I was particularly excited for this November, mostly because I thought I would be able to spend the 11th in Poland, which happens to be its Independence Day. First off, you might ask why a nation that claims to be 1000-years old and whose inception started with the baptism of a king would need an independence day. Well, it celebrates its independence from Germany, Austria, and Russia, which was secured on November 11th, 1918 (yes, the end of World War I), ending a partitioned rule of 123 years. Next, you might ask why I would care at all since the Poles don't really have any super-fun holiday extravaganzas. From what I've heard, Independence Day is just a day everyone stays at home and the military holds some token parades. Meanwhile, the people in the States hold raucous parades for just about every holiday they can (Memorial Day, Thanksgiving Day, the Fourth of July, Veterans Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter.) Well, I've just never seen it, and I really wanted to see it. Unfortunately, I was recalled to the US (on tragic circumstances) and spent the day (Veterans Day) hearing from veterans describing the free meal they got from Applebee's. On the flipside, I did get to spend the Fourth of July in the States, instead of Poland as I have or the past couple of years (mostly by drinking a few beers and watching Gettysburg. There's nothing more satisfyingly patriotic than watching the Confederates' dreams and hopes crushed on the battlefield.)
My journey to the States was surprisingly uneventful; everything went as smoothly as could be. I flew Air France, and every flight was on time. The layover in Paris was short enough and on both flights I didn't have to sit next to any horrible miscreants. Even my passage through Customs was swift. (Not that I'm plugging for Air France. It was almost two years ago when they cancelled my flight from Paris to Warsaw on Christmas Eve and couldn't get me out until Christmas Day. Then, they left my baggage in Paris.)
The trip from Boston to Rome (I flew Alitalia on the way back) was a different story. The lass at the ticket counter squeezed me up to seat 11A on account of the flight being full, which I immediately fantasized that I was bumped up to Business Class or the mythical First Class. Unfortunately, I was relegated to the first seat of economy. It wasn't all bad: there was no seat in front of me that would recline backwards and I got to exit rather quickly, plus I could stick my feet up on the partition. The bad thing was the family across the aisle (and whose fat grandfather sat next to me) with the noisy toddlers.
I've never had a problem with kids on an air plane; if anything they're usually better than the horrible adults that usually ruin my flight. The babies cry during takeoff and landing, but then quiet down after ten minutes and sleep the whole time. These little brats didn't sleep at all and did nothing but talk really loudly and cry. I mean, they. would. NOT. shut up. Meanwhile, their loving parents proceeded to ignore them and continue to watch their movies. The mother saw fit to change one of their diapers in the cabin instead of the bathroom, where there are perfectly good accommodations for changing a shit-filled sack from little child. Also, they turned on a DVD player sans headphones so the rest of us could enjoy the crappy kids movie. And another thing: when I first arrived at my seat, I was greeted by the grandmother playing with the two kids in my seat. She then went, "Oh, you're the one sitting here." and spent ten minutes picking up toys and uncooperative kids to clear out and let me sit down (meanwhile backing up the line for people waiting to get on the plane.) Did she just think that someone wasn't going to sit in that seat on an over-booked flight?
The flight from Rome to Warsaw was fine, but I was picked out by Customs for inspection, who scanned my bag. The guard then spent a few minutes writing something down and said I could go. Why the need to write down something when nothing happened? They feel the need to note anything of importance and whatnot. It's like when a few years ago I got off a late train and headed for the benches under the walkways in Centralna to wait for a friend. Two policemen followed me and took down all my information in a little book then let me go. Doesn't really make sense.
West of Warsaw's central axis - I have little reason to wander west of al. Jana Pawła II*, so when I get the chance I do so to cast a fresh eye at the architecture of a part of town that ...
14 hours ago