shaking the habit

Gdansk Travel Blog

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Coming to Poland from Scandanavia (via London) is possible the greatest feeling ever.  This must be how Californians felt in the 90s when they started moving to Arizona.  Or like the first week of getting paid after college.   It's ridiculous!  I visited the ATM at the airport and got my cash in 100 zloty bills, a little over 30 US dollars each.  I then was yelled at on the shuttle to the city because the 30 minute ride costs only 4.20 zl and the driver had to give me all his change.  But it was all good times because then I played cashier for the next five passengers. 

This was the beginning of the culture shock - my ride from the airport to hostel was about  $1.25.  I can't even get from my apartment to ACT for $1.25!

Other things I paid for yesterday:
Lunch of soup, some chicken dish, and potatoes
Body wash, lip balm, and other assorted toiletries
Dinner of dumplings and more soup

For which I spent something in the neighborhood of $20.  I gotta learn some Polish and retire here.  Now.

The Polish people are also incredibly friendly!  They appear out of nowhere to help before I even finish getting the map out of my purse.  On the shuttle from the airport yesterday, three old men saw my map and started talking to me in Polish.  A guy my age started helping us translate and they all insisted on giving me directions to the hostel.  So the five of us all got off at my stop and our little parade traipsed the 50 meters from the bus stop to hostel door.  And the minute I stepped outside after settling in, another little old man was outside and immediately mapped out how to get to the old town and center of the city.

Polish Grandfather #5 started talking to me when I found a cafe and was staring at the menu in confusion - he translated the entire menu and then came to order for me.  We sat and he told me how the Polish people love Americans.  Mind you, this was coming from a man who was dressed in a black cowboy hat, denim shirt, denim jacket, jeans (Amelia, the denim CLUB sandwich), a shoestring tie (is that what they're called?), cowboy boots, a large Texas sheriff badge, and carrying a briefcase that sported a giant 'Don't Mess With Texas' sticker. I am SO not joking!  It was hilarious though, he told me about his trips to Texas and Las Vegas and talked about  his life in Poland.  Then he offered to show me around the city, so we took a walking tour that partly consisted of wandering around the old town and partly consisted of him stopping in every third store or cafe to introduce his friends to the American.

Meeting people like this and all the helpfulness is fun and certainly nice (even when you hate people like me), but as a single female, and as someone who has been living in San Francisco and Berkeley, how can you not think that anyone like this is most likely a crazed serial killer or rapist?  Maybe not to that degree, but I think it's hard not to be cynical and wary.  And frankly, pretty dumb not to be at least a little bit skeptical.  I certainly wouldn't be wandering the streets of a foreign city at 9PM with any strange people, even if they're just grandfathers dreaming of being American cowboys.  But it's hard to know when you're being too paranoid and when people really are being sketch.  Acceptable: group of people showing you how to find hostel at 12 noon.  Unacceptable: single Afghan journalist asking you if you want to spend the night at his hotel at 7PM.  Just so you don't have to pay for your own room, of course.  But then there's the huge grey area where maybe if I came from the boonies of Nebraska I would be thinking, "what nice friendly people!" and instead I am thinking, "Run for your life!"  Survey time - is continued paranoia in order to keep from being killed or am I being neurotic and preventing myself from meeting fun locals?
dothoin says:
great blog ...and very funny i may add
Posted on: Oct 20, 2009
vivo says:
that is a tough call. paranoia does keep you safe... besides, what is the harm of meeting fun locals in the daylight and in the presence of many other locals who can bear witness!
Posted on: Oct 25, 2006
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