April 7th

I arrived in Warsaw just after noon. Going through the border crossing proved to be a bit of a nightmare because the guard didn't speak English and for some reason he seemed concerned about my passport??? After several minutes, he called another (armed) guard over and that guard told me (in broken English) that I had to go with him. When I asked, "Is there a problem?", he simply said yes. I wondered what on earth could be wrong. I had no one to back me up and I didn't speak Polish. Not quite a panic situation but definitely scary. Luckily, whatever was wrong righted itself and while walking away with the armed guard (with everyone staring at me), the original guy called me back over to send me through. There was no point in asking what had suddenly become right... still no English... I just thanked the guard and crossed officially into Poland moving as quickly as possible.
After grabbing my bag, I went out into the reception area and looked for someone, anyone, from Gate 1 for pick up. No one. BUT there was another tour company there and I asked what to do. The man told me that customs had two exits so the agent was likely at the other exit. I headed that way and as I walked, I saw a woman with a Gate 1 sign. HELP!! Cristiana led me to a shuttle van. I alone was driven to the Sheraton... other people they had expected around the same time were not coming until the next day.
At the hotel check-in desk, there was a bit of uncertainty. The hotel staff hadn't been certain if BOTH myself and Lynn had missed the plane to Warsaw. They gave me a letter from Michael Paier who was the Gate 1 person-in-charge inviting me to a "Welcome" dinner in the hotel dining room at 7. After dumping all my stuff in the room, I knew I had several hours to explore Warsaw before dinner... so I did!
Getting a map and instructions I headed for "Old Town" which was supposed to be a 10 minute walk away. In whose dreams? A run? Sure! A brisk walk... 15 minutes if you're Olympic quality stepper! Rubber necking to take in all the sights? I meandered for quite a while and in the 30 minutes it took me, I didn't make it to Old Town. I passed the palm tree (used as a landmark by the person explaining directions) and walked down a mostly pedestrian road. Lots of interesting things to see. I went into a Polish design store where I bought my sister a gift. When I arrived in front of the University, I checked my watch. It still read Toronto time and being travel brain muddled, I thought I only had 1/2 hour to get back to the hotel, have a shower and show up for the dinner. I rushed back, had a very quick shower then ran downstairs only to find just how muddled I really was! Thinking I was 10-15 minutes late, I was upset to find no trace of a group. Wrong venue? OH NO!! But wait... People at the restaurant informed me that it was only 5:15! Two more hours to kill before dinner!!!

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