I have to admit—nine months in, this quest to reach the seven continents is starting to wear me out.
I came to that realization when I was hanging up my wet (from being washed) clothes in Maria’s living room. Most of my shirts had holes in them and there was a permanent stink I acquired from Nepal and India that I couldn’t get rid of, no matter how many times I washed them. Not only that, but my wallet was falling apart, my bag was infested with dust and dirt all over and in it, and mentally I was exhausted. Packing, unpacking, packing, unpacking, long flights, motion-sick inducing buses, trains, boats, taxis, visas, language barriers, religions, superstitious beliefs, politics, this, that, these, and those. And then that incident in Ukraine happened.
The idea of going home, for maybe a week, to reset myself sounded reeeeal nice.
But, I cannot do that. I declared a pact to myself, a goal that I published here to the world, that I will not go back home until I reach all seven continents. As of where I am now, in Poland, I still have three more continents to go — Africa, South America, and the big one, Antarctica.
Since I can’t and won’t go home for a little TLC, I can settle for the next best remedy: my amazingly awesome foreign friends. I’m lucky enough to have them in all the right places, dotted all over the world, including here in Warsaw. My Canadian/Polish amiga Maria is one that I met while traveling in Peru back in 2011. She invited me up here before I made my way further west to Europe. I was happy to be there in the presence of a familiar face, where I didn’t really have to think or plan anything. I didn’t care what we did honestly, I was just happy to be there.
Just like most countries I’ve visited on this quest, I knew very little about Poland. From prior knowledge, I knew that they were involved in many important battles. I knew of polish sausages. I knew I had friends at home who would always rant and rave about their Polish heritage, but most importantly, I knew that pączki were a thing.
We have those in Michigan, particularly during Fat Tuesday, but I’ve never had one, but it’s basically a cream-filled donut and I hate those things! I love most donuts, EXCEPT donuts filled with crap. Cream, jelly, whatever. It ruins them. But being since I was here in the official home of the pączki, I oughta give them a try. After Maria settled me into the comforts of Warsaw, she baton passed me to Janka, who served as my own personal tour guide while she went to work during the day. Janka knew I longed for a pączki and she just so happened to know the best place for that.
Fresh out of the oven, warm, and just the right amount of fluff. I had two different pączki and they were delicious, even with the cream filling. It wasn’t too much.
Janka showed me all around the most populous area of Warsaw. I was surprised to find that the locals here were big fans of ice cream. There were ice cream shops around every corner! Not only that, but the cuisine was amazing. When we went to eat lunch, I asked Janka to order something traditional for me from the menu. She gladly accepted the challenge.
She explained to me how Poland used to be a communist state. She also had an eye for pointing out the differences between buildings that were constructed under communist rule and others that were built during the democratic periods. Communist buildings appear to be drab, a dull tone of gray, and is mostly made up of cement building blocks that are pretty much always completely horizontal and vertical in nature—rarely curvature and intricate in architect.
Janka passed me back to Maria who took it upon herself to show me around the city and to even more delicious foods. All I could do in return was to show her how to ‘dab’ because she had no idea what that was.
That night, Maria invited me to a get-together she had with a group of her colleagues. One of them went out of her way to make dinner and supply a whole lot of alcoholic beverages.
I wasn’t sure if I was drunk off the wine or the endless supply of sauerkraut. I didn’t think I drank all that much, but the mound of sauerkraut I vomited outside of Maria’s apartment, just a few meters away from her oblivious security guard, would say otherwise—much to Maria’s amusement. Since I’ve known Maria, she’s always been a puker. I consistently make fun of her for it and now was her opportunity to rag on me. Much deserved.
My time in Warsaw was extremely brief; only three days to explore, but I left on an uplifting note. Poland, from what I’ve experienced, is an easy and cheap country to explore with tons of rich history to dive into. There’s SO much more than just Warsaw, that I will have to invest more time into one day.
As for me feeling beat? I still am, especially knowing what’s coming ahead. Seeing friends was a good, temporary fix. I’m still learning to deal. It just takes time I suppose. As I came to the end of this post, I do find that writing about the fond memories does serve a purpose, instead of concentrating on the tedious parts of travel.
Thank you, Maria and Janka, for giving me a taste of Poland!
Onward to another flight…
Has anyone else ever felt this way after extensive travel?