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Published: March 30th 2018
A pleasant change from yesterday.
Before we go too far, none of the above are directly related. Well, Poland does have public toilets and we arrived on a Ryan Airline flight, but stay with me here.
Bright blue skies took the edge off our, at times,140kmh trip to the Brussels Sud Airport, and with booked parking and a free shuttle bus we arrived with time to spare. Tim had an exam in the morning which limited our travel time but Natalia had us there, safely ( she’d want me to add that) , in time to pass the military check and the airport security check. ( As a side note, wherever Sue sees the word SUD, she thinks we’re approaching a laundromat.)
Alicia, Natalia’s mum, met us with big smiles and hugs and we were soon parked in the peak hour traffic enroute to their apartment. Soon after arriving we were treated to a meal of traditional Polish dishes, followed by cake, coffee and sweets in the living room. Self control took a back seat as I sampled and resampled these delicious meat, salads, pierogi, and potato treats, and I’ve already surrendered to the notion that, for 5 days, moderation is out the window.
Sue and I are staying in Natalia and Tim’s apartment, a modern, beautifully appointed Airbnb setup; very accessible to the city and the rest of the family. It has all we could want and we avoid getting under anyone’s feet. Sue is madly cooking Anzac biscuits and I’m not doing much really.
I had an appointment with the dentist this morning to get a second opinion on a prognosis that I recentoy had in Australia that, if acted on, would have relieved me of a lot of money. The dentist?, Natalia’s dad....and he was on time! After a quick look and some alternative advice, Tim, Sue and I walked into the city, shopped, ate, walked some more, had a boat cruise on the river, and caught the tram home. It has been a long day but the city, largely destroyed during WW2, has been faithfully rebuilt to resemble what came before. Similar to Bruge, the city walkways are flanked with quaint colourful terrace style buildings that curve and twist around corners to reveal large open squares, churches or civic buildings that also had to undergo reconstruction, providing the old world charm that we experienced today.
A new experience but it all looks good from where I’m sitting.
unique to Wroclaw is the random appearance of tiny, theme based dwarves outside shops, in front of restaurants, in fact, they appear in the most unexpected places. These cute little men are a mark of acknowledgement and respect for the brave members of the Orange Alternative who on June 1, 1988, held a rally which was called the Revolution of the Dwarfs, and declared there can be no freedom without dwarves. As an attempt to poke fun at the authorities and highlight the fight for democracy, this meeting, attended by over 10,000 people,introdiced the dwarfs as a humorous symbol of the fight for freedom.The modern day dwarfs can be found chained to the old prison, working on computers, filling an entire orchestra, in fact holding down most positions we see in society. They’re drunk, they’re disabled, they’re tradesmen, they hang from light poles; if you look hard enough, you are never far from one. I’m a bit fascinated by them and have many photos ( don’t worry, I won’t bore you with all of them), and made an effort to find as many as I could.
More on Wroclaw tomorrow but I would like to briefly mention Ryan Airlines.
Old World Wroclaw Architecture
Looking a bit tired, a bit of paint and render and this street would be as good as it gets. The modern designs, while more ‘functional ‘ just can’t compete with this classic style.
This budget carrier only supplies the basics but it’s all about cheap transport and it sure does that. Luggage is carefully monitored for size and weight, with heavy penalites at the airport for infringements. There are no magazines or inflight entertainment, safety directions are printed on the seat in front of you, and you purchase food onboard if you need it. It all seems fair to me and there is actually more room between you and the seat in front than on other flights because there is no bulky magazine rack hanging in front of you As we disappeared into white fluffy clouds, the ever present flight crew patrol the aisles trying to sell as much food as possible and, closer to to touchdown, the sales pitch crosses to cosmetics and perfumes, displayed in magazines with sample scents; the whole cabin was a sweet sickly potpourri of floral assault that should never be together in the one place. It was the only negative in the whole flight.
As we touched down a ‘military meets symphony ‘ tune is played to an announcement by an Irish lass, possibly named Colleen, who thanked us all for flying Ryan and she hoped
Same Street, Differrent Outlook
One hundred metres further and we step into a modern shopping complex; less character but more choices.
to see us again soon. A small applause was heard as the wheels hit tarmac and that was it.
Unrelated to our visit to Poland is the issue of public toilets in Europe. In Australia, public toilets are free,; no exceptions. Cafe toilets are free to patrons and if you ask nicely and display extreme duress, kind cafe owners help you out for free. However, in France, Belgium and Poland it will cost you about $1.20. You usually pay cash to an attendant, often female, who mops the floor and keeps the place tidy while you stand attending to your needs. I found it a little off putting at first and can certainly understand if anyone experienced a case of ‘performance anxiety’ at the appearance of a wet mop around their ankles at such a private moment. At a large service station I went down a ramp and thought I was entering an underground railway station. It had a number of turnstiles, people were rushing in and out, payments could be made with cash or card, and signs directed people left or right thrPugh an entrance as wide as a subway; high tech and efficient but it still cost
My Kind Of Floral Arrangement
This is an Easter bouquet made entirely of lollies and jubes.
you. At another service station in Belgium you paid into a machine that dispensed a ticket and gave change, validated the ticket at a turnstile, and then you could redeem the value of the ticket in the food area . Not a bad system and it’s free if you make a purchase, but really, you wouldn’t envy the cashier taking that ticket back, would you?
It’s possibly evident from my expertise in the PTS ( Public Toilet System) that it has cost us more than I’ll admit too, but so far it’s manageable and we haven’t had to forego meals or shorten the trip, but I always carry change in my pocket.
One regular annoyance for travellers in France is their love of striking. Due to the government‘s desire to cut the public workforce heavily, the French have embarked on what is known as the Summer Of Strikes. Unless it is cleared up by late April, and there’s no sign of that happening, our train from Luxembourg to Paris is a no show. On our first trip to Paris in 2014, Air France were striking on behalf of air traffic controllers, a move that cost us dearly in
last minute changed flights. This time it’s most public servants engaging in rolling strikes so we hope common sense prevails. The government wants new employees to be on reduced conditions to those already employed in similar positions; sound familiar?
Tomorrow we are driving to a resort in the mountains for Easter so I’ll let you know how that goes.
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