My parents gave me a tent from REI as a Christmas present last year and, besides spending a night camping in Ry’s apartment while eating a pizza and watching TV from it, I haven’t gotten to use it yet. So, when we had a bye week from traveling, we naturally decided we should travel to test it out in the great outdoors. After purchasing tickets to Gdansk so we could experience the Polish beaches, we decided to check the weather. 100% chance of rain Saturday; 90% chance of rain Sunday. Perfect. Might as well test the tent under optimal conditions.
To get to Gdansk, we decided to forgo the $30 train tickets on the Pendolino and take a PolskiBus instead for $15. Naturally, we knew this also would give us a better opportunity to experience the real Polish travel experience with 60 of our closest Polish friends (or complete strangers). The bus journey was actually much smoother than we expected but, about halfway through, our driver just stopped the bus, got off, walked through a dirt parking lot, and disappeared into an unmarked building. About 10 minutes later, he returned from completing the drug deal and we were back on our way to the tri-city area. Come to think of it, I’m not positive it was the same man.
Arriving in the drizzle, we quickly checked into our campsite and searched for the perfect place to set up our tent in pitch black. We did not find it. What we did find was a slightly hilly patch of dirt speckled with pine cones and rocks. After clearing away the debris, we skillfully pitched our tent and climbed in – comforter, pillows, blankets, and all. We were really roughing it. About 5 minutes after getting in, it started to pour. This continued for the next 8 hours. Fortunately, we determined we didn’t have a lemon tent (despite the color) and didn’t spend the night bailing water.
For the remainder of the weekend we explored Gdansk in all its glory. We saw the Żuraw (The Crane), a structure built in the mid-1400s, walked down Ulica Długa (Long Street) and just generally clowned around town. For Sunday, we decided to take it easy and stumbled upon a strawberry festival. Given my keen taste for berries, we naturally decided to check it out. We were a bit dismayed by the fact that this festival did not, in fact, have any berries but didn’t let this stop us from enjoying our time exploring it. After the ‘festival’ we hung out in a park and after lying down for about 30 minutes, we decided to go grab an ice cream.
Halfway through the line for our cones, I discovered we were crawling with ants. Needless to say, I didn’t panic because spineless Europeans don’t even have real biting ants., like all things, is worse than America and doesn’t even have real biting ants. Though annoying (especially since they inhabited the lion’s mane that is my hair for the next 6 hours) we removed them from us like the ameliorated chimpanzees that humans are and continued on our way. Outside the shop, we spied a fellow lover of ice cream, who decided “to hell with variety” and was attacking a giant cone with 5, identically-flavored scoops. You go, Glen Cocoa.
Since the weather hadn’t exactly cooperated all weekend, we fervently pounced on the first signs of a clear day on Sunday. Fortunately, our campsite was very close to Stogi Beach, which was actually surprisingly nice (no offense, Poland). While it didn’t rain, per say, it also wasn’t exactly Thailand. Amongst a crowd of locals, who were dressed in jeans and sweaters, we tried to muster up the courage to take a dip in the Baltic, just to say we had done it. This courage quickly abated as soon as our toes touched the water. We chose to fight another day and retreated back to our campsite dry, but with our tails between our legs. Judgemental Polish eyes followed us every step. Oh well, we’ll be on a sunny Caribbean beach in a week, anyway.