Poland – 5 great things about coming back


Bike rambling goes slowly. Clothes, customs, religions, cuisine, ways of living change gradually and transition seamlessly. In two years I got used to this pace. And then suddenly, within 24 hours, I moved from bustling streets of Hanoi to Berlin. Culture shock guaranteed.

1. People

There isn’t anyone on the streets. It’s empty, almost no cars, I can count passersby on the fingers of one hand. Nobody sits outside their homes on plastic stools, nobody sells anything by the road, there’s no stream of vehicles on the streets. Those that appear, respect traffic rules and no-one tries to run me down. Suddenly, I have to remember what day of the week it is and what time the shops open. Nobody shouts ‘Hello’ at me. Well, that’ s obvious as there’s nobody who could do that.

2. Smells

As soon as I leave Berlin, I feel it immediately: the smell of harvested fields and of pine forest. That’s how this part of Europe smells. In Poland the smell of melting asphalt of poor quality joins as well.

3. Poland

People speak Polish here! I can communicate without waving my arms, stammering single words or guessing other people’s responses. I can stop for a cold Pepsi and talk normally with the shop owner. I can read signboards and menus, I can buy a newspaper. Pieces of conversations that I overhear passing by aren’t only sonic impressions but they carry a meaning. I can interact in a reality that is not only comprehensible but also well-known and familiar.

4. Home

Let’s leave out such obvious things as meeting my family and friends for the first time in two years. It’s clear, I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time. Besides that, entering my own house after such a long time is a weird feeling. Everything is a little strange and it’s visible that the walls need a fresh coat of paint. On the other hand, it also feels as if I hadn’t left this place for more than an hour. As if I hadn’t been anywhere in the meantime. Still I somehow forgot that rubbish needs to be sorted. And that I have a wardrobe full of clothes, high-heeled shoes and a mascara. And that I can stop appearing only in a tourist/guerrilla version. The bad thing is that I need to iron again.

5. Food

I’ve been planning for a long time what I’d eat first. The final decision was herrings. So herrings, ham, cottage cheese, bread, cream, cucumber soup, smoked sausage, tomatoes, meat-stuffed cabage, potatoes, cutlets, salads, cheese cake, black tea, raspberries, apple kompot, chocolate… Did you know it’s all so delicious? Now I’ll gorge on!

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