Rounding the world – Day 3: Berlin to Warsaw…

Today was a day of deep reflection, my favorite kind of day! After meticulously re-packing everything into my duffle, it was time to check out. On to the next destination! I had seen this awesome cereal bar by the Hackensack markt the day before so headed over for breakfast only to find out it opened today but not until noon. I wished them congrats and figured I’d sort out breakfast at the train station instead.

It was a bit of pain to get to the Hauptbahnhof station as the train from Hackensack was terminating at Friedrichstrasse station. As we all piled off confused as could be, I tried desperately to read the German signs for why the train ended and how to get the one more stop… Thank goodness I planned extra time! After quite a bit of guessing, wandering, attempting to read German (failing miserably), they had a transit worker come and help us all – there was a horde of us tourists lost and confused! Ha!

At the Hauptbahnhof station, I asked the information booth where the ticket center was to change to a window seat (online selected an aisle seat for me, boo!). There was 30 people ahead, so I took my number and went to grab breakfast, lunch for the train, and a cappuccino. When I got back to the ticket center, the line moved pretty quick and within 10 or so minutes I was helped. It was 4.50 euro to change the seat! There were about 12-15 stops, so just grabbing a seat wouldn’t have worked. Window seat purchased…

It was 6 hours from Berlin to Warsaw. We left around 12:30pm and arrived in Warsaw around 6:15pm. I was booked in 2nd class which was quite nice, it was a 6 person suite (3 seats on each side) encased in glass with jacket hooks, racks for purses, racks for luggage, small tables for drinks, dials to adjust temperatures, really I was impressed! And by the way, both the aisle and the window seats have window. Go figure! The aisle seat just has 2 feet between them and the window as it’s the walk way (note there is a glass wall between you and the walkway though).

As an introvert there’s always this awkwardness when paired with an extrovert(s). It’s obvious they are about to burst at the seams to kill the silence and launch into this multi-hour conversation. Luckily only half my car spoke English and they were able to entertain each other. Though I did feel bad toward the end when it was just me, another introvert, and a Polish speaking extrovert… my fellow introvert got sucked in to conversing and it was obvious he craved silence. Benefits of not speaking the language.

I spent the entire 6 hours staring out the window listening to Sarah McLaughlin and recharging my mind and spirit. Which means I just let my mind wander into whatever space it wanted to… usually landing in things like ‘I wonder why extroverts feel compelled to end the silence’ and ‘I wonder if it’s how we’re socialized or if it’s genetic that builds us into our Myer’s Briggs type, or a mix’ and ‘I wonder why insecurity exists, what causes it, why is it so prevalent, and is there a way to eradicate it or does society need it’ and ‘I wonder why so many woman are people pleasers so much they are more concerned about being perceived as rude than falling victim to abuse’…and so forth. Of course none of these are solvable life puzzles, but I enjoy exploring the pros and cons of the various arguments for and against each statement. I try to analyze without judgement, without bias, and without denial, allowing the various view points to lead the discussion. Who knows if I’m successful as it’s all in my head, ha!

Anyhow, speaking of denial, I’m reading this book that talks about how Americans are so in denial, with this ‘it will never happen to me’ mentality. I remember when my town growing up got hit by a tornado and the news reports were all ‘wow, we never thought this would happen’. People were baffled and confused and in utter shock. I remember thinking that was so odd as we lived in tornado alley and the tornado sirens went off almost daily in the summer. There wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t think we could be hit. Strange!

I personally don’t understand what it’s like to live in denial. Maybe it would be easier, maybe it wouldn’t. I’m wired to identify and evaluate risks continuously and have been doing it for as long as I can remember which means now it’s like split seconds to calculate and assess. Some might say that’s a depressing way to live, ever conscious of the risks around us, though maybe because it’s how I live, but I find it very liberating. I know there’s a tiny risk an asteroid could hit me while I type this or I could have a heart attack. I’m not worried about it, but I’m aware it’s possible. The only time it’s really an issue for me is when the risks are higher than my comfort level, otherwise, you can assume if I said yes to something, I’ve already weighed the risks and accepted them completely. It’s also why I don’t do stuff like swim with great white sharks. Not only do I see no enjoyment in it, I also don’t feel the risks are worth it, thus I decline. I’m sure that’s when everyone wishes I was born with that typical female trait of people pleaser – nope not here! I’m a-ok saying no and as such I’m a-ok respecting other people’s no too.

Being abroad, one of the things I absolutely love is the fact that not knowing the language silences so many things my mind is normally focused on. I’m a huge listener, I can’t help it. I hear the conversation I’m in, the song lyrics in the background, the people’s conversations next to us, all of it, all at once, following everything. I can’t tune things out, I’ve tried, it doesn’t happen. Though abroad, when I can’t understand anything around me even the radio, it creates this lovely background noise that I don’t have to focus on, it’s so freeing. It provides a calm and a peace I don’t tend to get back in my home country.

The journey from Berlin to Warsaw was mostly far and wide expanses of farm land or green fields intermixed with tree lines and the occasional pond. Besides Frankfurt and Poznan, everything in between was rather small villages with little stucco houses and ceramic tile roofs. Corn fields were more present after the Poland border, as were cows. When we got closer to Warsaw the houses started to become larger, even a couple hours out. Then we pulled into Warszawa Centralna station (Warsaw Central Station).

It was about a 15 minute walk from the train station to the hotel. There was a light mist in the air and the sun had already gone down. The train station is next to a mall and huge buildings – Deloitte, Coca Cola, etc. Reminded me of Bucharest. Turning the corner onto the little road where my hotel was, everything became smaller with more of a local feel. The hotel had run out of non-smoking rooms so had to give me a suite. No complaints here. Having spent the last 2 nights in a 100 square foot budget hotel room, a suite sounded nice. Full kitchen, dining room, living room, large bath, and bedroom with huge closet. Spoiled in Poland! Really for me, it was the view. They gave me a high floor over looking the city with unobstructed views and it was quite lovely.

After settling in it was time for dinner. One of my good friends happens to be Polish so recommended a restaurant for me – Restauracja Dawne Smaki – and even called from New York to get me a reservation. She is awesome! I wandered around the old town for a bit and am so excited to see it in the day light tomorrow. Then I enjoyed my lovely Polish meal with lamb, fried cabbage (OMG it was so good!), and spinach dumplings (which btw tasted like gnocchi). A man played the accordion live filling the place with the sounds of Polka music. I had arrived.



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