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Published: August 22nd 2008
I decided about 10.15 that I needed to stay and collect the bike so had a coffee. That then decided that I actually needed to get to Olszytn for 6pm dinner si it was then a mad sprint for a bus. Well I got the #175 rather than the airport bus which would have been way quicker. The 175 stops every 300m or so and has locals and airport passengers on it so the mix of bags and people is fun. It got me to Centralna for 11.02,,train left at 11.11 so a mad dash got me a ticket and down the platform. Train was late so I made my way to first class area (60PLN) for ticket. This got me a fabic seat in a 6 seat room. So off we went..2 elderly people and ayoung guy. Didnt get far tho as we stopped after about 200m and then progressively moved forward for the next hour making greater distances. Ended up being 45mins late into Olsztyn for track mtce..its an impressive infrastructure update under way in Poland..through need and in Mazuria thru a desire to host Euro 2012. Arrived at 4.30 and made way with 24kg backpack to hotel about 200m from train station.
Checked in okay and did quick dash to supermarket about 1km away as once again my food/water planning had let me down..no food or drink on train and I hadn’t eaten or had water from 10am! Showered and got picked up at 6pm by the 2 Polish professors I had met in Helsinki. The did a quick tour of old town..great old buildings castle etc and then off to a restaurant overlooking lake on camp
us. We met up with a PHD student and a visiting Brazilian professor for dinner. Formal with blue table cloth and nice set out..entree of salmon to start with Polish vodka shot and a beer to follow. Main course was pike and chips and salad. Then it was off to a bar “Highlander” for a nite cap..I had scotch. At about9,30 I explained I was tired so was taken back to hotel. Olsztyn has numerous bars ..some English themed. Smoking is permitted as it is in eateries and on trains etc.
I slept soundly till 5am as daylight comes early as does noise and then dozed till 7.30,,had breakfast. I was picked up at 9.15 for the 9.30 am meeting on campus with 2 others one of whom had written a paper I had read back in NZ on roading takes..so that was purpose of meeting as well as general international exchange. Offices were huge and well appointed and meeting room was formal with placemats biscuits 2 juices coffee etc. We spent about 90mins going over issues etc and mad e few calls to warsaw to chase bike .didnt work though as form didn’t have ref number on it!
T was then explained that I was to be taken to Stare Jablonki and out to lunch on way back. We agreed I needed to check at hotel for bike and I agreed internally that given the huge effort to host me I would postpone riding till later. :>) Bike was there when I got back off we went to SJ and Polish main road...single carriageway and deeply rutted in places in wheel tracks which when it rained heavily for 10mins filled up with 250 mm of water. Oncoming track made a carwash look like a dribble. Again roading imps are underway and planned. At SJ (30km drive) I got a couple of maps from the organisers for the mountainbike orienteering courses and we then drove partly back to a lovely village (Giertzwaldzie) for lunch at “unusual restaurant where agriculture past and present mix” according to brochure. It was essentially a tourist driven local themed restaurant with past buildings etc and open and indoor seating for about 300. Lunch of traditional polish soups and a selection of potato perogi (sp) for 2 was ordered. We were 3 of course but the resultant platter would have fed 4. There were many inventive ways to use potato..had potato sausage and a fried hash with bacon. A beer or vodka shots would have helped but I declined knowing I was riding later. We got back about 3.15..It was great. I would love to go back.
Unpacked bike and discovered to my horror that both wheels were slightly buckled and both brake rotors were as well. Made my way to local bike shop after getting soaked in brief shower. Hour and half and 2 people it was all fixed..great to watch what they did with hammers and vice grips etc. Cost 85PLN for new drink holder and labour. I will send some vodka miniatures over when I get back...and a bottle of red for my Polish hosts.
Managed to get a 50km ride in too unwind and went into old town for dinner at 9pm. Found a open air restaurant and had steak chips mushrooms salad and 500ml beer for $16NZD. Food is so cheap! Linked to low wages I gather.
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