17 September 2011

the Polish chicken doner

in Krakow, on a day with a big lunch, we opted for a light, easy supper: a shared chicken doner sandwich around the corner from the hotel.

into the pita went a reasonable amount of shaved chicken, a whopping amount of cabbage, some tomatoes/onions, and a mixed sauce of yoghurt and "hot" that looked like 1000 island dressing.

"wow," i thought, "that's a lot of cabbage."

happily, given that there was still room in the pita, he topped it with some more chicken. that made me happy.

and then on top of that went another whopping amount of cabbage. it was done before i could say anything. but look! more tomatoes, onions, and sauce that i hoped tasted better than it looked (it did).

and more chicken! hurrah! i'd like to have that first bite be chicken, even though i thought he was out of room. oh no! ANOTHER giant whopping amount of cabbage! how does it fit?

and after more tomatoes, onions, and sauce, he actually was done this time.

it was good, if not a bit cabbage-y. and i learned that night that cabbage is a diuretic.

10 September 2011

traveling light

this was the lightest i've packed for a (nearly) 2 week trip, taking only my MEI* purple backpack.

i normally take a slightly larger Kelty backpack -- main body is about the same size, but it has a couple wings. the difference is enough where i can reasonably carry-on the MEI, but no the Kelty.

this was an experiment. it mostly worked well, but there was no room to spare. my rain jacket and thicker jumper took up over half the capacity, leaving space for 5 days of clothing (t-shirt, undies, socks), plus light jumper, dress shirt, hat, phrase books, novel, iphone charger, small camera, maps and toiletries. i wore a single pair of pants and single pair of shoes.

next time, i'll likely return to the Kelty.

* i bought the excellent MEI many years ago (15? more?) from Uncle Dan's. then they seemed to drop off the face of the earth. i found that they still exist ( http://www.meipacks.com/ ) and sell online. they have a lifetime warranty, and repaired mine (the straps were coming off) for only the cost of shipping it to them.

if i ever need a new pack with the form factor and size they now offer, i might fly to san francisco and try it out.

this photo was taken in Copenhagen, during a layover (gf and i went to the city since the layover was 4 hours).

car 14, where are you?

there's a lot to love about Polish rail.

you get your typical (mostly) on-time European performance. the stations have reasonable signage and platform information. it's cheap -- three intercity trips for three people, in first class, came to under $300 USD total.

but it gets better. there is a generous mix of new carriage and (very) old, depending on the line/route. i traveled with my mom and my gf between Warsaw, Lubin and Krakow, and all rides had older cars with the compartments and side hallway. Poles love to stand in the hallway with the windows down, enjoy the breeze, and watch the scenery roll by.

i had opted to go with first class, as the seats are assigned. i found out later that the compartments have 6 seats instead of 8, so they're a little more comfortable. the WC, however, is just as disgusting as that in second class.

the thing i didn't love is that, without some intimate knowledge of Polish rail, you will have trouble finding your car. on our first ride, from Warsaw to Poland, i was confounded on how to find car #14, our car. we ended up in 2nd class, with people glaring at us because of some unwritten rules we'd broken about not overloading compartments (we doubled the passengers from 3 to 6).

before our 2nd journey, i emailed the service that sold me the tickets (official polish rail outfit? ticket reseller? who knows, but the tickets were good) and they told me to look for the 1st class cabin, identified by the number 1 on the side (easy enough) and the gold stripe "across the windows". For the 2nd journey, i noticed that *all* the cars had gold stripes across the windows and two first class carriages.

once aboard, i was able to find the 4" x 4" piece of paper inside the vestibule that said "14". huzzah!

so, we managed 2 of 3 trips in first class. not too bad.

oh -- for the first journey, i did find a conductor and showed him my ticket. he "helpfully" pointed behind me. whether that meant i was on the right car and my compartment was behind me, or on the wrong car entirely, i couldn't tell.