There are many things that need to go into living in another country. Securing a VISA, making sure that you have the proper insurance, packing everything you might need, the list could go on and on. With all of these more important things, there are many little things that often get looked over. Many of these little things are rather small and unimportant. However, it is my hope today to shed some light on these oft forgotten and overlooked aspects of living in a foreign country.
One small difference between my experiences in Poland and in America has been the showers. You may think, well a shower is a shower, but this has not been the case. In the majority of America, it seems that a wall-mounted showerhead is the most common. This means that the showerhead stays attached to the wall at all times, and it is unable to move from the wall. In Poland it seems that this system is not popular and more common is the showerhead that someone can grab and swing around. In my opinion, this style of showerhead is better. I am a fairly tall man and many times in America I have had a problem with showerheads being mounted too low on the wall, so that when I want a shower, I need to duck down just for the water to hit my head. This is a very comical sight I am sure, but I don't particularly enjoy it. Besides the showerheads, I have also noticed that the drains in the showers are different. I like to think that I know a few basic skills; How to change a lightbulb, how to hang pictures, and how a shower drain works are some things that I considered I knew fairly well. However, the drains in Poland make no sense to me and I have monkeyed around with the one at Adam's apartment, but I still don't know its inner workings or mechanics.
The differences in showers and showerheads aside there is also one small thing that I have noticed in Poland. This is that the sidewalks are different compared to the ones in America. Of course, there are certain cities in America that have their own unique style, but the most common style that I have seen is that of poured concrete. This meaning that the sidewalks are not made of individual blocks, but are instead made with forms and wet concrete. The concrete is poured into a form, it sets and hardens, and then you have a sidewalk. Each of these forms is about one meter long and one meter wide. These sets of forms are laid out one in front of the other, and the end result is a sidewalk. I have noticed that in Poland the sidewalks are not made like this. Instead, they are made with individual small blocks or cobblestones. All of these blocks and cobblestones come together to make up the entire sidewalk. Again, I believe that this style or system is better because if one block breaks, it need only be replaced and then the sidewalk is as good as new. However, in the American system, if one area of a sidewalk breaks, the whole section needs to be removed and then re-poured with wet cement again. This seems like much more work than simply replacing a brick or cobblestone.
Thus there are more tangible things that are different in Poland and America, but one thing that is not tangible is the way items are purchased in a deli. If you would like something in America you must first say how much you would like and then whether you would like it sliced or whole. For example, if you would like some Swiss Cheese, you must first tell the Deli worker that you would like 500 grams, and then he/she asks if you would like it sliced or whole. This was the system that I was familiar with when I went to a deli here in Lębork. At the deli I asked for 500 grams of cheese, and then the deli worker promptly cut off a rather large piece of cheese, wrapped it, and handed it to me. I was very surprised at this and I was hoping that they would have asked if I wanted it sliced or not. However, this question never came and I was left with a big chunk of cheese. Later on, I learned that if you want slices you can simply ask for however many you want and that is that. So, the next time I wanted cheese I asked for 5 slices and that was the end of it. It seemed strange at first that I did not have to say the quantity of cheese that I wanted, but now that I am used to this system, I do think it is better. There is less fuss and it makes things easier. So, now I know how to buy cheese in different countries, but watch out if you travel abroad because I am certain that little things will come up that you never even thought about. I know this has been the case with me here in Poland!
This past weekend I wanted to go on a small day-trip. Since Gdańsk is close to Lębork I thought this would be a good destination for me. It turns out it was indeed a good place to visit, because I had a lovely day there. I took the morning train to Gdańsk, saw some sights, walked around for a bit, and then I went to the Museum of the Second World War. I was not prepared for the immenseness of this massive museum. I had arrived at the museum at around 1300 and I was there until 1930. Even with all of this time there I do not feel like I saw everything that there is to see in the museum. The scale of the museum was truly impressive and I guess next time I go there I will simply need to plan to spend the entire day there instead of just most of the day!
