I was honoured, at the beginning of the month, to be invited to a wedding in Poland. It was the last of my close friends to tie the knot and the wife and I, accompanied by the boy, made the trip across Europe to attend. It was our first trip to eastern Europe. Actually, it seems that the Poles consider themselves to be in Central Europe and if one looks at a map, they do have a point.
I’ve been to Moscow before and expected the setting to be somewhat similar. We arrived in Warsaw’s Chopin Airport and hailed a taxi to take us to the railway station and I have to say that we were stunned by just how beautiful the place is. The drive into town was practically an unpunctuated line of greenery; trees on either side all the way into town.
The train itself, as is common when you travel in Europe, was a lovely experience. Our continental brothers and sisters do seem to have it right when it comes to rail travel. Trains are clean, reasonably-priced, run on time and have little in the way of fuss. It was very quiet on the train; lots of people making hardly any sound, which made us a little self-conscious about the boy’s penchant for loud utterances. Indeed, the quietness of the train did make me wonder why someone had deemed it necessary to affix a sign to the window reminding people not to throw bottles. We travelled about an hour and a half to the city of Lodz. All the way, we were enjoying views of the beautiful countryside around us.
Arriving in Lodz, we took a taxi to our hotel, the very nicely presented Hotel Ambassador in Chojny, where the Reception was to take place.
We had a few days to enjoy the city before the wedding and we were very impressed by what we saw. A lot of money has clearly gone into improving bits of the town centre and this is clearly having an impact. However, it does lead to something of a dichotomy as you can go very quickly from a lovely, well-dressed street to something that resembles a map from Call of Duty.
There are clearly areas of the city that are being ignored in favour of others. What’s lovely is that people aren’t waiting for everything to be perfect. They are using the spaces they have and dressing them up themselves to make very charming and trendy little spaces.
One example of this is OFF Piotrkowska. It’s a lovely area, as the name suggests, off one of the main shopping thoroughfares of the city. There are some lovely, unique little bars and restaurants that seem to have just popped up out of abandoned buildings. There’s a nice atmosphere and it’s a nice place to explore.
Serena found a great Indian restaurant on Piotrkowska. Ganesh. They had a great selection for vegetarians and also a lovely atmosphere inside. The paneer Madras I had was very, very good.
There’s also the big new shopping centre, Manufaktura, which also is host to lots of nice eateries and shops.
Anyway, that’s the travelogue over. Actually, no wait. there’s more. Near the hotel in Chojny is the most marvellous park. I say marvellous as the place seems to cater to every age group and every thing that people could want to do on a nice day.
There is a boating lake and a mini beach, you can feed the ducks. There are barbecue tables and sun loungers, tennis courts, a football pitch, a skate park, a Go-Ape kind of jungle tree course and best of all: a children’s play park (which was an absolute saviour – seriously, going away with a toddler, you NEED that). All that and a massive Carrefour right next door so we were able to stock up on food (much as the hotel breakfast was great, there wasn’t an overabundance of options for vegetarians at dinner) for lunches.
So, on to the wedding. We’d never been to a Polish wedding before and were told to expect lots of vodka. This indeed proved to be the case. It also meant that I’m only going to be able to give an account of most of the day.
The foreign contingent, involving people from Britain, the USA, Spain and South America, were bussed over to the church at around 4pm. The ceremony itself was wonderful, the priest doing a fine job of delivering bits of it in Polish and English. The bride and groom, unlike in Britain, enter the church together having come from the bride’s house where final consent for the marriage is given by her family.
The bride and groom enter the church
The boy waited until the middle of the ceremony before filling his nappy. Luckily, Mrs A was on duty at this time and it was she, in a stunning dress by the way, and not I who had to take him to a patch of grass and sort him out. I knew he would wait until he had his suit on before doing it. Knew it.
After the ceremony, it was back on the bus and back to the hotel. The tables were lined with masses and masses of food, vodka, cold meats, vegetables, cakes, vodka, more vodka and a selection of other drinks. There was also some vodka.
The tables had been set out beautifully but before we could sit down, there was the custom of having the first drink. The bride and groom then toss their used glasses on the floor.
Sitting at the table, there is the requirement for one to take many shots of vodka as the evening progresses. You are provided with a small glass and, if you find it empty, you can either fill it yourself or it will be filled by someone else, frequently.
There was food and then the bride’s family sing to the groom’s and vice versa. There are also many requests for the bride and groom to kiss each other, usually made in song. Following the first course, there was dancing and a break outside by the pool.
After that, there were great speeches from the groom and his best man (well done gentlemen). I do remember those. There was even a translator on hand to make sense of them for the Polish guests.
Following this, there was more dancing, more little glasses and my memory of events grows hazy. I spent some time resting in another part of the hotel and then went to my room (technically that sentence has some truth to it even if it does not give a full picture).
Altogether, I have to say that the wedding was lovely. There was a great atmosphere and it was a great venue. The weather also fantastic which added to the occasion. It was a lovely way to round off our little holiday in Poland, although I did find it rather difficult to get started the next day.
Thank you to Russell and Ag for taking the time to show us around a little in amongst all their preparations. They make a wonderful couple and it was lovely to see them so happy on the day and also to see the last of my friends get married. It was also lovely to see all my friends together in one place. As the years roll on and our responsibilities grow, it doesn’t happen all that often. However, it always gives me great pleasure to know that it never takes a minute, upon meeting, before the conversation is comfortable, the laughter flows, and someone quotes Jaws or Robocop.
Thanks for reading,
If you enjoyed this, you might like to check out my other entries in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge: