Attending a conference abroad (5/7): Let’s Dance and Sing!

This is the continuation of my story about my time getting and being at the 23rd Conference on Applied Crystallography in Krynica, Poland. Make sure, you read the beginning of my story (as well as the disclaimer in case you get a wrong impression of the scientific value of this conference :)

For immersive reading, I recommend Shut Up and Dane from Walk the Moon and The Viennese Waltz from Johann Strauß as background music.

And this is how the story continues:

Day 3

I arrived bright and early in the dinning room for breakfast but was stopped by the hotel personnel who asked “where are you from?” to which I simply replied “Switzerland”. This in return was answered by a puzzled look and I repeated my answer, trying to mumble less than before. The puzzled look remained. How can someone not know Switzerland I found myself thinking so I started again “Switzerland! Chocolate! Cheese! Cows! Mountains! Banks! Suisse!” Comprehension dawned on the face opposite me and she said “no, no, I mean your room number!” So much for my communication skills…

The morning session went past fast and after lunch, we boarded some busses to go on a field trip to a nearby apiary. We were told to be aware which coach to take, because one of them had an English, the other a Polish guide on board. When we arrived at the apiary, I sneaked away from the English group since I was eager to hear more of the Polish language. Up until this point it had sounded to me like some noise from a badly tuned radio.

First, we entered a wooden church and I guessed that the guide was talking about its history. Then we went through the apiary and I think I was able to recognize where one Polish sentence ended and the next started. At the end of the tour, we were offered three different samples of honey mead each. We spent the remainder of the afternoon on the sunny terrace next to the apiary, talking, chatting and sampling the mead.

When we returned home, I looked at the conference schedule, which read “Folklore Dinner” for the evening. It was located a little bit further away from the main hotel buildings and while I was on my way there, I was wondering, what would wait there for us. When I entered the hall, I was very positively surprised. On the far end, the hotel personnel were operating several large barbecue, on my far right side, there was a large fire crackling together with meat spears and sausages, on my left side several people were already eating at the wooden tables and to my right was a band dressed in traditional clothing and played different kinds of instruments. I spent some time at the fire, barbecuing a sausage and chatting with the people next to the fire.

After a while, the dancing started again. I asked a scientist from the Ukraine to dance with me, which was a very lucky choice. As it turned out, she had been dancing for over eight years and she made my mediocre dancing skills look awesome. When the band reached the waltz, my Viennese heritage kicked in and we swept over the dance floor like nothing could stop us. Even the occasional bump into another dancing couple didn’t stop us.

While we took a break, the band started to play a, as it seemed to me, very traditional and popular song because several Polish people started to sing and formed dancing groups. I immediately joined in and soon there was a large circle of people dancing around the fire. When the band reached the end of the song, their time was over but we all asked for encore. And they played one last song! We formed a conga line, running wild in the hall.

When the band had left, we were treated to the amazing singing skills of the Polish quasicrystallographers from Krakow. Seriously, if you ever meet Janusz Wolny or one of his guys, ask them to sing a song for you! I listened to the their beautiful Polish songs and after a while, when they got tired of singing, we checked out the disco/bar from the day before to see, if it was open again. It was!

I was offered several beers and wines that night but I had to refuse all of them because I had a talk the next day. All the people around the table had some reassuring words for me regarding my talk. However, the lack of “refreshing beverages” didn’t stop me from dancing! This time, I had a lovely dance partner from the Polish Academy of Sciences. By the time my head hit the pillow, my legs felt exhausted from the many hours I had used them for dancing. Rather pleased with the world, I fell asleep.

To be continued…