I had a train at 2015 and it was via the SKM train company. I am not sure if I missed the train or what happened, but when I arrived at the train station I saw only trains going to Wejerhowo. I figured Wejerhowow was at least in the general direction that I needed to go in order to return to Lębork, so I hopped onto the train. While in Wejerhowo I had a bit of a problem. This problem was that I had to speak with the Cashier at the ticket office to try and buy another ticket. Now, my Polish is o.k. in these types of situations, but there was an unforeseen dilemma. The problem was that I wanted to buy a ticket for a train, that apparently did not exist. Inside the train station I saw the schedule of trains. On this schedule it was written that I could buy a train ticket for a train that would go through Lębork, on its way to Słupsk. Now, I asked for this train ticket very nicely. However, the cashier firmly told me that this train did not exist and that I would have to wait one hour for a different train. I understood this, but my problem was that what the cashier was saying, was not the same as what was on the train schedule for the day. I told this to her, and she told me again, rather firmly, that I must look at the dates for the train schedule. I did look at the dates, and I was absolutely certain that the schedule was good until the date of December 8th. The date was the 1st of December. Now, my Polish is o.k., but certainly not at the level where I could kindly point out to the cashier that the schedule was not correct and that there was some sort of mistake between what she was saying and what was on the schedule. So, our conversation ended with me buying a ticket for the train she recommended after the fact that she told me I could either buy the ticket or leave her alone and stop bothering her.
I felt better after our discussion because while waiting for the next train to Lębork I saw three other people be confused by the schedule. So, I was happy that it was not simply me who had the problem, and that the schedule posted for the trains was indeed incorrect. While waiting for the train my mind did wander to the problem that many Americans face while interacting with the ticket booth workers across Poland. Unfortunately, in our weak American minds we are too used to the mind-set of the customer always being first. When we go to a restaurant, order food, or buy tickets for something we expect this rule to govern our interactions. This meaning that most Americans expect to be treated nicely and be 'met with a smile'. So, I think that most Americans would have a shock after dealing with the train ticket booth workers here.
I remember a time when I had an American co-worker in Warsaw who was shocked that the ticket booth workers did not speak English, and that they had the audacity to be mad at her for not knowing Polish. She came away from her interaction very angry and frustrated and I had to explain to her that our mind-set of customer service is certainly not the same across all the world. Fortunately, I am used to interacting with the PKP ticket booth workers by now, so I did not take my experience personally. Instead of complaining about how things are different, I instead see a unique opportunity to practice my Polish and see how I can manage. Although I did not have the best time in Wejerhowo I did come away with one positive. Despite having a not so nice interaction with the PKP worker I was in fact right, and that is a small victory that I usually don't have when trying to speak in Polish.
Click here to Being somewhat familiar with Poland, I was very happy to have the opportunity to come to the country again. There is a lot to see, the people are nice, and I enjoy challenging myself with trying to speak better and better Polish. Of course, there were certain food items that I was excited for as well. Tasty pączki, well-made żurek, all the varieties of kiełbasa, and the many different types of drożdżówki. All of these foods are very good, please don't get me wrong. However, there was one food, or drink rather, that I was the most excited to drink. It was not Książęce, my favorite Polish beer, nor was it Żubrówka, a good Polish vodka. No, the one drink that I was most excited for was woda gazowana. In English we call this carbonated water, but I am of the opinion that calling woda gazowana simply 'carbonated water' does not do it justice.
I know what you may be thinking; don't they have woda gazowana in America? Yes, we do. However, the varieties available across Poland and Europe are only available in specialty stores or markets and they are not wide-spread or common. We do have a popular brand of carbonated water called La Croix. It is o.k. and this company does offer a few interesting flavored waters such as coconut and raspberry. Yet, try as they might, it just does not compare to the crisp, clean, refreshing taste of woda gazowana. My love for woda gazowana is actually a little bit ironic because when I first tried this water, I did not like it. However, one day while in Poland, my friend and I had only one bottle of woda gazowana between us. The sun was high in the sky and it felt like it was 34 degrees Celsius that day. With only the woda gazowana to drink we had little choice. On that hot and sun-scorched day my love for woda gazowana was born, and I have not looked back since.
