a few moments in between customers needing a beer or bag of crisps.

It was soon late and I had a flight in the afternoon.

American’s get 90d in the EU,  or Schengen Area which consists of 26 countries, without a visa, I was very close to that timeframe at this point.

I wasn’t sure how or if Poland would perform a detailed account of my time in the EU considering I’d spent a week in the UK, a few days in Andorra, which technically isn’t in the EU.

My math put me around 80 days so I was tempted to fly to Amsterdam, one of my fav places in the world.

I figured it best to get out vs. trying to argue and count days with someone who speaks a different language. Especially considering my previous policja experience.

The penalty was lifetime travel ban to EU countries if you over stayed your alloted time.

I walked a bit slower on my way back to my hostel. This was it, last moments in country.

I paused at the cathedral that housed Chopin’s heart.  What music he made! What a story how his lone body part returned to the country that inspired his work.

So much history I’d experience on my trip. Lots of pics in history books that I saw in person.

I’d done some research and had determined that one of the most reasonable airfare out of the EU was to Edinburgh, Scotland.

Plus, my British friend had said August is a good time to go there as there was some sort of festival going on. Little did I know how much fun it would be.

My trip had taken another turn…one for the better. I needed to be near the UK in a couple weeks. I was going to meet someone there special soon.

Beer:  Mustache Ryeder

Song:  Mastodon  A Commotion

Dream trip Day 90 Mo rain, Indian food, Irish pub

Only 1 of my friends had been to Warsaw and when I asked for a food recommendation, it was Indian. Curry it up brother.

It was just as well, as rain was again forecasted. I needed an indoor option anyway.

The route did have a green path through a lovely green park plus I passed a Polish war memorial.

20160821_143208

All too soon it began to sprinkle, thunder. Due to construction, I had to take a circuitous route to cross the street but I had made it just as it really started to rain.

I was at Bombaj Masala and it wasn’t too crowded, to my delight. Table for 1. Bring   some naan!

I sat at my table and watched heavy rain pelt cars as they sat at a light, waiting for it to change.

Overall a good, hot meal on a cool rainy day. I had to linger a bit with a cup of tea to fully wait the rain out.

I was in the downtown business district, full of tall buildings, car rental companies, not a lot of fun or very scenic.

At least I had the park and memorial to check out on my way back. I took a bit longer to fully take in the freshly watered trees and foliage

I suddenly had a strange urge to walk along the river, it was the Vistula here, too, as it’s the longest river in Poland.

I walked a bit past the restaurant area where I see a bridge off to the left a ways, so I figure that should lead to the river as that, too, was visible in the distance.

I walked about a half mile to the end of the bridge occasionally seeing stairs leading below to neighborhoods, but no river.

The strange thing is there was an entertainment area with a diner, bar and grocery store, but there wasn’t stairs near here.

Sometimes I would pass by a person walking the other direction and would have a small moment of panic that I was walking the wrong way on the bridge. or maybe I needed to be on the other side?   This time I should have known better and off to jail I’d go.

I was soon out of bridge so I took the next set of stairs down. There wasn’t any lights on my path down, which made it scary for many reasons.

There was another major road with concrete barriers blocking my way. I didn’t see any sort of crossing path. I was trapped.

All that walking and no river to show for it. I did see a large part of the city, the neighborhoods so it wasn’t really a total wast of a trip.

I knew to wait for the little green man when crossing the street to old town. I passed by the Chopin church too. I’d walked past it several times already and not known.

Tonight I would check out an Irish pub only a couple blocks from the hostel.

Live music tonight too, full band rocking out some sweet, sweet CCR, Creedence Clearwater Revival tunes amongst other 70’s rock gems!

A rowdy bunch out tonight, mostly older couples. They were singing along at top volume as well as dancing.

This one couple especially was getting down, he spun her all over that small dance area. He wasn’t a fit bloke either, had that old may beer belly that was more pronounced as he tucked his shirt tightly into his pants.

There was no room at the bar so I would come in for a new pint, then sit outside near a window and listen to the band. The smokers provided some outdoor entertainment.

Soon the band ended and last call was made.

I sauntered back to my hostel, stopping to admire the moon. Don’t forget to look up at night, always a good view.

Beer: Belfast stout

Song:  Chopin  Nocturne C sharp minor

 

 

 

Dream trip day 89 Chopin’s heart, walking tour, policja warning

I learned why this hostel was so inexpensive: no food or bevs provided.

