The woman selling train tickets motioned for me to put my card into the credit card machine.
I did. Nothing happened.
She tapped on the glass and pointed to my card.
I pushed the card in harder in case it wasn’t in all the way.
The woman picked up her phone and slowly tapped something into it.
She was probably texting her husband that she wanted to go out to dinner while we were waiting for the credit card machine to charge me for my train tickets.
She turned her phone towards me. On her translation program she wrote and it translated into English: Kindly take your card out of the machine.
I had two train tickets to the next city. One to get me there, one to get me back to Sopot.
A fifteen minute train ride cost $1.15 each way.
I sat in a 2nd class car and had all six seats in my compartment it to myself. The windows were open and a breeze blew in, which was quite nice. I am a fan of moving air, but when the air is 95 degrees, it isn’t a cooling experience.
And so I learned the most important difference between first class train ride and a second class train ride: air temperature.
Good thing this was only a fifteen minute trip. I could handle the heat.
I decided to use the train as a time machine. I was hurdling myself to the future.
Tomorrow night I would sleep in Gdansk, but hadn’t found a hotel. I emailed the place I wanted, but they never emailed back. They only accepted bookings via email.
I know, that’s an archaic way to do business which is why I thought I might still get a room there if I went in person.
I was going to use the Math Equation for Happy Travelers (That I made up last night when I couldn’t sleep again due to the booming noises on the Pedestrian Walkway and nearby bars and buskers.)
Math Equation for Happy Travelers:
1. First I must identify the number of buskers with booming amplifiers, nearby bars and Pedestrian Walkways in a one block radius to the hotel. Each offending noise maker gets one point.
2. Divide that number by the number of days I would stay in said hotel.
3. If the answer is 0—or less, book the room.
This helpful equation may help other travelers, which is why I add it here. May it be of benefit.
At the hotel I listened to a conversation while the woman clerk spoke broken English to a young couple who were ready to check in and also spoke broken English. Each sentence was a labor of miscommunication.
“How will you pay.”
“Certainly we pay.”
“Will you want the cash or the card?”
When it was my turn she said she had a room for me but I didn’t have to pay for it until tomorrow night.
I handed her my card.
She repeated that I don’t pay until check in.
“Do you promise me that this room will be here?” I asked.
I wanted to pay so they could engrave my name in a gold plate on the door. I didn’t want to go searching for another room with my suitcase in tow on a day that would be even hotter than today.
“I assure promise that this you key.”
I’m mostly sure that the room is mine.
I headed back to Sopot where I would have one more sundown beach walk. I found a better beach to walk this morning.
I started my beach walk just after sunrise.
The last time I turned right when I got to the beach. This morning I turned left.
Oh, the difference a direction can make.
Whiter sand. Less people.
I splashed in the edge of the Baltic Sea. People warned me that it would be cold, but it was a comfortable temperature for walking.
I walked the shoreline.
The beach curved a bit to the right. Less seaweed. Cleaner shoreline.
A bank of trees stood at attention at the top of the beach. Really? Trees right here like that, not scrub brush.
I splashed in the water as I walked, letting the gentle waves wash my stresses away. Birds called to me and flew into my pictures, like actors on demand.
“Want me to fly higher? Lower?”
Wait, did that smell go away or did I get used to it? I breathed deeply. Smell there, but not as rancid. Strong, but acceptable.
Other than the occasional jogger or dog walker, I was alone on the beach.
This is my kind of beach. Empty. Clean. Walkable.
I walked for hours, picking up small shells then tossing them back into the water. I kept five small shells to take home with me.
I was only 7 AM, but I was already in full-on sun. It was time to turn around.
Wait. Where is that man going?
A man walked off the beach into the woods.
Wait. What’s in the woods?
I decided to follow him.
Hopefully he wasn’t going to pee.
As I reached the top of the beach, I saw an opening in the trees. Please tell me this isn’t some kind of Love Den.
When I first moved to Kingston I explored some woods close to my house, only to find that there were many men walking slowly along the trails.
It was a Love Den, or hookup site for Gay men.
After that I found other woods to walk in.
I entered the woods and waited for my eyes to adjust to the shady darkness. I didn’t see the man. There was a sandy path through the trees.
I followed the path.
It was cooler under the trees. The woods looked remarkably like the woods across the street from my house in upstate, New York.
The sandy path joined a brick walkway that ran along the beach and was shaded by a canopy of trees.
I stepped onto the brick walkway. No sign of the man.
Shade. At the beach.
Why aren’t they screaming this from the rooftops. Shade at the beach!!!
I wiped the sand off my feet, put on my sandals and turned right to continue walking farther away from my hotel. What was down here?
The path turned from bricks to wooden planks and then to dirt.
A map showed the different bike paths. There were several choices—ride to the next town, --ride to the next country, --ride though former countries ruled by the Soviet Union – ride to the Adriatic Sea.
I love choices. Even though I don’t have a bike or a helmet or the care to ride for thousands of miles, I like knowing that if I wanted to go down that path, I could.
I returned to the hotel for breakfast.
“What is your room number?” one of the chefs working on the breakfast buffet asked me.
I got a lay of the buffet before I answered.
There was lots of gluten on the buffet, but there were also many Holly-friendly foods. Fried eggs. Sausages. Fried onions. Fruit. Yogurt. Stir-fried vegetables. Salads. Cheeses. Smoked salmon.
The fried onions decided it for me, I’ll eat them any time of day.
I choose a small glass jar of jam to go with my yogurt, not because I was in a jam mood, but because the jar would be perfect to hold some of the face cream I made for my purse.
A glass jar. What a perfect cream holder.
When I travel I have natural ways of caring for my skin. I use honey for a mask, mix shea butter, coconut oil and my face serum that I sell from home into a mix. My skin drinks it up while I’m on the road and need a little extra skin-love.
I searched high and low for a good jar to place the cream in and almost bought a jar of baby food that I could empty and clean out, but the jar was too big.
And I don’t want to eat baby food. And even if I did want to eat baby food, how am I to know which jar holds peaches (maybe I'd eat peaches) and which holds fake meat?
I added the jam to my yogurt, then tucked the dirty jar into my backpack: it was the perfect size to hold two weeks’ worth of cream.
I went from needing seven weeks of cream to needing less than two weeks of cream.
I was going home in less than two weeks. I know. I know. Many people have less than two weeks for their entire vacation. I am so fortunate to travel for seven weeks,
But I felt the sting of dwindling days.
Thanks for reading.
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