Originally posted two years ago. My tune has changed since writing this. I still think Poland is cheap but realize Germany is cheap too, especially Berlin. Thanks, F.
If I stand outside the truck stop I can see Germany in the distance. Frankfurt. But not Frankfurt am Main. Frankfurt (Oder), a small town east of Berlin that sits across a river from Poland and has parentheses in its name.
I am no longer in Germany.
I cannot stress enough how strongly I believe in following your instinct or gut or whatever you want to call it. When I was in northern Poland I was considering going to Poznan, a town situated in West Central Poland. It felt right. But I bailed because the train connections were annoying and I thought it would be nice to go to Berlin and not travel anymore. And now the adventures of the last 24 hours have made me realize I’m SUPPOSED to go to Poznan, that I was always supposed to go, and that no matter what I would’ve somehow found my way to this Slavic metropolis.
And so Berlin will have to wait. As soon as I got on the train this morning, or rather as soon as I left my hotel, I could smell in the air that the decision was right. That I was getting back on track. And as soon the train left Berlin I spotted two wild boars with their heads down trotting through the woods. A few days ago I was talking with someone and told them how I’d never seen boar in the wild, and that I hoped I’d see some before the trip was over. And now I have. Which must’ve been a sign. Then I got off the train in Frankfurt (Oder), my hands pointed to the sky in bliss, and everything feeling right. I walked across the bridge to the Polish town of Slubice, traded 20 euros for 80 zloty, and now I’m waiting at a truck stop where the second (third) nicest waitress in all of West Central Poland works, a woman who speaks no English but understands my very soul, and the meal was delicious, some kind of hearty soup, fish, potatoes, bread and cabbage salad. With a coffee and a large bottle of mineral water the total came to 25 zloty ($6.76 USD). Not Ukrainian prices, but try getting that same deal in Germany. They’ll laugh at you (that is, if Germans laughed).
Which brings me to another critical reason I had to make a hasty retreat from Germany: money. The only way I can afford Berlin is if I plan ahead and find something cheap on Air Bnb, which is something I patently did not do. Because I won’t stay in a hostel. I won’t, I won’t, I won’t. I’ll pay 50 euros and beg on the street for a private room rather than stay in a dorm bed to be woken up by drunken Portuguese men coming in from a night on the town, snickering to each other as they fall asleep. At this point if I want to buy a plane ticket home from New York and actually come out of this trip not destitute, I need to live cheaply in Poland and work hard. So I’m not just going where the wind takes me, even though (coincidentally) it’s blowing towards former Bloc countries. This decision is purely practical, which is significant since I can count the number of practical decisions I’ve made in my life on one (several-fingered) hand.
For now, it’s sunny outside but I have to work another hour before I can get on the train. For whatever reason the WIFI in Berlin was terrible but the WIFI in Poland is excellent. Like I said, eventually I’ll go to Berlin, and it will be great. It’s a beautiful city with wonderful people, including my cousin and also a kindred spirit I met traveling in Hawaii. But for now, I’m headed east.