In my quest to find the glove quality of yesteryear, I found a couple of glove makers online in Warsaw. Looking at budget airlines, I discovered a roundtrip flight to Warsaw for £38 (about $50 US.) I thought, "Why not" and promptly booked my tickets. I also found a B&B not too far from the city centre and booked that for two nights.
As the departure date loomed, I thought Caro would enjoy this trip too and packed for her. All had to fit into the tiny hand luggage space allowed by Ryanair, but it was not too much of a problem as the weather forecast promised lovely temperatures and sun, so I took my black cotton maxi dress and animal accessories.
I drove to Prestwick Airport in driving rain and sleet and just made the security check in time. The flight was good, short (2-1/4 hours) and uneventful. Getting to the city centre was easy on the bus.I found a cafe and sat in the sun with a beer enjoying the ambiance of a city I hadn't been in before. The weather was gorgeous! I took a taxi to my B&B (15 zł, £3 or $5 US).
On arrival, I was made most welcome by Awa my host. Awa lived on the ground floor and my accommodation was below hers, a lovely basement apartment, decorated beautifully.
I had decided before I departed that Awa must know who would be staying in her apartment and showed her a picture of Carolyn. In a moment or two with a bit of prompting she recognized me and was quite happy about my double identity. I went downstairs promising to return as Caro before I went out for the evening to the old town of Warsaw.
I rested for an hour or so and got ready: long bath, shaved everything needed to be shaved, lots of fake tan with slight sparkle and TV pan stick on my legs (I've got psoriasis), makeup and my black dress and leopard print wrap and matching accessories, not forgetting my kid gloves. I went up to Awa's apartment and she was most complimentary. We discussed where to eat in the Old Town and she ordered me a taxi and off I went.
The Old Town is in fact new, rebuilt in its entirety after the Nazis razed it during the Jewish Uprising. It was lovely strolling around in the warmth of the evening appreciating the coolness of my summer outfit. I chose a restaurant, ordered a glass of Chardonnay, and had dinner just enjoying being Carolyn.
It was lovely sitting overlooking the square watching the people passing by. I have never felt so relaxed as Carolyn, the people I met and talked to were polite even pleasant and never turned a hair. I strolled around some more after dinner having a drink here and a coffee there, returning tired to my flat around midnight. What a lovely introduction to the largest city in Poland.
Next morning, not too early, I got Caro ready again and knocked on Awa's door. I told her that I wanted to go to see some glove makers and she gave me some directions. She asked if I wanted a taxi, but I told her I would take the bus into the centre as the stop wasn't too far away.
I hadn't been able to find out how to pay for the bus ride from the airport the day before. Awa said I had to buy a pass at the many shops who sell them. I was looking for a place when the bus arrived, so got on and was in the centre quickly again without paying.
I had a Polish breakfast, which is as hearty or healthy as you wish (guess which one I chose) and set off to find the first glove maker. Poland still has a number of skilled artisans who operate from small premises producing high quality tailoring, shoes, etc. and what I wanted, gloves. I found the the place fairly easily and after a difficult discussion (me - no Polish, they - little English), I found out that they didn't have the thin kidskin I wanted.
A bit disappointed, I took a taxi to the next place. I say the "next place" because I couldn't find it as the address encompassed a whole block almost! I asked various passersby and eventually I found it. Tiny doesn't describe it. It was about six-feet wide and not much longer, where and old man was working, gloves, patterns and skins everywhere.
I thought, "This looks promising," but after another difficult conversation I discovered with the aid of my digital caliper that he too had no thin material either. I was really downcast, all this way and no joy. I know now the beautiful gloves like there once were are gone for ever, due to no demand for the dress kid operas which were once common, shame! There are other glove makers in Poland, but having done a fair bit of research before I arrived and choosing carefully the ones to visit, I think that's it.
Over a really nice lunch and a glass or two of Chardonnay, I reflected. The weather was beautiful, everyone was treating me like the lady I am can't be bad. (A woman came up to me as we were waiting to cross the street and said, "Super!"). I was addressed universally as Madame, smiles and courtesy from everyone. Great!
After taking an open top bus tour of the city, I returned home on the bus without paying again and fell onto my bed exhausted but happy. Caro was having a wonderful time.
I woke up as it was beginning to get dark, well no too dark in Northern Europe at that time of year and prepared to go out for diner. I heard Awa coming into her apartment so went up to ask her to come to dinner with me. She said, "Thank you," but she was too busy (she runs three apartments). She ordered a taxi for me to the Old Town, so I set off again to experience the lovely evening.
I chose the most up-market place I could find and had a delicious meal. A seafood medley starter followed veal in a pepper cream sauce and a meringue concoction to finish 'twas wonderful with a bottle of Chardonnay to wash it all down.
I wandered off down through the little streets reluctant to end the evening, stopping for coffee a couple of times, finding myself the last customer in a cafe at the corner of the main square --- it was midnight! My pumpkin was waiting to take me home (well, a taxi). I let myself in and posed again and again in the mirror. Alas it was over, the best experiences ever as Carolyn.
It was morning and my brief stay in Poland was almost over. I went upstairs and Awa and I made our farewells and again I travelled into town on the bus without a ticket. I had another Polish breakfast in the Radio Cafe, famous as the meeting place of the Polish contributors to Radio Free Europe during the Cold War.
It was time to travel to the airport again, you've guessed, without paying. As the bus reached the terminus, I was congratulating myself on the cheap holiday I'd had when a ticket inspector appeared just as I was getting off. The free bus travel I had enjoyed wasn't free after all. I was fined 136 zł (about £27 or $20 US) A bus ride cost 5 zł and I had been wondering what to do with the all the złotys I hadn't spent, ah well!
It was the best time ever as Carolyn. To hell with the glove quest, I had a wonderful time. The Warsawians were either blind or really polite, but it was lovely.
(Stana adds, "For more about dressing as a woman in Poland, visit crossdressing.pl.")
A femulator in Poland, circa 2008.
Wearing Unrath & Strano.