I realised it’s been a while since my last post and so rather than spend the time outside I decided to write a bit about my time in Poland.
My decision to go to Poland was born of wanting to erase my complete ignorance about the country as well as a healthy dose of spontaneity. I was in Berlin at the time and had far too many bags than was healthy to carry around so I left the bulk of them with a friend and took only my small American “vintage” military shoulder bag.
I decided to do Poland a bit differently than I had been doing my travelling thus far (hostels, busses, etc) and travel as exclusively as was reasonable by hitchhiking and couchsurfing. Couchsurfing is something I would definitely recommend to anyone, even those who aren’t looking after a budget; it gives an opportunity to meet locals and get a more personal feeling of the country and the people. Hitchhiking definitely isn’t for everyone but if you’re patient, open minded, and don’t mind being idle for sometimes quite a while then why not give it a go. http://www.couchsurfing.com and http://www.hitchwiki.org are essential.
I started out with blablacar, a ride sharing website, to ease my way from public transport into hitchhiking. I found a ride from Berlin to Poznan (4 hours) with a really interesting couple who travel around Europe all year doing street performances. My first experience of Polish hospitality (as far as I’m aware – strangely not well known) was with these two; after the border, and some fun with the border guards, I was asked where in Poznan I was planning on staying. As per usual I had no plan and no idea, letting fate take me to somewhere reasonably warm with a bed, so I was invited to the house of the performance couple and later found out that he was in fact a host on the couchsurfing.
The weather at this time in Poland (around mid November) was reasonable horrible so Mikołaj and his girlfriend Niki (our hosts) told me it was naturally fine for me to stay as long as I wanted to and went as far to also invite a friend of mine to come and stay also. We stayed inside a lot due to the rain but this was hardly a problem as there were four of us and Mikołaj was an adept bridge player! We spent many hours (and possibly more than a few beers, including a banana flavoured one… It wasn’t my favourite but you have to try everything I guess…) learning how to play bridge. We even managed to beat out Mikołaj and Niki once or twice!
On one of the colder days, I think it was somewhere around -15, me and the friend who had come to Poland with me realised we hadn’t been for a swim in a disastrously long time (being both from the same corner of the world.. more or less) and asked our hosts if there were any waterparks nearby. It turns out that Poznan has a great waterpark complete with slides, fountains, and a wave pool! Of course I didn’t come to Poland with togs (swimming clothes for the non Kiwis among you), so after going to H&M for a pair of cheap sports shorts we headed straight there. A new experience for me was the heated outdoor pool in the middle of early Polish winter; you get the great feeling of the water slowly freezing in your hair, while the rest of you is comfortably above 20 degrees in the water… Interesting…
After Poznan and some great memories after just the first week or so, I decided to stay a bit longer in Poland and see some of the other cities and towns. This post is getting long winded so they’ll have to wait for later. They include such nonsense as getting completely lost 5 minutes walk from the city center, meeting two girls from Belarus who thankfully spoke English and deciding to go to the town where they live, hitchhiking in the ice at -20 degrees, getting spooked by cheesy mechanical skeletons in a castle ruin… I do some silly things…
That’s all for now. Cheers for reading my nonsense and traveling vicariously.