Dream trip Day 97 Scottish fry up, train to Glasgow, Drygate Brewery

Even though my hostel was literally across the street from the city’s main train depot, or is it train station? At what point does it become a depot?

At any rate, I had all afternoon as it was a 1 hour train ride so I had to kill some time due to the late afternoon check in.

I had talked with one of my friends about a beer that we felt should have been easy to obtain in Scotland: McEwan’s Scotch Ale. Turns out it is made by an English brewery.

Using a beer finder app, I located a bar that a user reported had McEwan’s beer, plus they served breakfast. I’d need both things before heading to Glasgow.

I packed up my bags and headed into the overcast day. A few turns and I was at the Black Rose Tavern.

This was the pub I should’ve gone to most nights, it was real Scottish pub/music venue!

They had an all day Scottish breakfast consisting of eggs, hashbrown toast, haggis, black and white pudding, fried tomato and mushrooms. It was sooo much food!

This was one of my favorite meals on my trip. It was the 1st of many UK style fry ups that I’d have in Scotland, Ireland and England.

This was my first encounter with pudding, aka blood sausage. It came in black and white options. I presumed the black was the one made with blood, while the white was just a regular breakfast sausage. Both are delicious especially when dragged through the runny yolk of a fried egg.

Again, haggis isn’t bad and I enjoyed having it again. A nice Scottish meal sendoff from Edinburgh!

I did get a McEwan’s but not their scotch ale, it was a draft lager. My group of friends back home discovered this beer and hounded the bar where we visited to carry it. That was years ago, the brewery stopped exporting it for some reason.

Making my way back to the train station was easy, the hard part was finding the right place to buy tickets, then finding the correct track.

Lucky for me, Scotland has an intern program so there were people all over the station desperate for someone to ask them a question.

Not only was I pointed to the right booth for tickets, I had enough time to get the next train to Glasgow.

I was quite fortunate with my trains, but soon enough, I’d stumble like we all do.

Only an hour trip which flew by as fast as the countryside. A lovely country, made me wish I went up to the Highlands to see more.

I’d selected a YMCA style hostel near the tracks, but I only elected to stay 1 night so I could check out the place and that part of the city.

It was about a half hour’s walk through the bustling downtown. I arrived with still time before my check in time so I elected to wash clothes until they would let me into my room.

After washing I was able to check in. My room was empty when I got into my bunk for a nap, then was completely full when I awoke.

I noticed that there seemed to be 1 person who never left their room. They would arrange their bed with a sheet door so they wouldn’t be disturbed.

Some would be on their phones chatting, skypeing or just playing games their entire stay, from what I saw. At least I would have some stories other than hey remember that time we talked when I was in Scotland? Yeah that was cool….

I got dressed and mapped out a route to the nearest brewery, Drygate Brewery.

My route took me through an industrial part of town with not many houses, but I soon faintly heard music.

I saw a pub across the road I was walking and they were blasting Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35. You know that song: Everybody must get stoned.

Well this was a karaoke version lead by a man with the most stereotypical Scottish brouge I’ve heard to this point.

He was also adding in lyrics in between Dylan’s so it went:

They’ll stone ya when yer walking down the street (tha bastards!)

They’ll stone you when you’re tryin’ to keep your seat (cunts!)

They’ll stone you when you’re walkin’ on the floor (wankers!)

This is what I heard all down the street, big grin on my face. What a welcome to the city!

After turning away from the loud pub, I was on a main thoroughfare with lots of shops, pubs and restaurants.

Another right hand turn and while I thought I was heading the wrong way, the empty lots and warehouses gave way to the brewery.

It was a 2 story building with several picnic benches on an outside patio.

I made my way through the large indoor bar. In the back was the store where you can buy beer to go.

This would never work in Texas. The current law, unchanged since Prohibition, requires a 3rd party distributor. You can brew beer but you cannot just sell it directly to a person.

Sparse crowd out tonight, a week night and early at that. I’d soon learn they closed early too.

