Saturday, July 30, 2005


Look! I managed, for the first time in my life, as far as I remember, to cut a straight slice of bread!
I don't think it will happen again, at least not for a very long time, hence why I decided that the event was definitely photo-worthy.

I assume you're all very impressed.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Thursday, July 28, 2005

More Plumbing

The water has been cut off to my building, and plumbing work is happening somewhere - from the noises coming directly from the apartment above me, I suspect that could be the place. I'm slightly worried because of what happened last time plumbing work occurred, which was just over a week ago.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Wawel, the company that makes delicious chocolate, also produces a product called 'Krówka', which means 'little cow' (cow is krowa). These 'little cows' or 'krówki' are vanilla fudge-like things. They're absolutely addictively delicious, and I can't stop eating them. I tasted them at Aggie's grandparents' on the weekend because they'd bought many different polish sweets for Aggie and Simon to try. Then, just after work yesterday, the tram dropped me off just opposite a Wawel confectionary store, so I was forced to enter and purchase some of these delicacies.

They contain: Sugar, glucose syrup, skim milk powder, butter, vanilla flavour. I think it's obvious from the ingredients list that these are definitely going to be tasty. I don't think they could be more addictive, even if they contained cocaine.

Byłem w Wiśle

The weekend in Wisła was fantastic, staying with Aggie, Simon and Aggie's grandparents.

On Saturday, after I arrived, we went to Ustroń, caught the chairlift to the summit of Czantoria Wielka, and then walked home (it took about 6 hours). I have to mention that I was impressed by Aggie's superb fashion sense. As you can see from the photo, this jacket would be more at home on the catwalks of Milan or Paris, than on a hike through the mountains where it'd hardly be seen by anyone. The weather didn't seem to be ideal for a walk - there was a thick fog and it rained intermittently, but after walking to the town centre on Sunday, in the sun and heat, we decided that it was definitely better to hike in the cooler weather, even if it meant getting wet.

This time of year in Poland (and no doubt the surrounding countries, especially considering some of the berries we picked were on the Czech side of the border) is berry season, so we walked past many wild raspberry and blueberry bushes, which meant that we could pick and eat ripe, fresh berries as we walked. Delicious! I ate this raspberry very soon after taking its photo. There were also some other berries with names starting with 'p', in polish (no one knew their english names), but they were also tasty, so it didn't matter that we didn't know what to call them.

While hiking through the mountains, along the Polish-Czech border, we encountered several pubs, and we decided that we had to stop and have a beer at each of them. I drank beer at each of them too - this photo isn't just staged. Aggie and Simon can both vouch for the fact that I drank beer. This one is called 'Warka Strong', and it's a nice polish beer. I tried a different brand of beer at Aggie's grandparents' house that came from the Czech Republic, though I can't remember what it's called, so I hope Aggie remembers the name, as it was really good. The fact that we stopped at every pub along the hike meant that it took us about 6 and a half hours to walk something that should have only taken 4. The path took us through the forest and out along clearings. The view from the clearings was fantastic. It was a cloudy day, so the view gets better on clear, sunny days.

On Saturday night, back at Aggie's grandparents' house, we had a barbeque with delicious pork spare ribs, and then had a party because it was Aggie and Simon's last night in Wisła. Between the five of us, we consumed about 1.5 litres of vodka (wódka, po polsku). It was a nice evening, although a little scary when the neighbour from across the road visited, already completely pissed, and just kept saying "Hej" (hey) over and over again, each time shaking our hands as if it was the first time that he'd met us.

On Sunday, we had a lazy morning, and had a special soup for breakfast that you eat the morning after a heavy night drinking. Later in the morning, Aggie, Simon and I walked to Wisła Centrum, and wandered around, looking at the town, and the markets, before wandering home to an absolutely enormous pile of food for lunch. Seriously, there was enough food on that table to solve the hunger problem in Africa. Even Simon couldn't finish it.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Jadę do Wisły

I'm going to Wisła tomorrow, which requires me to be on a train at the ungodly hour of 6:40am, on a Saturday. But the early morning should be worth it, as everyone with relevant experience has told me that Wisła is a beautiful place. On top of the beauty of the area, I'll see Aggie and Simon again, as they're staying with Aggie's grandparents in Wisła at the moment (which is also where I'll be staying), so it should be a great weekend.