I am happy that I discovered that there are even different varieties of woda gasowana to drink. Gazowana or lekko gazowana are both good and I drink them both from time to time. Although if I had to choose I would choose normal gazowana over lekko. Throughout my time in Poland I will of course eat żurek, kiełbasa, and the occasional pączek. Yet, the one small thing that I will always enjoy is my dear woda gazowana. Perhaps when I return to America I will have to find a source of some good Polish brands, or else invest in a water carbonator and try and make my own, but I doubt it would be the same.
I am ashamed to admit that I have encountered the problem that many Americans abroad face. It is a small problem that we have made for ourselves, and it really is quite ridiculous. This small problem is that I can't think in the metric system. The metric system is the system of measurement that most of the more intelligent nations in the world use. This system is used for measuring distance, quantity, and weight. The units of measurement for this system are for example the centimeter, kilometer, milliliter, liter, gram, and kilogram. Of course, there are other units such as the decogram and so on, but all of these fall into a nice and orderly system of multiples of ten. For example, 100 cm makes a meter, and 1000 meters makes a kilometer. These are nice and easy numbers to work with. This system makes the most sense because it is intuitive. If you need to know how many centimeters are in a km, you can easily slide some zeros around and you have the figure that you need.
The system of measurement we use in America is completely and totally different from this metric system. We do have some equivalents, but they are completely different measurements. For example, instead of centimeters we use inches. One inch is equal to 2.54 cm. When you have twelve inches, then you have a foot. And three feet equals a yard, which is somewhat simliar to a meter. Instead of kilometers we say miles, and one mile equals 1.6 km. The weight system is also different. We have ounces and pounds. 16 ounces is equal to one pound, and one pound equals 0.45 Kg. But wait, it gets better. Our liquid system is also different. Beer in Poland is usually sold in a half-liter container. However, we stupid Americans sell beer in bottles and cans that are 12 fluid ounces. We also use an ounce for both liquids and solids, so that when you need to distinguish between the two you have to say 'fluid ounce' when talking about liquids and simply 'ounce' when talking about solids. So, that certainly does not make things easier because one fluid ounce is not the same as a dry or regular ounce. Our measurement of fluids adds up to different units of measurements such as cups, pints, and gallons. Such that 8 oz. (ounces) makes a cup and these cups add up to what we call a pint. However, There are 2 cups in a US fluid pint and 2.37 cups in a US dry pint, because it is different if you have a liquid or solid. From adding pints we end up at a thing called a gallon. Gallons are most common for milk, and one gallon is made up of 16 liquid cups. Gallons of milk contain a lot of liquid and most people only buy them if they really love milk or they have a large family with many children. I could go on and on about the finer details of the U.S. Standard system, but perhaps I should just ask this: Are you confused yet?
The non-sensical way that the U.S. Standard system is laid out means that American children spend a large amount of time having these units of measurement beaten into them by their teachers when they are young. I remember many a test on this subject during my time in Elementary School. Now, the good news is that Americans do learn the Metric System in school as well. However, we never use it outside of our science classes. So, most Americans know the Metric system is, but it does not have any real relevance to us. Such that when a Pole tells me that the store is only '2 km away'. I know what this means, that is 2000 meters, but it does not have any relevance to my brain. So, the situation I often find myself in is staring blankly and trying to calculate out the difference between the U.S. Standard System and the Metric System. So, thanks for nothing America! Thank you for using an old and out-dated measurement system that, rumor has it, was based off the measurement of some English Queen's foot back in the 18th or 19th century. If we ever have a vote to change to the Metric System I will be at the polls so fast it would make your head spin!
