Poland I: I have landed

December 29, 2013 • 7:55 am

It was a grueling trip to Poland: the flight was delayed, long, and there were lengthy waits for the bathroom (I conclude that Poles micturate more often than do other nationalities). Further, over the Atlantic some woman began screaming in the rear of the plane. I couldn’t see what was happening, but the blood-curdling screams went on for half an hour before they stopped.  When we landed in Warsaw, there were further delays as medics came aboard and removed someone on a stretcher before we were allowed to disembark. I don’t know if it was that woman, or if someone else was ill or had even died.

Though it was 2 p.m. when we landed, the sun was barely over the horizon; I had forgotten how far north we are (Chicago is 42° north, Warsaw 52°).  I was greeted by biology student and aspiring journalist Justyna, a protegée of Andrzej and Malgorzata. She was wearing a festive holiday hat and sporting a brand-new tattoo:


Yes, it’s a Darwin fish:


Justyna kindly escorted me to the station, where I got a bus to Płock (2 hours), followed by a 40-minute drive to Dobrzyn with my hosts Andrzej and Malgorzata.

At last I was ensconced at my adoptive home, and greeted with a stupendous meal of beef, potatoes, and salad, washed down with a fine Chianti (no fava beans). I was not permitted to photograph the meal as it wasn’t deemed sufficiently aesthetic, but these restrictions were lifted for dessert.

To be precise, six desserts. Clockwise from lower center, they are makowiec, an iced poppy-seed cake (a Polish specialty), sernik, toffee-covered cheesecake (a stupendous treat), both from bakeries, and then two cakes made by Malgorzata: keks (Swedish fruitcake) and miodownik (honey cake), babka, a yeast cake, and ciastka, Polish cookies.  In the background you can see Hili, who is, as one reader described, “filling out nicely.” I, too, will fill out nicely if I continue to eat desserts like these:


Hili, was of course in attendance, and nommed a can of gourmet cat food I brought her from the States. She looks well pleased.


A welcome sight at bedtime. Sadly, the editor-in-chief hasn’t yet deigned to sleep with me, but perhaps I can lure her into the sack with some noms.


Finally, we are all back at work this morning, the routine we will keep up until I leave.


A preprandial walk to the river. Hili tagged along (she needs the exercise), as did Emma the d*g (not shown).


Hili points out a flock of cormorants over the Vistula. She wishes she had wings—or that the cormorants were flightless. 


Animal camouflage: can you spot the cat? (The white markings are maladaptive.)


28 thoughts on “Poland I: I have landed

  1. Mmmmm the poppy seed cake. I treated myself to some this season and some Stollen with marzipan inside. This whole holiday has consisted of a pure sugar diet!

    I like Justyna’s tattoo. Very simple and witty.

    Your travels sounded terrible but perhaps worse for whoever was taken off the plane. At least your friends respect that you had a long journey. My relatives like to drag me around after an 18 hour flight as if I just had a quick drive – they don’t get jet lag.

    1. I’ve found that for me it matters in which direction I am flying. If I am going west I hardly get any jetlag. My longest flight so far: Australia to Germany. Not a problem at all. But the opposite direction really killed me. It took almost a week until I felt fully adjusted.

      1. If I sleep on the plane I’m okay. The one time I did myself in I stupidly stayed awake to watch, get this, Armageddon. I figured I’d never pay for it so I wanted to watch it on the plane. What a mistake. I paid for it alright!

        Now I refuse to fly for long periods of time like that. If I go to NZ, I stop in Hawaii for a few days both ways.

        1. I made that flight to NZ once – If I ever do it again it’ll be in spring or fall so I’m not changing climates so much. And also – some days in Rarotonga!

          1. I did the long flight only once – when my nana died and we needed to clean up her house. It was July in Ontario and the middle of winter there so I froze to death.

            I once stopped in Rarotonga for the plane to fuel up. Walking on the tarmac, I thought my hair was going to catch on fire, the sun was so intense. I think that was in November.

      2. I find jet-lag to be unpredictable. Sometimes I suffer grievously and others I’m fine. The number of hours is the only clue, but it’s really a crap shoot. Sometimes I think I’m gonna die, others I just need to get to bed at a reasonable hour.

  2. Kink, a tabby, is just about invisible in shadow, day or night. In full moonlight he’s a wisp in the willows.

    1. Heh…Kink needs to work on his Not Being Seen skills. Baihu can turn invisible just sitting in a chair in the living room, on top of a pillow the same color as that blanket.

      …or, at least, that’s where he rematerialized….


  3. “I conclude that Poles micturate more often than do other nationalities”

    That’s because they drink more than do most other nationalities (except for Russians and Scandinavians)… 😉


    1. I pee a lot too. Maybe there is Polish back there somewhere but I’m pretty sure my lineage is mostly Celtic & Northern European with a few odds and ends thrown in there (Maori) that won’t show up on any tests.

  4. Now I know what I want for dessert – all of them.

    keks (Swedish fruitcake)

    I don’t think I heard of that one.

    It could be a local/dialectal thing. Or maybe mistaking kex for cake, kex being some form of crackers but the term coming from en. cakes naturally. [ http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kex ]

    1. keks is a Polish name for a very similar Swedish frukt kaka but I baked it according to a Swedish recipe found in Var kokbok. I gave Jerry the Polish name.

  5. You are spending your birthday in Poland! Hope you can find some smoked fish because it is to far to mail mullet. Hope you have a great one!

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