Monday, 19 July 2010

The Road to Warsaw: Travelling

What an eventful and varied time, the past week has been! So much so, that the oldest details are already fading into a mist of oblivion while the present doesn't feel quite real either.

Most of Saturday was spent vainly trawling south London in search of floor varnish to protect the wooden floor of my new flat. It's not until Monday that I was finally able to find (Ironically in the shopping centre across the road!) the require products in the required shade and start the process of staining and varnishing the floor.

On Sunday I attended a meeting of my reading group to discuss Gypsy Boy. We were lucky to be joined by the author himself and had a very interesting and enjoyable afternoon.

Tuesday saw a trip to Ikea (where I bought a sofa), more floor activities and a final dash at packing my stuff (mostly books, of course) in preparation for the move itself on Wednesday. The effective ministrations of Rocket Van meant that the all business was over and done with in 1h30. Sadly the hot Polish mover didn't agree to let me take picture of him and his colleague in action.

After a not altogether satisfactory first night in the flat (in a sleeping bag, on my folded duvet laid on the thick carpet), I turned my sights towards the east and Warsaw where the Chorus had been invited to perform and attend Europride.

While the morning seemed to start very smoothly and I left early enough to be able to stop in Waterstone's on Piccadilly to buy guide, it seems about to seriously derail when, as the tube I was on to Heathrow was leaving Knightsbridge station, I suddenly realised that I had forgotten to pack my Chorus shirt, without which I wouldn't be able to perform. After some agonising I decided that would just about have time to go back and get it. I did and I had. The rest of the trip was totally uneventful. The flight was slightly delayed, the members of the Chorus on board drank the plane dry of gin and I slept through most of it.

The view of Warsaw from room 1055 of the Radisson Blue.

Getting off the plane, we were hit by a wall of heat (over 30 degrees) which would stay with us all week-end. We got on a coach that delivered us to our hotel in the centre of Warsaw.

Pictures of the day.

A collective meal had been booked at a "traditional" restaurant (Podwale 25); there was therefore little time to settle down in our rooms before we had to get back on the coach to cross the city.

And what an experience that restaurant turned out to be. The members of the Chorus are not renowned for the temperance of their ways but even they seems to find a match in the almost obscene avalanche of food that was presented to them and consisting mostly of various forms of cabbage (including some gorgeous sauerkraut) and all kinds of meats.

When there is food (and quite a bit of beer) involved, the chorines have a tendancy to resort to song after a while and this was no exception, other perhaps than in the fact that it seemed more tuneful than in similar past circumstances.

A group of three musicians (part of the experience) walked into the room at one point and soon we were singing Hej Hej Hej with them, a popular Polish song we had learned for the trip, according to our tradition. In return, they performed the end theme tune of Benny Hill (!). Later one of our soloists lead us into a rendition of La Traviatta's drinking song (part of the current repertoire) in apt celebration of gluttony.

The walk "home", late in the hot Polish night, was a little confused and certainly more scenic than intended...

All my pictures from the trip are available on my flickr account here.

Part 2: The Road to Warsaw: Performing.

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