I picked up my pint and opted to sit outside, there was another group of guys out there as well as a table of girls, maybe it was a mixed group.

The sun went down just like the beer in my pint glass.

I sauntered back to the bar where I was informed this would be my last beer, but I could buy 2 if I liked.

Opting to taste a couple beers, I selected my final pint and sat down inside.

A girl came in and ask me for a lighter which I lent her. I’d gotten into the habit when traveling of carrying a lighter as it is a good way to meet people, start a conversation.

“You from Glasgow?” I ventured.

“Have to run, thanks for the light, cheers!” Came the reply.

I returned to my beer. Sometimes it works, sometimes it don’t.

The walk back was a bit concerning due to the low light. They really needed to upgrade or install more lights, as several times I had to walk down a dark street.

No loud karaoke from the pub I’d passed before, just a group of people out front.

Once again I’m faced with McDonald’s as a late night option as there was 1 across the street from my hostel. Nah it isn’t real food.

I’d read this book and stopped eating fast food a few years ago. This trip was my ultimate test. Could I resist a taste of home?  A taste of something familar, or ould I venture out and try some local restaurants, a taste local flavors?

Tonight I won the battle and still don’t know what McD’s tastes like overseas.

A good travel day, tomorrow I explore Glasgow!

 

Beer: Ax Man

Song:  Belle & Sebastian   Stars of Track and Field

Dream trip Day 96 Princes Garden, bagpipes, nightclubbing

Last day in Edinburgh. I’d found 5 days to be a good amount of time in a place. You didn’t feel rushed, had time to unpack and unwind.

Anything less than 5 days in a city I felt rushed, like I had just arrived. I liked to unpack my bag and get laundry done every Sunday.

All the thing you normally don’t want to do are what you end up missing. Chores, errands, all the mundane, tedious activities that come with living in a home or apartment, that’s what you end up missing on a long trip.

I enjoyed a cup of coffee at the bar next to my hostel, which was surprisingly full of families, locals. I soon headed out and hit the streets.

Ascending the stairs yet again, I paused at the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde pub, based on a real Edinburgh resident, Deacon Brodie. By day he was a furniture maker and city councilor. By night he was a gambler and thief with several mistresses.

He made furniture and keys for people he eventually robbed since he had their keys and trust based on his good standing. The legend has it he designed the gallows on which he was hung for his crimes.

It is quite an interesting true tale should you care to read it.

Fringe Festival was still in full swing so I walked the Golden Mile pausing here and there to listen to a songwriter or see performers dance.

Such a bustling area, full of people walking, crowding around a performer and just having a great time. I do highly recommend if you are to visit Edinburgh, going during the August Fringe Festival is a great time

Had my final pies at Piemaker, another spot I’d recommend. A great way to start the day.

I took up a locals advice about a walk through the Princes street gardens, a green space near city centre.

It was a great, tree covered walk. They were setting up a stage for a performance that night and were playing some tunes on a towering rows of speakers.

I took at seat on a grassy hill and watched the workers building scaffolding for a bit. I turned my gaze onto some kids playing and saw a carousel, so I walked a bit further to get a good view of the carousel.

I don’t see many carousels in the US. I like that they are fun for kids so it’s a good people watching spot if I ever spy one. Round and round they go! They are finally free as most parents stand and watch or take pictures.

Soon I moved over to a bench and spied the castle from afar, perfectly framed between some trees, a Scottish flag flapping in the breeze.

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It moments like this that while I knew I missed a lot of must see spots in the cities I visited, I needed to focus on enjoying everything I did see.

I doubt that anyone living in a city sees all the sites either, all the historic places of interest so why beat myself up over missing them too?

I was walking several miles per day so I was seeing a lot, but I didn’t have a top 10 list I was trying to cram in. I’d done that before and grew to dislike the hurried nature of pursing a list of must see attractions.

Pausing at another bench I watched a street bagpiper play. I’m pretty sure Scotland during the national tattoo festival is about the only time a bagpiper is tolerated on a busy city corner.

