After we finally arrived in Warsaw after our long journey, we ate some delicous home-made Polish cuisine that tasted especially good after eating nothing but airplane food and junk food for an entire day. Andrew's sister (Gosia) has a nice "flat" in Warsaw and we slept comfortably our first night. The way our flight schedule worked out was perfect and we basically adjusted to the 7 hour time difference almost right away, so early the next morning we left for our trip to Gdansk! It was about a 6 hour drive and we stopped in a really cool old city where Andrew briefly studied law. It is also the home of Nicolas Copernicus, without whom we may never know that the earth orbits the sun! We hung out there for about an hour and hit the road again so we could get to Gdansk as soon as possible. I was expecting a small coastal town...but I was wrong. Its a huge city full of buildings, metro trains (which Poles refer to as "slicers" because if you are not watching when you drive across the tracks, they will slice your car in half), and some mediocre graffiti. One of the graffiti stencil I noticed said, "Tired of waiting, for things to get better, for things to change, tired of waiting for a sign", so that was sad. My favorite part of Gdansk is the old town where they sell all the amber jewelry and junky souvineers! Polish people are not afraid to push their sales so I learned quickly to be friendly but not too friendly while browsing for goods! In the old town are all of the beautiful historic buildings. It is really amazing to see the architecture and the city has a good and lively energy. The street is filled with cafe's, musicians, and tourists (mostly other Polish people but probably other Eastern Europeans as well).
We are staying in a small but comfortable flat just outside of the old town. We have a perfect view of the longest building in Europe that stretches for 3 bus stops! Its pretty hideous, but it makes sense because in typical Polish style, function trumps aesthetics.
Since we've been here we have crammed as many activities into each day as we can! I love vacationing with extroverts! We've gone to old town several times to shop, drink beer, eat food and bum around. We also went to the amber museum which is in a mid-evil castle that was incredible! At some point the amber museum became a mid-evil torture museum! Maybe we took a wrong turn somewhere but we ended up in a wing of the castle that had scary prisoner cells and mannequins set up to show torture techniques, it was disturbing but very captiva
ting! I am certainly glad that I did not live during that wild time period! After the museum I happened to discover a "Vegetarian Bar" that served some of the best vegetarian food I have ever had! I wanted to take some of the food to go, just like the other American pigs, but they don't have to go boxes. I ate every savory morsel on my plate and didn't need to eat again until the following afternoon. We also went to a huge indoor water park one evening. It was seriously the biggest and coolest water park I have ever seen. But...since I haven't found a decent swim suit yet, and because they don't allow skinny dipping, I was a spectator. I couldn't have been happier though because I was able to draw in my sketchbook and rock out to my iPod for a few hours while everyone was swimming...ahhhh-bliss!!!
Yesterday we (Jacek, Andrew, Ena and I) took a ferry boat to a Peninsula called Hel. Seriously, we went to Hel. The boat ride took about an hour, so Ena had time to hang out with a few other little girls on the boat. She seemed happy to hang out with other kids and I don't really know what they were doing or talking about, but they were giggling like school girls the entire way. When we got to Hel there wasn't too much there shopping wise, just more junky souvineers and lots of soft serve ice cream stands which of course we took advantage of! We hiked it a few miles through the forest to the Baltic Sea coast. It was stunning! Soft white sand, crystal clear water and Polish tourists in speedos!!! The water was pretty cold so we put our feet in and Ena was ecstatic! We all worked together to build a sand castle but the sand was too soft and it caved in while we were constructing the moat. When we left the beach we stopped at the porta potties which were guarded by some chain smoking Polish women that charged us 2 zwloty to use the toilets. After that we hurried back to the harbor to catch our ferry. The little girls that Ena met on the way there, were also on the ride home. Ena was super friendly and happy to see them again. She insisted that I give her my iPod so her and the girls could play games and laugh together. They seemed fascinated with Ena because she spoke English. That evening Gosia watched Ena so Andrew and I could hit the "Veggie Bar" again, but to my utter disappointment it was already closed by the time we got there. We ended up eating at a more American style burger place (since I already had perogies for lunch!) called "Original Burger". I got a delicous veggie burger that was taller than it was wide, and a side of fries. Yum.
This is just a quick summary of a few things we've done so far, and now that I have this blog up and running, hopefully I will be able to make more regular updates.
We have TONS of photos but I am having trouble getting most of them on the computer, so these are only the ones that I took from our trip to Hel. Enjoy!