This past September my family and I met up and traveled through some new areas (new to us) of beautiful Poland, one of the best countries in the world (an irrefutable fact on this blog haha.)
Poznan stole my heart and is one of my all-time favorite cities, right along with Taipei, Kuala Lumpur, Cluj-Napoca, Pai, and Neiwan.
Gdansk had a great, active international community which we got to mingle with a bit at a language exchange meeting.
In Malbork, where Poland hosts the largest brick castle, my mom and sister stayed to camp for a few nights (and they had a blast,) while I stepped on a train headed for Warsaw instead.
There was a personal matter that had been giving me a good deal of turmoil. That day, the situation hit a little climax, and made me prioritize getting some quiet head-space and alone time to deal with and resolve it. You know how it is sometimes. Life and lemons and all that!
The train to Warsaw was absolutely chock-full, with some people and their luggage even crammed into the bathroom. (Others who wanted to use the bathroom got a funny little surprise upon opening the door, haha. The group inside seemed to be having a good enough time, and there was a bathroom across the way reserved for actual use. So twas all good, lol.)
I was tired and sat on the floor between cabins, where there was just enough space for me and my backpack. I hadn’t eaten yet that day, and probably wouldn’t get the chance to eat until arriving, at about 9pm. The guy who helped me get the train stood for hours by the window on my left, all of us scooting a little bit here and there every time we reached a station, to let people off and on.
The chaos and crowdedness would have been a difficult problem and stressful to my mom and Grace. For me it was weirdly comforting and enjoyable. I love being tossed into a messy mix of local transit every now and then, the peaceful anonymity of being just another passenger.
In Warsaw I stayed in hostels. My family stayed with friends when they arrived in the city.
My first hostel was a hellhole. Some dude in my room must have been drunk or possessed or something and spent a good amount of the night shouting out profanities in his sleep, to which the other hostel mates would yell “shut up!” back at him. Such a great time, that place.
Couldn’t wait to leave. But, in that hostel I did the hard work that I had come to do– to mend that situation.
After that, I was sad, just sad, and left combating the aftermath, taking it day by day. Uh. That sounds so annoyingly melancholy, sorry. But it’s part of the story. XD
Sunday was my day off work and time to change hostels. I walked two miles down the main boulevard, cleanly swept and prettily lined with flowers, people out strolling with their families, or at cafes. It was completely pleasant. I decided maybe I’d like Warsaw.
“Hey! I know you,” he said, as he walked around to face me at the hostel reception’s counter.
I recognized his face, “Oh yeah! Hey!” I said, but was sure glad when he spilled the beans about where we had met, cause I couldn’t remember.
“We met at the Dream Hostel in Ukraine, right? I took you to the dance class. You have a special sister, right?”
Ooooh, right. It wasn’t until just then, after he said it, that I realized I was in another Dream hostel of the same chain. And what do you know, so was he. He was wearing a colorful beanie that made me guess he was from Latin America, but I couldn’t remember exactly from where.
I did remember one thing: he was just like me. He also did his work online and lived in various locations around the world, sometimes revisiting his favorite places, often exploring new ones, always on the look out for great flight deals and the next hot spot for digital nomads.
I didn’t have to explain a single thing about my lifestyle to him, nothing was unknown, misunderstood, or strange about it to him, since he lived it too.
We both understood the pros and cons to living in apartments versus hostels, which is why we both switched between both options every now and then. We both ran against the challenge of escaping winter and finding cities or countries that are cheap. We looked for the same qualities in each location, such as availability and prices of extracurricular classes, street food, nature, culture and friendliness, transportation, everything.
We both lived on the road. We weren’t tourists or expats or locals.
We were on the same page, and let me tell you, that oh-so-rarely ever happens.
He’d actually been traveling longer than me, eight years or so I think. He was from Venezuela, but also a US citizen. So we had the same international laws ruling us and dictating our visas and such.
I tell you, God is good, and He is so merciful and kind. If I was Him, I wouldn’t be nice to me. Especially not then. But He graciously gave me help in the form of this awesome friend exactly when it was needed.
And it’s a nice memory when I think back about it, which is why I’m actually writing about it.
That friend helped me get up and living, involved and active and social, when I wasn’t feeling too much like doing it myself.
One of the things I sometimes hate about moving from place to place is always having to find the same things over and over again. Where are the supermarkets? Are there classes here? Where? When? For how much?
This time though, it was so nice when Will just invited me to his classes and I didn’t have to do any of the work to find out about it.
And it was a kickboxing class, one of my favorite things nowadays! (even if I’m probably, definitely, not good at it. XD)
If it was raining, we’d take the bus to the kickboxing class one way, but would jog our way back, because no budget traveler takes a bus both ways (unless it’s super far!) And I didn’t have to explain that.
His passion for cooking roped me into joint grocery shopping trips and hostel cooking sessions every night in the kitchen, with inspiring people from all over the world.
Dream hostel is great– if you get the chance to stay at any of them, I’d recommend them. They have ideal hang out spaces, so you always end up meeting a super cool modge podge of people. It’s more like a co-working and co-living space than a hostel.
I ended up loving Warsaw, and it became one of my favorite cities. That’s certainly due to all the kind and lively people who surrounded me during my time there, and to my friend who gave me a boost, or basically threw me into the middle of the action, reminding me how to thrive in new places and take advantage of the great privileges we receive as nomads.
Another tribe of people that’s hard to find: