Warsawa (Var(d(roll that r))shava) II
After a well-deserved sleep, Robert and I headed off to meet with Magda and Hubert (Magda's bf, Polish soldier, and soon-to-be good new pal). The lunch spot we met up at was The Inn Under The Red Hog; a Polish communist-era themed restaurant. They had an old commie-car out front… the menus were all designed like the communist propaganda newspapers… this was a rad spot. Apparently some celebrities from back in the States will even pop into this place occasionally. Bruce Willis with your pork lard anyone?
We started with the "Luxurious Lard Of The Polish People's Republic." Lard made with apple, onion, cracklings and sausage, served with bread and pickled cucumber. Yes. Lard. Friggon good lard at that. It's essentially like butter mixed with maybe pate'? Spread that artery-clogging deliciousness on some Polish-bread… and you are set my friend. The Krolewskie beer went just right with it. The Pickles are Polish and freakin' great. Our main was "Edward's Board." A "miner's" platter of "the choice of meats and sausages with a heap of potatoes and other extras." This is what I want. All the time. A steaming heap of meat - meant to share with your nearest and dearest pals. Meat, condiments (like the necessary mustard), pickled cucumber, and other Polish typical-ities. A Polish meat-board with beer and bread is all you need to kick start your heart back into life. Couldn't have been any better.
We hoofed it from lunch to the city; we passed where the old Polish ghetto wall was. It is painful to think that all that nightmare happened not too long ago; I was shown buildings where bullet holes still left pockmarks on the face of the city… people would be lined up and executed by firing squad right in public where they stood. Remnants and reminders of the past left scars littered about Warsaw on our journey to the next spot.
Our walk took us to a local art gallery with a show of Beksinki - one of Magda's favorite painters; one of Poland's most accomplished and famed, late artists. Beksinski's works hurt to look at. The anger and depression that he is able to depict in his surreal works will chill you to your source. Somewhere between the lines of Picasso's surrealism and H.R. Giger's grotesqueries is what you'll find ever-present in Beksinski's works. You can't miss this stuff - look him up; a show of his near you? Go see it. It'll change you.
We went to a skyscraper that overlooks all of Warsaw, then to E. Wedel for some dessert chocolate with chili and whipped cream in a hot chocolate drink. Needless to say - that rocked. Polish sweets and chocolates are done very well in this country - ya gotta try it.
Robert and Hubert were explaining to me the bars in Poland… apparently they have bars where you do a shot of vodka that is paired with specific foods… things like pickles, pickled herrings - all that good salty, vinegary stuff that chases that brutal Polish vodka down. Since I always want a new bar experience unlike the typical ones I get to see - I was giddily reinstating a lot of the fact that we needed to go to one of the "vodka pickle bars."
We hit Meta for some Kasztelan beers and Zoladkowa vodka. With our shots (and there were to be many) came pickles, pickled herring and other pickled vegetables and bread. It's rare that I drink anything other than a craft beer or two, some good red wine, or a proper cocktail on tour - in strict moderation… but when in Poland… drink as the Polish do. We slugged down shot after shot after shot, trading off between pickles and pickled, salted fish; I started getting a little… loud… a little… rowdy.
Amazingly, my journalistic instincts were still semi-functional: I still remembered to take some photos and take some notes. My notes from here depict my obvious over-toxification: "more and more bars." "broken glass."
From Meta, we went to a jam-packed wodka bar - their food becoming even more Grandma-meets-sophisticated than our previous haunt. There was more fish, sausage, this Polish sour cream/ cheese-chive stuff with potatoes, far-more-vodka-than-ought-to-be-drunk, terrine. More vodka. By this point, we had some more mutual local-friends show up, and me and Hubert had begun settling into a good, loud, drunken new kinship.
I traded old tour stories, Hubert traded old military-life stories. One amazing one I can vividly recall: Hubert mentioned his unit was doing training off in the wilderness of the Ukraine. Their objective was basically to survive the harsh conditions of the Eastern-wintertime - scavenging, camping, foraging, hunting - to survive. They one day found a chicken… but didn't exactly have a way to cook it. They put the chicken in a clay-pot sort of formation… buried it… and heated it. Ate it. Pretty intense. Militaries all around the world work very hard. My father was a Marine - and would share stories of their partying here and there with me; Hubert had similar intense drinking stories to share. My goal? I wanted to drink "like the Polish do." I certainly held my own.
If you know me, you know I seldom get nuts. Warsaw? I started yelling (in Polish) "It's fucking cold, you cunt!" down the streets… started buzzing peoples apartments in the wee hours of the a.m. yelling something similar to that classic quote… then… the broken glass.
Through some foggy alleyways and by a river, we went into this red bar. Ordered some beers and some more shots. I have this… tendency… to chew my plastic cups on tour whilst drinking alcohol. Call it a nervous tick or whatever… but I guess I completely forgot that I was drinking out of a glass glass. Started chewing - kinda hard. I feel a pop. The glass shatters and spills all over me; chunks of broken glass rain down on the carpet and on my soggy lap. But wait… 25% of the glass is… shattered… still on my tongue. I carefully extract the leftovers, wipe myself down, then the owner comes by and buys us a round of drinks for the "glass-eater." I gain a round of applause and title of being able to drink with the Poles. I am the belligerent king of Warsaw for the night.
I have zero recollection of how we got back - but we did.
I sleep a spinning, randomly-waking-up comatose sleep.
I am Matt's toxic, gasping liver.