Thursday, 27 July 2006

Hair Cut, Part Deux

Wifey was due another trim and if you recall the last time she was at the hairdresser was way back in Berlin at the "first come, first served" chain of salons, where the price was a rather wonderful €9.00 (~£6.50) for an extremely sharp style. Compared to an average of £35 back in the UK (plus tip) I rather raved about this type of service and cost and wondered why the price of a barnet trim was such an extortionate price in Blighty.

Anyway, she popped into the local salon here in Oliwa yesterday and was asked to come back today for a prearranged appointment, and all of which was done with only the aid of a phrasebook as the locals quite reasonably only spoke Polish.

The result? A quite excellent haircut (including shampoo, condition and mousse) for the princely sum of £3.50.

Even I couldn't get a cut at that price in England and all mine is is a clipper at zero grade.

Is this possibly the cheapest hair cut ever? Only time will tell but I rather feel it may well be.

Outstanding.

Wednesday, 26 July 2006

Sopot's Aqua Park

Outstanding! £7/person for an all day ticket and you have the choice of a "Wild River" ride, two tube slides one was seriously scary and bloody fast), a series of interlinked pools, the usual variety of jacuzzis, cascading water falls, fountains and whirl pools. It also had a small pool for lengths (2o-25m perhaps) and the whole set up was heated with pools inside and out, surrounded by pool bars and snack shops.

A lovely day was had splashing around in the water in the oppressive heat but as usual yours truly went in with all guns blazing and decide to swim a few lengths. I used to be fairly competent at swimming, usually swimming a mile or two a week back in the UK days and figured I could do the same here after a 6 month lay off.

Managed to swim 10 lengths and felt as if I was dying. I really thought I was going to drown. But instead of doing the sensible thing and just chilling I ploughed on; eventually managing the targetted fifty lengths. Felt dead chuffed and then did the slidey stuff and had a good old time of it.

Now I mention all of the above not to impress with the Johhny Weismuller antics but to make you understand exactly how I feel today. Bloody agony. Can't feel my shoulders and raise my arms. Fecked is the correct phrase for it (in fact, absolutely fecked is more accurate) and the only way you are getting this post is that wifey has sellotaped a stick to the forehead and I'm typing this in letter by letter.

I started this five hours ago...

Wedding Bells

Or should that be, ding- ding; Round One? :-)

Many congratulations to our good chums Denise and Cliff who are getting married this Friday, 28th July 2006 back in sunny Southend.

Not only are they smashing people but they are a lovely couple too and we wish them all the very best for the future. We hope the weather holds, the ceremony goes without hitch and the beer (real ale, of course) flows.

We're only sorry we can't be there to share your big day, but save us a piece of cake chaps, who knows the next time we'll be passing by...

Sopot





Tuesday, 25 July 2006

Ich Bin Bielefelder


Never mind the view, check out the threads...

Monday, 24 July 2006

Joeseph Conrad


Joseph Conrad (1857 - 1924) was a Polish born English novelist. His most famous book was "Heart of Darkness" and was quite a scathing attack on Belgian and European colonialism, with some even claiming that his writing and imagery was undeniably racist.

I just thought the statue was dead cool.

A Kuntebunter of Gdynia Photos





Sunday, 23 July 2006

Gdynia

Finally a post on Gdynia, the last town of the "Tri-City" clique, and for me my favourite.

Certainly bigger than Sopot and Gdansk and with more hustle and bustle due to a mixture of locals, national and internationl tourists, the harbour, the parks and the shopping high street were a constant flow of people all enjoying their holiday and the wonderfully warm and sunny weather.

Gdynia seems to have all the best bits from its neighbours too- from the beach, the green parks and woods to the tourist restaurants and bars of Sopot, and to the olde worlde romantic charm and stunning architecture of Gdansk, it has the lot. Three for the price of one ain't a bad return in this modern day, greedy world.

It takes slightly longer to get here by local train from Oliwa but in less than half an hour (and a small cost of 80p return) we'd arrived to be greeted by a huge under cover market which made our walk to the main high street all the more interesting.

