Welcome to Slide Night at Back in a Bit. Sit back, relax and get ready to travel far away from your desk and your sore computer eyes as we share our favourite travel snaps and the quirky stories behind them.

And today we have the most joyful of pictures and a story, from Crikey reader — and ‘DJ, rapper and shoe shopper’ — Jess Hopcraft.

Warsaw, Poland
Warsaw, Poland

Shot using: Some crappy digital camera

Jess writes: Snow. Not a foreign concept, although Hollywood would have me believe the king of Siam had issues grasping it. But living in a country that is mainly desert and living in a city that has four seasons in one day — which although very “cool” is never really very cold — means that I, at the ripe age of 24, had never actually seen this “frozen water”. Minus viewings of Ice Age with my niece and many a white Christmas rom-com.

When I googled the weather in Warsaw on the day I was set to leave, I saw an unfamiliar cartoon picture next to a very scary singular number. Did I need special pants? Would my five euro vintage boots be ruined? Could I freeze to death? Awoken on the train by a sudden jolt, I pulled back the curtains and got what was to be my first glance. Empty fields and small houses with a noticeable but not complete white covering. It didn’t exactly look inviting, but from the heated carriage it had a certain romantic quality. I smiled  and clapped my hands like a small child on a theme park ride.

I was more warmed by my dear friends who looked at me with sweet encouragement when I had expected subtle embarrassment. When we got off the train my questions were all answered. Yes, I needed special pants. I believe they call them warm pants. Yes, my five euro boots would indeed be ruined. Ruined and wet the whole four days. And no, you will not freeze to death Jess. For in Poland there is a special potion that when consumed keeps you toasty warm. Vodka.

It was after this introduction to Warsaw’s finest that my memory gets a little “snowy”. Leaving a bar with our new Polish friends (who’s utter surprise and shock at my snow virginity was adorable) we came to a large roundabout that was scattered with piles of last night’s small snow fall. I couldn’t contain my excitement and we all knew that it was time. My first and still to this day only snowball
fight. Picking up piles of snow within my gloved hands, I threw it with laughter that some may have described as joyous but most probably thought sinister.

I didn’t realise there was a technique in packing the balls and making them hard before throwing them. At least not until one hit my head and I was sure for a second that other things were getting thrown into the mix of our late night war. We drunkenly owned the streets with our raucous behaviour trying not to slip in the pretty white that was fast becoming dirty slush. I don’t remember the crisp cold air just the pain from laughing so hard and the cold snow smacking me in the ear.

We moved on to a bar nearby. It was here that my friend Vanessa reached into her bag for her wallet and pulled out a rather crumbly, cold, wet pile of ammunition. “Were you saving it for later?” I asked, puzzled at this being an item that one doesn’t usually pull from a handbag. She looked at me angrily and together we attempted to salvage the items of her bag. Phone. Passport. Wallet. Camera. All harmed by what seemed like such an innocent element.

It was sitting drinking tea the next day and nursing a severe welcome to Warsaw hangover that I was contemplating my fleeting introduction. Vanessa sat next to the heater desperately separating the pages of her passport to dry. My boots sat sadly next to her, two toned by the horrendous damp, my ear still a little achy. For such a light, bright romantic thing, snow sure can do a lot of damage.

I will wander the streets of Melbourne this winter and be satisfied with the surrounding cool coming from the people not the sky, only reminded of my time in Warsaw when a drunk hooligan throws a McDonald’s cup at my head.

Have you got an amazing travel snap (jpeg format, s’il vous plait) and story you’d like to share on ‘Slide Night’? You don’t have to be a professional and it doesn’t have to be “exotic”. Just send it through to [email protected]