The lone piper was fully dressed up with tall black hat, jacket with belt strapped around his chest, and kilt. Lots of oddly placed buckles adorned his attire too.

You do get into bagpipes sound eventually, the droning repetitive nature of the instrument does lull you when played properly. Or perhaps I have some Scottish blood in me that makes these tones set off feelings and memories.

I watched the sun go down whilst the piper blew his pipes. A nice end to a nice day.

Winding my way closer to my hostel via the cobblestone streets. Upon arrival I was shocked to find the pub next door was full.

It seems while I thought this bar was mainly for people at the hostel, it was a locals spot on weekends.

The Doric next door, where I saw the live band, was also full, too.

On the corner in the other direction I recalled a big pub so I went in to check the scene there.

I was in the UK equivalent to a sports bar. Pool tables, shuffle boards, TV’s everywhere showed current and past sporting events.

Not feeling in the mood to walk into the night for another option, I saddled up to the bar and ordered a pint.

To this point, I’d had bad experiences with stag parties, aka guys bachelor party where they are only out to get drunk and screw chicks. Tonight I encountered 2 hen parties, aka gal’s bachelorette party where they also just want to get drunk and screw guys…or gals.

Shortly after I sat down, a group of girls arrives, the bride has a shash that reads: brides just wanna have fun!

They proceed to order 2 rounds of shots, each time toasting ‘to finding some hot lads’

The maid of honour encourages the ladies to “get out there and find some fit cock!”

I knew some girls did this just as guys do, we are all human with desires, we just express these desires differently. But, they didn’t even look my way. How rude!

Throughout the night another hen party came in and began taking shots at the bar.

These parties usually dressed up the same with same colored shirt, white letters spelling out their group’s name and the parties event name:  “McKenna’s Wedding Party. There will be no surviors!” You know that sort of thing.

It wasn’t a crazy evening, no fights, no heated arguements, just a night on the town.

Edingburgh surprised me. I only picked it due to the affordable plane price. It’s wonderful, historic city. It was one of the most scenic places I went on my trip.

The Fringe Fest was another amazing bonus. People sure are talented and I saw many performers accomplishing many feats.

And hey, anywhere that in August, you had to buy a hoodie due to the cool weather, is a great escape from a place that regularly had August temps over 100.

Hooray Edginburgh! On to Glasgow.

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Beer: Deuchars IPA

Song:  Edwyn Collins  A Girl Like You

Dream trip Day 94 Tattoo festival, walking tour, the Hanging Bat

Another gloomy, overcast day in Scotland. Perfect for a walking tour!

Yet again, I was unable to charge my phone overnight in my room so I had to take a leisurely breakfast while it charged.

Today I just had some coffee, figuring that the Piemaker was just down the street, so  I should go there. Better quality food and a bit more affordable.

I got into a small talk with a local gal who also needed to charge her phone so we shared a table and outlet.

She was a nice Scottish lass, very talkative and friendly. Fringe Fest was her time in the city when she went out every night to catch a performance.

We talked awhile, me drinking coffee, her screwdrivers. She gave me a few hot spots to check out in the city, namely Princes Street Gardens and university area for free views.

I was given a list of shows not to be missed for the next couple days. She was less enthused when I suggested we check them out together.

“Oi, my boyfriend would not go for that. Neither would my girlfriend, ha!” She replied. “But you are cute, keep asking girls around here, you’ll be fine!” came the reply as she snatched up her phone.  Swing and a miss.

I’d located a walking tour that met in the city square not too far away. I should have time to get a pie and make it by meeting time.

For some reason, I see stairs as a personal challenge by architecture to me. It’s as if they are taunting me, trying to tell me there are too many steps up and I shouldn’t bother trying to ascend them.

Wrong again stairs, I win.

I was in luck again as the Piemaker had haggis rolls today so I was finally able to try haggis, a dish I’d heard of for years.

It wasn’t bad! It wasn’t good either. I wouldn’t turn it down if someone offered haggis to me, but I wouldn’t seek it out.