The main high street was indeed main. Bloody huge as it goes and it seemed to stretch for miles in either direction with shops loaded to the gills with wares guaranteed to keep shopperaholics in a state of delirum for many an hour. Trouble is, when you're on the road and have all you essential belongings already with you, window shopping loses some of its attraction. Sure, it's fun to look but if you know there is no need to buy anything, interest dwindles.

Luckily, the shops are also interspersed with delightful eating joints ranging from a la carte to fast food and all combinations in between. Lunch was deffo not going to be a problem.

Around half way up the main street became a large cross roads and a sign pointed towards the harbour/beach. It seemed a bit out of place to find access to the waterfront off the main road, but we wandered down (nowadays we wander; not walk which implies a purpose but wander as if we have all the time in the world...which we now do...) in the direction shown on the signpost and the scenary changed dramatically. One minute large shops, busy road and offices, the next a huge park on one side (with an even bigger forrest behind that) and on the other, ice cream parlours, fish restaurants and a small fun fair. (Very small and certainly lacking the fun aspect.)

The harbour was grand with a large wall keeping out the strong currents and mooring up a type of gun ship (open to the public) and also an older sailing boat (also open to the public). Our timing seemed slightly off though as it appeared all the world's school trips had descended into the same site at the same time and there were school kids EVERYWHERE.

Now I love the litle darlings, but sod this for a game of soldiers and we made our way (quickly) down to the harbour wall where it seemed the stunning view was of little interest to the kids and mercifully empty.

Plenty to see and do in Gdynia and hopefully a smal indication of what you may expect to see if you ever get the opportunity to visit. Take it, you will not be disappointed but in case you have lingerng doubts, a couple of photos to follow and another bit of proper journalism giving a small insight into Gdynia from a professonal writer's point of view:-

In the early 1900s, the residents of Gdynia had no idea that their peaceful little fishing village was about to become a great industrial port.

After the Treaty of Versailles established the Free City of Gdańsk, incorporating Sopot and Gdańsk, Gdynia found itself on the other side of the border in the newly reformed Polish state. Now sitting at the top of the Polish corridor, the stretch of land awarded to Poland to allow it access to the sea, Gdynia was soon slated for major port status.

Construction of modern port facilities began on May 21, 1921, and the city hasn’t looked back since. After German occupation in WWII, when it was known as Gotenhafen, Gdynia was reunited with Sopot and Gdańsk. Today it is a thriving port city with the highest reputed per capita income in Poland. Ignored by most travellers, as it lacks the historical buildings of its neighbours, Gdynia can boast the best restaurants in the Tri-city, an exciting nightlife and a small but decent selection of hotels.

See? Told you.

Saturday, 22 July 2006

In the Nude

Cue Glen Miller track...


Finally, having left the UK I am able to sunbathe completely in the nude without worry.



I assume Essex still has a hose pipe ban, right? :-D

IT Stuff Wot I've Sussed On Tour

Now as most of you will atest to, I am a complete technical spacker being unable to distinguish a USB port from a SCART connection or failing to grasp even the simplest of computing basics.

However, with time on my hands and a lot of help from my chums at The GH, we have managed to figure out how to:

- Rip off CDs and store them on our laptop's hard drive
- Transfer tracks to an MP3 player
- Listen to English radio stations away from England
- Play a DVD on the laptop and watch it on the TV
- Record voice tracks and send them to people via email
- Make free computer to computer phone calls


At this rate I should be able to re-wire a plug soon.

Pols on the Pot

Most, if not all, public toilets in restaurants, pubs, bars etcetera are communal. Not male/female but just the one that does for all*.

Which leads onto all kinds of interesting observations.

Such as burds not going to the bog in twos, sometimes seeing a urinal and a toilet in the same area and marvelling at the Polish restraint in pissing- hardly ever a queue in a crowded pub!

But for me, it begs the big question. Bog seat up or down? Oi missus- leave it up for a change, eh?



*Unless of course you dine at this wonderful pasta restaurant in Sopot. I was quite happily using the loo when the door was tried and a knock followed. I finished off and opened the door to be greeted by a scowling, rather grim faced lady who rushed in past me. I didn't think anything of it until we came back for another meal a week or so later and sat around the corner in the restaurant to notice another toilet door, marked "Men".

