“Yes, We should totally do it, Let’s go to Poland!” [~drumroll~]
When you decide to do something, there is a plan emerging in your mind and you can pretty much see what the future holds for you.
My plan was to arrive to Krakow (after visiting my dad in Moscow), take a quick bus to my friend’s house and walk around the city. Perhaps even get lucky enough and visit Warsaw. I guess you can say that it was partially so. Actually no, you can’t really say that.
With a backpack on my back and a smaller one on my belly I began my adventure from the Moscow metro to the airport. Told my dad I will miss him and found myself walking around, waiting for my flight. After a decent amount of time I arrived to Warsaw. Now wait. Wait some more. After waiting, find out that the second plane had landed in Krakow. I go outside and begin my search. “Kęty? Anyone knows how I can get to Kęty?” “*PolishPolishPolishPolish*” “Oh, ok, so just this bus then.”
After I concorded the ticket (bilet) machine I can calmly stress and look for some English speakers. “Of course I know English! [so not of course] Just go off at the central bus station”. Well, at one point it seemed to me that there were a lot of buses around. ‘Perhaps I will walk out of the door. Yes, that’s a good idea’.
Woohoo! I bought my ticket to Kęty and all that was left to do is wait for my bus. “Of course I know English… No problem, here’s my phone… No answer? Send a text!”
This was the best part of my trip, having a wonderful Polish redhead woman help me in the bus station. Her role continues when she finds out I got the wrong ticket and magically makes a random bus driver exchange mine- “You girl sit here next to me and I will tell you when you get off [I can only assume since he was speaking Polish]”.
When I was on my bus it was already dark and the atmosphere was gloomy and magical. There were old people near me, a bit tipsy if I might add. There was also this young lady sitting next to me, dozing here and there. Then I look out of my window and see an occasional cross, which I assumed was coming from a church. I couldn’t help but think of the people that were walking in these dark forests, some slowly dying. I wish I wouldn’t have, but maybe it was just because of the country’s name echoing inside me: ~Poland~.
Anyway; I got to Kęty and saw two very good friends and a one magical girl just as I stepped out. Oh, then I could relax. The host’s lovely mom was speaking Polish like I have never heard before, almost singing it and shifting to Russian from time to time. The house allowed me to defrost my long time frozen legs and not sleep but rather share stories, meet an additional friend from the same old bus stop and have a third tea party.
The morning arrives and we head to Auschwitz. I prefer not to write about this part because there is not much I can add. I knew the stories from school (it is a must in the Israeli education) and seeing it was an experience that will stay with me. The drawing of children walking to school in the ‘women and children’ section of the camp, the ruins of the crematory that could not be left as evidence and the freezing cold that I could feel while wearing a lot more than pajamas and wooden shoes.
But then it was time to take a bus back to Krakow. The plan was to walk around and sleep at a host’s friend’s house. Which happened, I guess…
We found our secret tour guide, got lost within the buses, walked across a fairly large football field filled with snow, arrived to a museum, got a whole cage just for all of our enormous bags, walked around the museum, walked around the city, walked around the city square, picked up another friend from the bus station, walked in the city square some more, decided we are way too tired and now all that was left to do is figure out how should we get to a bed. Thanks to coach surfing we ended up at a beautiful flat of a wonderful woman which I shall refer to as the D-LADY. “I hope you are not vegetarians” she said. “No, no, it’s not about the food. You see, I brought these carpets you can sleep on, true medieval.” Just for the sake of clarification- it were skinned wolves and sheep who were lying on her bedroom floor. I found it cool; the fact she was that passionate about medieval times.
Tired, we decided to join the D-LADY and her friends on a night trip to the center of Krakow which included ‘carpe diem’ and KFC. After some wins and losses on the foosball table, frozen feet and warm food in our belly we went to sleep so we would manage to wake up and enjoy our next day.
And so we spent our day walking around Krakow, listening to a cool guy who knew almost everything about its history; taking us to churches (apparently, Krakow is the European town with the biggest amount of churches per area, they have the same statistics for bars so he claims), explaining about cool Polish figures and dragon legends. But let me tell you this- I did not expect to come back to the D-LADY’s house and find the house full with people, all properly medieval clothed and later on myself including. Did I mention it was New Year’s? Because it was, and the countdown was made in the freezing outdoor balcony. As we reached zero it was time to sing happy birthday to a kühlen, now 18 year old, adult(?) friend and celebrate the fireworks. I don’t think it could have been more peculiar and beautiful than this.
It was my favorite trip so far. The amount of people I was lucky enough to encounter, the beautifully interesting places my eyes came across and the language that decided I am hers. Here I am; learning Polish, planning my next trip there, at the same time chatting with my new Polish friends. And I thought Poland means 12th grade trip with your class to see all the Holocaust sights. I guess there is a little bit of both there. There is also the Polish people’s wars and struggles in there somewhere too.
Written by Ma’ayan Agmon
Edited by Maria Tirnovanu