Monday, June 8, 2009

slut means end (in swedish)

It's true.

I can't believe how little time I have left here, all that I've seen in the last week, and that I'll be sitting on the couch in the living room at home this time next week.


Let's start where I left off...

I was going to go swimming with Marsha and Suvi in the harbor. Well, Marsha ended up staying in Copenhagen overnight and the weather wasn't quite nice enough to go swimming, so we postponed and now Suvi is gone. Without swimming. It's a shame.

Friday night I went to University Island and we played circle of death for a while and then went out to a club. It was the first time I've heard hip hop in a club in half a year. So refreshing, although we ended up on the electro dance floor, since apparently it's impossible to dance to hip hop.
I stumbled home some time before 4 and had a nice rest. When I awoke, however, I was horribly ill (not a result of drinking... well, I'm sure it didn't help, but this was an actual sickness). It took me all afternoon to pack my bag for the Poland trip and I couldn't stomach anything. I decided to face the problem head first and met Marsha at Burger King. There I could have food of substance (I had only bread product in my room) and Sprite, which is good for illness. Whilst waiting for Marsha I had a chance to leave a voicemail with a friend at home and call my mom. While we were talking, I ran out of minutes and we went to catch the bus. Too late. The online schedule was only for the week days and we were traveling on a Saturday.
I can't express my aggravation with certain forms of transportation and my inability to work with them enough. We ended up taking a taxi to the airport which was twice as much as I had planned on spending. In the end, we made it to the airport with plenty of time and had an awful flight (which lasted a bit over an hour). The flight itself wasn't so bad, Marsha and I each had the emergency exit row to ourselves because we spoke English and they wanted an English speaker there. However, there was a crying, no - not crying - WAILING toddler on the plane. From the time we sat down until the time we exited the plane, that kid would not stop screaming. Seriously, she should consider being an opera singer with those lungs.
We landed safely, everyone clapped, and the next thing we knew, we were on a bus that was careening along the roads.

So far the scariest drivers I've encountered are the Poles. I don't think it's them, persay, more of their traffic laws. The things that they can do on the roads a) scared me, b) would be super illegal in the States, and c) made me soooooo car sick. I spent 90% of the time on the road wishing for fresh air, to stop moving, and maybe just to never see a road again. My motion sickness has progressively gotten worse - I can't even do porch swings for more than 5 minutes without feeling queasy and there I was, on a bus that seemed like it was about to roll over upon every turn.

We ended up in Krakow (having landed in Katowice) at the central bus station, but there were no buses or taxis. Deciding to find a place to seek shelter from the rain and figure out our next plan of action, Marsha and I came across Golden Hostel. The receptionist was great and so very helpful, from calling a cab for us to giving us hints on how best to go about our sight seeing, even though we weren't staying in his hostel.

The cab got us to the Dizzy Daisy Downtown Hostel (ridiculous names, I know) and we went straight to sleep. By 10 in the morning, we were showered and ready to go exploring. Louise wasn't set to arrive until after midnight, so we had the day to chill around town. It was kind of rainy (you'll see that rain follows me on my travels), but not unpleasant. Marsha got an awful caricature done of her and we went to the castle. The clouds went away and I took a few pictures of our surroundings. We discovered that for 1.30 or 1.50 PLZ (which is less than 50 cents) we could buy bread from street vendors and the cheese bread was the best. After walking around we went back to the hostel to rest a bit more from our adventurous night. I was feeling 80% better by that time, which was great.

We ate dinner at a disappointing so-called Mexican restaurant and then back to the hostel for movie night. Only, they weren't having movie night (it is supposed to be every Sunday at 8 in the common room, but it was already 9 and they were watching soccer). So, we picked out a movie and watched it. After that was over, I stayed up waiting for Louise, so I could tell her our plan for the next morning (which was starting early).

After going to bed around 3, I woke up at 6 and started getting ready for the day. Louise had arrived around 2 and then some guys were (apparently) having snore wars that night. It was like having 3 of my grandpa in one room. So loud!

By 8:30 we were on our bus to Auschwitz. We watched a movie on the way there that showed actual footage from the liberation of the camp by the Soviets and I regretted not having any motion sickness medicine.

I don't really want to talk about Auschwitz here. I can say that it was a very sobering experience and that it was highly informational, but the rest I have to say in person. If you ever get a chance to visit a concentration camp, please go. If you want to talk with me about it, we can grab coffee sometime.

After we left Auschwitz, I went to the hostel to get more batteries for my camera, Marsha got coffee, and Louise purchased a memory card for her camera. We met up again for lunch and before we knew it, we were on a bus for the salt mines.