I could have sworn there was no sign on the "Ladies"...

Chicken and Egg

So what came first? Polish or Polish?

Shorts

No, not me or my legs (although I am and they are)- I mean short trousers.

Since arriving in Poland I have not worn a pair of jeans at all and I have been living in shorts all day, every day because we have had such wonderful weather, literally 30 degrees centigrade plus without fail.

And it ably demonstrates the tolerance of the Polish public- not one comment about my dodgy knees.

Mind you, how would I know? I can barely order a pizza in Polish...

Impressed

On my wander up to the local supermarket I passed by a mother and her son (perhaps 7 or 8?) and between them they were pushing a shopping trolley which had a huge, boxed television in/on it. They were managing fine, despite the searing heat, although progress was a tad slow because the lady was pushing while her son steered the trolley from the front and tried to keep the TV from toppling off.

I didn't think much of it until I happened to see the same two people on my way back (perhaps around 45 minutes later?) but on this occasion the trolley was empty with hopefully the telly safely delivered.

However, what really impressed me was the honest way in which they were returning the empty shopping trolley back from whence it came- it had to be at least a 30 minute round trip with the temperature in the early 30s.

How many of us would simply have just dumped it in the street along with the hundreds of others already there?

Sure, you wouldn't do that, but the abandoned trollies have to come from someone, right? ;-)

Thursday, 20 July 2006

K'Tel at the Flicks

Finally got around to visiting the cinema here.

No problem with understanding the film as it is shown in its original language and they simply put up Polish sub titles. And no problem getting tickets either; "Dwa bilety" and point...

Absolutely fabulous- massive screen, ear shattering volume and dead comfy seats with loads of leg room for my massive legs, and all for the price of just £2.40 (each).

As for the film, it was the "Da Vinci Code" and despite it getting a hammering from the critics, we enjoyed it. Totally far fetched of course and very twee and convenient in places but a good afternoon out none the less*. So we'll deffo be going back to the pictures to see "Pirates of the Caribbean II". Now that we are looking forward to.


*As you can tell, Barry Norman/Jonathan Ross we are not...

Tuesday, 18 July 2006

R.I.P.

I like cemetaries; always have done. I find them peaceful, tranquil and sometimes inspirational and if we stay somewhere, I usually try and find the nearest one just to take a stroll through and collect my thoughts.

Very close to where we are staying here in Oliwa, we have a smashing cemetary- must have a few thousand graves and it is truly beautiful; with overhanging trees and sandy paths.

What struck me about this cemetary though was the condition it was in. Not neglected or forgotten but well tended and neat with no rubbish to be seen. But what surprised me most was that pretty much each grave had fresh flowers on it and virtually all of them had a lit candle or two. I could count on one hand the ones that hadn't. Imagine that, fresh floral tributes and lit candles out of hundreds and hundreds?

I'm not quite sure why, but it gave me a good feeling and I was extra happy all day.

Monday, 17 July 2006

Ancient Proverb

If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

That is not the question. The question is why should a tree simply fall down?

So Far, So Far?




It feels a lot further away- honest.

Twinned With Southend



But where would you rather be?

SKYPE

We've stumbled on this just recently and can't believe it.

Free phone calls via a pc/laptop to another pc/laptop from anywhere in the world to another location anywhere in the world (or from room to room, house to house etc).

All you need is a set of speakers and a microphone, a free download from SKYPE and you're set to go. You'll also need a user name; follow simple on line instructions (we've kept ours as ktelontour, identical to our website and hotmail addresses) and that is it.

Honestly- we were making calls within minutes of registering.

You can also call a landline number or mobile but that costs a bit more (we did the laptop to landline from Poland to the UK at a rate of 1.2p/minute and have as yet to try the mobile option) called SKYPEOUT and anyone can call you via a standard phone to a laptop/pc on SKYPEIN (not tried this yet).

All tariffs, instructions, downloads and prices are on their web page, here:

http://www.skype.com/helloagain.html

So, if anyone wants to sign up and have a chat, please let us know your user name (or indeed call us) and we can catch up.

