Friday, 10 August 2007


There seem to be plenty of young foreigners hidden away in Krakow, and not just tourists and stag parties. The other girl in my (dwindling, now that the grammar is starting to get hardcore) Polish class regularly meets up with a group of assorted non-Poles for a spot of Ultimate Frisbee on the Błonia.
I know this is something that Polish kids do not do, because when I told my flatmate about it he simply laughed. Sometimes I wonder whether my adult life is just one long 'Auberge Espagnole'-style continuation of my Erasmus year.

'Błonia' means meadows and describes a large wedge of common land, like a dusty, grassy slice of Edam, between the student neighbourhood and the river. It is circumnavigated by cycle paths. I decided to join my classmate, and, since I was about an hour late already and had missed the warm up, chose running as my method of transportation.

I have no idea what possessed me.

The game was already well underway, and I was unable to catch my friend's eye, so after watching them wistfully for about fifteen minutes (shades of the school playground back in 1988 any time my best friend was off sick), I decided the most productive thing to do would be to continue with my run. What on earth was I thinking?!

The Błonia seems like a wholesome enough green space. Do not be fooled. The paths around it are the Rollerblading Equivalent of the M25. I found myself checking imaginary wing mirrors every time I pulled out to overtake. Did I mention the vicious competitive streak that this particular overcrowded public concourse brings out in the mildest of athletes? I powered along, straining to pass other joggers, and swerving to avoid oncoming rollerbladers with prams, shopping trolleys, mobile phones and all manner of encumbrances.

As an Erasmus student I tried to learn snowboarding. You can imagine the carnage. At the top of the chairlift was a small supermarket, and hearty Alpine gentlemen would descend on skis with shopping bags, phone clamped to ear: 'Ciao tesoro, arrivo subito'.
But not half as subito as I used to find myself, regularly, on my back at the foot of the slope staring at the sky with stars flashing in my eyes, wondering what exactly had just happened.

The Błonia turned out to be larger than I thought. Luckily, I knew a short cut home along the river, which added a good twenty minutes to my journey. I realised that I had just inadvertently run almost half the Krakow marathon.

Two days later, I am just about able to limp from my desk to the kettle and back.

I'm still very excited about the past tense. Currently I am planning my weekend to avoid doing anything which might require an irregular conjugation. This is not as easy as it sounds.

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