Lots of train time today.

Trip Start May 25, 2012
Trip End Jun 06, 2012

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I saw trains. And more trains

Flag of Poland  , Central Poland,
Monday, May 28, 2012

Bydgoszcz, Poland, where my dad was born and lived for five years, is 214 miles away from Swinjouscie. As of 1:15 local time, we've been on trains or in stations since 7:45 am. That's 5.5 hours so far, and we've got another three or so to go. I could have walked faster.
The language barrier here has been incredible. We don't speak a word of Polish, the Polish don't speak a word of English. I'm sure it's better in big cities, as is the case in every other country I've been in, but the gap here is the widest I've dealt with. You'd think I'd be able to catch some of it seeing as my grandparents spoke Polish quite a bit. Then again it was mixed with German and English, all in the same sentence, so that probably didn't help.
We've been able to figure out what things are in other countries because there are similarities between their languages and ours. But Polish is completely off the chart. Someone didn't tell the Polish about vowels. The Polish have been the butt of many jokes over the years but it's all unfounded. In fact, anyone who can understand a language made up mostly of the letter Z is a genius. My friend Marek, I bow down to you.
Before we left the States I tried to figure out what the best way to get from Swinoujscie to Bydgoszc was. I must have found five different timetables with varying times. Not minutes, but hours of difference and completely different routes. I e-mailed the Polish railway company and the told me my only option left Swinoujscie late in the afternoon and got to Bydgoszcz late in the evening. When our ship docked, we walked across the street to the train station and the woman there set us up with a route that left within the half hour and got us to Bydgoszcz earlier in the evening than I planned.
Polish train tickets are nothing like I've seen before and made no sense to me whatsoever. Which, of course, meant we wound up somewhere nowhere near where we should have. But here's another example of how screwy the train system is - the person at the ticket counter told us to grab an 11:00 am train to Posnan and then another to Bydgoszcz. I don't know how it works, but we'll wind up in Bydgoszcz three hours earlier than any of the other two routes we were set up with
We had to kill a couple hours waiting for that 11 am train so Max and I were going to walk into the Old Town of whatever city we were in but never made it. We stopped at the first place that had outdoor seating, grabbed a table, ordered drinks and played chess. I finally beat him.
Looking out the window of my train to Posnan, I could easily imagine I'm somewhere in the Midwest, or even northern Arizona. Pine trees, houses that look sturdy enough to stand the cold and lots of snow. The biggest difference is everything is run down. Not people's houses, they all look well taken care of. All of the public works seem to not have caught up since the fall of communism. The train stations in some of the smaller towns look like they're about to cave in. But they're working on it. It's a beautiful country so far. I just wish I spoke Polish so I could know what people are saying about us.
At last we made it to Bydgoszcz around 5, I think. Not sure, actually. It was a long day and all we wanted to do was get to the hotel and crash. Except that we couldn't find the damned thing. The woman at the counter who e-mailed me directions said to take the #54 bus and it would drop us off right at the hotel's door. Too bad it's actually the #52 that does that. We wound up way past the hotel so took one of those Soviet-era trams back to where we should have been. Talk about rickety.
Yeah, I'm bagging on the rickety buses, trains, and trams day, But I think once you figure out the timetables and city names, it makes it pretty easy to get around anywhere over here.
My charger won't work on the outlets in this hotel so this might be the last post for a couple days. 
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Johnkoch65@gmail.com on

Love traveling with you vicariously...I'm particularly looking forward to our arrival in Finland, a country I've always had a strong affinity for - from their singular Urgic-based language to their much admired talents in design of everything from textiles to furniture. Also, my mother is 1/2 Finnish. Travel Tip: Do not be alarmed by the Finn's unfriendliness and lack of smiles. They are a reticent and taciturn people, not given to American gregariousness and small-talk. Dig a little deeper and you will discover their hospitality and their unique character, known as "sisu." I won't reveal to you what "sisu" is, but after a little time spent in Finland, you will know what it is and how it defines the Finnish character and mindset.

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