Most excellent.

Saturday, 15 July 2006

Pictures Of Gdansk






Post Below

Seems it doesn't like the spaces/tabs we've inserted so the prices read from left to right in the order:- England; Germany & Poland.

But being cleffer people I'm sure you've all sussed that already...

Price Comparisons

All prices shown in yer English quids and some prices are approximate:

England Germany Poland

Eggs (half dozen; free-range) 1.20 1.20 0.52

Bread 1.00 0.75 0.43

Coke (500ml) 0.95 0.75 0.43

Beer (in a pub for a pint/500 ml) 2.50 1.80 0.86

Cheese 3.50 4.00 3.00

Pizza (restaurant) 7.00 4.30 2.10

Steak (meal) 15.00 10.00 5.00

Rolls (each) 0.40 0.10 0.06

Coffee (instant) 1.50 1.10 1.38

Petrol/litre 0.95 0.95 0.70

Fruit Juice/litre 1.00 0.45 0.45

B & B/night 45.00 40.00 30.00

Rip Off Britain? Not bleedin' 'alf...

Polish Car Drivers

On the whole, drivers in Poland are well disciplined and safe.

However, two things stand out. Zebra crossings, where no one stops what so ever and so crossing is a bit of a gamble and the other is their apparent love of putting the pedal to the metal and taking off with a squeal of tyres.

Even the most sedate looking granny will floor it and attempt to send plumes of smoke spiralling from the protesting rubber boots.


I think I may invest in the local tyre shop and try to eke out our limited budget.

Thursday, 13 July 2006

Am or Pm

Technically a morning is from a second after midnight up until midday, right?

So why have the big delivery firms and service companies decided that a "morning" appointment is now from 8.00 am to 1.00 pm?

More to the point, why do we allow them to?

Wednesday, 12 July 2006

One Lump or Two?

Three months into our little adventure and we reach our first challenge.

Wifey, right in the middle of the Germany-Italy semi final, in a packed pub: "Er, don't want to worry you but I've got a lump on my breast".

That certainly gets your attention!

But wifey being wifey, she doesn't just toss over bad news and sit there, oh no, she goes on to say that it's probably nothing and that she'd been researching things on the internet and as luck would have it, there is Poland's second biggest private medical clinic located just outside of our doorstep in Gdynia!

So having confirmed for myself that yes there is definitely a lump, off we go to try and set up a consultation and try to get to the bottom of things.

The train journey lasted a tad over 20 minutes (95p return) and put us within a ten minute walk to "Clinica Medica" (www.clinica-medica.pl), which we found without any trouble at all following their simple on-line map.

Making the appointment was a little more difficult but with a combination of Polish, English and a lot of gesticulating, the marvellous receptionist arranged for wifey to be seen the next day!

We arrived back the following day and were told that an ultrasound would be necessary before seeing the consultant and how would we be paying, cash or credit card? The receptionist then told us the cost...

Ultrasound @ 50 zl and the consultancy fee @ 60 zl, which works out as £8.62 and £10.34, respectively. We chose the cash option.

Having paid up, we were shown to the ultrasound department and wifey was seen directly after the sonographer returned from lunch. After what seemed like forever (and in truth was only 30 minutes) I was called in, and this is when I expected the worst.

However, it was only to confirm what the sonographer had concluded following his scans because he couldn't speak Engish, wifey couldn't speak Polish and so they settled on German as the mutual language. In fact that was why it had taken so long- trying to get each other understood (I could now mention that when the sonographer asked wifey to undress, put her clothes on the chair and lie on the couch, she just chucked her clothes on the couch and sat in the chair, but that would cruel).

Thankfully the chap was a complete expert in his field and said that the lump wifey had felt was just a cyst (albeit 40mm) and was quite normal for a young lady of her age. There was nothing to worry about at all and in future to just keep an eye on things and get another ultrasound scan once a year or so.

How is that for service? Walk in off the street, ask for the consultation/treatment that you want, pay the price and get seen there and then.