That was ok, there was a breakfast only spot next door. Omelette time.

No jalapenos, no assortment of hot sauces on the table, just salt and pepper. Perhaps you could get some Hungarian paprika, but that was it.

I was seated facing the walkway so I had to make eye contact sometimes. If I was sipping coffee, I may nod my head to them, but not whilst eating.

Weird being on display while eating, like I need extra pressure to eat properly. I often drop a fork full of food or miss my mouth entirely.

Back at the hostel, I scoped their pamphlet rack for tours. I found a free one close that was starting soon.

I cannot recommend enough to go on a free walking tours if you are in a foreign city. You get a nice walk as well as local history. Just give them a tip for their time.

Look for the red umbrella ella ella ella. They were near a large statue of a bearded guy, King Sigismund III Vasa, which was the 1st thing we learned on our walk.

Soon we were near a bell inside a small square. Legend has it that if you walk around the bell 3x you get a wish.

20160823_114121

We soon passed by Marie Curie’s laboratory, mermaid statue before being shown another square.

We looked left and right, nearly the entire city had been leveled in WWII, but they had architecture maps and completely rebuilt everything exactly as it was.

The old city was now one of the most sought after places to live in the city. So much so that someone build out the air in narrow alleyway and made it into a house. A space as narrow as a door slowly grew from a hallway into a  small, livable area.

A fascinating part of the tour was about one of the gates into the city.  Built at an angle that forced anyone entering to have to pass through a narrow alley, which is where they were assaulted by arrows.

This plan was great until you had to get back in and the city was fought over several times, each one using this gate to their advantage.

We went through the Jewish ghetto, an all too common place in most European cities. We paused at one of the standing parts of the wall.

The KL Warschau was in the city and was used as a detention place as well as an elimination camp first starting with the Jews, then Polish resistance fighters.

We paused at some benches that our guide told us to sit down, enjoy some Chopin, which played as you sat.

“Nobody loves Chopin like the Polish, well except the French, they kept his body! Haha, but some brave Poles cut his heart out before they buried him. So his body is in France, but his heart returned to Poland,” our guide explained to the sounds of a Chopin sonata.

We were instructed to visit a church down the road where Chopin’s heart resides to this day.  Read up on it here.

For the rest of my time in the city, every chance I could get I sat on a Chopin bench.

Dusk was falling so I walked the restaurant area in search of  food options.

I don’t know what I thought everyone ate, but a lot did seem to be influenced by the US. Burgers, pizza, coffee shops, all seemed to be trying to emulate a US chain.

Then again, I was in the tourist side of town, so perhaps they were catering to us?

Dark clouds formed, soon it was pouring rain. I was still over a half mile from my hostel, I needed shelter, fast.

Fortunately I was near a beer hall so that’s where holed up to wait out the rain.

It was a nice, old wooden hall with a long bar and many taps. It was a beer menu type place with lots of taps and bottles.

Since it was a weekday, there was hardly anyone there. The bartender did not seem too excited to even wait on me so talking to him was out. He was on his phone already anyway.

I sat down at a table and took off my wet hoodie. Rain beat on the windows, I was in for awhile it seems.

Rain didn’t let up so no one else came in.

After a couple hours it was merely sprinkling so I felt it best to head back to the hostel.

I got to a normally busy intersection, but due to the late hour, I saw no cars on this road.

I see the light favors the road and not me so I look both ways, other lights flashing, no cars, yet this one is on.

Why not cross? I thought as I put one foot in front of the other.

I was soon descended upon by 2 Polish army guys in green fatigues and black Berets. One holds an automatic weapon across his chest. Faster than I could perceive it, this guy could shoot me as close as we are to each other. He stands about 6’4 and has a scowl on his face.

His partner to my right pulls out a pad of paper and begins talking in Polish. I shake my head left to right, no. “English?” I venture.

“Ah yes, English? Why did you cross the street?’ he asked.

“Because it was clear, no cars, I knew I would make it, ” I replied.

“Yes, but the lights were flashing, this is a prohibitive action. Do you realize I can and should take you in?” he said sternly.

I now had my hands up and stated I would pay any fines while apologizing to them.

I think they got pissed because I did it in front of them but I didn’t see them until it was too late, I was halfway. They were in the dark to my left and had to cross a street to stop me.

“Passport, papers please,” came the terse response.

