From Łódź we hitch-hiked north to Gdańsk, and two lifts later we arrived at a campsite 100 metres from the beach. We dipped our toes in the Baltic Sea and experienced 24 hours in the very bizarre setting of a Polish holiday campsite! Luckily, our next Couchsurfing host, Piotr, was able to meet us the following day. He turned the meeting into a fun treasure hunt, sending us a cryptic text saying “Go to the biggest church on the planet at 5pm. Send a raven. Look out for the orange trousers!”.
On our first evening with Piotr, we discovered he has a liking for drinking beer, vodka and non-touristic explorations. He took us to a sweaty little cafe in the heart of Gdańsk to fill up on Pierogi Ruskie (delicious Polish dumplings, filled with cheese, potato and onion “Russian style”) before we crashed around town, meeting friends and sampling every variety of sweet flavoured Polish vodka. We learned from Piotr that words beginning with the letter “F” in English are particularly beautiful in sound and wonderful in meaning. His favourite English word is “forsaken”. I wrote him a very short story: Faraway, five forsaken freedom fighters fiercely faced forever. As we listed more F words, we broke into, and got kicked out of, the historic shipyards of Gdańsk (a short story telling more will appear in this space soon) and to cap off the night we discovered that Izzy is not the only wordsmith in the house – turns out Piotr is a published Polish poet. As midnight struck, we had the great honour of hearing Piotr read his own poems, in his own language, at the moment that he turned 30 years old!
The next day, Izzy and I dived into the Gdańsk market which was full of handmade and traditional Polish wonders. We bought each other a handmade silver ring, pledging our friendship to one another. When Piotr finished work, we took a bus to the outskirts of town, and walked across a wooded wasteland to where a Fire Camp stood (the switch-around of the words is so sweet that I will never again call it a camp fire!)along with all Piotr's friends to celebrate his 30th birthday. We stayed up all night, sipping vodka, singing songs and making new friends around the orange flames.
Some bloody idiot (oh, it was me!) had booked an early Polski Bus from Gdańsk to take us back towards Berlin. I ended up having to leave my amiga Izzy behind - she got hit by a heavy hangover, but I managed to navigate to the bus station and boarded the 10:42 to hell.