The streets surrounding the Palace of Culture and Science were teaming with life this Friday evening and Poland’s tallest building looked beautiful illuminated.
It was strange to walk around a shopping mall after 8:00pm and to have the time to browse through the grocery store aisles. As supermarkets don’t stay open late in Switzerland, getting to the stores before they close at 18:30 is a stressful undertaking, especially when you work full time.
The Zlote Tarasy shopping mall had a coat service on the main floor so that you can shop around without being encumbered with a heavy winter jacket. Such an ingenious idea warranted a photo, but a security guard stopped me just as I was about to press down on the button. After spending sometime in Kyiv last December it seems that Eastern European countries have an uneasy relationship with cameras. So I had to restort to taking out photos surreptitiously with my IPhone for the rest of my time in the mall.
I’ve forgotten how annoying it is to be unable to carry out even the simplest of functions when you don’t understand the local language. It’s been a while since I’ve had to ask for help in finding the correct button on the scale to weigh a bag of tomatoes.
When it came time to pay, I couldn’t choose the checkout counter with the shortest line. Instead I had to join a long queue of people waiting to be sorted at the end of the line by a machine, which gives you the number of the counter where you unload your purchases.
The young gentleman, who was behind me in the line, gallantly offered to pay the 1 groszy (pronounced “gro-she”) that I was missing. Granted, 1 grosz is equivalent to around US$ 0.03 (the larger denominations of money are called “zloty”, pronounced “zeh-loh-tee”) but he did it spontaneously and with a smile. Also not one person waiting in line huffed impatiently as I searched my wallet for small change.
I do have to watch my waistline over the next four months, as food is cheap and delicious. This afternoon’s hot meal of Rosol z makaronem (clear soup with noodles) followed by Golabki z pieca (stuffed cabbage roll) was only PLN 18, the equivalent of US$ 5. I could get used to this.