This past Sunday was Poland's Independence Day celebration. It was an especially important day because it marked the centennial celebration or 100 years of Polish Independence. I was happy to be in Poland for this historical event. Lębork had a nice celebration and the parade, ceremony, and military exhibition were all very interesting. I also enjoyed seeing the Polish flags flying on many homes. Red and white are not my favorite colors but the two go together very well. It was good to see people celebrating 100 years of independence. A small amount of patriotism is a powerful thing and can be used by a group of people to rally together and change things for the better. I do not think that we should blindly be patriotic but we must each decide what it means to be patriotic and express this in our own way. I think the people of Lębork celebrated their patriotism and Independence Day the right way and I was happy to be a part of it.
Many Americans are much too patriotic. They blindly think that 'America is the best' and this is quite frankly not true. In comparisons with other countries there is only one thing that America has recently ranked first in, and that is that we are the fattest nation on Earth, with the biggest population of obese people. This is of course nothing to be proud of and so many Americans must acknowledge their own faults and realize how they themselves can be better. America and Poland certainly have potential to be great places to live, it is just up to the people who live there to make it so. So, whether you celebrate with fireworks and hot dogs like many American do, or with more solemn parades and ceremonies like here in Lębork, be proud to be independent and free. Poland's history is troubled and although the past 100 years have had its dark moments, I truly believe that the future will be bright and joyous both for Lębork and Poland as a whole.
Last week was an eventful one for two reasons. Firstly, on October 31st, it was Halloween. Then, it was Wszytkich Świętych or All Saints Day on November 1st. Halloween is a very popular holiday in America. No-one gets off of work for the holiday and different people like it for different reasons. Children love it because they get to go trick-or-treating and wear costumes. Young Adults love it because they get to wear costumes, have parties, and drink a fair amount of alcohol. Some adults also like the holiday because it is fun for their children or they get in the 'holiday spirit' and decorate their homes and give out lots of candy. I did not miss Halloween very much this year. It was a fun topic for my lectures, but I certainly did not feel like I missed out that much. I guess I don't have much Halloween spirit. I did see some children going around Lębork on the night of Halloween in costumes so maybe it is getting more popular here in Poland. Whether this is good or bad I have no idea.
More interesting than Halloween was the day after or All Saints Day. This day started off very well because it was a day off of work. I enjoy my job, but a free day here and there is much appreciated. I knew that the custom here in Poland is to go the cementery and decorate the graves of your relatives with candles, flowers, and other such-things. Due to this I was hoping to see the cementery during the night of All Saints Day. Being the efficient thinker that I am I had a good thought as to how I should get to the cementery. I knew the cementery was a far distance away from the house, so I figured I would run to a park, work out a little bit, and then continue running on to the cementery. This was a good plan in theory. However, I did not account for two things: One was the rather large amount of people both at the cementery and walking there. Second was the fact that I was wearing shorts and a work-out shirt and I looked out of place with everyone else wearing pretty nice clothes. Despite my feeling a bit out of place due to my attire I pushed on and made it to the cementery. The candles and decorated graves were very very pretty. I stayed for only a little bit and then headed back to the house.
I was very impressed with the appearance of the cementery. I am sad that we don't have a similar tradition in America because I think that it is a nice way to honor and remember relatives who have passed on. However, I do believe that if we did have the same tradition of decorating our cementeries then it would turn into a competition and a fight. For example one person might try and have the biggest candle, or the most flowers, or the prettiest tombstone, and so on. So, the nice tradition of remembering your deceased might be turned into an all-out competition and the intentions of the holiday would be lost. So, I am personally sad that we don't have the same traditions for All Saints Day, but perhaps it is for the best.