Haggis= all sheep organs chopped up with oats , onion and spices, then boiled in sheep’s stomach. Sounds great, eh!?

I also had a traditional English meat pie which was great. Reminded me of Salisbury steak wrapped up in a roll.

Now fortified, I made my way to a statue to start my walking tour. Always look for a free walking tour in any city you visit. They are always great and led by real people who live there.

My guy was a stout man, wearing a beard and kilt. He looked like he would’ve walked around with a sword too but it wasn’t socially acceptable anymore. Instead he carried a walking stick that was as tall as him.

A true renaissance man.

He had a booming voice and a tendency for using the joining statement, “nonetheless…” to unite his stories about the history of Edinburgh.

We paused for a while at a statue of David Hume, where people touch a toe for good luck which polished it compared to the dull green hue the rest of the statue had turned due to years of exposure to the elements.

Passing under an arch we were in a 4 story building’s courtyard. We then got a lesson in social standing in old Edinburgh. If you were working poor, you stayed on the bottom floor, due to the practice of people tossing their waste into the street, you got to smell that all day and night.

The very poor stayed in the attic, no heat, very little insulation from the elements.

The wealthy stayed in the middle floors, above the stench of the street.

Robbery, theft was fairly common in these days so builders would create an oddly placed stair that you only noticed going down, thus if you were trying to make a quick escape or just leaving, you may miss it and break a leg.

We did pass by the castle where we were informed that cannons were placed there for looks only, they never fired them back when the castle was in use. Queen Elizabeth I felt that a castle should have cannons so they added some.

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As we circled the castle there was a large line of people waiting to get into the stadium. It was the country’s tattoo festival.

Not that kind of tattoo, bagpipes. Groups of bagpipers from all over competed to be the best group in the land.

They take the term tattoo to refer to last call at pubs who took to playing a regiment’s corps of drum as a way to get soldiers back to their barracks at a reasonable hour.

In Dutch they would say doe den tap toe  (turn off the taps).  Try saying that pharse in english quickly, sorta sounds like tattoo.

We soon made our way to a cemetery where I learned that JK Rowling wrote about Harry Potter while living here. See would usually write in a coffee shop after strolling through this cemetary.

Many of the headstones were smooth due to age and erosion, but a couple had new headstones as Rowling borrowed some of the names from these headstones for characters in the book.

While she wrote these books in a particular coffee shop, one grew tired of being asked if they were the  coffee shop where Rowling wrote they put up a sign, “Rowling didn’t drink coffee and write here.” She actually did pop in for coffee there, saw the sign and promptly signed it, “And I never will,” and left.

Our tour ended in hangman’s square where we heard about the lady who was hanged but survived. Reading the letter of the law it only stated ‘hung by the neck,’ nothing about til death so she was a free lady and opened a pub overlooking that very square where she almost died. Soon after the law was changed, “hung by the neck until death.”

I’d done a spot of research about the craft beer scene in the city and other than BrewDog, there was a small microbrewery named, The Hanging Bat.

Very modern pub, pretty sure food was served on just thick, round cuts of wood, not plates.

Still they had some good beers here. I even recognized a couple guys who worked at BrewDog having pints.

It was around end of work day time so the pub filled in with nicely dressed people. I still didn’t miss work, not yet.

Exiting the now full pub, I was in search of reasonably priced food. The Bat did have food, but it seemed like small bites, appetizers.

Ah here we go, a potato shop. Looks to be a brick oven of foiled, baked potatoes. There must have been 30 toppings from haggis, chicken salad, to standard cheese, butter, chives.

I got a potato with an ungodly amount of cheese, he just threw a literal handful of cheese on it. He may have been working with the Scottish dairy industry.

It was good and I was able to chat up the owner who told me some cool facts about the city, country. He really loved Scotland. He said Glasgow and the highlands to the north were worth a trip.

Soon enough, I’d take him up on his offer by going west, to Glasgow.

On my walk home, I again was struck by how cold it was, especially as the sun went down. 50’s in August is quite unusual for a Texas boy and I couldn’t image a winter if that was the avg temp in the heat of summer.

I caught a couple performers on the walk back, and man, they really could vamp, promising an amazing trick, coming up soon, just need a few more people…

It was literally like sitting through a 10 min ad on YouTube for 20 seconds of content. I caught a fire breather show this night.

I was at my pub and tonight was their weekly pub crawl so it was very crowded. I was soon joined by some English kids at my table who were waiting to go on the crawl.

These types of things go on all the time and while they are usually great way to meet people, it was mainly an occassion to get black out drunk. Not my scene.

The organizers of the trip were setting up, one had a bottle and as each person was checked in, he poured a shot into their mouths. He had a spigot so it was a slow pour.

He soon came around to our table and got the English kids before asking me why I wasn’t going and I said it wasn’t my thing. He said I should at least have a shot, open wide!

I’m not sure what it was,  maybe grape vodka, but I recall it was purple liquid.

Soon the place was empty and I sat charging my phone, watching fubol.

This bar had big windows with shutters that were open this cool night. A guy yelled hey at me and motioned for me to join him outside.

We talked a bit, I had taken to carrying a lighter so I lit his cig. Soon he said we should go next door for 1 more pint, on him.

No sooner than he set foot into the door, the bartender said “Oi, out, out, out mate. We can’t keep doing this,” as he strode over ready to physically remove the guy who just turned and left mumbling under his breath.

I’m not sure what he did but he was banned from that pub. The bartender apologized, I said I had just met him and didn’t know his story.

I had a pint as they were calling for last drinks. The bartender recommended I come back in a couple nights, they had live, traditional music.

It was back to raining as I left the pub, at least I only had to go a couple doors down.

Another fine day in Edinburgh! Tomorrow was Arthur’s Seat.

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Beer: The Kernel Brewery  Table Beer

Song: Jesus and Mary Chain  Head On

Dream trip Day 93 Fringe festival, High Street, Golden Mile

I had no idea I was staying during the largest outdoor festival in the UK, yet it is true, check it out.

This building was old, very few outlets, only one in our room so it was full. No power strips either. This was frustrating as most travelers have 3 things they need charged.

It had happened before so you just had to find the correct adapter and take your phone, iPad, battery with you for bfest.

My hostel was next to a pub, restaurant who served basic meals. Eggs, bacon, burgers, chicken options. Nothing too hard or fancy.

Today I got a beer with my meal, figured why not. It was in between time, not early yet not noon.

I was beginning to enjoy an afternoon coffee anyway. Plus free, good coffee here, just tell them you are staying at the hostel. Got a % off food too. Score

It was lightly raining so I wasn’t going anywhere for awhile. And my phone needed charging, I was a prisoner to technology, electricity.

Rugby on the telly here, previous nights highlights from across the nation, UK.

Soon enough my phone was charged and I had an idea where I was, where to go and what to see.

Just up the hill, up 1 of the many hills in Edinburgh, was High Street.

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All along High St and others in the heart of the city, were street performers from all across the UK, hell the world!

You could go into clubs all over the city and pay to see magicians, comedians, anything people could perform.

There was also many street performers, some by themselves, others had up to 10 people in their dance troupes.

Most of High St was blocked off to cars, making walking much safer, easier.

The crowds were huge, it was hard to get a good view of some performers. Due to the quantity of performers, this didn’t matter. Just walk a bit and there would be another performer just starting up.

I walked down the street, passed all sorts of shops, pubs, and food joints until I wound up at a very modern, odd building.

Oh my, Scottish Parliament! This was quite a different style of gov building, Check it out!

I just circled back, taking the same street back to my neighbourhood.

I saw a balancer, well a guy balancing, like I’ve never seen. He was on a ball, changing boards, adding more layers of balance. Unbelievable guy, wow.

Humans and their bodies, their talents can do so many amazing things and I saw a lot on display along the road ahead.

