Tuesday, April 28, 2015

These requests from abroad, Vol. 13: Two collectors from Poland.

If you own or work for a brewery, you've probably fielded numerous e-mail inquiries from overseas asking for beer labels, crown caps and the like, as destined to become the cherished keepsakes of private collectors from just about anywhere -- although it seems that most of them live somewhere around eastern and central Europe.

To me, there is something compelling and yet haunting about these foreign requests, places of longtime personal interest to me both historically and geographically. I've been in or near many of them. They speak vividly to my inner melancholic. Lately, I've been pasting their addresses into Google Map and seeing what their places of residence look like.

After all, they can look at my business via the same technology, and it seems only fair for me to see where they live, so very far away. Especially coming from European locales, these are images that speak powerfully to me, conjuring memories of places I've been, people I've met ... and beers I've consumed.

Quite a few of these seems to come from Poland. 

I'm not sure why, but they do, and my latest obsession has been to follow the street views on Google Map from the city or town's train station to the address of the inquirer, with a traveler's presumed wanderings in mind: Where would I stop for a beer in route?

My admittedly small sampling reveals that there are too few pubs in Poland. Back during my backpacking days (although in fairness, I wasn't in Poland very much), it was axiomatic that to emerge from the train station in eastern and central Europe was to see a kiosk or restaurant close at hand, packed with locals enjoying their beers.

Now there are few. Maybe they drink at home these days. So do I.

Now, on to the most recent pair of requests.

Above is the town of Gniewkowo, where Kasia lives, somewhere on this street. Gniewkowo is located northwest of Warsaw near the city of Torun. The border with Germany is about 150 miles away. There's a rail station, but it's on the edge of town to the south, with little close to it save for a Communist era housing estate and a sports complex. On the main downtown street, there is a restaurant where it's reasonable to assume Polish lager is served. I'd eat there.

Meanwhile, Kasia is more creative than most.

We could also exchange if you wish so. I have a lot of interesting polish breweries stuff to exchange. I would be very grateful if you would be so kind to send me any of your coasters, bottle openers, labels or any other items.

I like the idea of her offering to swap items, and will set this email aside for future consideration, if I ever have time.

Ironically, Kamila doesn't live very far away from Kasia, in the larger settlement of Ciechocinek, which is noted as a spa and tourist city. It's another quiet residential street, a bit removed from the center.

Kamila is more ambitious.

My name is Kamila. I am a beer items collector. This is my passion for a few years. I have a quite big collection but I do not have any item from foreign breweries. My favourite interest is collecting openers. I would be very grateful if you would be so kind and send for my address any collector's item. I would be appreciative of any bottle-opener, cap, label, coaster or glass.

Ciechocinek appears decidedly more affluent than Gniewkowo. The Wikipedia entry praises the quality of Ciechocinek's thermal springs and its saline graduation towers, pictured at the beginning of this post.

Ciechocinek is a spa town in Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland, located on the Vistula River about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) east of Aleksandrów Kujawski and 20 kilometres (12 mi) south-east of the city of Toruń.
Ciechocinek is known for its unique 'saline graduation towers'. Experts have considered the local saline springs to be of extreme value and named the thermal spring no. 14 "a wonder of nature". The therapeutic qualities of these springs are directed toward curing cardiovascular, respiratory, orthopedic, traumatic, rheumatic, nervous system and women's diseases.

Poland. Maybe some day.

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