Thursday, June 26, 2014

From Amsterdam to Siedlce

Yesterday I took an afternoon KLM flight from Amsterdam to Warsaw. Again when checking in I was faced with having to pay 30 Euros to check a bag. This year is the first time I've encountered a fee for checking a bag in an inter-Europe flight. I again asked why and pulled our my Delta Sky Priority Card. In May I was told only to check with KLM Customer Service in Warsaw which I don't think excites. This time I was told my Sky Priority membership was not in their system.

The agent re-printed my boarding pass and also marked my luggage for priority delivery. He told me to go to the KLM web site and find customer service and write about the problem and the money would be refunded quite quickly. And I found that when I arrived in Warsaw my bag did receive priority service; it was the first one of the luggage belt.

I hit the bankomat and got some more Polish money and then went to the taxi stand. I got a taxi from the airport to the Boutique B&B for 40.40 PLN.  My arrival was at rush hour and the driver did an excellent job.

After checking in I walked to the nearby train station and got a ticket to go to Siedlce on jutro (tomorrow).

Then I walked to a nearby street for supper. I got a hamburger and french fries and Pepsi light. I reflected on how much Poland has changed since I came the first time in 2002. At that time getting a hamburger would have been impossible. And I got the Pepsi Light served with a glass of ice, without even asking for the ice.

I walked back to room and enjoyed a somewhat early night. But first I explored who was Hrabal.
At this B&B rooms are not numbered. Rather they carry word names. My room was Hrabal and the book shelf was full of his books -- all in Polish. The Internet didn't work well enough in my room for me to use the computer and my phone did only Google in Polish. But I figured out Hrabal is a Czech writer of renown. When I get back to the States I'm going to see if I can find one or more of his books in the library system.

This morning I was up early and enjoyed a fine breakfast at the B&B. I had some time to relax before it was time for the train.

The B&B had promised me some help with my large suitcase down the steps of the train station. It is heavy because of amount of teaching materials I am bringing as well as carrying a donated Netbook. I was told someone would meet me at the station, but didn't see anyone. So I started to do move my bags by myself. Two young Polish men rescued me, transferring my bags down to the bottom of the steps. Dziękuję bardzo,
Dziękuję bardzo.

Last summer many of the commuter line stations were closed for renovation. Now one has nearly a level surface for moving luggage, but I found there was still a large gap. There were a young man boarding the train and I said, "Proszę bardzo" and he helped me transfer the large bag. 
When I arrived in Siedlce I sat the small bag on the platform and just as I was reaching for the large one, another Polish gentlemen helped. Dorota was there in rain to help me get the luggage down the stairs and then up the stairs and to her car. 

She had found me a room in the Hotel Arche, a hotel located on the very eastern edge of Siedlce. 

The city's hotels are crowded right now due to a national mushroom growers' convention. It was only last year that I learned that growing mushrooms is a large agricultural effort in Siedlce County; thus, I wasn't surprised that the convention was here. 

After doing some hand laundry I wandered next door to place that looked like a pizza fast food shop. However, the daily menu had lots of other things, and nothing like a large slice of pizza with a drink. So I ended up just pointing to something on the daily menu written on a white board. The cook picked up a large contained, shook some in his hand so I could I see it was red pepper. I told him, "mały."

Here's what I received: 

 It was very tasty. 

I came back to the hotel and worked with the donated netbook that I carried to Poland. Discovered it lacks any software on it that is useful for what we had envisioned would be its use. (We have since made a plan to leave it here for work in the week between the Zakopane camp and the start of the language camps at Reymontowka.) Tried napping too but kept being awakened by my phone announcing that I had mail. About 5:00 I discovered the rain seemed to have blown away so decided to take a little walk. This area is furniture store heaven, and since I'm not in the market for furniture, not to much to see or do. 

I tried the Topaz market and enjoyed walking about. 

Here's what I carried back: 

chocolate Krowka, Princessa Bars, a Milka bar with raisins and nuts, and chips. Missing from the picture is instant coffee. My memory is that the hotel in Zakopane has hot pots in every room and I'm going to be prepared from Day 1!

I came back to the restaurant in the hotel. Since I had had a small lunch, at least by Polish standards, I was ready for a bigger evening meal. It was all good!

Explored the TV, but no English channels such as International CNN or BBC. And much to my surprise I couldn't find any World Cup games, only Wimbleton on Polish Sports Channel, yet I saw a World Cup game being played on a monitor in the lobby. 

Hoping tomorrow in sunshine and bit warmer. Planning to see what's new in the city center. 

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