Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Guten Tag Berlin!

Since the very beginning of existance of Polski Bus we were somehow planing to visit Berlin and finally in November, when we both felt the post-erasmus urge of going somewhere, we have decided to spend the Friday night in the bus, visit Berlin, wander trough the city, eat falafel (Marta) and bagels (me! God, I swear I have no idea why have I been so stubborn about eating bagels in Berlin) do some shopping in Primark (both) and come back home on Sunday night. 
It was pretty chilly when we arrived to Berlin early in the morning (bullshit. It was f…reezing cold), so we started walking in a quite dynamic way.

 We had visited Potsdamer Platz and it's sourroundings, Holocaust memorial, Brandenburg Gate and Reichtag, when I've realized that it's not even 10am yet and I can't feel my toes due to the temperature outside. 

We've done 2-3 more kilometers on foot, admiring the buildings and traffic lights (please, don't ask me to pronunce that) that I totally fall in love with, before we finally found 'the breakfast spot' that would have bagels and decent temperature inside. I was really trying to find the name or the exact address of the place, but I found nothing… Coffe was great, bagels were fabulous and there was a whole wall of a great coffe related sentences. We sat a bit in a warm place and then continue our walk.

I wasn't particulary impressed by any monuments (fault of the weather?), but bears totally stole my heart. If Berlin would be all about bears, traffic lights and bagels, then I would have already came back there!

To our surprise, sun finally came out of the clouds late in the afternoon allowing us to enjoy the Alexanderplatz. We arrived to the hostel just after the sunset, dropped our things and ran (ok, after whole day of walking and night on the bus it was closer to crawl) to Primark.
We've decided to stay at St. Christophers Inn for the night, as Marta has good experience with the hostel from Prague. We could have found slightly cheaper place, but we've decided to add that few euros for the good hostel experience. Aaaand it was worth it! Staff (receptionist/ bartenders, 2in1) were super friendly, breakfast was great and what was waiting for us in a bar downstairs was the live, acoustic concert. Couldn't have been better!

 The next day, early in the morning it appeared that it's gonna be moderately warm and sunny day, so we used public, city bikes to get to the East Side gallery. Besides admiring the Berlin wall, I wanted to follow the 'Berlin Street art' paths, but that appeared not be really impressive for the girls from Łódź ;) Most of the murals we found were created by the same artists that left their pieces on the walls we come by everyday (like INTI on the photo beneath)
East side gallery, however was incredibly ritch and evolving during years. Every piece of art, every mark on the wall shows an important message - definetely worth seeing!

east side gallery, Berlin, street art

East side gallery, Berlin

We have walked several more kilometers at Kreuzberg trying to find recommended spots aand falafel (Martas turn for food wish ;). 100% success with food issue!

street art, Berlin, Kreuzberg

I had my critical moment of the weekend when we finally found Libeskinds Jewish Museum. To our surprise it seemed totally hidden between blocks of flats and when we finally saw it, Marta did one big "Oooh", while I almost burst into tears of disapointement. Due to the fact that I know Marta already for some years and she appears to truly like the guy, I expected to find something modern, shiny and ineresting in its shape. What we've found was definetely shiny, but I may have difficulties finding any more moderately positive adjectives.

Libeskind, jewish museum, berlin

We have finished our two-days walking tour at Potsdamer Platz (execly where we started), enjoying sunset and Christmas markets. For the first time in my life I actually regreted that I've never had any german language class, when we accidentaly ordered hot orange juice instead of hot wine (don't ask how. Menu was just confusing). As easy to expect - we slept like babies on our way back to Łódź!

Potsdamer Platz, Berlin, sunset
It was definetely worth to go to Berlin for two days and it might be good to come back few more times to enjoy one of the many museums there or some crazy parties (oh, maybe Lolapalooza? :)). Despite the cold on Saturday, we were pretty lucky with the weather and we could have enjoyed the city with beautiful Sunday sun.
Really good weekend idea!

Just a small remark: if you're willing to admire great, wall-sized murals, choose Łódź for gods sake!

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Baltic Trip [3]: Hitchhiking from Tallin, Estonia trough Riga, Latvia to Lodz

The very last episode of the Baltic Trip we've done with Patryk last summer. You can find previous parts there: Part one (Tartu, ESN Estonia National Platform and Tallin) and part two (Helsinki) 
The last part of our baltic trip was definetely the most difficult one - coming back home. Our inner adventurers decided to save some money and go home hitchhiking instead of good, old bus. The only problem was that three days after Patryk had to be back at work, but who cares if sun shines, weather is beautiful, it's the middle of the summer and you believe you can do everything?