(I am a little concerned about the plumbing work that was done here yesterday - I hope it wasn't just a temporary patch-up job, as I don't want to return from a nice weekend away to find a flooded apartment awaiting my return.)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Plumbing issues

There are times when it's advantageous to live on the bottom floor of an apartment building and times when it's better to be on the top floor. I currently live on the bottom floor. The good point about this level is that I have less stairs to climb when I come home carrying things such as groceries etc. I actually can't think of another bonus about living on the bottom floor, so feel free to let me know if there are some that I have overlooked.
Times when it's better to live on the top floor of a building include the odd occasion when one's neighbours decide to do strange things involving water and plumbing. I have no idea what they did, but somehow they made my bath fill up the wrong way and my toilet overflow. Great. Just what I wanted at 10pm, especially after only getting about 5 hours of sleep last night. I have already cleaned my bathroom floor once tonight, and I don't feel like doing it again. Things seemed back to normal until I decided to try and experimental 'full flush' to check that my toilet is once again usable. It seems to work, as long as I don't mind about a third of the flush coming up through my bath before disappearing, slowly, down that plughole. There are also some intermittent gurgling noises emanating from the pipes.

Basically, this means that I'm a little wary about going to bed in case my apartment has another incident, and I can't really use my own toilet. Great. Just fantastic.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Radiostacja Gliwice

Yesterday Nat and I went to see the Radio Tower in Gliwice. This is the place where WW2 essentially started. Hitler arranged for a staged attack on the radio tower in Gliwice, using Germans dressed in Polish uniforms (Gliwice was called Gleiwitz and was part of Germany then). The "Polish" soldiers stormed the radio station and started to transmit a message saying "Gliwice is now in Polish hands". Hitler used this as an excuse to invade Poland, saying that Germany was acting only in defense.

Unfortunately we weren't able to go into the museum at the radio tower because we didn't realise that it is closed on Mondays (as are many other museums), but we were able to walk around the outside of the tower and get a good view of it. The tower is constructed out of wood, and held together with brass bolts, so there is not a single smidgin of steel in the structure. I don't know why this is a good thing, except that the tower is now the tallest man-made wooden structure in the world. It wasn't the tallest when it was built because many other radio towers were constructed of wood, but many of these were replaced when it was discovered that metal towers don't rot and also transmit a better signal. Radiostacja Gliwice became the tallest wooden structure when a similar tower in Germany (perhaps Leipzig) was demolished because of woodrot and replaced with a metal tower.


Kraków is an awesome city. It's full of old mediaeval buildings that managed to survive both world wars, which is quite impressive. This picture is the 'Cloth Hall' in the middle of Kraków's Rynek, and is basically a shopping mall that has been in continuous operation for 700 years. Kraków's Rynek is apparently the biggest town square in Europe, and definitely looks large enough to claim such a title. This building is beautiful on the outside and just as impressive inside.

This is a picture of the Town Hall Tower. The town hall has since departed after being demolished in the 1820s (I don't know why). The hall had a dungeon area containing torture chambers and a popular beerhouse. Of course. These lowers levels of the town hall remain and have been converted to a theatre and cafe. This tower was completed by the end of the 13th century and now leans slightly due to a strong wind in 1703. It is possible for people to climb to the top of this tower and see the view from above, which I think would be amazing, but was just one of the many things that I didn't know about until I returned from Kraków, so I'll have to make the trek up the, apparently, 100 steep and narrow stairs.

Just off the market square I found a "classy" McDonald's restaurant. It's completely devoid of the familiar fluoro yellow arches and instead has actual 'golden' arches. Of course, the interior is just as tacky as every other Maccas on the globe. I found another one near the Rynek but it was the tacky version, which was a shame.

