Friday, June 28, 2013

Back from Poland

A dark and drizzling Terminal 3

Just back from Poland and a much more enjoyable trip than to South America (although without the consolatory bonus of S from Vancouver, sadly).  Not a good start, however, as I had a 7.20am flight which meant getting up at 4.30am.  Even worse, for some reason the British Airways Warsaw flights leave from Terminal 3 (a dismal pile of uninspired buildings that reminds me more of an Eastern Bloc shopping centre than an international airport terminal) rather than Terminal 5.  

Why Poland is better than Brazil 1: The City square

Usually, whenever I visit a country I only visit the capital city but in the case of Poland I have been to  a few other places as well.  This time, although I flew into Warsaw, a four hour drive west towards the German border saw me in Poznan for the first time.  Poznan is a very attractive city full of parks, gardens and water (actually they have had rather too much water of late).  The weather was perfect with between 27 and 30 degrees which meant I was able to have every meal outside while I was there.

Now the Legatus doesn't usually do 3 star hotels but as my hosts were paying I left the choice to them and, in fact, the Garden Hotel was right in the middle of the old town and was perfectly charming with a lovely garden where I had breakfast every morning (truly excellent scrambled eggs with smoked ham).

It was just a few yards from the main town square which was lined with dozens of restaurants and bars; nearly all of which had outdoor terraces.  In addition there was some sort of festival going on which saw market stalls selling stuff and a stage putting on various dance/music events so, as a result, there were lots of people to watch. There was also an international folk festival on so the square was regularly full of, as here, the likes of singing fiddling girlies in traditional dress or splendid looking chaps from India in full fig.  This was all much more enjoyable than the endless stream of  boring old government buildings I usually visit.

In fact, in Poznan, even the boring old government buildings are more interesting too.  I had a meeting in the town hall which was really rather splendid.

Poland does not exactly have a reputation for haute cuisine but I didn't have a bad meal there (unlike Brazil).  This is because mostly we ate out at the Brovaria Hotel  restaurant terrace which had a splendid view of the square.

The hotel looked very nice but would have been rather noisy at night with the festival on.  Inside there was something of a revelation in that it contained its own microbrewery as well as several bars and a restaurant.

Why Poland is better than Brazil 2: Micro brewery in a hotel

My host (who is one of the organisers of the world cavalry championship which took place  in Poznan last year) had me try his favourite beer: the honey beer or miodowe.

The beer is only served in the hotel and restaurant.  It's not bottled or sold elsewhere.  They make two other beers: a pils and a wheat beer.  It was only on the second day that I discovered the tasting selection!  Not like the one I had in the Granville Island Brewery in Vancouver once where the servings were rather small.  You got 20cl of each!

Why Poland is better than Brazil 3: beer tasting servings

Something else they served which you can't buy was JA Baczewski potato vodka which you can get in restaurants in Poland but not shops.  I've never bothered with potato vodka before as I assumed it would be rather rough but this was nothing of the sort; it was one of the best vodkas I have ever tasted.

Why Poland is superior to Brazil 4: Proper drinks!

Only £2 a shot too.   I had five on the final night which is the equivalent of half a tasting glass of the beer.  Oh dear!  Felt fine the next day though.  The trick is to keep eating and drinking lots of water.  The food at Brovaria was excellent too; sort of Polish with a trendy twist.

Why Poland is superior to Brazil 5: Proper food!

The Poles like their soups and for lunch one day I had a sort of chilled beetroot gazpacho.  Now I hate beetroot: I think it is an abomination.  Its slimy, peculiar-tasting and leaves unremovable stains on everything it touches.  But this was delicious.  Just the job on a day when the temperature topped 30 degrees.  I also had a splendid sour rye with wild mushroom soup too.

Chicken breast roulade stuffed with pistachios and Parma ham with plum sauce, savoy cabbage with ginger and pan fried potatoes.

 Wild boar dumplings 

 Pink beef tenderloin flavoured with truffles, mashed potatoes, peas and beans

All the main courses were equally excellent and it was nice to see somewhere that could cook my beef the way I like it.  That is, hardly cooked at all.  Poland is not a good place to try to lose weight although I didn't see any fat women there.

Why Poland is superior to Brazil 6: Properly attired women!

In fact, I have to report that the young ladies were far superior to those in Brazil, especially as most of them seemed to be wearing tiny denim shorts (it really was hot!).  This example was sat next to us one evening but the gloomy light made capturing her difficult.  I took several pictures of her with her phone, at her request, but I didn't get any of those, sadly, as hers would have been superior as she had a flash on her phone and I didn't (or more precisely, I did have a flash but didn't know how to switch it on).

So, all in all I enjoyed myself much more in Poland than Brazil.  Friday I am off again to Houston for a couple of days.  Then Colombia again and then on to a new country for me, Panama.  I hope to get at least one vaguely military post done before I go but I will be away  for another two weeks after that.  Nine flights this time.  Sigh.  I really do hate flying. 


  1. Sounds like you managed to fit in some fun!


  2. Poznan now on my list of places to visit, great looking place and I must try Wild Boar Dumplings!Micro brewery in a hotel superb how did you rate the beers?

  3. Ditto Fraxinus... also I notice the properly attired young lady is drinking proper beer... another reason to visit Poland!

  4. The pils was very good, I'm actually not that fond of wheat beer but the honey beer was a triumph. Mild, caramel malt with a slight bitterness. Unfiltered and not gassy. Easy to drink six pints from lunch through till after dinner!

  5. How on earth do you get a girl you don't know to let you take photos of her on her own phone?!

    I remember having some very good beer in Warsaw many years ago.