What did I expect from the salt mines? No idea...
It was good. We met Colin from Canada and Masha from New York.
Imagine the mines of Moria from Lord of the Rings (even better if you've read The Hobbit). That's what the salt mines most reminded me of. I ate a little salt off the wall and enjoyed (in part) the dry humor of Sebastian, our tour guide. Again, I can't describe what it was like to be so many meters underground where people had, for centuries, chipped away at a resource that was (at times) more precious than jewels.

We enjoyed our new friends and had dinner with them in Old Town. Then Louise went back to the hostel to rest and Marsha and I went with Colin and Masha to Colin's hostel (The Good Bye Lenin), where his roommate, Liam, joined us. We went out for drinks (Marsha and I stuck to water, because we were so tired) and then returned home.

Having planned on meeting our new friends, we wandered around the city, after we checked out of our hostel in the morning. However, we had no way of contacting them, so we just perused the place. Then, as Louise was checking her phone and saying that they hadn't called, our friends walked up to us.

They took lunch while we toured the inside of St. Mary's (I believe that's the name). Then we joined them and all of us, with the exception of Marsha on account of her asthma, climbed the highest tower of the church. What typically would have been a bell tower was actually a trumpeting tower, so there were no loud noises while we were up there. About half way up, a sparrow attacked Liam and Masha, which was hilarious. The view from the top was astounding.

After that we toured the city with a guidebook Colin had. However, our adventures were cut short by an expected train.

We hurried back to the hostel and gathered our belongings and took off to the train station. Long story short, we caught the correct train but missed our stop because the platforms did not have informative signs. This caused us to miss our flight check-in by 5 minutes. Needless to say, we were not pleased. Our options were waiting 2 days and catching the next flight back to Malmö from Katowice or traveling to Warsaw and catching the 2 PM flight the next day. We opted for the latter and booked seats on a train that traveled at 1 in the morning. That way, we didn't have to have a place to stay for the night. By 5 AM, we were in Warsaw.
This is how things went in Warsaw:
-train arrives
-figure out which bus to take to the airport
-admire the architecture (without actually taking pictures)
-catch a bus to the airport
-sleep all day at the airport on metal benches

I'm sure my parents are proud, haha. Louise and I had a breakfast there that was quite nice and reasonably priced and I finished reading my favorite book again (thanks Katie for sending me that!), but it was a rather uneventful day. We knew Colin and Liam were in Warsaw, but we were too exhausted from our debacle of the previous night. So, sadly, we did not meet up with them.

I got back to my room in Malmö later, took dinner, and started packing for Gotland and my return home. Again, I didn't accomplish much for want of sleep.

At 5:45 the next morning, we were off. Louise and I had an amazing trip to Gotland and my only regret was how little time we had there. I did take advantage of the hours of transportation and managed to sleep some. The roads in Sweden are much more favorable to my stomach and even on the ferry, I managed to keep ill feelings at bay.

Even though it was raining the entire time we were there, I have fallen in love with Gotland and Visby. The nature is so beautiful, the people are kind, and the ruins of old architecture is enchanting. We took pictures and had fika. It was great. That was the first relaxing vacation. We weren't too worried about the time and had an entire dormitory building to ourselves (if you don't count the cat).

There was a whiteboard at the hostel and we played hangman. We found cards and played Uno. I found a soccer team and watched them practice for a while. Very simple times.

The only problem we had was (again) with transportation as we were trying to get home. The taxi company claims that a cab was sent for us at the appointed time, but we never saw it. However, we fared better than before and made it to our ferry just on time, after Louise and I took turns dealing with the man on the phone and our then-current driver. The driver was great, managed to get us there just in time and gave us a huge discount.
I slept like a baby on the ferry and most of the way home via bus. We had two hours between our ferry ride and our first bus, so we ate sandwiches and played cards in the park. I managed to get just a touch of sun on my shoulders.

We arrived back last night and I had my room inspection this morning. I explained to the land lady that I needed lodging for one more night and she allowed me to stay, which was awesome. My bags are "packed" but I have more things to put in them. I slept all afternoon and then had dinner with Louise and Ezgi in Rönnen. Then I fetched Louise's bike from University Island, where I last parked it and now we arrive at the present, where I'm sitting on the floor, eating some candy (to lighten my load, of course) and looking listlessly at my luggage situation.

I'm not sure if I'll have internet again over the next few days. I'm staying with friends of Louise for three nights and then I'll be back in my own little IKEA bed at home.

I really am going to miss this place.


peace.

1 comment:

kmg said...

I am so glad you have had this adventure sans the stumbling home and motion sickness parts... look forward to your return on Thursday evening! Even though you shared much of your Poland and Gotland trips, it has been great to re-visit your conversation on your blog. Love ya- mom