Cobblestones have a super-cool look, but if you walk on them too much your feet will hurt.
The Polish language does not have the letters Q or V. (The W sounds like an English V, and really, why does any language need a Q?). Nevertheless, if you attend a football match at Stadion Gdansk, you might be seated in Section Q.
I have three house keys, but one is my favorite. I love my long fancy key.
In Gdansk the bikes are more like pedestrians than cars. In many places, they have their own trail (in red) that borders the pedestrian sidewalk. When crossing streets as a pedestrian, it’s important to look both ways before crossing the red bicycle trail, even before getting to the road. If there isn’t a designated bicycle lane, cyclists use (at least what I’ve noticed) the wide sidewalks and don’t join cars on the streets, as is expected in the US.
For the first few days in Poland, we didn’t have internet in our apartment and our phones didn’t (still don’t) have service. This makes exploring a little awkward. Our only “map” is the memory of the maps we looked at before we got here. Still, we wanted to explore.
On Wednesday, we decided to head in the direction of the Baltic Sea. We were pretty sure which direction to head, and we didn’t think it was too far. The catch, though, was that we didn’t want to take too many turns so that we couldn’t find our way back to our apartment.
We discovered some cool buildings and parks–I wish I’d taken pictures. After walking for about 2 hours, we were tired, our feet hurt, and the coast didn’t seem very close. So, we turned around and made it home.
Later, when we could check the internet, we saw that we had headed in exactly the right direction (totally Andy), but just didn’t travel far enough. It was farther than we’d thought.
Today, we decided to take a train to the old part of Gdansk. We have internet now (still no phone service), so we could map out our route. We also hoped to find a tourist information area where we could get paper maps. These are not as easy to find as they once were!
Success! I have several maps now. Also, I remembered to take pictures. Here are some of the beautiful sites in the old town of Gdansk:
The highlight of our day, though, was our visit to the Solidarity Museum. If you are ever in Gdansk, I highly recommend it.
The red-rust building in the background is the Solidarity Museum. The top of the Memorial for the Fallen Shipyard Workers is cut off in this picture because I wanted to get these words.
These are the demands of the striking shipyard workers which were written on two large wooden boards and then placed at Gate #2 of the Gdansk Lenin shipyard in 1980. The strike was initiated in defense of a 30-year employee who had recently been fired. This gate was a symbol for the shipyard workers because in 1970, the army shot two and injured several others in trying to stop an earlier a strike.
The Solidarity Museum is amazing and inspirational. My eyes watered more than once. There are placards and signs outside the museum which talk about the current struggles of Belarussians who have been killed, arrested, or forced out of their country by the current oppressive regime in that country.
After walking around the museum and most of old town, we were ready to sit and eat a meal. At one intersection we became confused, and a Polish gentleman offered to help us. It turns out that he gives tours in German of the old town. He walked us to his favorite restaurant: Gdanska Restaurancja. It is incredibly beautiful inside. Visit the website to see. I took pictures of our delicious Polish meals. I had beetroot soup with cream and a pork cutlet with vegetables and potatoes. Andy had a local beer and pork roast with potatoes and cabbage. Highly recommended!
Well, that’s all for now. The Polish national men’s volleyball team is in the finals of some international tournament. We’ve been watching them on television the past few nights. Very exciting! Volleyball appears to be a very big deal in Poland. The tournament is happening in Poland, and the crowds have been amazing. Me, I’ll watch and enjoy any sport.
Many people have asked me about how to pack for a 10-month “trip.” Well, I like to travel light. I’m not into clothes and shoes and all that stuff, so it’s pretty easy for me to limit what I bring. We get one free checked bag (Kelty), one carry-on (red wheelie suitcase), and a personal item (backpack), so that is what I’m bringing.
A few people offered to loan me a large, wheelie suitcase to check, and I thought about it. There would be more space, and the wheels could have been helpful. In the end, I decided to stick with Kelty. How could I leave her behind? Kelty is a hiking-traveling backpack-suitcase (in the middle, above). When you want to travel on a plane, the back zips up to hide and protect the straps that you can wear when you are hiking or walking from bus stop to apartment (shown below).
This isn’t the first time Kelty has traveled to Europe with me. In 2007, Andy Felt and I led the UWSP study abroad trip to Munich, Germany. I brought Kelty on that trip, although I neglected to take any good pictures of her while we were there. Below are my best attempts to find her.
But my relationship with Kelty goes back farther than that fun time in Germany. In 1992, before we had kids, Andy and I went on a 4-day, back-country hiking trip in Glacier National Park. Obviously, Kelty was the perfect choice for hauling my clothes and gear.
Did I buy Kelty for that backpacking adventure? No, no, no. I bought Kelty in 1986, before I moved to Strasbourg, France and my junior year abroad. Do I have any pictures of Kelty speaking French? I wish! I did find a picture of my dorm room in Louvois 3. I kept Kelty under the bed (not pictured).
So, Kelty and I go W-A-Y back. How could I leave her at home? She’ll be accompanying me on this adventure, and I’m excited that you, gentle reader, are too.
I may also work on my writing. Or not. I’m keeping an open mind.
Ja nie mowie po Polsku bardo dobre. (I don’t speak Polish very well.) I am trying! I’ve been using Duolingo for almost a year. My vocabulary is small, and my accent probably atrocious, but I’ve always loved learning languages and being surrounded by people speaking in words I cannot understand. Am I crazy? Maybe. It is hard for me to express how totally excited I am about this adventure. I know it will be practically impossible for me to understand Polish at first, but I’ll give it my best shot. I can only improve, right?
We leave in early September and won’t return until July 2023. To be honest, I could use a break from the U.S. There’s nothing like living in a strange place to make you appreciate things you never even noticed about your home.
I’ll post updates about our adventure here. My husband Andy Felt is in the process of creating his own blog, Finding Myself in Poland, so check that out too.