So how did I end up having several friends and guides in Poland? Here’s how it goes…
During the Great Africa/Europe Tour in 2011, I think I mentioned I met a handsome, charming young man in Morocco. Well, this handsome, charming man, aka my now-husband, has several friends in Poland that he would visit during vacations to Europe. So when Younes and I decided to meet up in Europe, he proposed we go to Poland and stay with friends.
Unfortunately that trip we only made it to visit one friend, Krystian in Poznan, which is in the western part of the country. I had not planned on visiting Poland (or if I did, only visiting Krakow), but Younes changed my mind. We set off from our meeting point in Germany, to Poznan by overnight bus.
We arrived at the bus station just as the sun was rising. I was hungry and we looked for hot food and found sausages and bread. I remember vividly suddenly craving a good classic American breakfast – eggs, crispy bacon, homefries. The bus station was cold and gray and it was too early to call for Krystian to pick us up. Younes snoozed against me as I watched movies on my computer.
When he woke up, he said Krystian was at work until 3 and couldn’t pick us up. I was raring to go. “Let’s stow our luggage and EXPLORE!” I urged. He agreed somewhat grudgingly. We brought a locker, put our bags in it, and headed out towards the tram. We got about 20 feet and Younes stopped, muttered “It’s effing cold,” and walk back inside. I knew at that moment I would probably never convince him to move back to my home state with me. I found a tram to a shopping center, wrote down the information, went back into the bus station and coaxed Younes to come along with me, where we passed a few hours wandering a mall that looked very much like an American one.
It was finally time to meet Krystian and he took us to his lovely home in a residential neighborhood of Poznan and we had a nice evening together catching up.
The next day, we had a leisurely morning at home and then Krystian had to work so Younes and I set off to explore town. I had read in a guidebook about a bar where one could drink a Polish specialty, hot honey beer. I suggested to Younes we find that bar. We took the tram into the center of town, where the bar was right one the beautiful town square. Best of all, the town Christmas Market was going on. We took a table in the bar and ordered hot beers. They were delicious, warming and full of flavor. The lights of the market twinkled from underneath the majestic buildings on the square and snow began to fall. There could not be a more perfect evening.
We repeated this several more times, getting to know each other over pints of hot beer and falling in love. I agreed to go to Younes’ hometown the next month to meet his family. But first we had separate plans for Christmas. He was heading home and I was going back to Germany to meet family got the holidays.
We would take an overnight train to Warsaw where we would split up. We left Krystian’s in the early morning hours for the 2am train. The train pulled into the station and it was packed to the brim. There was no space in the compartments and we stood with all our luggage in the entranceway for the 4 hour ride. It was three days before Christmas and everyone (and their packages of presents) were traveling to visit relatives. They were also very much in the Christmas spirit. Vodka bottles and beer cans were passed around freely. I turned down the vodka – still too many bad memories from college – but accepted sips of a Jack Daniels malted drink. I perched on top of my luggage and chatted up anyone who spoke English. The crowd began to thin as we approached Warsaw. Younes’ stop came up and he kissed me and headed for his bus. I rode the train into Warsaw and entered the city just as the sky was beginning to lighten.
We went back to “our bar” during our 2015 trip