We left house of Matis early in the morning, went few stops by bus and waited no longer than thirty minutes to catch a ride for around an hour and another one straight to our next destination: Parnu. Fun fact: the city belonged to Poland for a while. It was just on our way to Riga and since Parnu is an Estonian summer capital, we've decided to stop there for two hours and enjoy sun and the Baltic sea. 
hitchhiking, Parnu, Estonia

We could really feel like back in soviet times and we found some similarities between Parnu and seaside villages and cities in Poland. It was getting really hot, and we had our backpacks filled, so quite heavy and just the moment I announced that five more minutes and Patryk would be able to burry me the place I was standing, someone stopped and dropped us few kilometers, further to the main road going to Riga. It would be all cool, if the driver wasn't absolutely not speaking English russian guy, that could be a perfect mafia member. Luckily, we left his black minivan just in time to meet really nice, 18y/o estonian, then super silent guy that took us to Latvia and at the very end, young woman with a baby. Of course, we promised ourselves not to sleep at the same time (just in case), but we were pretty tired after previous day in Helsinki and the heat, so in each car, beside the strange russian (we were too scared) and the estonian boy (he was too handsome), we were sleeping like babies!
hitchhiking, Riga, Latvia

We arrived to Riga during lovely, sunny afternoon and we've decided to discover the city just after leaving our luggage at the train station and eating something. The city is nice indeed. I have found some similarities to Polish cities and wasn't really amazed, until we've reached the old town, that is absolutely beautiful. I really started to regret that we couldn't stay there any longer. 
Our couchsurfing host was not in town, so his younger brother was taking care of us. We were already like zombies, but we felt obliged to see some of Riga's night life and it looked really promising! I still think it maybe worth to hit Riga for a weekend party.
Our host took us to the pub, where Patryk had a chance to perform a karaoke. They made a great duo! :D

Riga, latvia

We woke up quite early in the morning, but since I convinced Patryk to stay in Kaunas for next night, there was absolutely no rush. We took very lazy breakfast outside and left the city by local bus to Kekava. I don't really know why, but Kekava wasn't the most lucky place of our travel. We got there after noon, heat was trying to kill us and no car would stop. We were tired and pretty desperate at that point, so we've entertained ourselves dancing Rumadai choreography (damn you Jozsef for the billionth time ;). Luckily, finally some housewife stopped and took us few kilometers further. Bad luck ended. 
Our next driver was Lithuanian guy in his early 30s that used to have a grandmother living just near to Polish boarder, so he spent every summer there. He was happy like a puppy to be able to practice his Polish speaking skills with us. He was driving fast, had good music taste and was going far, far in deep Lithuania so we knew we would spend few hours together. Kaunas was totally not on his way, but he decided to organize some sightseeing for us, so we stopped in Kernave to admire the medieval capital of Lithuania. It was still afternoon, so we've made another 'fuck it' decision and decided to get to Polish boarder and sleep somewhere there. 

Our driver dropped us at gas station, where we immediately spotted Polish truck driver, who took us straight to Poland. Unfortunately weather got terrible, it became cold and it was raining, so our plan of spending a night under the sky in sleeping bags was useless. 
It was getting dark, but nice, young truck driver took us to Augustow, then young couple to Bialystok ('we've already passed, but you looked so pathetic we had to come back to take you'). We've reached Bialystok around 11pm. 

hitchhiking, Riga, Poland, Lodz

That was another difficult moment. We were truly exhausted, had no idea which road goes to the right direction and they were all almost empty. After some time of wandering, we finally found our spot. Patryk decided to take a nap, but even before he managed to create another paper with our desired deriction another truck driver stopped and drove us to the highway going directly to Lodz. 5 minutes there and we were going to our hometown.

We reached our homes at 3am - 15 hours after we started our journey in Riga. Still pretty fast. I slept for another 15 hours after that. 
During these few days we've collected countless good memories, had many adventures, met awesome people (ESN Estonia!) and visited 4 countries! 
If Patryk wasn't in US right now, I would totally recommend him (again) as a perfect co-traveler!