This continues on from my brief introduction to Poland, which actually turned into a bit of a history lesson, oops. I’d been invited to Poland for a weekend of excess: food, women, alcohol and video games. It would soon be apparent though that Polish food is a bit shit, and their women are veritable cesspits of disease and damnation. At least the video games and alcohol were OK. I’ve scattered a few random photos of mine from Poland throughout this entry, don’t try to make sense of them — they’re completely unrelated, but pretty!
When I’d boarded the plane in England it had been sunny, warm, breezy. I’d been promised lovely weather — continential Europe, when it gets warm, gets really warm. I’d been promised a lot of things actually and the weather was going to be the first of many broken promises. The door to the plane opened with a hiss as the pressure dropped instantly. Snow. Frackin’ snow blew into the cabin and into our faces. We’d been promised sun and warmth! If we wanted precipitation, we’d have stayed in England.
Mike met me after I’d collected my bags. ‘I thought you’d sound more British.’
Seriously, do I really not sound British? 24 years — a quarter century, next week — of speaking English. The Queen’s English. And a Canadian, a fellow member of my Queen’s Commonwealth said I don’t sound British?! Not one to punch my host in the face — always better to do that on the way back to the airport, after they’ve kept a roof over your head — I let it lie. Britishness is in the heart anyway, right? In the crumpet-shaped heart…
We headed outside to his car, trudging through a few inches of sludgy grey snow. After slighting my accent, I made sure he carried my bag — it’s good to remind the colonials who still rules the Commonwealth roost. His car was a race-tuned BMW M3 (a really fast car). My face cracked into a grin. ‘I haven’t got around to putting winter tires on the car yet, Seb… so it might be quite a wild ride back to my place.’
‘We hadn’t anticipated quite so much snow…’ REALLY?
So we skidded and careened our way along the crappy Polish highways in an automotive example of Brownian motion. Mike’s car was pretty crappy too. The dash kept falling to pieces, and the rubber seals around the doors ‘needed to be fixed, but last time I sent it to the mechanic, they kept the car for 8 weeks without fixing it.’ Poland is not a highly functional country. It’s drab and grey. Driving through the slippery streets of Gdansk, we turned onto the road leading to Mike’s flat. Street after street of poorly-maintained concrete apartment blocks. They had been painted once, just after being built, back in the 60s — there were traces of pinks and greens and baby blues — but since then they’d just been left to dilapidate and wallow in their own crappiness. Gdansk was probably quite pretty once, but not today.
Fortunately, Gdansk belongs to the Tricity of Gdansk, Gdynia and Sopot — the latter two being both a lot more charming then Gdansk and not quite so… drab. Sopot is where we would spend most of our time: eating, drinking and carousing. Sopot is where we spent hundreds of pounds on sushi and saki, where we entertained the company of beautiful, chisel-cheeked Slavic beauties and where I threw up for only the third time in my life.
It started, as these things do, with an idea. In a group of guys, that idea isn’t usually very intelligent or sensible: ‘Let’s get naked and run around campus!’ or ‘Let’s inject our testicles with fish paste and dangle them in a hungry pool of piranhas!’ — men are not the most deep and meaningful creatures at the best of times, but when you get 2 or more of them trying to agree a course of action by consensus, there are only so many possible outcomes.
‘Let’s get DRUNK!!!’
When the English, Irish and French settlers headed over to North America, did all of the enthusiastic people go with? Put an American, Canadian and Brit in the same room and it’s hard to believe they all came from the same common genetic line.
‘Sure… let’s get drunk…!’ That was me, trying to echo Mike’s enthusiasm. The last time I’d got properly drunk was on my 20th birthday, at university, 3 years ago. That was also the last time I’d been sick, and I’d avoided alcohol abuse since.
As an aside, what gives with having to drink everything that’s bought and placed in front of you?
‘I’ve had at least half a litre of spirits and a bottle of wine… I’ve swilled and gargled 5 shots of Aftershock… I’m on my last legs. When you’re tall like me, you have a long way to fall if your legs give way… ‘ (Read the linked Aftershock Challenge — alcohol and the membranes in your cheeks/under tongue = nasty)
‘But… I’ve just paid money for this drink!’
I knew that a night in Sopot would be the same deal, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. Apathetical drunkenness. Drunkenness Induced By Benevolent And Generous Host.
‘Can we at least get some food in our stomachs first? There was that nice sushi place…’ Forever the Jew, I can spot a good restaurant from well over 200 yards.
That nice sushi place turned out to be awesome. A tiny little exclusive restaurant with 15 stools placed in a circle around a central food preparation area. In the middle stood 3 proper Japanese sushi chefs — I have no idea what they were doing in Poland, so don’t ask. Perhaps some Poles had kidnapped their families, who knows. Each one served whoever was sitting in front of them — you pointed at an item on the menu, and they prepared it, right under your nose.
But, it gets better! There’s a moat of of water between you and the chefs, with little boats in it, each one carrying some kind of side-dish. I sat and watched in awe as the little boats made their way around the restaurant. You don’t want to know how much it cost for that single, appetite-whetting mouthwateringly delicious tiger king prawn that floated by on a little bamboo raft. Or the next one. And the next. In fact, after I’d taken 4, the couple sitting to our right started to get a little angry when no prawns had made it past me for 10 minutes…
Anyway, this story is about when I got drunk, not how I spent way too much of my host’s money in a snobby sashimi sushi saloon. We finished up our food, polished off the large bottle of aged red wine and headed down to the club.
The club was… cosy. It was only about 20 feet across — 5 meters — but it was deep, and on 3 floors. The ground floor was just a bar, the middle floor had some heavier rock music and the top floor was the dance-like-a-spastic cheesy-euro-disco zone. It was April, off-season, but this place was obviously the most popular club in town: shoulder to shoulder, nut-to-butt, gropefestingly jam-packed — FULL. Really damn full. We shouldered our way through the busy ground floor, hoping to find more space upstairs and guess what? It had a spiral staircase.
I guess fire regulations don’t exist in Poland — or at least, they’re not enforced. A 3-storey club, with perhaps 1000 or more wild, passionate Poles, all ascending and descending a tiny, wrought-iron spiral staircase. One thousand drunk and angry Polish people (and even a few Mafioso-looking types that everyone made way for). Making my way down that staircase at the end of the night, drunk out of my mind, struggling to put one foot in front of another — not even sure which feet were mine — is not something I want to repeat… ever.
A drunken stumble across town (cobbles are really not the best friend of the woefully inebriated) and a 5 minute drive later (Mike wasn’t drunk, I swear…) we arrive at the flat, me considerably worse for wear than him. He’d been giving me his drinks, instead of drinking them himself. Bastard.
‘I think I’m going to be sick, Mike…’
He just grinned at me. The cretinous Canadian cockmongler just grinned at me. ‘The bathroom’s over there.’
If you’ve ever seen the toilet in student accommodation, you’ll know that they’re dirty enough to cultivate at least three bacterial conurbations.
‘I think you’re getting close to recreating the conditions required for the genesis of multi-cellular organisms, Mike. This is pretty primordial down here!’ My voice was muffled and slurred, what with my head being almost fully in the bowl of the toilet. [I wanted to work in a joke about being pissed out of my head here, but I couldn't quite make it fit...]
‘What?’ I’m obviously more intelligent than backward backwater Canadians, even when drunk.
‘Never mind, come and hold back my hair…’
Sushi really doesn’t taste great the second time around, even the posh stuff. Mike and I came out of the weekend worse for wear, but closer friends than before.