This is an old barbican which was used to guard the entrance to Kraków, through the Florian's Gate (Bramka Floriańska, I think). It was once surrounded by a moat and provided quite good defense of this side of the city. It was quite a marvel of mediaeval architecture. I would like to say that the moat contained crocodiles, but alas, I don't think it did. At least there was no mention of dangerous water-dwelling creatures.

This is Florian's Gate. Impressively, sections of the old wall still exist on either side, including the battlements. The eagle visible on the tower is the symbol of Poland. Nathaniel suggested that the eagle's facial expression makes it look as though the tail is actually something painful that has been forcefully inserted into the poor creature's anus. He's quite right, it does look like this, and I now find the eagle amusing wherever I see it (which is everywhere in this country - it's on every coin for one thing).

This is the Wawel Castle, Kraków's royal residence where many (perhaps most?) of the Polish Kings lived. I don't really have a good picture of it, as the sun was too bright in one direction and from the streets around the castle, much of it is obscured by trees. We didn't get to enter the castle because visiting hours had ended by the time we arrived at the gate, so I will have to return to Kraków in the near future to see it from the inside. It was a nice castle, from the outside. It's not as big as the palaces at Schoenbrunn or in Prague, but definitely larger than that in Bratislava. This castle has a 'lived-in for many centuries' appearance, as there are sections from many different periods of architecture, which adds to the interest.

This is the famous Basilica of the Virgin Mary in Kraków (Kościoł Mariacki). It's quite unusual that such a church would have two vastly different towers. One myth that I've been told is that each tower was being built by one of two brothers and they were competing to see who could build the highest spire. One of the brothers realised that there was no way that his spire would be the highest and so he killed the other one. I don't know how much truth is in that story but it's one possible explanation. Today, the taller tower (the one on the left) actually belongs to the municipality of Kraków and every hour on the hour the Kraków signal is played on trumpet. The characteristic signal is played towards the west, then the east, south and north. I didn't hear the signal because I didn't know about it until I returned to Gliwice (so another reason to return to Kraków). Apparently the signal doesn't finish, but rather comes to an abrupt end. It was traditionally played to signal the opening and closing of the city gates as well as to warn the citizens of danger, such as a fire, or approaching enemies. The reason for the abrupt end to the current signal is to commemorate a bugler who was shot in the throat by a Tatar archer while he was warning the citizens of the approaching army in 1241.

Overall I really liked Kraków, and I do plan to return one day, hopefully for a weekend or something.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Jutro jadę do Krakowa

As obvious from the title of this post, I'm going to Kraków tomorrow. I've yet to see Kraków, which seems rather amiss of me considering that it's extremely close - merely a train ride away. Well, I shall remedy that situation tomorrow. I've been told that Kraków is the closet Poland has to a 'Prague', though on a much smaller scale. There's a castle and an old town. Apparently it's the largest town square in Europe. I plan to arrive there at about lunchtime tomorrow, have a look around the city and then return to the train station to meet Nathaniel, who will be flying into Kraków tomorrow afternoon.
With any luck, the weather should be pleasant and it'll be a good weekend.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Door-to-door egg saleswoman

About a week or two ago there came a tapping, a tapping at my apartment door. It wasn't a raven, and it actually wasn't a tapping, it was more of a buzzing due to the presence of my doorbell. Anyway, I opened the door to discover a woman standing there holding a large tray filled with eggs. She was the door-to-door egg saleswoman. I've never heard of this concept before, and it was the first (and so far only) time that I have encountered such a character. I found the situation quite strange. I had about 4 eggs in my refrigerator at the time so I didn't need to purchase any emergency egg supplies from this person, but now I find myself with a fridge completely devoid of eggs, and I have a need of some pre-chickens today. Add to this the fact that it's cold and wet outside, causing a strong desire to remain indoors, and you end up with a need for the door-to-door egg salesperson.

