I’m not sure how Gdansk happened. I had gone up there alone, expecting to eat lots and sleep lots and maybe catch up on a book or two. Which is why I repeat, I’m not sure how Gdansk happened.

I walked into the Happy Seven hostel after 10 hours on an uncomfortable bus journey – let’s face it any bus journey that’s beyond 4 hours becomes abuse. Of course, I do them all the time but sometimes I like complaining about them. This is one of those times. I had slept all twisted on my seat and the guy next to me kept munching away at biscuits and I was starving and my hair was filthy and I had this funny itch on my arm and my forehead was greasy and music had stopped being calming a while ago and had, instead, become annoying noise and… this could go on but you get the idea.

I walked into the Happy Seven hostel after 10 hours on an uncomfortable bus journey, peeked around at the retro décor, had a chat about the Carpathian mountains with the receptionist, went through some photos of him hiking in the said mountains, wished I was in one of those wooden cottages with a cup of tea and some nice soft scones and jam sitting by the window, then was put out of my reverie and gallantly escorted to my bed. Only then did I, finally, have a shower and a change of clothes.

Gdansk
He had a round, smiling face, a shaved head and a long beard. He had a calm voice, the voice of certainty.

The city center is walked fully in about an hour. Even so, I strolled again and again the Harry Potter-feel streets of tiny Gdansk. I gazed at the sparkling amber-filled ornamental cabinets lining the alleys. I went to the beach in Sopot and was bored. I did however make an exciting stopover between Gdansk and Sopot where I was told of a communist housing complex, its grey buildings now being used as canvases for street artists. In the evening, I had a long talk with Mateusz who was leaving shortly for Rome, the starting point of his second Compostela walk. My life felt purposeless. Mateusz wore a white tshirt and a cross around his neck. He had a round, smiling face, a shaved head and a long beard. He had a calm voice, the voice of certainty.

I chatted to a sweet west Canadian-Polish guy with soft wisps of sandy blond hair curling over his eyes and surrounding his square jaw.

-How old are you?

-20. Actually, I’m 19. I don’t know why I lied just then.

We sprawled in front of a few Wes Anderson movies, funky, bright films. I was getting ready for a quiet evening. Then, people came in with vodka. This is when I got swallowed by Gdansk.

Ferris Wheel
I was learning how to make flower crowns. I was also wearing a flower crown. We were sitting in circle. If a guitar appeared and the notes of Kumbaya played, I would not have been surprised.

Maciek, blond haired, hooked nose, dressed in black suit complete with waist coast. The look was bold. Theater major, his whole personality oozed poise and fame. We spoke of his pet snake as he offered me a shot of vodka in a deep, sensual tone. He possessed a shiver-producing low voice. I graciously accepted. Vodka was passed around as our crew expanded.

Sometime during the night, I blacked out. When my senses came back to me, we were sitting in the grass, under some trees, overlooking the canal. It must’ve been 6 in the morning. Some cans of beers were scattered amongst us. I was learning how to make flower crowns. I was also wearing a flower crown. We were sitting in circle. If a guitar appeared and the notes of Kumbaya played, I would not have been surprised. It seemed the perfect setting. How I had come to be here is probably not a very interesting mystery – I’m guessing we walked. And with no ounce of sleep, almost arm in arm, we walked back. I sat for breakfast and chatted with a few guys from Denmark. I chewed my cereal as we watched cartoons; Road Runner still beat the coyote. The coyote never learned.

He offered me Maciek’s hand which I nicely declined as I think Maciek was quite attached to both his hands.

Maciek suggested we go to the beach. We took a few buses. I dragged my body along. My mind was asleep. The beach was beautiful, quiet. The sand was white and felt soft between my toes. I walked into the waves not caring about my wet jeans. We had waffles with cream and raspberry syrup. We dried in the sun while we napped on the sand.

That evening, we went to the bar underneath the hostel. It started out politely until we got friendly with the owner and started going behind the bar to pour our own pints. I have a vague recollection of trying to wake the German guys in my room sometime in the wee hours to come join us for drinks. They didn’t. But they did call me a pest the next morning. I remember them staring at me over Easter breakfast trying to discern the party girl behind my sweet-like look.

I met Richard, a 50-something years old American man with a Polish passport who repeated everything twice and always replied with “dlaczego nie?” – in English “why not?”. You want to live in Poland “dlaczego nie?” you want to have a drink “dlaczego nie?” what’s your opinion on this or that “dlaczego nie?”.

Gdansk
Richard apparently had been quite high up in the American government. It can’t have done him any good. He was a heavy drinker, smoker, person.

Richard apparently had been quite high up in the American government. It can’t have done him any good. He was a heavy drinker, smoker, person. He bought Maciek and I a drink one afternoon. When Maciek left – traitor – Richard got on about my plans of moving to Poland. I explained my love for the country. He replied “dlaczego nie”. He was drunk and blabbed for a whole while about screwing the visa and getting married. He offered me Maciek’s hand which I nicely declined as I think Maciek was quite attached to both his hands. He offered to be the groom himself, brandishing his cigarette:

- You know the visa here is useless, USELESS. No need for that, just get married. Then you’ve got the whole of Europe, the WHOLE. OF. Europe. And look at that kid you were with. I’m sure he’d do it if you asked. I can see the look in your eyes. You kids are horny.

- Don’t be rude Richard! Plus marriage for a visa always goes wrong.

- Maybe but you know what I say: “dlaczego nie?” Dlaczego nie? Just do it. JUST do it! I’d be happy to act as groom if that’s what you need, no other thoughts.

- Awww Richard I see the kind gesture but, really, I’ve got to refuse.

- No other thoughts! Dlaczego nie? I just want to help. This is a great country. THIS. IS. A great country. I‘ve always felt more Polish than American. I am embracing my new country and if I can help you… Just saying. JUST saying.

- Well it’s a very nice offer but...

- Wait! What offer? Woah Woah Woah Wait! What offer?

- You’ve been offering me marriage to stay in the country.

- I never said that. NEVER said that. I never offered that.

- Oh. Well that’s a relief.

- But, anyway dlaczego nie? You know marriage could be an easy way. I’m offering. Just saying. JUST saying.

For the curious: I declined.

             

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

Adventure, yeah. I guess that’s what you call it when everybody comes back alive. Mercedes Lackey