Now this wasn’t free, well it was but you are encouraged to tip, drop a bill in the hat. Thing is  there are 1£ coins so they would comment about how ‘that one didn’t sound like a quid!’

The other joke was when it came time to ask for tips, performers work for tips, give me tips, they always said that ‘if you’re from the States, America, tip 10-20£.’

I’d say most acts had 5-ish actual min of show, the rest of their time was trying to get more people out, jokes, pitches asking for money, just general stalling for the big finish, the denouement.

The show was over with a big flourish! This was the time I saw a big guy stand on a board with nails facing the performers chest. “It’s never been done before!” Next show is tomorrow at 1, 3, 5…

Man it was cool out, even during the day. I needed a hoodie in August!

It took some time but I found the one road that lead to low street, or the one beneath High St. You can’t have a High St without a low road. haha

Down down down the steep street.

I was en route to BrewDog, which is a Scottish brewery. I’d been to one of their brewpubs in Barcelona a couple months ago, so I knew the beer was great.

The pub I was at wasn’t their HQ or their 1st pub, but it was the 2nd one they opened. They had a lot in the UK and EU.

It was wooden and had art on the wall. They only served pizza, pretzels as they only had an oven here.  It was a tiny kitchen, big seating area type place.

Plenty of taps though. Always plenty of taps here.

I picked one of their pub only brews, Hello, My Name is Ingrid, an IPA. It was a nice beer and the bartender and I laughed when I ordered it. I think that was why they named it so ridiculously.

Turns out the bartender is also an American, going to school here and working at the pub during the summer. Quite the life!

Pizza after pizza came out of a very narrow kitchen area. It looked like they could only cook 1 at a time, so they would set one up while another was baking. Repeat all day.

It was soon time to keep moving, can’t sit in a pub all day especially when it wasn’t raining.

Edinburgh was very pretty city to walk through. Cobblestone streets, old buildings, interesting shops all over. I didn’t see many chains, it all seemed local.

After mounting the hill to High St, I passed by an interesting joint, Piemaker. You name it they had it in baked in dough.

This was my first haggis encounter in country as they had a haggis roll, but were sold out at the moment.

There were also traditional English meat pies, lamb pies and mac and cheese pie, what?!

About 1-2£ per roll and they were big. 2 is plenty to tide you over for a few hours. Tasty and flaky rolls you can eat there standing at a small table, no chairs here.

I was instantly revived and ready to walk more! I turned the other direction down High St, away from city centre.

It started out cool but soon with pubs, a shoemaker, tailor but then lead to clothing shops, betting agencies, nothing cool.

By now I was checking my phone for weather info. Always important to check the forecast before heading out walking for the day. Especially the UK, storms popped up suddenly and it was cloudy out.

But then it is usually cloudy out in Scotland as I’d find out. I’m pretty sure it was in Scotland I began to wear my raincoat daily.

I didn’t want to risk it so I turned and headed back to the hostel. I was in a steep part of town, there were stairs everywhere.

I almost made it to my place before it rained. Most of the walk was covered so I didn’t get too wet.

It looked like a local futbol match was on, so a pint and footy night it had become.

Had a couple pints while it rained on and off. Saw some locals strolling down the street and a lot of people with luggage. Many rolling cases came down this road since the railway station was basically across the street.

Which makes me wonder if its more correct to say its catty corner to the hostel or kitty corner to the hostel. I’ve heard both at various times, so I presume its a regional thing or I’m hearing it all wrong.

The railway was about a block down and across the street from the hostel is what I’m trying to say. Lots of luggage and people watching as cars and black taxis dropped people off to far away lands.

I had some light conversation with a group of people about to go out clubbing. They had to take a taxi there. I’ve never been a thumping bass and drums man though I kept them entertained while they waited for a car.

My cousins from TX called me, so I talked to them for awhile. They are cool guys, always nice to talk to family on the road. I told them where I was and where I had been.

I had 1 last pint and watched the rain before retiring for the night. 20160825_205812

Song: Travis  All I Want to Do is Rock

Beer: Red MacGregor

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

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