Poland!

On Monday I flew to Katowice Airport in Silesia, south west Poland. The plane was packed with Polish people, who applauded when we landed, which made me worry that flights don’t normally land so smoothly.
I was met at the airport and taken away, through a massively industrial landscape to a nineteenth century neo-gothic wooden hunting lodge on the shores of a lake in the depths of a forest. I imagine it looked to me very much like the witches woodland cottage must have looked to Hansel and Gretel. Fortunately, I wasn’t about to meet a gruesome end.
The staff at the hotel had planned a detailed itinerary which meant that I got up at 6am British time on Tuesday to be dragged off in the cold early morning air to a bison reserve. With the words of my editor ringing in my ears to take lots of notes I tried to look alert (but any of you who know me well know fully what I’m like first thing…).
From there I was taken to look at some wooden churches, and then on to the Tyskie Brewery tour. The Tyskie Brewery make Poland’s bestselling beer and at the end of the tour you get to drink it for free. It was really nice, but by this point it was gone 1pm and I had not eaten for several hours. My face went numb and my pidgin English/Polish (the few words I’d learnt on the flight from a teach yourself kit I had been armed with) was failing me. When I finally got lunch it was elk! It was really lovely, very tender, but completely guilt ridden, because surely elk is a protected species?…
After lunch I got on a bike. The editor had decreed that this issue of the magazine will have a cycling theme to tie in with the Tour de France so I had to cycle round. The hotel lent me an adult bike. Not a problem you might think, but my legs were too short for me to push off without some kind of kerb and once I got going around the lake it was mainly dirt tracks and muddy paths. Needless to say I fell off several times and getting back on and going was a hilarious saga.
As a consequence the next day, which was largely devoted to cycling, I was given a teenage boy’s bike which was the perfect height for me. However, it also had much smaller wheels which meant I had to pedal twice as hard as my guide, and my bottom is substantially larger than the teenage boy’s the bike seat was designed for.
12 kilometres to a castle and I was knackered – I’m completely unfit and it should be noted I haven’t been on a bike for years.
But I’d survived.
My guide had arranged for someone else to join us and lead us a ‘more interesting’ route back.This more interesting route was much longer. About 5 kilometres from the hotel the woman who was leading us, stopped and told us she could cycle no further because we were now out of her jurisdiction, but that the route was straightforward from there. Of course that meant that we got lost and added another 10k onto our journey.
In total I cycled 40 kilometres or 24 miles. I am proud of myself, but I am also still sore. Especially my bottom!
It was over in a whirlwind and I found myself sitting in the airport panicking that I hadn’t made enough notes and that the editor was going to be really annoyed that he’d sent the intern and not someone decent.
Fortunately the next day as I filled him in on what I’d done and where I’d been, he was suitably impressed.
Surely being a journalist can’t be this much fun in real life can it??

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