Ah, so I didn’t tell you about Warsaw, or Dubrovnik, did I ?
Well, since I have nothing in particular to do tonight, there being no bridge class or bridge playing or Russian practice or Rotary dinner or even a low-key comfortable evening with my sweetie in sight (what ? sweetie, did you say ? ah, er, that too), there’s time for blogging.
Warsaw, for the latest in a series of clinical workshops on ataxia-telangiectasia. Mireille invited me, and I do like to keep up, even though I don’t work on this rare disease any more. M reserved for me the earliest possible flight for the day before the workshop, to satisfy my penchant for walking around and seeing any new town I’m in. It’s too lame to go somewhere for a workshop and not see anything but the hotel and the airport.
Alas, the weather reports 4 months in advance were not accurate enough to tell me it was going to be cold and rainy on just my walking around day. Not one of those clear & mild fall days, no. One of the dreary & damp kind.
On the good side, it did not rain until after I found my hotel. I felt ridiculous finding my hotel. I had a lame map that I started out just off the edge of, and furthermore was convinced that I was looking for a place on the wrong segment of a discontinuous street. I like walking around, so it should be a good thing to spend 90 minutes charging up one avenue and down another trying to figure out where the heck was I on the map and was I even going in the right direction.
Oh, yes, go discover curious statuary and little-known parks and the real Polish-people-live-there avenues. Just do it without the soggy wind and the miraculous bag that spontaneously gains a pound every half mile. And do it after lunch. Enough with thinking you can have lunch when you get there, if you’re not getting there until 3pm.
Finally got turned around right and found the hotel, just a hundred yards from the train station where I started out. You just have to go the other way from the beginning. It’s right there on the other side of the shopping mall.
Ah, the shopping mall. Food, now all the proper lunch restaurants are not serving. Thing with the shopping mall, like the hotel, is that it’s exchangable with any other shopping mall in the western world. There is not a shop or eatery that I have not seen in France, and often in the US. Chains, every one. Aside from the language, it’s all the same. Even the prices are similar to what I’d pay locally. Feh.
A bit later, I meet up with a couple of colleagues arrived for the workshop, and we decide to trust in a break in the rain and hop a bus to the old town. It’s our only chance to see anything, because there’s no break in the workshop schedule and we’re all leaving right at or even before the end. We get there about 5:30, in the rapidly falling dusk.
It was too late to visit the insides of any of the historical sights, but the outsides were nice, and we were able to eavesdrop on a guided tour in English as it passed through the main square. Only two of the surrounding buildings were left standing at the end of WW2; the rest are all reconstructions. Some of the shops were open, and we appreciated that amber is a big local deal - anything you can make out of amber you can get here in Warsaw. The bigger the creation, the better. There was even an evening dress laden with several pounds of the stuff.
Then it was dark, and more importantly, colder and wetter than before, so we decided to go for wine and a snack at the hotel, and to check out our colleagues as they arrived.
The workshop continued over the next three days, and it was good though I had to leave halfway through. A shame - the présentations that do connect with my current work were all scheduled for after my departure. I'll get the notes from someone later.