Late Supper

Lublin, May 2004

The back door of the police van opened and a really big officer stepped out. "Don't get in!" I recommended.

After a long day of touring we'd arrived in Lublin and dinner was on our own. We checked out the two travel guides we'd brought to locate a restaurant that wouldn't involve much travel. One recommended a restaurant on the same street as the hotel that offered "Polish cuisine in a traditional style." Taking the book with us, on the way out we asked the people at the front desk their opinion. They were not very impressed with that one, recommending two others. One, also featuring Polish cuisine, required a taxi ride. The other, the Oregano, was nearby.

We had read about that restaurant, which featured "Mediterranean" cuisine, in the other guidebook. We asked how to get there, and it sounded simple enough, particularly since one of the desk clerks drew the route on a photocopied map. By then our group had grown to five and we set out. After the McDonalds and the main post office we turned right and began looking for the Oregano on the right. Nothing. The street soon jogged to the right – nothing there either, and it soon ended at another street.

We were backtracking when a patrolling police van appeared and, of course, Betty Lou flagged it down. None of the four officers professed to speak any English – or German, or French, or Spanish. We knew for sure that none of us spoke Polish. "Oregano Restaurant" did not elicit any recognition ("restaurant" is very similar in Polish). I may have mentioned that we hadn't brought the guidebook that, among other things, gave the restaurant's address.

I started back to the hotel, but before I'd reached the corner Betty Lou called me back. She had produced a card from the hotel and a policeman called the number with his cell phone. Betty Lou described our problem to the clerk who answered, a different one from the one who had given us the original directions. It turns out that we really should have turned right at the street before the McDonalds, and when the police heard Betty Lou repeat the name as pronounced by the clerk, they said, "Oh! Or-e-GAHN-o!" I'd forgotten that one probably had to pronounce even familiar words with the accent on the next-to-last syllable.

The meal was delicious and quite reasonable by our standards, but, as we discovered the next night, it would have been quicker to go to the more distant restaurant they had suggested.

© Copyright 2004 Jack Ludwick - All Rights Reserved