I lifted my head from the wooden table and bent it to one side, stretching my sore neck, breathing in relief. My right foot was dead to the world and I had to lift it with both hands and rub feeling back into my toes. The bedbug bites were fighting for space on the back of my neck, making their presence known by their bloody itching. They were the reason I was sprawled on the kitchen table instead of a lovely bed after a 10-hour bus ride to Northern Poland. I dabbed the blistered bites with lavender essential oil. The smell drifted across the tiny hostel. I looked across the room and stared at a snoring Tim sleeping on the couch. That’s solidarity. I got up and mixed corn flakes and chocolate flakes as breakfast. Later, Tim woke and we had cold coffee. Sometime in late afternoon, we sat under an archway and listened to classical pieces from young musicians.

Our purpose for being here was our one-day entry pass to the Open’er Festival. For this, we had traveled the height of the country with a tiny bag of clothes but huge expectations. I had romanticized Gdansk to Tim since I had first been here. Both times would turn out to be a debacle in very different ways.

Our purpose for being here was our one-day entry pass to the Open’er Festival. For this, we had traveled the height of the country with a tiny bag of clothes but huge expectations.

After our coffee, a quick shower and a quick dab of lavender oil, we walked the short distance to the train station. In Northern Poland, in a region I do not know the name of but could probably Google, is an area called the Tricity. The three cities are cultural Gdansk, beach resort Sopot and industrial Gdynia. The festival wasn’t starting for hours so we made our way to Sopot beach, eating raspberries freshly bought off the market. We watched parasailing, red and yellow parasails contrasting against the blue sky. The feeling of holiday got to us and we lay back for a moment, sand sticking to my sun-lotioned skin.

Back on the train, we reached Gdynia, location of the Open’er Festival. Signs led us to an entry bracelet in exchange for our printed-out passes. We climbed aboard the shuttle bus and I fell asleep until the movement of people getting off woke me up. I rubbed sleep out of my eyes and stood up. We walked across the airfield that was the site, the dry grass crushing under our feet. People were sitting all over, waiting for the doors to open and the queues to subside.

Translated to “Steps”, Kroki offered a mix of experimental sounds as if Jazz and Electronic music just got married.

Finally inside the festival grounds, our first beer in hand – beer being less than half the price of food was clearly an encouragement to indulge - the first musical notes drifted towards us; Kroki. Translated to “Steps”, Kroki offered a mix of experimental sounds as if Jazz and Electronic music just got married. The grounds were still mostly deserted but the sun made its entrance and illuminated the few early festivalgoers that we were, all reveling in the beginning of the event.

With a lineup so diverse, Open’er showed no discrimination. From the electrical notes of Kamp! to Foals’ rock edge, the bands all seemed to connect, all fitting into each other like pieces of a puzzle. The Chili Peppers jammed and got the crowd wild. Obviously a band at home on stage, the scene echoed with guitar rifts and drum solos leading to the Chili’s tunes with an energy that made you vibrate with delirium. Going from such a performance to an overcrowded tent ablaze with Beirut’s indie notes seemed like the most natural thing in the world.

The night became dark with people and the crowd difficult to transpierce. My left hand looked like one of those plastic hand gloves kids blow into to make tiny swollen hand-balloons - stupid bedbugs! Struggling with exhaustion from days without sleep, antihistamines and beer – bad mix I know – we pushed our way through the throng of people lining the airfield that was the site, losing all the calories from my weekend’s beer intake just by the length of this walk, and reached the buses where standing up, holding on to a pole for dear life, I fell asleep.

My right foot lost contact with ground as the gap between the train and platform we are so warned about appeared suddenly. One foot sat dangling into the empty cavity, my other one resting somewhere on the platform and my arms doing not much good.

We disembarked to a busy train station. We joined the people lining the platform, hoping we would make it into the next train. Headlights approached and the train slowed. The crowd shifted choosing the nearest door. The procession made its way forward with no possibility of escaping the vortex of human bodies. The bodies compressed and I swear the air became thinner. Anxious of time and numbers, people started scrambling over one another, or maybe I was being pushed around so much out of sheer tiredness. My head snapped back as my hair was pulled, a giant in a pink checkered shirt moved some people back, I was pushed aside by a hand and then Tim turned and then chaos. My right foot lost contact with ground as the gap between the train and platform we are so warned about appeared suddenly. One foot sat dangling into the empty cavity, my other one resting somewhere on the platform and my arms doing not much good. I was dragged up quickly by unrecognizable hands and pushed into a corner of the train. Tim stood trembling with rage. My own thoughts weirdly turned to relief that I hadn’t lost my shoe. For some reason, the fact that I would have to go through the train ride and the walk to the hostel with only one shoe, was unbearable, something like a walk of shame. But with my bruises hidden, the rest of the journey went without incident.

When we entered the hostel, I smiled at the receptionist as I prepared my bed on the wooden chair and table, scared of any sort of furniture contact. I drifted into an uncomfortable sleep just to wake a few hours later to the sight of three Dutch guys hanging around the kitchen in boxer shorts. I stared at them, unable to decipher dream and reality, Tim still snoring on the couch. I got up and mixed corn flakes and chocolate flakes as a breakfast and again had a cold cup of coffee.

             

The Writer

I write stuff for fun, if it was for a living I would be homeless.

Find out more about me, Stefanie, here.

Quotes

There is nothing safer than flying – it’s crashing that is dangerous. Theo Cowan