Over the weekend I went to the Baltic coast, to a tiny village called Gdynia. Little more than a gathering of ramshackle huts, it is still a nice place to get away from it all and join the many thousands of tourists that throng the beaches for miles.
The Tricity (Trojmiasto) consists of Gdynia, Sopot and Gdansk. Perched in the middle of Poland's Baltic coast, it's often a vacation spot for those who don't go to Greece, Spain, Turkey, Bulgaria or Croatia. A tiny peninsula, Hel (yes, pronounced like "Hell,") juts out and curves around like a little, feeble arm trying to give the rest of Poland a hug.
The Stare Miasto of Gdansk
I finished up my last lessons on Friday and took the 9:45 pm train for five and half hours. I had figured that with such a late train the wagons would be next to empty. Wrong. I was able to get a seat in a crowded cabin, and I was quite lucky since there were many more people stuck in the corridor. I sat between a guy in his twenties who spent a great deal of time looking at a porno mag that also had guns and weapons in it. Kind of like a "Chicks with Dicks" but instead of dicks there were articles on sniper rifles and heavy machine guns. The other guy next to me was about seventy, had bad breath and tried to make conversation with me in broken English. Between my broken Polish and his broken English we eked out a small conversation. He was joining his wife and son in some other town (I forget which,) he said he had lived in the US and was into Mathematics. He sometimes asked strange questions like, "What do you believe?" and if I understood when John Paul II spoke in Polish. I replied that I had never heard JPII speak in Polish, and maybe that made him think that I was a bad Catholic.
The train was very, very hot and I arrived in Gdynia around 3:15 am. Taking a taxi (which was overpriced) to my friend's house I arrived at around 3:30 or something. Bed time.
On the way back, it was worse. The train, which was the 11:25 pm train, was full before even getting to the station. I was forced into the corridor, right by the bathrooms. Most of the time was spent crouched in a two-foot wide corridor trying to balance and find a place for my camera bag. To my left a guy passed out and laid dowd, blocking the entire floor, and to my right a couple pretty much did the same. People going to the bathroom had to pass over all of us, but since I was "in that spot" where they didn't want to trample the couple and didn't want to trample the guy snoozing on the floor, I had to get up every time a person passed. The girl from the couple kicked me in the head once, talked loudly and smoked. Five-and-a-half sleepless hours on this disgusting floor. Katarzyna said it would be "an experience." Meeting the Pope is an experience; Flying on the Concorde is an experience; getting a blowjob from the Queen is an experience. This was hell.
What is there to do in Gdynia? Well, there's the beach. There's also a pleasant wood which has paths through out it, as it towers on eroding cliffs above the sea. It was so hot, so very, very hot.
One can walk on the beach from Gdynia all the way to Gdansk if you have the stamina. The water is greener than the water on MDI, and has more sea plants in it. Not really seaweed like kelp or bladderwrack, but more of the "matted hair" variety with some grassy looking thing. In places it turned the water into a "spinach soup" as Katarzyna and her friend, Agata, put it. I described it as an oil spill.
The next day we took the ferry to the Hel peninsula to a town called Jarnista or something. At the pier there was a naval band or something, with cheerleaders!!! How cute!! The band played and the cheerleaders had red and white pom-poms are did a whole routine with them. How precious. Going to the far side of the peninsula, we ended up on the Baltic sea on yet another endless beach full of people. Here the water is quite shallow and really clean. No seaweed or anything like that. The water might be a bit cooler (so I was told) and maybe bigger waves, but it was fine. The sand on these beaches is not like the sand on Sand Beach, which is made up of crushed shells. Here, it seems to be more salts, which is OK since the shells of Sand Beach stick to your skin and are more sharp-edged.
Two days in the sun on a fair beach, not bad.
The beach on Hel
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