Les gens qui ne rient jamais ne sont pas des gens sérieux

Be who you are and say what you mean, those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Wir sind zuruck

That was nice. Really nice. The mulled wine, the sausages, the potato pancakes, the beer, the pancakes, the grilled meat, the roasted potatoes. Did I mention the food and drink? It was great.

The weather cooperated, the atmosphere left us in no doubt that Christmas is fast approaching, everyone was in a fantastic mood and, oh dear Lord, the food, the drink.

It was interesting being in Germany with a group of Poles. They picked out the things about Germany that I had noticed a lack of when I first moved to Warsaw.

First, the driving. On German autobahns people change lanes to overtake. They drive fast, but generally there is pretty good lane discipline and rules are adhered to. In Poland the drivers are fast and chaotic. Drivers change lanes according to how best to weave through the traffic, and near-misses happen all the time. It's much more relaxing in Germany.

Secondly, the eco-friendly life in Germany really contrasted with life in Poland. After living in both Germany and Belgium where rubbish gets sorted in various mutli-coloured sacks and taken away as much for recycling as land-filling, Poland's technique of throwing it all into a bag and forgetting about it was a shock to me. Even in the UK they are starting to pick up your recycling in the bigger cities but Germany takes it to another level. Public rubbish bins in stations and airports for example have different places for different kinds of rubbish, nobody is given plastic bags at supermarkets but takes their own linen re-usable ones, and it's so much a part of life that it just stops being an effort.

The third thing that kept getting remarked on was the way Germans leave their bikes, motorbikes and scooters in the road. They're locked but still... they aren't afraid they'll get stolen! I guess some stereotypes about the Poles being a band of thieves are held as much by Poles themselves as by other nationalities.

The only thing that seriously messed with my head this weekend was the language. 90% of my time was spent trying to decode and respond appropriately to the conversations going on around me in Polish. The other 10% was spent trying to dredge the back of my memory for my German and translate between the two languages for the rest of the group. Nightmare.

My previous theory that Poles are taking over the world and that it's not possible to go abroad without bumping into them gained some more supporting evidence however. We were spoken to in Polish by several stall holders at the Christmas markets and heard as much Polish being spoken by tourists in Cologne for example as French and English. Who said learning Polish wasn't going to be useful?

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Anonymous edd said...

And such nice photos too! I love the quote about Wurst und Bier.
In Toronto they have paper/ container/ other bins on the *streets*. It's great. Bucketloads of plastic bags at shops though :( (by their colour I'd say they've been recycled at least 20 times though, at least.)

6:37 pm  
Anonymous N said...

Hey there fellow Polish IKO student.
Finally got round to checking out your blog, lovely font.
Seasonal greetings and we will see you and M afer christmas

6:27 pm  

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