Saturday, 2 February 2008

Rainy Saturday

What is there to do on a rainy Saturday in Kraków? Other than spending hours thumbing through the linguistics section* in Massolit and going to the cinema?

I was standing in the passage under Pod Baranami, reading the listings, when a young British guy approached and asked me, in very careful Polish, if I knew where the Camera Cafe was. He was not wearing a coat and he carried a huge triangular paper packet with rose stems poking out of one end.
- In English? I said - and then pointed him in the right direction.
- By the way... when talking to an unknown young woman you should say 'Czy Pani zna', not 'Znasz'- I called after him.**

He looked slightly nervous: I bet those roses were for some gorgeous Polish girl. Cute.

The cinema listings revealed that I was a good forty-five minutes too early for Reserwat (Pod Baranami show Polish films with English subtitles: I recommend), so I slipped into Tribeca downstairs for coffee and to drool over my language-geek candy. Yeah ok, to use the loo.

Tribeca is a special place. Situated on the Rynek Głowny, the main square, it was Kraków's first shot at a Starbucks-style coffee bar. Unfortunately -I believe I've mentioned before that customer service is on its way to Poland via the scenic route- they haven't quite got the same split-second snap timing going behind the bar. The result is that you order, pay, and then sit and wait for half an hour until the girl at the end of the counter shouts MAłA CZARNA I CAPPUCCINO PROSZE BARDZO.
And then you can go and collect it.

Coming out of the panie/panowie my way was blocked by at least fifteen Italians who had just ordered espresso all round. I elbowed my way through and took up a vantage point in a bay window, right by the business end of the counter.
Sure enough, after about ten minutes, fifteen tiny saucers appeared on the end of the bar. They were joined by fifteen tiny cups, fifteen tiny spoons and fifteen little glasses of water.
The Italians swarmed in on them.
And here's the thing: Italians don't sit down to drink espresso. They slouch about, they lean on the bar, they gossip, they compare the coffee with the stuff back home and they generally mill about. Then they down the shots of coffee and put the cups back on the bar straight away.

This confused the poor baristas completely.

I sat back and enjoyed the mayhem, and was pretty disappointed when my cappuccino appeared and I had to go and find somewhere to sit and drink the thing.


*Yes, I did, it's about the history and phonology of English borrowings in other European languages. Seriously sexy.
**Ok, I didn't, cos I'm too polite (see previous post) but I was thinking it.

2 comments:

batorego said...

I know a guy who works ticket collecting at Pod Baranami – mention my name in the right place and you're in for free. God I'm cool.

pinolona said...

Do you by any chance know anyone who works at the Amadeus Hotel? Or the Cafe Europejski? Or... for example... any given Aston Martin showroom??