To Hel and Back

Trip Start Sep 23, 2004
Trip End Dec 24, 2004

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Flag of Poland  ,
Monday, November 15, 2004

Day 45,or my last day of travel in Eastern Europe, I visited the two suburbs north of Gdansk : Gdynia and Hel. Gdynia has a very nice looking pier where 3 tall ships parked where as Hel is just a sleepy fishing village sitting at end of a peninsula. I went to Gdynia first to see the Aqarium. This aquarium is filled with fish species from the Baltic sea and lots of embalmed specimens of marine species. The only disappointing part is that all the displays are shown in Polish and the only way I could understand was the Latin name for the species ( same as the ones I learned in collage biology ). The most unique thing I found in this museum was the displays of cross section of various marine species in plastic models. These models also came with labels of different organs over kill for common folks but great for marine biologists.
I had lunch on the pier where local fisherman actually fry their catch-of-the-day fresh, mmmm are they good. The train ride from Gdynia to Hel would take 2 hours so I ended up taking the bus, only an hour and half. I was expecting the sun to be up even after I arrived, but I was wrong!!! Being this north in latitude, the sun sets extremely early. By the time I got there at 340 pm, the sun was already setting. I quickly walked to the pier to catch a glimpse of the sunset. I ran into a nice Polish lady who showed me where I could see the endangered Baltic seals. These seal were located inside some man-made-pools. To get in to see the seals, I dropped 1 zloty into this slot machine and was able to get inside. The seals were real cute. They got grayish white color skin with black spots, different than the ones I seen in San Francisco ( totally black). There was a sign on the wall telling the tourists not to throw any coins into the pools because the seal would eat them. This sign actually came with a disgusting photo of a seal with its gut opened up and hundreds of coins fell out. Since the pool was outdoors and the sun had already set, the temperature dropped below zero along with the wind howling, it was freezing cold!!! I left the pier after taking a few photos and returned to Gdansk.
Here are a few things I found very different about Polish people and the Europeans than the North Americans. Almost everywhere I walked, I saw no obese people. This is probably due to the fact that NOT everybody owns a car, so public transportation and walking are essential for them. I can remember when I was back in the U.S. even going to the grocery store, I drive my car. But here in Poland and rest of Europe, I feel that I have been walking a lot more than ever, averaging 4-5 miles a day. It doesn't matter some of the European foods are fattening, people just walk them off. I sure wish this is the fact in the U.S, but unfortunately the way everything is so spread out and lack of convenient public transportation makes this impossible.
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