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.
Born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan David was raised by his parents with his two sisters and brother.