Alas, I feel I shall have to make the arduous trek to the local seller of foodstuffs.

Myślem że deszcz nie pada teraz. Idę.
Je pense qu'il ne pleut pas maitenant. Je vais.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

More Wien

I have time now to write a more detailed description of my recent trip to Vienna.

I arrived in Vienna on Friday at about 2pm, and then followed the simple instructions to get to the hostel, which was easy, given Vienna's fantastic public transport system. After off-loading my stuff at the accommodation, I went out into the world and went for a sight-seeing tour around the city, in spite of the weather. It was good to see the city again, and it felt familiar, as I'd been there before, which was nice. The trip definitely reminded me that it is a city in which I would one day like to live. It is expensive for a budget traveller and/or someone spending money earnt on a Polish wage (ie me) but it wouldn't seem overly expensive to someone living on a Viennese wage (I assume).

Later on Friday night there was a party held by the group (IAESTE) who organised the trip, so I went there and with the extremely cheap drink prices, managed to get well and truly unsober. The party was lots of fun, and I met some interesting people there who were also there as guests of IAESTE, as well as caught up with some people I met last weekend when they came to Gliwice. A few of us decided that 2:30am was a good time to leave and head back to the hostel. We followed the great directions given to us by the organising committee describing how to get to a bus stop to catch a night bus and then where to get off. (Take note Brisbane - Night buses are a fantastic idea. Berlin has them too.) We arrived back at the hostel at about 3am and then realised that we had to be up by 8:30am for breakfast and to be on time for the next day's activities.

The next day involved a tour-like trek over the historic centre of Vienna, which was interesting as our tour guide knew a lot of fascinating, trivial facts about the city that I didn't know about last time I visited. At about 1pm I left the main group to go and meet up with Florian in Stephansplatz. We went to an Italian restaurant for some healthy food (I had a hot chocolate and tiramisu - and forgot to take a photo. Damn). Afterwards we intended to go to the Jewish museum as neither of us had ever been before and it sounds interesting. Unfortunately we hadn't thought that it would be closed on Saturday, being the Sabbath and all, so we wandered around and found an art gallery instead. It was fantastic - the gallery was showing a Matisse exhibit, so I got to see a lot of his works, including the famous "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" painting. My favourite Matisse, however, is the painting of the horse with a rider amoungst some trees. I don't know what it's called because the titles were only in french and german, and I didn't know this particular word in french and Florian didn't know it in english. Oh well.

After I had a short rest in the afternoon, I went out and found some felafel for dinner (mmmm..... felafel...). It was good. I like felafel, and it doesn't seem to exist in Poland. After the felafel, I went to Heurigen, which is a wine bar in Vienna. There was some meat provided by IAESTE which was delicious and some really good wine. I spoke to a guy from South Africa who speaks fluent Afrikaans and found out about a cool phrase in that language. If any of you know someone who speaks afrikaans (ie, anyone at UQ in physics can ask Jacques), ask them how to say "Choose my side" in afrikaans. Choose my side!

After the wine bar we went to something billed as a disco, called U4 (because it's near one of the U4 stations). Cindy, another australian, and I were hoping that it was really a disco, complete with 70s and 80s music and a mirror ball, but we both knew that there was a strong possibility that it'd just be a discotheque. When we got there we were very pleasantly surprised to find that it is, in fact, a disco!! They played much 70s and 80s music and there was a large mirror ball. Cindy and I were very pleased. Much dancing ensued.

Sunday morning involved a trip to Schoenbrunn for the group, but as I've already been and didn't fancy paying another entrance fee, I went off on my own to do some more sightseeing around Vienna. I went back to the Hundertwasserhaus to see it in summer, and it was more impressive than when I saw it at the end of winter. The building looks better with leave-covered bushes rather than sticks. It was definitely worth seeing a second time.

After my visit to Hundertwasserhaus, it was time to return to the hostel to collect my luggage and make my way to the suedbahnhof for the train back to Poland.

The trip was excellent, just a shame about the weather (it rained for the whole weekend).

