Enough with Hitch-hiking and christmas in Gdansk

Trip Start Jul 01, 2006
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Flag of Poland  ,
Sunday, December 24, 2006

December 23

The smugglers (it appear that my lift was polish smugglers... for cigarettes) took me to a bus station where there was already a bus to Elk so I could jump on it already and arrived there about an hour later. So the day was too advanced to consider hitch-hiking further and I was in the middle of the city by the train station so I would have lost to much time. So after some hesitation I did by the long-haul train ticket that would bring me to Gdansk just few minutes before midnight and Christmas eve day! So I had few hours to kill so I went to spend my remaining zlotys on getting a yoghurt and some snack for the nearly 6h train ride, since I was already on the road since the morning, nonetheless it was needed. I also ended up in a Alcohol store to buy a bottle of wine for Anja's Christmas. Then by 17h, I boarded the long-self-cabin night train that cross Poland from one border to another. Got my ticket controlled once, and again when the controller didn't remember me (by her look it seems that not so many travellers were doing such long distance. I had my full cabin for myself and could use it as good, making myself cosy, spreading my things and making myself a good lunch with what I had bought and watching the dark dark Polish landscape in those December early night. One great thing is that later, when the train passed Malbork, I got a magnificent view over the castle.

So the ride got long and I finally arrived in Gdansk and stopped at the station where Anja was living and walked there. I still had received no answer at all from my different SMS sent during the day... now I arrived and faced a locked door. At first I was wondering what was going on, tried to call, to bell and I did manage to get inside the hall of the building and could hear her phone there. Seems she was away but that her phone was in the apartment. Since I had nowhere else to go, I decided to wait in the hall. The land-lady finally came out and started talking to me in Polish which I couldn't understand and seemed to be pushing me to go one floor more high but wouldn't accompany me on knocking at that door. I ended up doing it after lots of hesitation and met with Anja's neighbour who told me that Anja was away for the week-end in the countryside... They at least offered me some drinks and let me use the Internet to try to solve my case by ending up in a youth hostel... for Christmas L
I was more starting to wonder if I would end up sleeping in a park in this not so lovely city for being outside in those conditions... I went to HC website and sent SMS to 2 members including Agata. One answered me to simply go to a youth hostel, which in the situation wasn't helping me as I simply didn't know how or where.

Agata though called me and felt concerned, I must say I was a bit unease at first to contact her with the fact that she wasn't so happy with my description of our first encounter I made on my blog. I went over that and still did. She immediately offered to come over to her place and tried to solve the situation at best. I was quite glad with her concerns, I ended up jumping in a taxi to her place and Agata (HC:magata) welcomed me to her family's place the day before Christmas. Which for me was quite a strong event!

We talked a little together and with her sister and finally went to sleep around 2am.

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December 24

By the morning, the whole family discovered me and had the surprise to notice a foreigner in their house. After some talk and so on, they all invited me for the Christmas eve, I was really not expecting it and was surprised as much as they were surprised to notice someone who wasn't there before they went to bed.

I met with Agata's parents and 2 brothers, discussed with them and they explained me a polish tradition of putting an extra plate for unexpected guest on Christmas... and that for them it will seem that this year the unexpected guest will have become reality.

I encountered with a great and welcoming family who showed great interest towards me and with whom I felt fully confident immediately. My Christmas eve day revealed to be a quite relax one, I helped as much as I could with the event preparation, with the Pierogy and other kitchen thing. Later on I especially started to build the Christmas tree and took good care in my new mission, designing a decent tree with the overwhelming number of decoration available!

By the evening, the celebration goes on respecting a strict tradition, which is all new to me and fully interesting to live out. It is also a pretty religious event which, though unusual for me, is of course not shocking as I know pretty well that the lack of religious tradition in my culture isn't a world wide standard.

We share a biscuit with giving the best wishes to the person, bless the meal and gets to enjoy the festive meal. Which is traditionally without meat for Christmas, though include lots of fishes. I end up eating lots of things, and the table is still full of different provisions... just as I had become used to since I'm in Poland.

Later after the meal, it's the gift moment. I look as Agata's father receive loads of shrimps and sea-stuff as a kind joke (Agata's sister and older brother lives currently in Norway). I'm quite surprised when they also call me over to give me a whole gift-bag with different thing!!! Really?
I really would not have expected that and I really appreciate everything that is in... it's so great!!!
(Thanks for the Gdansk Historic Map!)

We also watch up the Russian version of Winnie the Pooh (Vinni Puh) which makes us laugh so much, it is so funny... even if I can't actually understand it, it seems to not matter to appreciate it.

Later on, I also join on the other tradition of going to the midnight mass. I was slightly wondering how this would look like in Poland, which is such a Catholic believer country. My expectation was completed when we arrived at the little, quite newly built, suburban church which revealed to be fully packed with people. That was quite amazing.

Back home, we finally talk till pretty late and I also called my parents and my brother through the Internet to have a short wishes exchange while they were just starting to prepare for their evening.

Then, we went to sleep pretty late by night.

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December 25
Merry Christmas!!
Although I could fully be grateful of my overwhelmingly great Christmas time (Which I am!), I wake up in the morning not feeling too well... it seems that the food was too much for me and I have a slight indigestion but its ok...
Later on though, it turns out worst and I need to go back to sleep and rest, I'm quite shivering and probably having a little fever. I do so for a few hours and get up again later when I feel a bit better. It's ok but I'm definitely a little ill, which might still be a continuation of my illness in Riga mixed with the late high stress.
At least this time I can do some little things.

The whole family take good care of me by serving me appropriate ingredients and make sure I eat enough garlic! Bread and garlic and so on... tasty and it proved efficient as well.
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December 26

Today is another calm day, used to rest and get better. Still enjoying the talk and playing card during the evening.

It's only later that we finally go out in town to meet with Martin (HC:mkc) whom will also be staying at qumpel in Warsaw for the Winter Camp. So it was quite good to meet him shortly beforehand. We walked a little in town and made him get in contact with his host, which is a friend of Agata.
It is also amazingly warm for such later on the year still. Mostly the temperature has been grey the last days, it's a little chill but no way near of a real cold that might be bringing snow. So it will be more likely green in Warsaw as well for the Winter Camp.

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December 27

Later by the end of the day we went out again to get the information about the train to Warsaw as I won't hitch-hike (otherwise I would have left in the morning... or tomorrow morning. And I'm obviously not in shape for long hitch-hiking.) I have been back on my feet afterall, but have also got a quite strong cough and cold. So that is mainly what I'm stuck with.

After having looked for the info, we head in direction of Sopot to walk along the beach and on the long wooden pier that is located there. I took the time to buy some postcard to send to my family and friends and we end up having tea in a old building café, which is having lots of oddities as pieces of arts.

Back to Agata, I prepare myself to leave and make the goodbye with the family. Later that night I catch a night train in direction of Warsaw. Indeed was Agata right, the train is overwhelm packed... so I don't have a place to sit.
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