He even typed out his report and gave it to wifey saying that there was no need to see the next consultant and so we even got a refund on the 60 zl we'd paid.

Anyhoo, here sits a much relieved person who despite knowing that of course all would be well still had to consider the outside chance it could have been a lot, lot worse. The fact that we've managed to overcome this hurdle away from England with minimal fuss and such professionalism is heartening too and hopefully bodes well for the future. And as for the cost? Try getting that treatment in the UK for less than a tenner.

A Man Called Horse


And his feet called Zebra...

Our 100th Post

So, consider this:

"An untruth said in kindness may not be such a falsehood"

Monday, 10 July 2006

So That's That Then

The World Cup is over.

Italy first, France second and Germany third.

Does that mean I have to make conversaiton with wifey again?


Arse...

Saturday, 8 July 2006

Poland 1, Germany 0

Poland does not go to sleep on a Sunday and everywhere is open, usually for more than a couple of hours too. So you can actually buy some food from the supermarket and take your pick of the bars and restaurants. Lovely.

And get this- the Polish Post Office opens at 8.00 am and closes at 7.00 pm- imagine that in the UK? Not only that, but the staff actually smile and make an effort to be friendly and helpful. In fact it's no effort to them at all, even when having to deal with a non-Polish speaking idiot wanting stamps. Top effort people.

So CLINT, my favourite English PO worker, what do you say to that? Oh sorry, you're far too busy cultivating your toothbrush moustache and practising your best sneering put down, eh?

Sandals

If there was ever a valid reason to bring back hanging, surely wearing socks with sandals is it.

So, in an effort to outlaw this hideous crime against good taste why not produce all sandals that have a strap separating the big toe (flip-flop style) from the rest and thus not physically allow socks to be worn?

On second thoughts though, that may re-introduce that other crime against fashion, the toed sock.

*shudder*

Sigh, as you were then...

Friday, 7 July 2006

Ha, Ha

Q: What do you call the Emu from "Rod Hull and Emu"?

A: Unemployed.

*guffaw*

How We Laughed...

Found a cracking little restaurant near to our villa, just in the high street but slightly off the main drag which had loads of people sitting out in the sun, hence obviously popular. Feeling a tad peckish we thought we'd give it a go and took seats inside. (Not a huge fan of dining al fresco as insects tend to want to go Dutch with me nosh and this irritates.)

So we go in, say "hi" and sit down and wait. We see both the waiter and waitress see us looking at them and wonder why, after fifteen minutes still no one has offered us a menu. Another five minutes and eventually we pluck up enough courage to go and find out what's happening.

Turns out it's a self order place and we'd walked right past the menus which were piled up high on the front counter! Ooops. Luckily no harm done except to enhance our appetite and we looked over the extensive and 100% Polish worded menu. Getting the phrase book out we painfully translated some choices and by sheer chance we turned the menus over.


To find it was identical on the back but in English...

Footie

Yes, it's been dominating the TV schedules, conversations and national press for months now; at least it seems that way but now we're nearly at the end of it. So, a few of my own observations on the "glorious" game.

1. Kick the off side rule into touch. It's been scientifically proven that the human brain is incapable of being 100% correct in deciding off side so it's ridiculous to have such a stupid and brittle rule in a game that is worth billions and can make or break clubs and players.

The first reaction you get to such a bold statement is usually horror followed by "think of the goal hangers" cobblers. Yes, and so what? Use tactics to decide how to deal with these "goal hangers" and let the game develop. In fact, don't the punters want to see goals anyway?

Aye, dump off side (as indeed field hockey did many years ago without loss of skill, entertainment and excitement) and let's see managers really earn their corn.

Plus it saves confusing the burds...;-D

2. Why aren't goals scored in penalties at the end of extra time not counted on personal tallies? It seems logical that these nerve racking and tense 11 metre strikes demand a whole load more effort, concentration and skill than perhaps a goal in open play during normal time so why are they ignored?

3. Video replays. Far from undermining the referees status in the game in can only enhance it and with all grounds having huge screens and a gazillion cameras it's a piece of piss to implement. Look at cricket- works a treat with minimum of fuss and delay so why is football so snobby and backward to dismiss it?