Monday, July 11, 2005


I thought I'd pop over to Vienna for the weekend. As you do.

I had a great time, and didn't get much sleep. I am home now, and tired, so I'll write more in the morning.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Hovercraft Update

Thanks to the arrival of some more international trainees, I now have the vital phrase in two more languages. Turkish and Norwegian. There are similarities between the Norwegian and Danish, and the Norwegian and Swedish (surprise surprise), however the Turkish is different to all the other languages that I currently have. Turkish has a very interesting grammatical structure, which I think could make it a difficult language to learn (and probably means English is difficult for Turkish people to learn).

The phrase is, in Turkish (without accents): "Hoverkraftim agzima kadar yilan baligi ile dalu." A literal translation in English is something like " My hovercraft to the brim eels with full." In Norwegian: "Luftputefartoyet mitt er full med al." (once again, that's without the accents).

Jadę Do Wiednia

I'm heading to Vienna again tomorrow morning. I'll be there for the weekend and will return to Gliwice on Sunday evening. My chosen mode of transport this time is the train, which leaves Katowice at 8:30am. This means that I need to get a train to Katowice and the two best options will get me there at either 7:56am or 8:23am. From my experience I know that the latter train should not be trusted as it's nothing for a train to be 10 minutes late here, and that would completely screw up my plans (as there's only one train to Vienna that I can catch). This means I have to leave home just after 6:30am tomorrow. That's ridiculously early, I never need to be out of bed at that stupidly early time. Oh well, I can rest on the train I suppose.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Update on the paintball results

I've decided to post another picture of my paintball injury because the nasty appearance has improved with age. This image is also a much closer shot.

Silver Mine at Tarnowskie Góry and Hovercrafts & Eels

I went to a silver mine at Tarnowskie Góry today (surprise surprise, given the title of this post). It was kind of cool, in the literal and figurative senses, as it was 10 degrees as well as being interesting and fun. The mine used to be for silver, but was closed in 1902 and then opened in 1976 as a tourist attraction. The guides take you down to some tunnels to walk through the mine and then to a place, still underground where you get on a boat and and float through an underground river, which was nice, but cold.

I asked the Ukrainian and Serbian exchange students to translate the hovercraft phrase for me, so now I have it in three extra languages! (Sort of - the Serbian girl translated it into Serbian and Croatian, which are identical when spoken, and only differ in the written form because they use different alphabets (roman for croatian and cyrillic for serbian)).

Sunday, July 03, 2005


Paintball was heaps of fun. I discovered that I am quite trigger-happy - I ran out of bullets twice. It was fun to shoot, and also fun to watch the bullet explode in a ball of blue at the other end.

I only got shot once (the downside of being trigger-happy is that you have to stop when you run out of bullets) out of three games. Unluckily, the one time I was shot happened to be just below my left ear. It stung for a couple of seconds, but then the pain subsided and I'm now left with just a bruise. I took a photo of the bruise, and because it's in an awkward position, I'll ask someone to take a shot of it tonight, to keep for the memories. It looks a lot nastier than it feels, so it is an ideal photo to send to mum! :-)

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Rain and Paintball and Tonight

It's raining here in not-quite-as-sunny-as-it-was-yesterday Gliwice. I guess it happens. I hope it is temporary, as I am apparently going to paintball on the weekend. (I'm still yet to discover if it's tomorrow or Sunday, but I should find out tonight)

After seeing other people who have experienced paintball, I expect to sustain some bruising, which hopefully won't be too painfull, but on the whole I think it will be fun. Otherwise I wouldn't be going. Obviously.

Tonight I'm going to a gathering/party with the same people with whom I plan to play paintball, and the same crowd as last Friday. I hope there are no accidents involving vomit this week. :-)

Friday, July 01, 2005

One Week!

So my blog is now one week old. I'm actually surprised that I've bothered to keep it going this long. Maybe it will actually last a while.

I want some!

I think haunted bookshelves would be cool!