If That's What the Alley Girls Look Like...

Trip Start Jun 08, 2008
Trip End Jul 09, 2008

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Flag of Poland  , Baltic Coast,
Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Laryssa's cousin, Ola, was graduating from university out in Szczecin, Poland; so we decided to make the short bus ride over the border into Poland.  There were some minor difficulties trying to find the bus, such as them forgetting to pick us up, however we eventually made our way to Szczecin.  The roadway differences between the two countries was astounding, driving through Germany they were relatively smooth but once you crossed the border into Poland it felt like you were driving over craters left over from WWII.  Heh, that's what the communism collapse and years of corruption will do to a country.

Szczecin was once a bustling port city during Poland's communism days, and raked in a lot of money by allowing the USSR and a lot of other Eastern Bloc countries to use their facilities.  However, with the collapse of communism across Europe in the early 90s and the mismanagement of the economy by the early Polish governments, the city has turned from one of the most important cities in Poland to a relatively obscure has been.  It was most glaringly obvious when I got off the bus for the first time in Szczecin and the first thing I saw was a fifteen foot tall rusting statue of a dock worker in typical communism artistic style.  When you add the large commie blocks that are visible from anywhere in the city and the dark rainy skies you get quite an eerie feeling. 

But one should never allow first impressions to fool you, because the city turned out to be quite nice with great architecture and friendly people.  Laryssa's family, whom we stayed with, took me in as one of their own and treated me great.  The moment we got their they pulled out this giant three foot tall cake thing that looked like a giant Christmas tree, telling me it was a traditional welcome gift; didn't taste half bad either.

Laryssa's cousins took us around the city to the major sight seeing destinations, the National Museum, the library, the port, etc.  We stopped in a local watering hole for some beer and to escape the rain where I had a pint of Szczecin's home brew, Bosman.  The beer was pretty good, but unfortunately Laryssa's cousins aren't big on the alcohol drinking and we did not stay in the bar for long. 

While walking through some of the dingier parts of the city, we are taken on a "short cut" through an alley where it looked like we were going to get mugged.  While going through it, I see two gorgeous Polish girls.  Derek turns to me and says, "Geez, if that's what the alley girls look like in Poland, what do the normal ones look like?"  Laryssa did not approve.

We also ran into a church that was once the tallest building in Szczecin, but unfortunately the steeple was bombed during WWII and it was never repaired.  Recently a Radisson Hotel opened up that became the biggest building in the city, which angered the church going population.  They have since started reconstruction on the church in addition to building a new steeple, one that will be taller than the Radisson Hotel.

We went out for a drink one night after the Poland vs. Austria soccer game in the New Old Town, an area where there was once the Old Town but it was bombed like everything else in Poland.  They have since reconstructed the Old Town in the same style, but now it is called the New Old Town.  There were many angry drunk people milling about due to the matches outcome, and one man threw a few glasses at the ground.  Every single passer by proceeded to step on the broken glass, except for one person.  That person was absolutely hammered and blind, yet he managed to dodge the broken glass while stumbling down the road.  It was quite amusing.

My time spent in Szczecin was also my first run in with the monster known as Eastern European bathrooms.  While at Ola's graduation I felt that I needed to use the restroom, Polish food was not treating me well.  After asking the information lady in Ukrainian where the bathroom was, she refused to help me.  Apparently speaking Ukrainian is not viewed positively in this part of Poland.  I eventually located the restroom and got into the stall.  After losing nearly 10lbs to the toilet, I looked to my left for toilet paper.  None.  Look to my right.  None.  I begin to pray to God, and look behind me.  None. 

Apparently the toilet paper is not kept inside the stalls.  There is only one roll that is kept outside, a heads up from my cousin or her family about this situation would have been nice.  I won't go into details how I solved that problem.
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