I had the opportunity to take a day-trip to Gdańsk recently, and it was truly a wonderful decision. I did not have much of a plan as far as what I would do in Gdańsk, but I knew that the city is a big tourist destination and so I could figure something out. My trip started with me buying the train tickets to get to Gdańsk in Lębork. Even this was exciting and different for me, because I did not use the train company that I was accustomed to. For most of my travels in Poland I have been used to the train company; PKP or else PKP IC. However, when I bought my tickets for my trip to Gdańsk, I saw that the train would be through SKM. I was not familiar with this company and so promptly asked my boss what was going on. He told me that SKM runs the yellow and blue trains and that they were only a different company from PKP. This seemed like no big deal to me and I was just happy to have the ability to take a train to Gdańsk.
The actual day of my trip began with me waking up early, grabbing a hunk of bread for breakfast, and quickly walking to the train station. I am not proud to say that I did not leave myself much extra time. However, at the train station, I saw the yellow and blue train and knew that this must be the SKM train to Gdańsk. The train ride was uneventful, and my first glimpses of Gdańsk were amazing; The architecture, impressive buildings, grand churches, tourist shops, Mariacka street, and its gargoyle drains, and of course the statue of Neptune himself. All of this really blew me away, and I was immensely impressed with the city. After walking around and having a coffee, I decided it was time to go to the Europejskie Centrum Solidarności. First I stopped at the memorial to the fallen shipyard workers of 1970, and then I entered into the vast museum. My first reaction was 'wow.' The museum is huge and very well put-together. I bought my ticket, grabbed my audio guide, and took my first steps into the main exhibit. Little did I know that the museum would require so much time. I spent about five hours at the museum, and I enjoyed every second of it. I was very happy that I was able to see the plywood sheets with the 21 demands of the ship-yard strikers' written on them. These demands are one of the most important documents of the entire 20th century and being able to see them in person was an experience that I won't soon forget. Learning more about Lech Wałęsa was also very exciting for me. I consider him one of my personal heroes. What he and the leaders of Solidarność were able to accomplish is truly amazing. However, I find the story of Lech to be the most interesting because he was a regular person, just like you and me, that rose to accomplish earth-changing feats. It is not hard to think of a different history where Lech lived out his life as an electrician and did not fulfill the role that he did in the Solidarność movement. However, he stood up for what was right, and despite his humble beginnings he went on to do great things. Many times in our world it is easy to feel that nothing we ever do truly matters and that we are too small to change or make a difference in the events of the world. I see Lech as an example to us all that no matter where you come from or how small or unimportant you feel, if you do what you feel is right and just and stand for what you believe in then you can make a difference.
After my wonderful time at the Europejskie Centrum Solidarnośći I ate dinner at a Bar mleczny. I ate Tomato soup with noodles and naleśniki with mushrooms. After dinner, I went to a bar because I saw they had a Guinness sign. Now, I enjoy Polish beer quite a lot, but there is something about a Guinness on draft that makes it special. I ordered one Guinness and sat and nursed it for a while. After my tasty beer, I went back to the train station and found the SKM platform. The train ride back to Lębork was nice and relaxing, and I was back home and in bed all before 2300. As I went to sleep, I thought of the wonderful day I had, the taste of Guinness, and the accomplishments of Mr. Lech Wałęsa.
The next topic came to me from an interaction that I had with my boss's wife. She was showing me that she had a coat hook which I could hang up in the first floor of their home if I liked. She said that all I had to do was put a screw in the wall and the coat-hook would hang off of that. This led me to the question: what the heck is the wall made out of anyway? I know the walls of their home look very different than in America and are made from a different material. So, after a long discussion I figured out just what a wall is made of, what is behind the wall, and how houses are built. Due to this conversation I am now inspired to share more about the difference in building between what I am familiar with in America and what I have seen here in Lebork.
The first style of housing that I want to write about is the standard apartment building. I see these housing units all over Lebork and I must admit they are very practical. They seem to be able to house a lot of apartments or flats and this is very good for allowing more people to live in one building, while saving space at the same time. I believe there are many American cities that have similar buildings. New York City certainly has many such buildings and it is somewhat common to find the same block style apartment building in any major American city. So, it seems that apartment buildings or complexes are common the world over and there are many parellels between what is here in Lebork with what is in American cities.
