A day in Warsaw
The next morning, November 12, my flight to Warsaw was not only very early, but also departing from Frankfurt. And it is not fun to get up really early to try to beat the traffic, and the clock, in the Autobahn. I heard that you won’t really get a speeding ticket in the Autobahn. I sure as heck hope that is true, because I broke my speed record in a utility vehicle (my experience with supercars in closed circuits don’t count). And a red flashing light was fired as I sped by the radars at least three times… Ooopss.
The truth is that I should know better. In a drive of over two hours, speeding like a demon will only save you 6 minutes (I clocked it against the GPS initial estimate). So, c’mon, really? Am I going to risk my life and other people’s for 6 stupid minutes? I should know better. And I promise, just like I did when I had the motorcycle accident a few years ago, that my days of speeding are over. Maybe writing it here will help me keep that promise.
So I got to the airport in time, read the newspaper, pondered on how hideous and awful the Wall Street Journal is and how hard the Financial Times is trying to not be, and boarded my plane. That’s all I can remember. All of a sudden I was in Warsaw.
Warsaw has an excellent and affordable public bus that went from the airport to the city center, and you can pay with credit card. So while the taxis are not expensive (unless you board one of those “exclusive” ones), I decided to test it. Perfect.
I checked in at the Sofitel Victoria hotel, unpacked, took my laptop, and went to my meeting. The meeting went very well, but there was something uncanny about it.
I met one senior executive, one engineer, one sales exec, and one business development exec from a listed Polish technology company. They ranged widely in ages from an early fifties man to an early twenties woman. The uncanny part is that, with their differences in English level, background, age and even style, I could not, for the life of me, “read” their reactions, if they had any. I thought I was in Iceland!
After a long explanation they stared at me. Just like that. No clue what they were thinking. No clue how to proceed. The only reason that led me to believe that they understood what I was saying was that they spoke good English, and that once in a while they asked a relevant question. But boy was it hard to keep it “fluid”! And I mean no disrespect, at all. They were all nice. Particularly the very professional young woman, who tried hard to make sure everyone was engaged and who definitely made me feel welcome. But still, it was awkward. Maybe I was tired. After all I adapt very quickly to dealing with Arabs, Japanese, French or American business partners. Perhaps I was just tired. Did I say that twice? OK, tired it is.
So, let’s get an early dinner and go to sleep as soon as I can.
I “yelped” the surroundings of my hotel, and decided to go to a nearby traditional restaurant that was highly rated enough. I got there at 19:55h, requested a menu in English, which they did have, and proceeded to read the whole thing to make sure I ordered the most delicious option in the long list. 10 minutes later, I was ready, so I call the waitress, who informs me “sorry but the kitchen closed at 20:00h, only beer now”. Whaaaaat? “You have to be kidding me”, but I guess they don’t do “kidding” here.
Now I was annoyed, besides tired and hungry. It was very dark. And it was getting cold. Is that how one turns into a vampire?
I tried two more places, same thing: kitchen closed. Fr Xst shake! I know we Spaniards are a bit extreme having dinner minutes before midnight, but an 8:00pm cutout time, really?
In any case, I ended up in Caffé Nero, a very nice cafe with delicious quiches and cakes next to the University entrance. Their tea selection was so nice I felt like lounging there! But I had to return to the hotel as soon as possible, because, of course, the next day I had… you guessed it, another early morning flight.