4. Referees. Lack of respect and intimidation by players is appalling to watch and doesn't make for an easy life to the umpire, so impose a 5 metre exclusion zone around the ref and anyone, aside from the captain, inside this area after the whistle has blown for a free kick gets a green card. Another green card and it's a yellow and then a red. Again green cards are used in hockey (although you are sin binned for a length of time at the umpire's discretion) and it works a treat. Only the captain should be allowed to approach the referee during the time of play. Period.

OK, just a few thoughts for you to consider- please feel free to add your own or ridicule mine. After all, it's only a game of two halves, innit?

Moths

Always attracted to the light, aren't they. So why do they only come out at night when it's dark then? Silly sods.

Our Gaff

Right, we've been in Oliwa for over a week and a half now and not even a mention of where we're staying. Villa Ada.

It's a lovely villa, close to local bus and tram routes (less than a minute's walk) and the train line is perhaps a ten minute stroll away and you can get to Gdansk, Sopot and Gdynia from here.

We have secure off road parking (car is behind locked iron gates so is totally safe) and our room is on the ground floor. It is "L" shaped and plenty big enough, with a huge double (and dead comfy) bed in one corner, cable TV at the foot of the bed and a table with two chairs at the far end of the room. Two double glazed windows give a view onto the garden and the side street so it is light, airy and bright.

Naturally there is an en-suite with a shower (powerful and plenty of hot water whenever needed) and all fixtures and fittings look brand new.

We are extremely comfortable here and with networked broadband directly into the room, it offers everything we need to enjoy life here.

There is also an on site Manager (hi, M!) who is fluent in English (thank God, as our Polish is dire at the moment) who is extremely helpful and sees to anything you may need.

If you want more details, here's the link to the site (all in Polish but you can get the gist) and if you check out the photos tab ("Pokoje") that is actually our room!

Villa Ada:- http://www.villaada.pl/index.html

If you mention us, you'll also get a healthy discount, especially if you stay for a few weeks.

Wednesday, 5 July 2006

Outstanding Game

Both Italy and Germany played, to my mind anyway, the game of the tournament last night. If you're a neutral you'd have been in for a treat but sadly the German team couldn't quite make the final push and went out in extra time, losing by two quick (and awesome) goals in the final two minutes of extra time.

No complaints from me, a case of close but no cigar but Klinsmann and Co should be rightly proud of their performances and hopefully, if there is any justice, a few of the "critics" will be choking on their Steins of Pils as Germany put on a magnificent display of attacking, flowing and exciting football.

The future is looking good again and who knows where we'll end up in the European Championships of 2008? Assuming we qualify, of course!

And we still have the third place to contend so all is not over.

We watched the game in a local pub and no one, not one single person wanted Germany to win. Can't understand why- always thought the Polish people got on with the Germans...;-D

However, we made more friends as usual and had a great night out, despite not winning (much to the delight of the local "Italian" supporters) and we'll be back on Saturday wearing the German colours as before.

Well played boys, you did us and yourselves justice and made the WM 2006 in Germany the best ever.

Good luck to the Italians in the final too- if you play like that I can't see you losing.

Sopot

As you all know, Sopot is twinned with Southend. This is probably because it has the largest wooden pier in the world (Southend has the longest pleasure pier in the world) but that is where the similarity ends. Sopot is wonderful!

We took the train from our place and a little after five or so minutes arrived in the baking heat of a summer's day. Turning to the left led us directly onto the main high street which is lined on both sides with small shops and then further down the clubs, bars, pubs and restaurants. Tip- do not have a meal here as whilst still cheap in comparison to England, it is almost double the cost of some smaller places found off the main drag. But that is the same everywhere, right?

The High Street then leads directly onto the pier (admission charged, same as in Southend) and the sandy and pebble-less beach stretches either side for miles (unlike Southend's beach which is full of rocks, dog turds {no dogs allowed here} and other rubbish). The water is about the same; dirty and cold.

