American, Battlecreek, Bierhalle, Case Western Reserve University, English, Europe, flight, France, King's College, layover, London, Michigan, Moscow, Novy Swiat, pierogis, planes, Poland, Polish, Restauracja Corleone, Russia, Russian dumplings, solo, station, student, Tamka Hostel, tickets, tour, tourism, train, travel, USA, Warsaw, Zurek soup
I got off the plane in Moscow, turned the corner with thirty minutes until my next flight boarded, and was suddenly confronted by a wall of people waiting for International Transfers. My stomach dropped. I thought of all the bad things that would happen if I missed my flight: my hostel reservation, my train reservations, my schedule,…I don’t have a Russian visa! I can’t stay here longer than 24 hours and the next plane won’t leave until past that!! Can they arrest me? If it’s their fault? Is it their fault?? I started to play the Indian game where I’d press my body against the person in front of me and push. Oh, hi, you’re from Copenhagen. Yes, I’m so close to you that your address on your book bag tag is in my face. You look like you’re in a rush too and you don’t like these Indians pushing you either. Then I watched a line of Indians with planes leaving several hours later (I could see their boarding passes) shove in front of us and cut off dozens of people. Unbelievable.
Finally, Peter from Copenhagen shows his ticket to a lady who scribbles down the terminal number on it and pulls him through the crowd. I do the same. “Warszawa! Warszawa!” I was shoved through security and my tickets were all stamped within three minutes. Naturally, Terminal D Gate 31 was on the other side of the world, so I took off running. I couldn’t understand or read anything. I passed windows of Russian dolls and jewelry and cigarettes until I reached a long line at my gate. I shrugged, checked my watch again, and ran into the bathroom then to a café for a drink and a pack of gum. Then I boarded the plane without a problem. I was expecting to see a lot of Polish people, but my flight was actually predominantly Russians.
The flight was only two hours long and not much happened besides our meal. Finally, I was touching down in Warsaw. I could hardly believe I was finally making it to Poland after all of these years. It was kind of like my first time landing in France. I rushed off the plane, rushed through Passport checks, was surprised by how much Polish I could read/remember, and finally made it down to grab my bag. I exchanged $20 for just over 50 zlotys and went out front to find bus information and maps. I got a ticket for 4,40, grabbed the 175, actually didn’t validate the ticket because it was so crowded, and rode the bus until Ordynacka.
I was wearing a book bag and dragging two suitcases when I misinterpreted the construction and my direction and proceeded down Nowy Świat instead of turning. I ended up making a large loop before I found the Tamka Hostel. I tried to open the door, but to no avail. I decided it was too early to check in and that maybe they have a lunch break between check out and check in at 2PM.
I decided to drag my stuff back to Nowy Swiat where I found a place called Restauracja Corleone which allowed me to bring my bags inside. I chose an outside-facing seat and people-watched while I drank some local beer, ate some gnocchi, and called my grandma. When it was after 2PM, I wandered back towards the hostel. I stopped at the iSpace store because I thought I’d fried my charger in India but I was wrong and it’s now working. Then I got to Tamka and found that the door was yet again locked. Oops, you just had to push the buzzer. They’re there 24/7. I went in, checked in, and was relieved by how nice the place is.
I showered quickly and grabbed my things to go buy tomorrow’s train ticket just in time for it to break out in a huge storm. I was cold in my sundress under a plastic poncho. I wandered and had to ask someone where to buy the ticket. The station I went to didn’t sell the right kind; she said I had to go to the main station and recommended taking the train to it. I chose instead to walk and see more of the city. I wandered clear to the Śródmieście Południowe area, grabbing some bubble tea and dodging trolleys before heading back up towards the Centralna station. I bought my ticket, wandered the shops to buy things I needed, then crisscrossed streets on the way back to photograph even more things and buildings and statues. I stopped back only long enough to charge my phone and surf the internet before I went back out yet again for dinner.
I looked up a place with good beer and tried out Bierhalle on Nowy Swiat, very near to my hostel. I had one glass, some Żurek soup, bread, and a plate of Russian dumplings (pierogis with cottage cheese and sauerkraut, topped with bacon). I don’t eat meat, but I wanted to try the authentic dishes anyway. It was very good but I was too tired and filled up too easily. I took the pierogis back to the hostel for tomorrow. Back in my room, a quietly grabbed my computer and things to come downstairs because one of the guests had been sleeping all night. Suddenly, a voice called out: “Just turn on the light; I need to get up anyway.” I was surprised; the voice was in American English. I flipped on the lights to find a kid sitting up in bed. He introduced himself as Ty of Battlecreek, Michigan who is studying genetics at King’s College in London. He had a very slight accent; I couldn’t tell if it was from studying abroad or if he was perhaps born in an Asian country. We chatted for some time upstairs and in the common room. Then I was falling asleep despite my tea and decided it was time for bed. I want to see the old section of town in the morning.