Today was the last day of our tour, “Highlights of Eastern Europe,” and there was an optional excursion, “Chopin Recital and Dinner” for which I and 12 others elected to attend. It was a private piano recital for just our group!
We were taken to the Porczynskich Fine Art Museum where there was a large hall arranged in a circle and art works displayed on the walls. In spite of having wall-to-wall carpet, the room was surprisingly reverberant, due to the high ceiling.
The pianist was Maria Korecka-Soszkowska, a professor at a local conservatory who has won many prizes. She played an all-Chopin recital which was excellent. I have to admit, though, that the piano sounded a little mushy in the reverberant acoustic.
Afterwards our group went to a local restaurant which was founded in 1826. The menu included a soup, breaded pork loin, sauerkraut, boiled potatoes and cheesecake for dessert—a typical Polish menu.
We rejoined the rest of our group for one final drink together where our tour director, Paul, gave a farewell speech. Nine of our group, including me, will not go on to Berlin, so there were many goodbye hugs.
We all had to laugh about our experience with McDonald’s here in Poland. Paul our director swears by them because they are clean, the food is predictable, and there are free toilets. But you have to stand in three different lines if you want to order food: 1) At a kiosk machine, where you order by pressing the pictures; 2) A line to pay, and 3) A line to pick up your food.
I’m not sure this way is the most efficient! And I don’t think I’ve ever made so many McDonald’s stops in my life! Paul says that there were no McDonald’s restaurants until after the Communists years were over.
Fourteen days ago, we were strangers and met for the first time. Together we shared a common love of travel and adventure.
Tonight we left as friends.