June 10:  Minsk to Warsaw

After wine, beer, vodka and 4 hours of sleep, I felt great.  I'm surprised that I got used to the schedule.  I probably shaved 2 months off my lifespan in these 3 weeks, but it was a fair trade.

One more story from the Love Boat:  Sam referred to me as the Human Pinball because I kept bouncing from table to table trying to talk to girls.  What a playa.

Broges got the Boob Shirt for sleeping in the hallway and forgetting to turn in his room key.

At the rest stops in Belarus we peed on trees.

We played another coach game, Best Friends.  Each person had to pair up with someone.  That person was designated your best friend, and you had to come up with some moderately embarrassing task for your best friend to perform over the rest of the tour.  For Dave I assigned him the task of announcing at some point during every group meal, "Ladies and gentlemen, I'm wearing brand-new socks today."  Then Matt turned the tables by saying that when you're on the road, the only person you can rely on is yourself, and you're your own best friend.  That is, whatever challenge you came up with for your best friend, you instead have to do yourself.  So I had to do the socks thing.  Others were worse--Kristian, for example, had to kiss Broges on the cheek every hour on the hour from 9am to 9pm.

Finally, some Brest!

Monument at Brest Fortress, a soldier determined to escape the rock of oppression.  Or something.

Remains of Brest Fortress.  Guess what happened to it?

Entrance to Brest Fortress.

Leaving the fortress we stopped at the toilets, and I peed on a pile of another man's shit.

Right near the Poland border we finally got pulled over.  Matt and Jared had to go across the road to the police car, and Matt got inside, but the matter was resolved very quickly.  The cop "just wanted some play money".  I don't know what it cost but in Russia the typical "speeding fines" were 100 rubles, or $3.

From other travelogues I'd read I was prepared for a border crossing lasting anywhere from 4 to 12 hours.  Somehow we made it through in only 3:25, the fastest crossing this year.

The hotel in Warsaw (Kyriad Prestige) was exquisite.  Not just in comparison to where we'd stayed in Russia and Belarus, but in its own right.  The 2-ply toilet paper and clean (drinkable!) water were quite a relief.

Warsaw's a beautiful city and reminds me of Philadelphia for some reason.  Maybe all the Polacks.  Of course anything would look nice compared with Russia.  Like Minsk, Warsaw was rebuilt after the war (85% had been razed).

The hotel bar closed at 11pm, so we made this an early night to recharge in preparation for the next couple nights of partying.  Including dinner I had only 4 drinks.  At the bar someone mentioned karaoke and that triggered my first vivid memory of the night on the Love Boat, as I remembered the karaoke song list being passed around.

The blanket on my bed smelled like a homeless or French guy.  For those familiar with either, think Acme's Pissy or Thrifty's Stinky.  I tossed it on the floor and got one out of the closet that stank less.