Backpack Benji

Revisiting England, Germany, and Poland.

After a trip to the US to see relatives and friends, I had the opportunity to go to England with a group of friends. We hung out in the small town of Burbage, in the English midlands, making our headquarters at Marstons and The Cross Keys, two local pubs.  We had specifically come to England to watch a football (soccer) game.  The match was between the Leicester City Foxes and the Stoke City Potters.  Leicester went on to win the game, and also overcame near impossible 5,000 to 1 odds to win the Premier League Championship.  We were privileged to be a part of this fabled season that is said to be one of the greatest feats in all of European soccer.  In England, there is no eating or drinking allowed in the stadium seats – all items must be consumed before going back to watch the match.  The main snack food is Pukka Pies – a meat-stuffed pastry pie that will warm your body up on a chilly day. Gambling is allowed and seemingly encouraged with bookies available in the stadium prior to the game, and during half-time.


I next went back to Germany as I began to make my way toward Russia. While there, I was invited to an InterNations networking function and did a bit of hobnobbing with fellow expats in Frankfurt.  At my hotel, I had an excellent view of the city just out my window.


I next travelled to Berlin and explored some of the areas I had missed on my previous visits, including the Brandenburg Gate, and portions of the Berlin Wall. In the wake of WWII, Berlin was torn in two, between communist east and capitalist west.  The wall separated Berlin for nearly 30 years.  I stood in the very place where the wall fell on Bornholmer Strasse in 1989.


After Berlin, I continued westward to Warsaw. While on the train, I had to order my favorite Polish dish – pierogis z woody (dumplings stuffed with meat!)  Once in Warsaw, I stayed near the top floor of my hotel and could see for miles as Warsaw lit up below me.  I made it to Zapiecek one evening, a Polish Pierogarnie where they have hand-made their own dumplings since 1913.  I enjoyed some delicious pierogis, pan fried to perfection and served with sour cream on hot pans alongside of meats served on cast iron sizzlers.  I also ran into some fellow Leicester City fans and we enjoyed watching another victory together.  Another night, I went to The View.  The View sits atop the Spectrum Tower and is a world-class venture, with an open air deck on the 33rd floor.  The venue is sleek and stylish, and offers striking views of the cityscape.