While apartment buildings may be the same, there are some key differences between houses in Lebork and houses in my own region in America. The styles are much different. Most houses in my region have more sloping roofs and roofs made with shingles or metal sheets. They are also wider and not as tall as the houses here in Lebork. Another difference is that most homes in my region have basements or lower levels. These are floors of a building that go below the ground and it is very uncommon to not have one in my home region. Most are what we call 'not finished', which means that they are not a place that could be used for a living space but are instead a space where you can store things or have your washing machine and/or dryer. For example my Mother uses her basement for laundry and my Grandmother uses hers to house her furnace and firewood.
The way the buildings look are also much different. Most American homes have a thing that we call 'siding'. This is a thing that is put on the side of homes to help protect the material underneath. Most of the time it is made from plastic or metal, but sometimes it can be made of something more expensive. Siding is essentially a cheap way of covering up the structure of a house so that the weather does not damage this. I have noticed that most Polish houses are made of concrete or brick. There are American homes that are made from similar material, but if they are most do not have siding and one can see the layers of brick that make up the structure of the house. However, brick homes are more expensive so more common are homes that are made from wood. These homes are less expensive and have cheaper parts than brick homes. They are not entirely made from wood as the foundation is made from concrete, there is insulation in the walls, and the siding and roofing materials are made from plastic, metal, or rubber.
Regardless of what a house is made of there is always the problem of heating and cooling. In my region it is very common to have a wood stove. These can be small and in living areas so that they are more like a fireplace. They can also be large and in this case they usually go in a basement or outside but close to a home. My Grandmother has two wood stoves in her basement and my Uncle has a large heating sytsem connected to a woodstove outside of his home. If a house does not have wood stove then they have a heating system that is powered by gas. However, burning wood is very common in my region. In fact, my cousin and I sold firewood when we were young to make extra money. My uncle and my cousin are also quite crafty because they burn their garbage in the stove that heats their house. Of course this is not very good for the planet and it would be better if they recycled, but they have done this for years. My own family also burned their garbage for a time when I was young, and it was even one of the chores which I had to do. Now, we try and recycle more, but since most people live in the countryside there is not a great recycling or trash system in place.
Walking around the neighborhoods of Lebork I am happy to smell the wood-smoke in the air. It reminds me of my own home and there is something primal about using a wood fire to heat one's home. Maybe one day in the future humans will come up with some new super-effecient way to heat homes, but for now I appreciate and like the old traditional way of burning wood. As the saying goes, if it isn't broke then don't fix it!
I feel very fortunate to be in Poland right now. Everything has been going great. I have good students and am continuing to enjoy Lebork. I believe that I have been enjoying myself so much because of the great weather that we have been having. In English, we don't have a specific word or phrase for when Autumn or Fall is so nice but the Polish term 'Golden Fall' perfectly describes the current weather. The trees are just starting to turn color and the weather has been amazing. No rain, No clouds, nothing but sunshine and warm temperatures. I was worried that it would already be cold and snowy here, but this has not been the case at all.
I have been bragging to my family about the weather here because where I am from in America they have already had snow three times. My cousin has been very upset because he has to get up early and drive to work and when it snows he has to spend time cleaning it off of his car. He has sent me a few photos of him doing this and I have sent a few of me sitting on a park enjoying the sun in return, just to rub it in. I hope the weather continues, but I know it has to get cold sometime.
