(This is a continuation of the post from a couple of weeks ago about my experiences at the Battle of the Nations)
But I did more that week than just fight.
The team took a trip to the castle at Malbork (Marienbourg), the former fortress of the Teutonic Knights. While I had seen rooms and chambers and furniture and art from the middle ages at museums, it was fascinating to see them in their regional context. There is no real "tourist logic" to a real castle, as there is in the floor plan of a museum. Rooms have multiple entrances and exits to other rooms and hallways and stairs. The deadliness of the defensive architecture is revealed. the opportunity was had to take the seat and stand in the place of honest-to-goodness medieval knights.
We ate good Polish food. One of the best eating experiences was at a roadside restaurant on the way to Malbork. nobody in the place spoke English, and the menus were all in Polish, so we struggled through with a dictionary and trying to figure out what was what based on a few known words ("pierogi," "kielbasa," "hamburger," "feta"). A couple of people just said "I am hungry. Give me food." and got a plate of delicious pierogis. One person found a picture of bacon and eggs on his smartphone and got a kielbasa with scrambled eggs. The hamburger turned out to be a delicious, double-pattie affair with toppings that was a unique and most excellent hamburger experience. The person who recognized the word "feta" got a wonderful salad with delicious, creamy feta cheese (have you ever had creamy feta cheese before? If I ever had I would eat it far more often).
Back in Warsaw we found a bar a couple of blocks away from the hotel at which we were made to feel very welcome. They gave us shots of some sort of cherry wine and became "our bar."
I happened to have my harmonica with me at the event site, and one of the bands on the stage adjacent to the list field happened to be playing some blues n the same key as my harp. I waved my harp at them and they indicated that I could come up and jam with them. The crowd loved it. Cameras clicked and rolled. Unfortunately the team member who had video-recorded the performance on his digital camera had it stolen during the week.
One night several team members and I stayed late at the event site rather than going straight back to the hotel. Many of the other teams were camping out and partying, and we joined them. One of the highlights was the Italian camp, where the Italians were singing, drinking, and making merry well into the night. Then they asked for an American song. I bought them "Swing Low Sweet Chariot for the Hearing Impaired" and how to dance the Maltese Branse, and they loved it! We wound up doing those numbers the next day before the battle and after the closing ceremonies.
(More to come)