We spent a whole day simply walking through the park which runs parallel to the beach just to keep out of the direct sun (must have been at least 30 degrees C) and just enjoying being by the seaside again. Lunch was a terrific gorgonzola and chicken pasta- the Italian* restaurant we found lets you choose the sauce, the type of pasta and the size of meal (midi; the "medium" sized portion completely floored me and I had to leave half) whilst wifey had vegetrian pancakes with salmon and a white wine sauce and she scoffed the lot. Including drinks the bill came to £6.90. Yes, under seven quid- try finding that in England.

Sopot also has a great water theme park which we intend to vist soon, so more on that when we've tried it out. Also, we'll shove up some piccies next time we can be bothered to take the cmera.

In the meantime I've robbed some more historical stuff off the net about Sopot, so enjoy:-

Sopot’s reputation as one of Poland’s premier seaside resorts is justly deserved. Human settlement here dates back some 2,500 years.

A small fishing village owned by the Cistercians in Oliwa existed here from the 13th century. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the baths and spas of this increasingly-fashionable health resort lured a select, affluent and aristocratic set to Sopot as much for its soothing waters as for its vibrant social life.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Sopot, then part of the Prussian partition of Poland, became a playground for Europe’s ruling classes. Kaiser Wilhelm II had a summer home here, (now the Maryla hotel) and a separate villa (today's Magnolia hotel). Sopot became part of the Free City of Gdańsk under the Treaty of Versailles and Adolf Hitler spent a week here in September 1939 (in the Grand Hotel) while his army marched on Warsaw.

Today, Sopot is once again a hip and happening place, with its trendy bars, restaurants and shops scattered around the main drag, ul. Bohaterów Monte Cassino. Reflecting its summertime popularity you’ll find a strong choice of hotels as well as a nightlife that is considered one of the best in the country.

Bet you wish you were here now, eh?

*Italian food is now off the menu until the Final has been played and France win. See, nothing like a good loser, is there?

Tuesday, 4 July 2006

Eating Out In Poland

Here's a tip.

Never eat your meal near to an open window, or outside where your table is close to the pavement.

Why?

Because you will be accosted by beggers sticking their desperate hands in to plea for cash. And a polite refusal is merely a sign of encourgement, as is making eye contact.

This is a pity but worth bearing in mind.


But boy, are the meals worth it. Forget this out of date shite about poor cuisine- it is varied; with dishes from all around the globe. It is well cooked (forget the luke warm veggies we had on our first encounter- clearly a one off) and it is extremely good value for money.

So much for the diet beginning in Poland then...

Sexual Equality

If we continue to segregate children at school and kids at girl guides/scouts, how on earth are we going to achieve sexual equality?

Surely this is the age to lump them all in together so that they appreciate the difficulties each sex has to overcome to be treated fairly.

Funny old world.

Vodafone

Get this.

Five and a half minutes to the UK on a Sunday afternoon (hardly "peak" time) at a cost of SEVEN POUNDS FIFTY!!

That will be the last time I use their "services".

Thieving gits.

Sunday, 2 July 2006

Very Sad- Genuinely

Just watched the England Portugal game and I feel so sorry for England. :-(

They deserved to win, playing with ten men for most of the second half/extra time and Portugal didn't even look like wanting to score- merely pushing the ball around to kill off time and wait for penalties.

I'm not surprised they were fitter in extra time either, they spent most of the game lying down on the grass resting, for it sure wasn't down to the "fouls". Outrageous play acting and it leaves a very bad taste in my mouth.

I hope Brazil (or France?) teach them a lesson but that is neither here nor there, it's England I feel desperately sorry for. Unlucky lads- there is the European Championships to look forward to and at least the passionless and unimaginative Erikson is off your backs.

Interesting question now- who did you guys want to win between Argentina and Germany?

Saturday, 1 July 2006

Gdansk

We thought we'd watch the game in Gdansk and hopped on the tram to take us into the town centre. 20 minutes on the tram was the length of the journey and here you pay for tickets in terms of travel time- 2.80 zl (~50p) or you can buy a 24 hour ticket for 9.10 (~£1.50) so not only extremely good value for money but a good way to have a look around too. Don't forget to punch your ticket as you get on the tram/bus (valid for both types of public transport) otherwise you'll get nicked and they check, so be warned.

