Europe 2009: Mile 1531 (Day 2)

20th April 2009

OK, because of tomorrows screen replacement (hopefully) we didn’t actually ride anywhere today but decided instead to visit Poznań old town. After a hearty breakfast (well I do have certain standards to maintain 😉 ) and a shower we headed to the local tram stop to see if we could work out how to get a ticket and use it – the campsite/hotel reception had said we needed to get on the number 8 tram and go for 6 stops. Luckily the machines at the stop offered English as one of its alternative languages so the process was actually quite easy.

We got on the tram and started counting stops. Everyone else thought we were mad which, of course, we are 🙂 At the sixth stop we got off and walked towards a big church we could see (OK admittedly a street map would have been useful at this point but we had neglected to get one – typical!). We had been told by all the Polish people we know (OK all the Polish waitresses in the UK we could find) that old Poznań was very pretty. To be honest one of the churches we saw was alright but everything else? Well nothing to write home about it would appear.

Luckily Isabel and I share a love of visiting the side streets and back alleys of the cities we visit. We did this and low and behold the old city opened up in front of us! We came into a magnificent square full of beautiful painted buildings. So this was old Poznań! If we hadn’t been wandering I don’t think we would have found it. We walked around and around like proper tourists because sometimes you just have to! We had some coffee in one of the market square cafes and then did some more wandering. We entered a big pink church off the main square. The painted ceilings were amazing! It definitely had the wow factor. I didn’t take any photos because it was a working church and I had no wish to disturb the believer using it. People were coming and going all the time just stopping long enough for a prayer and to cross themselves which I found very moving I must say.

After that we decided that it was lunch time (we do that using an ancient magic ritual known as “hunger”) and though we should try Polish cuisine. I had Zurek (A thick and delicious soup with potatoes, carrots, meat, sausage and, strangely, half a hard boiled egg, followed by Bigos (sour cabbage with meat) – all very tasty and Isabel had Zapiekanka (I hope that I have spelled that correctly) which is a potato “casserole” with bacon – equally yummy – which, together with a beer (Beck) and a coke cost the princely sum of 47 Zloty or under £10!

Another wander (mainly to walk off the meal) and coffee followed. Then we decided to go and try and buy some meat and veggies for the evening meal at the campsite. We entered the butchery and managed to buy some stuff by pointing and smiling a lot which seemed to work. Of course we have no idea what we have bought so this might be the last blog entry for a while :). we did the same in a vegetable shop and in a bakery. All in all our method seemed to work out well. Everyone was very friendly at the very least.

We then tried to draw some money from a ATM (or “Bankomat” in Polish apparently) using our UK Maestro card. Nope it was definitely not going to allow us to do that! Tried four different ones with the same result – Bummer! Eventually we managed to get some money using the credit card which was better than nothing.

Then it was back on the tram counting stops again. when we got back to the campsite we phoned our bank in the UK and it turns out that, whilst we had informed all the credit cards (including one from our bank) that we were going overseas and to expect foreign transactions we had forgotten to do so for our normal account – whoops! Anyway we managed to sort it all out – apparently a previous ATM transaction in Poland had initiated the block in the first place.

After all that excitement we did a bit of laying in the sun then went for a beer/cold drink (well one of us has to stay sober 🙂 ) by the lake and then back to cook the food we had purchased in town. After a slight panic trying to find the knife we made a stew with various bits of meat (we hope) and then to bed.

Tomorrow we will hopefully get Isabel’s screen replaced and then head towards Oświęcim.

Lessons Learnt:

  • If you don’t speak the language then, when shopping, if you don’t point, you don’t get!
  • Make sure you tell all of your banks you are going touring and to expect foreign transactions
  • Carry alternative cards from different banks with you if possible
  • Don’t be afraid to explore the backstreets in a new city as long as you feel safe

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