Saturday the 3rd of January 2015
This is it. The year I turn twenty five. The year I thought I’d have everything figured out. I often start recent blog posts with an apology as to why I haven’t been writing as regularly as I once did. This is no such post.
I was off work with bronchitis from Monday the 15th of December 2014 to Monday the 22nd of December 2014. The Christmas holidays started on Monday the 22nd which means that because I was off work for one week with illness and due to school not starting again until Wednesday the 7th of January 2015; I will have been off school for about twenty three days. That’s almost a month. Yet, in this time, I feel as though I’ve achieved nothing but visit the friends and family of my significant other, eat too much and practice a little Polish. Time flies by so quickly that it seems as though, in the midst of all the festivities, my body forgot to get better. I still have a cough. I am slightly frustrated by this as I spent 100 PLN on medication. Despite this, I really can’t wait to get back to school.
Christmas in Poland is interesting; they celebrate it with a family dinner on Christmas Eve which traditionally consists of twelve (or more) courses. The dinner doesn’t start until the family have broken bread (Christmas wafers, similar to rice paper) and wished each other well. The dinner is supposed to be the first meal of the day and most Polish families will fast before it. We didn’t fast; my boyfriend’s mum made us a really nice breakfast. The family did stick to the no meat rule, something very different from the Christmases I’m used to. In fact, every dish served at the dinner was either vegetarian or pescetarian. The night before Christmas Eve, I helped make pierogi and I learned how to make croquettes, croquettes being significantly more difficult to make. I was asked to taste the red borscht with a tea spoon and I gazed in wonder at the sheer size of the pots on the cooker. It looked as though we were about to feed the 5,000.
Once the family had arrived on Christmas Eve and we had wished one another well, the food was served. There were copious amounts of everything. The dishes we ate were: fried carp, potatoes, croquettes, pierogi, red borscht with ceps raviolis (uszka), a poppy seed desert, a sauerkraut salad with white beans, herrings served with cranberries and red onion and dried fruit compote (kompot z suszu). There might’ve been other things served but I can’t remember. I really didn’t like the compote though as it reminded me very much of watered down BBQ sauce. We opened our Secret Santa/Christmas Lottery presents to each other after dinner.
On Christmas day, so Thursday the 25th of December 2014, we took a train to a place called Wisła where we watched The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies and played board games with my boyfriend’s friends and his friend’s family. The next day (Boxing Day) there was a family dinner which my boyfriend and I attended, it was surreal to be sat at yet another dinner table, surrounded by a foreign language, this table did have turkey on it though, which reminded me a little more of home. We went sledging, which was incredibly fun and then we made our way back to Tychy, where my SO’s parents live. We visited his cousin and her family and then headed home.
The day after (Tuesday the 27th of December 2014), we got into a car, we being myself, my SO, his mum and dad. We were on our way to Oswiecim, more commonly known as Auschwitz. My SO’s grandfather was a prisoner there during the war so although there was a connection, it was hard to connect with such a place. I was surprised by how clean it was, how cold, how aesthetically pleasing and symmetrical the buildings were, how well preserved it was. I couldn’t imagine masses of starving bodies; I couldn’t imagine the smells, sights or sounds. It was shell like; it reminded me of a film set. It was empty and eerily quiet. It was a place of contemplation, of realisation and remembrance. It was a place once filled with visions of terror; terror so unimaginable that only documentation of it will move you to tears, the place itself will just continue to exist as a background of such documentation. I felt angry rather than upset whilst there; I read that if a Polish prisoner tried to escape, their entire family was placed in the camp. What kind of logic is that?
The more I read, the more irate I became, the more I wanted to go back in time and stop it from ever having occurred. Although I believe that killing teenage Hitler and making it look like an accident might’ve been the right way to go about it (take note future time machine owners). Anyway, after Auschwitz we drove to my SO’s auntie’s house, the sister of my SO’s dad. Once there we were served yet another dinner, this one had some of the most exceptional cakes I’ve ever tasted as well as a plate of rabbit, red cabbage and Silesian dumplings. Rabbit reminds me of chicken but with far more bones. I was poured two small shot glasses of a sweet home made liquor which I drank slowly, accompanied by huge amounts of orange juice.
I suffer from kinetosis, or motion sickness, it’s horrible. On the journey back, my SO’s father swerved the car to the side of the road, I got out and projectile vomited into the snowy roadside. I couldn’t hold back my tears, I was embarrassed and suffocating with the sheer amount I was throwing up. Coughing, spluttering, choking and then, it stopped. I let out a disgusting final burp of relief, wiped my mouth and got back into the car.
We stopped at a Biedronka where we purchased snacks for a party my SO and I were to attend that night. We bought chewing gum and a packet of our favourite crisps; they’re butter and salt flavour, actually at first I thought they were salted cheese. They bought me some Aviomarin, which I was grateful for when travelling back to Warsaw. Chewing gum in the car helped and then chewing crisps in the car helped too. We arrived in Katowice, said goodbye to my SO’s parents and walked to what we thought was the apartment of our friend. It was not. We then headed to a bar, got an address and took a taxi to the correct location where the party was taking place. I didn’t drink but I made sure to refill my stomach with all the delicious food that was on offer there. One particular favourite of mine was a cherry tomato and peeled cucumber salad with the same or similar ceps raviolis (uszka) as served with red borscht. Once 1AM was upon us we got into a taxi with two others and headed back to Tychy.
The next few days up until New Year’s Eve were spent relaxing and attempting to find a costume for a comic book party (which never happened). On New Year’s Eve we celebrated with another couple, the same friend of my SO whose family we spent time with in Wisła. We drank wine, ate pizza, watched TV and fireworks then wandered around in the snow. I was sick again that night. I really shouldn’t drink anything alcoholic; it just completely disagrees with me.
We’re back in Warsaw now. Christmas is over, the New Year has begun. It’s time to take down the decorations and get back to work. I wish all of you luck and happiness in 2015.