He seemed surprised I was American and briefly glanced at my passport before handing it back to me.

“Yes so we are allies, Poland and the US. I thought you were British. They do that a lot when they are here. Illegally crossing the street and so on. So…we are all done here.” He said with a big grin, matched by his gun wielding friend.

We talked about the city, what I had seen. They seemed pleased I had been to Krakow, which is a nice city but, Warsaw that is best Polish city!

I am still not sure if they were messing with me, taking a piss, having a go. Whatever their reasons, I was scared for sure.

Jail for a simple offense like jaywalking is crazy but that’s how some places roll. I thought it as simple as I am adult and can handle my own safety.

I was also a visitor here, they didn’t have to let me into their country, for sure not for free. I was lucky.

A bit of a restless night but I did wind up falling asleep eventually.

Beer:  Pale Blue Dot

Song: Frederic Chopin     Prelude no. 15 ‘Raindrop’ op. 28

 

20160820_224216

Dream trip Day 86 Zapiekanka, rain, more piwo

Hello rain my old friend, it’s good to see you once again…not!

This type of rain was ok, brief sprinkle of rain, dark, cloudy overcast day with intermittent sprinkles.

As my hostel was in a heavy tourist area, there were many shops and eating places very close by.

I selected a pastry spot a couple of doors down, seemed the best place to get some coffee.

Croissant and coffee to start the day the European way. It was the way I did most mornings in Europe anyway.

After a nice cup and bread I sauntered down tourist st. Kids played accordion, guitar, even a guy wearing a horse mask played keyboards. A sign prominently placed indicated tips were to buy his lady an engagement ring. He was good, too.

Back towards my old neighborhood, as it were, the part of town I’d spent the past week in.

We took the tram over to the east side of town, in search of a yoga studio my friend wanted to start going to.

What is hard is to remember the name of the stop especially in another language, cause you’re fairly certain how to pronounce it but you are wrong when you hear it pronounced correctly.

No muck ups this go round, we got out at the correct stop. A few turns and we were in an area that a yoga studio should be in.

A bust on the studio, seems it is closed but she wanted to check out a session, ask some questions.

We made our way around the area for a bit, stopping here and there, going into stores.

Lunch was at a food stalls. A bunch of small businesses shared a small area selling hot dogs, sausages, fries and huge long, open face sandwiches.

We had big, delicious sandwiches called zapiekanka which summoned kids to our table asking for zloty the whole time we ate.

These sandwiches were flaky bread (closer to a cracker or toast), a meat and melty cheese. Seems they place these under a broiler to finish them off. So good.

My friend wound up giving half her sandwich to a kid. You got 1 whole sandwich but served open face, so 2 bits of toast.

Soon after she had a meeting to get to so I was on my own again.

I just sat down near a busy street and watched walkers pass by. I saw dads hoisting kids onto their shoulders. Held them aloft so they could walk on the air. Ladies pushing strollers, causally smoking long cigarettes.

Looping around to the east side, I encountered the ornate gate that was once one of the few ways into the city. I’m always amazed that a lot of places I visited were actually forts.

Completely walled, few entrances, moat, lookout points. Maybe a trebuchet was in use at one point in this place’s past.

The battles that took place, here, the arrows, cannonballs flying around, swords. Yes perhaps sword battles!

I once again hit up House of Beer. This time I went straight to their basement. This was a 2 story experience as each bar had its own, unique beer selection.

I took the final seat at the bar and ordered a pint.

Tonight the staff was on display. Several afternoon gals drank and smoked incessantly while chatting up the bartender as well another waiter guy.

Something had happened, someone had messed up it seemed due to the rising volume of the ladies’ voices. My takeaway though I do not speak Polish.

The waiter guy would come in and their voices would get louder then when he left the lowered to hushed tones. The guy had done something to get them talking. It was fun trying to figure it out.

Aside from the ladies, there was a TV with futbol on, but due to being several feet underground, no wifi.

Closing time was soon upon us, yet I still didn’t know what our boy, the waiter, had done. If only I’d spoke Polish!

A short walk away was both my hostel as well as the green path. For some reason I chose to sit for a moment in the dark path.

I don’t know what I was looking for, but I found the standard riff raff. A couple bums were arguing, another was snoring on a nearby bench.

So little separates us from these people, the homeless, the mostly ignored.

I sauntered down the alley to my hostel,

Beer: Pale Blue Dot

Song: the xx  Intro

20160818_121858