Her Polish not so polished

By Roger Ecker
This item appears on page 23 of the November 2021 issue.
This is subscriber only post.
Get one year of online-only access — only $15!
Below is a sample of the article.
Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

If you would like to read an issue from the archives that is free to nonsubscribers click here.

This month’s winner is ROGER ECKER of Alameda, California:

The Soviet Union had collapsed and travel had opened up. My wife, Judy, and I, along with two of my brothers and their wives, rented a van in Vienna and traveled for several days through the Czech Republic, Poland. Slovakia and Hungary. In Poland, we arrived in Kraków in time for lunch at our hotel, the Holiday Inn.

Our waiter was lively, friendly and talkative. We learned that he had recently returned from exile in Paris, now that the borders were open.

My sister-in-law wanted to order iced tea with her lunch, but he did not seem to understand. My wife had been to Kraków with Project Hope and knew a little Polish, so she tried “herbata” (tea) and “zimno” (cold), but without result. I tried my French. No comprehension.

The waiter became thoughtful for a moment, then his face lit up with understanding. He turned, went to the kitchen and returned triumphantly with a pot of hot tea and a bowl of ice cream!


Tell us about something humorous that happened to you while traveling outside the United States. There are no restrictions on length. ITN staff will choose each month’s winner, who will receive a free one-year subscription to ITN. Include your full mailing address. Entries not chosen cannot be acknowledged.

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

This month’s winner is ROGER ECKER of Alameda, California:

The Soviet Union had collapsed and travel had opened up. My wife, Judy, and I, along with two of my brothers and their wives, rented a van in Vienna and traveled for several days through the Czech Republic, Poland. Slovakia and Hungary. In Poland, we arrived in Kraków in time for lunch at our hotel, the Holiday Inn.

Our waiter was lively, friendly and talkative. We learned that he had recently returned from exile in Paris, now that the borders were open.

My sister-in-law wanted to order iced tea with her lunch, but he did not seem to understand. My wife had been to Kraków with Project Hope and knew a little Polish, so she tried “herbata” (tea) and “zimno” (cold), but without result. I tried my French. No comprehension.

The waiter became thoughtful for a moment, then his face lit up with understanding. He turned, went to the kitchen and returned triumphantly with a pot of hot tea and a bowl of ice cream!


Tell us about something humorous that happened to you while traveling outside the United States. There are no restrictions on length. ITN staff will choose each month’s winner, who will receive a free one-year subscription to ITN. Include your full mailing address. Entries not chosen cannot be acknowledged.