As I wheeled my suitcase towards the hotel, I could hear young children crying and demanding something-- probably sugar of their parents who appeared to be hung over from last night.
Dogs barked. Adults argued with the people they traveled with and the people standing next to them.
Strangers said unkind words to me as I passed by too close with my suitcase; words I couldn't understand.
"Sorry." I said, wishing people would make room for me.
People were not in a compassionate mood. Why were there so many children crying?
I arrived at 5 PM, the “Crying Hour.”
It's the hour of the day when everyone is tired, hungry and maybe got a little too much sun. It's hours till dinner time here in Europe. Gripes come to the surface.
Uber didn’t want to pick me up, no worries: the hotel was only a ten minute walk. It looked like a difficult path on my GPS program, but that’s just because it’s a sidewalk that meanders along rows of cafes, restaurants and stores selling cheap clothes, hello H & M.
After following signs for the hotel, I entered through the dark underground parking garage, then had to pantomime for twenty minutes so they didn’t charge me for parking a car down there. I finally showed them my train ticket, which only made them more suspicious.
“You have train and car?”
I guess those hotel signs aren’t meant for women who walk from the train station.
Actually this room is $200 a night—a high price for my wallet but medium in this town. Maybe people who take an 8-hour $24 train ride don’t typically stay here.
I wanted to be close to the beach.
I’m in Sopot, Poland where I plan on walking on the beach for a few days so I can naturally wear away my summer calluses while walking in the fluffy white sand.
After checking in, I walked along the shoreline in the gentle breeze and looked out to sea, past the oil rigs.
Sigh. Oil rigs?
I refused to take a photo of the oil rigs so I could pretend they weren't really there.
I walked on and stepped around the heaps of seaweed laying on the beach.
I ignored the seaweed and the oil rigs and breathed in sea air.
Actually, it is the briniest sea air I’ve ever smelled. Almost putrid.
I gritted my teeth and walked on.
I could have been anywhere in the world. Seagulls. Sand. People sunbathing. Dogs barking.
Some people had wind protections up so they could sunbathe without messing up their hair. I’d never seen wind protectors at the beach before.
Hello Baltic Sea.
The train ride to get here was easy, other than the Polish man who refused to get out of my seat and said I needed to get to second class where I belonged and another Polish man leaned over from his seat and compared our tickets and sent the man, his bruised ego and his suitcase to the other seat #33 in the other car.
I was right.
And then when the train stopped at Sopot, right at 17:01, as listed, the door to get off the train wouldn’t open. I pushed the button.
“It won’t open.” I said to this lovely family from New Jersey (close to home!!) who were also trying to get off the train.
The mom pushed the button. The dad pushed the button.
The mom said we had to make a mad dash to the next door – which was two cars ahead.
All four of us clamored through the first class section as fast as we could. The train started when we were a half a car from a door that would let us out.
The dad got to the rail worker who had blown the whistle.
I heard the worker say no. No. No, as if we were bad children who had to be punished for losing track of the time.
This is a railroad that prides itself on its timing.
The dad said, “The door wouldn’t open. We tried and tried.”
I wondered how far away the next stop was and how long before I could get to Sopot.
The worker continued arguing with the dad, then noticed that there were four of us.
He said something into his walkie-talkie and somebody somewhere stepped on the breaks.
As I got off the train, the worker said, “No door no good?”
“Bad door.” I said as I lifted my suitcase down the stairs.
I stood with the family catching my breath on the platform. “That was crazy.” I said.
We wished each other well, then rushed our separate ways.
I was ready for dinner. I walked along the pedestrian sidewalk. American restaurants with hamburgers and French fries. Italian restaurants. Fish and chips. Pizza. Expensive burgers. Falafel.
Nothing suited my gluten-free needs or my mood. I wanted something delicious. Something different. I understood that maybe I couldn’t ask for much in this little town when it came to gluten-free. But something?
I was tired of eating plain salads with chicken or smoked salmon.
I tried walking away form the pedestrian zone, but there were no restaurants. I looked online. It listed restaurants that were 10 kilometers away.
That’s okay, I can eat a big breakfast in the morning.
At the last minute I found an Indian restaurant that was inside, up a flight of stairs and was playing jazz music.
This was a fancy restaurant. More expensive than the others. That’s okay. I’ll get a chicken salad.
I sat and looked down at the pedestrians walking along the sidewalk below me.
The partiers were awake now, and sounded their battle cries.
I couldn’t tell if they were searching for a partner or alcohol to dull their moods.
There sure were a lot of eighteen-year-olds making a lot of noise.
The buskers looked bored. The waitstaff in the restaurants looked tired.
The hot toy on the streets was a tennis ball connected to a cord. You hold the cord, throw the ball at someone’s feet and then pull the cord so the ball comes back to you. Every ten year old who walked by insisted on owning one, and so they did.
What was I doing here? This isn’t my scene.
The tandoori salad was the best thing I’ve eaten yet in Poland. It was spiced just right. Tangy. Spicy. Savory chicken. Crunchy vegetables in a delicate cut.
Bombay Restaurant Plac Zdrojowy 1
I vowed to eat here again. Maybe lunch and dinner.
I asked the waitress if there was something about Sopot I should know about. Some local insider tip.
She had nothing. She recommended that I leave as soon as possible.
At midnight when I was ready to sleep, I thought about her suggestion.
The partiers were loud. I could hear seven or eight different buskers singing with amplifiers seven or eight different songs. There was a general din of loud conversation and the drunken laughter that wafted up to my fourth floor room.
Why did anyone give this hotel a good review?
This is awful. If you are interested in experiencing this for yourself, request room 403 in the Bayjonn Hotel ul. Powstancow Warszawy 7 81 – 718, Sopot, Poland.
I set the alarm for 4:45, just before sunrise and tried to sleep.
I promised myself that I would dig deeper into Sopot tomorrow and find something interesting. Something. Interesting.
I couldn’t sleep.
I calmed myself by inventing a new business: geotags that I could secretly attach to loud partiers that would record their incessant noise and then in the morning I could find them and stand outside their rooms and hit a button that would play back their noises when they were trying to sleep.
I couldn’t decide if the playback should be automatic—set to sunrise, or if I should be able to press the button for playback myself.
Retaliation was the only thing that calmed me.
Either I am a mean person, or I am overtired.
Finally I fell asleep.
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