Gdansk is unbelieveably pretty town and mixes the old with the new in an effortless manner so that one gets the best of both worlds. The harbour is delightful and offers lovely views and restaurants and the main square/main high street (no traffic allowed so you can wander about carefree) has all the shops, bars, restaurants, coffee shops one needs.

So a good place to visit with lots to see and do but today's aim was to watch the match. We found a pub with a telly and picked our spot. About an hour or so later it started to fill up and we ended up sharing a table with P and his wife, who not only spoke perfect English but German too- which was kinda handy as he was entertaining some work colleagues from Germany. This definitely made up a table rooting for the Germans and thankfully, we did it. Great atmosphere, great company and a top evening.

See you at "Roosters" next Tuesday, perhaps?

Oh, and if you're interested, here's a potted history I found on the web which saves me from spouting on:

GDANSK, Poland. The capital of Poland's "Pomorze" province, the city of Gdansk is located at the mouth of the Vistula River on the Baltic Sea. Much of the city's industry centers around shipbuilding and shipping. The city has two main port areas.

The older Nowy Port, or New Port, is a major industrial center for shipyards, metallurgical and chemical plants, timber mills, and food-processing facilities. The newer Port Polnocny, or North Port, is Poland's largest maritime development project. It handles coal exports and petroleum imports.

Gdansk has schools of medicine, engineering, and fine arts. The University of Gdansk was opened in 1970. There are also many fine churches, museums, theaters, and gardens as well as a maritime center, a concert hall, and an opera house. Gdansk is part of the Trojmiasto, or Three-City, urban area, made up of the towns of Gdansk, Gdynia, and Sopot. The city center, known as Stare Miasto, or Old Town, lies on the Motlawa, a river that runs into the Vistula 2 miles (3 kilometers) inland.

Noteworthy buildings in Old Town include St. Catherine's Church, sections of which date back to the 14th century. Its interior is in the Gothic style. The town hall was built between 1587 and 1595. The entrance hall has a bronze bas-relief of the 17th-century Gdansk astronomer Hevelius. Greatly damaged during World War II, the city's buildings were later restored.


Gdansk was first mentioned as a Polish city in 997 or 999. It has been called by the German name Danzig at various periods of its history. It was granted municipal autonomy in 1260 and developed as a trade center. In 1308 the Teutonic Knights seized the city. Under their rule the city became a wealthy member of the Hanseatic League. In 1466 King Casimir IV of Poland regained the territory after a 13-year war. As thanks for its loyalty, Gdansk was granted local autonomy by the king and expanded greatly.


It reached its peak during the Renaissance as the most prosperous port on the Baltic. Its shipyards launched their first warship in 1572. By 1754 its population was 77,000, the largest of any eastern European city. The Swedish wars of the 17th century halted the city's economic growth and began its decline. In 1772 Gdansk was seized by Prussia, and in 1793 it became part of that country. Its port trade quickly decreased.


Except for about seven years during the Napoleonic wars, when it was declared a free state, Gdansk remained in German hands until after World War I. From 1919 to 1939 it again had the status of a free city, under the Treaty of Versailles, with Poland having administrative governance over it. German control grew stronger, however, and in 1938 German dictator Adolf Hitler demanded that Gdansk be given to Germany. Poland, backed by Great Britain and France, refused. Hitler used this refusal as an excuse to invade Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, beginning World War II. The city was returned to Poland in March 1945. Labor unrest in the Gdansk shipyards in 1980 spurred the creation of the Solidarity trade union, which soon led the push toward democracy in Poland.

Photos to follow when we take some, but here's a tip- come and visit, Gdansk it is definitely worth it.

Yyyyyyyyyyyyeeeeeeeeessssssssssssssss!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So it wasn't the best of matches and it went to the dreaded penalties, but who gives a stuff? We're through to the semis and another tough one, against the Italians. Ouch, more frayed nerves and nail biting to come. Anyway, I'm going to bask in the victory until Tuesday as this may well be the last one.

Good luck to England too...


































...I hope they come second. ;-)