Besides enjoying the weather I have also been seeing the many billboards, banners, and advertisements that have been hung up throughout the city for the upcoming elections. This has been quite the phenomenon to witness. I like the banners for many reasons. Firstly, it is a good exposure for seeing many different Polish names other than Jan Kowalski, and I have enjoyed practicing the pronunciation of the more interesting ones. Secondly, it has been good to see the different political parties that are being represented in the elections. I know of some of the parties from following Polish news but there are some that I had not heard of before. Lastly, I have been getting a kick out of some of the photos that have been used for the billboards. Most of the photos are very nice and the candidates look very professional in them. However, there are a few that I can't help but laugh at because the photos just aren't that good. On some of the billboards, the photos look rather funny. Whether it be the candidates' facial expression or the general theme of the advertisement. Either way, I know it is not nice to poke fun at the hard-working local candidates, but I can't help but see some humor in the billboards. I have also been impressed by the lack of vandalism and defacing of the billboards. I know that in America if there were as many billboards and advertisements for elections that most would have fake mustaches, colored-in teeth, or some sort of other abuse put on them. Here in Lebork, it seems that the general population seems to be more refined or else the young people are more mature, I am not sure on either account, but either way the general respect given to the political advertisements is impressive. Best of luck to all the candidates running and may the billboards and advertisements stay up as long as they need be.
For my first weekend get away from Lebork I decided to explore a strange peninsula that I always found interesting on maps of Poland. This peninsula is the Hel peninsula and on maps of Poland it looks very skinny, almost to the point where if the Baltic sea level rose just slightly then the peninsula would turn into an island. The train ride looked like it was only going to take 2 or so hours to get there with one transfer, so I figured: 'why not?'
I booked my train tickets to get to Hel and back. I left Saturday morning very early and got to Hel at about 9 a.m. I checked-in to my small guest room, got a map of the town, and began exploring. Hel was a very nice town and reminded me of some seaside resorts that exist in America. At first I did not want to seeme like a 'stuipd tourist', but then I realized that just about everyone in the town was a stupid tourist so I might as well embrace it. I started with a walk around town and the pier. Then I went to the fokarium and watched the seals there as they performed tricks and received fish for when they performed well. After the fokarium it was straight to the Fisherman's museum for me. The museum exhibits were well made and I learned a lot about the fishing history of Hel and the surrounding region. After this I stopped for a coffee and Gofr.
Feeling refreshed from my snack and coffee I walked the 1 km out of town to see the museums about the defense of Hel and the peninsula during WWII. The museums were well made and I again learned a lot. There are many old battlements and artillery batteries in and around Hel and I saw a few of these throughout the day. It was about dinner time and since I was in Hel and near the sea I figured that fish was the obvious choice. I tried a very tasty fish soup and ate herring in the Kashubian style. After dinner I went to the very tip of the peninsula and watched the sunset there. Since, I was on vacation I thought a beer would be good. I went to a local restaurant and saw on the menu that they had a beer with cherries. This sounded good to me and I did not think much about it when I ordered it. However, the beer came out with a straw actualy cherries in the bottom of it. This was very different from what I thought it would be. You see, I had translated poorly from Polish to English because in English when we say a beer is 'with' something it usually means that the beer is brewed or made with that ingredient. So, I thought I was ordering a beer that would have cherry flavor, not actual cherries in it. However, I had already bought the beer so there was nothing left to do but drink it. Although I would not order it again, I must admit that the beer with cherries was not that bad.
Sunday morning came and I was anxious to get my day started. I saw the lighthouse in Hel, got a coffee, picked up some food for the day, and began my journey of walking along the peninsula. I planned to walk from Hel to Chalupy. I looked at this on the map and the distance said only 25 km. Now, I knew that 1 Km was less than one mile. So, I figured that it would be a nice walk and would not take me that long. I was wrong. The walk took all day, and although the scenery was nice I was very very happy when I finally reached Chalupy. Once there I only had about an hour before I had to catch my train. So I sat on the beach and looked out at the vast expanse of the Baltic Sea. I caught my train and was happy that I did not walk anymore during the day. After an uneventful train ride I was back in Lebork and happy that my exciting weekend was over. Hel was a great time and it certainly was no Hell, but walking 25 Km in one day was more of an undertaking than I thought it would be.
Born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan David was raised by his parents with his two sisters and brother.