Saturday, August 22, 2009

My Big Fat Polish Wedding


(August 22, 2009 - Dębica, Poland) The road from the Ukraine to Poland was not as easy as I hoped. I don't believe I've ever been so lost on such a grand scale. It took a lot of asking before I finally found someone who spoke enough English to get me pointed the right direction. I stopped at a little gas station / cafe for a coffee and I was rewarded with a server who spoke great English.

Not only did he draw me out a map with landmarks and signs to look for (complete with Ukrainian hieroglyphics), he also fed me perogies and then wouldn't take my money. He said it was payment for the English lessons but that was just his way of dealing with my objections. My wandering the Ukrainian road system probably added an extra 150 kilometers to my trip but now I was back on the right track. Besides the hour and a half wasted riding was way better than the hour spent at the border crossings. I'll never truly understand the reasons for having two crossings per border. But that's just years of living in North America. I have troubles understanding the purpose of borders at all. Right... tax collection... err, I mean the 'War on Tax Evasion' (It needed a catchy slogan.)

Once I got through the line up the Ukrainian's got mad at me for not having every slip of paper that was handed to me when I entered the country. That added fifteen minutes to my day. In the end they turned out to be really nice though the one guy looked at me with disgust over the fact that I had no protective cover on my iPhone. Decadent American.
Elvis Glazier Waits at the Polish Border
The Poles were a bit easier. I just had to wait my turn and what a wait it was. My god these line ups are long. Oh well, this will be the last border I have to cross on this motorcycle adventure.

Once I made it to Poland things changed drastically. This is not the Poland I expected. They have rules here! There are lines painted on the roads and policemen everywhere. After the countries I've been through I don't even know if I remember how to drive under these conditions.

I don't like it. I preferred the other way better. The way where motorcycles are completely ignored and motorcyclists are one mistake away from the grave so let them do whatever they want. I feel like I'm taking my driver's exam over again. At least the asphalt is smooth. I should make good time to Krakow if the weather holds. Is that a rain droplet on my nose?

Famous last words. The downpour was torrential to say the least. I knew that the tread on my tire was starting to wear a little thin when I could barely change lanes without my back end swinging wildly about. There was no way I could ride through this storm so I stopped at the first hotel I could see along the road. I was about a hundred kilometers short of Krakow and there was no way I was going to turn in somewhere and go searching. The sign read "LORD" in big letters. I wasn't sure if it was a church or a hotel with that name but I saw the beer awnings outside so my second guess was right. I pulled right up to the front door and parked underneath one of the awnings. There were alot of well dressed people walking by staring at me but I didn't pay them much attention. They can walk around, I'm soaked. I walked up to the front desk leaving a trail of water behind me. As I checked in, the smell of food made me salivate like Pavlov's fricken dog.

I went upstairs and got myself cleaned up and immediately went back down to eat. I found out where I was from the waiter. The Hotel Lord in Dębica, Poland. I must remember this because there is no way I will ever find it on a map. I asked why there were so many well dressed people in the hotel and he explained that there was a wedding here tonight. This could be fun.

After supper I went and bellied up to the bar. The hotel was so small that I was practically a part of the wedding. I could see the head table from my bar stool perch. Beer after beer went down as the meal turned into speeches and then into serious polka dancing. A few of the young men joined me at the bar for shot after shot of vodka. It was having an overly intoxicating effect on me but it would have been rude of me to refuse. At least that's how I justified my tremendous hangover the next day.

I ended up joining a splinter group of the wedding party in an after party at a local club. I don't remember how much vodka I drank but I do remember being pulled into a private room upstairs with the owner of the bar and a bunch of the local mafioso. Finally some service! The vodka cost about fifty cents a shot but the mix was four bucks a can. In the owner's office everything was free so I started watering my vodka down with Red Bull. Nothing like mixing your downers with your uppers to really screw with your brain. I made a polite and speedy exit when the hard drugs got piled on the table and one of the guys took his shirt off to reveal his pistol tucked into his belt. Fortunately, they bought my excuse of being too drunk without me having to self induce vomiting. They called me a taxi and I was gone like a shot. I was happy to make it back to the hotel without any incident. I was less happy to wake up.

What a party!


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