Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Pretty but Perplexing Polish Idiom, or How I Fared Linguistically in Poland (and Germany)

Author’s note: Though I’m in Toronto now and it’s 2018, I wrote most of this post from Poland. I hope you enjoy! Oh, and if you want to catch up on what preceded this post, read this post first. Thanks!

Dzień dobry, my friends, and dzięnki for comin’ back here.

In my last post, I left you here: “I didn’t know what to expect, in this land that is still foreign to me, and my expectations have been far surpassed.” Indeed, still in Poland, I found myself, for the first time, in a country whose language I did not speak. Sure, this summer, I went to Germany and I don’t speak German, but even the Germans who said to us, “I don’t speak English very well” spoke English really well. So, we got around and made ourselves understood quite easily. And since we frequented only vegan restaurants and falafel joints, we were able to order anything we wanted from the former places with comfort and security, even if we did not share a mutual language with the staff there, and the falafel friends spoke a decent amount of English (that, and falafel is usually a pretty safe vegan bet). Additionally, with English being a Germanic language, we managed to accumulate a few key phrases for our travelling, and I’m still most proud of learning and using Entschuldigung in the correct circumstances, because that is a very long word, guys.

Okay, well, since I’m here, I guess it wouldn’t hurt to share a few shots of our trip to Köln for our buddy’s wedding this summer. Here ya go:

Basically, organic Nutella, but without trademark infringement or anything of the sort. It was so tasty that I bought another jar and two more of another brand... which all got confiscated when I was going through security in Frankfurt. Rest in peace, Bionella. You were good. (She was! Look how happy I am!)

The view from our apartment in Köln, in a building that, we learnt, is not well-liked—to put it lightly—by locals and that is thought to be sketchy. We enjoyed it and the view that it afforded; it is the only building of such grandeur, in terms of height, in the city. I meditated on two occasions on the terrifyingly high balcony, spending a big chunk of the meditation pondering and making peace with my potential demise should the balcony decide to give in to gravity under my weight. (Welcome to my mind.)

Me and Dane in front of the impeccably beauteous and beautifully hideous/hideously beautiful Gothic structure of the basilica in Köln. It is the first thing that greets you as you exit the train station and it is an architectural marvel. I love it.

The little things are the big things.

We made a point to see this structure as often as possible and at different times of day. It is truly breathtaking and terrifying at the same time.

I mean, look at it! Good lord! So spiky!

Vegan sushi all day, e’er day, at Maki Maki Sushi Green

Vegan schnitzel! In Germany! Broooooooooo. This food came from a restaurant that was also housed in a wellness/meditation facility; I think it was Osho’s Place. It was wicked. The place was bright and welcoming and this is where I got to say Entschuldigung in the correct context. Woo!

On our perambulations through the city, we just, you know, happened upon the Rhine, and these are the buildings that face it. They look particularly German, so we wanted to capture that.

El Rhino (not really. It is just the Rhine)

Dane having a particularly German experience at what became our favourite restaurant (we ate there twice): Signor Verde.
We had a blast there. We ended up having to leave a day early and, thus, bolted to the airport at three a.m. after having partied hard at our friend’s wedding because we were flying standby and our only chance to get home before Labour Day was, like, six hours after we got to our Air BnB from the wedding—and we needed to fly out of Frankfurt and not Köln, so we needed to catch a train at 4 a.m. to get to our 9 a.m. flight, and even then, we didn’t know if we would get on. If we hadn’t caught that flight [spoiler], we’d have been stuck in Europe for at least another five days. It was bonkers.


So, as I was saying, back in Poland (not Germany; I apologize for jumping back and forth in time and geoegraphy!), I couldn’t even pretend to know what the eff was going on linguistically. I’d started a few months ago to study Polish with the Duolingo app (which was my guide pre-Germany), and I think I abandoned my study after learning maybe seven words. I remember kobieta (‘woman’), mleko (‘milk’), and thought I remembered the word for ‘apple’, but I guess I do not. Oh, well. (I also do not remember anything from the summer of 2013 that I spent intensively learning ecclesiastical Latin, so, I am unsure as to what this says about the linguistic capabilities of one who is dedicated to language...)

Anyway, in terms of linguistic aptitude in this land whose language has no resemblance to the Romance languages I’ve studied in depth over the years, I acquired only a very loose handle on wegańska (‘vegan’, though I’m not sure about what gender, number, or case this is), Dzień dobry (‘greetings’, ‘good morning’, and ‘good afternoon’), Dobranoc (‘good night’ [this one is easy for me to remember because the noc is pronounced like ‘notes’, and that sounds a little bit like Italian notte]), dzięnkuję/dzięnki (‘thank you’/‘thanks’), na zdrowie (‘Cheers!’ or ‘To health!’), cześć (‘Hi’ or ‘Bye’ [another easy one to remember—but not to pronounce—because ciao works the same way in Italian]), tak (‘yes’), nie (‘no’), and proszę (‘please’ and ‘you’re welcome’—again, much like Italian prego, where it can mean ‘please’ [as in ‘please proceed’ or ‘go ahead’] and ‘you’re welcome’).

This is a screenshot I saved on my phone while waiting for Dane at the airport. I took fastidious notes, too (I learn best by writing).
Christina does not mess around. 
... scratch that: Christina does mess around. (She is very mature.)
And then there’s niegazowoda or something like that, which appears on bottles of water devoid of carbonation; all I remember is the description for uncarbonated water starts with nie for ‘no(t)’ and ends with woda for ‘water’. This is important if you find carbonated water to be vile-tasting, like Dane and I do. And in most parts of Europe, in my experience, drinking from the tap just is not the norm. (Isn’t it funny that carbonated water is the default here, such that its still/uncarbonated variant features the negation in its description, rather than “carbonated” being the descriptor for water with added carbonation? [Another side note: Dane was once called a “diva” by some of his Polish friends for requesting/preferring non-fizzy water. Ha! Talk about flipping stereotypes—that is, since, in North America, one might call someone preferring fizzy water a diva. Heh.])

Back to expectations being far surpassed (see the beginning of this post for the last line of the previous post. Like I said: I go on tangents and almost this entire post is one): I’m thinking specifically about the locale, the production, and, as this is a vegan blog, the vegan food. (I’ll come back to the food in its own separate post, because there is a lot to say and this is already becoming lengthy.) After day 1 of the “Challenger,” audiences were unanimous in their praises of the high production quality and the meticulous and “over and above” manner in which the stage was literally set for this immersion experience in Moszna Castle, the perfect stand-in for Emhyr’s castle (Emhyr being a central antagonist in the Witcher game series). A large community that can be notoriously hard to please (I’m not a gamer, but this is what I hear from the gamers in my life) was, well, delightfully pleased and even downright celebratory and singing CDPR’s praises publicly.

CDPR, evidently, listens well to fans and doesn’t mess around; they were right on the mark, with their inclusion of cosplayers and musicians; a premium production team and kickass set designers and stylists; hugely talented and enthusiastic commentators and hosts (please excuse my bias); and a breathtaking locale.

The dining hall was illuminated by candles and decorated for the festive celebration following the final day of the tournament.

The winner of the tournament, Freddybabes, being interviewed and photographed by journalists from China

Dane chatting with one of the competitors, Kolemoen, after the tournament. A cosplayer can be seen in the background, sporting the Nilfgaard logo or crest.

A cosplayer dressed as Ciri. I spoke with her after the tournament and she was super rad, very kind, and wonderfully pretty.

After the production, there was a lot of clean-up but also of milling-around for those not involved in the clean-up. This is also the spot where Matt Mercer and Marisha Ray hosted and interviewed players.
The desk of the casters and analyst

Ciri and Emhyr (apparently, this is a social anachronism of sorts—that is, according to Witcher lore, these two would not, under normal circumstances, share space). The Emhyr cosplayer was also really cool and super kind and approachable... when not in costume. Haha.

Emhyr greeting us upon our arrival to Moszna Castle—or his castle, for this event.

Guards and Bart the Bard (also a spectacularly kind individual) welcoming us with song and wit to Moszna Castle at dusk

The out-of-place ad must be appreciated for its out-of-place-ness amidst this immersive experience.

CDPR spared no expense to ensure that this event be run smoothly and picturesquely; it will surely always be an event for the organizers and participants to remember with pride, fondness, excitement, and satisfaction. I can already see this in Dane’s description of his own performance, but his immense talent, focus, and preparation can take him only so far. Thanks to the attentive support and encouragement of the CDPR team, he and his casting mates perform with exquisite ease, making the job look effortless.

And this was even amidst a “plague” that tore through Moszna Castle with abandon on the first days there!

This seems like a good spot to conclude.


To be continued…

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see ya soon.

Plague-free hugs and gratitude,


1 comment:

Hannah said...

That is some stunning sushi! I did do a little whirl wind trip through Germany and bits of nearby Europe a couple years ago with my family but I feel like it's already so much more vegan-friendly now, it's a totally different dining scene out there. I'm dying to get back out to explore more of the modern culture. The previous visit definitely focused more on tradition, museums and sightseeing, of course. There's so much more to it.