Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Logbook: Goodbye Gdynia

Goodbyegdynia1When I got up last Saturday morning, I was feeling a little lethargic and a brief mental recap of my Baltic excursion pretty much explained why: In three whirlwind weeks I had changed countries, languages, currencies, accommodations and modes of transportation six times. No matter how much experience and expertise I accumulate on The Voyage, there is still a certain amount of exhaustion -- perhaps fatigue is a better word -- that goes along with this kind of exploration. Being back in Gdynia -- a city I already knew pretty well -- and particularly at the Villa Admiral -- a familiar, comfortable place were I was so welcome and well cared for -- meant I could totally relax and I decided to make the most of it. So, I gave myself the weekend "off" and just hung around, chilled out, read books, watched movies, went for walks and had leisurely meals in my favorite cafes. It was a quiet weekend for the hotel as well, so I especially enjoyed having coffee chats with Dominique, Anya and the other lovely ladies who have been such kind and thoughtful hostesses during my stay. My special thanks to all of them for their gracious and much appreciated hospitality!

With that rejuvenating weekend behind me, I was "back at work" on Monday, doing all the things that are involved in catching up with myself and making arrangements going forward. I know this may sound crazy, but when you're in a foreign land it can take a whole day to do your laundry, find a new book in English, buy toothpaste, sort out your gear, etc. It can take another whole day to research and select your next destinations, arrange your transportation and make accommodation reservations. It can also take a whole day to update your website, catch up on email and make Skype calls to all your friends and family who want to know where you are and what you're up to. I certainly don't mind doing any of it -- I actually enjoy it -- but it does continue to amaze me how much time and energy are involved in maintenance and planning rather than exploration. Nevertheless, that's how I have spent the last three days. (Note: Also, my friend Greg -- after his experience on The Voyage in BeNeLux -- says I "make it all look too easy" so I want to make sure I give you "the rest of the story" from time to time!)

Goodbyegdynia2This morning dawned bright, clear and calm, so I grabbed my coffee and went for one last walk around the city that I have become so fond of. After breakfast I checked out, grabbed my gear and shared fond farewells with all my friends at the Villa Admiral then walked to the train station. My last glimpse of Gdynia is the photo you see here, showing the dingy, old gray train station with a bright, shiny new train parked in front of it. If there is one picture which tells the story of Gdynia -- and Poland -- I think this is it. The hardship of the past and the hope of the future is how I look at it. At this moment I am on one of the older variety of trains heading to the ancient city of Torun, the first leg of what will be a more-or-less continuous migration to the south. I will spend the next couple of weeks making a few stops in southern Poland and probably into Slovakia on my way to an arrival in Vienna early next month. At this point I plan to spend a few weeks in that favorite city of mine while I plot my course further south to somewhere in the Aegean, Adriatic, Med, etc., sometime around the first of the year. Meanwhile, it is back to exploration on The Voyage, so stay tuned!

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